Thursday, May 31, 2007


And the first person who can (more or less) translate the above bitta wopadago slang into standard Amerigan wins a special NO PRIZE, or at least an available back issue of BLACK TO COMM of his choice! Anyway, here are a buncha singles both old and new that I've dug outta my vast collection ever since the grand return of vinyl into my bloodstream a mere few weeks back.

Henry Flynt and Nova'billy-"I Was a Creep (Soul Mash)"/"Left Ear (Greensboro Senior High Song)" (Locust)

Locust has been pushing this as one of those "LIMITED (to all we can sell) EDITION ALL TIME RARITIES WHICH YOU'LL NEVER SEE FOR SALE AGAIN!!!" kinda affairs, but since it is still to be found for sale in the Locust catalog (er, Locust webpage) I guess the thing ain't as rare as they'd like you to believe! Anyhow, only to stupidest of anti-BLOG TO COMM cretins would dare pass this slab of classic rawk-a-roll up featuring Flynt and his avant-country band Novabilly whooping it up during their only live performance at the Anthology Film Archives sometime '75 that has thankfully been preserved and's finally available albeit a good thirtysome years after its effect on the masses would have been its most potent. Not quite the atonal mush that I imagined, Nova'billy actually hearken forth to a more astute early-eighties underground sound that flittered around at the local watering holes around the time the original generation of hot clash sorta imploded into a variety of diametrically-opposed opposites 'n the whole mess seemed like a strange throwback to the manic tirades of only a few years prior. Somehow thoughts of Theoretical Girls during Jeffrey Lohn's more cerebral moments appear in my punished mind.

An aside, Flynt invited none other than Robert Christgau to review this gig, but the "Dean" was unavailable to attend in lieu of a Phoebe Snow soiree and so we'll never get to know his opinions as to what transpired. Such missed opportunities!

The King Khan & BBQ Show-"Flight 505"/The Flakes-"Stupid Girl" (Norton)
The U-Turns-THE DEATH OF GARAGE ROCK EP ("7 and 7 Is", "Dedicated Follower of Fashion"/"Get Off My Cloud", "I'm Down" (Norton)

Norton always sends me this stuff to review, and to that I say "bully" in the finest Teddy Roosevelt fashion! I mean, if it weren't for Norton I probably would lose all touch with rock & roll (or at least rock & roll as it stands as that greasy uninhibited form of 1956-1967 teenage expression I was so denied during my own years of teenage lack-thereof!). And yeah, these two rather newies are just what the Doc (Rock) ordered with the Rolling Stones single series continuing to romp forward as two of the new brand of garage band creeps do the old brand proud with some tracks taken off AFTERMATH or so I guess...wouldn't know because y'see, when I was a kid the entire concept of buying Rolling Stones records was frowned upon (even that cheapie JAMMING WITH THE EDWARD which I could afford!), being told that if I do in fact fill the coffers of the likes of the Stones I am only encouraging their hideously evil drug abuse, no matter how indirect it may be! I've often thought of this o'er the years and maybe the elders did have a point, especially when kids could be contributing to their own drug usage with all the dough that would otherwise have gone to buying Rolling Stones records!

Of course the King Kahn and Flake trips are totally todaysville, so if you wanna take a blast back into the past lemme just direct you to this Eee-Pee of recently-discovered classic garage band hootch courtesy the U-Turns. And talk about U-turns into the realm of utter garage band incomprehensibility! Remember how alla us aficionados of the form used to either laugh out loud or solemnly bow our heads upon the arrival of some classic sixties punk discovery or its seventies counterpart in low-fidelity sublime? Even today doofs (amongst whose numbers I shall admit I am part of) get all gaga over Mike Rep singles like the "Daddy Was a Schizo" 'un of a few years back that was put out by some Swedish rectal probe and not only hold hat to heart at the general tape-hiss crank of it all but let jaw hang agape as the 8-track recording clicks from program to program! And although on one hand it may look like cheap elitist schmoozing that's so easy to mock the same way rich college kids loathe the same lumpen proles their Marxist beliefs should have them honor, on the other it sure sounds like what I always wanted my REAL rock & roll to be not only as a backdrop for suburban lifestyles but as a pure testimonial regarding your own set of (anti)-aesthetics.

Cheapo rock haters...mock on, but let the rest of us marvel at this blitzoid mess in hushed tones of silence. And I dunno just who these U-Turns are, but all I gotta say is that next to the originals these miss-takes kinda remind me of something one-step ahead of the jam session my two younger cousins (ages ten and twelve at the time) had on electric guitar and drums during a Christmas party in our abode back '75's way. That was a wowzer hoot, and so are these U-Turns that, as the "Liner Notes Hall of Fame"-bound back cover sez, "make the Green Fuz sound like Green Day" and that's no lie. Thank goodniz that Norton Records are continuing their fine tradition (started by Hasil Adkins and Jack Starr) of bedroom/basement crankout music that's so realistic you can just see the knotty pine on the rec room walls, not to mention the ping-pong table set slightly to the side.
Crimson Sweet-"Wired for the Last Move"/"Basement Star" (Slow Gold, PO Box 20506, Tompkins Square Station, NYC 10009)

These guys (and gal) are, according to their own hypesheet, a "DIY arena rock band" which might seem like the most moronic of oxymorons one might come across, but on this clear-vinyl release Crimson Sweet come off like the best of the hard rock (with a slight bitta pop) New York punk rock one woulda found punching it out for stage-time during those hallowed late-seventies. Not that it's "meaning of life" or anything, but I sure woulda liked seeing Crimson Sweet on a Max's bill snuggled between acts like the Heartbreakers, Arthur's Dilemma and who knows who else. Sweet probably woulda blew 'em all off the stage anyways! If this indeed is "stadium rock" as a MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL scribe tagged it, then call me Chuck Eddy and slam this review smack dab on the first page of the VILLAGE VOICE music section (after adding a number of references to a variety of "social injustices" and tired antiwar rants in order to make the entire thing more "relevant").
The Heat-"Instant Love/"High School Sweater" (Hot Stuff)

After the big combustion that shattered the classic mid-seventies version of the Planets, former lead singer Tally Taliafarrow formed this all-new multi-racial bunch who were reputed to have been a lot more punk'n the Planets' confessed "classic rock" sound I guess. And only a good decade after I coulda stood listening to this in preparation for that Planets article which appeared in BLACK TO COMM #22 does their lone single land in my lap, a poppier than I'd've expected affair which I will admit is nice enough for that once-per-bluemoon spin. Not anywhere near as good as the Taliafarrow-period Planets recordings I have heard (yet better than the post-Taliafarrow grouping which I at times thought came close to those patented Peter Frampton hard rock moves), the Heat do it typically teenage pop clean with odes to high school sweaters and young love, real wholesome OZZIE AND HARRIET stuff in the face of jaded decadence. Haw! If you like the wide array of post-Dolls rock that was pretty much omnipresent during those late-seventies days you'll love this but beware...although this is Taliafarrow's group he is not, like I had believed at first, the lead vocalist (that honor going to a chap names Dwytt Dayan) but the band's guitarist!
Screamin' Jay Hawkins (and the Chicken Hawks with the Teddy McRae Orchestra-"I Hear Voices"/"Just Don't Care" (Enrica)

I guess that although 1962 was a boss year for tee-vee, comic books and even clever rock & roll hits (despite what all the naysayers would have you believe), it wasn't that good a year for Screamin' Jay Hawkins. By that time Our Hero had found himself not only on what we shall call "the skids" (and judging from the personal tales related to me tenth-hand I am being kind!) but recording this "I Put a Spell on You" re-do for a small label, one of but many Hawkins would be recording for as the years rolled on and obscurity wasn't only knocking at the door, but had barged right in and was watching tee-vee on Hawkins' very own set while eating a ham sandwich. As usual, this disc no matter how "derivative" it may be, is utter brilliance which you know will go undetected on way too many rockism radar screens at least until a massive exhumation of Hawkins is made available for one and all. If you so desire, call it a "just passing time" disc, at least until Hawkins' grand comeback try in the late-sixties. But as far as "passing time" goes, can you think of a better way??? And for a good rundown on the Screamin' Jay Hawkins saga, get hold of the Nick Tosches' (written at the guy's height, not his eighties quap used to pad out pix of heavy metal gonkoids!) article for CREEM from some long-forgotten 1973 issue, the one with the "Rock's Deca-Sexual Elite" cover w/snaps of Alice, David, Iggy, Elvis etc. adorning the front in a bizarre "Wheel of Fortune" motif.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

PEARLS OF WISDOM FOR TODAY (or Chris being sociopolitical again alienating even more readers!)

Don't worry, I will deliver on my 45 rpm roundup in a few days time, but in the meanwhile I found (and became staggered by) this particular list which was part of the comments that popped up after a rather delicious Clyde Wilson post I chanced upon while perusing the CHRONICLES website only just yesterday. This bit was written by a Sid Cundiff, who labeled these tastefully sarcastic barbs noneother'n "Myths Believed By Both Brits and Yanks," or something to that effect and frankly, self-righteous I has gotta 'fess up to the fact that I pretty much agree with the man on just about all counts (at least the ones I have familiarized myself pop quizzes pleeze!]) 'cept for the one about Marcel Duchamp and Michaelangelo natch! (Duchamp was the tops in my book [w/regards to setting the stage for 20th cent. art hijinx not to mention John Cage's entire reason for existence], at least compared to that fag Italian!) And since this is MY blog I thought I'd shove a li'l more pointedness your much-needed way in order to show you all the grave error of alternative/hipster deceit so common in this postmodern world of ours. In a word, a wowzer...

