Sunday, December 11, 2005


One look outta my bedroom window'll tell ya that wintertime is here (at least it is here north of the equator...dunno how you Chileans are taking it!) which only means ONE least now I have an excuse to hang around in my stuffy boudoir and kick these blogs out your way! And for one thing I don't have to feel GUILTY anymore about not cutting the grass and trimming the shrubs while staying inside my room listening to the myriad assortment of cee-dees that have flung their way to my door o'er the past few weeks, because other'n drive shoveling now my time is pretty much MY OWN! (NOTE: of course this is all an exaggeration of a great magnitude...I'm only giving you this disclaimer because there are some assholes out there who like to come to their own conclusions about who I am and how I live my life and act like the armchair psychologists they are when it comes to judging everyone else but themselves...)

Anyway, w/o any further McAdoo (cute, huh?) here are just a few of the newies that I've glommed o'er the past few weeks, and although I know that mentioning the nice people who've sent me some freebee disques in order to show my gratitude also earns the ire of others who have nothing better to do, I'll just hafta grin and bear it because, once you get down to it, them's the breaks. And besides, I've actually purchased a few of these wonders through the goodness of my hard work and labors (just so's I don't give TOM LAX any more fodder...) so punk you!

Ton Steine Scherben-WARUM GEHT ES MIR SO DRECKING? (David Volksmund Prod., KG, 26917 Fresenhagen/NF)

You may have missed my mega-review of this and the second Ton Steine Scherben album in BLACK TO COMM #22, but lemme tell you that I really flipped out when these German proto-punk offerings were once again made available for people like myself who have nothing to go by other than now-obscure articles in the pages of EUROCK and GORILLA BEAT. But whaddeva, I gotta admit that as the years went by I didn't cozy up that much to those two-LP sets that TSS ("The German MC5" according to none other than "Dad" in the old FUTURE fanzine) released in the wake of this stellar debut. They were just too staid and sterile compared with what else was coming out on the European garage band scene at the time, and I do recall that a certain Swedish expatriate now living in En Why See compared TSS negatively to none other than the French heavy metal band Shakin' Street which only got my appetite even more whetted because, frankly Shakin' Street (w/ or w/o Ross the Boss on guitar) were a pretty hot hard rock band in the trad of the early metallic mongerers from Blue Oyster Cult on down but we can't account for tastes other than our own, right?

But as for this one, it shows TSS kinda mirroring the American garage style of the times (early-seventies) albeit toned down. Sort of a mid-tempo Flamin' Groovies or MC5 on Sominex, TSS put out some "pretty", maybe even slightly-engaging and perhaps even Mirrors-ish riffage on this debut, yet in the light of the competition on the early-seventies punk brigades both there, here and elsewhere abroad, TSS really don't live up sonically to their radical, table-smashing image. A good bargain-bin find for sure (do they still have bargain bins, or has that section been relegated to the "buy it now" portion of your favorite Ebay store???).

The Coffin Lids-'ROUND MIDNIGHT (Bomp!)

Second (I think) release by this nuevo-garage band that does a better job rehashing and mimicking mid-eighties efforts than most. Brad Kohler will probably think that I'm in a great mood when he reads this review, and although frankly I'm NOT (getting a painful headache from this recurring headcold festering in the vast resources of my nasal cavities) I gotta say that this moved me a lot more than most current garage contempos even with the now-patented football chants heard therein. Now I sincerely doubt this is going to be one of those perennial spins here at BTC central, but I like it enough in my cornbread 1985 way, and I'm pretty sure that if you like the conveyor belt of retro- and not-so garage punks that have been coming your way for longer than you can remember you'll like this 'un too!

The Bloody Hollies-IF FOOTMEN TIRE YOU... CD (Bomp!)

Hey guys, I found it, and what can be said about the Lids above can also be said about these post-garagoids (hailing from Buffalo En Why, home of Bernard Kugel, SHAKIN' STREET GAZETTE and BIG STAR so you know what kinda ozone these guys breathe!) too. Pretty hot six-oh filtered through the seven- and eight-ohs with an interesting lead vox that'll remind you of maybe that one guy in the Jujus or even your personal fave rockcrit with his stones cut off. However I think these guys could do a little better w/regards to their appearance...I mean, look at the guy in the picture (second from left), who comes off as if he's trying to ape the Jerry Harrison in Talking Heads look!

