Thursday, August 30, 2007


Not that I'm particularly feeling down in the mouth as they used to say about Linda Lovelace (which brings to mind a whole buncha old DEEP THROAT jokes 'n riddles that wre flopping around in the seventies like this one; "Why did Richard Nixon see DEEP THROAT three times? Because he wanted to get it down pat" [get it down Pat...geddit?])...but I thought that I should do my doody and write something for you hungrier-than-thou blogfans sometime this mid-week lest I get slack 'n start posting just once inna blue moon like way too many bloggers out there in competitorland do.

But before I get down to brass balls I thought I'd mention one thing that maybe we should all cry and boo-hoo about, that being the death of none other'n CBGB founder and owner Hilly Kristal who succumbed to the lung cancer he'd been battling for a few years this past Tuesday. Y'know, in some ways I find it not-so-strange that Hilly's passing came within less than a year after his famous beer garden capsized thanks to a buncha New York City dogooders Kristal shoulda saw through from the start, but in many respects I do find it kinda bizarre that the deaths of both CBGB and Kristal have been garnering so much heavy duty press on-line, especially since the closing of chief CBGB competitor Max's Kansas City got hardly a line a good twenty-five years back. Of course CBGB's had a good quarter-century on Max's to do a little more myth-making on its own, but even the most strident anti-mainstream rock/media maniac out there's gotta admit that the fact that both the closing of CBGB and Kristal's own death getting as much notice as it has pretty much proves just how much underground rock (including all of its varying forms) has become inbedded into the same mainstream consciousness. And I'm talking the same mainstream we all used to (and in many respects continue to) rail against that would callously toss off the new breed of creative rock but eventually came to acknowledge if not accept that same sorta wild bray, even if it ain't exactly on a wide all-encompassing level like most of you BLOG TO COMM readers wish it would!

Y'know, I really don't care that much about the patented CBGB history and how it spawned all those "save the world bands" (as John Crawford so aptly put it) who played there and helped to save rock & roll from itself, or something like that. (At this point in time, I'm more in awe of CBGB and its varying spinoffs for booking the likes of Sandy Bull, Sonny Sharrock and Byard Lancaster!) After all of these years on the rock fandom circuit I gotta say that I'm more concerned with the club as a place that sorta typified if not SIGNIFIED what could happen when garage rock finally got a place to showcase its talents or its glorious ineptitude for that matter. Before the likes of CBGB, Max's and to a lesser extent the earlier Mercer Arts Center, Club 82 and Mothers began concentrating on booking the wide array of local original music acts (of more stripes than the typical punk'd admit) in the burgh, the concept of an underground rock "scene" was very little more than a loose smattering of bands forming and breaking up here and there with very little local support to warrant any real scene strength, or success for that matter. CBGB made these bands in the face of cover and tribute groups milking the dead corpse of the sixties a viable alternative to the usual music biz goings on, and for that we have Hilly to thank or else groups like the Ramones and Television would've never put out records, or at least would've become instant flea market fodder langushing amidst all of those Flamin' Groovies and ? and the Mysterians albums we used to see peddled as so much cheap fodder.

And here's something that's really gonna get you communist readers all hot and angry...CBGB and the hard work of Kristal were once again proof that the market is the friend and not the enemy of the young upstart musical trend! Yes, even ratfink I (back when I actually bought into the whole government scam so popular amongst people who claim to loathe the machine unless democrats are in office) once thought that perhaps the underground rockers needed to be funded (and broadcast amidst the usual crap of the day) just like the local boring symphony orchestra and other "public goods" that most of the public really couldn't give one whit about. Rather silly especially in retrospect, but the fact that CBGB was booking original music and people were writing about it while records were being recorded and sold (not as many as Robin Trower mind you, but then again how many has he sold lately?) and the likes of Greg Shaw at BOMP! and a whole slew of fanzines and prozines were writing about even the lesser-known groups coming up from garage band obscurity only showed us that if the word got out and people were made aware that there was more that could be sought out and purchased, that an audience would grow and groups like the Stooges and New York Dolls would sorta transcend their cult status into...mega-cult status perhaps but ya gotta admit that a whole lot more people know about 'em and enjoy their sounds now than they did thirtysome years back!

Anyway, onto the reviews. There are a few more disques than the ones reviewed here that are due for the chopping block and rather soon at that including Lou Rone's latest extravaganza PLASTIC PISTOL as well as the Home Blitz CD that Eddie Flowers has been raving about from here to Granada Hills and back, but those and more will have to wait until they are fully digested and pass from the sphincter of my psyche safely into the toilet bowl of musical glory. Until then, here are a few digitized platters that have played about on my digital launching pad this past week, and please, feel grateful that I decided to let you in on the whole throbbing scam!

The Yardbirds-FOR YOUR LOVE CD (Jimco Japan)

I dunno if any of you people have your own stoopid-doopid things you've done inna past that you wish you can go back in time and rectify, but I sure have! And most of 'em have to do with passing up on records espied not only in a wide array of record bins throughout my life, but ones that were up for sale at various flea markets back inna wild and wooly past! Frankly, I didn't know what I was gonna be in for when I handed over your precious fifty cents for the tempting album or single in question, and considering how scarce moolah was for me back then it wasn't like I was gonna part with a lotta my hard-begged only to get home, slap the disc onto the turntable and encounter another DOG! Back then I certainly was not the adventurous kinda fellow I would eventually evolve into (with more money in my coffers helping to finance such adventures) which is why I passed up on getting the two Silver Apples album and the Fugs' TENDERNESS JUNCTION at Michaelangelo's Flea Market back in '81 or worse yet the Yardbirds' FOR YOUR LOVE album plus this neat-o looking long-hair rock exploito platter (mid-Southern origin) featuring a buncha kids with outrageous wigs posin' with their gear onna lawn which some mid-aged gal was sellin' at the Hartville Ohio Flea Market during the rock action summer of 1979. Y'know, I've been kicking myself for passing on those platters for all these years after, especially after I caught the former on sale for seventy-five smackers at a recent antique show in upstate En Why a few weeks back! OK, you can all say it now (in unison)...CHRIS, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!?!?!?!?

And if you think that my spotting of that $75 Yardbirds elpee didn't bring back a lotta bad memories of a less-than-brainy past yer right...but at least it nudged me into getting hold of this Cee-Dee reish of the platter'n it's a pretty decent job at that! I gotta say that when the Yardbirds got into their more bloozy stuff as was wont most of these British "cats" that I felt like heading for the nearest outhouse but FOR YOUR LOVE is rather solid without most of the studied blues leanings that I'm sure turned off more'n a few of you half-baked readers. The playing is still punk rock raw to keep you on tippy-toes, while Jeff Beck's sounding particularly nasty here playing particularly un-polished w/o any of that seventies fusion quap that might've gotten him smack dab on the front cover of DOWN BEAT but not COWABUNGA. And Keith Relf's singing is tough enough that you kinda forget he's one-a them English poofs you keep reading about! Great high-energy music that still stands the test of time, but could somebody out there tell me which track Beck is playing violin on? Don Fellman sez it's one of his fave Yardbird moments but I can't seems to tell where that (or the electric saw...shades of what the Red Crayola would soon unleash on an unsuspecting rock audience?) appear! Maybe I'm mistaking both sounds for the great buzzsaw guitar playing, but until then just say that I am inna dark.

I will let you know that I did make amends for passing on that Yardbirds album because three years later, at that exact same flea market, I purchased the much-desirable Yardbirds double-set of BBC sessions (and THE MILTON BERLE SHOW appearance!) bootleg BROKEN WINGS released on the Italian Della Quercia label for fifteen bucks, then a seemingly outrageous sum but as time has proven I was the wiser for it. Well, at least I could sleep at nights knowing that I had rectified a prior right royal flub with regards to my own purchasing power! But please, make sure that I don't let this happen again!
John Cage-WORKDS FOR PERCUSSION performed by the AMADINDA PERCUSSION GROUP VOLUMES 1 AND 2 (Hungaroton, available through Forced Exposure)

Here're a couple I wish I could send back in time to sate my 1978 John Cage obsession that was tearing at me life and limb because...frankly at that time you just couldn't go to the nearest record store'n pick up some John Cage album outta the bin unless it was that perennial cheapie HPSCHD with Lejarn Hiller or later on the legendary Eno-produced Jan Steele/John Cage VOICES AND INSTRUMENTS platter on Obscure. Oh well, it wouldn't do me any good to send these items back to my former self via the Wayback Machine since they didn't even have Cee-Dee players onna market back then, but considering how the huge bulk of recorded Cage material was pretty much outta print or outta the range of my pocketbook (and I still have the letter George Avakian wrote me regarding his 25th Anniversary John Cage triple set somewhere...) it's great that I have these two collections of early Cage percussion ensemble pieces and better late than never even though I gotta admit that impact woulda been a lot STRONGER then!