That Richard III of England was a wicked hunchback,
– that the Spanish Inquisition toasted the toes of thousands,
– that the Anglican Church exists for some other reason than that Henry VIII wanted a divorce,
– that Charles I was just Lucius Tarquinius Superbus recycled,
– that James II of England was a evil Papist hatching one Popish Plot after another,
– that the “Glorious Revolution” brought religious and political freedom, along with peace and fiscal security (especially to Ireland!)
– that the same was “glorious” (i.e. unbloody),
– that the value of a product is determined by how much labor goes into making it,
– that in 1914 German soldiers were eating Belgian children,
– that the Lusitania wasn’t carrying munitions to use against Germans, and thus only carried innocent civilians, who were never warned of the possible danger by the German government,
– that the only thing wrong with the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 was that it didn’t hang the Kaiser,
– that Fascism, Naziism and Francoism are all the same,
– that the Spanish Republicans were great friends of justice, democracy, and human rights,
– that the strategic bombing campaign of Air Marshal Arthur Harris was just, effective, and shortened World War II,
– that the Blacks brought to Jamestown in 1619 were slaves, or were enslaved at once,
– that the Pilgrims were the first English settlers in America,
– that the American War for Secession From the British Empire was a “revolution”,
– that Africans did not sell Africans into slavery and did not sell them to New England ship masters,
– that Slavery and Jim Crow only existed in the South,
– that the US constitution of 1787 stripped the states of all sovereignty and made the Federal Government sole sovereign and sole judge of its own powers, and that Webster sincerely believed this,
– that the Federal Government made the states, and made them to be franchises of the Federal Government,
– that states didn’t make The Federal Government as their agent, answerable to them,
– that the Constitution means what the Supreme Court says it means,
– that the Constitution forbids states secession,
– that the 10th Amendment is fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm,
– that George Washington was the first president of the US [he was the 13th],
– that Al Hamilton and Nicholas Biddle were really swell economists,
– that U.S. won the War of 1812,
– that “American blood [was] shed on American soil” by the Mexican government in 1845,
– that the majority of Southerners before 1863 owned slaves,
– that Robert E. Lee thought slavery was just peachy,
– that there were no Black slave holders,
– that Lincoln’s War Against Southern Secession was a “Civil War”,
– that the same was fought over slavery, not tariffs,
– that Lincoln thought Blacks were really groovy,
– that Lincoln opposed slavery,
– that the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves, and had that purpose,
– that Reconstruction was a really awesome expression of justice & peace & love,
– that the “robber barons” were robbers,
– that the Spanish sank the Maine,
– the Federal Reserve has stabilized the currency in a way that gold didn’t, and has actually increased the dollar’s value (in a way gold didn’t),
– that the Germans started World War I,
– that the US acted as an impartial neutral in World War I until April 1917,
– that World War I was a great crusade by The Righteous Nation to make the world safe for democracy, led by St. Woodrow,
– that what happened in 1929 was a “depression”,
- that the programs of Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt were different,
– that these programs didn’t turn the Recession of 1929 into the Depression of 1931 and didn’t prolonged the same,
– that the New Deal saved the country from the Great Depression,
– that there was less unemployment in the US in 1937 than in 1933,
– that World War II ended the Great Depression,
– that Germans – one and all – were and are cold-blooded killers,
– that Pius XII stoked the ovens at Auschwitz,
– that the A-bombs are what brought the Japanese to surrender, and not the belated promise to protect the Emperor,
– that the Black family is better off as an institution today than in 1950,
– that The Great Society programs significantly lowered the rate of poverty,
– that The Reverend Louis Farrakhan has talked to the late Reverend Elijah Muhammad on an alien space ship,
– that Alice Walker is just as good Homer,
– that Marcel Duchamp’s “Great Glass” is just as good as the Sistine Chapel,
– that Brittany Spears is better than Josquin des Prez,
– that today more American children than ever have an opportunity for an excellent education,
– Marie Antoinette said “Let them eat cake”,
– that Washington had a wrath against cherry trees,
– that one should never wash out a teapot with soap and water,
– and that if you step on a crack then you’ll break your mother’s back

Beg to differ???

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Hah! Here I go celebrating my return to the wunnerful world o' vinyl and not one of you avid (and I thought astute) BLOG TO COMM readers dared congratulate me for making my great step backwards into early-fifties technological conquests! Well, just for that here's the SECOND PART of my thankfully continuing re-emergence into archaic longplaying monstrosities (and their recent exhumations thanks to the hard-working efforts of a few luddite record companies out there)...hope that serves you right! (Anyway, howd'ja like the way I scattered the pix of various el-pees in question directly below in a nice fit of abstract expressionism on dis here blog??? 'n besides, I wuz too lazy to stick the pix directly by the review of said rec in question!)

The Jacks-THE JACKS SHOW (Orange Doubledome, Japan?)

Les Rallizes Denudes-DEEPER THAN THE NIGHT (Echo From the Earth Productions, country of origin unknown)

From the land o' the rising sum (of money usually needed to procure such occidently rare booty) come these two not-so-recent acquisitions. The Jacks one was bought on a whim which is strange even for me esp. since I got burnt on a few of their more-recent Cee-Dee reissues which didn't quite hit the hallowed heights of late-sixties punkist euphoria I had been hoping for. As it turns out, this offering (which captures the band at their second live outing July 24 1968) is a whole lot better whether it be as a representation of the Jacks in the raw or just as a plain representation thank you. True this platter does have the seemingly prerequisite Far Eastern ballads heard on more'n a few of these Japanese endeavors (I call it the Kyu Sakamoto effect), but the Jacks certainly do transcend all Asian notions of "cultured" music with their generally energetic romps ranging from the folk-rocking-ish settings (complete with acoustic bass) to the psychedelic moments which have a beautiful surge to them bringing to mind everything from the best that the San Francisco ballroom scene hadda offer to even the East Coast warpage of none other'n the V****t U*********d (name censored in order to ward off the immediate mis-connotation of what that name doth aroused in the post-REM world). An outta nowheresville surprise that comes in a honest-to-goodness pop art sleeve that folds out into a poster in one of the best el-pee packages experienced since the Deviants' PTOOFF!, Alice Cooper's SCHOOL'S OUT and this one album that had a peelable Andy Warhol banana on the front of it.

As for longtime faves Les Rallizes Denudes, DEEPER THAN THE NIGHT are nothing but yet another rehashing of those tracks done during the group's brief "acoustic" period in '70 that appeared for a short time awhile back, most recently on the TWIN SILVER double-set (google this site for a review) and has hardly anything to do with the ferocious sear of the electrified Denudes that can be heard on a wide assortment of recordings both available and not. Those who've had the opportunity to hear SILVER won't necessarily need or perhaps even want this album (which does tinkle about in the well of the aforementioned Sakamoto effect) but neophytes will just love osmosing to the thing at least for the side long early version of longtime show-stopper "The Last One" which sounds nada like the familiar thud of old but closer to this rise and fall track called "Heroin" (complete with congas approximating blood rush!) that appeared on that one album by some band or other complete with this peelable banana onna front and a snap of future Magic Tramp Eric Emerson onna back.

Umela Hmota-BARBARA (Globus International, Czech Republic)

Mahogany Brain-SOME COCKTAIL SOLUTIONS (Fractal, France)

Since I grouped the first two albums together due to not only the country of their origin but their general psychadelicament, I thought I'd scrunch these together because they in fact both are reunion albums by groups who in the pre-punk seventies were more or less "known" in their respective European provinces for performing a brand of underground rock that for all intent purposes wouldn't proliferate for at least another good three/five years, at which point it remained unpopular but at least more people were in on the unpopularity of it all!

You all know the saga of Umela Hmota, or at least you should know about it having read my various past writeups on them whether it be via this blog or in my fanzine. Anyway this '90 reunion disc of theirs remained a pretty hard bugger to latch paws upon ever since its release, and even with the downfall of that very same Soviet Empire that many of you more "enlightened" readers remember with fondness and nostalgia such offerings remain verboten here in the former free world. And although only a few choice members remain from the original group (most notably lead singer Milan "Dino" Volpalka, who I assume is now the ONLY original member of Umela Hmota remaining), much of the same spirit of the group remains even with the advent of clean recording techniques and advanced musical prowess. Sad to say, but as a result of this upgrade in quality the original Stooge-thud of the band has been replaced by a smoother, at times almost proggy sound which I would credit to not only the tighter performance but the proliferation of flute, an instrument not unknown to the original UH but used to max effect on this platter! Nothing to retch at mind you, because if you like the way krautrock melded primitive punk rock and smartsy avantness you'll probably like BARBARA to the max. It actually does sound fine snuggled twixt a Neu!/Faust/Amon Duul teutonofest and even if you mix it up with a buncha more familiar Amerigan garage band classics it should hold up fine.

