Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Yeah, I could be tuning into that big CNN/Youtube Republican Presidential Debate if only to see Ron Paul mop the floor with the competition, but rather'n edjamacate myself I figure why not do a mid-week post instead! At least that'll be a whole lot more kulturally significant'n any sorta political hubbub that might be happening from now until...2100, or whenever the radiation dies down.
c/o THE VELVET UNDERGROUND, NEW YORK, N.Y. exhibition catalog

Gotta say that the introduction of that cheap (albeit free, can't complain about that) Cee-Dee player into my otherwise humdrum life has been a big boon to my, er, listening habits, or at least my listening habits with regards to those burned CD-Rs that play iffily if at all on my other spinners! And when it comes to late-night pre-snuggle in musical jamz, none other than my long-ineffective copy of Les Rallizes Denudes' 67-69 STUDIO ET LIVE (or as it says on my black-CD-R copy, 67 ET LIVE) is there to help guide me into slumberland and hopefully many a pleasing rockism-infused dream. What a disque that one is...the Denudes during their natal moments not only taking a whole load of the early (and most feral) Velvet Underground at their best but tossing in hefty hunks of non-b.s. San Francisco (Big Brother and the Holding Company, Blue Cheer, and perhaps groups like the Oxford Circle, Mystery Trend and Final Solution even if Les Rallizes Denudes didn't know who they were!) as well as the "group sounds" that were big in Japan into the stew resulting in a platter that, had it only gotten around back in those dangerous times, might have rivalled Le Stelle di Mario Schifano for the closest anybody got to aping the VU on vinyl while John Cale was more or less veering the band towards some pretty beyond pale-y soundspew! There should be a heavily-packed Denudes raving heading your way more sooner than later (or as soon as the orders in question are processed and delivered), and I only hope that my poor li'l heart can STAND the sonic bombardment my ears will be inundated with once a variety of packages are opened, spun and digested. A great way to celebrate the holiday season!

I also gotta tell ya that my repeated pre-bedtime playing of 67 ET LIVE is only heightened by this new "catalog" that I got of an exhibition honoring the fortieth anniversary of the release of THE VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO. Its filled with all sorts of then-contempo items that certainly will warm the cockles of any Velvetoid's heart, and true it's overpriced like most of these catalogs are and the inclusion of some "modern" items tends to ruin the aura a bit, but maybe if you squint your eyes and play some Velvets (or even some solid Velvets-inspired musings the likes of Les Rallizes Denudes or whatever valid group of choice you may have at hand) all of that great energetic power that the Velvets played and spawned for a good decade after their demise will make you realize that there certainly was a lot more to these guys than some wimpass alternative "amerindie" group that took all of the Velvet sizzle but none of the raw steak would lead you to believe.

Picking out the faults with this collection of Velvets antiques and curios are slim, but it wouldn't be a BLOG TO COMM post without such agonizing scrutiny, eh? So let me try these wingdings out for youm like...the musings of modern-day somethingorothers who may or may not be "famous" at least on a Velvets-fandom level read just about as boring as every other Velvets homage has (counting my own...and including this very writeup!) o'er the past twentysome years. Or at least ever since the Velvet Underground became the haute cusine of mid-eighties soul-less wonders back when their albums were finally reissued after years of fruitless search. (And in order to boost my own star lemme just tell you that st least """""I""""" can proudly admit to being a front-and-center fan of the group since early '76, and after a good ten or so months of pondering whether to splurge on one of their mystifying albums t'boot!) And, as I said earlier, the inclusion of more contemporary items such as the illustrated lyrics to "Waiting For The Man" from Nigel Trevenna's mid-seventies mini-history not forgetting certain items "pilfered" from WHAT GOES ON don't exactly do my Velvet-purist mind any good. (I mean, "The Peanuts Underground" was a one-shot joke [maybe] not really worthy of another printing, but nevertheless it turns up here!) And whose idea was it to present all of those old, battered, scribbled and marked down covers with banana peels missing or half-decayed? If this was a brilliant post-Warhol concept on somebody's part maybe they missed the mark by more'n that proverbial mile. Maybe not, but in typical Queen Victoria fashion I was not amused!

However I can sure bellow a hearty "bully!" towards the bulk of this catalog when it does emit that magical Velvet touch and conjures all of those great atonal feelings inside of me. There're loads of great press clippings (mostly negative!) here and even two pages taken from early fanzine rumblings including Greg Shaw's legendary MOJO MAVIGATOR which I'm sure woulda embarrassed the man had this one only got out a little more during his sadly all-too-short life! I mean, throughout the early-seventies Shaw was championing everyone from the Flamin' Groovies and Modern Lovers to Roxy Music tellin' us how great they were specifically because they were influenced by the early-Velvets, while back in the day he was screeding such anti-Velvets paradiddles along the lines that "All Tomorrows Parties" was "the musical equivalent of a painted Brillo box that sells for $400" which certainly doesn't do his punk rock image any good even if he's been dead for over three years! Well, I'm sure that if some of my own earlier personal opines got around they'd make me wanna crawl under the nearest rock but I doubt it...I'm already at odds with things I've written about LAST WEEK so why should I bother wincing over a few of those horribly illiterate crank-outs I used to do for OP?

And amidst the putdowns and poster repros (including one from the Boston Tea Party done in that then-"relevant" Seeds FUTURE/1966 religious text book style!) there are certain gems that really surprised even staid old me! Such as a set list from the Lou Reed-less "Poor Richard's" shows in Chicago which proves that not only was "Foggy Notion" being performed at that early stage in the Velvets game (as Jonathan Richman had mentioned in his famous VIBRATIONS article), but such latterday faves as "Pale Blue Eyes" and "The Story of My Life"* as well, and glomming this original set-list only making me yearn even more to hear not only how the early Velvets handled this material, but how this brief Cale-led version of the group re-arranged their repertoire to fit his own artistic anti-visionif the surviving material from the Nameth film is any indication of what's in store!

And speaking of Richman, the man makes two appearances here, not only with the handwritten repro of the lyrics to his own Velvets homage (one of the things taken from WHAT GOES ON I yapped about earlier) but with some personal recollections regarding the Velvets' January '69 gigs at the Boston Tea Party. True this article is way outside the first-LP timeline I was hoping the curator would have had the good sense to stick to, but since it's so informative as well as written by one of the better known Velvet Underground experts of the day (too bad they couldn't get Wayne McGuire to add a few words of his own regarding the fascination Boston had with our heroes), plus Velvet credo-packed, spiritual, sacred and dare-I-say holy, I shall refrain from any abuse directed towards the one called Jonathan even if I do think a load of his post-'74 recordings are way too saccharine for my personal tastes.

And although saying so should embarrass me, but this catalog is also so beautiful from those great stage shots to the general layout that whatever went wrong with this can easily be overlooked. And yeah, it is a surprise to see such a well-produced tribute being laid out for the Velvets because you know it could've been much, they could have lined up a whole truckfulla these more-current (like early-eighties on) Velvets-"inspired" hoopla-makers to give their two cents on how the band inspired 'em to make loads of introspective bile relating to the time daddy cut off their trust fund money and other such equally gnarly subject matter to a twee beat that undoubtedly took the Velvets at their quieter moments, but forgot the underlying intensity and mystique that came with it. Could YOU imagine a dweeb like J. Neo Marvin doodling on for pages about his own pantdribbly faux-Velveeta posturings and how they inspired him to such musical heights as X-tal and Content Providers? It'd be enough to make me wanna bury my entire Velvets collection, and myself along with it!