The Hunky Amadinda Percussion Ensemble do the music proud and it's sure a revelation hearing some of those early numbers like "First Construction (In Metal)" for the first time getting alla them tingly kinda nervesplits just like I woulda back inna old days. It's also great hearing such previously-earlobed stuff like "The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs" done in the here-and-now and compare 'em with the aforementioned Avakian set or even Robert Wyatt's variation on the Obscure album. And naturally some of this stuff sounds a lot different "here" than it might "there" (take the version of "Credo in US" that appears on volume two and play it back-to-back with the Cage-supervised forties recording that appeared as a seven-inch single a few years ago!) but I think that was the whole idea behind Cage's works. And somehow I think that the uproarious booing that you hear on the live set was just as much as part of the performace as the music itself...with Cage you never really knew.

Interestingly enough, some of the tracks on disc #2 (which takes us from the early-forties until 1950) aren't exactly percussion ensemble pieces but feature prepared piano either solo or as part of an ensemble. Since these pieces are part of larger works its no wonder they were included, but considering how Cage developed the prepared piano from earlier Henry Cowell experiments because it was a lot easier to stick pencils and erasers between the strings to get that clanky sound rather than drag all those drums and gongs along to a theatre perhaps they fit into this context just as much as those great persussion pieces do.
FAUST IV 2-CD set (Virgin Holland)

Finally for today comes this recent reissue of the famed fourth (and last in seventies chronology) Faust album that was recorded at the Manor in Wales back in '73 and oddly enough was making underground vibrations seven years later during the great "Rock Oriented Electronics" fad within the new wave. And, as if ths case with most of these early-seventies krautrock sides, FAUST IV continues to hold up with its great Faustian blend of electronic and acoustic to make a truly progressive punk rock sound (something that should be delved upon in a future post) but hardened ones will want it for disc two which, besides the obligatory alternate and extended versions has...the same BBC stuff you already got on the Faust box set and other collection cloggers you really don't need to have again unless you're that rabid a fan to which I say you probably already have FAUST IV and are probably spinning it right at this very minute. With all of the unreleased Faust stuff in the vaults I dunno why they have to just piddle around dishing the familiar back at us (same goes for Can), but maybe the record labels that handle 'em are waiting to release this stuff at the "right moment." Just what that right moment is I do not know, but methinks it's gonna be sometime in the distant future when the holograms of Faust and Can tour selected Old Folks Homes sometime in the middle portion of this century.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Yes dear readers, there is much more to life than just listening to music (if I have used this exact same come on before please foo-give me...after all, I have been called repetitive!). There's reading about music as well as other sundry things this blog is well noted for. Anyway here are just a few of the books (as well as a coupla magazoons) I've been giving the ol' eyeball to since this past spring that I thought I'd dish out atcha just so's to prove that there is a shard of literary pretension to this otherwise pretty front stoop blogger's main reason for etre 'r whatever the French call it.

UGLY THINGS #25 (still not a fanzine anymore!)

I gotta admit that getting the latest (#25) issue of UGLY THINGS has been quite a thrill. In fact, it's been about as much thrilling getting this newie ish into my clammy mitts as it was back inna distant past when I'd latch onto the latest issue of THE NEW YORK ROCKER (at least before they went totally gnu wave, as Bill Shute might have put it) or TROUSER PRESS even, or better yet those feelings I continue to get whenever I receive some Golden Age of Fanzine offering, much of which has been reviewed in the pages of my own fanzine homage as well as on this very blog. And with the demise of such all-important fanzines (back when such a creature really existed) as KICKS and FORCED EXPOSURE, it looks as if UGLY THINGS really is the king of the heap as far as great down-to-earth rock & roll-related/inspired reading goes, and having issues popping up in the here and now is truly a miracle of some great Biblical magnitude especially considering how much the taste police and other arbitors of nice and ginchy kultur have been trying to suppress the likes of editor Mike Stax and his hip opines for nigh on twennysome years already! (Well, if I were as paranoid as people make me out to be, I would tend to believe that if I were he!)

Of course, this mostly-six-oh-oriented mag does have its detractors, which truly is a pity especially in these more enlightened times. Just read this piece of fetid "journalism" passing for a review to see just what I mean. Talk about fan mail from some flounder! But despite the heaping hunks of derision emitted from the buttholes of comparative wankers such as the author of that slab o' hokum, I gotta say that UGLY THINGS #25 is a wowzer of a mag that has given me the same sorta warm 'n bubbly thrills that reading those later issues of BOMP! had for a guy who was mostly discovering the wunnerful world of garagedom for the very first time. Of course I'm now a much older and jaded fanabla, but it's a completely enthralling plunk down onna bed buttside up EXPERIENCE reading this issue learnin' about a whole slewwa groups ya never heard about before while pouring over the expansive review section wishin' you could hear a good portion of the spew discussed...gee, it's sure good to be mentally retarded, especially when you're stuck at age fifteen like I am!

So, what's in this neat-o 224-page issue anyhoo??? LOADS OF STUFF THAT'S WHAT including a wild behind-the-history history of the Music Machine written by a guy named Ritchie Somethingorother which rings a bell somewhat, but whaddeva it's still a whacked out piece which I really liked to osmose to even if I've only digested about 25% of the whole thang. There's gobs loads of other goodies too from things on the Light, the Namelosers, Freedom's Children (South African psych!) and more bands hardly anyone's heard about until now...and boy do I mean more as in articles on the reformed Radio Birdman (a CD-R review forthcoming!), the saga of the Kingsmen and their "Louie Louie" as told by organist Don Gallucci, the Rubber City Rebels part two and of course the usual book, DVD, record and Cee-Dee stuff which gets me drooling about as much as when FORCED EXPOSURE was helping me to drain my bank account to nil back in the fuzzy memory eighties. Naturally there's the obligatory Pretty Things and Downliner Sect pages too which would figure, after all, not having them in an issue of UGLY THINGS would be akin to having an issue of PLAYBOY without nipples!

I could go on but I don't want to get all frothy and foaming over this issue to the point of hagiography, not that there's nothing wrong with that (just read an early issue of my old hagiozine, a name that was aptly fitting for a guy who was very obsessive/compulsive about a wide range of underground rants!) but UGLY THINGS is certainly deserving of more. And of course I could nit pick and bring up a few things that I thought were lacking in the latest, like not enough Velvet Underground mentions (gratuitous or otherwise) and the sad inclusion of too much hippy drivel like Sweetwater (?!?!?!?!?!!!!, or is it "#*$&@*^$*+~#*!!!!"), but that would be like complaining about a Happy Meal after ten days of starvation because you didn't like the prize. All I gotta say is that I'm still reading this latest ish, and it's still continuing to enthrall me to the proverbial hilt to the point where I'm gonna hafta figure out where I can latch onto some dinero so's I can obtain the goodies that are now being made available for my listening pleasure even this late in the game! Anyway, after you've bought and read all of the BLACK TO COMMs that are now available (after all, how else can I get hold of some much-needed loot to buy these items? I mean, I've been kicked off just about every promo list extant!) buy yourself an UGLY THINGS and worry yourself about getting the dough to buy the records and Cee-Dees that capture your fancy the most!

