Saturday, May 14, 2005


You may think that living the life of a top-notch, well-respected fanzine editor/blogger is one huge hunkering brimming bowl of cherries, but in reality, what may seem like one long glorious trip to the uninformed can really get you down. I mean, look at all those freebie recordings that a person like myself is inundated with day in and day out from people whose only goal in life seems to be for me to tell people what I think of whatever product the plunk down in front of me...and lemme tell you that getting bogged down listening to CDs that you didn't even pay for can get to be quite harrowing at times to the point where even listening to things you actually bought can seem like a less-enthralling experience. (I mean, it's like a porno actor who has to go home after a hard day at work and the wife wants to act romantic!) Anyway, here are four recent promo acquisitions that the people who sent them to me want me to write about so you can read about 'em (and ultimately go on to purchase said disques in question), and please be THANKFUL that SOMEONE (mainly me!) has the inner fortitude to review these CDs and tell you all about 'em so you don't have to!!!

Fearless Leader-GOD BLESS THE DEVIL CD (Gulcher)

Do you remember heavy metal? OK, but do you remember when heavy metal really was heavy metal and not just a buncha hipster put-on poses to present at rock clubs world-wide??? I'm talking heavy metal as in CREEM 1971 and not HIT PARADER 1984 when Andy Secher was trying to bend the metal rules to include total GEEKS who couldn't stand the test of the fickle winds of fate let alone time. I'm talking the HEFTY STUFF which included everything from the early greats/grates (read any Metal Mike Saunders article 'twixt 1971-1976 for the real lowdown) to such underground sidebars as MX-80 Sound and VON LMO as well as eighties wonders like Voi Vod not forgetting a whole lotta HONORABLE MENTIONS from the early-hardcore bunch who had pretty much singlehandedly resurrected the form snatching the banner from the grasps of arena/barbituate overdose wonks to other stompers on underground/punk turf that the oh-so-serious metal fans would never acknowledge. You know, the essentials. Anyway, if you remember heavy metal you just might like these guys. I'm surprised Jay Ward Productions haven't come swooping down on 'em for swiping their name from the Erich Von Stroheim-styled character who appeared on THE BULLWINKLE SHOW, and given these guys' late-eighties stage antix ( a description which I have swiped from Eddie Flowers' Slippytown website, where you can also buy this) you'd'a thunk the lawyers woulda been hot on their tail long on:

These mofos spent a good chunk of the late 80s and most of the the 90s alienating fans, friends, club owners, alleged punks, avowed hippies, and other hapless California creatures. Who really wants to see a grown man shove Spam up his butt? What idiot wants to witness giant paper-mache penises toppling onto the green lawn of a quiet campus park? Why would anybody like a band that sets fires on the stages of clubs already panicked by local authorities? Smoke bombs, ugly naked men, bad makeup and retarded glam moves, fuzzed-out wah-wah guitar till your ears bleed--these evil-doers have a little bit of everything you don't want. In spite of how repulsive you may find these anti-social creeps, their recordings always burn with the same rockin' intensity as the Stooges, Kiss, the New York Dolls, and similar 70s icons--but crossed with a deep philosophy of stupe that's not unlike the early drool of the Dictators, the Gizmos, and the Angry Samoans.

So as you can see, Fearless Leader aren't exactly the kinda guys who will settle well with the cultured heavy metal clientele you used to see praising the worst aspects of what became of that once-deified sound (Chuck Eddy comes to mind). Naw, these guys are thee metallicus maximus that was proposed to us lowly peons so long ago and quickly shuttled off to some dark corner while Bad Company somehow became the band most synonymous with that soon-to-be loser sound. Fearless Leader remind me of the groups that the likes of BACK DOOR MAN and related critiquers both high (Richard Meltzer) and low (Julie Burchill) would still refer to as "heavy metal" well after the punk marque had been made on the collective minds of blubberbutt Amerigan youth who were eating all this stuff up like so much pop rocks.

Funny ha ha lyrics recall the Angry Samoans which wouldn't surprise me given the time and place, and it could be argued that Fearless Leader might even be yet another of the long line of heavy metal parody bands, only one that the metallurgists caught onto w/regards to their personal tastes being mocked (unlike with, say, Spinal Tap). Either way it might just be something you like. Maybe not, but then again I'm tired of second-guessing you lamebrains out there so why dontcha just FIND OUT FOR YOURSELVES.

Howling Diablos-CAR WASH CD (Alive, available c/o Bomp!)

Wasn't that thrilled by this white blues bunch from Detroit, but then again I've never been one to be totally thrilled by the blues experience thanks to various comments that have been made by Wayne McGuire in his "Aquarian Journal" so maybe I should be disqualified by the taste overseers. If you disagree, write to Commissioner Tosches to seek my reinstation.