Pink Floyd-THE PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN 3-CD set (EMI Holland)

As some of you more blog-savvy readers might have noticed, I stole the pic on the right off some other blog of maybe not-so-well renown! I figure that if you gotta swipe something you better swipe from somebody you hate, especially when it's going to further your own agenda to the fullest. And it has mine...mainly the beautification of this entry regarding one of the spiffiest groups to have also come out of the mire known as late-sixties innovation, Pink Floyd, and that of the Syd Barrett variety mind you!

It's also noteworthy that 2007 also marked the fortieth anniversary of the (as they say) earth-shattering Pink Floyd debut album THE PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN, and naturally smart readers who've followed my writings o'er the past twenny-seven or so years'll recall just how much this platter made an indent on me during the vinyl-buying madness that was known as December 1975. And like THE VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO, the premier pinkie platter has also been deserving of some anniversary kudos, this time in the form of a three-CD set that comes complete with an expensive-looking (and costly!) hardcover book-bound package that also includes a lyrics insert and even some interesting Syd Barrett artwork dating from '65 that perhaps proves that the man didn't need LSD to be out of touch with reality.

Since I already had the thirtieth anniversary edition with the mono mix packaged in a special CD holder complete with a Hipgnosis insert, plus the single-only sides included on disc three probably sounded better on that "Masters of Rock" Pink Floyd album where the gatefold from MEDDLE was repro'd with Syd's 1971 face strangely pasted onto Dave Gilmour's equally-'71 body, maybe the inclusion of this newie in my collection would have been a bit...redundant? I mean, who knows what EMI's gonna cook up for the FIFTIETH anniversary of this epochal platter, like maybe a giant-sized package with more outtakes and remixes "convienantly" discovered deep in the vaults complete with actual relics taken straight from the body of St. Syd himself for your very own shrine perhaps? But rather'n wait the extra decade I thought I'd pick this up and y'know what...this package does satiate the cynical-yet-compulsive beast within me to the point where I don't mind that two of the discs are exactly the same 'cept one's in mono and the other stereo (if you must know, such things tend to bore me!). For once, it's the THOUGHT that counts!

Needless to say that THE PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN remains a powerful platter whether in mono or stereo. Can't argue with that no matter how much nabobs of negativity tend to belabor such anal-retentive points in the great mono vs. stereo debate that I guess still rambles on this late in the game. However, disc three will be a welcome switch even if you've heard those single sides many a time. Personally I can listen to such classics as "See Emily Play" and "Paintbox" over and over, but the real surprise in store are the previously unreleased PIPER outtakes, such as a shorter and structurally unique "Interstellar Overdrive" and an even more-skewered "Matilda Mother" with radically-changed lyrics that are so ridiculous it's no wonder they've remained deep in the vaults for so long! Mere passersby will up their nostrils with typical uppercrust glee, but I find it rather interesting listening to the stuff that didn't make the cut even if it ain't top-notch Floydelica!

And so it goes with the big four-oh regarding these two top contenders in the CLASS OF '67. Nice enough tributes for both, though while I'm at it maybe I should mention just where-oh-where is the big hoopla regarding yet another debut now hitting the forty mark, mainly that class act PTOOFF! by the Deviants???? If anything is deserving of the royal reissue treatment complete with outtakes and glossy inserts its this highly-influential platter, dontcha think? done a little early. Think I'll go see how Dr. Paul's doing amidst the savages.

*I should note that McGuire did mention John Cale's mournful viola playing on a rendition of "The Story of My Life" performed at the Boston Tea Party way back in his '68 CRAWDADDY masterpiece, so none of us really have an excuse not to have known this 39-year-old fact at this late stage in the game!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Gunter Hampel-SURVIVOR 2-CD-R SET; ON FIRE CD-R (both available on the German Birth label)

Frank Wright-ONE FOR JOHN CD-R (BYG)

But, before we get to today's subject at hand...


Bear with me for a few paragraphs so's I may take this honored opportunity to clue you in to a neat website that I just discovered, one that I'm sure you'll soon be digging to high heavens and back just like I have the past few days! And surprises of surprises, this new site I'm talkin' 'bout is dedicated to none other than that infamous seventies fanzine (or "roxine" as issue #1 so eloquently put it), DENIM DELINQUENT!!! And yes you read that right...DD, that very same fanzine I and many others out there have been raving about for a longer time than I can remember is now (in part) available on the web so for once quit bidding $68.93 for a shrivelled up copy of #1 like I've been doing for the past ten years and just download the thing, eh???? In case you were sick from Rock 101 that day, DENIM DELINQUENT was a fanzoonie edited, written and hyped by Ottawa native Jymn Parrett which, along with BACK DOOR MAN and FLASH helped set the stage for a whole slew of top-notch high energy rock & foll reads that came outta the bedrooms of many a misunderstood rock fan for at least the next decade or so! Imagine that, seven issues jam-packed with impassioned articles and talk-to-you reviews featuring the likes of the Stooges, Kinks, Dolls, Alice, Kiss, MC5 and a whole bunch of seventies acts both big and miniscule you might not care about, but you won't IGNORE! And...for a rundown on my very own recent review of DD's final outing from '76 just press here and don't forget to scroll down as they say.

Many people (even those who claim to be front and center when it comes to worshipping at the altar of seventies rockism) don't seem to realize just how important DENIM DELINQUENT was on the fanzine circult at the time it was being published but believe-you-me, it was a must-read for those into the likes of not only those aforementioned groups but many more high-energy noisemongers of the day, along with various sixties rebels and the likes making a grand re-emergence via the local bargain bins. In fact, DD was so humongous as far as fanzine influences went that it garnered a pretty impressive readership with the likes of Greg Shaw and Gene Simmons being amongst the select! In fact, DD was so well-known within the rock fandom circuit that issue #4 even sported a rather scabrous Lester Bangs review of Lou Reed's SALLY CAN'T DANCE, and not only can you read that but the sorded story behind the thing if you'll only press on the link to that ish once you hit this (shall I say...) MANDATORY page!

Now I'm sure a scant few of you will remember when Jymn had a very similar website goin' about ten years back, but he soon axed that 'un due to a lack of interest on anybody's part. I guess now that all of us wild and wooly rock fanatics have comp-boxes of our own Jymn decided it time to get them old issues (along with new reviews and various bits o' fanzine esoterica) back on-line, and for a guy like myself just sick and tired of the lack of fun rock & roll reading available on the web you can bet that the grand re-emergence of DD on the web is certainly cause to run for joy in the nude just like Jymn's very own "Boy Howdy"-esque mascot did in the pages of his now-fabled read!

Be forewarned, all of the pages that appeared in the seven-ish fanzine run ain't totally up yet, but Jymn's gettin' there and what he does have goin' like a page from #5's Iggy Pop spectacular and part of the Monty Python interview that popped up in #2 (when the mag underwent the quickie moniker change to YAHOO though no lawsuits by Mr. P directed at the computer giant seem to be forthcoming) are certainly worth your time and temperament, coming off especially copasetic with my own sense of class since Mr. P has reprinted the ORIGINAL PAGES of the mag online and thankfully didn't re-peck everything out in order to make it look "professional". So it's like you get to read them the same way hundreds of rock-starved brats who found out about DD thanks to a well-placed classified in ROLLING STONE of all places! But whatever, digging into these webpages finding all of those first-hand articles and musings along with Parrett's fantastic art and generally on-target opines'll send you back to a time and day when rock & roll was still this seething, vibrating, thriving music that somehow went off the deep end around the advent of the eighties when Madonna rolled around and began calling all the shots. And what's best about it is you can now read Jymn's It's All Meat review and see for yourself just how much of it I plagiarized in my own write up of the thing!