DAGGER #40 (still not a fanzine anymore either! Available from Tim Hinely, PO Box 820102, Portland OR 97282-1102)

After the big hubbub I've written about UGLY THINGS mebbee I don't have the energy to rant on about DAGGER. But despite the lack o' Wheeties in my system I'll still go off on one of my usual tangents 'n say that I think the latest issue of this long-running (twenny years!) 'zine is a pretty hot deal in itself! Now I gotta say that I've never been totally impressed with this mag...oh, it's a trueblue winning effort for sure, but the fact that I and the moderne-day indie music scene have parted ways sometime in the early-nineties didn't exactly make DAGGER a mag that appealed to my own sense of reactionary rockism. I used to careen through issues of DAGGER and not find one group, record or utterance for that matter which grabbed hold of my psychic cojones making me wanna know more and more like a good review or article would in the old days. Was it me getting senile to new forms and stylings in music, or was it the scene itself sorta edging away from various high energy watermarks of yore? Perhaps it was both, but it's not like I was gonna bicker with DAGGER editor/publisher Tim Hinely about it!

So anyway Tim's just put out his fortieth issue and is brazenly celebrating his twentieth anniversary in the biz, and for that we gotta commend him for doing just that and not slitting his throat in the process. But what makes DAGGER #40 a hands-down winner (at least for me) is that there's actually a whole buncha things in this 'un that I gotta say I sat down and read, and not toilet bowl taking-a-dump reading but serious dig-into-it reading always reserved for the best! What got my attention span stretched beyond that of a three-year-old was the piece on Simply Saucer Reformed written by a Gary "Pig" Gold, a name that I seem to recall from somewhere (yeah, I used that gag already this post but it's sooo good!) as well as the interview with Chuck Warner who's putting out those HYPED TO DEATH/MESSTHETICS Cee-Dee comps which seems interesting enough and I gotta say that I cherish all of the hard work the guy put into selling and making recorded goodies for us all. (Y'see, back in 1983 I bought a copy of the Monks' BLACK MONK TIME, the 1980 German Polydor reissue, from Chuck and since that platter is now worth almost as much as the 1966 original I got the guy to thank in case I'm in quick need of any urgent cash and need to sell my copy, which frankly I hope I'll never have to do!) The interview with Steven Burns from the old Scruffs group was boffo enough for me, and though I didn't find the record/Cee-Dee review section to be as hoppity hooper as I would have liked I found the entire issue rather...enchanting?
ELECTRIC ROCK by Richard Robinson (Pyramid, 1971)

Interesting enough paperback dealing with the then-current state of rock & roll instrument technohow, written by a man whose articles on the same subject in the old CREEM used to get my mind all boggled after I've read all of the hot Lester Bangs and Richard Meltzer stuff, natch! Of course I got it for the more rock-oriented matter that might have appeared here (like maybe some info on Man Ray, a band that like I said I want to hear to the point where I actually dream about these guys' music in fevered fits of manic obsession!) but the general message regarding what's hip and what's dip as far as picking the guitar best to suit you is heralded fair and square. Written in a great matter-of-fact style without the heavy peace trip vibe hype of the day that used to permeate (and date) just about everything which certainly helps things out quite a bit, ELECTRIC ROCK is a nice enough diversion.
BORN THIRTY YEARS TOO SOON by J. R. Williams (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1945)

Sheesh, I gotta admit that I still feel kinda strange reviewing these funny books as if they were legendary pieces of haute literature! It reminds me of when I was in like the third or fourth grade and we hadda start writing book reports...of course I hadda get stuck reading all of that "cultured" stuff that was supposed to turn me into a full-grown cube like MRS. WIGGS OF THE CABBAGE PATCH and TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MESS...stuff I actually sat down to read and enjoyed nary a whit, but at least some of the whackier boys in the class had the good mind to ask the teach if they could do their report on the latest PEANUTS paperback! And y'know what? Those kids had it onna ball because although they got soundly thrashed for even to dare suggest writing a book report on some funny page strip I gotta admit that the comic page (and comics in general) were far more important to one's upbringing and general sense of well being than reading any of those snooty books that were written for girls (yech!) if anything!

I've written maybe not-that-extensively about OUT OUR WAY on this blog before, and if you think that the arrival of those recent softcover collections that have been cluttering up my reading chair hasn't been perhaps the comic highlight of the year then you most certainly don't know what kind of an all-engrossed, comic strip maniac I remain! After all, this panel was just about as much of my growing up as it was for my parents', and it's more'n obvious that OUT OUR WAY reflected this same sorta down-home everyday working guy and family oeuvre the same way Jules Feiffer reflected the neo-Marxist NYC worldview for his rapidly aging VILLAGE VOICE readership. Only Williams seemed to be way more connected with Ameriga's sense of down-home aw-shucksness and, come to think of it, seemed to actually like the concept of the everyday man a lot more than Feiffer ever could. Every time I look into Worry Wart's face I see a true sadness and frustration you just can't get out of a Keane painting, let alone one of Feiffer's agitprop duds aimed at an audience who has such a rabid hatred of the same people they claim to want to "uplift." J. R. Williams had that special talent to transform mid-Ameriga for mid-Amerigans, and sell it right back to them which is no wonder why OUT OUR WAY was perhaps the most clipped-out comic of the day still adorning more scrap books than you can shake a pair of scissors at!

Faithful readers'll remember the "Born Thirty Years Too Soon" series of nostalgic pokes at the turn of the century which Williams submitted twixt his various Worry Wart, "Why Mothers Get Grey," westerns and machine shop-related offerings. I guess that in the thirties and forties when these panels were done there were more'n a few people who were maybe not-so-fondly looking back at the turn of the century, or perhaps, like many of us would've had we been around then, they looked fondly upon the better aspects of a life that was sorta bludgeoned outta existence by World War I and the Jazz Age. (I recall a western-oriented OUT OUR WAY where Stiffy, the septugenarian cowhand who had roped with Will Rogers, was paying his respects at the makeshift grave of a long-gone old friend telling him that he really wasn't missing much, a sentiment that seemed to echo Williams' own feelings at least if the tone of many of his panels could be taken to heart.) Maybe that's what adds to the charm of these lookbacks through perhaps not-so-rose-colored shades, for these strips seem to echo a lotta the stories I've heard about growing up early-twentieth-century that were related to me by people now long gone, many of whom I would tell weren't missing much if only I could.

My faves: the ones where some foreign farmers start hitting on these puffed-shouldered gay nineties gals thinking that because of their breadth they'd make good farmhands, some girl freaks out over a game of "post office," these women attack (with hatpins!) some guy they mistake as a masher and where the perils of bringing food home from the store tained by either kerosene or the handling of fresh fish is thorougly discussed (and disgusted!).
THE ESSENTIAL DOCTOR STRANGE VOL. 1 by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Friends (Marvel 2006)

Classic b/w collection of the early Dr. Strange sagas which really never did need any introduction, 'cept to the current crop of comic book readers who are being offered pure manure 'stead of true classic comicdom these sorry days. The earliest stories with all-time fave Steve Ditko at the drawing board are undoubtedly the best, and although the series seems to falter with Ditko's '66 exit they still held up well enough to the point where the Good Doctor actually earned his own title by the time this book is through. For a kid like me (remember, I'm stuck at age fifteen!) who dribbled incessantly at the font of Marvel only to get burned when their product began taking a nosedive in the mid-seventies, this is one I'd certainly like to stash away in the time machine and send back to my former self. And Marvel, while yer at it, how about reprinting those old Dr. Droom stories as they appeared in early '61 w/o any of that seventies redo!
THE FORD FALCON 1960-1963 by Phil Cottrill (Rigel, 1982)

When I was a kid (really, not spiritually!) my father bought a used 1963 Ford Falcon station wagon (that's "estate car" for you English readers, or "break" for you French) as a second vehicle for an ever-busy family always on the go to the supermarket, extracurricular activities, or (in my case) "special" meetings with the principal. Of all the cars that our family had while I was growing up this 'un was perhaps my fave...most of all it had that classic early-sixties look (and I didn't particularly care for the more box-y late-sixties/early seventies stylings that were pushing the fifties/early-sixties automobiles off the road) plus it was a station wagon which meant I could (along with other sundry same-age relatives) sit in the trunk area while the whole lot of us would go to some shopping center or drive in restaurant. Real mid-Amerigan living, dontcha think? Anyway after awhile I remember the car beginning to fail in certain capacities to the point where the radio died and my father had to install his own home-made choke (taken from an old lawnmower) to help the car start on cold days. Believe-you-me, there were times when Dad'd be working on that Falcon with about as much care as a brain surgeon on JFK! Eventually the floorboards began to rust through to the point where I would be amazed peering through the holes watching the road as it would zoom by. At times slush from said road would splash me, which wasn't quite as fun but when you're young you have to suffer all sorta of indignities. I remember telling my father that if the floorboards got any bigger we could start the car by picking it up on its sides and running with it like they do on THE FLINTSTONES...he was not amused, but I guess it's hard to have a sense of humor when you're staring at the prospect of having to look for another second-hand car for the family.

