Sunday, April 24, 2005


Yeah I know I said I'd do some weekend posting if I had something IMPORTANT to say and I don't, but considering just how you blogomites are more'n anxious to read every utterance, dropping, sputum and great gob o' goo I toss at ya, I thought I'd fling yet another high six your way so once again you can osmose to my impeccable tastes and qualified writings and try to be more like me rather'n some other nameless bigcity blogger/rock critic who's probably laughing at you while you're soaking up his/her/its critical acumen thinking just what a wonderful and talented spokesthing for your tastes this maverick scribe must be!

However, before I get started enlightening you hoi-polloisters, I just gotta continue commenting on the previously-reviewed MC5: A TRUE TESTIMONIAL DVD from a few posts back. Last night I spent the wee hours of the AM wading through all the "special" attachments and such that this DVD offers including (what else but...) testimonials from everyone from Cheap Trick, Blue Oyster Cult, Lemmy and the Dictators to the outtakes and archived live clips, and after this barrage all I gotta admit to you fanz and fienz out there is that the massive thrust of MC5 info upon my mental parameters (coupled with the late-night wear and tear which can affect one's handling of such sonic information since yer guard's lowered when deprived of sleep) really made for a psychically challenging time to be had. I felt the outtakes were good enough that they should have been included in the finished product but I guess they were excised due to time constraints which would figure, and I especially liked the clip where Detroit avant garde jazz trumpeter Charles Moore tells us about playing on the "Skunk (Sonically Speaking)" track making me want to know more about this legendary musician everybody seems to talk about but nobody seems to have heard outside the last MC5 album. Does Moore have any recordings whether they be available or not? Believe me, all of this MC5 mongering really dredges up the old throb thrills and sends me back to the days of old when the Five seemed like the ultimate experiment in what could be done with sound, and not only do I still wanna hear more of their great avant rock music that seems to have been pretty much stifled more/less, but I wanna hear more of the groups that came out in their wake playing the hard-drive Detroit HM style (not counting the modern-day wimpy practitioners, that is). I'm more or less talking about other Michigan wannabes from the Orange Wedge (as well as the dozen or so Detroit groups that Tyner [in an ANN ARBOR SUN interview with John Sinclair sometime in '67] said were copping the MC5 sound) to St. Louis' 1970 White Panther devotees Rush (definitely not the Canadian band) who made a big stir opening for Ike and Tina Turner (!) as well as the Titfield Thunderbolt (acc. to Meltzer via. JAMZ the MC5 of Virginia) whose "Born on the Wrong Planet" single has remained elusive for nigh on two decades. Heck, I'm still waiting to hear Umela Hmota 3's "I'd Rather Be Made Outta Stone" which was their 1975 homage to the Detroit MC5 splatter, and I'm sure there were many more Five mongerers hanging around in them proto-punk days that I'm sure you'll just love telling me about.

And as for this (or just scroll down to 4/20/05 paragraph two), maybe I would comment on it, if the thing only made some sense or had a cohesiveness to its message, but it don't so I won't. Anyway, here's the top six pix fer prix today.

NEU! 2 CD (Germanophon bootleg, Germany)

I'm glad I first heard this one in the late-eighties when I did, because if I heard it in the seventies I woulda been totally put off not only by the primitive minimalism of the thing but the continental (read: mainland European) air. Which would be surprising since I liked Kraftwerk and even King Crimson a lot during my early record/cassette buying days and this would certainly fit in with that and some of the other krautskapading I was doing at the time, but the unprofessional starkness just wouldn't've made it with my mid-teen tastes which were just being cultivated and honed and all dat important stuff. Fortunately when I did hear this one thanks to a cassette sent me by Imants Krumins, my listening parameters had been fortified by years of punk, industrial, avant garde, harder-than-hard rock and other niceties so you could say that I was "well prepared" for what I was about to experience. Again, this is one of them disques that has been blabbed about so much over the years that talking about it any more would only be flogging a dead rock critic, but I am giving you a high six o' faveraves and this one tops this list, so bear with me...

Deep Purple-IN ROCK CD (Warner Brothers Japan)

Keeping in tune with the MC5 addendum above, this is the one that respected early seventies gonzoids from Lester Bangs to Metal Mike Saunders would endlessly compare to the Five (with such eloquent terminology as "the British MC5" being invoked) back when the energy of the Five was still permeating the gonzo world even if the group had been written off as shucks by the tastemongers as soon as "the hype" had been exposed. (I believe that Saunders in his NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS Purps/UFO battle also compared FIREBALL to the MC5 making that one another must-get for action-starved sound maniacs like myself!) This Japanese CD (on Warners too, which surprises me since I thought all non-US Purp stuff came out on Harvest!) does satiate the need for hard-driving jamz even if the band sounds like they're trying to be more "professional" and aren't playing off vibrations like the Detroit groups did, but they can still deliver some non-"classic rock" energy like on the amphetamine streaks up and down the scales "Flight of the Rat." Even keyboardist Jon Lord doesn't get in the way even though I still have this sneaking suspicion he'd rather be with some "serious" progressive band and not these heavy metal noisemakers! (I never did hear those earlier classical Purple concerto any chance were they overtly proggy and cultured beyond belief a la their UK brethren???) Still, with the right amount of punkitude inserted, at least Deep Purple could have been as thud-rockish as My Solid Ground! As far as downers go, the entire no-holds-bar noise opening of "Speed King" was cut off for some mysterious reason, so maybe I will seek out a UK Harvest edition of this one and not only because Harvest's logo looks a lot cooler than Warners'.

Country Fried Chicken (food)

I remember Bill Shute telling me about this dish a long time ago when it was called "Chicken Fried Chicken," and if that sounds like some strange redundancy to you I'll have to explain things like Bill did...y'see, as you probably already know there's such a thing as "Chicken Fried Steak" which is a cube steak dipped in egg, flour and seasonings and fried to crisp perfection smothered in white gravy and usually served with mashed potatoes. (There's an episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, the one where William Shatner flips out over the fortune-telling machine at a small-town restaurant, and believe-it-or-not but none other than famed character actor Guy Wilkerson [as the Texas-accented {even though this episode takes place in Northeastern Ohio!} counterman/waiter] tries to push the Chicken Fried Steak on him!) Well, someone thought of doing the same thing with a piece of boneless white-meat chicken calling it Chicken Fried Chicken, only after some time both dishes were known as "Country Fried Steak/Chicken" probably because of some legalities involving the "Chicken" part preceding "Fried" (since there is no actual "chicken" as far as frying the steak goes...whoever named the dish probably thought that the steak was being fried with the same flour coating as a fried chicken would have hence the name and these governmental agencies are so dictatorial...). Anyway, I've been ordering Country Fried Chicken whenever I go to this local family-styled restaurant which was an IHOP until the late-seventies when an old-time friend of my folks re-opened it under the name "The Cookery," and I gotta admit that the greasy, floured chicken meat with the gravy and potatoes really satiates my strong breaded/fried food and starch cravings like no other food can. Worry about your health later and give your tastebuds a treat today!

Lou Rone-ALONE CD-R (to eventually be released by Gulcher probably this summer)

Guess what! Former Kongress/VON LMO/Single-Double-Triple Cross guitarist Lou Rone recorded a CD all by his lonesome in his home studio, and not only that but Bob "Bear" Richert at Gulcher is planning on releasing it. I'm supposed to do this promo thingie of which I'm honored, though at this point in time I'm stymied (buckwheated even! FARINA'D as well!) as how to go about it. Until then I've got the CD-R of it to spin in order for some magic words to pop into my mind and onto my word processor! 'n what more can I say than what's been posted earlier other'n it's sure good getting some real high energy music into my system and hearin' a bitta heavy metal that doesn't come off light and fluffier than Aunt Petunia's pancakes. I want it hard and heavy like MY pancakes, and I refuse to accept any substitutions unless its sausage for bacon.

Janis Joplin-LIGHT IS FASTER THAN SOUND CD (Midnight Beat bootleg, Luxembourg)

On this release from the tail end of the great CD bootleg era (coming outta Luxembourg right before the crackdown began there!), Janis gets sole billing while Big Brother and the Holding Company are once again relegated to sidemen status. Given that this July '66 concert was recorded right when Janis had joined the group nothing could be further from the truth...if anything, at this point in the game Janis was more or less a member on equal footing with the other Brothers who were still heavily into their avant-rock and not exactly catering to Janis's caterwauling tendencies. Quality's rather good considering the now-stone aged technology of the times, and performance is up there though if you search hard enough you will find superior product both legal (CHEAPER THRILLS) and not (I tend to prefer TRIBAL STOMP on Head even if the infamous recording of Big Brother jamming with Quicksilver and the Oxford Circle at the second Stomp is nowhere to be found, something which bummed me out upon first receiving the thing).