Younger readers'll get hands-on experience by reading the various articles and finding out that there was more to seventies rock & roll...much more, than Peter Frampton. Older readers'll get a refresher course in just what this whole rockscreed was like in the pre-Eddy days, and we can only hope that maybe this newfound success on the computer boards will spur Jymn on to even greater things, like maybe anudder print issue of his "roxine" perhaps?

'n not only that, but if you study Jymn's site long and hard enough you will be directed to a page where you can do such things as buy your very own DENIM DELINQUENT t-shirts with actual Iggy and New York Dolls grafix for forty bucks a smack! 'n yeah, that might seem like a rather steep price for alla ya welfare kids out there in readerland but frankly, what better way is there for you to part with your hard-begged than pick up one of these unique tops to wear to your next social function...unless you wanna spend it all on BLACK TO COMM back issues hmmmmmmmmmm?

OK, back to the real world of blogging. And it certainly is a big switch goin' from mid-seventies rock shenanigans to free jazz sputum, but maybe not so for me...y'see, I'm one guy who believe-it-or-leave-it finds more than a few basic similarities twixt the rock and avant garde jazz world, and yeah even a base fool will have to admit that perhaps there is more than a few instances of the twain overlapping to the point where you can't figure our where one begins and the other ends. And I'm not talking about those rather insignificant meeting o' minds like Jerry Garcia recording with Ornette Coleman and other show-offy hipster publicity moves (almost as bad as when Grace Slick referred to John Coltrane's ASCENSION as his "acid trip"!)...I more or less have in mind the more dark, feral side of rockism treading onto avant territory and vicey-versy along the lines of "Eight Miles High" or "Sister Ray" not to mention FUNHOUSE, and who could forget the pre-Suicide Reverend B and other similar aggregates just begging for a CD box set release? Or maybe even better Sonny Sharrock's career from MONKEY POCKIE-BOO on up through Material and Last Exit, as well as a whole slew of aggregates that played at the Dee Pop-curated "Freestyle Jazz" series first at the CBGB Lounge and later on Jimmy's Tavern. Yes there sure is a lotta interest in rock on the jazz side and jazz elpees in many a rockist collection and hey, scratch a Stooges or Velvets fan and I'm sure you'll find a trickling of avant-jazzter moves flowing up from beneath the epidermis.

There has been some striking similarities between jazzbos and rockists in other areas as well, especially in the way that both more often than not had to circumvent the usual major labels in order to get their recorded wares out to da people (some of whom even have a taste for these kinda musics!). One guy who has been well aware of this and who has been releasing his own platters since 1969 in fact is Gunter Hampel, he of ESP-disk and Jeanne Lee fame, a German who has been splitting his time between the Old Country and New Yawk playing with musicians on both continents for a good long time with a style somewhere between Albert Ayler (whilst on sax, sorta), Eric Dolphy (bass clarinet, maybe) and Karl Berger (vibes, yeah!) and sure it's like there's a whole new generation, no matter how miniscule, aping the same influences and stylings as these greats, but Berger's a SURVIVOR (as his 2-Cee-Dee set states) whose been in on the game for a good fifty or so years long before most of the new generation was even germinating. Maybe that ought to count for something in this whacked out free jazz world of ours, eh?

Anyway I had a whole buncha CD-Rs rotting away in my collection...rotting because these temperamental thangs don't always wanna spin let alone play on my various boom boxes as well as computer which has led to a whole ballfulla frustration on my part! (And you wonder why the normally jovial I can go the curmudgeon route at times...just thinking of all the hassles and trouble I've gone through thanks to the miracle of progress and the shoddy equipment it has spawned is enough to get my blood boiling!) However, as providence (or at least Newport) would have it, I "inherited" a small cheap-o boom box that not only snuggles nicely beside the comfy chair in my bedroom but actually PLAYS these burned-me-up disques I've accrued meaning that all of those Les Rallizes Denudes platters and various dub offerings sent me by once-friends can now be enjoyed in the sanctity of my own domain, and I don't have to think up excuses to hop into the car and take fifty-minute spins in order to hear these platters anymore and you know how gas prices are these days!

Back to Hampel...ever since the inception of his Birth label in '69 Hampel's released gadzillions of his own material on disc and disque in a brave attempt to cut out the higher-up finaglings that go on in the record biz! You might have picked up these albums via the late (and maybe not-so-great) New Music Distribution Service back in the seventies and eighties, but (getting autobiographical again) the ONLY time I bought one of these Birth albums for my own dining and dancing pleasure was during a trip to the basement of Record Revolution in Cle Hts. sometime in the eighties. The cover was worn yet it didn't really matter considering how it was one of those generic things with a check next to whatever platter was slipped within the sleeve. Nice and cheap. It's still snuggled somewhere in my jazz bin in the basement, and maybe one of these days I'll slip it outta the collection and once again let you know what I think of the thing. But for now we'll talk about these relative newies.

As I said, Hampel is a "survivor" and that's the name of this double-disc offering recorded October '01 featuring the man on his usual wares (and mebbe a hint of flute?) accompanied by a German outfit consisting of Nils Wogram and Christian Weidner on trombone and alto sax. No bass, no drums, and because of that this live concert has a nice chamber sound and feel not as academic as some of those Jimmy Giuffre things and swinging enough for my own paranoid moments. The music ebbs and flows and floats but not in any sorta hippie jive way. Engaging but not overpowering. Nice stuff to enter and leave the room to, or even to read your old fanzine and book collection to while waiting to doze off in the evening like I'm wont to do these days. Oddly enough, the music stands in stark contrast to the (once again low-fidelity) sleeve, or actually some folded over sheets of foolscap which surprisingly enough deal with the September 11th doings which Hampel not only witnessed, but photographed (that's him on the reverse with the burning tower in the background). I wouldn't call it exploitation as much as a reflection of sheer terror on Hampel's (and our) part, and it ain't like he's doing this to sell gazookian amounts of disques so if you're offended, maybe you shouldn't be.

If you're feeling a little more adventurous after spinning SURVIVOR a few times you might want to check out ON FIRE, a stunning disque recorded with Hampel's European quartet (he also has one stashed away for his Amerigan appearances!) at the Essen Jazz Festival on 17/1/04 (I reversed the month and day in order to be more overseas about it considering this does emanate from the old Reich). Bass-less yet with drums, this one moves and shakes pretty well despite the obvious primitive recording techniques used to edit this thing. More spacial play and even some nice free breaks here/there. Dunno how it stacks up to the rest of the vast array of Hampel offerings he's selling via his site, but I find ON FIRE pleasant enough for an occasional free jazz resensifying session.

And as I said, there are many more of these Hampel Birth platters out there, though the best way to latch onto any is via ebay and some jazz store operating therein. I tried getting in touch with the Birth people in order to get some more of these items into my collection (especially the LIVE AT THE CBGB LOUNGE one if only for sentimental purposes) but have yet to receive any response. And ya woulda thought that by this time the mere UTTERANCE of my name would elicit all of the music world to come clamoring upon my tootsies!