But anyway, I gotta admit that the early Ford Falcon remains one of my fave cars of the classic late-fifties/early-sixties era, and this book details the history of the original version of this long-lived (at least in Australia) model in a pretty classy way. Besides the usual text which does offer some insight, there are loads of photos showing the development of this compact car from various late-fifties attempts many of which look like the 1963 Australian version of the fabled Valiant, as well as proposed early-sixties facelifts and of course some variants that did make it out like the Canada-only Mercury Frontenac, the Australian variety (though lacking in shots of their '64 and '65 models which kept the early-sixties variety alive in the Antipodes for at least two more years) as well as the Argentine Falcon which used the same basic early-sixties body well into the very early nineties! I gotta give Argentina credit for continuing such a classic style and for so long, but why didn't some bright Amerigan exec think of importing some of 'em up here??? I mean, we certainly coulda used a little more 1962 in 1992, if you know what I mean!

Still, a fine salute to a great car that still tends to wow me with its parallel lined fenders and general pre-hippie cringe/overly flash look. Outside of your nearest faverave car show, this book certainly must be the place to be!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Steeleye Span-TEN MAN MOP, OR MR. RESERVOIR BUTLER RIDES AGAIN 2-CD set; PLEASE TO SEE THE KING 2-CD set (both are on the Castle label out of the EU[gh!])

Ah yes, I remember a particularly energetic phone conversation I had with Bill Shute, this was back in the nineties when he'd call me up sometimes like every other day and we'd talk about this, that 'n the other thing in a totally free association sorta way (believe-you-me, if I had transcribed some of our phone calls they'd read like those two-way reviews you used to read in CREEM!), and anyway the subject of...I believe Fairport Convention came up. Well, I sorta fuzzily remember asking the Man of Stature what he thought of that long-running English folk rock act, and to my surprise Bill suddenly flew into a tirade having to do with not the Fairport people at all, but fellow English retro folksters Steeleye Span. Bill HATED the whole lot of 'em and let me know so in a particularly frothing way about what a buncha no-account losers the whole lot of those foppy English menstruals were. After I told him that in fact Fairport Convention (at least the early group which I had been listening to and liking for about a decade at the time) and Steeleye Span were pretty much two different balls of wax with different approaches to the British folk-rock idiom despite having shared members, Bill 'fessed up to me that he'd never even heard Fairport at that time, but boy did he hate Steeleye w/a bloody passion! And Bill, if you remember this conversation, think I'm talking outta my blowhole and would like to chime in with your own two pences, feel free to do so.

Oddly enough, the only Steeleye Span I'd heard at the time was this track about some fair maiden searching for her spotted cow that appeared on one of those old Warner Brothers "loss leaders" that was wallowing around under the name THE DAYS OF WINE AND VINYL, and although I certainly didn't buy that 'un to hear Steeleye Span (I got it for the early Bowie single side, the Beefheart cut and Roxy Music's "Virginia Plain") I at least cherished the opportunity to hear such a track that otherwise I wouldn't. Come to think of it I sorta liked it, maybe because at the time I was harboring a pseudo-interest in early millenial English names wondering how similar they were in spelling and pronunciation to current monikerage (do you ever get those sorta weird obsessive impulses in you, like wanting to know more about the evolution of eyeglass frame stylings and logo differentiations from then to now???), but it wasn't like I was all that interested in hearing an entire album of late-twentieth-century English hippoids harkening back to their medeval pasts sorta like their Amerigan counterparts were rollicking in Wild West gear. I mean, maybe I'd like to hear an album where Geoffrey Chaucer sings along with Mahogany Brain, and William Shakespeare would have made a fine frontman for Can, but hearing 197X sons and daughters of the British middle class playing at damsels in distress and fairies flittering over some pseudo-Tolkien landscape just ain't my idea of having a fun time!

So anyways...years later I come across some maybe not-so-obscuro SS mention in none other'n UGLY THINGS magazine (a review of their latest coming sooner'n you expect!) where someone 'r other drops a mention about just how great these guys rilly are. What made this comment speak out all the more was that whoever wrote this blurboid was telling us eager readers that Steeleye Span weren't exactly the proggy/dudsville hippie/folk act that everyone seemed to remember them as but (ta-DAAH!!!) an honest-to-goodness Velvet Underground-influenced band with actual Sterling Morrison-inspired lead guitar workage! Yeah, (in other words) SOMETHING TO MAKE ME WANNA FORK OUT ALL THE DOLLARS IN EXISTENCE TO HEAR because as you all know the Velvet Underground remain my main reason for existence even this late in the postmodern game! And true, although most of these groups claiming to carry on the Velvets banner forty years after-the-fact make me wanna head out and kick jams to the comparatively wild strains of Jan Garber, I'll still admit that when I hear proudly pro-Velvets acts closer to the taproot of VU-obsession like Le Stelle De Mario Schifano and Les Rallizes Denudes cranking out pure white shards at a time when the Velvets were still alive and kicking, boy does my sense of reasoning take a backseat. In other I need more Velvets-inspired atonal crank in my system??? Does Jay Hinman need humility????

So anyways I forked over the $$$ for the Steeleye Span Cee-Dee in question and felt foolish afterwards, almost felt as bad as the times where I'd spend hard-earned on some mid/late-eighties Velvets wannabes who put their own platter out only to hear what sounded like Go-Gos outtakes, or worse yet some doof folkster who covered a Velvets track on his dippoid platter sounding rather douse-like in the process. And, like most bad listening experiences, I decided for the sake of sanity to shut that Steeleye Span experience outta my least until I came across the recent Volcanic Tongue online catalog hawking the recent Span reissues with head Tongue David Keenan giving the ol' Velvets razz-ma-tazz to their earliest wares making 'em sound the closest to the aforementioned taproot since the LAST big Velvet Underground flash to hit the toilet water! Now, I've been around the block a few times and usually can smell diapers a mile away, but sheesh, Keenan seems such a nice guy so how could I but not trust someone who seems to have his head stuck up the same orafices I do and harbors the same tastes and covets the same money as well!!!

So, along with another huge heaping order I had Keenan stick in two of the Steeleye Span disques he thought came closest to a Velvets drone and burn, and heavens to Betsy it turns out that '71's TEN MAN MOP and PLEASE TO SEE THE KING were the ones he most recommended. I was supposed to get some sorta copy of this particular article/review or whatnot that Dave had which mentioned their Velvets absorption (written in the then instead of the now) but I guess the guy fergot! Of course Keenan is smart anyways because he sells all these records that most of you guys would wanna get your greasy paws on and lend ear to. He's also smart because he knows that if I hate these particular disques he's too far away for me to punch 'im out.

Anyway I slap on TEN MAN MOP and proceed to bore myself silly. Of course, not being as much a fan of the British Folk Boom sounds definitely would hurt any chances of me clasping MOP to my boobies, but when I hear this music I feel like I'm going to walk past a well and find a child drowned in it. It might have a shard of Old Time English Whiz true, but MOP doesn't sound authentic enough to be an archival statement of any sort and as far as being a rock & roll goes it seems to fall flat on its back, especially with the acapella version of Buddy Holly's "Rave On" complete with the faux skip that sorta puts all of that British Isles Holly worship into some strange perspective I'm not sure I'd wanna know more about! I wouldn't be surprised if a lotta the proto-punks in England were spinning this stuff alongsides the Stooges though. These days I'll believe just about anything!

I remember seeing PLEASE TO SEE THE KING a whole lot in various record bins at the time. The cover was sorta reminded me of the front of THE MAD SAMPLER paperback where someone had stitched Alfred E. Neuman's mug into the fabric. But that's about all I can say about this 'un which once again flounders into sainted relics of the Olde English Dayse back when they used to spell words a lot different'n they do now. Still nothing quite exciting about this sorta historical revision via the new rock, and if you wanna get your medeval thrills in the right way maybe a viewing of MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL would satisfy you more.