The Mahogany Brain release from '05 was a surprise enough, since I never thought that infamous post-beat poet Michel Bulteau (France's answer to William Burroughs?) would ever reunite with his former group given that he was recording solo albums with the likes of Elliot Murphy and the omnipresent Ernie Brooks backing him up. And I was especially surprised when I saw that Patrick Geoffris, who had been dead 'n gone for quite a long time, was back in the lineup playing bass guitar! Well, no wonder, since it's more'n obvious that the majority of this un's nothing but reshaped/rechanneled old recordings from '70 played frontwards and backwards and sampled/overdubbed to the point where this might as well be an all-original album! Not only that, but on "Strange Apartment" I coulda sworn somebody threw a bit of "Sister Ray" into the mix which would have surprised me twennysome years back but today merely makes me go "oh!" Now don't get me wrong, this ain't some cheap-o studio jag like they used to do with Stooges albums in the eighties to pass 'em off as demos 'r the like, but if in fact this was recorded in Paris March '05 like the cover notes say then I'm Dave Lang's favorite French tickler!
THE ORKUSTRA (Red Lounge, Switzerland)

Mansonoids probably already have that special 2-CD issue of Bobby Beausoliel's LUCIFER RISING soundtrack with the additional platter consisting of vintage Summer o' Love San Francisco recordings that were recently uncovered by future It's A Beautiful Day violinist David La Flamme, but in case you're still hungerin' for more or just missed out on the fun here's an el-pee's worth of stuff that either didn't make the cut or got chopped up due to time constraints. Actually the Orkustra were a nice slice of what else was going on in San Francisco during the not-too-late-sixties glory days with a pretty pleasing jazzy/mideast style coupled with more'n decent sound quality that brings back the ambience of those ancient halls that housed these young upstarts. And as a surprise, this even comes complete with a twennysome-minute jam from St. John's Cathedral onna flipside that won't make you go "ahhhhh" or anything but does tend to enthrall once in awhile. Now that Beausoliel's a free man all I gotta wonder he gonna do something like reform (the Orkustra, that is?) or return to a life of murder? If it's the latter...all I gotta say is there are plenty more Hinmans out there just begging to be offed, if ya know what I mean! (Heeee, can't any of ya readers take a joke?)

Hmmmm, maybe I shouda grouped this one in with the Orkustra disc given their San Fran connections, but then again I was planning on saving this 'un for a future review where I was gonna group it in with another SF bunch who have been compared to the Quicksilver guys on more'n a few occasions. Anyway, some of you'll remember this particular bootleg being reviewed in the final issue of BOMP as part of their article on the then-current state of boots, and even a few more of you'll also recall that the Groucho label outta Germany that issued this longplayer was devoted to making these sixties psychosockic gems even more available to the unwashed masses albeit at then-exaggerated prices (like $25 a pop, and this was in '79!), they having also issued the famous 13th Floor Elevators live at the Avalon album that Moxie later on re-booted as their own! As it stands this Quicksilver outing recorded during the still-fruitful year of '66 ain't quite up to Elevator standards but it's a nice one nonetheless with original vocalist Jim Murray still in tow and hot flash jamz extant on such old chestnuts as "Mona," "Smokestack Lightning" and "Who Do You Love." Not all of the crazed magic that could be found in the area at the time transposes to this platter, but as Gene Sculatti (via Mike Snider) said, I guess you hadda be there. And hope that the weird guy sitting next to you passes some Orange Sunshine your way.
John McLaughlin-WHERE FORTUNE SMILES (Get Back, Italy)

Sonny Sharrock/Peter Brotzmann-FRAGMENTS (DDL)

The pairing of these two jazz guitarists might just have me digging out my copy of Wayne Shorter's SUPERNOVA to give another spin one of these afternoons, but for now we'll concentrate on these platters, the first being a session originally led by John Surnam but credited to McLaughlin because his name'll sell many more of these slabs he being a major label recording giant and all. But yeah, it's a decent enough early avant garde session featuring some of the better European players of the day like the extremely-busy Karl Berger (who must have rivalled Jeanne Lee as far as omnipresence goes) getting into the late-sixties groove as only these Euros can and although I found myself thumbing my way through old issues of TV GUIDE at some parts on side one that's how non-plussed I was I should say that I found the flip rather enlightening throughout. I guess maybe my musical eye or whatever the hippoids call it needs some adjustment after all, but it is a definite keeper!

The Sharrock/Brotzmann disc is a recent release of a live '89 at the "Elbo Room" gig featuring half of the seminal Last Exist playing some hefty experimental jass that for some unknown reason has (along with about a million other crucial live gigs) remained buried until now. Sharrock actually plays nice and restrained albeit still in free form while Brotzmann does his best to clear out the blockage clogging up your creative passages. A fun time seems to have been had by all, only making me want to hear much more of the chronic bleat that free jazz as been producing for a much longer time than any of us would care to imagine.

I recently re-read the FUSION magazine review of these Orphic Egg releases and marvelled at the foolhardy and ridiculous things that some labels would do in order to move their back catalogs. Yet on the other hand it seemed logical enough...after all, if modern rock was borrowing from classical and avant garde forms wouldn't it seem smart for labels like London to push their highbrow wares on the new youth market or for Mainstream to hype their reissues of the Time label avant garde catalog to the acid rock contingent? And who could really fault London for hiring the hip rock critic scum of the day to do the liner notes like they did with Lester Bangs here on this reissue of various Mussorgsky trackage repackaged with about the same amount of care as any pop label collection tossout that would come to mind? I mean, wouldn't you think that having the Bangs imprimatur on such a disc, even if it is the original longhair sound, is just about as hip as having Richard Meltzer make a halfway-decent set of bubblepop by the Innocence downright underground with the inclusion of his own notes? I wonder how many copies of MUSSORGSKY'S HEAD ended up in record collections snuggled between FUNHOUSE and NUGGETS anyway?

Of course Bangs' notes are hootier 'n a barn owl as he cruises and careens all through an El Cajon childhood of album collecting and ruminating about the wide array of music that made up his manhood and yeah, these notes do make MUSSORGSKY'S HEAD hot CREEM-fodder if only by default. Maybe there is an underground charm to it all, though perhaps it's the side of Bangs that got a kick outta those classical Deep Purple albums that permeates through this writeup. And hey, ya gotta admit that the music is similar to a lotta the hot pretensioso prog rock of the day, and given that Emerson Lake and Palmer made mucho making mincemeat outta this music sometimes it is hard telling where the classical ends and the rock starts! If you're a fan of the whole ELP/Yes genre then just consider this stuff the same toonz played on acoustic instruments of yore and yer in luck! If you're classically inclinded then just shudder o'er the fact that your longhair and theirs have intermingled to the point where the Moody Blues and Ian Anderson have appeared with symphony orchestras thus making all of those parental taunts about how much that progressive rock music was NOT for the ages a lotta hooey! But in all, MUSSORGSKY'S HEAD kinda makes me glad I ignored my elders' pleas to listen to this "cultured" junk 'n headed straight for the wild reaches of energy music! I mean, could you actually imagine a LOU REED'S HEAD neural implant heading our way a good hundred years from now?
Frut-SPOILED ROTTEN (Westbound)

Closing out today's soiree's an oldie that I latched onto about twenny years back. The guy who sold it to me said "Chris, I hate this one so you gotta like it!" and although I really didn't hop-skip-and-jump over these Frut guys (who used the umlaut over their "u" before Blue Oyster Cult did!) I thought they deserved a chance given their Detroit rock city moves even if they were a halfway-there act in the high energy Detroit Rock sweepstakes. Besides, I heard the Frut used to engage in wild antics a la the rest of the Michigan monsters and even shot arrows into the air from the stage, and although I don't know what that signifies it sure makes me wish I had thought of a stunt like that!

Still, the fifties revival tracks aren't quite or two would have been nice but since most of these tracks are old timey covers even I gotta say that Sha-Na-Na had these Motor City Mungoids beat. The originals are iffy..."Freckles On Her Butt" is Commander Cody-inspired country twang and would have suited that group better, although I really must say that I liked "Snatch 'n Grabit" esp. after Metal Mike Saunder's review in an old SHAKIN' STREET GAZETTE (retrievable via Rock's Back Pages if you so desire to spend the loot) which draws comparisons to that'n the early V****t U*********d. 'n yeah, I can hear V****ts '66 when L*u and company would do the r&b thing real New York sleaze-like (check bootlegs for evidence) but whether or not Frut consciously lifted the sound is hard to say. I put my money on the latter and for a nice cheap time of it maybe you should put as little dough as possible on a copy for yourself.
FINAL SLICE OF PERTINENT POLITICALLY-CHARGED UPHEAVAL NEWS: I gotta say that it's beyond believable seeing my main man Rep. Ron Paul in the spotlight these days, even if it isn't as bright as I or he would like it to be getting all of that publicity with his antiwar stumping and putting forth of his purely libertarian/"true"-right wing principles like he has ever since entering the presidential race and ultimately debates. (Like I said, he is a much better option for president of these here United States than the hideous grandstanding [and career-ruining] Rudy Guiliani, who one so-called "libertarian" [y'know, the kind who actually likes a Trotskyite such as the insufferable Christopher Hitchens!] is actually championing to the hilt!) It's even wilder to see the rank and file republicans, who seem more like a pack of bloodthirsty wolves given their pro-war mania even this late in the game go after him to the point where they'd like to see Paul excluded from future Republican debates which really must be saying something...good about Paul that is! Considering how the republicans for the most part have lost all shards of dignity, not that they really had that much to bein with, it's great to see a real maverick shaking things up and since things really need to shaken up for the better these days what better man to do it than none other'n Dr. Paul!