BUDGIE CD (Repertoire, Germany)

Last night after working my way through the MC5 DVD extras and getting settled in for beddy-bye, I grabbed a 1972 ish of CREEM and headed for the commode for some late-night bowel moving and happened upon none other than Hot Scott Fischer's review of not only the Bang album but the first Budgie which actually got a USA release on Kapp if you can believe that! Given my DVD-enhanced MC5 cravings and how Fischer brought their name up in describing the Budgie sound I just hadda dig this one out from my collection and you know ain't anything nearly as good as the MC5! Budgie are still good enough early-seventies thud though...not quite as dunce-rock as early UFO but fine dorky power-trio musings that were still primitive enough to the point that Fischer felt free to use the hoary term "punk" in describing their sound. 's funny, I always thought of Budgie as one of those nowheresville groups that I'd read about in MELODY MAKER along with all those other nonentities like Slik, Moon and Bruce Springsteen and I'm sure their later recordings would bear my prejudices out, but this is pretty fine riff/groan that sounds good if you TURN IT UP and ignore the fact that these guys could very well have been England's answer to Rush and that Chuck Eddy drooled over 'em as well. (Well, I remember his exhortations about Budgie's pro-long hair rant entitled "Rape of the Locks" which had me heading for the barber shop asap!)

Friday, April 22, 2005


Doodles-CASSETTE 2 (just that!)

After listening time and time again to THE NIGHT GALLERY (one of the top pick spins of 2004), all I can say is I WANT MORE DOODLES!!!! I also want more LSD March, Mini No Koto and the rest of the bunch, but as it stands right here and now, what I sure could use in this life of mine is a lot more of that magic mixture these Nipponese Nancies dish out, just like I needed a lot more Cleveland underground rock in 1979 and as much Australian underground rock as I could stand in the eighties long before a certain somebody sullied that continent up. Anyway, I gotta just love a group with a name like Doodles...kinda reminds me of Sally Fields as Gidget going "toodles" alla time on the famed one-season ABC program even though that show was a doggie, and speaking of dogs, when I was a kid I had this yellow plastic dog that my cousin Denise gave me and she said his name was Doodles as well. What you did with Doodles was press his tail and his head would pop off! Spring action!!! I think Doodles is still in one of those boxes in the basement which stores all of the "cheap plastic junk" (a term my father would consistently use in describing my playthings) that gave me so much fun o'er the single digit years. And of course, who could forget "Cheese Doodles" which was a local brand variation on what's more commonly known as "Cheetos" (aka "Twisties" which was the generic term used for this snack in our household for eons even though an actual bag of "Twisties" hadn't entered our portals for just as long a time!!!).

So (getting all of this mildly Meltzering digression aside), you can see at least a few reasons as to why these Doodles maidens appeal to me so much. Of course the most important reason for my Doodles obsession is their sound...a deep, Velvet Underground sound and I don't mean Velvet Underground in the current sense of the term where more than a fair share of Young Trust Funded Americans took the sound and made it even blander'n all of those washed-out eighties groups ever could dream of. I'm talking Velvet Underground back when they sure had a dangerous and mystical sort of sense to their being I got from at first getting an eyefulla their album covers at the local J.C. Penney's at the mall before actually breaking down and buying the things. That's Velvet Underground as in start black/white energy and attitude as espoused by such followers as Mirrors or Can or any of those groups that did well with the legacy. Forget those new pretenders...Doodles has the energy and the power of the Velvets that I've dreamed about even before I heard a note of their music, and to top it off they're the right nationality (Japanese) and the right gender (female) and both of these things help out pretty well in my biblioteca if you ask me!

One thing I like about THE NIGHT GALLERY is that, as far as the overt Velvet Undergroundisms go, the groups contained therein sound more VU as in the proto-punk aspects of the term as opposed to the more popular "alternative" take of the direction which always seemed to take that group's sound and style in a superficial, miss-the-point matter-of-fact and proceed to "twee" the style even more if that could be possible. The groups on THE NIGHT GALLERY have such a cool take on the Cale-period aspects of the band that I could stack any of 'em against those bands that get compared to the early-Velvets not only then but now and I'm sure nobody would end up disappointed. Doodles are no exception, and what's boss about 'em is that there are only two of 'em, one on guitar and piano and the other on drums (both sing) and yeah, there can also be comparisons made to the Raincoats and other British post-punk introspective (and hairy-pitted) combos, but the massive (albeit feminine) power seems to override any potential feminist tendencies that ALWAYS tend to cause a lotta sphincter-clenching around the BTC offices.

Getting hold of Doodles CDs seems to be about as easy a task as getting hold of early issues of BLACK TO COMM, but at least I got hold of this cassette-only release which sure as shooting reminds me of the eighties cassette culture when just about every upstart group seemed to have a tape available that OP was more or less bound to review. Better'n nothing even though cassettes seem sooooo passe these days, but getting the chance to hear more Doodles is such a thrill in these energy-crisis days that even a cylinder would be a welcome relief, and probably technically suited for these Far East misses as well!

Two songs here (running about seven/eight minutes each), the first being the same tune that starts out the Doodles segment on THE NIGHT GALLERY. But surprise, this is a different, and what's more is that the song's not only longer here but there are two ADDITIONAL Doodles on guitar and bass respectively giving the group a slightly "fuller" sound that the usual guitar/drums setup, and perhaps even a more Mirrors-esque seventies demeanor than the better known take which was pretty Klimek-esque in its own way. The other song's a newie to my ears, another slow and melancholy tune that also seems to recall those same American seventies garage Velvetisms that seemed to have been replaced by haute pretension almost as soon as 1979 clocked over in to 1980 but I shant grumble because Doodles do it all so suavely that they even put past Velvetesque faves like Dangerous Birds in the shade.

Come to think of it, once in the pages of TAKE IT! Kenne Highland (or was it Amy Linden?) compared the aforementioned Birds to the Velvet Underground if they had four Maureen Tuckers. Dare I say that Doodles are Hackamore Brick with two Thomasina Moonlights?

I'm still on the lookout for actual Doodles releases (Eclipse Records, who usually seem to have their heads on straight w/regards to the Japanese underground, never seem to have any in stock so maybe a little pesterin' needs to be done!), but until then this tape and their NIGHT GALLERY tracks make for a fine tease...

Arch Hall Jr.-WILD GUITAR, THE SADIST DVDs (Alpha Video, Norton has 'em in stock and they seem to pop up on ebay as well)

Reviewing both of these classics in this day and age would be just about as bad as your typical film snoot singing the praises of CITIZEN KANE and Frank Crapra over and over like they do. Of course it's a lot more fun for me to not only watch these films and talk about 'em over and over than it would be for me to act like a modern-day Alexander Woolcott or Dorothy Parker at the Algonquin Roundtable (yeah, I know they were big on Joe Cook, but that was more or less their 1920s version of slumming, sorta like your typical bigcity rock critic paying tribute to BACK FROM THE GRAVE or somethin'!), so let me be about as non-pretentious as I can. Here goes...great to see that these DVDs are taken from old prints complete with all the scratches and wear so we get to see them the same way thousands saw 'em over and over again on tee-vee in the sixties and seventies which is cool. It's also great to see the serio-comedy WILD GUITAR's fun and cheap and entertaining and all those things that made up the best of what I call real Sunday afternoon television like you used to see well into the eighties. Y'know, it's Sunday afternoon and you're too lazy to go outside to play even though it's nice and warm and you wanna watch the tube and all that's on are sports (zzzz) and this. So guess which one you choose, and guess who's the better for it! A nice and cheezy look at the rise of a rock icon and his conniving boss a good decade before STARDUST hit the boards, and probably about five times better as well!

THE SADIST remains a classic...even Don Fellman tells me that he was unnerved by all the dead bodies in this film back when he saw it via the box sometime in the sixties. And who can blame him, with Hall as a serial killer accompanied by his silent galpal (played by Marilyn Manning, who reminds me of a even spacier Ivy Rorschach) terrorizing a buncha timid schoolteachers in the California desert. You know it's a great film because, even though Hall and Manning portray the badskis, you're rooting for 'em because them teachers are just too square to be allowed to live! Low-budget terror that continues to sear, and you can bet that even the film snobs are going to bust their britches thinking up ways to compare this to their "quality" classics for years on I RIGHT??????

