Sunday, June 11, 2006


Sorry if this usual Sunday mega-post ain't as mega as it should be, but what would ya expect with me shooting my wad with all of these mid-week writeups (in keeping with my personal goal of making this June one of the most post-filled in BLOG TO COMM history) only to fizzle out like a soggy fart by the end of the week! But don't worry Kyoko, cuz I'll be trying my durndest to make this one just as exciting and as jingle/tingle of a post as alla the rest, even though I'll probably have to stretch a few things in order to make this 'un epic length like a good Sunday post should be, so no poke-ing around for I better dig into it and soon! (I gotta congratulate myself for making alla the above sly s-xual asides and not once mentioning Dave Lang...I guess I do have some self-control!)

First off maybe I should talk about what is perhaps the gulcheral event of the year, mainly the arrival of a stack of old fanzines (from the glory days of the seventies, not the pallid yet overhyped eighties and nineties) that always make my day a whole heckkuva lot more interesting than...cruising the web for meager mentions of my faves amidst a load of lousy rock scribing out there! Being a humongous fan of the first generation of (proto-) punk fanzines and general gonzoid writings you can bet that the arrival of the old BOMPs, HOT WACKS and ROCK ONs was cause for celebration (FROZEN TEE-VEE DINNERS EVEN!), and although I've already had the WHO PUT THE BOMPs for well o'er a quarter-century (albeit in cheap photocopy mode) and the HOT WACKS (not the bootleg mag) more or less consisted of West Coastie musings even with Brian Hogg on board it was the ROCK ONs that got me all hot and bothered, and given that this one was (in part) the brainchild of one Kenne Highland ex-Gizmos and seventies fanzine scribbler/editor in his own right, really how can one go wrong??? Reading ROCK ON is like taking a time machine back to the early-seventies, only instead of being bombarded with alla the daffness that era could have dished out all we're saturated with are the rays of high energy metallic hope, with loads of musings on all our faves from the Raspberries and T. Rex on down the line.

Highland is an interesting rock scribe, more Charles Shaar Murray than Nick Kent maybe (though still firmly entrenched in a Kent-ish sense of sleek rockism style), for although Highland is a punk one thing he's not afraid to do is rave on about a lotta things that more self-conscious people (like myself) would be afraid to because of "what people might think." So yeah, you do get a lotta the same Iggy raves and hard rock rah-rahs that you saw from a lotta the other "proto-punk" putschers back in the earlier days of the seventies, but Highland is still man enough to tell you that he really goes for the likes of Jethro Tull's AQUALUNG and the "Living in the Past" single and that the Doobie Brothers were just as good as Moby Grape and that even Elton John's "Levon" was a boss 'un as well. I gotta admit that I don't exactly cozy up to the Doobies and that I wouldn't kiss Elton John on the mouth if you paid me (I mean, you don't know where its been!), but I find Highland's championing of such acts a lot more palatable than the rote party-line rants regarding the patented "hip" product out there (which, dear readers, I sometimes fall into myself) nor the Chuck Eddy "hip-to-be-square" huckster jive which seems like just another FM-jock stab at all that was really good and energetic to come out of the vague rubric known as "punk rock." And Highland is far more down-to-earth and seventies teenage locker room than most prissies writing about "rock & roll" these days!

Ish #1 (April, 1972) oddly enough doesn't seem to have any Highland in it other than a page where you can order then-current bootlegs (Neil Young, Jefferson Airplane, Elton...) from a 16-year-old Kenne for the mere price of $2.50 for a single and a whopping $3.50 for a double! The whole thing is mimeographed (blue ink, just like the cafeteria menus for the week!) and the cover features, besides a black power fist complete with middle finger raised, a review of Sha Na Na live done by co-conspirator (and co-classmate) Al Baase. Inside Al also does a review of Alice Cooper's KILLER that inspired me to do yesterday's post (but then again I always flip when I read the Velvet Underground's name used in the context of early-seventies rock) and yeah, maybe it is a "crudzine" with one-sided pages and faint repros and poor layout values, but it's a good one and I probably got more out of this debut offering than I did the entire run of most rock-oriented blogs out there (even some of the ones I like!) so punk you!

Future issues of ROCK ON upped the production ante more or less. My #2 doesn't seem to have a cover though it does have Solomon Gruberger on T. Rex and so-so album reviews including a nice mention of the Velvet Underground's LIVE AT MAX'S KANSAS CITY by a Phyllis Korlipp, plus a quick aside regarding cult hero Nick Drake saying that if you like Cat Stevens you'll like him! Sorta puts all that current-day alternative worship of the guy in its proper place, dontcha think??? Also cool...#5 with the Stooges on the cover inside with a good Kenne Highland rundown (which includes a heretofore unknown factoid stating that after Iggy left the band in 1971 none other than KIM FOWLEY offered to take his place...after being refused, he took consolation in recording his I'M BAD album for Capitol!), and speaking of Fowley there's a sordid tour diary featuring his exploits (with Meltzer tagging along!) plus good Highland pieces on the Move, Raspberries and the same David Bowie article printed in CRETINOUS CONTENTIONS without Crescenzo Capece's wizeacre comments!

(By the way, the Move piece in ROCK ON mentions a film of their 1967 stage act appearing on LAUGH IN of all places, with Rowan commenting how he thought the destruction of cars and tee-vee sets was a bad example for kidz to observe while Martin seemed to lap it all up! Any of you readers out there care to tell me if this prime-time atrocity is true or not???)

I already wrote up #6 in BLACK TO COMM #25 and didn't bother to re-read it, but #7 (the final one) seemed to be a return to the one-sided page days of yore, with a pic of Richard Nixon as a rocker on the front and double-spaced reviews straight from the typewriters of contributors Natalie ELECTRIC WARRIOR FREE PRESS McDonald and Metal Mike Saunders on TANX and Robert Christgau's ANY OLD WAY YOU CHOOSE IT respectively. Not really a fine sendoff, but despite all the amputations ROCK ON was an admirable endeavor which was not only smart and current on one hand but fannish and primitive on the other, and if rock groups could use such attributes and make wonderful blare with it why not fanzines?

As far as other fanzine frolicking goes, I got the complete run of two Patti Smith fanzines of reknown, WHITE STUFF and ANOTHER DIMENSION on disque which makes it hard for me to read but I'm getting there, slowly but surely. Since I've read the latter and still have copies bought directly from the source I'm not that anxious to rap about it at this time (which doesn't diminish its own greatness), but the former is a new trip for me, a fanzine that, although more or less bred of the late-seventies punk rock "explosion" in England, still seems fixed in an early-mid-seventies frame of mind and layout which does help someone like me who turned off by certain aspects of British punkisms a bit (more or less preferring Amerigan wares, chauvinist that I am!). And besides, the mag ain't totally Patti per-se, but has neat bits and pieces on some of her influences (Harry Crosby, Wilhelm Reich [!] by Jon Savage [!!]) as well as other top spins in editor Sandy Robertson's collection from Eno to the Ramones, John Mendelsohn's Pits {!!!) and even that old Imants Krumins fave Amanda Lear!!!! Sounds like a fanzine worth immersing myself into, and when I have a chance I'll wing a full report your way, hokay???

Last night I tuned into the cybercast of the show going on at the CB's 313 Gallery in order to catch the appearances of both Radio I-Ching and Uncle Monk. Given the short life span the club has left, I gotta admit that tuning into these cybercasts reminds me of the final year or so of Johnny Carson's tenure on THE TONIGHT SHOW back when that show became so self-referential conscious of its host's retirement that every program began with a standing ovation and every Mighty Carson Art Players skit was cheered on like it was the last. Well, you don't get the same sense of doom watching the goings on at CB's like you did watching Carson, but the sense of final days eerieness does hang in the air a bit.

Radio I-Ching is fabled jazz drummer Dee Pop's new three-piece with a coupla guys who used to be in Tertiary Trio and are also in the Hanuman Ensemble laying down some particulary free-stretch music including a cover of Duke Ellington's "Caravan" (almost as good as the Fendermen's!) as well as some Dr. John thing and a few other items I recognized last night but forgot about because I was too busy to take notes! They're a slightly different trip from the standard all-out nerve grate freeplay I love so much, but that's fine. Can't wait for the album to come out (and it will soon!).

As for Uncle Monk, well I had some high hopes for 'em considering none other than TOMMY RAMONE was in this group, and visions of him being in some wild garage band avant/splurge/bash act overtook my already-saturated mind, but it turns out that Uncle Monk didn't even live up to their "alt-country punk bluegrass" label...after all, this band is nothing but a now-aged Tommy who looks like some old geezer at the flea market on vocals and mandolin and a slightly springier female cohort on acoustic guitar and vocals, and if you like me had preconceived notions, well it's time to flush them down the toilet with the rest of your youthful memories!

Hey, I don't have anything personal against bluegrass (though I don't particularly care for the's just that I don't have an animus against the thing like I do disco!), but seeing a guy like Ramone older and wheezier singing folk musings that would have probably gotten the original Ramones crowd all agag (no sic) was to me probably as bad as some fanzine hipster first seeing Sky Saxon in 1977 live with Star's New Seeds. Remember that part on the live album where someone in the audience yells up to Sky asking why he doesn't wear his hair like he did in 1966 and he replied "It isn't 1966 anymore."??? Well, I can see the reasoning in such a response even though it did make me cringe back when I first heard it, but really, seeing Tommy Ramone playing a mandolin and singing hippified bluegrass folkieisms didn't quite do my system good. But then again I'm not exactly as "open-minded" (read: holes in the head) as a whole slew of "rock critics" out there like to believe they are and I do have my own tastes and faves and losers for that matter, and while I wouldn't put Tommy Ramone and friend in the loser's column it wasn't like I wanted to do any cheerleading for 'em as well. However there are some consolations...I could see Uncle Monk as being some sort of Peter Laughner-ish folkie sidestep (like the groups he had all through the duration of his high energy outfits), and at least the guy is ALIVE, but that doesn't mean I'm gonna buy their CD!

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