But seeing clips of the Good Doctor on Youtube and watching him battle it out with comparative ninnies like Bill Maher is really life-reaffirming especially here in the beyond plastic new millenium (and especially when he makes his interviewers look like the total fools they are), and for once I am thankful that such a wild card as Paul is running for the White House and making a lotta people on both sides of the aisle look positively subhuman in the process and really, who else is doing just the same thing in these rather placid times?

Now Paul has about as much chance of becoming president as J. Neo Marvin has of writing a coherent rock & roll song but who reading the blog wouldn't mind seeing the man stir up the bees like he did on Fox News after the first republican candidate debate (y'know, the one with the rather nauseating Guiliani grandstanding ploy directed against Paul's on-target assessments of the current Mideast crisis which got the audience all aflutter...even though Paul pretty much won the post-debate poll beating out the former mayor hands down!) when Sean Hannity (and not liberal co-host Alan Colmes, who only felt it proper to question Paul about his pro-life views) tore into Paul for his anti-Iraq invasion and generally anti-war philosophies which had the republican being joined on the defensive by Colmes which must have been a television first! Kinda reminds me of the time when Pat Buchanan won the Vermont primary back in '92 and all the media machines on both the left and right began smearing him for infractions mostly imagined! Well...smear on! If Bush is merely the Woodrow Wilson of the 21st century with his new variation on the old "War To End All Wars" riff (though I gotta admit I like Bush's style just for being so inarticulate and one-note thud which is refreshing after a few centuries of pathetic political pandering!), then Paul is Barry Goldwater, bound to go down in flames but from those flames will arise a new Phoenix that I'm sure will change the course of politics and perhaps our ideas of political persuasions for many years to come.

And while I'm at it, I gotta crow like a cock'n say that at least one sorry prediction came true when I mentioned back in November that all those democrats you libs voted in wouldn't have the werewithall to end the war or make vast changes on the political scene. Coming in like a buncha conquering hoardes, the dems have turned into the true chickens they are with their rampant cave-ins and general disarray which even I am surprised to have seen happen to a political movement that seemed so sure of itself only a few months back. At least the democrats are thankfully refraining from making all of those cliched showbiz generalities about the "common man" and other heartbleed nausea which is sure pleasing on the ears, but with the donkey party sorta fidgeting around trying to look "patriotic" and the republicans lambasting their only true light while refusing to see the ship they're on is sinking just as fast as their opponents', all I gotta say is this dumb and dumber contest is going to look a lot more interesting as election time once again rears its ugly head.

And (in case you don't get the message by this point in time)...come primary time VOTE FOR THIS GUY!!! I mean, you can stand to become a republican just this once cantcha??? After yer done switch back to whaddeva ya were...I won't tell anyone!

(Next post...BLOG TO COMM's vinyl seven-incher listening party!)

Friday, May 18, 2007


I'm so happy that I could just fart for joy over the re-emergence of vinyl supremacy into my otherwise jaded life. Yes, for way too long I, your faithful BLOG TO COMM scriber, have been without the benefit of good ol' long playing album-type records (which I gotta say, after years of painful and prudent study, are a vastly superior form of BLOG TO COMM-approved soundscapading patterns o'er the now-dominant digital format if only for the purer analog sound not to mention the giganto-in-comparison visual aspects of the covers), and now that I got my Christmas gift (a cheap-o combo turntable/ cassette/CD/radio box housed in a genuine molded imitation wood box) unpacked and plunked smack-dab-inna-middle-uvva basement alongsides my bulging album/seven-inch collection it's just like the good ol' days when I'd sneak away from the family argument 'n blast a few minutes of MARS in order to express a few non-verbal attitudes of my own! And true, these new turntables sure ain't like the old 'uns of yore and sound pretty draboid in comparison to those megabuck monstrosities that used to be advertised in HIGH FIDELITY, but since I never had a real stereo system of my own 'n in fact for umpteen years used to play my disques on a turntable hitched up to a boom box which has only recently been retired to the trash heap, it's not like I'm taking any gigantic steps forwards or backwards technology-wise so what should I care anyway?

So, for the sake of brevity, here are but three of the platters I've been spinning ever since I got my retro-table in gear this past week...of course I was listening to more'n just this trio of musical mayhemsters during that brief period of time but I've chosen to write up these three and these three only because I think I've digested them enough to the point where I can write hopefully coherent descriptions as to their why's and wherefores, what I thought about 'em, and why I was stupid enough to dish out the moolah that vinyl seems to be commanding in an age when it, like it or not, is pretty much a dim reminder of that decadent past that many of you readers yearn and crave for!

Jango Edwards and the Friends Roadshow-LIVE IN EUROPE LP (Polydor Holland)

If the old saying "curiosity killed the cat" were true, then you could probably expect heaping piles of decaying felines cluttered about the Stigliano abode! Yeah I gotta admit that sometimes there's a small nagging whether it be about a band, an era, a work of art or artist, a television show or even a logo drilling through my head like an earwig, and though the hankerin' for whatever gulcherally-significant icon there may be might start off small and relatively insignificant, you can betcha dollars-to-dildos that given enough time this slight curiosity will more or less snowball into something gigundo beyond the realm of your comprehensibility if not mine. It could be about anything from an old tee-vee show theme/opening schpiel (like the one from some local television public affairs program called ROVING CAMERA (hosted by a Stu Wilson in case that means anything to ya) that aired on channel 27 in Youngstown which scared me silly as a toddler even accounting for one humongous nightmare I had during those best/worst of times pre-school days) to a long-forgotten commercial or band or whatever hits the popster pleasure center in the brain, and as you've already guessed I've had some pretty strong obsessions, nay, cravings o'er the years with regards to everything from comic strips to rock bands to Japanese women that I just can't beat outta my system no matter how hard I try...not that I'd exactly want to! (I mean, I used to wonder exactly what Rocket From the Tombs' take of "Sonic Reducer" sounded like for years, even experiencing these vibrations via a 1984 dream where a METALLIC KO-quality tape of the thing put to shame the eventual live at the Piccadilly take that's now widely available!) I dunno just why I have these undying obsessions regarding a whole slew of pop-significant goodies and had them for a good many years as could be because I do value the baby boomer sense of trash that I experienced the tail end of, or maybe there's some chemical mixup in my system I never outgrew, but whatever, if you don't have the same sense of musical wonderment and retro sense of awe that I've immersed myself in for many a year, then I don't blame you for not understanding or being copasetic with anything I've written about sound patterns or suburban brat television viewing for the past quarter-century. In fact I don't even see why you'd wanna read this blog at all, and if this is indeed the case may I recommend that you abandon reading BLOG TO COMM as quickly and as promptly as possible and re-direct yourself to one of many superficial, one-dimensional blogs out there in internet-land that are more suitable to your, ahem, shallowness. Not that I don't mind fact I will admit that I wallow in it myself, but at least mine is of a purer nature than the mindless shallow thoughts and values so in-vogue these rather timid times.

So where does that put JANGO EDWARDS AND THE FRIENDS BAND anyway? Well, I was pretty anxious as to hear what that sorta act would've sounded like especially after I discovered that this Edwards guy, given my (as you know) extreme interest in the underground rock scenes of the seventies, ended up on a Max's Kansas City bill either '76 or '77 (not quite sure which since I can't find my handy-dandy 1958-1990 instant calendar disc) for two nights straight, one with the Cramps and Suicide opening and the other with famed ex-Dolls metal/pop act the Brats in the warm-up slot. And out of pure adventure (and given my aforementioned obsessions regarding certain aspects of mid-seventies New York rock scene shenanigans) I ran the Edwards name through my faverave search engine only to find out that the guy indeed had a past, and in fact had gained some notoriety not exactly on the rock scene but as a clown which only made my curiosity a little more...curiouser in typical Lewis Carroll fashion.

Which is why I actually dished out the double-digit ($16 or so not inc. p&h) prices that I did for this disque...when it comes to memeME such curiousities die hard and I figured that it would be a lot more fun for me to buy one of the guys' albums rather'n sit and stew over what might have transpired on that New York night way back during the height of perhaps the last big rockism movement to grace this planet earth ever! After all, thoughts of underground rock and Velvetisms abounding all over the place still get me as hot and bothered as it did way back when I was first discovering this stuff, and if this Jango person was cool enough to get booked at perhaps "thee" watering hole for proto-punk hipsterisms back then perhaps it was worth the time and effort to search one of his platters out. 'r it least it couldn't hurt me that much or something else in my head which justified my dishing out all dem bucks on an act I hardly knew anything about!