If I have something more important to wing your way I'll do so this weekend, but please allow me to thank you for the opportunity of being long-winded this one (and one time only) posting!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Well I couldn't think of a better way to title this posting considerin' that I have about a thousand things to write about yet only about an hour or two's stamina to write about it all, but I will try and not because of any noble, deep or altruistic motivation on my part just so's I can satiate youyouYOU, the ever-hungry-for-pertinent information blogreader who hangs upon my every word, phrase and sniffle, but because (like with my fanzine and the three decades of record collecting under my souffle'd-over belt) this is nothing but a hobby to me (where have I heard those words before?), and while other people may spend their days collecting stamps and postcards or doing other forms of ineffectual anal-retentive time-passing activities, I like to spend every second I can EATING HIGH ENERGY which is why I am doing what I do when I could be doing something more beneficial to the Amerigan landscape like plucking the hair outta my armpits like some bored primate at the zoo. So, if things like high energy rock and opinions that challenge the ol' medulla 'stead of gently massaging it ain't quite yer bag, I suggest you find some other internet outlet to osmose, such as here or even here if you so desire. However, for the total experience high energy ERUPTION of it all, you can't do better than to stick by good ol' BLOG TO COMM!

First on the itinerary's a review of the long-blabbed about MC5 documentary entitled MC5: A TRUE TESTIMONIAL. Believe me, I didn't want to see this, even though I've been a follower and fan of the MC5 (and what they doth wrought both in and outside of the Detroit area) for well over a quarter-century, NOT because of any current animosity I may have towards the Five (I don't) or certain mega-fans of the group (I do), but because frankly, I hate documentaries. Documentaries generally suck because, no matter what the subject matter may be, they present certain "facts" or more likely "pseudo" or "non-facts" their way and generally wanna hammer their particular POV (which, incidentally, is the name of PBS's long-running documentary series which seems to constantly bombard the airwaves with very left-wingish films funded by your tax bucks on everything from feminism to The Spanish Civil War), usually with a hefty sneer aimed at the lower/mid-class proles whom the PBS/left elites claim to pay homage to from their lofty urban enclaves! Believe me, I've passed up on many documentaries presented on television o'er the years just because I just knew that there was gonna be some irritating anti-me viewpoint espoused somewhere inna thing and even when I braved the storm because the subject matter at hand seemed worthy of my attention, wouldn't you know it but either Ken Burns or David McCullough (the Leni Reifenstahl and Joseph Goebbels of PBS respectively) just HADDA toss some skewered barbs regarding my personal views/birthright my way, probably thinking how clever and perhaps even "over-the-top" they were in doing so! I am not a masochist (even though you may think so given the red flags I've waved at a number of potential bulls out there), and I don't exactly cozy up to sitting through a coupla hours of modern-day straight/white/midclass baiting just to get more information on something I've held near and dear mostly because it WAS straight/white/midclass, but if you think I'd actually LIKE the prospect of eyeballing most documentaries that are being made available to me, you've certainly got another think comin'!

Anyway, so I've come across a burnt DVD-R of some legit release of this MC5 thing (check the web if you want it bad enough!), and y'know what, it's good and it's OK. Not bad or anything...fortunately the editors kept John Sinclair's rabid antiestablishment rants down to a minimum which is a relief given how Nixon's been dead for ten years already, but unfortunately they've kept the hot, unseen video down to a minimum as well. Gobs of good, early pics can be ogled true, but the one clip of the MC5 at the peak of their avant-rock sound with Rob Tyner joining Dennis Thompson on drums and Fred Smith wailing on a tenor sax is just that...a clip. I was sure hung'rin' for more of that hot avant-rock stuff which comes in such short supply when dealing with the histories of the Five, Velvets and Stooges (y'know, "the weird stuff"), not to mention more of them home movies of the group when Tyner was just startin' to grow his hair into a friz'n was still sportin' early-sixties gradeschool hornrims which kinda makes him look even cooler, in a boss mid-sixties timewarp way (I thought Lenny Kaye was just as cool with his Clark Kents, as were a whole buncha sixties rockers like Mark Volman fercryinoutloud!), but for some strange reason the documentary makers hadda do some serious SKIMPING here!

The surviving Five members are still youthful and punky with their commentaries on the band and the sixties Detroit landscape, especially Michael Davis out inna Arizona desert w/his dawg not to mention Dennis Thompson aiming his semi-automatic at the irritating/arrogant interviewer wishing his weapon were only loaded (Wayne Kramer cruising the environs was boss as well), and seeing/hearing them (along w/Tyner via an old interview) gabbing about the past sure sent hot metal shards throughout my solar system. Danny Fields is still top-notch even after all these years (it's no surprise that even Wayne McGuire thought he was one of the brightest minds in the rock world) while Jon Landau proves that hanging around Bruce Springsteen too much can lead to cirrhosis of the brain. Still, despite all the nits I could pick I must admit that A TRUE TESTIMONIAL's a good enough put-together re. one of the few rock groups that captured my imagination for a longer time than even I can comprehend. I mean, sheesh, I remember reading that ROLLING STONE cover story on 'em in '77 thinking they were perhaps the most extreme statement as far as rock with avant garde (then a hot musical ref. pt.) tendencies could go wanting to hear every note of music they (and the Velvet Underground) laid down especially since the then-current music scene seemed so dismal or (regarding underground/punk concerns) distant. I also remember being more than gung ho on buying a copy of KICK OUT THE JAMS at the time only being talked out of it by a certain someone who shoulda known better but I guess didn't, settling on a copy of Brian Eno's DISCREET MUSIC instead which was OK, though I shoulda bought that one two years earlier which only proves what a slow-poke I am.

Feature bonus goodies're a delight, and although I didn't get to prowl through it all I did catch the 1967 tee-vee take of "Black to Comm" for the zillionth time (I would have preferred some of those '66 vintage home movies or the aforementioned free-for-all...) and the rest of it looks snat as well, though I don't wanna overdose on it all at this point in time.

Onto other subjects...just received two CDs from Get Hip, a label that I must admit I had little love for back in the eighties, but since they distribute BLACK TO COMM and have put out some pretty nice archival material over the years, I just can't write 'em off like that! Anyhow, two of their most recent releases are by some new bands mining the retro-garage vein, a vein which seems to have been mined as soon as the garage era clocked over into heavy rock sometime in the early-seventies if the existence of the Droogs is any indication. The Mainliners are yet more Scandinavian burrowers of the big beat who do a pretty good, impassioned garage roar that sounds refreshing especially after having been bombarded with the form in the late-eighties to the point of ennui. The High School Sweethearts have a femme vocalist (keeping in Fred Kirby-mode here!) and recall a good portion of the "tough" girl bands of the seventies on (starting w/the Runaways all 'way up to the Donnas/Pandoras/Muffs brigades) proving that even though Grace Slick is still alive, she is dead, at least as far as female rock role models go. Still, after two hours of the MC5 documentary and thrill-chills received therein, both of these acts came off about as powerful as the Beacon Street Union and Blood Sweat and Tears did following the Five and Stooges at the Grande Ballroom.

In other finds...the NATIONAL LAMPOON 1964 Yearbook reish made for a fine retro-read, especially given how it was created and released in the mid-seventies, a time when humor seemed to be at an all-time high either via the mainstream or "hip" (MONTY PYTHON, SNL, SCTV...) outlets. I remember somebody bringing this one to school...of course the cover w/the bare-butt cheerleader made a big splash with the kids, but looking at this one after all these years I gotta admit how the 'poons captured the mid-sixties teenbo experience a lot better'n MAD or even Harvey Kurtzman at his craziest could. Lotsa great anti-PC yuks which make me crack up even more here in 2005 because...I know them gags are gonna upset the same type of people who get all discombobulated about me and my various views and opines which is cool because if anybody needs to be "offended" its the politically pious crowd of today! And, frankly, a lot of this book was real and hit the Amerigan High School experience on the head, from the school snaps of the goody-two-shoes to the class hoods and snobs and fags and general jerks just like the kind I hadda put up with, not to mention the exchange student from "Umbrellastan" who wrote in the most hacked up Pidgin English one could imagine. What is strange about this is that in my own high school's yearbook (during my senior year), various written commentaries about just how dovey higher learning is were scattered throughout the book (cutesy seventies idea the didn't pan out), including one from a Vietnamese refugee who wrote some strange, garbled thing (with very good penmanship mind you) about how she agreed with the school faculty in not allowing students to wear jeans! Naturally the kids laughed and made fun of it and the authorette in question and to be totally honest about it I thought that including this lassie's comments as an excuse to hold her up to ridicule was more than a bit crude and still feel this way years later. However, given what I've read in the LAMPOON yearbook and considering how the snoots who put the AQUILA together were probably familiar with this well-publicized spoof, all I can say is was this yet another case of life imitating art, or just a cruel coincidence???