While we're on the subject of free jazz Cee-Dee-R burns lemme tell you that I also got hold of a "reissue" of Frank Wright's classic ONE FOR JOHN album recently. Funny, this BYG album which I personally would have considered one of their better offerings warranted a release on the Affinity label back in the eighties, but nobody has had the good sense to make it available in the here and now which does stymie me quite a bit. Too bad we have to rely on this "dodgy" disque because ONE FOR JOHN is another feather in the BYG cap with Wright and his boffo backup (including the ace Noah Howard, pianist Bobby Few and jazz drummer MuHammad Ali) romping through a particularly high-strung sesh including not only the obligatory Coltrane homage (complete with a rather eerie yodel section) but yet another Far East theme on free jazz turf that sounds pretty wild especially when Wright and band start jammering in pidgin Chinese! I guess they could get away with that being black and all, but just try doing it nowadays! All joking aside, here's one that's begging for the Italian small label treatment in any format and more sooner than later, one would hope.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Troggs-LIVE AT MAX'S KANSAS CITY CD (Max's Kansas City, distributed by President Records, England)

You gotta credit the Velvet Underground for getting a whole lotta balls out there in rock & roll land a'rollin', but one ball they really oughta be commended for is putting out the first ever album recorded at that famed watering hole for New York's more-decadent-than-thou crowd, Max's Kansas City. Long before all of those Devo, Ramones, Heartbreakers, Stooges and Bruce Springsteen Max's platters (legit or otherwise) there was the Velvets with that in/out-of-print budget-line wonder which ya gotta admit set the pace for a whole load of audience-recorded club recordings to follow. True, way too many aficionados of the form have made it a point in their reviews and general phonecall comments to lambaste this notorious contract filler, but humble I will continue to stand by it not only for the music (way-above average early-seventies garage band dance rock) but for the general New York hip club atmosphere surrounding perhaps thee cultiest of local groups making their last stand before Doug Yule decided to drag their name through the mud more for a good three years.

This Troggs disque licensed to the low-fi President label in England by former Max's owner Tommy Dean did enjoy a certain amount of popularity at the time of its '80 release. At least I remember two or three wonks on the mainstream rock bandwagon singing its praises which might only prove that broken clocks are good twice a day but back then any sign of life was good. I gotta hand it to those Mellencamp wannabes for having at least a little bitta taste in their system to give a platter recorded at this punk hot spot the time of day, (remember, this was when not only punk but any sorta local original rock & roll was more or less condemned if only due to nervous action on the part of way too many FM-bred dolts), but for us high-energy rockers this 'un's just as club-hopping wild as the Heartbreakers, Stooges and all those other Max's recordings that made you wish that you too could have graced the stage upstairs with your own total-vibration band that nobody wanted to form with you back then.

Naturally you get the expected biggies from "Wild Thing" and "Love Is All Around" (sounding pretty close to the trio-period Talking Heads take though don't let that scare you rabid anti-gnu wave types off!) as well as the underground hits like "Feels Like a Woman" and "Gonna Make You". Not forgetting the spirited covers of the Stones, Rufus Thomas and Berry that the Troggs naturally "make their own" blah blah include your own rockcrit cliches here and so forth. But the Troggs sure put on a solid show and album for that matter, and at times even I have to admit that the redos of at least the less-familiar-to-you trackage do sound better than the studio takes if only because of the raunchy club aura of this disque which does transport you back to a day and time when rock & roll was still truly threatening, especially to the mainstream, Chuck Eddified geeks out there who were supporting the likes of all those horrid Journeys and REOs that the Troggs stood bravely against. Even the dirty stuff like "Summertime" and "Strange Movie" ends up here all done in that IMMEDIATE style that doesn't come off retrograde or pandering to any nostalgic whims the audience may have. Here the Troggs are every bit as contemporary and relevant (in a non-hippie way) as the rest of the groups on the New York Scene, many of whom were aping more'n a few tricks these Troggs were laying down over ten years before.

It's enjoyable both on a sixties teenage rah-rah and late-seventies deca-rock elitist level (and ya gotta remember just how the Troggs were treated as rockism royalty by the punk-elite here in the US of Whoa at the same nanosecond they hadda sweat it out on the nostalgia circuit in Europe!!!----have some pride for once Ameriga!), and what's more but as a BONUS President tagged on two outta three studio tracks that the Troggs (actually, Reg Presley and Ronnie Bond with Chris Spedding) recorded for Max's that didn't come out until the FAREWELL TO MAX'S platter sometime in the early-nineties! Both are prime Troggsian thumpers that could've easily passed for early/mid-seventies outtakes and I guess should be part and parcel to any true Trogglodyte's collection. But then again, what sorta fan wouldn't've had these numbuhs front and center in his collection at this period in time anyway? Of course it's a mystery why the spry cover of "Save The Last Dance For Me" didn't make it here, because that one had even more of a New York Underground pop/punk style worthy of bands like the Heat and Marbles and woulda sparkled up this offering plenty! Oh well, maybe it'll pop up on the next reissue of this platter that Dean will have the opportunity to license out to yet ANOTHER small English label!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


(STAND BY FOR BORING OPENING RAMBLE-ON SCHPIEL): Sheesh, another jam-packed-with-excitement (hah!) week has gone by and I didn't even have the wherewithal/stamina to present one of my mid-week postings for your usual vulture-esque pickings. It's not like I'm surprised one bit...after all, where is the party? Let's face it, back in the mid-eighties when I was hopped up enough to release an ish of my own sainted crudzine at first on a bi-monthly schedule, then quarterly, then whenever..., there wasn't that much really going on that would light a fire under any true rock & roller. But there were enough new wonders and oldies waiting to be (re)discovered to warrant my own self-publishing efforts. And yeah, that is one of the reasons I started my own rag up inna first place, to accentuate the positive that was going on on both the current levels (worthwhile hardcore, sixties garage revival) as well as on the reissue circuit which the mainstream and even underground press was willfully ignoring. But as the old cliche goes "that was with the last great attempt to move and shake rock & roll a good thirty years in the past (and add an extra decade on if you wanna know how long it's been since rock & roll was a viable catalyst with regards to teenbo life-forces) what else can I do but scrounge around looking for past accomplishments while seeking out the few remaining true believers that are amongst us! And you can betcha butt that I'm not quite as jazzed about the sorry state of affairs as they may be today as I was when I was a pimply upstart just DISCOVERING this stuff, but hey...even all these years later I gotta admit that I still care, and perhaps even moreso than your everyday Compassion Incorporated liberal out there bleeds heart over just about everyone and everything that certainly doesn't want to be "uplifted" by these upper-crust worldsavers in the first place!

But as they say, what else is old??? I remember twennysome years back when the excretalesque Chuck Eddy once made an oh-so-prissy point more akin to your average FM-bred dolt writing for the local college rag o' the time along the lines that "punk rock was a long time ago" (I believe in the course of an Angry Samoans article for the once-potent but long-castrated CREEM) as if he were tossing his socially-potent daggers at a good portion of his lumpen readership in a proud state of rock critic bully pulpit oneupmanship. Def. a slap inna face to a whole lotta hard-working, hard-living and fun-loving rock & rollers out there who were making their own reality for themselves just like punkers have done ever since the late-fifties for that matter, and although it can easily be said that what Chuckles had planned for punk's "replacement" wasn't that much better'n some old seventies jamz rehashed in new light metal foil, as time goes on I can agree with the famed ex-VILLAGE VOICE sage more and more. Or to rephrase it, all of that exciting, driving and pulse-speeding rock & roll that burst out of the garages of early-seventies Ameriga (and World) was "a long time ago" and frankly I ain't exactly gonna rest until over-the-mountain ME sees rock & roll as a force to once again reckon with, not this half-baked rapcrap or Patti Page for the oh-ohs music they call rock these days!