George Colligan's Mad Science-REALIZATION (Sirocco)

As any intelligent reader of this blog knows (and I assume there are a few), one thing that I wholeheartedly miss this year is the complete capitulation of the CBGB Lounge Freestyle Jazz Series that was going down not only on Sunday but for a short time Wednesday nights as well. Not having followed the current jazz avant garde for some time, it was an experience to acquaint myself with some of the new players on the scene as well as re-acquaint myself with the vast array of legends who had performed at the famed club's next-door venue, and considering how my own tastes are forever becoming "retro-garde" and more in tune with the experimentations of the sixties and seventies than the current-day recyclings this new jazz spoke to me with the same fervent energy-burst that no wave and Velvet Underground-derived musings did back when the action-packed seventies were mutating into the boredom-laden eighties! But you knew that already, right?

So you can imagine that I'm more than anxious to hear just about everything by most if not all of the bands that made that three-year-old series one of the biggest splashes in jazzdom since Sam Rivers instigated the loft scene back in the seventies. And although recordings from the actual series seem to be hard to come by other'n a few relics on the Rent Control label we should be glad that at least some of the bands and artists who have performed at this avant showcase have gone on to release records (er, cee-dees) on their lonesome. And one aggro that I had been anxious to hear ever since they popped up on the freestyle roster was George Colligan's Mad Science. An organ/guitar/drums trio, Mad Science not only had the underground name down pat but drew comparisons to Tony Williams' Lifetime (the McLaughlin/Young period) which certainly got my heart palipatating! Unfortunately Mad Science don't reach the same punky heights that Lifetime did, and they don't even attempt to, preferring to stay firm on terra with a cool (and non-avant garde) jazz flopster sound that may be slightly pleasing at times and in-tune with the mainstream of things, but what does any of that have to do with high-energy aesthetics anyway???

If anything, Mad Science remind me of the kinda groups that were still playing at the main CBGB club back in '75/'76 before the mode of the music changed to a more strident punkism, though the sound would make a comeback of sorts as the eighties and nineties gave way to more-open booking policies and the next door stages more conduit to a mixed variety of soundspews. Still, for the meat of the matter you should first try out the recordings available (or not) by erstwhile free jazz groups like Freedomland and other worthies who can be found easily enough by just popping "avant garde jazz" "freestyle" and "CBGB Lounge" into your fave search engine. For starters, may I recommend you hit Ben Gerstein's site where you can even download entire performances from his archives including some wild tuneage laid down at the very same CBGB Lounge freestyle series I've been mentioning throughout not only this post but this whole bloomin' blog, and download I will if I can only figure out how to do so w/o it all sounding like interstellar messages straight from Uranus!

Various Artists-KICKSVILLE! (Norton)

Great...a "repackage" of an earlier Norton volume called DESPERATE DALLAS DEMOS and more (complete w/a front cover snap taken from THE WILD ONE which remains a great biker/teenage flick despite too many hippie hootches parroting the the "Whaddya got?" line in order to justify their own mixed-up antisocialness!) which aptly documents the late-fifties post-Gene Vincent scene taking place in the same city where JFK later got a skullfulla lead leading to even more desperation on all our parts (and believe-it-or-not but Gene hisself even does a version of his famed "Say Mama" with the equally late Ronnie Dawson!). Most if not all of this was taken straight offa rare acetates (with their labels proudly emblazoned on the back cover!) as well as other never heard before sources, and it's sure fine of Billy 'n Miriam to liberate these once-obscuros for our own personal happiness and pleasure! Unfortunately there are no liner notes to explain things even more (though everything was said in one of those later issues of KICKS that you all give lip-service to yet ignore in favor of the latest post-punk alternative flash to dazzle yer eyes!) but let's just say that if you'd like to see the ghost of Elvis, Gene and Eddie hovering across the spectrum of Dallas rockabilly jamz during one of the coolest times ever to live then this be the disque for thee! Even featrures two tracks by former Vincent sideman/future sixties punk obscurity Scotty McKay, and I only wish Billy and Miriam would tell us more about the time they hung out in a motel room with him and Scotty played him a whole buncha prev. released items while tellin' 'em they were all-new unearthed obscurities!