Not much else to report. At this time (for pleasure as opposed to "critical evaluation") I'm spinning my Les Rallizes Denudes vast array of bootleg CDs a disc per night whilst settling back in my comfy chair getting mentally ready for an evening of snooze. I gotta remark as to just how (dare I say) beautiful Les Rallizes Denudes are. They have all the qualities I've liked in sixties/seventies underground rock for years, from a black and white sound (as opposed to a "colorful" Lisa Robinson's November '75 Eleganza column in CREEM where she describes how hubby Richard's band Man Ray was supposed to perform in black and white clothing and instruments while bathed in a blacklight and how the then-current CBGB groups were beautifully monochromatic in themselves, or if you can, latch onto Tim Ellison's musings on music as being black/white in the first ish of his ROCK MAG fanzine) to that one-chord massive THUD that continues to satiate almost 40 years after that thud was conceived! Les Rallizes Denudes roll up all the best moments of my fave late-sixties bands, the Velvet Underground, Big Brother and the Holding Company, MC5, Stooges, Blue Cheer, the Deviants and a few more I'll think of next week into one huge hunkering ball of sound and vision that reveals itself as being so timeless after all these years probably because it never fit into any timeframe one could think of! When I'm done with my Denudes CDs I'm playing all of my Up-Tight ones then LSD March and all them bands w/ex-members of all these groups in various mixes and matches and variations and the like. If there's anything to get obsessed over these days it's Japanese underground rock, mainly because it's so good and high energy that you'll think its the year you first discovered this breed of aptitude all over again!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


The Korps-HELLO WORLD! CD (Gulcher)

The late seventies meant many things to many people, and (once you get down it the nitty gritty) they probably meant something a lot different to me than they undoubtedly did to you. And when it comes to looking at the late-seventies through punk-tinted glasses, my tint is probably a lot more rosier w/regards to rockism in general than yours. I mean, yeah my ears were attuned to all that kooky stuff that was going on in England just like you oldsters' were, but there was more to my punkism makeup than just glomming the latest dispatches from Blighty trying to osmose to it like I was there front and center for it all as if the scene over there was really something out of the ordinary and "special!" There were other things in punkism capturing my attention at the time, from various New York sounds that seemed to be the perfect continuum of that photo on the back cover of the first Velvet Underground album to Cleveland/Akron/Kent accomplishment to six-oh garage band splatter which was extremely tantalizing in my book because it combined two of my favorite cultural watermarks (general high energy rockism and mid-sixties popisms [tee-vee, fast foods...]) into one fine balla wax that sounded just as contempo in 1978 as it would've had I been front and center for the form back when it was actually happening. (I sorta was, but being a mere turdler when the whole shebang started up guaranteed that I'd never be able to fully comprehend one of the truly Golden Ages to hit my lifespan and maybe yours too.) Really, you could say that I was getting just as much PUNK in my life back then by just looking in the cutout and flea market bins as I was prowling the full-priced and import wares! Anyway, them wuz my late-seventies which were guided just as much by decade-old Velvets albums as they were by then-current thrusts, and if I hadda live it all over again all I'd do would be spend more money on records. I mean, what else???

Anyway, the Korps have a lot more to do with my late-seventies than whatever was happening overseas at the time...sure, that stuff was fun to read about and for some strange reason I thought Stiff records was one of the coolest concepts to hit the realms of independent record labels, but the US of A stuff hit to the core of my being a lot harder. Maybe its because this stuff was geographically and gulcherly closer to me, and maybe its because the Korps took a lotta my then-fave musical points-of-interest mentioned in the previous paragraph and mooshed 'em all together into a pleasing palatable platter for rockism-minded maniacs like me to munch down on but whatever, the Korps captured the true essence of late-seventies Amerigan rock & roll civilization of tee-vee reruns and loud music and goofing off a lot better'n them mirror-gazing working-class yobs "over there" ever could. Maybe it's true what Wayne Davis said in his MC5 article way back in FLASH #2...the only way the Brits could truly understand rock & roll would be if they had a whole buncha drive-in restaurants/movies and hot rods and less bowler hats and stuck-up snootiness and maybe some teeth that were white for that matter. I never could expect the British punks to be singing about cruising down the local strip on Friday night. Heck, it seemed phony when the Sex Pistols covered "Roadrunner"...I mean, what did Mr. Lydon know about driving on the highway with the radio on and stopping at the root beer stand anyway? When the English tried to copy this stuff it never did resonate, probably because no matter how hard they try, they can't be 'mercuns. They don't even wanna be cool like the Irish and up their noses at their Emerald neighbors which is bad enough, but as far as "emulating" Ameriga these blokes are a long way off, and I'm sure such righteous Offshore Islanders as Joss Hutton and Lindsay Hutton will concur w/me, right?

Anyway, the Korps (not to be confused with that other Gulcher recording act the Afrika Korps despite that these Korps wuz in that Korps!) consist of one Kenne Highland and another Kenny Kaiser. You probably know a lot about Highland and his antics via a variety of rockism-based endeavors dating back to the early-seventies, when at the tender age of sixteen he was editing and doing most of the writing for ROCK ON, a fanzine devoted to the better moments of late-period Vietnam musical concerns from heavy metal to pop/sixties throwbacks and even a bit of what passed for punk rock in them days. What was most amazing about ROCK ON was that Highland, although a teenager, was writing some of the better in-depth and mature yet still gonzo stuff to see light in the fanzine idiom...why this guy never made it in the real print world beyond a few letters to FUSION is beyond me. And then again, you already know about Highland's other seventies endeavors such as the downright punk rockin' Gizmos and of course the O. Rex/Afrika Korps axis so I won't link up my past posts on those guys like I'm expected to being a "respected" blogger and all. The other Korps member is Kenny Kaiser, not only another ex-Afrika Korpse (no sic) but a guy who I think was an unmitigated Slickee Boy at one time (I'm sure vengeful blogreaders will be more'n glad to "correct" me on this if in fact I am in error.) Anyway, between the two of 'em they handle a whole buncha rock & roll instruments and true this is more or less a studio endeavor that never played out as far as I could tell (thus lacking the proper history/chops/dues that used to come w/said territory), but that doesn't mean it's gonna rot on the vine or anything like that!

Material ranges from great late-seventies snatches of late-sixties punkisms...nothing quite heavy metal here unlike on the Afrika Korps platters (well, some of it is kinda heavy metal as in Jukin' Bone-styled cowbell clank rock which I happen to like!) but overall it's still fine, Flamin' Groovies-ish late-seventies punk wave that flashes me back to the summer of '78 which was one of the more halcyon times in my existence (w/the Groovies' then-recently cutout SHAKE SOME ACTION playing the soundtrack for three months of pure laziness and addled goof offing). Lacking the void pretension of a lotta their breth and sisteren, the Korps handle the teenage Amerigan crisis in music that was so rife then with aplomb. Even a bitta Ramonesian drone is snuck in on "Beat the Beets" which is sorta like a "Beat on the Brat" for vegetables. And where else are you going to hear a song like "With a Shiksa Like You" but here? Oy Vey! And in my humble opine (which you must care about or else you wouldn't be reading this) it's stuff like the Korps which made up the better portion of late-seventies underground rock proving that Miriam Linna and Billy Miller were right all along when they said that England couldn't hold a candle to what was happening over here so why bother being trendy and paying import prices for discs that might have had "it" 50 or 75 per-cent, but that doesn't make it a perfect 100 and really maybe you shoulda been a bit more choosy with your record purchases or else we wouldn't've hadda put up with all that horrid "post-punk" drek like Culture Club and Pete Burns, eh???

Roky Erickson and the Aliens-DON'T KNOCK THE ROK! CD (Norton)

What I said about the Korps goes double for Roky Erickson. To me, Roky was a true bridge between the mid-sixties garage band explosion and the late-seventies punk he was, a guy who perhaps epitomized the entire Texas psychepunkedelic scene with his Thirteenth Floor Elevators hit "You're Gonna Miss Me," and ten years later the man was just as "relevant" to an Amerigan underground scene as all of those groups he influenced! Not only that, but he wasn't even thirty yet which meant he still had the youth and vitality that came with being a true punk rocker! Things like this just warmed the cockles of my of the sainted past that was still around and not just as "archived" fragments of some dead past but as a music that continued to be alive and vibrant and concurrent with all the other stuff vying for my precious attention (and dollars). And with a "past" like Roky had the legend only vibrated more and more as the years went by. I mean, while the rest of punkism USA either played it really straight or feigned (?) outrageous insanity, we knew Roky was insane, and best of all, unlike Sky Saxon he didn't become a hippie in the process even if his hair was long and he sported a beard. Heck, half of the groups inna USA tapping into the underground root of it all had guys who looked JUST LIKE HIM!!!