Hmmmm...interesting enough cover here, although typically European budget/middle-of-the-road cheap looking. Nothing that was going to appeal to the rock crowd at the time with a more adult/contempo look to it that I would surmise was created to lure in the Burt Kaempfert schmoozers. Front cover had this Jango character in a very basic clown getup (just white lips and brief eyebrow paint...nothing Bozo-esque mind you!) while on the back he's made to look like a Jesus Christ imitation complete with red nail marks on his palms. Looks like it's gonna be a loooong night either way, although the gatefold snaps of him as a fifties rocker, a nudist with fig leaf and bad-taste gameshow host do look like the kinda hip boho fodder that the gang at Max's would've been eating up not only during the punk-active days of '76 but during the earlier portion of that decade when cheap pose was seemingly more important than substantial musical credo!

Twas recorded late '79 so maybe it ain't that far outside the realm of proto-punk mania or at least the same sorta cool New York atty-tood that had the crowds running to see John Waters' BB Steele Revue with Edith Massey at CBGB and Max's around the same time Edwards was tearing up the latter joint. And judging from the sounds that are found herein I sure could understand Edwards and band's potential appeal for the hip-de-la-creme of New York highlife with his brand of clown-rock which does go for the ol' outrageousness yet somehow even appeals (at times) to a prudish baldoid like myself who does have a soft spot in my listening parameters for various seventies sounds and ideas that seemed to have vanished from the face of the earth when the eighties clocked in and everything seemed to be put into lockdown!

Recorded live at the Paradiso in Amsterdam (famed hip club inna city where the Amerigan Edwards had set up shop), LIVE IN EUROPE opens with a James Brown spoof/tribute which I gotta credit Edwards for since Brown-mania, at least on gnu wave turf, didn't really rear its lillywhite head until a good two years later. And from there its up and down through a variety of hits and gross misses including the aforemtioned Christ "parody" entitled "Jesus H. Christ" (which also plays on THE TONIGHT SHOW complete with "Pope John Paul George Ringo" as Ed McMahon...and were people in Holland even aware as to what what that program was all about???) and a Bogart/private eye (or "dick" as the storyline goes in order to toss a lotta VD jokes about) skit that maybe is one step above Alice Cooper's LACE AND WHISKEY but given the nostaligic clime of the times it ain't that much diff 'n a whole lotta similar (read: hackneyed) routines of the day. Maybe going to see Edwards (especially in the hip confines of a Max's) would have been a much better experience even with all of the telegraphed-ahead anti-religious outrage and really not-that-funny teen-angst song regarding a gal who died of flatulence(!), but gimme enough drinks and I'd probably be cheering along with the crowd at every bitta puton outrageousness. Of course I'd feel guilty when I sobered up, but then again I'm sure a good portion of the audience there would too!

I will admit that this album is a (possible) keeper and yeah, my curiousity after all these months is sate, but was it really worth the death of another tabby to find all of this out? Oh well, good thing I hate cats! Maybe I should purchase a whole bunch of these seventies obscurities and forgotten slabs of musical mayhem and knock off an entire litter for once!!!


Here's one I recall popping up in just about every record hangout that I inhabited during my mid-seventies days of kiddie rage, usually snuggled neatly next to the live GOLDEN FILTH disc which for some unknown reason remained in print that far down the line while the rest of the Fugs catalog was left to fizzle out into used record shop obscurity. But getting real for a minute lemme say that I didn't think that many people would've still been interested in the Fugs during the definitely post-radical days of '75, but I guess that even in the hazy Gerald Ford clime there would be an audience for these sex-mad rock maniacs extant. Even if this album was a mish-mash of previously-released Fug-dom with some new matter tossed in you could bet that it would be selling faster'n KY in San Fran, at least amongst those few remaining White Panther types not to mention a few hidebound leftovers down on the commune. And of course a whole lotta them punks might just dig into it to, at least for the primitive mania of it all.

In actuality, FUGS 4, ROUNDERS SCORE's a nice slab of early Fug consciousness with some of the better moments from their ESP days mixed in with ne'er before heard garbage mostly of a Holy Modal Rounders variety (hence the title). A lot of this, like the original "Romping Through The Swamp" and "Fiddler a Dram" have to my not-so-expansive knowledge been reissued, and even the Tuli Kupferberg-inked "Jackoff Blues" didn't get stuck on one of those recent Fugshumations that I wrote about only a few years back like I thought it would've. (There's a version of this particular tune on that band-issued live disque from over a decade back, but it doesn't have the same cheap ESP sound that made the Godz sound like the Mahavishnu Orchestra in comparison.) And to top it off, the whole thing comes in a classic cheap ESP sleeve that really ain't that brilliant an excursion (after all, MAD did the abstract art by a chimp routine way back in '57!) but given ESP's numbered days I can forgive 'em.
3/3-SANBUN NO SAN LP (Shadoks England)

At last, a recent release! Well, not that recent because as far as I know this 'un's already sold out (only 300 were pressed anyway), but if you don't have it boy have you missed a lot! Anyway, you all know about my love of proto-punk, early-Velvets homage and New York hijinx...well, this one has it all and not only that, but it has some of those boss Japanese underground rock connections that have made my listening experiences a little more engaging the past four or so years!

Here's the deal...the group 3/3 (featuring two bonafide rock icons, Reck of Teenage Jesus/Friction fame and Higo Hiroshi from the early Contortions) were wallowing around in the mid-seventies Tokyo underground when this live acetate was recorded 1/75 in what was undoubtedly a vain attempt to garner more giggage. And given not only the group's future credentials but their undying devotion to an early-Velvet Underground style (and not the pencil-thin drone of a host of latterday practitioners, the retching X-tal naturally coming to mind) you can tell that this one is a wowzer-par-excellence thanks to the rough sound (taken directly from that aforementioned acetate) to the high-energy squeal of the thing that makes me wonder why the band snaps onna back cover of this high-quality item show the group in typical '77 punk pose when in fact the music speaks more of an early-seventies hard blare that seems to owe more to the whacked out US scenes as opposed to the English answer...I'm talking Rocket From the Tombs and Simply Saucer (OK they're Canadian, but I think you get the drift!) amongst a load of others who have that heavy power surge near and dear to their ever-lovin' hearts (and, if you are a Limey Lover, the likes of Crushed Butler on an art rock trip might come to mind!).

Even on the weeper these guys can exude the sorta high-energy that's always made ballads rock with total force (such as on "Miriam," the closer from that great debut of an LP by Hydra on Capricorn records if you can imagine that!). Heavy-duty power rock here that only comes about once in awhile, and I only pity you if you missed out on this rarity because who knows if it'll ever make it out our way again? Maybe Shadoks'll reish the thing on (gulp!) Cee-Dee with additional tracks and a band history. Now I could go for something like that!
More vinyl writeups next go 'round? I sure hope so (got about a year and a half of purchases to comb my way through!). Anyway, until then, howzbout hitting Youtube for some fine family entertainment like I do? I've been whiling away the hours on this site as of late, not only watching a whole load of old rock & roll clips (current faves, Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Turtles, Barbarians, Can, Guru Guru and Fugs natch!) but classic tee-vee as well! It's sure grand being able to switch on a HONEYMOONERS episode when I feel like it, not to mention an old TALES OF THE RIVERBANK (which I loved at age four but thought total kid stuff by the time I hit twelve!) and SOUPY SALES!!! And they say internet ain't worth its weight in salt either! Oh well, if we need any vast wastelands, it's good to know that we've got one at our fingertips!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Shirts-ONLY THE DEAD KNOW BROOKLYN CD (The Stereo Society)



(all of the above are also available through CD Baby)

Spring is here kiddies and you know what that means????? It means that the weather is pleasant 'n warm, the days are getting longer and it sure looks refreshing out there in the wide open spaces! So I guess that there just won't be as many of these BLOG TO COMM posts comin' your way as usual given the outdoor funtime conditions that we in the Western Pee-YAY! area are looking forward to these next four t' five months. So until October 'r November start rollin' 'round don't expect as many of these epistles as usual unless I get really bored or worse yet actually have something important to say! Gee, it's sure gonna be nice looking at alla that nature from my bedroom window!

Anyway, this particular post's gonna be nothin' but a trio of reviews of alla the goodies that I've received via my CD Baby order earlier this week. And goodness gracious hi-ho, but I gotta tell ya that I really like CD Baby...they specialize in all sorts of home-produced and under-the-radar Cee-Dee stuff that seems not only to bypass the usual underground sources like Bomp, Forced Exposure and Volcanic Tongue (mainly for being too "commercial" or "mainstream" for their tastes, which is perfectly okay for businesses which specialize in certain aspects of the musical experience) but sorta scoot the above-ground as well. I've seen stuff offered up for sale on the CD Baby website that I haven't eyeballed anywhere else, and that includes a lotta goodies that I've been wanting to hear for quite some time whether it be some act I once caught on the CBGB cybercast only to never hear from again or (gosh!) some long-forgotten item that I'd long given up searchin' for and I don't care what you say about such modern marvels as miracle drugs or other lifesaving inventions we have here in the Jetsonian Future, I am glad that we do have such things as CD Baby and for that we should all rest a little easier tonight knowing that some local buncha young upstart rock kids are gonna be able to sell their brand-spanking-new disque somewhere on this planet and that goes for dad's ukelele cantatas too!