Of course, it's not like this entire offering is a douse. I think the group comes off much better (performance and even sound-wise...given the usual x-generation tapes used!) on their various BBC Peel Sessions live or studio (y'see, these new reissues have additional tracks and extra all-new disques just so's the people who already bought 'em will buy 'em AGAIN for the new material!), and even when they're singing sea shanties and other quap straight from the ESP-disk folk archives they sound fab, kinda like you're listening it from the middle of the former Soviet Union or somethin'. Heck, even an old turd like I liked the idea of 'em reproducing the skip on "Rave On" live and to great applause as well. Maybe Steeleye Span sound better here because these live radio sessions always tended to bring out the performers at their most primed, which is why I find things like Roxy Music's FIRST KISS much more preferable to their legit sides. Whatever, I liked these sessions perhaps because of the poor sound quality (and I woulda thought the BBC's opened their vaults up to Castle!) and the live announcers (the tee-vee track where someone apologizes for the video technical glitch is priceless!) and maybe "When I Was On Horseback" does have that Velvets glide to it like Keenan says, or maybe that's just because it sounds a bit like John Cale singing "Venus In Furs" on that 1965 demo tape! Anyway, I'm stuck with 'em...maybe I shouldn't be complainin' that much after all!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Hi. I used to call my rekkid spinning cols a "vinyl listening party," but since I only recently remembered that PUNK magazine had been using the exact same term to describe their own NEW YORK ROCKER/CREEM-styled conversation/reviews not only in-print but online these past few years I figured that I better change the title of my own series before I get royally sued! And yeah, despite the title I gotta 'fess up to the fact that this measly handfulla spinners does not exactly make an "orgy" but given the marathon-length time spent giving these platters a lissen I sure felt like one of the survivors of de Sade's three-month romp myself! Anyway, eat up...I'll be away for a few days so don't think I'm ignoring any of you eager-beaver readers/eaters out there (unless I am ignoring you, if you know what I mean certain somebodies!) while I head out for parts certainly known. Scrubbing of this blog to correct various inaccuracies, misspellings and other bizarroid mistakes will have to wait, and while I'm at it lemme say to anyone out there who may happen to read this feel free to come over and loot the place if you wish. You won't be getting much if anything, that's for sure!

BIG STAR LIVE (bootleg)

Remember back in the not-so-good ol' days when a pimply overweight bulge's main thrill was headin' out to the local outta-the-way cheapo record shop to thumb his way through all of those $4.99 elpees, cut-outs, bootlegs and imports that were retailing for just a buck extra (all easily within said plumpo's budget thank goodniz!). I sure do, and one of my favorite throb thrill memories of this distant past was going through the bootleg bins to eyeball alla those wacky insert-sleeve offerings that seemed way superior (in their own low-fi ways) to the legit mulch at hand. Sheesh, I can still recall alla those wild live Pink Floyd sets like BARRETT'S REVENGE and NOCTURNAL SUBMISSION that I certainly lusted after not forgetting those wild TMOQ offerings like the Stones' SUMMER RERUNS and WHO'S ZOO and of course how could I ever shake outta my head the disappointment of paying $7.98 for the Zappa/Mothers NO COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL two-record set only to get it home and find out that the thing was pressed on old floor mats! But cheap product or not, bootlegs certainly had their purpose and meaning as far as record collections across the globe go, and even with their overall improvement o'er the years with regards to sound quality and general packaging those early rubber-stamped or xerox-sleeve slapdashes certainly have a soft spot in my heart, or perhaps my soft head to "boot" (no pun intended there!).

So you could imagine my surprise when I spotted this Big Star bootleg, a xerox cover insert job as well and undoubtly an item not from the seventies or eighties but the here and now, or at least the nineties one would surmise. Yes, in an age of bootleg Cee-Dees and the ability to crank out your own personal fave-rave offering with an array of CD burners there still are vinyl boots being offered which should warm the cockles of some seventies-nostalgic hearts out there! And a Big Star live at Max's Kansas City album seemed just too good to be true not only because the fact that a group of such a cult status as Big Star warranting a bootleg release tends to boggle the ol' beanie, but I hadn't heard of any tapes of their '74 appearance at that famed hipster hole circulating and it's just that mere fact which made me jump on a copy of this 'un in the same fashion that Dave Lang jumps onto an ever-beggin' open set of bronzed buttocks!

I did say it was too good to be true, and as the cliche goes perhaps that's because it WASN'T. Turns out that this elpee wasn't culled from any live Max's tapes after all but from the WLIR-FM on Long Island in-studio live gig that Big Star did to promote those very same upcoming Max's gigs! Nothing wrong with that one bit, 'cept that this show is now available legal-like from the fine folks at Norton Records (see link at left), and if anyone shoulda been gettin' my money for that album it shoulda been Norton! Oh well, I can still buy the real-deal thing if I like and perhaps I will eventually, but in the meantime I got this illicit platter which at least has a copy of a review of the Max's show onna sleeve which is informative though I woulda preferred that the bootleggers'd copped a copy of Fred Kirby's VARIETY writeup. At least Kirby was a hep mid-ager who seemed to have a nicely skewered take on the underground sounds that were coming outta the NYC clubs throughout the seventies.

Illegit or not, BIG STAR LIVE is a mighty nice recording of a neat concept in FM radio broadcasting back when there still must've been some strange chard of freeform in the ever-AOR-encroaching format. The band play excellent-like, reminding me a lot more of the classic mid-sixties Beatles filtered for the mid-seventies or T. Rex than all of the alternative snoozers Big Star eventually spawned, and the interview segment is sure a lot more intelligent'n alla those pithy Q&A bits you get to hear via such rather tiresome "Fresh Air"-inspired gab shows these days. In any shape or form it's worth your while to have and who knows, BIG STAR LIVE might just fit in with your own personal seventies power pop listening orgy to take place after unearthing a choice selection of late-seventies issues of BOMP and perhaps the recently-released Marbles CD which even I haven't had the chance to snatch up yet!

Chico Freeman-SPIRIT SENSITIVE (India Navigation)

I usually can remember the exact day 'n time I bought a certain elpee with the same joy de vivre that a person remembers what he was doing when John Kennedy got his brains splattered all across the upholstery of his Lincoln limo, but for some odd reason I don't recall ever latching onto this platter featuring a jazz sesh led by tenor saxist Chico Freeman. However, considering how this 'un ain't some hot all-out free-form squonk like I was hoping it's no surprise I sorta shut this one outta my mind lo these many years. Done for the India Navigation label (who also released a rather snat Revolutionary Ensemble album around the same time that's so rare I only have a cassette dub of it), SPIRIT SENSITIVE's just anudder one of those albums where the avant guys dig back to their pre-bop pasts foolin' all us unsuspecting saps in the process which kinda burns me up considerin' the potential that Freeman and his backup (including drummer Don Moye of Art Ensemble fame) had to make this another ear-popper. Oh well, it's their heritage, but soul-cleansing or awe-inspiring it ain't. Sheesh, this is almost as bad a burn as picking up some of those seventies Archie Shepp albums which showed him well past "it"!
Hawkwind, Friends & Relations-TWICE UPON A TIME (Flicknife UK)

I sorta remember picking this 'un up after John Stanton was layin' this rap on me regarding Jon Savage's highest of high reviews in a recent whateverthatweeklyhewroteforwas, and once again Stanton and Savage were right. Released on the infamous vanity label Flicknife at what I believe was an ebb in Hawkwind's career (super-serious fans may beg to differ), side one's got live wowzers recorded throughout the seventies (the highlight being the extended "We Do It" from '71 where Hawkwind do the grand repeato-riff high-energy thing that recalls the earlier work of this one group I seem to mention way too much on this blog as well as other outlets) while the flip's solo and side-project stuff that doesn't sound like the usual home-studio wankjobs we've heard way too often these past few decades. A refreshing surprise esp. for this seventies lover and nice change o' pace from the usual same old.
Fred Frith-GUITAR SOLOS (Caroline UK); Various Artists-GUITAR SOLOS 2 (Caroline UK)