But enough of that. Rock & roll as we once knew and loved it sure ain't as potent as it once was, and we have those brainiacs like Eddy (and his sycophants) as well as a whole slew of Big City rock critics and tastemaker/powerbrokers to thank for that! But at least we can still find shards of the real stuff if we look hard enough, and I gotta say that thanks to the internet we can now, with only our own tastes and sense of rockism pride to guide us, locate loads of previously undiscovered bands that MATTER...and I don't mean stuff you sorta hafta bend your ears a little to appreciate, but HIGH ENERGY HEAD-THROBBING TOTAL ERUPTION MUSIC both old and new! And back inna eighties I thought these computers were strictly for nerds, but as I've since learned perhaps rock & roll couldn't survive without an instant networking of bands as well as a fandom to support them these days!

Here are just a few of the recordings that I have been spinning as of this past week, not only newies to my ears but past faves that have been a'moulderin in the grave a little too long if you ask me. But whadevva the case may be, I thought you'd like to have about as much fun readin' 'bout these platters of both the black and shiny variety as I had listeinin' to 'em and writin' 'em up. And true, there's not too much on the recently-released front 'cept for the Screamin' Mee-Mees platter I mentioned last time (Volcanic Tongue mega-order still held up way past its due date), but hopefully more ear treats from various sources will be headin' my way soon and perhaps for once I can keep up with the Jonezez and write about some items that are actually contempo to today's fast-paced world. But until then, just chomp on these chewies and don't complain about any laxative effect you might get!

Various Artists-LIVE AT THE RAT 2-LP set (Rat)

As faithful BLACK TO COMM readers already know to the point of nausea, I am one of the few flakes on the sub-rock crit/fanzine/internet circuit that actually professes a strong liking for the oft-abused LIVE AT CBGB'S two-record set that came out on Atlantic during the very underground-active summer of '76. Most rock snobs continue to dismiss those prime platters crammed with what I would call a decent cross-section of what was going on in Underground Ameriga at the time, but even thirtysome years later I'll come out proudly and admit that I find groups like Manster with their strange mix of jazz fusion and underground credo (almost like MX-80's) and Sun's late-sixties heavy metal garage band redux a lot more exciting than the music being made by some of the more-plugged name groups on the New York Scene poised for stardom. And yeah, even at that early point in New York Rock time the likes of Blondie, the Ramones, Talking Heads and Television were certainly being groomed for bigger and better things, but frankly except for Television and the early Ramones I find very little of these acts' music that engaging. And true, Talking Heads were an interesting post-Modern Lovers-esque band in their trio days, but I gotta admit that I haven't even listened to any of my tapes of those early gigs in over a quarter century! As for Blondie, they might have had some nice retro-surfy moments but I would hardly consider them a Music Machine for the seventies as Lester Bangs might have hinted at in his VOICE review. And as for those other new wave bigshots of the late-seventies/early-eighties, while a good portion of 'em were certainly miles ahead of a lotta the drekkier moments of seventies rock I'll bet the whole lot probably couldn't hold a candle to any of the Velvets-driven upstart bands that were coming outta the garages of not only New York and Jersey but Podunkville USA or even Boston for that matter, which is where this RAT album comes in.

And although it was almost universally-panned for a variety of reasons, some perhaps actually understandable, LIVE AT CBGB'S was influential enough to have spawned at least two imitation double sets within a year of its release. One, recorded under the "auspices" of Kim Fowley and Rodney Bingenheimer at the Whisky-A-Go-Go in June of '77, never did get off the ground with only the Germs' set getting the official release after Darby Crashed himself into p-rock oblivion. It may have been all for the better (especially after reading Don Waller's cutting putdown of the proceedings entitled "Looking For a Hook" in BACK DOOR MAN), because although BDM faves the Zippers were slated to appear on this set who really would wanna dish out the precious dinero for a comp of quickies exploito punk bands with names like Boys in Bondage anyway? (And I should know, having been in the family car passing the ol' Whisk' on the way to Tower Records and seeing the marquee proudly proclaiming that very set!) Thankfully the Boston twofa didn't get deep-sixed and this double-disc package recorded at the Rat (then beantown's #1 underground hangout with a history almost as interesting as those of the New York haunts) made it out, mainly because at the time the city had finally shaken off that "Boss-Town" hype saddled on it by MGM and was once again producing some pretty good rock & roll groups just as innovative (yet still steeped in a non-pretentiousness) as some of the New York offerings who were getting shoved aside in favor of some of the bigger names who were just reeking pretention at that point. (Though maybe I am getting ahead of myself...Debbie Harry's pretentions didn't come to full flower until she lent her name to the early rap genrre while I gotta excuse myself for not catching onto David Byrne's artsiness until it was way too late!)

It's easy to see just how much this Rat album (as well as owner Jim Harold) owed to LIVE AT CBGB'S as well as to Hilly Kristal, with an innersleeve layout very similar to the CB set and Hilly himself thanked in the credits. However, this Rat album did the CBGB offering one better with a more cohesive roster of groups and a general idea of where underground rock was heading at the time, from the proto-punk hardness of the earlier portion of the decade to a more scattershield variant of the familiar Stooge roots as the seventies eventually clocked over into the tired eighties. Not that the CBGB set didn't portray a good cross section of the same class of upstart rock band, but the energy level and general demeanor of LIVE AT THE RAT was pretty spot-on as they say, with only occasional lulls in the overall crunch of the thing. Otherwise this is high energy mid-seventies rock & roll the way I like it, even when the groups may be taking trips into familiar mid-seventies pop territory with garage crunchiness thanfully still in place.

LIVE AT THE RAT starts off with Willie Alexander and the Boom Boom Band, a bunch who were starting to acquire a following of sorts not only in Boston but in En Why See with their frequent appearances not only at CBGB but friendly rival Max's Kansas City during that Bicentennial year, and their song about the Rat functions almost the same way as Wayne County's "Max's Kansas City" did for that venerable dive. And although I have to be upfront and tell you that I never was what you would call a big follower of either he or the Boom Booms (though I must admit to liking his sixties group the Lost) I'm gonna stretch my neck out a bit and claim that "At the Rat" is perhaps the group's shining moment with the kinda hard-pounding thrust that made mid-seventies underground rock so appealing to more people than your average Big City Rock Critic would have wanted you to believe at the time. (Won't say the same thing about Alexander's "Kerouac" which, although still firmly rooted in what could be called a seventies Boston style, never impressed me as much either as a single side or done live here.)

Also popping up on LIVE AT THE RAT are such Boston stalwarts as DMZ (sounding more mid-seventies Stoogerock punky than mid-sixties garage band!) and none other than BTC all-time faves the Real Kids, a group that seems to have epitomised the entire Boston post-Velvet Underground/sixties influx scene more'n most shallow pretenders ever could. The entire portion or at least a good hunk of the Kids' set was eventually released by Norton and you definitely should have that snuggled towards the front of your collection, but for those of you awaiting the latest care package from Billy 'n Miriam (see link at left, and they do take Paypal!) these snippets will do fine. And as far as other "big-names" on the Boston scene go, Thundertrain perhaps act as the same heavy metal counterpoint here as Sun did on the CBGB album with their all-out raunchers, and I gotta say that it was a shame that these guys never did make it big like a lotta lesser metallic names of the day. I'm sure you older goombahs remember just how lame heavy metal got in the mid-seventies to the point where you coulda easily have said that the only real metal was being made on punk turf so-to-speak (MX-80, Von Lmo...)? Well, I'm positive to the point of fanaticism that Thundertrain coulda easily mopped the stage with any of those Big Name FM-rock heavy metal bands they opened for, and still eat Ted Nugent for dessert! And stepping onto my soapbox once more, may I just state for the record if there is any real justice in a world where Thundertrain would have to be reduced to playing cheap gigs and opening slots while people would actually line up to see Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow???