This new Norton release is kind of a surprise...y'see, way back in KICKS #2 which came out during the final dayze of '79 none other'n Billy Miller was making fun of all these Europeons who were buying up International Artists albums for exorbitant sums of francs and lire, and a quarter of a century later here he is releasing a disque by one of IA's leading lights! And no matter what you think about psychedelia, one thing you gotta admit is this rec ain't "really" psychedelia, or at least the brand o'psych that brings back hazy memories of bad anti-drug films school authorities usedta show unsuspecting pipsqueaks in assembly (well, at least it got us outta class!). This is more "psychedlia" as defined by Lenny Kaye via NUGGETS, which means a lot more'n psychedelia as defined by ROLLING STONE even if half the San Francisco bands were ripping off the Elevators and taking all the glory for it. Psych as in late-seventies Roky with his Aliens in full force romping through a set of fabled fifties covers (w/a few Roky originals tossed in) sounding in all his Buddy Holly glory pretty much like many of the new aggregates that sprung up after being dosed not only on the energy of the Elevators but hefty sideswipes into Stooges and Velvet Underground territory proving that if anyone hadda right to the "what goes around comes around, or at least goes splat right back in your face" it was Roky.

The CD is pretty much unedited, sounding like those rough recordings of similar-minded seventies underground rockers that were circulating via TROUSER PRESS tape lists only cleaned up for digital consumption yet still sounding raw like the best music of that particular strata always tended to do. And of course it's such good rock & roll whether inside or out of the punk/wave/garage continuum that you'll shudder at the thought that this breed of high-energy music was forsaken for some pretty sad musings as time went by. And I didn't even tell you about the nifty booklet with notes by Rokologist Gregg Turner that read like a lost BACK DOOR MAN article! It's a good one...even BLACK TO COMM artist Brad Kohler likes it and he always seems to find some excuse to NOT like things even if he should so that must go to prove the lasting legacy of DON'T KNOCK THE ROK!, an archival find I'm sure you'll "dig" (get it?).


OTHER THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT: While searching the web for information on things totally unrelated I came across this neat site for Japanese noisemakers Up-tight that I'm sure any serious (or casual) fan of the Japanese underground form would want to check into. Up-tight are (along w/LSD March and other groups you can read about if you comb this blog carefully enough) one of the best post-Velvet Underground-styled groups coming out of Japan these days, and to beat it all these guys are honest-to-goodness acolytes of none other than Les Rallizes Denudes and it sure does show in their sound even if their latest CD was less then stellar. On this site you not only get to read various items (some in English!) on this fantab group, but you can also access their all-Japanese Velvet Underground page from here if you so desire not to mention download a number of songs onto a CD-R which would not only help sate any high energy yearnings of yours but look pretty snazzy inna collection. Remember how I used to get all sweaty and clammy just thinking about Australian groups twenty years back? Well now it's Japan that's all the rage in my brain, and really, if you're like me and you still get all hot and giddy over rock & roll as a LIVING PROPOSITION just like you did when you were first DISCOVERING THE STUFF then reading about and discovering Japanese underground rock'll have the same effect on you as reading about the hot up and comers in THE NEW YORK ROCKER did eons back! And if you're interested in buying any wares by Up-tight and many other Japanese proto/punk types of worth, just give Eclipse Records a try.

If you're bummed out about the possible (likely?) closing of the infamous CBGB and feel powerless with regards to DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT, maybe there is something within your abilities you can do to make a difference. Maybe not, but if you go to "Save CBGB & OMFUG" perhaps you can help out similar-minded rock fans do their darndest to save this hallowed dive from extinction. At least you may feel a little better knowing you tried your darndest to help the forces of rockism this far into the 21st century especially at a time when it seems as if rock & roll just ain't as important as it used to/should be. Let's face it, even thirty-plus years later CBGB remains one of the few places which promotes and nurtures original rock music, and if it weren't for this hallowed haunt and its mere existence how many garage bands out there (both good and bad), not to mention heavy metal, progressive (even!), folk, jazz, reggae etc. acts would have gone the way of the Edsel a lot sooner'n had they not had a place like CBGB to gig at? Plus, keeping the place open is yet another concession to my own personal feelings...I hate seeing things I grew up with and remember from my rocking youth days (just like I hated seeing things from my fuzziest early memory times like buildings, automobiles, television shows etc.) get demolished/replaced for the sake of "progress" or what-have-you, and believe-it-or-not but keeping CBGB on the go will also help me to continue retaining a close contact with a rapidly-fading past that seems to be getting replaced by a boring and meaningless HERE AND NOW so all I gotta say is... KEEP CBGB ALIVE AND HELP ME TO KEEP FEELING YOUNG!!!

By the way, as usual I'm trying to get information on a variety of groups that have played CBGB (and her sister clubs/venues from the CBGB Theater to CB's 313 Gallery and the CBGB Lounge) over the past three-plus decades. Naturally I'm not interested in the groups we all know about but those acts that didn't quite go as far via the CB stages as the likes of Patti Smith and Talking Heads did. I'm talking about aggregates like Sorcerers, the Twelve-Tone Funk Orchestra, Sleet, Uneasy Sleeper, Junior Birdmen, Amphetamine Dreams, L-7 (the all-black group, not the Detroit hardcore one!), Destroy All Monsters (ditto...they were black too!), Jet Mule, Floor Kiss and thousands more, so if you know about 'em (or were in 'em!) and wanna share your knowledge, feel free to contact me if you so desire. If you don't, I guess that's my tough turds, right?

Sunday, April 10, 2005


Vinyl situation's pretty sad as we speak (not necessarily due to the lack of the much-needed plastic stuff, only that even the substitute Westinghouse turntable lent me by my brother-in-law has died a sorrowful death so I'm outta luck as they say), but I still got plenty of these tea-coasters to rattle off about given I haven't been doing any "serious" rock scribing for about a month. So, if you're one who likes to live vicariously through the writings of "highly-respected" (hah!) rock fanatics such as I (just like I used to and perhaps still do gape in awe at the old and new writings of certain rock journalists past and present soaking it all in more'n a sponge filled with hot soapy water ready to do battle with the bird doo on my car), then settle back and osmose to my own personal subjective opines on a number of cee-dees I've obtained over the past few months. (And, if I were one of those caustic, stuck-on-themselves writers who perpetuate the rock and blog worlds, I'd tell you to "get a life" if you're so hard up for your cheap thrills that you have to live through someone as cloistered as I am, but considering my stellar existence upon this planet all I gotta say is you're welcome to live through my writings, opinions, tastes etc. all you want! There's more'n enough "life" to go around, so live on!) And if you think these reviews "read" strained, strange and outer-worldly it's only because of this hangover I'm experiencing at this very moment...exactly what the hangover is from I do not know (not having imbibed in any of the strong spirits for quite some time since I drank 'em all up long ago), but I sure got them Sunday afternoon sweats so kindly bear w/me pleeze...(and I thought Dave Lang's reviews were insipid!).

NOISETET OBSCURE-I reviewed (what I could make out of) a live cybercast by this avant/improv group a month or so
back, and in the course of that scribble I mentioned something along the lines of that I didn't think that this CD in question would come anywhere near what I witnessed that night (which, through my foggy memory, was nothing less than free jazz cum rock taken to its logical 2005 extremes w/o looking totally silly), and after eyeballing their appearance via an archived gig my opinions were merely strengthened given the extremely high energy music Noisetet seems to put out in these low-fi days, and with seemingly relative ease to boot. Naturally I was told that this CD was just as fine and dandy as what I got an eye/earfulla during their recent CBGB Lounge appearance, but after a number of spins of this disque I just gotta concur with my original feelings re. this Texas-transplanted-to-NYC aggregate. Believe me, nothing tops what I saw and heard that Sunday evening true, but man-oh-man this disque is still a very good encapsulation of exactly what Noisetet does, or at least what they could capture in a studio without the live immediacy of it all. It's jazz and even rock with a strange-to-me mid-eighties feel, almost sounding like something that woulda frequented the main stage at CBGB in 1985 amidst the hardcore, metal, pop, punk, gnu wave etc. acts that were frequenting the club at the time. However, even with a more current approach to their reason for being, Noistet have a strong early-sixties avant jazz style which, when mixed with Donny Silverman's "bent electronics," kinda makes the thing come off like something you wished Frank Zappa's rock meets Ornette jazz stylings of the early seventies woulda sounded like had the man not been as stuck-on-himself as he was. In fact, Noistet are quite enthralling as they take the early avant and mix it not only with early-seventies accomplishment (Miles Davis in his electronic phase) but eighties post-fusion and moderne electronics and turn the whole thing into a jazz rock masterpiece that can even border on the fringes of (at least BLOG TO COMM-sanctioned) punk concerns if your mind can comprehend that. The cover ("deconstruction?") of Eric Dolphy's "Hat and Beard" is something not to be missed. Anyway, despite the early reservations NOISETET OBSCURE is a must-have for those of you who still pay more'n a little lip service to the unmitigated pow'r of the jazz avant garde, something which still seems to be steamrollering itself across the land if the quality of acts such as Noistet and many others are any indication.