Here are some import bin stuffers of the mid-seventies that I used to espy while looking for the likes of Hatfield and the North (a group I've yet to hear!) albums and the like back when shopping mall record shops were a pretty exciting place to venture into. Anyway, I bought these two splats in question as well as a few other goodies from Bill Shute back in 1986 when the guy was strapped for cash and decided to unload some of his platters in order to eat, and naturally I obliged in taking advantage of a man who was in such dire straights just so's I could pad out my own album collection with relative ease and only a slight strain on the pocketbook! Anyway both of these discs were part of the full meal deal, and since I hadn't played 'em since those halcyon days I thought I'd give 'em another go just so remind myself of what all the fuss was about at least as far as fuzzy import bin memories went. As I expected, both of these albums (released on Virgin's Caroline subsidiary where they slapped alla the gunk that was even too gooey for their usual prog-hippie sensibilities) are filled to the brim with a whole load of solo guitar extrapolations either done acoustically or electrically with effects or preparations that may boggle the average listener, but those of us who've been in on the secret for the past few decades'll recognize it as part of that blooming British underground that gave us a whole slew of loonies from AMM on down. Frith gets his own solo platter to try out various forms that were even too wild for Henry Cow and of course you can hear everything from the Cow to krautrock ideas and usual avant smarts filtered into here and made even more heady, while on vol. 2 Frith shares the spotlight with a G. F. Fitzgerald, Hans Reichel (a name that rings a bell somewhat) and none other'n British legend Derek Bailey and all seem to be in a contest to outdo each other in exploring new vistas in recorded sound while attempting to drive your folks batty, and it may work on you too! Interesting aside..while looking at GUITAR SOLOS VOL. 2 under a bright light I noticed a lotta fine scratches that would have been invisible to the nekkid eye under most any other form o' illumination, making me wonder what kinda mindstate Shute was in while spinning this certifiable doo-wah classic! Who knows, maybe someday he may tell us all, and a grand jury as well!

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Doan worry Kyoko, I'll probably be back sometime midweek with a more moozikal-related post plus in the meanwhile I am working on a special all-reading matter-related 'un that'll see the light o' day sometime in the very near future (as soon as I get hold of the new UGLY THINGS...I already got the latest DAGGER and man is it a pippin!), but for now let me don the beret, grab a cigarette holder and once again play at (**ahem!**) "film critic" and write up my own personal opines on a filmatic excursion of the past, namely A BOY AND HIS DOG which starred none other'n seventies exposed-weenie actor turned eighties MTV cop Don Johnson in a role that I guess typifies a lotta what was going on in the tough mid-seventies cinematic scene before it all hadda end up wallowing in a soporific somethingorother I just can't quite describe to you at this moment.

I got some sassy remark directed towards me regarding my alleged love (?) of the seventies in the comment box which was left by a British lady who believe-it-or-leave-it! runs an anti-seventies blog (!) when I posted the beautifully-lurid George Kuchar film A REASON TO LIVE a while back, which only goes to show you that with this great medium of internet where ideas can flow freely and opinions can be spread w/o the imprimatur of the usual censorship-mad tastemongers at hand there will still be enough idiots out there trying to pass off their mental deficiencies as honest intellectual discourse thinking they're doing us all a favor by presenting their stupidity to an unsuspecting public as if said public really cares about anti-seventies blogs to begin with. (Not that it matters whether or not anybody gives one whit what I or anyone else writes for the entire planet to read, but the delusional aspects of the entire procedure can be mighty gargantuan!) It's a step above (a slight step nonetheless) all of the prattle that would go on in the past where the man on the street's or some third grader's comments regarding the world situation were considered just as important as a learned legal scholar's or politician's and would often get printed in the newspapers right next to the words of the experts, but getting back onna ol' track lemme just remind said dilweed that the seventies, for all of its faults, was a much better place to encounter high energy in rock (and jazz/avant garde) music, films, magazine humor and for general all-out jamz, if you looked in the right places natch! And as far as films go, I gotta admit that the mid-seventies were perhaps a BOON, nay, a second GOLDEN AGE of cinema when it came hard-edged moom pitcher excursions that miracuously merged the manic intensity of thirties/forties film noir with the New Hollywood Morality, and for some strange reason it all seemed to work out pretty snat at least until all of those old-time actors started to die off and all we were left with was the new breed o' entertainer. Of course whether ot not A BOY AND HIS DOG could be considered a classic mid-seventies cinematic romp in the same league as MACON COUNTY LINE or even DAY OF THE LOCUST remains to be seen. Frankly I'm still trying to figure this out myself, but as it stands right now all I gotta say is maybe yes, but probably...we'll see.

Anyhoo this film (based on a short story by the rather overrated Harlan Ellison who maybe should be spared the gallows if only for his halfway-there spoof of Elvis' rise to fame ROCKABILLY) stars Johnson as some teenaged survivor of World War IV (to take place in the year 2024...WW III is right now if you can believe it!) named Vic who's traipsing across the desert landscape with his telepathic pooch Blood, played by Tiger from the old BRADY BUNCH show. The two have a special arrangement keeping 'em together with Vic burrowing out canned food for the dog while Blood uses his special powers to find female companionship (which borders on rape) for his overly-randy master. After getting involved with various other post-apocalyptical maniacs who aren't quite as interesting as the ones you used to see on THE TWILIGHT ZONE and ROAD WARRIOR, Vic is lured by a sexy femme decoy to this underground city called "Topeka" which more or less resembles Disney's "Main Street USA" as run by the Reverend Jim Jones. There he is hitched up to a milking machine in order to provide this artificial community with enough baby juice to keep the population on the rise and if you think Vic is overjoyed at the prospect you better think twice because when they're done with him it's his neck onna chopping block!

Naw, it really ain't as gnarly-edge as other post-kablooey epics of this I said the wandering surface baddies aren't quite as bloodthirsty or deranged as they are in THE ROAD WARRIOR, while the mid-Amerigan satire of Topeka seems to miss the mark by maybe playing it too obvious. And the presence of Jason Robards as the Big Name Draw seems to be just about that 'n nothing more. However A BOY AND HIS DOG has a slight tinge of energy that could have made it into a better film with perhaps a tightened up screenplay and perhaps better direction (L. Q. Jones who got his acting start on LASSIE and other fifties homespun tee-vee viewing directed and co-produced), and hey, there's no way I could hate a film that has Alvy Moore (Mr. Kimball from GREEN ACRES and the other co-producer!) as the cornballus doctor who not only helps Robards out as co-Fuhrer so-to-speak but straps Johnson into the sperm-donating device while brides are lined up for a series of rapid-fire weddings in order to make it all holy! Sure it woulda been fantastic if Moore did his "Mr. Who?" routine with Robards playing the frustrated Oliver Wendell Douglas role, but the guy still does a good hokum acting job here that makes A BOY AND HIS DOG worth the price o' admission if only to see this classic performer once again.

Here're a few Youtube treats, the first the original '75 movie trailer that you might've actually eyeballed at the theatre at the time (I can imagine all of the mothers who took their kids to see BAMBI covering their progeny's eyes at the shot of the curvaceous gal getting dressed!) and the second the actual tee-vee ad which kinda flashes back memories of classic seventies UHF viewing when ads for movies like this would get popped in between PSAs and roll-a-sage chair commercials during GET SMART reruns. As they say in Germany, eat it up!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Yeah, I have been neglegent with this blog as of late. And maybe I should be ashamed of myself but to tell you the honest-to-Lou Rone truth I ain't! And that's because like many of you readers out there in invisibleland I have other fish to flail as of late, mostly going places and doing things outside the normal Chris S. wear 'n tear and best of all I'll be taking a long-deserved vacation (that's "holiday" for you overseas readers) where hopefully I can recharge my batteries and get back into the swing of things at full throttle given how poor ol' me has been pretty much on the get-go these past eight or so months! And cross my heart and hope to spit I really DO need the change o' writing has been getting even more grottier (pardon the poor English usage...which is just the point I'm making!) as of late and a day won't go by without me scouring a past post only to find a misspelling, poor grammer or worse yet some total word jumble or incomplete sentence which I accidentally deleted with a mere mis-stroke of the keyboard that has remained uncorrected for nigh over six or so months! Talk about sloppy writing and editing, but what can you expect from a frazzled soul such as I just longing for a nice three month vacation just like the kind I used to get during my grade school dayze! (And I should know about all of the horrible gaffes and goofs that I've been making throughout this blog's history...while copying said blogposts for a dear friend who is computerless I actually re-read some of my earlier missives and found many gross errors which would have remained embedded on this blog for eons had I not given 'em a fine-tooth combing long after I thought I had already done that!) Well whatever the awkwardness may be I hope that the series of adventures that I am partaking of this month'll help ease the gigunto mental strain that real life has dumped all over me and who knows...perhaps after a little r&r I'll finally be able to write at the sixth-grade level that I so deeply aspire to. (And you can see from that last crack the years have also taken their toll on my general sense of sarcasm which again, I'm hoping a break from the grind will hone back to its former, snot-nosed self.)