Col. Knowledge and the Lickity-Splits-FALL IN LOVE ALL OVER AGAIN WITH... CD

I was hoping that Athens GA would have been burned to the ground after the load of "alternative" gunk the place had dumped on us for well over a quarter-century. Oh yeah, I cozied up to the B-52s when they first came out and seemed like a refreshing change from the stale shape of things going on but that was before their entire schtick became the new modus operandi for the same turdburgers that originally shunned the "new thing" back when it was really new. I'll also admit to liking Pylon (whom I haven't heard in years) and having a strange interest in the Method Actors back when this guitar/drums duo seemed like an interesting concept, but frankly, the whole game seemed to stale out within a relatively short time, which also happened to be the same amt. of time these groups went from college rock fodder to THE SOUNDS OF THE EIGHTIES. I don't even think it was that shuck REM band that did it in for me was just the now-tacky, dry music that came out of what was extremely refreshing in 1972 when Jonathan Richman did it or in 1975 when a slew of New Yorkers looking 1965 in a Ken Russell world seemed like the ultimate in "concepts." The rock coverage that was going on thanks to the once-unique NEW YORK ROCKER didn't help things either other'n for various Coley, Linna and Waller contributions, and let's just say that when things began to look sour, when the soft strains of what became of new wave began to represent the sounds of American Underground, when the ROCKER began slapping pix of Sting on every other cover in a vain attempt to bleach themselves out of existence, I began looking elsewhere (KICKS, hardcore, old fanzines, reissues...) for my rock jollies because the new thing just didn't have ANY swing, or any meaning for that matter.

These Lickety-Split guys do have a bitta the drive and mood to keep anyone going, but the southern soul and falsetto voices keep dragging me back to the days of college radio cuteness and Stiff Records promo shirts. It's still an unfair way to categorize these guys who are very good at what they do, but given their dixified credentials I'm kinda surprised that Col. Bruce Hampton just doesn't come on over and whomp their butts a bit. If you're the type of BLOG TO COMM reader who goes for this then go ahead, don't let me stop you! But as for me, I've heard it a lot before and all it reminds me of is 1983 when I started to realize that the generation of music I so adored was slowly dying out and it was relatively calmer, safer stuff like THIS that was replacing it with an alarming frequency.

The Stoneage Hearts-GUILTY AS SIN CD (Alive)

Dom Mariani (who I once got confused with avant garde jazz guitarist Dom Minasi!) is a bloke from Australia who spent the eighties playing in a group called the Stems or the Petals or the Pistals or the Stamens or something like that, and although I used to see his moniker bantered about in the pages of such illustrious reads as B-SIDE and maybe even BUCKETFULL OF BRAINS I never did get to hear any of his music. Tuff luck for an overgrown kid like me who spent the eighties putting out a fanzine in order to enlighten you ignoramuses out there any maybe cop some free gunch in the meantime, but it wasn't like I was losing any sleep over it. Still, a Mariani record in the mail woulda been a lot nicer than getting all of those Atlantic new music promos!

Well, twenny years later I finally get to hear the wopadago, and it's via his new band the Stoneage Hearts who are recording for the late Greg Shaw of all people which sure seems fitting. The Hearts dish up a good half-hour-plus worth of music here as well, sounding like one of those great mid-sixties downunder groups who put out a whole slew of records that never made it above the equator back then, but their hefty thick wall-of-aaargh! was something that would have been well-suited for people used to rivers running downstream. If you like all those groups that used to get written up in THE LIVING END (btw, did you know that a drunk Dean Mittlehauser called my house all the way from the Cedars Lounge in Youngstown when he was in the US of Whoa asking if I could meet him there to do some hanging out, only I was working a job where I hadda get up at five inna morn and my dad said that I was sleeping so I never even got to speak with the guy!) then you'll probably also like this good retro-vision which ends with a competent take of "Biff Bang Pow" that reminds me of how I hadda rely of cover versions like this back in 1981 because the originals were too expensive even if they were being reissued for us modern kinda fans!


Anonymous said...

Wouldn't the obvious comparison for Fearless Leader be Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction, who also straddled the line between serious metal/hard rock and parody in the late 80s?

Christopher Stigliano said...

Maybe...never heard either of 'em and I'm not exactly ashamed either, other'n for being too POOR to purchase a lotta the things that would have interested me back in the eighties. But hey, that's what I get for pouring my savings (and meager profits) into a fanzine thinking all the stuff I did want to hear would have been sent directly to my door...what a stoopid doopid kid as Meltzer once said!