I know that most of you readers will disagree, but I found the Shirts' tracks on the LIVE AT CBGB album amongst those two discs' highlights. Maybe I hadn't washed any prog rock inclinations outta my system at the time I first heard these hot Italians on that universally-shrugged off set way back inna seventies, but darn it if these Shirts' snazzy playing coupled with a raw production didn't strike a downright chord with me at the time. I found their later offerings (or at least what I've heard of 'em) on Capitol/Harvest to be rather slick thanks to either Mike Thorne's production or the expected group "maturity," but whaddeva I always considered the Shirts a primo En Why See outfit on the same wavelength as all of those other "save-the-world" bands who, come to think of it, also petered out during the early-eighties and right at the very nanosecond we seemingly needed this once-clever gush the most!

Naturally the Shirts, like a hefty portion of the groups who were flocking to the stages of CBGB and Max's Kansas City during that fabled rock renaissance, were aping for the bigtime moolah STAR SEARCH bonanza bucks all along as the post-Shirts Jing Machine albums ultimately proved. I remember reviewing that Shirts offshoot's sole disc (the other being a live CBGB tape that never did seem to get out much) way back in those dark late-eighties wincing at a lotta the Billy Joel-isms extant, yet I do recall one or two real winners in the bunch that transcended former Shirts leader Artie Lamonica's own progressive tendencies. Yeah the thing could've been considered gnu-wave quap, but looking back I kinda wish that I didn't chuck that one onto the sell pile because there was a certain sorta neat New York feel to the disc that, although seemingly outdated by a good ten years, sure seemed to satiate more'n the usual u-ground hotcha single to get tossed out to us hungry barracudas. And, come to think of it, the track that I did hear on that mid-eighties CBGB live collection was rather pleasing to the ears, but then again I also liked the Tulpa cut which certainly rankled the ire of more than a few Canadian Contingent readers out there in fanzine-land!

These new Shirts have been together since at least the late-nineties and as you'd sorta half-expect time has caught up w/'em. These guys now look like a buncha old white-haired wily Eyetalians whom you'd think should be smoking them thin black cee-gars and talking chooch-like but maybe that's the inspirational part about it. Singer Annie Golden used to be with this reformed band but has since split for pastures which don't look quite that much greener only to have been replaced by younger produce, mainly a Caren Messing and Kathy McCloskey, the latter also doubling on keyboards. But even thirtysome years down the line and hair a'whitening, these guys still sound youngish enough. Even frozen in 1979 time which is pretty heartening for a guy who misses the old Systematic updates he used to espy with total candor. And not only that, but they got former producer Thorne to do the production on this, their latest which I gotta admit it a pretty neat slice of something a lot different'n the usual blare that most hipster blognuts wanna be the first onna cliched block to tell all you potential Quinlans about.

It's good enough that even the patented eighties pop moves and blatant Clarence Clemmons impressions courtesy guest Arno Hecht don't quite drag this down. Neither does the anti-war/pro-hippie "I Declare War" 'n that's mainly because of the rather snappy pop beat its got. (But sheesh, if the Shirts are gonna get all radical on us I sure would've preferred hearing their long-jettisoned draft-dodger number which I guess would fit in a lot more'n the mindless VILLAGE VOICE leftie bent of way too many soapboxers these days!) And true you might consider this Shirts offering to be commercial in the extreme because it dones't feature any atonal guitar solos or manic blasts of feedback, but at least this brand of post-Springsteenian popslop is done in a rather refreshing fashion with smart sixties moves and seventies reflections of such sixties moves all packaged up in an eighties way which doesn't make me wanna puke!

Maybe that's because the eighties are so far removed from us and all of the bad gunk that this decade stood for is pretty much dead 'n buried and so distant, but hey, the Shirts can pull this sleek post-gnu wave off sans the usual campy smarm of a Madonna nor the terminal-hasbeenness of a Debbie Harry'n it even sounds neat New Yorky enough that a numbuh like "Bourbon Street" evokes the Big Apple more'n it does Sin City (which is the name CAN'T BUY A THRILL's Russell Desmond's parents gave New Orleans even though they'd take occasional treks from Baton Rouge where Desmond could scarf up all of those records he read about in CREEM).

'n for once the "talent" doesn't get in the way of some rather decent poppy (in the proper, streetcorner wopadago fashion) moments, and the closing live tracks from the final days at CBGB are rather enticing in their own early-sixties transposed to the late-oh-ohs way. A surprise winner which should prove that (contrary to public opinion) this scribe does not adhere to any particular musical taste or style other'n what hits him and hits him GOOD!, and y'know what? This hit me a lot harder'n just about anything else I'd care to 'fess up to this past month! Har!


Of all three discs being reviewed today this next one is perhaps the most difficult to relate to you with or even without the aid of words. We all know about J.D. King and his Coachmen through the interview with the man that appeared in the latest issue of my fanzine, and I'm sure that most all of you have picked up the latest Coachman Cee-Dee which I wrote about here as well, devout readers that you are. And with over five years of cross-communication going on between Mr. King and myself about all I gotta say is that King is a pretty hard man to figure out to the point where (dare I say) he exudes a frightening sense of Nordic energy (them scandies ain't all mind-numbed El Brendels!) that I guess just doesn't quite mesh with my more Southern Euro-bred "eh!" And frankly, after interviewing the guy and yammering on and on about various things both relevant to this particular post and not all I gotta say is the guy can be scary, lulling you into a sense of awe at one minute then slamming you without any fair warning the next but maybe that's my own mental kablooey acting up. It usually is, and a ton of medication ain't gonna woosh away the lifestyle blues no matter how hard I try!

But that still doesn't say anything about King's latest excursion into Cee-Dee land, a Coachmen/Septimania collab done while King and his "band" were on holiday (that's "vacation" for you Amerigan readers) in that strange European burgh which also goes by the name Septmania. (Confused? You should be me!!!) Loads of googling (King keeping mum) still has me in the dark about just what the who's and why's of Septimania are, but believe the hype or not all I gotta tell ya is that this is mighty fine crunch that gives the long-hackneyed term "avant garde" a new and dare-I-say much-needed facelift. Actually SEPTMANIA! reminds me of a lotta experimental mid/late-seventies soundscapading, perhaps akin to something Eno or one of those acts on his short-lived Obscure label (that David Toop thingie comes to mind although I never did hear it!) might have thunk up in a moment of rash inspiration. Maybe even Eno on his own mid/late-seventies "pop" albums could have hit some of the heights found on SEPTIMANIA! had he not been as boring as he could have been by the time ANOTHER GREEN WORLD hit the import bins ("Roger Wilco" hazza nice "Here Come the Warm Jets" lilt to it!). Instruments used include belaphone (is this actually a "balafon," an idiophonic African percussive akin to a xylophone which was very popular in sixties free jazz circles during the big Back to Africa movement?), steel water and friction drums, shepard's pipes and kazoo.

"Hit of the year"...remember you read it here first!


I'm sure a whole buncha you heavy-duty BLACK TO COMM readers who have been in on the trip for a good many decades know all about the obsession I have with seventies underground rock, especially the blare that was coming forth from the stages of such hip Manhattan watering holes as CBGB and Max's Kansas City during the middle and latter portion of that decade. One of the things that still zones me out about that particular era in time is that, while a whole load of beergardens of the day were more content with booking cover and tribute bands to play watered-down versions of already watered-down "hits" for a crowd that usually didn't give one whit, farsighted fellows like HIlly Kristal and Peter Crowley were giving original music acts a chance to play at their hangouts which certainly does come off wild-eyed especially during a time when music listeners were too zapped by classic rock radio (then going under the nom-de-puke "Album-Oriented Rock") to the point of terminal brain-death.

What really was interesting about the whole "New York Scene" of the time (and long after) is that the concept of what would be called "punk rock" was really an open book and perhaps remained so at least until news of the British variant began reaching our shores. Contrary to what many big city rock critics (the oft-regurgitating A*******a P******s comes to mind) would lead you to believe, the New York clubs were actually big on giving a wide array of groups playing original music stage-time whether they be r&b, jazz rock, folk rock, heavy metal or that strange brand of primitive rock that melded a whole slew of influences to varying degrees that got called punk. A look at the listings for such clubs during the mid-seventies will lend credence to my statement...after all, in '75 you could see an act like the Martian Rock Band (Kiss w/an outer-space motif featuring a future WASP bassist) opening for Blondie at Max's, while acts who were playing a weird array of heavy metallic thuds or post-McLaughlin guitar shards would somehow get lumped in with all those sixties-derived college art rock bands that the New York Rock Critics (Incorporated) were anxious to be the first to "discover" back in those ultimately best/worst times especially for rock & roll music.

I once made a comment to the effect that the problem with the plethora of self-produced singles, LPs, cassettes and what-have-ya ever since the mid-eighties or so was that a good portion of the acts who were releasing their own recordings had yet to develop their vision, foresightfulness and general talent to the point where their best moments would be evident in a recorded format. Heck, most of the acts who were at that time heading tenderfeet-first into the Brave New World of recording didn't even have any business making records especially with their paucity of not only ideas, but spark, ability and general jams kickoutness. This is a truth that I certainly learned the hard way in the late-eighties after tons of these homemade wares, which I would have gladly welcomed to my abode only a few years earlier, made me loathe most of what was passing for underground/alternative music with a heated passion that I still haven't washed out of my system! (And you could say that very little has changed since, only now with compact discs the norm we unfortunately have the opportunity to hear over an hour of some new band's piddling twaddle as opposed to merely two sides of a seven-inch record!)