Sonic Liberation Front-ASHE A GO-GO (High Two, 7835 Devon St., Philadelphia PA 19118)-With a name like Sonic Liberation Front I had the idea that these guys were some sorta terrorist/music organization like the dolts in Missing Foundation (or their record label Purge Sound League for that matter) who helped set the stage for radical thrash and burn in the eighties with their "confrontational" politix that seemed to inspire a load of pompous "direct action" at the time which never made it other'n with like-minded commies who continue to congratulate themselves for all their daring public disobedience that never really did anything constructive (thank goodness!), but their hearts were in the right place so I guess it was OK anyway. Well, this Sonic Liberation Front ain't cut from the same political/radical cloth as all of those blood splatterers of the past, though their aural shift is pretty revolutionary in itself. These Sonic guys are a heady mix of mid-seventies NYC loft jazz with a more-than-generous dose of Afro/Cuban percussion and influence tossed in...and believe me, although this stuff may be too radical for one Mr. Fidel Castro to digest (well, I hear that, contrary to popular belief, Castro really hates people of African heritage which may turn him off to the "Afro" portion of the equation but still, I couldn't in a million years see him and his pal Che Guevara grooving to anything this wildly radical even with a Cuban beat to it while smoking their cigars and kicking up their feet after a hard day at the palace), it sure ain't gonna be hard for you the avant garde maniac to get this heavy jazz excursion into your system with its mix of deep, free, Roscoe Mitchell-esque tenor sax and the wall of percussion. Like the best efforts of the earlier Art Ensemble of Chicago, Sonic Liberation Front mix new jazz and third world forms and come up with something that ain't just yer garden-variety "World Music" blather but a whole lot more...guttural. Only the acoustic guitar/vocal track "Agua Dulce" ruins things...its kinda like if you had a real hot rock record with high-energy jamz and total abandon, and then for some reason they hadda go and stick an acoustic folkie track custom-made for the Joan Baez gang right inna middle! Still, for up-to-date avant/Cuban free-form jazz...where else can you go?

(An aside: both Noisetet and Sonic Liberation Front will be playing the CBGB Lounge in the not-so-distant future...check their Sunday and Wednesday evening "freestyle" schedule for exact dates and times. And given the, er, precarious situation that the CBGB "empire" finds itself in these days and how not only the main club but the performance spaces next door may be closing down due to the rent debacle that Hilly Kristal finds himself embroiled in (sources say no later than August), this may be your last chance to catch acts like Noisetet, Sonic Liberation Front, and hundreds more of varying stripes in this classic setting before CBGB joins Max's Kansas City and Club 82 amongst the fallen seventies rock zones that made up a hefty portion of that decade's underground swing and style. I gotta give CBGB credit for keeping the seventies alive (or at least the better aspects of the seventies) as long as they did, but if you want to catch underground (and overground) music in its purest habitat perhaps you better make the trip to the Bowery to catch it all before it's too late. [And, if you're a person o' pow'r and might and you think you can do something to help save this hoary haunt, just click here and see if you can put your influence to work!])

THE MORAY EELS EAT THE HOLY MODAL ROUNDERS (Water, PO Box 2907, San Francisco CA 94126)-As far as I can tell, here's the story...between playing together as the Holy Modal Rounders, the oft-volatle duo of Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber would engage in their own pet projects which have been documented in a whole buncha articles, most of which I obviously haven't read. The mid-sixties were rife with such solo excursions, and although the only one that I know of Weber engaging in was the hot garage-y number "Half a Mind" on the ESP EAST VILLAGE OTHER ELECTRIC NEWSPAPER sampler (the song makes a re-appearance here), at the same time Stampfel had been lending his talents to at least two punky propositions, the All Night Workers (of "Why Don't You Smile" fame) and the Moray Eels. Just how much of this record is Moray Eels and how much is the Rounders I dunno (supposedly longtime Stampfel galpal Antonia was the vocalist for the Eels while erstwhile Rounders John Wesley Annis, Richard Tyler and playwright [as every description of him feels free to point out so why should I be different?] Sam Shepard were also members of a sort), but this, like the equally skewered INDIAN WAR WHOOP, is a wild mix o' psychedelic rock (before the burnout aftermath took effect) and the early-sixties folkie spurt that still satiates even this far down the line especially considering just how many dumbos took this original impetus and watered it down to the point where all anyone w/brains could do was yawn. It's rock true, maybe even punk (though I'd love to hear Shepard's famed improvised punk rant that drew reviewer Patti Smith into his dark circle), and in many ways this kinda sounds like some of the street-level New York music that took to the stages of CBGB and Max's Kansas City in the mid-seventies long before the punk rules were, er, "tightened" a bit (which wouldn't surprise me since Stampfel's Unholy Modal Rounders [with ex-Leather Secrets chanteuse/Robert Mapplethorpe crony Camille O'Grady on vocals] played both haunts in the mid-seventies with Stampfel's appearance at the former club being sporadic ever since). Though exactly just how much of this record is Stampfel and how much Weber is open to debate...Weber seems to be hanging in the background and boy is his voice raspy! Favorite Stampfel cut: "Dame Fortune" which not-so-surprisingly reminds me of one of those early Patti Smith tracks before she had a drummer. Favorite Weber cut: "Half a Mind" even if it sounds better on the EAST VILLAGE OTHER album.

Shannon Jackson and the Decoding Society-STREET PRIEST (Moers Music)-Here's a guy who's had a career that seems to fit in (at least) w/my own concepts of "World Music" (that is, music that fits into my world of musical listening sensibilities)...a veteran of the mid-sixties jazz avant garde, Jackson not only managed to hitch up with Ornette Coleman and James "Blood" Ulmer just in time for the big harmelodic push of the late-seventies, but by 1980 was front and center for the big punk/jazz/funk/r&b scene then coalescing at clubs such as (where else but) CBGB thanks to the likes of such enlightened minds as James Chance and Bill Laswell telling ignorant white suburban kids that the free jazz trip was just as good as their new wave fantasies which sure meant a lot more to thick-skulls like me than hearing long-past-it hippies like Grace Slick say that ASCENSION was "Coltrane's acid trip" (yeah man!).

Jackson's group "The Decoding Society" was one of those "punk/funk" (for lack of a better term) acts that was frequently performing at CBGB during those kinda dark ages times, and I just gotta chuckle thinking about all of the hipster wannabes from outta town who were probably trekkin' to that famous hole inna ground thinking they were gonna be soaking up all the hot underground new wave bands at CB's acting cool along with all of the other stoned tourists out to see the latest flavor of the week, then coming face to face w/the over-the-top hot jazz/funk of the Society! dB records this ain't, but what it was was a pretty neat turn for both rock & roll and jazz to go in, and perhaps this was the real fruitation of all that jazz-meets-rock crossover stuff that got Lester Bangs more'n a bit frothy back when the seventies were clocking over into the eighties.

There've been a slew of Decoding Society albums issued throughout their lifespan and even I have a couple of them in their original vinyl form wallowing somewhere in my collection, but not this one. Recorded in Bremen West Germany back in '81, STREET PRIEST probably comes closest to what CBGB audiences were being bombarded with amidst the reams of other local acts coming and going throughout that underrated (as far as the good stuff went, at least) decade. In many ways this ain't the total post-no wave splatter one would expect (if one had only heard a good portion of that splatter...much needed offerings by the likes of such contemporary aggros as Phillip Wilson's Magic have remained unissued for years!) but fine straight-ahead avant garde that most of you scouring the situation had come across at least since the introduction of the electric bass to the form some time in the seventies. (By the way, one of the two bass players performing here's Melvin Gibbs, still a force on the NYC rock/jazz continuum who in fact played in a new aggregation with longtime scenester Elliot Sharp at CBGB last night called Raw Meet [no sic] in case you're interested.) Speaking of future names in music, Vernon Reid's guitar soars fine enough with the same jazz/rock riffage he would soon thrill millions with as a member of Living Colour only a few short years later. Really, this is a fantastic driving, moody, high energy freedom offering that I must admit sure soothes the savage boobies more than a lotta current rock product ever will, and if STREET PRIEST (at least to me) stands not only as a fine testament to early-eighties underground jazz concerns but early-eighties underground/CBGB stylings, well, I guess that's my problem. And its problems like this I wish I had more of rather'n the ones I'm stuck with, sugar!