Yeah, I missed the movie too (it's now available on Dee-Vee-Dee anyway), but I've had the vinyl version of the soundtrack and now I got the digital one as well which does add up to hosannas across the boards. Actually, this platter's got the entire elpee on it plus that FREE BEER FOR LIFE offering plus their ten-inch TEMPO TANTRUM platter the 'Bones did for some kraut label and a few newies including the actual radio station ad (didn't even know the flick made it outta the film developing department!), so you can say that this one gives you a lot more than you've bargained for. Anyway, if you've liked Billy Miller's post-Handsome Dick Manitoba-styled vocalese, Miriam Linna's post-Honey Langtree drumming (and post-Irene Ryan banshee wails) not to mention a sound that crosses late-fifties southern squall and late-seventies garage smarts, then there's no reason why you won't like this 'un!

Dredd Foole and the Din-THE WHYS OF FIRE (Ecstatic Yod)

Bad move---aping the BYG/Actuel cover/gatefold scheme for this release (it ain't the FIRST TIME this was done, and it's just as bad as when a hundred substandard/alternative [aren't they the same???] bands utilize hoary old Velvet Underground imagery on their platters in order to make their pallid music seem more enchanting while the real post-Velvets innovators are either dead, forgotten or starving), but despite this glaring faux pas I'm willing to forgive Foole/Ireton if only because his Din back in the eighties was one of the few groups that could successfully keep that selfsame post-VU ball rolling w/o succumbing to the easy pratfalls of their brethren (even if Mission of Burma did act as the Din on a few occasions including his first record!). This new Din features everyone from the omnipresent Thurston Moore to such names I could've sworn I've heard before as Chris Corsano and Mike Gangloff playing everything from prepared guitars to exotic things like the "ersaj" and "tampura" and this stew sounds like some massive windtunnel moan with some eastern spells thrown in for good measure. If anything, THE WHYS OF FIRE reminds me of some now-encrusted "new music" album I might have chanced upon back when I would scour the used record shops of Cle Hts. in the mid-eighties when the goods were still going and everything hadn't been digitized yet. And, at the time you could say that I was mesmerized by this sorta drone that still seemed like one big SECRET that only """""I""""" was in on! Still feel the exact same way at times which is why I'll say that THE WHYS OF FIRE is an interesting-enough spew worthy of a spin here and there...a real "doo wah" classic as they used to say.

Fripp & Eno-NO PUSSYFOOTING (Editions EG)

Wouldja believe I never ever heard this one in its entirety, only via bits and pieces at concerts or on the FM radio band not to mention various self-invited listening parties throughout the past three decades??? So maybe that's why I picked this one up after years of lethargy despite a rekindled early pre-pretension Eno fixation that began sometime in the nineties. Anyway, back during the Golden Age of Import Bins you couldn't miss this one amidst the wide array of Harvest Heritage budget reissues (which were going for the same price as the other imports over here so what kinda bargain were they supposed to be for us bin hoppers who hadda pay an extra two bucks for 'em?!?!?!) and original editions of Sweet albums, and since Island felt it worthy enough to give NO PUSSYFOOTING a release over here you could say that your typical trip to the record shop just wouldn't be the same w/o stumbling across the dynamic duo of King Crimson's Robert Fripp and just-ex Roxy wunderkind Brian Eno (who was still just plain ol' "Eno" at the time before somebody told him he was a genius or something and he hadda act like one!) playing around with their electronics sounding like the missing link between "serious" avant garde and the new age twaddle that Eno would be egging on with his Harold Budd endeavors in a few years. Still, at this early stage you don't feel like such a moonbeam listening to it...the whole "channeling" and crystals phenom would be a good ten years away anyway and this music, while suitable for a comfy night's sleep, isn't quite as instant pudding as it would become during the vapid eighties. BAD POINT: since the cover repro on the CD insert is too small you can't see the faces of the cards Eno is play solitaire with unlike on the HERE COME THE WARM JETS disque, so all you sickos might wanna buy the LP (and a good magnifying glass) anyway!