Unfortunately the groups who would have most benefitted from their own indie recordings such as the mid-to-late-seventies New York acts who came straight from the CBGB/Max's stages never did have the opportunity to release their own material or, if they did, these platters had a hard time reaching the very same public that was most interested in hearing about these young rock revolutionaries who were creating refreshing, original music in the face of the same bar band groove and boring rock atmosphere that I certainly hadda grow up in. And maybe you did too and if you did you'd probably understand what I'm talkin' 'bout more'n some amerindie-bred blogger raised on thousands of self-released 80s/90s disques that might have said a lot, but really signified nothing. Let's just say that in many ways them days were bad, but at least there were enough groups who could lift one outta the doldrums that were being imposed on us thanks to media blackouts and a general lethargy brough about by too many quaaludes and a rather horrid laidbackness that was probably brought upon by too much Vietnam.

As for the Electric Magic Sideshow, I remember their name striking me like something outta that sainted past when I first saw that moniker on a CBGB listing sometime in '00 or so. 'n with a name more'n reminiscent of Geofrey Krozier's post-Kongress groupage the Shanghai Sideshow I had the feeling that this Sideshow was gonna be a great trip back to the mid-seventies hard rock glam/metal/pop scene that like I said used to battle it out at CB's for stage-space alongsides the likes of Blondie and Television. Once I actually tuned in for a live cybercast to no avail (seems as if the band wuz takin' their good ol' time making it to the stage) but that didn't stop me from finding a website (which has since been torn down leading me to believe this Sideshow est mort) as well as discovering the existence of a couple disques, this being their first.

An EP of a Cee-Dee as well, and it's a pretty hot 'un that captures the mid/late-seventies hard-pop that the Sideshow've been aping pretty snatly too. True the Electric Magic Sideshow ain't for everyone, but then again if you were one of those New Yorksters who liked the Brats and all those bands on the second Max's Kansas City album you'll probably dig these guys the most. In fact, the Electric Magic Sideshow are so indebted to the best that the hard rock of the just-post Golden Age of Heavy Metal had to offer both on and off the stages of the New York clubs that I sure could have seen their name cozied up on a '75/'76 CBGB or Max's bill alongsides such other "gotta-hear" aggros of the day as Uneasy Sleeper, Hambone Sweets and Trilogy. And as far as "revivals" go I gotta say that I find the Sideshow a pretty good return to hard rock glories of the past that I gotta admit never totally went away even though I'm sure that a few people out there would be more'n glad to do anything on their part to see that this sound remains dead 'n buried for good!

Heavy metal pop is a good way to describe such tunes as "Rock And Roll Song" and "One More Chance" (which sound like what I'm sure people were hoping Bad Company, and maybe even Eddie Money sounded like given their pedigree!) and yeah I know a whole batcha you cooler-than-thou types obviously'll up yer booger-encrusted snouts at this but like the ol' guy lookin' at the painting of the nude broad said I KNOW WHAT I LIKE and I'll take the Electric Magic Sideshow over most any effete offering that the likes of Ajax woulda tried peddlin' to me back inna nineties and if that seems blasphemous enough to you I hope you get the MESSAGE.


Hope for some rain (I can only stand to look at it outta my window for a short period of time!) and maybe I'll wing you a mid-week wowzer. But then again maybe not, but anyway keep your eyes peeled for another smashing success of a blogpost heading your way soon!

Saturday, May 05, 2007


As you probably already know, I've named this on/off again oleo of whatever's twisting my tweaker at the time after a now-long-gone similar-minded blogpost-title, namely the "High Five" series that Dave Lang ran in his now-viscosity-less weblog whose title escapes me at the moment. Originally I felt I could deliver more to you, the anxious BLOG TO COMM reader, than the likes of Lang could ever dream of which is why I decided to go the extra mile Lang never could conceive and titled my posts "High Six," though with the arrival of his progeny such a title would actually pay Lang homage, given how his offspring has six toes on all four 'peds thus making an actual slap of such sorts a reality in the Lang abode. I knew that families were close down in Australasia, but not this close! Now don't go saying that I'm not the kinda guy who tries to bury the hatchet with my former foes 'n offer the ol' olive branch, or olive pizza t'boot!

1) The Velvet Underground-THE PSYCHOPATH'S ROLLING STONES bootleg CD (Futuristic Blues)

And speaking of boots (notice the sleek segue that I learned from Russell Desmond of CAN'T BUY A THRILL fame), I'm positive that most of you readers out there're smart enough to realize that most of the then-classic bootlegs of the seventies, eighties and nineties have been made obsolete through upgraded material, better presentation and ln a few cases legal reissues, but dad gum if I don't think that a lotta those old insert-sleeve bootlegs that I drooled over in the bins way back in the seventies have a special sorta cheap-o class all their own! And many of the early Cee-Dee bootlegs that seemed like such rare archival artyfacts back in the day suffer from such unplanned obsolescence as well, THE PSYCHOPATH'S ROLLING STONES by the Velvet Underground being no exception though I gotta admit that the selection of now-familiar tuneage lifted from throughout the group's career makes for fine driving music as songs and quality take a roller-coaster ride from familiar loft rehearsal tracks and Max's Kansas City outtakes to seventies Cale/Nico/Reed acoustic deca-cool and it all settles inside you just like it did when you first heard the stuff during your young 'n impressionable days. And what makes it even neater is that the only previously-unheard-by-me trackage here was the "Star-Spangled Banner" numbuh which I guess was supposed to have been used as the opening for the '93 reunion tour but nixed...actually it does make for a fine addition to the Velvets mystique because if there was any band that epitomised the Amerigan sense of trash rock culture it was the Velvets. (A NUDGE-NUDGE HINT TO EDGAR BREAU: maybe you and your Simply Saucer should swing "Oh Canada" for your upcoming would show a bitta patriotic pride on your part even though I kinda think that you think your native land has gone to hell inna handbasket at this point in time 'n if you nix the idea, frankly I don't blame you!)


By the mid-sixties, it was more'n obvious that the big gamble that Stan Lee had instigated at the Marvel (formerly Timely/Marvel/Atlas) Comics Group had paid off in spades with perhaps the biggest comics putsch in the industry since EC's manic sweep a good decade earlier. Of course you as well as I can and maybe have already read about it in the iffy-yet-informative book TALES TO ASTONISH amongst other places, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that even with all of the hype going on at Marvel during those years that they certainly had a thing going. And I'm sure that with their characters being licensed out on products galore, tee-vee cartoon series in the can and even the phony-intellectuals gobbling up Dr. Strange that there was some sorta joy abuzz at Marvel that I'm sure wasn't there five years earlier when Martin Goodman was threatening to pull the plug on the entire affair!

You can see that hipster joy overflowing on just about every Marvel cover of the day, and nowhere was that overbounding sense of happyhappy more evident than on the covers of Marvel's two Giant Size reprint titles MARVEL COLLECTORS' ITEM CLASSICS and "sister" pub MARVEL TALES. These books were godsends and relatively cheapo catchups for the come-latelies who, like most, missed out on the earliest days of the Marvel Age of Comics, and (getting boringly autobiographical) even I hafta admit that they sure came in handy during my early-teen comic collecting days because not only were they easier to find, but they were cheaper that obtaining the originals which were going for humongous buckskins even a hefty ten years after-the-fact!

I can't seem to locate any or all of my recent b&w collector's editions featuring these old-time faves right now (though the Dr. Strange one, which I had neglected to get all these years, should be heading my way very soon), but these reprints just happen to be handy enough here at the ranch and have been helping me fill my just-pre beddy-bye hours with loads of joy both nostalgic and just downright plain entertaining. It's not hard to see just why Marvel became the chic mid-sixties camp trip with these stories, most all of which hold up rather well (even with the outdated Cold War imitation Castros lurking in every other story!) and perhaps more for me than you because...frankly I can see the cultural benefits of the early/mid-sixties a lot more than some hidebound radical punk (the same kinda bozo who would have been flocking to the newsstands of the day for these very comics!) who has a deep loathing for the past to the point where he has come to embrace all of the facets of the same hippiedom that he, in saner times, would have rightly eschewed.

A quick rundown on what's been reprinted here...most all of the MARVEL COLLECTORS' ITEM CLASSICS feature the early Fantastic Four issues, all of which have a great sense of tension that would only expand once 1963 rolled around. (And I gotta admit that I really liked the original concept seen only in the first two issues where the four fight crime without their patented superhero costumes!) Also featured here are the early Iron Man sagas when he looked more like a tin robot than a superhero...this was long before the vaguely-Errol Flynn-ish Tony Stark's chestplate became more human formed to the point where his two knobs actually looked like nipples which used to make me giggle a lot as a kid! Sagas are half good and pleasing enough, even if Don Heck's art wasn't that appealing at the time (it would get better though many would not think so). The early Hulk adventures keep my attention at least when they don't get too bogged-down as they sometimes could, while I find the Dr. Strange sagas pretty engrossing which is funny because back in the day I kinda thought of them as being fruity with all that mystico mumbo jumbo and what seemed like an unnatural attraction between Strange and the Master. Which is why I purchased that collection which only proves what a good thirtysome years can do to a fella...