In the meanwhile (and yes, this month I will embark on my pertinent posting whenever time and space allow) here are a batch of recordings (again both old 'n new 'n mostly vinyl with one important exception) that I, and a few other people out there like Rick Noll, thought you should know about. And yeah, it gives me just about as much pleasure writin' about these things as it did listenin' to 'em and, for that matter, that it gave the people recordin' these things just so's some blogger playin' at the rock critic (hah!) game can write 'em up pretendin' he's just about as all-important as alla those great fanzoon scribes of the early-seventies who at least were smart enough to take their 'zine hobby and turn it into a career of sorts but that's another story...on with the plastic, people!

George Brigman and Split-"Blowin' Smoke"/"Drifting" (Solid, available through Bona Fide [see linkup at left!])

Here's a record that "purports" to be a special thirtieth-anniversary edition of shoulda-been-famous guitar hero George Brigman's self-released single which was set free way back inna dark ages of 1977 but y'see, I know better 'n that!!! This thing ain't no new repressing of an old collector's item classic a, it's actually the ORIGINAL 1977 collector's item with a special sleeve slapped onna thing because frankly in all those years this disc sold about as many copies as I have of BLACK TO COMM #25, and you can bet this simple fact gives me the willies because I just know that I'm gonna be stuck with that albatross for the next thirty years myself at which point I too will be releasing a special anniversary edition of that issue which will also consist of nothing but the original item wrapped in some special cellophane bag w/a commorative sticker strategically placed onna front in order to attract the next generation of rockism maniacs who were just born for a fanzine just brimming with the unadorned, unvarnished and underappreciated TRUTH such as mine! But in the meantime it just makes me sick!

Oldie or not this is the first time I've ever had the opportunity to own this disc so it was a nice soo-prize indeed to find this one flung my way. The a-side's got some of that great, perhaps "patented" yet downright high-energy whamabanging that recalls a whole slew of late-sixties guitar bigshots yet doesn't sink to the level of Frankie Marino claiming that the ghost of Hendrix settled into his fingers after recovering from a bad LSD experience only to record a string of feh albums. 's great enough white-blues gone hard rock that pays homage while striking out for new territory though I gotta 'fess up to the fact that I prefer the flipster "Drifting" which is a jazzy instrumental that recalls the likes of Glenn Phillips during his LOST AT SEA days amongst other things too obvious to mention (like the Groundhogs natch...oops, I tried writing this review sans mentioning such a blatant watermark in Brigman's musical development but I'm sure he'll forgive me!). A grande wowzer from the glory days of self-released garage-productions, of which this one shoulda won some sorta Acadamy Award from the Greg Shaw school of Jukebox Jurydom.

A special note about the's great with that cool pic of Brigman on the front which you can see a few paragraphs above, but what makes it even greater are the liner notes written by one Dick Destiny, aka George Smith who as you might know is a rock writer of some notoriety. Destiny relays some rather in-depth notes on this sleeve and even though I should loathe the guy because he's a friend of Chuck Eddy and writes for THE VILLAGE VOICE I gotta say that the execution of the thoughts and ideas regarding Brigman on the sleeve reminded me of rock writing glories of the past and maybe we should like him solely for that. Otherwise, I hope he gets hemmorhoids from sitting on his motorbike on cold and snowy days if only for being part of the current sick movement in rock writing that has plagued the high energy world for a good three decades awlready! (And true he is good enough, but Destiny is guilty of inherent pomposity for daring to even ASSOCIATE with a shoulda-been-dead-long-ago twat like Eddy, and really, who could forgive anybody for such a gross crime against humanity as that!)

Joy Ryder + Avis Davis-"No More Nukes"/"Nasty Secretary" (Monongo)

Here's a late-seventies punk rock item that could actually be called a footnote to a footnote when they write the ultimate history of rock & roll hip cause consciousness! Y'see, Joy Rider and Avis Davis, solid punksters on the New York Scene in the late-seventies, released this single back when the anti-nuclear movement was beginning to grow and there were these No Nukes concerts popping up all over the land at least if ROLLING STONE and THE VILLAGE VOICE could be believed. And strangely enough especially in the strict anti-punk/rock & roll in general clime o' the time, Ryder/Davis and band actually got a chance to play at one of the biggest of these rallies which might have been some sorta great boon for the cause of punkdom but must've been instant douse for the reams of FM-bred dudsters who attended to show to see their singer/songwriter faves trying to resurrect about as many shards of past consciousness that come to think of it still seemed to be settling across the land like fallout from a gigundo nuclear test that took place some years prior. No wonder Ryder/Davis' activities with the anti-nuke crowd seemed to be airbrushed outta the rock histories in the grand tradition of Stalin, though come to think of it I did catch a backstage snap of the two somewhere inna VOICE but since they were local faves what else would ya expect?

The single is nice enough, though like a lotta the late-seventies En Why See underground scene there seemed to be a bit too much pop mixed in with the punk, or at least to the point where I know this is gonna be one of those once-a-decade (if lucky) spinners. Not to detract from the overall chahm of the offering, but I still think of NYC rock in terms of atonal buzz and wraparound shades, or take WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT and channel it through NO NEW YORK and slap the first Walter Steding album and FUTURE LANGUAGE into the mix for good effect. Aww, it's good enough and should really appeal to fans of such other En Why aggregates of the past like Peroxide and various other post-Heartbreaker-influx attempts although I was expecting a little...more.

Dunno what happened to Davis, but Ryder was still active on the scene as of the early-oh-ohs appearing as a solo act (and, according to her website which I guess you can easily enough google yourself, as a blues singer!) popping up at CBGB under the tutelage of Peter Crowley along with a few of the other seventies survivors who either never did break outta the burgh or were hitting upon bad times after good. Last I heard she was in bad straights healthwise so let's hope all's well for the lady even if this record ain't exactly one of those fire lighters that get my buttocks all toasty one bit!
Various Artists-YOUR CAR MACHINE LP (Black Arts, France); MINNESOTA ROCK-A-BILLY ROCK VOL. 1 LP (White Label, Holland...try Norton)

Y'know, when I take a stroll through my records (I should restate myself...when I thumb through my records...don't want anyone to think that I actually trample through my records steppin' all over 'em willy nilly 'r anything like that!), I usually can remember (and fondly at that!) when or where I obtained the various platters that adorn my said collection. Memories just come rushin' back to me, like the Christmas vacations where I'd spent my gift moolah on still-in-print Mothers of Invention albums or some Monty Python import on the Famous Charisma Label (one of the few Charisma platters remaining in my collection as well, and gosh were there any other teenagers out there who just weren't Python fans back inna wild and wooly seventies???), not forgetting all of the wild flea market finds that just happened to enter my life without any warnings making me a better man in the process (I can write a book on the day I purchased the Hampton Grease Band MUSIC TO EAT double set which I found at a Pittsburgh Pee-Yay flea market right before that vinyl-mad Christmas vacation of '76...boy, those were spendthrifty days!). But sheesh, I totally forgot about these two albums in question to the point where I can't recall even owning 'em, let alone what I was doing when I sent for them or when they arrived on my doorstep looking for a new home! And yes, I am ashamed!