The "also rans" on LIVE AT THE RAT fare pretty snatly as well, even better than those flashes that wound up on the CBGB discs. The Third Rail were a pretty tasty cross twixt the Velvet Underground and Blue Oyster Cult and their two tracks ("Rondy Rush", the same version to end up on their single a few years later and "Bad Ass Bruce") were solid hard-rockers that weren't quite metal but still seemed to have the same stamina that coaxed some of the more open-minded metallic fans of the day over to the punk side of things. It's no wonder that these guys got a gig opening for Von Lmo at Max's Kansas City...after all, both acts seemed to play on the same hard-rock past for an underground present! The Infliktors had quite a rep as a solid hard punk rock band and their tracks here don't give us any cause for letdown. It's not difficult to see why Aerosmith's Steve Tyler would not only wanna produce 'em, but joined 'em live onstage for a spirited rendition of "Milk Cow Blues". Susan (maybe not, along with the Rail, deserving of the "also ran" category), were a good hard-rocking local pop/underground group with commerciality and an underlying intense streak, certainly nothing along the lines of fellow Bostonians the Cars as one rock critic mused. Their major-label offering from a few years later certainly toned down on the almost-New York hardness and tried remaking them into this year's model, but hey I still got a kick outta it so I won't complain. Sass, Mark Thor, the Boize and all the rest (were there any?) also manage to invoke everything from the Velvets to Stones to typical hard-pop, and although the results may vary I can't all sounds better'n a lotta the same genre a good decade later after way too many people "discovered" this stuff and the music went from underground to punk to new wave to new music to some unspeakable horror that continues to get lumped under the dread "indie"/"alternative" label which this far down the line means nothing in the face of all of the musical atrocities it was supposed to rebel against.

So (in all), what can I say? LIVE AT THE RAT is a great slab detaining a good portion of what exactly was happening in mid-seventies Boston and although there are a number of conspicuous absentees (the Count and Atlantics amongst 'em) it still fills the proverbial bill at least as far as these bands wallowing somewhere twixt early-seventies underground garage bands and late-seventies punk accomplishment go. Not only that, but the thing is just begging for a reissue, either in vinyl or Cee-Dee format for that matter. Anyone out there wanna lose a whole slab of money for a good cause?
Living Colour-LIVE FROM CBGB & OMFUG TUESDAY 12/19/89 CD (Epic)

Speaking of CBGB and original music groups getting thrust into the bigtime from its stage, these guys were probably the last big name band to ooze outta the now-caved in club and make any sorta noticible splash on the rock world and frankly, I was glad to see it happen! Living Colour's success was a miracle especially in a late-eighties music scene which was certainly even more decayed than it might have been a decade before...after all, they were a band that came from nowhere albeit with a guitarist of some notoriety (you gotta remember that Vernon Reid was a member of early-eighties CBGB faves Ronald Shannon Jackson and the Decoding Society), and what's best is that Living Colour didn't have to make any humongous concessions to the current sway of musical opinion to achieve such a lofty goal as international stardom! Not that they weren't readymade for the late-eighties rock world which was pretty much destroyed beyond all repair, but their mix of heavy metal, jazz rock, punk and various black pop music forms made me think more of the mid-seventies CBGB scene than the late-eighties one. Bands like the Planets, Manster and even Rocket From The Tombs had more in common with Living Colour than the various featherweight metallic aggregates of the day, and although Living Colour was pretty much part and parcel to a scene that I wanted hardly anything to do with (I mean, what else could you say about a group whose first album cover looked more like a Fruitopia ad 'n anything?) I merely shrugged off the excess and enjoyed what I thought was a rather tasty debut by one of the few decent groups to have made it to mainstream status at the time.

Natch if my love for Living Colour didn't quite last until their second disc (after all, as I wrote at the time, any group who would even think of writing a "love song in the age of AIDS" was asking me to hate them!), but it wasn't like I disliked Living Colour even as they were flailing through the deca-nineties rock putsch. Until this very day I gotta say that some interest in Living Colour remains in my musical psyche of psyches which is why I bought this live Cee-Dee recorded where else but CBGB right when the band was about to break out back in the latest-of-the-late-eighties. Dunno how I missed on this 2004 release, or why Epic would release something like this so late in the game, but whaddeva it seemed neat enough to latch onto this disc if only to cling onto past rockism iconology which ya gotta admit I do a pretty good clinging job of!

Nice live vibe as the hippoids would say, and all of the big hits more or less are here including their cover of the Bad Brains' "Sailin' On" which does inject a bitta vim vigor and verve into this mid-energy set. However, I must admit that I was bored silly in part perhaps because of the striving professionalism of the band, or the less-than-energetic slow numbers, or something. Or nothing for that matter. Well, it's not like I hate the group now and there certainly are worthwhile moments not only including the signarure "Cult of Personality", but if I told you this wasn't gonna be one of those back-of-the-collection once-in-awhilers I'd certainly be lying to you.
BINKY PHILIPS 12-inch EP (Caroline)

Here's one that's been whatcha might call a personal favorite for a good twenny years which sure makes me feel old! In fact, my love for the BINKY PHILIPS EP became so well known at the time of its late-eighties release that when Fire in the Kitchen (a then-contempo NYC band of some reknown whom I was championing until leader Bob Bannister decided to do a little Politically/Socially Correct oneupmanship o'er myself in his ON SITE mag) were signed to Homestead records, their hypesheet mentioned that I thought FITK were the second-best band in the burgh with Binky Philips being the first as if to say my tastes were rather askew considering I would prefer this (I dunno...mainstreamish???) act over Bannister's bunch! And yeah, it's hard to believe that I was astute enough to cheerlead for the great hard-power pop being made by the likes of Mr. Philips (ex-Planets in case you didn't know, and if you thought the above mention of said Planets in my Living Colour album didn't have me diggin' this classic outta the pile you'd certainly be a whole lot denser'n I originally gave you credit for!) because all these years later it's so easy to see that the music that Philips and band were cranking out was way superior to all that stuck-inna-mud alternadrivel I had the good sense to ditch around the same time this long-forgotten disc came out!

Anyhoo, after the collapse of the first Planets reunion of the early-eighties, Mr. Philips got together this power trio featuring Mickey Leyland of Susan on drums (and if you thought my review of the RAT album didn't also make me hustle to my record collection pronto you'd still be denser'n a Scottish fog!) and none other'n Sara Lee of League of Gentlemen/Gang of Four fame on bass, and believe me when I say the three really put on a surprisingly good show that continues to inspire especially considering how dismal the rock scene generally could have gotten at the time. This grouping lept forth from the CBGB stage with a sound that came off part early-seventies Cleveland pop, part mid-seventies New York underground, part seventies AM radio of varying stripes with a nice dash of heavy metal (the original kind back when it was still called "hard rock") to make a racket that was pretty refreshing to late-eighties ears bombarded by some of the worst amerindie musings imaginable longing for the days when energy and excitement weren't being replaced by a shallow appreciation of the form.

To no one's surprise this disc was recorded at CBGB but not during a scheduled gig. Philips was taking advantage of the sound board at the dive for his recording debut but the session turned into a live show when too many passersbys expressed an interest in the sounds emanating from this Bowery bistro as Fred Kirby would have put it. And live it is, with that great glossy sound like all those FM radio tapes you used a chrome dioxide cassette for so it wouldn't sound like mud and a pretty boffo performance at that with nothing but show-stopping hard rocking pop that may have seemed at odds with what was passing for popular music at the time but sure settles well twennysome years after the fact. Owing more to the CBGB of the mid-seventies than the late-eighties you could say that the Philips band, like the various post-Shirts outfits of the day or Living Colour or even Tulpa (who weren't from NYC but played there enough to count) were more or less settled in a mid-seventies garage band bag with influences drawn from all sorts of places (I spotted a bass-line swipe from Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust" on "Out Of My Life"!). Add to that the sleek three-part harmony vocalese and you got yourself a winner of a bargain bin classic (easy enough to pick up for a mere bag o' shells on ebay!) that should get top mention in the BB section of the third issue of FLASH if that magazine ever does make it out to the public at large!

And if there is anything negative I can say about BINKY PHILIPS its that the disc is only of EP length (fifteen/twenny mins max!) and the music is so energetic that for once I wish the thing was a full-length platter! Too bad Philips got unceremoniously axed from Caroline records (about a week before I called that label on my dime trying to set up an interview!) because if this 'un had only done better perhaps an album would have been coming our way within a few short months...who knows?

Even a fan of the Mee-Mees such as I has gotta admit that some of their releases have been, shall we say, patchy, but when they're popping on all cylinders the Screamin' Mee-Mees are one hot dog of a group that's every bit as good (and as primitive) as they were back in the seventies when bands like this cluttered up the garages and bedrooms of rock & roll maniacs world-wide. Their latest is certainly an all-out effort not only with more of that great addle-minded garage rant that hovers somewhere between early Smegma and the Electric Eels ("Gas For All" and "Slapped By Reality" coming the closest), but the Mee-Mees even engage in some outer-garage-y soundscapades such as on the two "Top Secret Mysterious Unknown Bonus Tracks" which close out the disque (which shoulda been titled "Top Secret Audio Generator Wheeze Straight Outta Hawkwind"!) as well as the eighteen-plus-minute "Flying Skull Fragments" which sorta reminds me of this certain cut that ended up on the first Bruce Hampton solo album back in '76. That one was a doozy and so's this, a contender for "BEST NEW ALBUM OF '07" unless something humongous hits the pad in the ensuing month before the year clocks off for good. Whaddeva, PLASTIC HONG KONG is a solid winner and I'll betcha that it's gonna be one of those perennial pre-beddy-bye time spinners like all the greats, right?
THE BEATLES COMPLETE VOLUME ONE 2-CD set (Secret Trax bootleg, probably of European origin)

It's amazing when one ponders that here we are in 2007 and the Beatles still matter! Of course they matter in different ways to different people...naturally to the hidebound leftover aged sixties flower power types (now in their sixties!) the Beatles still evoke images of dull pacifist meandering polly-tix and the sappy music that usually accompanies such horse-blindered feelygoodisms. True at least this form of armchair radicalism on these greying armpit-haired hippoids' part did give us the likes of a living and breathing genius like David Peel, but frankly as far as these former building/bra-burners go the Beatles are nothing but a handly latch on to a long-gone youth that continues to find solace in ultra-radical social organizations and the Green Party. To them, the Beatles have more to do music-wise with James Taylor, Carole King and that whole whimpering early-seventies scene that was so awash in self-flagellation. But for the rockers, the Beatles were a great mid-sixties impetus, a catalyst for rock & roll that drove an already-hopped-up music into overdrive to the point where even those aforementioned aerie-faeries so into folk and ancient madrigals couldn't ignore it anymore. To these rockin' types, the Beatles were at their prime when they had greasy hair and were playing a particulary potent form of (I hate to say this but) pre-BEATLES garage band rock that really doesn't sound that much different than the records the Fendermen or Astronauts were making at the same time. Try runnin' that by some brain-fried Whole Earth Catalog pensioner type and see what he says!

Dunno if this double disc-set is "thee" complete Beatles from their early Quarrymen days until they started hitting the big time in suits and Moe Howard hairdos, but it will suffice for now. A snippet of the earliest Quarrymen recording extant from '57 shows up, but things really don't get into gear until the '58 acetate of "That'll Be the Day"/"In Spite of all the Danger" which not only shows the penchant for Buddy Holly the British Isles had at the time but a sound that, if honed a bit, could have made the Quarrymen every bit as big as the Rock-a-Teens! The '60 rehearsals are of course boss hoss even when the group gets into these instrumental improvisations on disc 2, but ya gotta admit that the sound these Silver Beetles churn out are really the hot boppin' most that have nothing to do with the usual "pip pip" atty-tood that a lotta the mid-sixties groups seemed to wallow in in order to gobble up them Amerigan bux! And of course the Tony Sheridan outtakes and "Ain't She Sweet"/"Cry For a Shadow" also end up here (nice although not tip top), but these numbers along with the rest of the Beatle tracks appearing here are still exciting in an early-sixties punky sorta fashion that fits in with my own concepts of cheeseburger culture and NANCY more than any decadent Philadelphians (hint!) would care to 'fess up to. Perhaps just as potent as all that music that was "bogging down" the American scene according to way too many wonks out there, the same ones who say that the Beatles saved us dumb yanks from ourselves more or less! Frankly, it is kind of a surprise to think that the same bunch who cranked out awesome wonders along the lines of "Wild Cat" would end up recording such yawn-inspiring offal as "The Long and Winding Road" not to mention "Wild Honey Pie", a number that probably ranks as one of my least-fave Beatle tunes of the batch!

AND IN CLOSING, I gotta say that in many ways things have been looking upupUP here at BLOG TO COMM central over the past few weeks. I can't put my finger on exactly what the reason for my recent jovial nature is, but I sure do feel pretty chipper these days. One of the reasons for my current bouyant state just might be the current presidential campaign of Ron Paul which I guess gives most if not all of us "real" Libertarians, Paleoconservatives or what-have-you some reason to be optomistic about our future. With the battle between Hillary and Barak seemingly like the old Louisiana choice between hanging or firing squad (though I gotta admit to lightening up so to speak on Barak after reading a nice appraisal of the man from longtime conservative columnist and current fave Charley Reese) and the "opposition" frontrunners either Rockefeller Republicans who are ashamed to admit it (Guiliani and Romney) or nothing but a buncha dwarves it's sure sweet seeing Dr. Paul get as far as he has strictly from the big grass-roots push he has been receiving o'er the past few months! That of course is thanks to a strange coalition of the old-time peace Republicans (something I'm sure the likes of Tim Ellison have a hard time believing ever existed in the first place, but yes, the republicans were the party of peace at least until George W.), disgruntled Democrats who have finally seen the light, that portion of the antiwar gang who have some shred of decency left, and just plain fed-ups like I and presumably you smarter readers are at this point in Amerigan History. Pretty strange gathering of the tribes so to speak, but at least every one of these groups has something onna ol' ball which is certainly a sign that there remains some sanity on a political scene that really has become one big amoebic mess of goo sans any semblance of natural common horse sense amongst the entire lot of 'em! Heck, I've read that Paul's even getting big kudos on various on-line polls that are appearing on certain racialist (as opposed to racist) sites though I dunno if that's because of the usual internet Paul supporters or perhaps a wising up to some extent on these peoples' part. True the man doesn't stand that much of a chance to really make a dent despite what all those Lew Rockwell fanatics may want us to believe, and true Paul has faced a great hostility for his smart antiwar opines and near-anarchistic government ideals (NOT the anarchism of way too many communists out there who don't want people to catch on that they really are redski wolves in pacifist sheep's clothing!), but any guy who can go as far as Paul has with his true believer plans for changing this sick world of ours, and manages to put together a coalition of the above disparate types really has gotta be commended. Sorta like what Nixon once did back when he was starting out in in the political arena, only a far better way for us to go if I do say so myself! And with the inevitable choice of Ilsa Koch Jr. battling it out against the reincarnation of Thomas Dewey making for one big sour stomach at least here at BLOG TO COMM central, it's at least nice watching Paul go up and at 'em if only to ease the pain a li'l smidgie bit! Mark my words, Ron Paul is to the new stream of Paleocon/Libertarian political action what Barry Goldwater was to the same movement fifty years back, which only makes me stubborn enough to wanna stick around another fifty years to see how the entire shebang ends up!