The Necks-MUSIC FROM THE FEATURE FILM THE BOYS (ReR)-Although I have developed an aversion to Australians for some strange reason, I found myself getting hold of this new offering by an Australian free jazz trio perhaps because of the adhype appearing on various websites making comparisons between this bunch and none other than the Velvet Underground! And yeah, it's been years since the mention of the Velvets with regards to some modern musical act has made my mouth water like it used to (not counting worthy contemporary Japanese concerns, natch!), but given that the hypers in question were making Velvet refs with regards to the realms of freedom jazz, you could say that my interest was piqued a bit. Not that I thought the Necks were going to sound like, say, Tony Williams' Lifetime let alone that Universal Musical Force Wayne McGuire laid the groundwork for back in the late-sixties, but given the lack of fresh ideas no matter how old they may be I just hadda give this one a listen.

Given that this is supposed to be the soundtrack music for a film I wouldn't wanna see in a million years, I still like it despite being able to hear all the pretension that flick undoubtedly exudes. The Velvets refs can be heard through the neat repeato-riffage one can find on tracks such as "Headlights" (which has a Velvets via Suicide drone to it as well...and I sure wish that more avant garde jazz groups would take the Velvet credo to heart like the Necks do!), and when the usual cineematic "aht" isn't getting in the way this soundtrack can be pretty engaging in the fore or background for that matter. It's not as "jazz" as I understand their other releases are, but these Neck guys can do a pretty fine job of creating a moody, atmospheric music w/some Velvety least w/o coming off like a buncha STOOPS, that is.

Let's face it, the only way I would wanna go to Australia nowadays is with ax in hand, but while I'm burying the hatchet (hee!) I might as well check some of the music out. Dunno how the rest of the Necks reperatoire holds up, but this one's good enough even for a once in awhile spin and who knows, maybe they'll let me have my own boombox w/CD player while I'm serving life down under!

Turpentine Brothers-WE DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR GOOD TIMES (Alive c/o Bomp!, PO Box 7112, Burbank CA 91510)-Hmmm, can't find the hypesheet that came with this promo (y'see, I'm such a famous and well-respected rock scribe that record companies and people in general send me their product just so's they can read my opinions about 'em...pretty neat, eh?) so I'll have to wing it myself. Hmmmm...Alive records is Bomp's high energy division so I could expect something less pop and more MC5, right? Heavy organ brings back some Doors memories though I hear a lot more Hackamore Brick in the stew. The vocals are pure post-Morrison anyway. Nice '69/'70s cusp energy tricks here, sorta like the stuff Richard Robinson said was gonna be the top guns of the seventies scene and he was right, in a certain way. Amazing high-energy sound I haven't heard from a live/kicking group in quite some time, with the right touch of "garage" tossed in just so it doesn't go hippie on us. Drummer is actually a Turpentine sister as well! Some tracks like "Wastin' Time" seem to venture off towards more of a "boogie" direction but on the whole I found these Brothers (and "sister") to be a pretty enthralling batch. Just hope they don't milk whatever good they have done here for the next dozen releases to the point of meaningless like too many geeks who were discovered only after their initial pow'r surge had trickled into low-energy mewlings.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

RETRO FANZINE REVIEW: ROCK MAG #'s 1 AND 2 (edited by Tim Ellison, and you can read a lot more of his writings by pressing here, but don't try ordering any of these issues from him because they're long gone!)

A few posts back I made a disparaging comment about the current state of fanzine affairs, a topic I've tackled not only on this blog but in various issues of my irregularly-published fanzine, and although yeah, even retrogarde I know that we're now living in a magical mystical era of cyberwhatziz and can get any goofball's stoopid comments as soon as said stoop types his bile up and slaps it on his own personalized blog ("Look Ma, my name in print!" just doesn't have the same zing to it as it did long ago!), but sheesh, I gotta say that I've enjoyed things a lot more in the past when the same sorta stoop would slap his inanities onto a sheet of paper and xerox the thing for a hundred or so equally doltish goofs to read in yet another fanzine attempt to glom some of those precious SST albums that label was tossing out to just about everybody back in those maybe not-so-glorious days. Well, perhaps the once-proliferation of crudzines ain't as noble a cause as it may seem...after all, my closet is filled with up to a thousand of these quickie ten-page paste-and-slop 'zines, a ridiculous term in itself (like, at one point it was decided that the honorary term "fanzine" was too outmoded and a reflection of some cubesville Sci-Fi past or something equally ridiculous, and now they were [taa-DAAH!] hot 'n modern 'zines instead!), and how could I forget all of the cheapie crankouts sent me throughout the late-eighties and nineties by FACTSHEET FIVE-glomming "publishers" hoping for a copy of my humongazoid mag in "exchange" for their ten-cent wares! Frankly, I wouldn't call those days any sorta sainted highpoint in the history of any fanzine development given all the unmitigated crudzines that were coming out left and right, and in some ways that may include earlier endeavors I've had the gall to unleash on an unsuspecting rock world so MAYBE I SHOULDN'T TALK!!!

Getting back into proper rockism gear, I've got to gushingly say that li'l ol' me has been lucky enough to have latched onto a few more fanzines from the real "Golden Age" (which roughly lasted from the date the first issue of WHO PUT THE BOMP came out until the last issue of GROOVE ASSOCIATES in 1983), mainly the first three issues of the should-be-legendary COMSTOCK LODE. As you could tell if you've pressed the highlighted fanzine title and read the review that ultimately popped up (scroll down a bit), COMSTOCK LODE was one of those typical intellecto British fanzines that not only dwelled plenty on the past whether it be San Fran psychedelia (even with a hefty emphasis on the much dreaded Dead axis) or peripheral garage rock faves with a little of the moderne late-seventies/early-eighties underground rumble thrown in just so's they didn't look like total hippies, and even with the strange balance between psychedelic and punk the mag sure reads a lot better'n such contemporaries as DARK STAR not to mention that all 'round hippie trip RELIX which took the hippie credo and ran with it all way to the Boone's Farm winery. Anyway, I got the first three issues of COMSTOCK LODE just recently and they're all pretty snat as well even with the hippoid leanings that fortunately didn't go overboard into the more tasteless aspects of the form. And given editor John Platt's love for then-current innovation, it's sure swell that this fanzine didn't topple into the same chasm of terminal hipness that plagued its competition which ended up down on the farm with the rest of the ol' fogies.

But what I want to talk about today is ROCK MAG a fanzine that was put out (and may still be put out at least one of these days) by budding rock scribe Tim Ellison. I gotta say that I foolishly missed out on the early issues of ROCK MAG (which eventually became MODERN ROCK MAGAZINE for aesthetic purposes) back when they were first thrust upon a fanzine-hungry populace in the early nineties mainly because at that time I was purposefully avoiding just about EVERYTHING that had anything to do with the then-current underground rock scene. Y'see, at that time it had finally sunk into my pithy brain as to just how vapid a lotta this new rock banging had become despite deluding myself that there was some sorta connection between late-seventies innovation (no wave, local garage rock...) and then-current indie music, and by this late date it eventually dawned on me that all these new underground bands were doing was merely rehashing and rechanneling innovation of the previous thirty years to the point where it only seemed of themselves and nobody else, lacking any of the original putsch and impetus that one could find in even some early-seventies low-budget recording made by a buncha German punks who at least swiped from the big guns w/gusto yet came off pretty unique and entertaining in the process. This anti-current rock bias still exists (as even a casual tour of this blog would attest to), and without a doubt it was back in the early-nineties when my mad desire to hear just about EVERY proto-punk offering of worth (at the expense of current quap) went into high gear with my savings account being emptied into the coffers of the likes of Forced Exposure in exchange for just about every early-seventies vintage reissued 140-gram vinyl offering where the words "garage" or "Velvet Underground" appeared in its description.

But as for ROCK MAG, I didn't get hold of any copies of this 'un until the late-nineties, and only at the urging of a man who proclaims to be a fan of both that mag and the one that I publish on occasion. And I gotta say that when I finally read the thing (after much prodding) I thought it was pretty OK (which would be a change considering the low quality of many fanzines of the nineties), especially since for once in that sorry decade there seemed to be a magazine (and rock scribe) that straddled the various lines of punkism and intellectualism w/o any resultant storm fronts colliding into a tsunami I sure could do without. There had been similar attempts at writing about music considered to be dolt-inspiring by many with airs of philosophy major smarts tossed in...Russell Desmond and his epochal CAN'T BUY A THRILL comes to mind as does a good portion of the published work of Richard Meltzer, but seeing such writing coming from an upstart outta nowhere like Ellison was a fizzy relief, especially in light of the humongous hot "rock critic" turds birthed outta the ass of Robert Christgau we hadda dodge during those not-so-halcyon days.