EYE & I (Epic)

A lotta folks who were reg'lar BLACK TO COMM readers really thought that I was outta my mind for giving a thumbs up to the first Living Colour album way back in issue seventeen, and although I can see the reason they'd think I'd TRASH such a disque for being too commercial or some other hipster reasoning on their part frankly I can also see their STUPIDITY as well. I mean, it was true that Living Colour were making waves during the close of the eighties with rock videos and tee-vee appearances (which some might have thought would have been the ultimate turn off for yours truly), but they came out of not only the New York jazz avant garde and Ronald Shannon Jackson's Decoding Society (well, at least Vernon Reid did), but their CBGB-bred sounds were cut from the same cloth as that of Manster, the Planets and other seventies groups who were talented enough and had that garage band emphasis in their sound, but didn't "make it" because frankly they were too indebted to various non-punk concerns (Zappa/McLaughlin in Manster's case, the Who [throughout their career] and Zep in the Planets') to be esoteric enough for underground consumption. Over ten years later Living Colour made it with the same aesthetics that Manster and the Planets lost out on, and perhaps their signing signified some sorta underground success considering that if they had been around fifteen years earlier their album would have sunk without a trace only to be a flea market pick within a few short years!

Speaking of sinking without a trace, this all-black group (part of the Black Rock Coalition which fueled a few dozen bands during special nights at CBGB way back in the late-eighties) got a contract with Epic on the heels of Living Colour's success, and whaddya know but Vernon Reid himself is present on one track as is former Funkadelic keyboardist Bernie Worrell! I remember when it came out and I read a glowing lead review in THE VILLAGE VOICE, but since I was told by a fly-by-night friend that their version of "Venus In Furs" was perhaps the worst ever I passed on this bunch figuring that maybe CBGB really did stand for "We'll Book ANYBODY!" like this same pal once wrote in my mag!

Anyway, Eye & I (who I once got confused with Kelvynator, another BRC bunch featuring yet another ex-avant jazzist Kelvyn Bell) featured Melvin Gibbs who put in time with the Sonny Sharrock Band before venturing into more rockism concerns and vocalist D. K. Dyson (dunno her resume offhand...), and despite the bad tipoff (and coming to the conclusion that the VOICE writeup was just another piece of white guilt rockcritiquing) they sure come off a lot better'n what I had been expecting all these years. Not quite MTV rock despite the mandatory video (of "Venus In Furs" even!), but halfway there enough to enjoy on a frequent basis. In fact, even with the attempts at commericalization and techslick production, this is a pretty energetic, straightforward rock & roll album, a bargain from the on-line cheap bin that you might wanna check out if you got the urge for well-made rock & roll that doesn't quite ginch you out.

Although definitely not a high-energy surge that I champion all over the place it's still pretty nice, with a bitta funk tossed in here and rap-influx there (and no gag-inducement in sight even with the once-in-awhile turntable scratch!) amidst a rather pleasant pop that reminds me of what new wave could have been had it only developed in a less Madonna-ish direction. "Venus In Furs" is nice enough, while "Down To Zero" reminds me of something I might have liked a bit in 1980 had it only been around then. "Prisoner in Babylon" is a good enough thumper too, and I gotta admit that amidst the snatches of rock and metal chordings EYE & I is a rather entertaining platter that, while far from BTC-inspired top ten echelon material is still ear-catching enough, like when Roxy Music used to take all sortsa styles and make it all their own and sell records to boot! I am surprised, really, and maybe it shouldn't have taken me fourteen years to discover but really, there's so much out there...

More coming soon, including a book review and other recording monstrosities I just know you'll wanna read about, or else you wouldn't be wasting yer time with this tossout, eh?

No comments: