Sunday, December 31, 2006


Y'know, I sorta feel like some respected radio announcer of yore or classic editorial columnist sitting here in my lofty blogger chair giving you the lowdown on all the good and bad that has been part and parcel of this gone-before-our-eyes year of 2006! And it's no wonder I have these warm-'n-toasty feelings regarding the last day of any year even this far down the line. After all, back when my extended family (uncles/aunts/cousins) was bursting with baby-boomer kiddies and the older generation was still sturdy enough to put on New Year's Eve parties (with the elders in the basement watching Guylum Bardot while the kids would be cluttered upstairs listening to the Top 40) these shindigs were really something to look forward to given all of the rambunctious hubbub that would be going on all over the house. I remember the '70 capper clearly, especially when the deaths of Jimi and Janis were displayed (with pix!) in the paper as being highlights of that wild year, while the following one was pretty hot in itself given it was perhaps the closing moments of one of my top fave Christmas holidays ever. Naturally I did express some not-so-feigned dismay when "Bang A Gong," then not only my top fave of '71 but the early-seventies for that matter, made it to a measly number thirtysomething on the WHOT-AM top 100 countdown, but for some odd reason that very night I also decided that maybe those Marvel comics (which I had previously thought were way too convoluted!) I got for Christmas weren't so bad after all! (These mags included the great AVENGERS Kree/Skrull wars conclusion where Rick Jones conjured up a whole slew of Golden Age Marvel characters which was boffo for a classic comic fan like least I remember suddenly being swept up in 'em whilst reading the things at two AM New Year's Day!) Later on New Years celebrations weren't as all-out as they were when I was a kid (after all, what is there to do comes December 31 when you're stuck inside of Sharon with the New York blues again?), but I gotta say that even with the clampdowns and general lethargy seeping into all corners of life at least we still got a December 31 to sort out the previous 364 days of mayhem and put it all in a proper perspective, or the trash can whatever the case may be.

If you want my general consensus of '06 all I gotta say is that it was...OK. Thankfully there were no major crises here at BLOG TO COMM central, and although things ($$$$ situations, availability of recordings I would like to hear) could have been better they also could have been worse. And if that makes me a Pollyanna then just slap a dress on me and call me Hayley Mills! True there weren't any really blockbuster disques coming out this year, but then again I haven't come to expect any real cutting-edge (no, not in the patented "alternative" mode either!) records or musical movements to happen in at least the past two decades either. Well, at least the earth didn't spin off its axis into the sun (now THAT would have at least gotten my juices flowing, at least before they bubbled up into the atmosphere), but I sure coulda used more hot new bands playing the BIG BEAT, more archival and reissued material and perhaps an underground sense of wonder akin to what was happening in music 30/40 years back when rock & roll seemed like a hot magical basis for the soundtracks of a few million kiddies out there on this thing we call Earth.

But who am I kidding? I'm no spring chicken and I wonder how many of you out there reading this ain't as well! But do you really need to be a young'un anymore to tune into a high-energy rock & roll mindset? I mean, Tuli Kupferberg was a hoary ol' 42 when he joined the Fugs, while our dear sainted Richard Meltzer is a healthy 61 and not only that but he's singing with Smegma now which makes for a much-needed BRIDGE 'twixt classic noise mumblings and the new breed of warblage which seems to be still coming out even this late in the game. (And let's not forget Alex Harvey who had a steaming seventies rock career going while he was a whopping forty which back then was practically geriatric!) So lemme get off this ageism rant (after all, you're only as old as your MIND!) and get down to the brass tacks, mainly the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the ins and outs and the saintly and retching moments in music and civilization in general for the gone-before-our-eyes year 2006.

BEST "ALBUM" (or Cee-Dee for that matter) OF THE YEAR-Hands down winner is the Coachmen's AMERICAN MERCURY. A natural shoe-in although I do have my own, er, prejudices regarding the thing since a few choice tracks originally popped up on the Cee-Dee that came with the latest issue of my humble fanzine and I still consider Coachmen leader J. D. King a "close, personal friend." Other winners for the year include Michael Xul's GIZMOS MY WAY (scroll down for the review, as they say), Doodles' FRANCE TOUR (again, scroll down) and MX-80's WE'RE AN AMERICAN BAND which came out last year but I just heard it anyway (ditto). As far as last-minute entries go, who could forget Smegma (with Richard Meltzer)'s RUMBLINGS which I guess is good enough for this year even if I just got the thing!


BEST REISSUE OF THE YEAR-The Left's JESUS LOVES THE LEFT (scroll down, but not that much). A wonderful reminder of the few bright spots that popped up in that sad sack decade called the eighties. A Bona-Fide (heeee!) winner!

BEST ARCHIVAL DIG OF THE YEAR-Either Les Rallizes Denudes' TWIN SILVER or LIVE 1972 (I don't have to tell you by now that you'll probably have to do some scrollin' if and when you decide to check out my original reviews of these year-end winners!) Honorable mention goes to Wire's two-disc LIVE AT THE ROXY/CBGB THEATRE set which probably makes me an alternative post-punk pile of twaddle in your book but frankly I've been called worse (and by my mother!).

BEST BOOTLEG OF THE YEAR-Given it was a bad year for bootlegs (other'n reissued wares in new packages that don't warrant the ultra-high price tags) the hands-down winner for '06 goes to Kraftwerk's BREMEN RADIO 1971 which you can download on your lonesome if you have the technical smarts and know-how (unlike me!).

BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR-THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT JONATHAN even if it is a few years old, but that doesn't matter as far as BLOG TO COMM time goes.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER-Lou Rone, hopefully to be back in the majors this upcoming season!

DEATH OF THE YEAR-I was gonna say James Brown, but his passing didn't affect me as much as it did Al Sharpton so I think I'll pass on him. With Brown gone, I kinda wonder how Fred Harris (or whatever his name is??? has been sooo long!!!!!) and his presidential aspirations are going to end up! Given my own lilly-livered completion I'd say the hands down winner for death of the year (at least in the entertainment department) just has to go to Don Knotts (for which I will buy a DVD of his legendarily risque 1969 feature THE LOVE GOD?, basically an early version of THE PEOPLE VERSUS LARRY FLYNT for the sixties sitcom crowd!) far as politics go, '06's biggest loss nearest and dearest to at least my heart is none other than top BLOG TO COMM hero Augusto Pinochet, a man who should be saluted if only for the self-indignant ire he raises amongst a whole slew of people I downright HATE! (Kinda makes me wish I was front and center bashing in the palms of one Victor Jara whilst taunting him to play one of his dippy folkie agitprop numbers!)

HIGHLIGHT OF THE YEAR-The return of PUNK magazine, or is it the return of Bill Shute????

BUMMER OF THE YEAR-This just has to be the closing of CBGB and the related next door clubs which offered me (via cybercast) a whole wondrous range of musics ranging from free jazz, avant garde, blues, folk, reggae (not my fave, but I'll give it a chance), funk, country and oh yeah, rock!

POST OF THE YEAR-A personal fave I guess, and although my writing has done some extreme rollercoasting (along with my mood) from abysmal lows to stellar heights this past year I gotta say that there were plenty of moments o'er '06 that I can be rightfully proud of. However, my own pick for top post this year goes to my review of Jay Gatsby's THE MOST WASTED BOY ALIVE album from the glitter glam days of 1974. Actually, as astute classic CREEM readers already know, this was a fictitious album that was "advertised" in the pages of that famed rock read back in '74 even garnering a bogus review from none-other-than Peter Laughner himself where I got a few "facts" on Mr. Gatsby for my own writeup! The best thing about this one is that this review actually elicited a "comment" from a reader who thought THE MOST WASTED BOY ALIVE was a legitimate disc which makes me feel kinda like Lester Bangs when his Count Five article continued to spark interest in those "later" albums...good thing this reader didn't try searching out the equally mythical Gatsby debut on ESP-Disk, a concept album about the death of Jean Harlow!

BEST AVANT-GARDE JAZZ ALBUM/CEE-DEE OF THE YEAR-Since freedom jazz is such a big part of my life these days and in many ways more pertinent as a here-and-now music than even rock & roll (!) I thought I'd give it a category of its own. Again, these discs may not be part and parcel to '06 but I first heard 'em this spot goes to Luther Thomas' THE RAP (a fine return to the laser launching pad for this long-gone alto legend!) with Radio I-Ching's LAST KIND WORDS ranking up there in the higher reaches of the jazz realms somewhere even if their music isn't "quite" jazz proper (but YOU tell me what it is!). Another fave this year...the Dom Minasi Trio's GOIN' OUT AGAIN which seems to get played a lot more often than I thought it would, so it must be a winner, right?


Well, as David Frost used to say that was the year that was, and maybe you can KEEP IT for all I care! Just kidding...2006 was a pretty nice year all around, and like I said, although there weren't any miracles happening it wasn't like there were any major disasters in my life so I gotta be thankful for at least that! Now, I don't hold out any great hopes for 2007 producing any great rock moments but who knows, maybe we'll be able to find a few jewels, a few interesting moments amidst the usual flotsam and jetsam that passes for life these days. I dunno. Anyway, to all the fans and friends of BLOG TO COMM (all THREE of you!) here's to a happy and jam-kicked new year...and after the past few years boy do we need one!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Smegma-PIGS FOR LEPERS CD (Harbinger Sound); RUMBLINGS CD (Hanson, PO Box 7496, Ann Arbor MI 48107...both CDs are available through Forced Exposure)

Smegma are probably, nay, DEFINITELY my new all-time favorite noise-rock band this week! Really! Which is kinda funny, because I remember back during the GOLDEN AGE OF PEOPLE MAKING RECORDS IN THEIR BASEMENTS THAT I ACTUALLY WOULD WANT TO LISTEN TO I didn't care one whit about who these Smegma guys were for whatever odd reason you could come up with. Perhaps it was their sicko name (which I thought was a spoof on French jazz/progressive rockers Magma!) or my utter East Coast chauvinism (Los Angeles/West Coast stuff seemed "lesser"...I know not why), but I really didn't pay attention to these guys and misses for a much longer time than you could imagine. It's only after I took a chance on getting hold of the mid-seventies collaborations between Smegma and the infamous street singer Wild Man Fisher which had become available on vinyl (reviewed in issue #24 of BLACK TO COMM in case you care) that I began to not only appreciate the askew wonderfulness of Smegma but dug into their past and present catalogs, and ever since they got hold of legendary "punk beatnik" Richard Meltzer for their lead warbler chair let's just say that the Smegstock has shot up to unprecedented heights in the annals of BLOG TO COOLDOM. Hey, as you all know I gotta find a hook somewhere!

Anyway, I just got hold of these two Smegprizes and thought that a quickie year-end mention of 'em would make for a nice summation of the year 2006 proper, at least so's the two would QUALIFY for kudos come the year-end wrapup due in a few days. After all, given just how much this band has become a much-loved proto-punkoid aggregation still operating while all of those other seventies watermarks have sunk even lower, its sure nice to see some things STAY THE SAME esp. for connosewers of the noisier aspects of life, and as far as noise goes you can't do much better'n Smegma esp. for their fine mix of the smart set avant sound, primal preteen noisescronking and straight-ahead All-Amerigan garage band duncitude usually caused by too many back-to-back plays of FUNHOUSE and WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH with a hefty sidestep into "Revolution 9" buffered by incessant HAZEL reruns.

Cee-Dee #1 PIGS FOR LEPERS is a swanky collection of past Smegma dribble dating from the beginning (known to you as the seventies) to early-eighties showcasing not only a lotta the fantab stuck record/tape-loop/free noise music these guys were dealing with even back then but other smart surprises including a live track from '74 when the band had pretty much forsaken their "straighter" post-Zappa musings for a sound that could be called industrial-waiting-to-be-birthed. This numbuh (rec'd at Pasadena Community College) seems (operative word) to be trying to top the whole Zappa/Beefheart/Hampton sense-o'-strange that's been already milked to death by that time, and with a vast array of sound-rattlers that make the standard vacuum cleaners and lawnmowers in rock music (talking Stooges, Electric Eels and Swell Maps amongst other worthies) sound about as on-cue as electric guitars, it's no wonder I thought of Smegma as the Amerigan DG-307 and maybe you should too. A fantastic mix of brilliance from the minds of dunces that makes me feel guilty about giving Smegma the poo-poo while forking money hand-over-fist for a load of subpar sputum that only petered out once new wave turned to gnu wave and all those "save the world" bands sorta revealed to us all what shuckdom really was all about!

Of course the real winner of the batch (and late contender for top disque of the year despite what I mighta said a post or two back) just has to be the recently-released RUMBLINGS Cee-Dee. These all-new Smegma recordings not only have Our Hero Meltzer as the lead singer and frontman (reports of slam-dancing punks in Portland struttin' to these old fogies have been resonating from here to Bizoo and back) but heralds a return to (after a few detours into pure mindmush white bzzzrt) the more rockism-oriented Smegma sound back when heavy Amerigan garage drones would collide with musique concrete before it all turned into a mass of zebra puke. Meltzer's vocalese/recitation fits the music superbly, especially when he prattles off some of his great patented nonsense lyrics akin to the time he wrote about when PBS decided to use a detailed drawing of a lung from a non-existent three-part episode of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND for one of their science programs or (in the course of a mention of an upcoming Cigar Store Indians concert) enumerated a variety of fictitious condensed canned soups closing out with none other'n a Cigar Store Indian flavored offering! I gotta admit that I really rolled on the floor during "Bunstuffer" when Meltzer was blabbing on about colloquialisms regarding a hamburger-esque (?) treat that one is still unsure of ever after three or three-hundred plays ("In Pittsburgh they're called tobos. Residents of Hartford on the other hand know them as sarsaps.")! Kinda reminds me of the great tail-wags-the-dog sorta tomfoolery I and a whole slew of other single-digit kids dealt with where the sound of words and their ranking in pre-pubescent silliness sometimes took a front seat to the actual (non-existent) meaning of the things. And for that I gotta congratulate Mr. M for being able to mix such kiddie gutteralness with an Andy Kauffman sense of puton!

Of course Meltzer's word punnage mixed with the Smegma-styled turntable/free blow sound as well as the old-timey rock refs. (title trackage actually a redo of the Link Wray classic "Rumble"!!!) makes for a true winner as twenties futurist manifestos shake hands with late-seventies punk drama while it all splatters outta your speakers into your mind's eye. And I gotta say that it's a modern-day WINNER despite (or because) of its great late-seventies sense of noise-as-rock which, as we knew even then, was a music that would find more acceptance in 2006 than in 1979 as long as we made it outta the twentieth century alive. Sometimes I'm not exactly sure if we did make it out OK, but if we did I'd think that Smegma should be the band playing the soundtrack for the post-POST-millenial scrunch!

Whaddeva (despite entering onto the laser launch pads at such a late date), PIGS FOR LEPERS ought to rank pretty high as far as reissued upheavals for the year go, while RUMBLINGS should do pretty swell in the current Cee-Dee sweepstakes top notch grabber or else this just ain't the ONLY rockism-oriented blog on the face of this prune-pitted earth of ours! But if anything, the whole mess makes me wanna trek down to Coraopolis (onna border of Pittsburgh) and visit none other than foul-weather friend Brad Kohler, and maybe we can not only listen to both of these fine platters but go out and down a few tobos ourselves. Well, it would seem a fitting enough way to not only celebrate the eternal spell of Smegma but the tasteful brainery of the one called Meltzer!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Hey, here's hoping that all of you BLOG TO COMM readers' Christmases were the merriest and that you got all of the nice little worthless things your peen-picking hearts oh so desire! As for my X-mas, it was pretty snazzy itself with no relatives bargin' down the door to waste my precious time or scarf up all the tasty cream-filled cookies either! And not only that, but I finally made out like a bandit proving once and for all that noneother'n Sandy Claws himself reads this very blog! Unfortunately no Remco Supercar or Kenner's Give-A-Show Projector graced the bottom of my tree, but Jillery got me not only some Fizzies but the first two seasons of LEAVE IT TO BEAVER on Dee-Vee-Dee, while Mr. Lou Rone of Ephrata Pee-Yay got me the new GODZILLA disque which not only has the familiar Raymond Burr take that has been shown on tee-vee incessantly ever since the early-sixties but the pre-dubbed/edited Japanese version...and you can bet that it's gonna be grand watching both the original and Ameriganized one and making comparisons, avid student of the cinema that I am! And not only that, but I got a turntable/CD player/radio which means there's gonna be a lotta vinyl spinnin' here at BLOG TO COMM headquarters once I find out where I can stick the dang-fool thing without it gettin' in the way!

So as you can see all is happy and well here at the old homestead, and though this Christmas wasn't exactly as tip-top as all of those Christmases past when toys would be pretty much comin' outta my ears it sure cuts a swath o'er most of the recent socks 'n underwear ones which have been about as exciting as listening to Dave Lang tell you about the last ten albums he bought in alphabetical order. Like I said, expect more "turntable trivialities" as the weeks go on, or at least after the first when I wrap up my typical summary of all that was good and bad with regards to the year we all know and love as 2006.

Until then, here are a few items I have just received courtesy Forced Exposure that oughta wetsy your betsy given their outright ginchiness. And maybe I will sneak another li'l posting in until my aforementioned Year's End Blowout (calm down Dave!) which should be hitting you between your eyes come December 31st!

Sandy Bull-STILL ST. VALENTINE'S DAY 1969 CD (Water)

One of the best things about being such a po' boy who couldn't afford all of the records 'n things that he wanted to hear way back in the day is that, as the years roll on to a precious few there's always some old thing out there to discover as if it were fresh spew. Of course, as anyone who has read my maybe not-so-infamous fanzine can tell you, there was a LOT of stuff out there that humble ol' me was discovering for the first time in the eighties and nineties that many of you readers were in on the ground floor for, but please don't think that was out of ignorance as much as it was in a tight-pursed household and barely making enough money to scrape together for a cutout, teenaged me hadda make do with what I could get hold of and if that meant I hadda think seriously about what I bought even if it was a chance-y proposition well then I just hadda. And yeah, I missed out on hearing a lotta things I shoulda because of it, but it wasn't like I was some richkid who had the maid wipe his butt as was her duty in such fine upstanding homes who could buy everything he could get his non-poopstained hands on because he was a stinkingly wealthy soul who had not only the love and kisses of daddy, but his charge card as well! No, I hadda WORK for my money, and given how much I hate to work it wasn't like I was snatching up the records left 'n right!

But then again, I think discovering guys like Sandy Bull way after the fact as I'm doing right now might have been a good thing...after all, the (ahem) mature me in the here and now would probably be way more receptive to the sounds this rather "out" multi-instrumentalist was laying down in the there-and-then than I would have in the distant past when a good portion of my musical education was limited to borrowed disques and in-store play. And yeah, I know I've been told about Sandy Bull and just how much I would enjoy his various Vanguard albums for a much longer time than I can imagine (at least during the days when my magazine was a cheap xerox printjob way back in the mid-eighties!) but frankly I gotta admit that some of the hype swung my way at the time seemed a little suspicious. Then again I'm always suspicious of hype either mainstream or underground which is why I shied away from worthy bands like Wire and many other acts so long. But y'know, a guy's gotta find out things for himself without the aid of post-post-Bangs issues of CREEM and a myriad assortment of now defunct "fanzines" anyway.

As far as this Bull guy goes, I at first had him pegged as being yet another one of those proto-gnu age guys, kinda like fellow late-sixties stringbenders John Fahey and Robbie Basho who like-it-or-not had a hand in helping create that horrid eighties musical fermentation that was going on thanks to the whole-wheat hippie leftovers at Windham Hill. Not that either Fahey or Basho could be blamed for the existence of utter nils like Michael Hedges, but for a spell in the mid-eighties I guess there was a lot of guilt by association going on. After awhile I changed my own tune with respect to the man...after all, given how Bull had garnered a whole slew of hipster fans the likes of Bob Dylan and Patti Smith (who even wrote a beautiful review of a Max's Kansas City appearance that was once online and dumped before I had a chance to download it for my own benefit) I figured the guy to be some sorta wired proto-punk (at least spiritually) in the Elliot Murphy/Bob Neuwirth mold. Given how it was Ms. Smith herself who tried to help Bull's sagging career out with some opening slots I tended to think it was more the latter, and given how new kicks seem to be getting harder to find these days I thought I'd give this old kick a go 'specially since the brave new label Water has just issued this brand new live elpee recorded at Marty Balin's own Matrix back Valentine's Day '69 (and April 5th), a time when I would think that Bull would have been at some sorta smacked-out high in his on/off career and judging from the wired nature of this disc who knows?

I usually would give a big thumbs down to a gent who would perform live with a taped backing but considering how it was Bull who would lay down his own instrumental thud (usually with a bass guitar or repeato-riff of some sort) and how the music he plays over the tapes with his over-reverbed electric guitar or oud has the rare magic to transcend the usual gnu-age trappings into pure Nova Music, I gotta say that I'll let my preconceived notions slip by for right now. Mainly because Bull's playing is as demonically hard-core intense as you would expect from a post-folkie with a heavy dependency on the needle, as well as an electric bent that seems to be plugged into the same circuit as a whole vein (no sic) of similar-minded atonal mongers of the time roaming around the rock and jazz spheres.

Far from your typical folk meanderings of the day (which would quickly roll on into Marin County hippies on the front porch trying to play faster than each other), STILL ST. VALENTINE'S DAY has a dark East Coast feeling that makes me wonder why Bull didn't score more high-profile underground giggage from the same scene that pumped up his career only a few years earlier. (Methinks it was the, er, "bad habits" getting out of control. After all, if his own mother was able to secure gigs at CBGB you think he woulda too!) And it's a beautiful darkness, one that sorta bursts all over you (as on the two takes of "Electric Blend") yet storms right into early rock & roll mode on the cover of "Memphis" and, thanks to the mid-eastern twang of the oud, into vistas (cool Christgau word!) that kinda sound like something William Burroughs and Brion Gysin woulda slammed onto their Tangiers turntable in order to get into the mood! And there is a Burroughsian mindset to this that I'm positive even all those decadent RE/SEARCH types were soaking up as little hippies!

This thing hasn't left my laser launching pad ever since I got it yesterday, and I have the feeling that if it had only arrived a month or ten earlier it would've been a shoe-in for BEST ARCHIVAL DIG OF '06 (I think I'll save ST. VALENTINE'S DAY for next year since it's such a latecomer anyway, but MAYBE NOT!!!). The hallowed drones and neo-feral oeuvre have got me sold. I think you know the rest.

Lol Coxhill-SPECTRAL SOPRANO 2-CD set (also available through Emanem natch!)

I remember back when this bald British soprano saxist with the strange name had an album call WELFARE STATE out on Caroline, Virgin's specialty label that seemed to take on a life of its own somewhere in the mid-eighties. Considering how Caroline had been issuing rare material from the likes of Philip Glass and Tony Conrad and Faust amongst other fringe-y avant garde artistes, I figured that Coxhill's music would have been in the same adventurous fashion...perhaps sounding like British art rock with a more extreme approach. Unfortunately none of the import outlets I knew of had WELFARE STATE in stock, and I fear it's extremely impossible to get hold of at this juncture in time unless you expect to dish out the usually high buckskins for a product that might've run you a then-outrageous $7.98 from any import album dealer. Oh well, all of the people (actually, only one) told me Coxhill wasn't worth the time and effort to listen to which at least helped sooth my Aesop-ish lust for them juicy outta-bound grapes of an album at the time, but as you'd expect the curiosity lingered in the back of my ever-rambunctious mind for quite some time afterwards.

To be truthful about it, I haven't even thought about WELFARE STATE in over twennysome years and it ain't like the platter has ever graced a want list of mine, but that doesn't mean that I've totally gone zilch on the career of fact, far from it as this review will reveal to you. I gotta admit that, even with a New York Scene preoccupation and early-seventies suburban garage mania that borders on fanatical taking up much of the past quarter-century if not more, I still looked into the guy and his amazing career whether it be as a member of Kevin Ayers' Whole Wide World or the Damned (at least that's what Pete Frame said!) as well as his various recordings of interest that I eventually came in contact with. Including this two-CD almost fifty-year-long effort that, for some not-so-strange reason, reminds me of some overview that Rough Trade would have done for one of their acts back in those transitional early-eighties days. Spanning styles, sound quality (including the scratchiest vinyl they could find!) and even instruments (such as a slide saxophone played underwater!), SPECTRAL SOPRANO is what I would call a pretty snat introduction to the man called Coxhill and if you're just a bumpkin just off the train from Moline maybe this one would be a good way to familiarize yerself, that is if you're game to a lotta class avant exploration the same way I was back in my bin-slumming days wondering whether to gamble the eight smackers I had on Cecil Taylor or Ornette (a dilemma I often came across in those oft-mentioned penny-pinched times!).

SPECTRAL SOPRANO has that proverbial all including early r&b and classic jazz recordings dating as early as '54, plus the expected varieties of avant jazz in various forms from late-sixties Lacy-esque bleats to electronic-addled squealing that reminds me of some lost Roscoe Mitchell sesh from the eighties for some not-so-strange reason. All-encompassing, especially for blokes like me who thought Arista-Freedom was thee no-holds-barred class label of the late-seventies, and even if you think British avant jazz is about as staid and tamed as the populace at large you'll get a kick outta SPECTRAL SOPRANO as you hear Coxhill go from lounge to free-play. Plus the format and general attitude of the thing is pretty wired in itself as modern switches back to bop and back meaning your pop will think you've finally "wised up" when he hears you playing "Autumn in New York" yet will fight to have you committed when Coxhill splats pure free bleat. Not much (in fact, not ANYTHING) referential to Coxhill's rock work is apparent other than some boss mid-sixties work for Teddy Knight and the Chessmen, but at least Lu Edmonds from the Damned pops up on one track playing a three-stringed bass banjo which should get all of you punques hot and bothered!

Avant snazzers will know that they should get it even if they probably won't, at least right off the bat that is. As for the casual persuer, SPECTRAL SOPRANO is a good place to get acquainted with Coxhill's entire reason-for-embouching, though if you're still pretty green may I suggest beginning with some of the more familiar lights on the late-20th century avant jazz scene such as Ornette Coleman, the Art Ensemble of Chicago (anything pre-Moye is recommended) and the entire BYC-Actuel jazz catalog which can now be scarfed up with relative ease via various reissue labels where you don't have to pay an arm and a leg for an album pressed from what sounds like the soles swiped from Dewey Redman's own feet. And I could be like Kurt Loder and state the obvious about how there's some mighty fine work on these discs you'll be in store for if you only let someone older and wiser guide you, but I'm not gonna be that obvious. It's up to you, and if this review doesn't garner Forced Exposure or Eminem one sale it's not like I'm gonna bust out cryin' or anything!

Also received in the latest FE package...two Smegma disques, PIGS FOR LEPERS and RUMBLINGS (with R. Meltzer!) which I may review later this week prior to the big send off to '06. Only spun the latter once so far and must say the fine blend of guttural (sounds straight from the guts, really!) and rockism sure appealed to me, especially when wrapped up in the smooth and sultry voice of Meltzer. Keep attuned.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


You've probably noticed that I didn't write my usual one or two mid-week postings. The reason for this is that I didn't feel like writing any. Am I being succinct enough for you???

Cheetah Chrome-ALIVE IN DETROIT CD (D.U.I., PO Box 46073, Mt. Clemens, MI 48048)

Yeah, ol' Cheetah Chrome, like the AIDS "crisis" he was once rumored to be a part of, just keeps rolling on and on. Heck, I thought he'd be the first Dead Boy to deep six especially after hearing all of those stories about people seeing him smoking crack onna street with a few stumps left for teeth, but who can doubt that the man has PERSEVERED! True he looks about seventy now and with that shaved head he more or less resembles the guy standin' next to you in the men's room at a PENNSYLVANIA rest stop at three inna morning...and who knows, that frightening mass of flesh just might BE Mister Chrome so maybe you should ask to shake the man's hand, after he's washed up naturally!

And although I gotta admit that I love the dickens outta the famed bald/toothless one it's not like I'm exactly rushing out to buy his wares. Now, I sorta wish I got hold of those old Max's Kansas City tapes of his back when they were flyin' around, but then again I just got hold of this wonder, a live '99 set from Chrome and band where Our Hero croaks out a bevy of favorites and soon-to-be near-and-dears to your throbber and believe-it-or-leave-it but this one is a wowzer! Let me just ay that each and every track here is guaranteed to soothe the inner punk in all of us which is about as "Peace on Earth" as I can get this Holiday Season! Sounding a lot groggier than on those now-infamous Rocket From the Tombs live tracks, Chrome can be heard not only rehashing the Dead Boys catalog and rummaging through some recent material that might woosh by you but not by me, but the man of shine also had the cranial capacity to tackle the Rocket "standard" "So Cold" (the main reason I bought this slab) and it's a true winner! Almost as good as the original though done in 1999 sloppy punk rock style rather'n 1975 amphetamine-intense mode. A momentous feat especially for a man whose liver probably looks like it could be sold at the deli (and maybe taste like it too!).

Wire-LIVE AT THE ROXY LONDON-APRIL 1ST 7 2ND 1977/LIVE AT CBGB THEATRE, NEW YORK-JULY 18TH, 1978 2-CD SET (available through Pink Flag)

Yeah I know, I'm not the hotshot punk rock expert that everyone expects me to be so why am I reviewing this recent double-CD live set by the infamous "post-punk" (what a retching term!) band Wire? Well smartypants, I'm writing this thing up because I bought it, and although I'm a comparative neophyte when it comes to Wire (as opposed to all those richkid bloggers who had all these discs practically given to 'em) at least I can appreciate a good punk rock platter when it hits me on my bean. At least I can AFTER I wash all that hype and alternative drivel outta my system (much of it spewed and eaten up by the aforementioned bloggers, or at least their late-seventies fore bearers) so I can approach the subject at hand w/o any preconceived notions, that is.

As anyone whose followed the hipster rock partyline rant these past twennysome years knows, Wire are a group who, like the Velvet Underground, Stooges, Can, Faust, Roxy Music and a few million others, spawned a lotta imitations that never could cut the rug because all their fans are nimnuls. All kidding aside (let's just say that their more dunceillary fandom can be found gathered in various San Franciscan enclaves and certain Australian dingo dump-piles), these recordings feature some classic moments from the original seventies take on the band including Wire in their early punkoid mode playing live at the Roxy in London where they can be heard setting the stage for the same sorta smart punk stylings that helped create a lotta eighties monsters (Ramones meet Eno in the Velvet Underground's rehearsal space---howzat for smart Big City rock critic-styled comparisons!) while the second, live at the short-lived CBGB (formerly Anderson) Theater over a year later has the band in their more-cerebral spasm-orbit where they seemed to be living up to the Harvest-label image a li'l more'n on their more garageoid debut. Playing for a sparse, almost non-existent audience Wire kinda sound like Syd Barrett during his own solo Harvest days under the influence of Kevin Ayers outtakes and a hefty dose of John Peel's pirate-era playlist slammed into the Eno songbook (another rockcrit winner!). One of the quietest live broadcasts I've ever heard. A true masterpiece!!!

Like I've said, the Wire name wasn't one to make me do hoppity hoopers all over the place like it does a good portion of you BLOG TO COMM readers who stopped in here on the way to one of those "relevant" alternaindie blogs by mistake. The utter hype pounded into me by critics and fans alike make me shudder to the point where the only Wire in my collection for years was the two-disc Rough Trade DOCUMENT AND EYEWITNESS one which sorta moiled in my collection for a good many years sans any serious turntable play. But anyway, I'm glad I waited all this time (twenny-nine years???) to "get into" the guys...I think the gloryosky mooshy ramblings of their fans has pretty much been washed out of my system by now!

The Lemon Juice Quartet-PEASANT SONGS CD (Piadrum)

Still missing those Sunday and Wednesday evening free jazz jaunts at the CBGB Lounge, lonesome me has been driven to seeking out various recordings from a wide array of acts who have played the venerable club under the tutelage of Dee Pop's miraculous booking (and it was miraculous...after all, who else but Pop could have gotten such elusive players as Eddie Gale and Burton Greene outta retirement???). Yet, even with the lack of new and interesting free jazz players to discover out there in the great big world of music I must confess to you that I'm still a bit gun shy with regards to picking up Cee-Dees by some of the acts to have graced the CB's stage given they seem to have more roots in "jazz proper" than the big bleat (and I'm not that anxious to gamble $10 on such obscurities as Sebastian Noelle and Dave Allen...Pop, correct me if I'm wrong, or at least send me a roadmap), but I did at least have the wherewithal to snatch up this disque by the Lemon Juice Quartet, a bunch who have played the Pop-curated series a number of times so they must be good, right?

Well, I gotta say that these Lemon Juice guys are "good" but not exactly the kinda guys who I wish I had plunked down money for, at least money I could have used towards a huge hunkerin' Volcanic Tongue order. Originally from Israel, the Lemon Juice Quartet on this disque play the music of Erik Satie and Bela Bartok and sorta jazz it up (didja know that Satie wrote a song called "Dried Embryos" which appears here?!?!), and as you'd probably expect the results are very European-sounding. Unfortunately that also means Euro-stodgy enough that a good portion of this coulda been played at a sidewalk cafe in Gay Paree while Shemp Howard was catching the Paris-sights...none of that all-out scrank can be discerned, so don't expect this one to jolt you outta your everyday humdrums the way John Coltrane's ASCENSION (first take) is racketing me right now!


I'll betcha didn't know they had free jazz in Washington PA! Well, they do and the Thoth Trio is the ones that dood it! I got this one as a Christmas gift from Brad Kohler (author of the mysterioso post from a few weeks back!) who stormed into his local Pittsburgh record shop and demanded to the owner that he deliver the wildest, most raucous avant garde jazz Cee-Dee that he had in stock. And this was it. I guess they're having a dry run as far as avant disques go in Southeastern Pennsylvania because the second most all out, atonal avant Cee-Dee in stock was JAN GARBER PLAYS THE MUSIC OF GRANDMA MOSES.

Not really BAD mind ya, but this trio covers a lotta the same free territory with hefty steps into bop that you've heard before and liked, only because it had a nice throb reminiscent of the real stuff. Still nothing here can do the fantastic JOLT to your system the way all of that beautifully feral music does. In fact, this sorta pseudo-free sound is now so ingrained into the whole jazz mindset that you probably can come across dozens of Thoth Trios all across the globe. Just take a trek to your local boho dive (every town has's where the old gym used to be) and you can see YOUR VERY OWN local variant play the same halfway-there energy (crisis) music with little bits of inspiration stuck here and there, but please don't poke fun at either the saxophonist's braided cue or the waitresses' tattoos. They really can pack a wallop!

Various Artists-THE IN KRAUT VOL. 2 CD (Marina, Germany)

Haw them Germans! I just don't know how to take 'em. On one hand they seem so stuck in their Kraut ways, driving small, funny looking cars and walking around wearing hats with these little shaving brushes in 'em, yet on the other they seem like they want to be Amerigans to the extent where they probably could even out-redneck the locals! (I'm not talking about those hippie krauts who still vy for the Golden Age of Soviet domination on the continent...y'know, the ones who place broken English comments on various blogs including maybe this one!) Maybe the Yankee Doodle has been excised outta the German system for good, but at least at one time there was a strange Amerigan side to the Germans, one that saw 'em guzzling up US of Whoa culture and driving around in Opel Diplomats (basically early/mid-sixties Chevy sleekness slightly reshaped for Teutonic tastes---they hadda keep those at home while exporting Kadetts!) and listening to this classy stereophonic slop. Maybe it was the conquered looking up to the conquerers (sorta like in Japan), but whadevvah, THE IN-KRAUT sure captures this strange period in German musical kitsch. Believe me, if Dennis the Menace's father was a kraut, he woulda been wearing the grooves outta his copy of this disc in between slapping his Aryan progeny silly!!

THE IN-KRAUT is just jazzy stylings for sleek Master Race listening pleasure that woulda suited your standard Heinrich fine while cruising the Autobahn. Even with all that I must admit that I discern a feel to it that sounds like it came straight outta early-sixties Yankee hi-fi frolicking coupled with a general demeanor that's even more German than the Pope! Lotsa Bert Kaemphert-styled schmoozy musings here. My late uncle, a big Bert fan along w/the likes of Earl "Fatha" Hines, Neil Diamond and Dean figure it out, woulda dug it. And so do I to a small extent, but the real reason I snatched this one up was for the early Inner Space-era Can track with noted local slut makes good Rosy Rosy warbling some interesting movie music mush that would have been more in-place on some Can bootleg rather than with this Jet Set-minded compilation. Speaking of Jet Set, Hazy Osterwald's very own "Jet Set" do an ode to "Swinging London" here which just reeks of Carnaby Street Tourist Trap glitzerama making me wonder if these guys were merely marvelling at the sights, or coveting what coulda been theirs???

La Dusseldorf-LA DUSSELDORF, VIVA CDs (Captain Trip Japan)

Two oldies I've been playing to heck these past few weeks. The first La Dusseldorf platter features Klaus Dinger and band straight from their Neu! swansong doing a pretty nice, almost treacly yet punk-rockish brand of krautrock recorded December '75 (important punk rock month) that, even with the positive sound and general European goodtimeyness still has a nice dark Velvet Underground feel especially on the CD closer "Time." Actually with this kinda of electro-Velvets sound La Dusseldorf coulda fit in snugly during the early-eighties Max's Kansas City days, and that's not only because they remind me of the early Comateens for some odd reason! VIVA was their '78 followup which I believe actually rated an English release on Radar (then home to Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and the Red Crayola!) and sounds it, with a more conscious understanding of what else was going on in the music world at the time. Kinda restrained anthemic, with the twenty-plus-minute "Cha Cha 2000" being an anthem...of exactly what I cannot say but I like the way it sorta says what I wish "Autobahn" would've if Ralf and Florian had only sounded as much as all of those American punk bands they said they liked. I can't seem to find the third CD right now but am looking forward to giving it another spin even if Dinger et. al. had gone off the deep end into German candyfloss by then. Ach!

READING MATERIAL TIME! Just wanna mention a few of the things that I've been eyeballing while my eardrums have been doing the vibratin' to all this wonderful soundscapading these past few days. Naturally I've been getting hold of a lotta fanzines, and although the Golden Age rock 'zinedom wares seem to be eluding me as of late at least I've recently latched on to some mags dealing with other arenas of fandom to occupy my time 'n space. Amongst these once-rarer than braincells in Dave Lang's head items is the final issue of ODD, the fanzine that pretty much led the pack as far as MAD-spoof satire rags went. Anyway, this last (#12) issue was totally offset (and probably incredibly expensive to produce given its humongous 35-cent cover price!) and the definite best of the entire run with a spoof of the BATMAN television series that actually was entertaining enough even if it wasn't guffaw-inducing, a LOST IN SPACE satire that was good enough that it even got reprinted in one of comic fanzine compiler Bill Schelly's collections, a so-so Dracula spoof and other things done with the aid of future underground heavy Jay Kinney (inc. this admittedly smart bit about superheroes with tan lines!). Too bad this ODD was the last...the mag looks great professionally printed and it seems as if the Herring Brothers were beginning to find their proper groove in the fanzine world. ODD could have developed into something special within a few years, perhaps just another underground pub but a thing to be reckoned with nonetheless.

Also managed to get the entire run of SNIFFIN' GLUE sent my way...repros of course but its nice to have this printed information in my fermenting paws even if it ain't in the original structure! Now, I do have one of the original issues somewhere in the abode and although I thought it was a "nice" period piece I'm sure that nobody but the dullest neophyte could deny that something was lacking in the mass of paper and corner staple next to a lotta the competition of the day. Maybe it was hardcore information, or perhaps too much local punk and not enough of an "international" outlook...who knows. Turns out a lotta the later issues are like this, with only the earliest ones coming close to an Amerigan sorta punk fanzine style with articles on such future punque no-nos as the Flamin' Groovies, Blue Oyster Cult and the Mothers of Invention intermingling with the kosher goods. Still a nice look into the British goings on at the time even though I (chauvinistic swine I may be) tend to prefer those post-Velvets loco garage aggregates who sure took up a lotta my time (and money) back during those maybe not-so halcyon days.

AND A MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL...sure the Big Day is almost upon us, and although the Holiday Season just ain't what it used to be to the point where I just may be bored enough to do a posting ON Christmas Day I'll take this time out anyway to wish you and yours a very Merry Yuletide Season. (I'll wish you a Happy New Year later on when I do my Year End Roundup which has become sort of a cozy fireside tradition here at BLOG TO COMM).

At this time I'd like to do a little Holiday Thank You-ing, at least to all the people who have made 2006 a pretty wowzer year in all. First off, a hearty Merry X-mas to one Lou Rone, who has grown to be a bigger pal over the past year than he had been before. Thanks a lot, and let's hope for a big recording year once '07 rolls on! Good tidings must also go to Bill Shute, who has made the biggest comeback of the year since Nixon with his newfound career as a poet. Really glad to see you come back to life you ol' Lazarus you, and remember to keep in touch! Also kudos to the Canadian contingent...Edgar Breau of the REVIVED Simply Saucer, Bruce Mowat (cub reporter---he covers wildlife now especially baby bears!), Paul McGarry and Imants the Velvet Underground CD, and a big thanks for that be to thee! Also wanna thank Tim Ellison for making it a great year on the World Wide Web, but couldja do more record/CD reviews on your blog, and the same goes for you Lindsay Hutton! Also wanna say Merry Mistletoe to J.D. King, Jeff Roth and all those other fans and readers out there, plus howdy do to Eddie Flowers for all those great Cee-Dees and rekkids he sends. Ditto to Billy and Miriam at Norton, and I'm still holding it all in until the new issue of KICKS comes out! And if I forgot to wish you a happy one, it's probably because it's really late at night now or maybe you're a lousy ATHIEST who doesn't deserve one anyway. Or maybe you live in San Francisco or a certain enclave in Australia at which point I don't even care if you exist. (Just kidding...I DO care if you exist!!! For now, that is...heheheheheh....)

So, to the soft and sultry strains of John Coltrane's OHM I bid you a fond adieu, and perhaps we will meet again within a few days with a special post-Christmas/pre-New Years throwtogether, savvy?

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Hiya. Being the all-honest rockscribe that you've known for well over two decades, I should admit to you anxious readers that I'm not really inna mood to detail a whole slew of real-life musical fun 'n' games which have been taking up a good portion of my freetime this week. But (given that I never shirk to duty) I will persevere! Now, I've been having my fun as I usually do week in and out, but its not like I've been latching onto many new things to alert you anxious monovisionists about...I mean, there were a lotta reruns on my personal playlist (Jackalope, the debut Fairport Convention LP and the Pink Fairies "Greatest Hits" collection on Polydor amongst 'em) popping in amongst the various oldies you can read about elsewhere on this blog, and a few newies which I think I'll save for next go 'round after I've savored 'em a bit, but other'n the following few items it hasn't exactly been gangbusters here at BLOG TO COMM central. Maybe the holiday cheer turned to jeer is getting me down (it certainly has affected my writing capabilities which were suspect to begin with). Maybe it's the sad realization that those days when I could rush to the local mall with all my Christmas moolah and buy up a few of those exotic rock wares that have caught my eye are long gone. Whatever, reality has finally hit me harder than a ten-ton safe on Basil Fonebone's cranium, but enough ennui. Here's my obligatory post, and in order to at least toss a bone out to all two of you starving dogs out there here are just a coupla things that I've come across this week that I'm sure you'll wanna know my honest and unbiased opinion on.

The Velvet Underground-THE WARHOL ACETATE DEMO CD-R (homemade boot)

I'm sure all of you unreconstituted/unrepentant Velvet Underground fans have heard about this one, y'know, where some lucky schmuck found a rare acetate of the original take of what was to have been the first Velvet Underground album in a garage sale bin and snatched it up for mere pennies! Certainly the kind of windfall of good luck that Ralph Kramden could only dream of, and hey, if you're the kinda guy who wants to own this rare slab of punk rock esoterica why dontcha just bid on the thing here and add a little something onto your very own Velvets collection that you can show off to alla the missies and doofs who populate your puckered life! That is, if you can afford the hefty price tag (well beyond what our lucky seller paid for this wonder!) you'll hafta dish out for a record that'll wear itself into obscurity with a few more plays.

Fortunately some enterprising young chap felt it prudent (and profitable) to make a CD-R out of this acetate so's us lumpen prole types can enjoy it as well, and THE WARHOL ACETATE DEMO certainly fills the bill at least for this year's addition to the ever-growing Velvet Underground mystique that's multiplying by leaps and bounds despite a bushel load of alternative wanksters damning the entire movement by their faint praise of some superficial aspects of the form. And for an old acetate it's pretty neat...even with the pops and crackles it sounds hot and true a couple skips and sticks show up here/there, but it's still strong enough to pose as a top contender for bootleg of the year which might be an easy thing considering how the bootleg industry has sorta fizzled away from its pinnacle a good decade-plus back. But even if the boot market was being swarmed with disques of Lou Rone and Von Lmo jamming with Rudolph Grey and Otto von Ruggins backstage with the Who at the Fillmore 1968 I'm sure THE WARHOL ACETATE DEMO would be a top pic for illegal spins anyway!

Naturally a lotta this disc appeared on the legal oft-cited as one of the most influential albums ever version almost a year later, though these are radically different in the mix and, like the time you accidentally switched the "aux" button on your stereo while playing RAW POWER you're gonna hear a really big difference! Such as on "Femme Fatale" where some distinctly femme background voice can be heard along with Lou Reed and John Cale's offkey chant! Of course the "radically different" takes that didn't make it to the actual album are great, as is the surprisingly brutal original sequence of tracking which I think beats the finished version on at least a few fronts. Hey, starting an album off with "European Son" and following it with "The Black Angel's Death Song" especially in 1966 would have been the ultimate statement in rock & roll at the time, and speaking of "European Son" the take here is different, at least with the closing "jam" section which sounds closer to those live Velvet stretch-outs of the day. Smart stuff, while "Heroin" has the "correct" "I know where I'm going" lyrics which puts the song in its proper perspective and the rhythm guitar twang of "I'm Waiting For the Man" and "Run Run Run" is just too dense for any advanced mind to comprehend! (Listen to it and YOU try coming up with a better description!)

And speaking of the original versions, "Heroin" is pretty snat with the more sparse layout as is "Venus in Furs" with a more prominent guitar and a general one-beat trance appeal to it. And what's best about THE WARHOL ACETATE DEMO is the sound quality...nice and FLAT like WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT bringing out all those decadent nuances a lot better than the legit thing ever could! And (like the best of low-class Amerigan gulcher) it only makes you wanna snatch up MORE making me hope that all those tape reels with long-unheard Velvets rehearsals from '65 make it to our laser launching pads more sooner'n later!

Friction-'79 LIVE CD PLUS DVD (Pass Japan)

I got this one over a year ago but'm playing it only now in preparation for the 3/3 LP (with Friction bassist Reck) on Shadoks that Volcanic Tongue will be slow boating my way once I get some dinero together for a huge hunkerin' order. Anyway, I'm glad that I got hold of this disque when I did (good luck finding it now) because it does capture a lotta the Japanese underground sound of the time (late-seventies) which was pretty much the handling of various New York and London moves filtered through a Tokyo mindset. And considering how Reck not only got to know everybody but saw everyone during his New York jaunt (the one where he ended up not only as an original member of Teenage Jesus and the Jerks but the Contortions) you can pretty much imagine the way Friction sounds like a lotta the En Why punkage of '77 remade/remodeled for the Far East clientele. I caught a few Theoretical Girl riffs here and Red Transistor moves there, and it's all wrapped up in a Richard Hell throb that kinda makes me wish that Reck and crew were still stationed in the Big City just like all those Asian emigres flocking to the burgh making it Tokyo West!

Oh yeah, and this one also comes with a DVD showing some arty film shot at a rehearsal that's of a surprisingly professional quality as well as silent footage on and off the stage with a weird ambiance to it that reminds me of those Floor Sweeping tape compilations that LSVideo used to sell!

(And BTW, in case you were wondering...yeah, Reck was aware of Peter Laughner's group of the same name while he was leading his Friction, and frankly I think that our Japanese pal actually ripped the name off for his own band willingly, perhaps as a homage of sorts. And given the handgun theme in the silent footage showing closeups of a revolver and Reck in a firing position [and Laughner's own well-documented love of firearms] perhaps the homage didn't stop there!)

I guess that's about it for today. Like I said, I just can't seem to get into the holiday spirit enough to write you a post abounding with good tidings of Christmas joy but who knows...maybe as the days roll on and more awestriking wonderment hits my brainlobes I'll be able to crank out some woolly mammoth posting just bursting with rockism pleasure as per usual. Until then I'm wondering if any of you readers, casual or otherwise, can clue me in as to whether or not the following acts are/were of any worthiness, interest or purchasing of wares for that matter. The first artiste on my itinerary is none other than harpist Daphne Hellman who was not only the mother of stringster Sandy Bull but a jazz musician in her own right who, besides having a contract with Columbia in the early sixties once performed (with a fellow called Mr. Spoons, some kitchen cantata specialist Hellman befriended after he got kicked outta the house by his third wife) at CBGB way back in the day. Hellman's style has been described as free jazz (which would be strange given that she was in her forties/fifties when she was playing out and certainly not in touch with the young new player of the day, or so I would assume), and although I have been rather cautious with regards to latching onto her various recordings I obviously do harbor a strong curiousity. Any recommendations from you readers out there???

Another act I'm interesting in knowing more about and hearing for that matter is Jango Edwards and Friends. Yeah, there are a ton of albums of his that seem to be available on ebay more often than not, but it's not like I'm exactly interested in taking a chance on a disc that is listed in the "adult contemporary" category especially if I have to pay fifteen smackers plus overseas postage for the thing! All I know about Edwards is that he's some sorta clown act who has not only played for heads of state but at a nudist colony (which would explain a nude LP cover of his!), and that he has a load of DVDs out so somebody out there must recognize the man as a towering figure, at least in clown circles. I also know that Edwards and "the Friends Band" (as they were billed) played at Max's Kansas City around '76/'77 for two nights in a row, the first with Suicide and the Cramps opening and the second with the Brats (who now have a CD compilation out that you might wanna go for!) in the warmup position and for that my attention has been lit! Any of you "serious" readers willing to clue me in as to whether or not I should fork over hard-begged cash for these relative obscure-o acts' wares??? (I also should slip Carribean voodoo rocker Exuma onto this list, he having played Max's not only in '72 but during the high holy days of punk on a bill with rockabilly punkers the Werewolves!)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


As promised, here are just a couple things that have graced my eyeballs o'er the past few weeks, the whole kit-and-kaboodle of it pertaining to comic strips/books which I know will only appeal only to us gringos out there, but don't fret music mavens because I'm sure to have a typical weekend music-plus post in only a few days. But for now here come de books!

BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley (DC books, 2002)

I was once chastised within an inch of my life by a comic book fan who also happened to be a voracious BLACK TO COMM reader and you wanna know why? It was because yours truly had actually admitted to this comic book maniac that I'd long dropped out with regards to being a voracious supporter of the comic book scene, and at such an early stage (fifteen) as well...this was sometime during their "Bronze Age" development and given all of the outright flowery prose and pretentious drama that was beginning to slip into the entire medium at that time (roughly 1974 or so) who could blame me for turning off to an entire industry that began substituting melodrama for action and human flaw for heroism anyway? Hell, as Bill Shute mighta said, there were enough heels and bad guys and corrupted good guys out there in the real world, so why would I need to dish out 20-cents per month to read about some once-revered kinda guy I'm sure millions of kids looked up to suddenly turning to clay or spouting off flavor-of-the-month psychology or just generally acting like a bigger doofus than the bad guys! And believe me, there were plenty of times that I really wished that the villains woulda beaten these so-called "good guys" just out of blind spite because although I don't like evil, I also tend to hate pretension and people whether they be heroes, rock stars or politicians talking down to me! And to gloss it all up in poetic Glade Air Freshener (probably someone's idea to prove to Fred Wertham that comic books could be as artistically pious and as literate as he wished!) only made comic books as a whole stink to high heaven even more!

Well, I gotta say that this reader's admonishment did shame me enough to at least peek into a few then-current titles making the rounds, but frankly I couldn't hack what was going on in those books one iota. And yeah, I know times change, but that doesn't mean I have to change along with 'em, and if the "heroes" of the seventies were bad enough, the ones twenty years later were even more rotten, and their basic evil mixed with the convoluted storylines and the chic liberal attitudes that seem to have permeated just about everything in popular culture just made me cringe! Reading a then-current DC saga certainly had me looking for some escapism from the escapism, and if there still are any Saturday Afternoon Barbershop Kids out there (y'know, the kind who originally bought the comic books and made all of those down-and-out depression-era publishers the multimedia conglomerate giants they are today), I can just see 'em retching their guts out over a culture that's totally forsaken 'em for some market out there (whatever it may be) who actually eats this artzy/smarmy drivel up thus leading to even MORE comic atrocities across the boards!

I did have hope over this Batman/Dark Knight series after reading about it on the Lew Rockwell website when in some long-lost article from the earlier part of this decade one of their writers mentioned a new DC series featuring none other than Batman as a vigilante fighting a sinister new totalitarian government which has none other than Superman himself as the strongarm-in-chief so to speak! And, to slop a little more icing on the cake, The Question, Steve Ditko's old Charlton creation now a part of the "DC Universe" (more or less Mr. A reshaped for mainstream comics) had enlisted his help in order to bring down this idea of government run amok leading me to believe that BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN would be a true-blue epic "comic novel" on par with the best of those Ditko sagas where some hero stands alone against evil while the entire populace seemingly goes along with the corruption and perhaps even cheers on the hero's demise. And after years of people trying to "understand" evil ultimately becoming part of it you can bet this was an EVENT in comic book history I had been looking forward to with relish!

Well, my hope vanished (after a good half-decade of on/off interest) upon reading this 248-page monstrosity which, unlike anything that I had thought this book to be, shows just about every hero in the DC Universe to be some seriously-flawed jerk whom I certainly would not want to entrust the safety and security of the world (heck, I'd even take the original Red Tornado over the losers in this saga, though thankfully he/she doesn't appear in the slightest!). THE DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN once again features the "even newer" Batman, who although clearly a good guy (or as least as much as one you can come across these days) is an even bigger mental mess than the early-nineties variety. Y'know, the one that Shute once called a character out of John Milius or something like that who might as well be a crook given the lack of feeling and dowright satanic vibrations his character exudes. And yeah, you may think that having "feelings" or what it stands for these days is totally contrary to any sort of "conservative" (for wont of a better term) attitude, especially given the entire nature of this book which you could say should be conservative in tone (that is, conservative as in the destruction of power and control), but that doesn't mean a character such as Batman has to be the boring cyborg he turns out to be here. As Mr. A said in his very first outing, "I don't abuse my emotions" meaning he ain't gonna be crying his eyes out over a broken flower or the bad guy he let fall off a cliff, but he sure as shooting does laugh and smile when the moment arises. But this "new" Batman...sheesh he even makes me long for those ridiculous late-fifties sci-fi sagas with Bat-Mite (who makes a bizarre almost MAD magazine-styled cameo here!) and all those weird alien creatures which were at least fun to eyeball on rainy adolescent evenings.

As for Superman, he's such a schmuck (or make that anti-hero) without ANY redeeming value that you wonder just why he would have lent his services to this phony government (loosely based on George W. Bush's first term I surmise) which in fact is a bizarre setup being run by none other than arch-villain Lex Luthor himself! Yeah, we do find out that Duperman is being blackmailed, but he still doesn't elicit any pity as the main enforcer for a new dictatorship. At least the Superman of yore coulda thought up something smart enough to foil Luthor's plans, and in a good twelve-page story to boot! The other DC characters involved, at least the ones who don't get knifed outright such as the Creeper, aren't that up to par in the hero department either...the ones who are eventually killed/murdered (such as an aged Captain Marvel who himself is being blackmailed, this time by Superman who threatens to kill Mary Marvel if the Captain doesn't do his bidding) aren't anything to brag about themselves while the rest are merely ridiculous images of their former heroic selves. Plasticman is a totally insane idiot and the Flash a stupid witless thug while Green Arrow has become a millionaire Marxist straight out of George Soros sporting long hair and a bionic arm spouting off some of the worst "people" cliches since Fidel Castro! And as for the Question (the character who actually got my juicy-juices flowing after I read his classic comic-book length display of true heroism in MYSTERIOUS SUSPENSE #1)...well, thankfully he has eschewed the hippie zen leanings of his eighties appearances and has settled back into a more healthy libertarianism, but he seems to be played mostly for laughs (like I could see Frank Miller having any true affinity for a character who would believe in the seemingly lost art of rugged individualism) and thus ceases to be anything he once was, perhaps due to the company he keeps!

I could go on about such atrocities as the Martian Manhunter having been turned into a foul-mouthed dying hasbeen barfly (the language here is rather rough, and a gosh-it-all kinda guy like me has gotta admit that it kinda bugs the tar outta a fella to hear such filth being popped off inna comic book especially by superheroes you looked up to as a young dunce!), as well as the fact that Superman and Wonder Woman of all people had a bastard daughter who not only shares their powers but eventually helps in the oncoming cataclysm (I mean, wouldn't you think that Superman and Wonder Woman would've had super self-restraint as well???), not to mention the little pokes and jabs at some of the more decent elements in this sickoid world of ours such as an appearance by Pope John Paul II talking about...rapture??? (you got your religions mixed up Miller, and besides, when are you gonna feature a fag Episcopalian bishop in your works???) but that would probably just set me off on comics for an even longer amount of time than this book on its lonesome has. (And I don't know how to react over the re-appearance of Ditko's Hawk and Dove re-done as gay lovers, though it should get points for at least irking the more "pious" amongst us!) True I am showing my age and general stuffiness by saying how much I prefer classic comics (Golden Age and early Marvel up through perhaps 1973 at the very latest) over this poorly-drawn attempt at a pseudo-libertarian commentary on government control and totalitarianism, but at least Jack Kirby knew how to draw. And Stan Lee, who should have been dealt with for introducing these kind of heroes with feet of clay to comic books, probably didn't realize that his innovation would have lead to a whole batch of comic worlds with the good guys as thugs or ineffectual wimps. I'm flabbergasted by it all, and the only thing that's gonna shake me from the overall creepiness of this book is an intense MONSTERS ON THE PROWL/CREATURES ON THE ROAM... reading session of early-seventies Marvel reprints. As soon as I get my bearings, that is.

And if you still doubt me about the book's real intentions, there's an approving quote from none other than Senator Patrick Leahy smack dab on the back which should say more than this review ever could!


At least there's one thing to be certain of, and that's Dick Tracy never ceased being a hero! Well, I dunno about the more recent strips, but at least during the reign of Chester Gould you didn't see things like Tracy spouting off flake philosophy or fathering kids sans the benefit of marriage (though in the current variation I understand that there was a character who was the illegit offspring of Flattop Jr. and a black mother...well, at least it was the bad guys who were fornicatin'!). Anyhoo, these early Sunday strips are a wowzer for us TRACY fans mainly because they've never been reprinted and in fact are so rare that the compilers hadda get color xeroxes from a collector who probably has the only remaining copies (these being printed in a maximum of ONE paper at the time). As the title suggests, these TRACYs have nada to do with the daily continuity and in most cases the sagas last the entirety of a single page (later ones could get stretched out over three whopping weeks), and as you'd expect these 'un show Chester Gould getting his grip on the Tracy character as well as the storylines which of course would become much more extreme and dare-I-say disturbing as the years rolled on and DICK TRACY became one of the biggest funny page features of the next few decades.

There are a lot of interesting elements to these early strips...for one thing there seems to be a set cast of good 'n bad guy characters, most of whom wouldn't make it out of the early-thirties alive such as gangsters Big Boy and Ribs Mocco along with moll Texie Garcia (who is pretty sexy so I'm glad that she does pop up even after being nabbed in previous episodes!). The supporting cast is still being played around with as well...Patrolman Milligan seems to be Tracy's thick-headed sidekick in these early Sundays while longtime Tracy pal Pat Patton himself not only changes in appearance within a few weeks, but is a relatively minor character as opposed to only a short spell later when he would pretty much become the co-star of the series! Not only that, but these Sundays had their own "topper" (or in this case it appeared on the bottom) strip, a neat cheap-gagger called CIGARETTE SADIE about a scantily-clad cigarette gal at a Chicago nightspot who wows a lotta horny old men into giving her moolah under false pretense! And after the horrid dinge of the aforementioned BATMAN book it's sure refreshing to get a healthy dose of right and wrong without all those shades o' grey in these early TRACY outings!

THE COMPLETE PEANUTS 1959 to 1960 and 1961 to 1962 by Charles Schulz (Fantagraphics, 2006)

I wasn't planning on buying these later-on PEANUTS books since the strip seems to have peaked not only in art but overall humor somewhere in the mid-fifties, but given the era in which these were produced (perhaps the best time ever for mid-Amerigan culture on all fronts) I was hoping for a little bit of early-sixties freshness injected into a strip that at the time was becoming one of the biggest things to hit the funny pages since LI'L ABNER (at least as far as a strip that could transcend the printed page into various lucrative fields of media). Believe it or not, but even I gotta admit that there still was a bit of the old charm left in the strip at this time, though I gotta 'fess up to the fact that I could also say that about PEANUTS in the seventies and perhaps eighties even though at times I would cringe at the cuteness and sameness in which that strip would wallow at a time when it was for all intent purposes "bigger than big." PEANUTS, at least as it appeared for the next forty years had been pretty much established by this time, with such long-standing props as Lucy's psychiatric booth and Snoopy's human traits starting to come to the forefront along with Charlie Brown's abnormal depression seemingly getting deeper and deeper. Linus is beginning to quote scripture (I remember the Al Capp PEANUTS spoof where the controversial ABNER creator had his Linus character quoting Shakespeare!) and not only that but such characters as Sally, the irritating Frieda and her cat Faron (named after Faron Young!) are beginning to show up. Now I gotta admit that, despite Schulz's settling in to a comfortable and perhaps predictable mode, I enjoyed these Kennedy-era romps, they're humorous and subtle enough to appeal to even a jaded one such as I but I'd be lying to you if I didn't admit that PEANUTS doesn't quite stand up so well next to the other comics of the day who were pretty much eclipsed by PEANUTS' almost out-of-control popularity. Frankly I find strips such as NANCY, FERD'NAND, ARCHIE, HENRY, FRECKLES and of course the aforementioned ABNER and DICK TRACY a lot more interesting and fulfilling on a whole slew of levels than PEANUTS, but that's just my staunch Middle Amerigan talking. And with the fluffy philosophy and brainy hipsterisms of PEANUTS becoming stronger in these early-sixties strips I kinda wonder what kind of audience Schulz was aiming for...I personally imagine a mid-aged guy with glasses who likes to fiddle with his hi-fi and watches David Susskind on the side...Dennis the Menace's father???

Anyway, until the weekend rolls around...see you in the funny papers!

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Noddy noddy noddy...finally got some fresh wares to write about for you adoring fans this week, though frankly (to be honest about it in typical fanzine fashion), I must confess that feel like a total langhole reviewin' these goodies so fast-like! Y'see, I usually like to let the recordings received at my palace moil serenely in my scalp after givin' 'em a good listen or ten before transposing my thoughts to type just so's I can be fair about 'em, but since these discs arrived only a good two days ago and in fact I've been busier than a hairdresser in San Francisco the whole time it's not like I had a chance to let the musical nuances and artistic quirks to be found therein totally reach into the inner sanctum of my well-seasoned mind. Deadlines are deadlines and who knows, I may be doing a few 180's with some of these as time goes by, but this is where I stand on these Cee-Dees in the here and now so let me keep standing on 'em until I keel over!

Disposable God Squad-LET THE MAD RUMPUS BEGIN CD (Mad Entropic Carnival)

Will wonders ever cease in this crazy blogged out world of ours? Back in the early-nineties I was ranting and raving over a tape I got containing some demos by a group called the Disposable God, I must admit that I knew the group existed because I had seen the Disposable God Squad name sprinkled about various CBGB listings prior to getting the tape, but I shrugged 'em off as being another batch of hardcore rundowns given their rather outre handle. Howevah, these demos, produced by none other than "thee" Kramer (then hip u-ground blitz-connection) proved otherwise...these guys weren't anything near or remotely like hardcore punk at all! In fact the Disposable God Squad were more or less top hot underground pop-rock really not that far removed from the mid-seventies En Why See bands the likes of the Marbles and Planets which really was saying something (good) especially in those alternative-rocked out times when the LAST thing the hipster rock fans out there wanted to be in touch with were mid-seventies New York "pre-punk" club stylings! And I must admit that the D.S.G. with their energetic and artsy approach to what was once known as "power pop" were certainly a surprise to these ears, especially during a time when the hip fanzine underground publicity machines and press certainly didn't want to know about anything that was not British experimental or hardcore or outside of the little cliques that had sprung up since the great punk rock divide of the early-eighties got even wider!

So imagine my surprise all these years later when I discovered that the D.G.S. weren't just a one-tape wonder but actually had a Cee-Dee to their name (via some Dutch East India Trading Company umbrella label meaning I dunno how much the guys got out of this one!) a short time after I got hold of their demos. And true the band got jettisoned to where all lower-case quick-flashes with no critical or label backing seem to get wooshed once LET THE MAD RUMPUS BEGIN sunk like a stone (and who could blame it for sinking given all of the daff reviews hearkening to amerindie-this and alternative-that I'm sure a slew of dim bulbs dreamed up), but at least LET THE MAD RUMPUS BEGIN was tossed out to an unsuspecting public which at least gave me the chance to hear 'em long after the fact, but better now'n never as Yoko Ono once said!

There is a "tad" of what might have been called alternative cliche both then and now popping up on LET THE MAD RUMPUS BEGIN, but at least it's buried under the smart mood-pop that the D.S.G. whip up with seeming ease. Thankfully amidst the "modern" moves that can bring the proceedings down there are some late-sixites pop ref. points saving this disque from becoming another standard snoozer, complete with a touch of the Flamin' Groovies when they were stuck between their Detroit-inspired and Beatleboot periods which certainly does light a fire under my pitted butt! And it's all kinda soaked in that grand V****T U*********D style of riff and sway that the Groovies themselves dabbled in at the time which (I dunno about you but it) takes me back to my late-seventies days of bargain bin hunting when SHAKE SOME ACTION sorta became the soundtrack for my lost summer of '78 which still resonates in my lazed out beanie even this far down the line! And yeah, after a couple listens which have pretty much taken up my entire weekend "free time" I've come to the conclusion that LET THE MAD RUMPUS BEGIN just ain't as kinetic as the demos and maybe five or so songs shoulda been axed and developed a bit, but I'm glad that these guys made the thing and didn't do a total fade like too many NYC bands who deserved more but didn't get it because they weren't falling into the pre-conceived rockcrit notions of the day. And it's a cheap one to boot, and if they still had bargain bins this one would be an all time stuffer alongsides all those Groovies, Ramones and Dead Boy discs you used to find there without any effort. Geddit!

Zi:Lie-Ya-DENKOUSEKKA CD (Captain Trip Japan, available through Slippytown)

Japanese hard rock that like thee Hypnotics and way too many other retro-rock bands tries way too hard to emulate the late-sixties Detroit sound with mensa/mensa results. Sheesh, remember when bands like Radio Birdman brought the White Panther sound back with a smart vengeance? Ditto Rocket From the Tombs, Umela Hmota 3 and about twenty others I'll remember in about a minute. Seems like the revolution died around the time all those Australian bands began fizzling into watered rehash along with their imitators in Europe and the U.S. of Whoa...and yeah, we got the originals to enjoy this far down the line but rilly I was hoping the radiation woulda soaked in a little longer...

MX-80-WE'RE AN AMERICAN BAND (Family Vineyard)

Not quite as up to Ralph-standards but neat enough "recent" (2005) offering from these longtime faverave art rock heavy metallers. Boffo cover of the Grand Funk hit mixed along with more of that dada juju sound propelled by Bruce Anderson's stinging gtr lines and Dale Sophiea's sampler, with the great deadpan droll of Rich Stim covering it like no one since...Frank Zappa??? I mean, Buster Keaton couldn't've done a better job!

Andy Colquhoun-PICK UP THE PHONE AMERICA! CD (Captain Trip Japan)

I've been a fan of Andy Colquhoun ever since I heard him on the great Deviants reunion EP back in '78 and later on Mick Farren's VAMPIRES STOLE MY LUNCH MONEY album. His early band the Rockets (who should be given their own Captain Trip CD...HINT!!!!!) were one of the first English punk rock bands straddling the proto and punk-proper regimens back when Joe Strummer was still deciding whether he wanted to be a Flamin' Groovie or Stooge, while Warsaw Pakt were classic Deviants/Fairies-styled pub rock that sorta got wooshed under the ever-growing punk bludgeon of the day. And of course his involvement with the latterday Pink Fairies as well as their various offshoots in the eighties and nineties is something to behold especially for blokes like myself who have been in on the trip for quite a longer amount of time than one can imagine. And while way too many people of his standing have either vamoosed from music entirely or hadda settle on "selling out" to pay the rent, Colquhoun has stayed in the game all these years hopping around from one project to the other though I kinda wonder how the guy makes ends meet himself because it ain't like any of his records are BURNING UP THE CHARTS ifyaknowwaddamean...

For the last few years Colquhoun has been living in Ameriga, specifically the El Lay area and it sure shows with this 2001 release entitled PICK UP THE PHONE AMERICA, and believe-you-me this disque is one of the classier slabs of tinfoil I've had the pleasure of hearing in quite a while or at least the past hour. With help from various Deviants/Pink Fairies friends (though mostly done on his lonesome just like Lou Rone), Colquhoun really osmoses the whole Amerigan concept of trash sleaze esp. w/the title track (rec'd at the height of telemarketer frenzy) as well as on the spiffy instrumentals (inc. a 'verby "Riders on the Storm") which reach back all the way to early-sixties surf instrumentalism remade for the post-decadent here and now. I have the feeling that Colquhoun was front and center for a number of Dick Dale shows as well, or at least I would get that impression after hearing the influence of the local hero permeating this 'un a few times! And it's so smooth and deeply satisfying that even a usually nonplussed person such as I will rant and rave about Colquhoun's great John Lennon trib which actually got stuck on a E! HOLLYWOOD STORY episode regarding the Beatle of yore, and I never thought I would say it but this 'un sure puts all those sappy Lennon homages filled with their peacenlove vibes to total shame! Hopefully the SoCal tinge will stay stuck to Colquhoun for quite some time because I could use another one of these, even if I have to wait another forty years when PICK UP THE PHONE AMERICA! finally turns a profit!

WORST HAPPENING OF THE YEAR, THIS OR ANY...CHICAGO LIVE AT THE CHEVROLET CENTRE, YOUNGSTOWN OHIO! I didn't wanna, but Jillery got some free tickets and all of her other victims, er, "choices" backed out! And for a fellow who is against the draft you can bet that I felt enslaved when I more or less hadda go with her to see what was left of this "infamous" horn band last Friday night at downtown Youngstown's Chevy Centre, a venue more or less suited for basketball, hockey games or the Ice Capades along with hasbeens milking the baby boomer dollars for all they're worth. And to be honest about it, I would have rather gone to see the Ice Capades than this atrocity! Never having been a fan of these guys (even at a time when I would have been more susceptible to having been one in my early teens when it all sorta ran together!) I hadda endure a good 90 mins. of everything from their shuck jazz-rock to a tiresome drum solo (complete with syncopated Christmas tree lights all over the trap set blinkin' away) and of course all of the big hits which elicited all of the expected crowd responses climaxing with their huge chartbuster "25 or 6 to 4"...fortunately I was spared the Watergate-era political kitsch of "America Needs You Harry Truman," but I was kinda hoping that just maybe I along with the rest of the all-ages audience who seemed to not know any better woulda been subjected to that feedback screech which closed out the first album. An evening that will prepare me for countless eons in purgatory, or at least a chance appearance at the Hinman family reunion.

Yeah, this post wasn't as in-depth as I would have wanted (believe me, I like doing those ultra-long and windbaggy posts which I have to correct time and time again for misspellings and awkward passages that unfortunately make it to the publication stage!), but hopefully I'll be back soon with a neat writeup on some printed materials that I've skimmed o'er the last few weeks which should prove to be absolutely marvelous. Keep your eyes peeled (though please don't go the UN CHIEN ANDALOU route!) later on, like say about Wednesday???