Being outta print for quite some time it was sure fine and dandy latching onto these early issues of ROCK MAG. While not the fulfilling rock thrill the later issues could be, these embryonic pamphlets were sure fine as far as early starts go and in fact put a lotta other debut issues of certain fanzine endeavors (esp. the first attempt I made on a lost weekend in '85) flat out in crudzine territory. These "digest" issues are similar to the rest of the ROCK MAG run ('cept for that one "regular-sized" ish I reviewed in #25 of my own missive), and as far as these mags goe, they are pretty snat as far as delivering on the rockism goods that seem in such short supply as the years dwindle on and on from the original hard core root of it all.

The cover of the debut ROCK MAG features the guitar player from Larry and the Bluenotes (probably snatched from that issue of KICKS which made some joke about that group engaging in a "hold your breath the longest" contest in the caption), and on the inside you get a lotta good obscuro writing that takes me back to the days (mid/late-eighties) when I'd pour over xeroxed copies of Meltzer's uninhibited waxings that CRAWDADDY! and FUSION had the smarts to publish, analysing every word and ellipsed phrase as if it were a piece of well-crafted creative writing in itself. Questions re. rock as s**t/colors (good white/black analogies that recall Lisa Robinson's appraisal of New York rock in the mid-seventies as being monochrome, and in a good way) are tossed at you with a surprising accuracy and if your mind can't handle all of the philosophical tracts being shot out of Ellison's word-processor then welcome to the club...even I (no total dummy by a short stretch of the imagination!) have some trouble wading through the majestic thickness of Ellison's early scribings but I gotta say that it's sure a lot more FUN slipping inside Ellison's house that it was for me figuring out Bertrand Russell and Jean Paul Sartre in philosophy class (no beret and cigarette holder for me). Of course you get the obligatory reviews of the then-current altie/under/sideways/down stuff that never stood the test of the next week let alone eternity, but I guess there's an audience for this stuff...somewhere. Back cover snap of Paul McCartney in butch cut (probably pilfered from the WHAT A SHAME MARY JANE boot) foreshadows future McCartney idolatry to appear within the span of a half-decade.

Number 2 (a number 2 that I like the smell of!) continues on the high path of brain-scrambled quality that began with the debut, with a tome on minimalism that even reaches the pure heights of punk/intellectualism that's espoused by the likes of Wayne McGuire as well as a piece on "Cartoon Music" (complete w/a pic of the Archies) which ends with the brilliant summation "CARTOONS HEREIN AS REDUCTION RATHER THAN DETAIL PROLIFERATION"...comes close to a similar cartoon to real life axiom once uttered by VON LMO! (Great minds orbit the same planet.) The "highlight" of this issue is an interview with the Candy Apples who on first impression seem like just another one of the latest youth bands to roll out of the refurbished garage (there were so many of these groups over the past few decades sullying whatever mid-Amerigan gunch garage rock had come to mean), only this group looks like they might have had at least 25% on the ball (some intelligence in their answers) which would put them 25% ahead of the competition. Of course we also get the various altie reviews that I tend to ignore unless Ellison's reviewing something w/hefty sixties and seventies references (or some old reissue/repackaging), but you've come to expect that from me over the years. (Tho I did read and enjoy the Ruins review, but maybe that's only because they came recommended to me via a mention on Eddie Flowers' Slippytown website...thus the seventies tastemode connection that always seems to come up w/regards to my personal likes and dislikes.)

After all's said/done these two issues of ROCK MAG are honest-to-goodness pretty noble starts on a rock writing career that maybe did end up in a dead-end rut (I mean, what else would you call being a featured writer for THE VILLAGE VOICE alongsides such ne'er do wells as Frank Kogan and Chuck Eddy???), but at least we still have the guy's blog to enjoy, and perhaps there will be another MODERN ROCK MAGAZINE to peruse in the future, even if it is the distant future. Until then, try getting hold of whatever ROCK MAG/MODERN ROCK MAGAZINE back issues you can. Tim used to have a website where you can buy 'em but it seems to have been shut down. Write him at and see what happens.

Friday, April 01, 2005


As faithful (and faithless) readers of this blog know, there has been a load of half-truths, distortions and outright lies levied against me by one Dave Lang, an antipodean mental midgie who frequents his own blog sight which goes under the nom-de-puke Lexicon Devil (send him hate mail). In the post in question, which masqueraded as a review of the latest issue of my maybe not-so-infamous BLACK TO COMM fanzine, Dave rattled off a lot of rather controversial opines about me and although our hero said he was "trying to make a point" with what he wrote, once you get down to it what was spewed from the fingertips of the gushy one was nothing more than a lowly attempt to smear and ruin a faithful friend (one who gave him price breaks and words of encouragement despite my better nature) just because it seemed the best politically expedient thing to do. Dave may believe that he was "doing his readers a service" when he wrote that post, but the truth of the matter is Dave was merely trying to grind my face into the dirt by stating various pseudo-items pertaining to me (way) out of context and twisto-changing the facts in order to suit his perverted desire to see me grovel in my own vomit. And no matter how much he may deny it ("...oh yeah, I've just called you a racist/sexist/homophobe [ed. note-not that I particularly care, but et tu, Lang?] and all of those sins against the great mass of people and have probably killed a few hundred magazine orders for you in the process, but maybe we can still be friends..."), Dave's big game plan wasn't anything close to passing for honest criticism or even a great chomp and run away like Meltzer used to was plain ol' defamation and hatescreed that more or less reminds me of all the tricks and ploys that members of the chic literary/political left use against renegades who ever-so-slightly deviated from the norm, in the process doing their best to get their victims to don the old plastic bag over head and cash it in at the Big Casino (remember what happened to Jerzy Koscinski, a solid leftoid true, who got more than the cold-shoulder from his former comrats for seeing through the John Henry Abbott scam way back before Abbott ended up offing some PBS kidshow actor in a roughneck bar...well, it is fitting seeing these all-encompassing types preying on each other like they do!).

Well, since Lang was so eager to spew forth things about me and my personal habits/lifestyle, maybe I should feel fit to do the same thing about him. As it turns out, someone's told me more about the man whose personal life we also know so very little about, though for the sake of not hurting anyone's feelings I'm not going to mention just what Lang does for a living. I don't know why he would be embarrassed, even though such laws must be far more lax in Australia than they are here in the good ol' US of Whoa. So here are just a few things I've found out about Dave that I'm sure you (the enquiring blogschpieler) would love to know. Please don't send me any laundry bills for puke-stained shirts or extra-skidded underwear (if possible, read on toilet):

In order to prove to himself that he's NOT a racist as well as purge guilt-ridden feelings about his violence and venom-laden Ulster Scots upbringing/ancestry (which would explain a lot of the pure hatred Lang oozes for certain non-protected classes), Lang once gave ten humm jobs to various aboriginies in a single hour, a record in Australia and maybe the world.

Given his various cinematic scribings, it's no surprise that Lang yearned to be the technical advisor for SALO.

On Valentine's Day, Dave sends personalized scratch-n-sniff cards to Jay Hinman.

Dave likes the smell of his number two.

Even though not a drummer, a common nickname of Dave's is "rim shot."

After fifteen years in the "Real World" (TRANSLATION: the space between the various record shops and counseling centers Dave inhabits), Lexidev has come to the conclusion that "the common man is a brainless slob" which would either prove that perhaps Dave himself is (shudder!) "common," or maybe that any philosophical beliefs on his part would have been perfectly copasetic had Dave been operating in any elitist German university of his choosing sometime in the twenties and thirties. (Though believe it or not but Lang's ancestors really did come from Scotland despite the kraut surname, which I think is great...for krauts worried about being related to this walking piece of non-viable life, that is.)

Next planned article for PERFECT SOUND FOREVER to be ten-thousand- word essay on the cokeball in Neil Young's nose spotted in THE LAST WALTZ.

Oh yeah, he does believe in the Yeti.

Dave was given an award from the Australian branch of the Hemlock Society after it was found out that reading his March 7, 2005 post to the terminally ill leads to a quicker death (though w/o the much-ballyhooed "dignity") than the withdrawl of various life-support systems. Future revised editions of the FUNK AND WAGNALLS DICTIONARY have arranged to print this particular post under the entry "insipid."

Dave likes the smell of his number two.

And there you have it, Dave-in-a-nutshell, or bring me a malignant polyp and I'll bring you Dave Lang. And he sure as shooting continues to exist unlike his fabled unicorn head, his mere life being a big thorn in the side to not only my own personal existence, but generally good rock writing in general which seems in such short supply these days. He is a prime pud, and the sooner he takes his pretentious writing and supposedly spot-on tastes with him to the grave the better for all of us. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my li'l April Fool's post (and could you think of a better fool to ransack?) time I be serious.