MARVEL TALES featured Spider-Man, who was at his height with Steve Ditko at the drawing board in '65 yet the spark and power were still there, especially when Ditko's art had that fine detailed finesse that was evident during the early (1956) Marvel days yet seemed to fall by the wayside as time crept by. The Human Torch solo sagas were also firmly set in that classic jagged Marvel intense fashion and that 'un was a pretty good ride at least until 1964 when someone decided to 1) take Kirby and/or Dick Ayers off the series, 2) introduce the Thing as a regular character thus cluttering up the atmosphere and 3) camp it up in the worst way with some pretty tiresome pseudo-humor sans action and solid storyline progression ever (including a saga where the two of 'em meet the Beatles!) which is one reason the series was soon to be replaced by the much better Nick Fury/SHIELD. The Thors were fine other'n when they got Al Hartley to do that one story and I gotta admit that I liked the Ant Man/Giant Man ones enough even though it started to fiz early on and even a number of power and uniform changes couldn't save that dog. Still, who knew that even this far down the line there'd be a slight tingling of interest in these adolescent wonders? Well, at least """""I""""" (along with a few million other rabid Baby Boomer consumer brats) proved Wertham wrong when he said that NOBODY held a strong affinity for their comic book reading days which ultimately proved their utter worthlessness!

3) SURRENDER #5, 1996 (fanzine published by Brian Doherty)

Sometimes finding an old fanzine is like finding an old friend (I threw that in to show all of you readers that I too can be an old softie sentimentalist and ultimately dullsville writer just like everyone else on the web!) and I find no exception with this one which I came across sorting through a pile of old junk in the basement just the other day. Editor Brian Doherty is a fine writer even when he is going on about things that don't interest you in the least, and even though he does roam off the reservation on more than a few occasions (like in his unabashed pro-Grateful Dead schpiel from a long-gone issue of REASON where he actually has the unmitigated audacity to deem the flaky-hippie Crosby/Stills/Gnash-influenced "Uncle John's Band" their bestest moment extant!) the guy is at least talented enough to keep you on your toes and engage your mind whether he's writing about politics, comic strip/book art or best of all music. And of all of his publishing formats I find SURRENDER perhaps his best, especially this swan-song issue done at the height of the alleged fanzine Golden Age of the nineties which was a time when such self-produced dribble was making many an upstart famous and rich, unless your name was Chris Stigliano and your mag BLACK TO COMM at which point you might as well be pitching hay 'stead of opinions because for all the notoriety and moolah I got for my troubles all I gotta say is...was this trip really necessary?

Anyway, SURRENDER #5 was a marked improvement over the previous, more CONFLICT-inspired effort I've seen (you can see that this poor tortured soul is still smarting from the verbal and mental abuse that was dished out by not only editor/Howard Stern wannabe Gerard Cosloy and but his brother-in-butt Patrick Analream during those days of bitter struggle!), and if I hadda compare it to anything coherent and cohesive it probably would be those early issues of HYPERION I reviewed recently. Political and socially savvy, SURRENDER reads pretty much like what that fanzine of yore might have looked like a good two decades down the line with not only a load of book reviews mostly political or economic in nature (many Milton Friedman and related, in preparation for an article to appear in some swanky newsstand read) but review essays featuring Gregg Turkington of BREAKFAST WITHOUT MEAT etc. fame, and an interview with the bloke as well! Best of all, SURRENDER #6 is saturated with loads of reviews of then-current hotcha amerindie/altie/self-produced swill, most of which dutifully finds its proper place inna trash heap of history like you knew it would. Makes fine bathroom reading even if that Brother-type reminds me too much of my own efforts, albeit not shrunken down to the size of a gnat. Oh, and even the cartoons are a hoot, not preachy like MAXIMUM R&R and best of all funny unlike the ones I've been printing for at least the past few issues!

4) HOLD ME WHILE I'M NAKED (underground film by George Kuchar made circa. 1965)

Back in the late-eighties, I was talking with Bruce "Mole" Mowat on the phone and somehow the subject of the Kuchar Brothers came up. Not being familiar with these guys, who were big enough in underground film circles back in the late-sixties to the point where they actually got their mugs printed in an issue of TIME, the esteemed Mr. Mole asked me for the names of some of the Kuchars' wares out of what seemed like honest curiosity. Anyhow, after rattling off a variety of well and not-so-known Kuchar titles like SINS OF THE FLESHAPOIDS, HOLD ME WHILE I'M NAKED, PUSSY ON A HOT TIN ROOF etc., Mowat broke out in an uncontrollable fit of laughter akin to the similar story of when G. G. Allin met up with Flo and Eddie at some restaurant and, after giving them the "I have all of your records" schpiel asked them if they'd like to produce him...of course, after giving them the full and unexpurgated array of titles the two couldn't stop laughing to respond to Allin's request thus a Flo and Eddie-produced disc on his part was pretty much a null and void affair. But for a good reason, mind you!

Anyway thanks to the miracle of (taa-DAAAH!) high speed internet I can now view just about anything on my computer without having to take a bath or mow the lawn while the thing's downloading, so now it's much easier and faster to see this George Kuchar classic on Youtube. Not one of their best, but still nice, striking, campy and seamy enough for my tastes and a whole lot better'n watching the calculated sleaze presented as socially significant and message-laden art one sees these sensitive days. In some ways, the mid-sixties artsiness with those striking colors in the opening credits makes me flash back to my grade school days when us kids would be shown religious films with such a vivid array of color. But believe me, this is no religious film! If you're game enough, just click on parts one and two below!


Yeah, I know that I, along with just about every other smart and self-respecting Amerigan out there should be boycotting Kino for purely aesthetic reasons (mainly that their snobbish upper-crust left wing elitist attitudes don't quite mesh with my homespun sense of values), but frankly, I didn't know... But whatever, it's nice seeing some of these old pre-underground film-era avant garde shorts (many of which set the stage for the sixties innovations of Anger, Warhol and the Kuchars amongst many others) again, plus the newies eyeballed by me ain't that bad either. From those familiar Man Ray and Duchamp shorts to such classics as Watson and Webber's LOT IN SODOM (supposedly the first avant short with a soundtrack, but why did they leave FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER off here?), AVANT GARDE is a representative collection despite/because of the expected duds (such as Orson Welles' directorial debut THE HEART OF AGE which looks like a bad amateur spoof of Eisenstein) but frankly, you can probably get almost alla this stuff from some of those public domain film peddlers and for much cheaper rates as well! Support these mom and poppers and try to avoid Kino at all costs!


CBGB may be gone, but their website is still up and since I've arrived in this world with the acquisition of that aforementioned high-speed internet I figured why not dish out $4.95 and get a week's access to their archives so's I can catch up on a buncha the acts both well known and obscure that I've missed out on the past few years. Yeah, seven months later I gotta admit that I am still suffering from CBGB withdrawal pangs, and I thought that viewing some of the sets by acts who've played the three stages would help ease me into a future of no immediate virtual clubhopping a lot easier. Oh well, at least it was an effort...

Back in the old days CBGB had a grand selection of bands you could eyeball listed in their expansive cybercast archives, and not only that but you could see the entire sets just like they happened onstage! The well-known as well as the obscure were featured as well, and if you saw a group listed who you knew nothing about but they had a neat name it cost you nothing to download the gig and hopefully get a load of what promised to be a rather...I dunno, enthralling musical experience. True a good portion of the bands available were usually aping then-current alternative rock or mainstream moves, but amidst the usual assortment of Mike Stipe crybabies one might dig a truly unique and interesting act like the heavy metalloids Crisis and Karen Black (who used to date Lou Rone!) not forgetting Lucky, that band I wrote about awhile back who still bug the tar outta me this far down the line. Once I decided to catch a group calling itself Clear Light thinking that maybe the sixties Los Angeles psych band had reformed, only to see a bunch from New Orleans with the same name (and with seventies-styled long hair) play psychedelic garage rock that seemed timewarped from perhaps a 1976 CBGB appearance in the Twilight Zone! And believe me, there were many surprises like this to be found if one felt adventurous enough!

However all that has changed, with many of the older archived groups (including the likes of the Fleshtones, Shirts and especially Lucky) jettisoned in favor of newer shows, and not only that, but entire gigs have been chopped down to just one or two numbers making viewing pretty sparse if you ask me! The array of talent available now is rather iffy, and frankly the hotter stuff that I was anxious to catch like avant garde jazz saxophonist Roy Campbell and Pinataland (a long-running folk-y rock-y act often caught at the CB's 313 Gallery) aren't retrievable which certainly busted my chops, as Jillery would say.

Still, it's kinda nice to get a bitta the flavor that was CBGB which is now long gone, and catching the avant garde jazz and flybynight who-knows-what-they-were kinda acts is pretty thrilling in its own way. I only hope that ALL the cybercast shows were archived and saved for historical purposes because you know that ten years down the line someone is gonna ask...howcum?


And before I go...


COMING SOON: Lou Rone Alone CD Album complete for free
to download on his site at no cost, Top Draw Music presents Lou Rone Alone free mp3's, every tune on Alone for free, enjoy...

And a hasta la vista on this Cinco de Mayo!