But better late'n never for both of these albums which, while not as "essential" as some might think, are way more meaningful to you and your own low-budget way-of-life than the usual must-have archival drool that Big City Critics keep telling us we gotta hear before we die, or at least before the next big essential thing pops up onna racks. YOUR CAR MACHINE is a collection of rare postwar blues single sides that were recorded by down-and-out hollering rural blues guys gone urban until at least '64, which would figure since by that time geeky British teens discovered the sound and used it to their own advantage. Now r&b ain't exactly my baileywick unless I mix it with punk 'r avant garde jazz, but that don't mean I can't dig the primal putsch the likes of Willie Sanders, Little Sonny and Ace Holder (amongst many) rip up here. If you like those primitive backroom recordings that came outta Detroit courtesy Joe Van Battle (many of which have been comped and re-comped so there's no excuse NOT TO), you'll love this. And as far as Minnesota rock-a-billy goes, the White Label collection should sate your thirst for the roots of the Trashman sound with a whole platter filled with downright garage-band romps that seem perfectly translated into Midwest Scandanavian, though us greasy Southern Europeons can enjoy it too! Lots of this has already been heard by me via those repro singles Norton has also been sellin', but it is nice having it all on a long-playing platter so's we don't hafta get up and change the sides every few minutes. Big surprise is the inclusion of the early Jim Thaxter and the Travelers "Sally-Jo"/"Cyclon" single which, as you may already know, featured Tony Andriessen, Steve Wahrer and Dal Winslow before Thaxter left the band and they became the Trashmen, and there's a snap of 'em onna cover to prove it!
GOOD GOD LP (Atlantic)

Here's a group I discovered thanks to a Fred Kirby review of a '72 Max's Kansas City gig as well as a brief mention in Good God's hometown Philly paper on local acts that didn't quite make it, and you can bet that I was surprised enough to find out that these guys actually recorded a self-titled album which I guess isn't that much of a surprise since back then the major labels seemed to be signing just about everything. Nonetheless I just hadda pick the thing up outta curiousity and y'know what, GOOD GOD actually is a purty decent jazz rock effort that thankfully lacks the horrid tinkertoy progression of similar acts like Return to Forever (though I never did hear their debut which I once read is vastly superior to their more famous progressive rock-flair manhandling of various forms) and comes off as a good, almost seedy effort. Mostly originals (with apt covers of John McLaughlin's "Dragon Song" and Frank Zappa's "King Kong," both of which thankfully fit into the Good God groove), this album doesn't offend with loads of leftover hippiespeak but plays it nice and slow-burn cool to the point where it almost seems to represent the same aura of late-period Vietnam bared-wire intensity as Lou Reed! However if I hadda compare GOOD GOD to anything it would be the classic Tony Williams Lifetime or better yet Quiet Sun's MAINSTREAM, or even a truly punky Weather Report had they more of a free jazz mindset and really Good God are that tight and intense that they coulda made it at Max's during the more punk-active mid-seventies (CBGB as well!) given the more open atmosphere of these punk haunts at the time! And true, side two seems to slow down a bit but if you can find this one at the flea market you'd probably do well by snatching it up.

One final har-har aside...according to that Philadelphian newspaper article the group got their name after calling up none other than Captain Beefheart himself to ask him what they should be called, and after he exclaimed "Good God!" they thanked him and hung up! And you thought Good God were some sorta religious yammer, right?
The Screaming Gypsy Bandits-IN THE EYE LP (Or)

After digging out my three-EP SOCIAL CLIMBERS mini-album (which was probably dug outta the collection thanks to the appearance of said group jamming along with John Scofield on the STATE OF THE UNION sampler disc), I decided to give Climbers leader/MX-80 producer Mark Bingham's early seventies groupage another chance especially after the dud-like review I gave IN THE EYE in the pages of BLACK TO COMM about a decade back! Back then I wrote IN THE EYE off as an item that came way too close to the early-seventies Grateful Dead image of getting everybody down on the farm together, driving them batty on Boone's Farm Apple Wine and HAZEL reruns and forcing them to play the same "Hey I can outdo your riff twice and good" raga over 'n over and true, I swiped all that from Robot Hull but it does come rather close to what I thought of the whole shebang. After a decade of hibernating IN THE EYE fares slightly better. Not exactly a total winner w/regards to the seventies underground/self-released sweepstakes but it does show a bit of the underground pus to come, perhaps thanks to the presence of future MX-80 members Bruce Anderson and Dale Sophiea who were original Bandits but are reduced to special guest shots here. Their second full-length effort (and an unreleased Gulcher EP) might brighten their image a bit, though if you're game enough try getting hold of the BLOOMINGTON ONE sampler also on the Bar-B-Q label which, besides featuring Chinaboise and an MX-80 (Sound) instrumental yet to be reissued captures the post-EYE Bandits sounding more like jazzbo-period Zappa'n anything, but don't let that scare you off one bit!
Dave Burrell-AFTER LOVE CD (America)

Gotta admit that I never really liked a notable portion of the recorded output spewed forth by pianist Burrell...sure the man has released some downright aural images of pure fire velocity (such as on his BYG offering ECHO which is a BLOG TO COMM must-swipe) and his work as a sideman for the likes of Alan Silva on Silva's ESP outing is about as outre top-notch as anything out there could be, but some of his efforts like Arista/Freedom's HIGH WON HIGH TWO with its side-long WEST SIDE STORY medley (sheesh!) leaves a lot to be desired as does his appearance on some of Archie Shepp's most nauseating post-free play sides imaginable (plus I gotta admit that I never did play his concept album about Hawaii despite having owned it for a good ten or so years already!). So it is hit or miss with regards to Burrell's wares true, but thankfully this disc done for the French America label (yet another of those expatriate free jazz companies that I'm sure screwed their artists even more royally'n BYG!) back in '70 is Burrell at perhaps his pinnacle in the noise realm. Well, not really since very little can top ECHO, but this 'un's got Burrell and band (with top notcher Silva playing violin and electric/acoustic cello plus the nonpariel Roscoe Mitchell scronking up things a bit) playing about as free as late-sixties parameters would permit creating a truly nova music that surely must prove that the late-sixties American expatriate scene was perhaps even more creative and juice-filled than the one inna States, and given that a good portion of the top players were coagulatin' overseas could anything else be closer to the truth???

Here's an interesting tidbit about this album, and how it unexpectedly ties into the Detroit High Energy Scene that was taking place at the very same nanosecond this music was being recorded: the bassist on two of these three tracks (as well as manic mandolin plucker) is one Ron Miller, a name that should be familiar to those of you who have been following and categorizing the Detroit/Ann Arbor underground scene of the late-sixties given how he was the bass guitarist as well as co-leader with future Commander Cody guitarist Bill Kirchen of the legendary and mostly unheard Seventh Seal. As you may remember, the Seal were a group that shared a whole lot of stages with the likes of the MC5 during the early days of the rock in revolt scene that encompassed the area during those rather volatle times, and you could say that they were legendary enough to the point where fan Ron Asheton once described their sound as being Velvet Underground-y (though Kirchen will admit he didn't quite care for their tuneage) and that Kirchen and Miller attempted to get Iggy Pop into the band as drummer and were bummed out that he wanted to shift gears and become a singer (!). Anyway, after the Seal split up and Kirchen joined Cody, Miller formed a group along with local drummer Don Moye that was called the Pigfuckers who actually shared stages with the Five and Stooges before heading over to France and seemingly greener pastures. Anyway the "PF"'s as they were known in polite company were strictly into the new jazz thing, and not surprisingly enough Miller ended up playing bass and mandolin on some rather intense passages on this album while Moye himself (who had been integrated into the Art Ensemble of Chicago by this time) plays drums on track #3 entitled "My March" (delivering some fantastic military ratta-tat), so perhaps this is the closest we'll even come to a PF's record at least until noted commie John Sinclair opens his vaults to all like a nice capitalist with the brains should. The whole story kinda makes me wanna know if there were plans for any recordings, and if any were made, where may they be? America is waiting, Sinclair, and maybe it's time for you to redeem yourself and open sesame your archives so's us true proles can hear this stuff 'stead of just the hip chic upper-class snobs! Anyway, for Sinclair's take on the band just press here which'll take you to a page which could say more'n I could ever hope to plagiarize.

(Oh, and in case you didn't know, Miller was the bassist on those early Panther Burns sides which only adds to the underground mystique even more making me wonder why these Seventh Seal/PF recordings are rotting away somewhere when they could be released for all of us kicked-out jamz maniacs to appreciate!!! But I'll guess I'll be expecting releases from both of these aggregates about the same time some Man Ray and classic NYC no wave stuff from the Gynecologists and Daily Life amongst other obscure-os finally makes it out which I guess will be around the same second I start collecting my old age pension at which time I'll probably be deef anyway which would figure!)