On that nice note I'll leave you until whenever. And hey, if you appreciate this blog and think it's the bee's knees don't bother letting me know. I have enough trouble handling all of those "get in touch" comments being left by former comrats of whom I usually want little if anything to do with (my email being a hopefully closely guarded secret) as it is! Not counting Tim Stegall of course, but the rest of you...feh!

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Guess what fanablas, I'm gonna forego the typical Sunday megablitz review orgy I had originally planned (which was to have included a writeup of the Living Colour LIVE FROM CBGB CD as well as the latest Screamin' Mee-Mees disque, not to mention an appreciation of Ron Paul and all the good work he has done despite the greater 'n great odds out there in "politics-as-usual"-land) and in its stead, and for the sake o' variety, scribble on about some of them old bootleg discs (as opposed to disques) that I've been playing in the comfort of my own basement cubby hole as of late! As Dave E. once sang, "Maybe it's the rabies, or maybe it's the flu," but it's more likely the seasonal change to the cooler fall weather here in Western Pee-YAY! that, for who-knows-what reason, has affected my nervous system to the point where I have been having some mighty sweet nostalgic memories flashing back to my early bootleg scrounging days at the long-gone White Wing Records in Niles Ohio! That was the shop where, as astute readers of my various autobiographical reviews and whatnot would know, I first scarfed these suckers up (@ $4.99 for a single album [$5.99 if it had one of those "deluxe black & white covers"], $7.99 for doubles!) as if they were going out of style (or at least as if the FBI were hot on my trail...and yeah, it wasn't like I was gonna exactly expose any of these records to the public at large lest I get hauled in for accepting illicit contraband or somethin'!) and hey, call me an old fogey if you so wish but I can still remember that tingling thrill ol' booger-infested me got on a busy Friday night way back in '75 when I first mozied up to the boot bin at that store eyeballing such notable titles as the Beatles' LIVE AT ATLANTA WHISKEY FLATS and of course the Rolling Stones classic SUMMER RERUNS with that snazzo TV GUIDE spoof on the back thinkin' how great some of these things'd look in my own then-morsel-y collection!

Frankly, looking back from the vantage point of thirtysome years and thousands of dollars later all I can bellow is...boy was I an astute kiddo way back when even if I didn't have the moolah to get alla the tasty platters I so desired! It all kinda reminds me of that great J. R. Williams OUT OUR WAY cartoon from the twenties subtitled "Moments We'd Like To Live Over" only 'stead of the ten-year-old boy drooling over the brand-spanking-new pulp novels of the turn-of-the-century that were being hyped to him by some general store manager it was me all agog over those tattered white-sleeve with insert offerings that look as if they were just shipped in from Vietnam on the bumpiest B-29 still in operation!

A lot has happened in the wild and wooly world of bootlegs since those humble beginning days, and maybe a much older and perhaps not-so-wiser me now has enough of these clandestine wonders in my collection that I could easily make up a special boot-only bin and sorta half-heartedly re-live those great days by thumbing through my own long-lasting collection in the privacy of my own domicile just like I did in days gone by. (I'll even make up my own import and cutout racks up to browse through as well, and to heighten the all-'round effect even burn a lotta candles and incense to cover alla the marijuana smell made by minimum-wage clerks toking between customers!) But until I get up the energy to create such a personal fantasia I'll just amuse y'all with a few reviews of these boots that did grace my turntable as of recent memory.

Contrite me has gotta admit that not all of the bootlegs that I had lined up to listen to (the Ramones' AT YOUR BIRTHDAY PARTY and TEENAGE LOBOTOMY amongst 'em) got their chance to shine in the sun, or at least on the record player, but hopefully I'll be getting to 'em and a whole slew more of these still-forbidden fruits in a month or two when another bootleg listening orgy rolls down the blogschpieler assembly line. But until that grand day comes here's been tickling my ears as far as this illicit (yet still enthralling) gain o' mine goes...


I've often mused (even in the review of the final HOT WACKS bootleg discography mentioned on this very blog) just what was the deal surrounding the by-now legendary Joker label whose low-budgeted product came out of Italy and into the bins of many a stereo-shop back in the seventies anyway? True, at the time there were more than a few of these supposedly "legit" bootleg labels operating to the high-profile extent that record shops featuring nothing but these clandestine items were springing up throughout that boot-shaped (!) nation across the sea, but those labels seemed to deal in nothing but "grown-up" music the likes of opera, jazz and perhaps a little country & western that seemed to slip through whatever copyright cracks these under-the-cover labels could exploit. But as far as I can tell Joker was the first of these European labels to deal in rockism proper, first with their oft-repressed Bob Dylan LITTLE WHITE WONDER trilogy in '72 and later with a number of Hendrix bedroom jams and a Led Zeppelin live platter that avid collectors who coulda paid $4.99 for it way back when are now content to dish out ten times as much for.

Anyhoo this joint Beatles/Stones boot (one side each!) came out around the same time as the Dylan set, and yeah I can recall seeing this 'un popping up in seventies bins packaged in a rather staid early-sixties-styled block lettering cover that looked a lot like something more akin to yer standard 1963 tossout "Greatest Hits" package than a bootleg of any sorts. I got the early-eighties reissue which, although lacking the flimsy cover complete with about a thousand or so artifacts of the Joker catalog listed on the back (everything from opera and dixieland to Chairman Mao vinyl documentaries and Spanish Falangist marching songs...these guys had all the bases covered!) does have this garish full-color piece o' art which looks as if it were drawn with a brand new package of magic markers by some rockin' tenth-grade gal on the back of her notebook in study hall sometime inna mid-sixties (see illustration above). To me such cheap-o styling's all part of the charm ('n perhaps a lot more representative'n the late-seventies vintage Dylan snaps on Joker's LITTLE WHITE WONDER reissues), and a release like BEATLES/STONES LIVE certainly was a boon for those of you who missed out on those early Trademark of Quality bootlegs which originally featured this material and at non-collector's prices as welll!

BEATLES/STONES LIVE does have a crackly sound that pops throughout sure to upset the snoots amongst us, and true a good portion of the Beatles side has since been released legit-like or on better-sounding Cee-Dee boots, but for vinyl luvvers like me a once-in-awhile spin of these early Beatles and Stones numbuhs sure brings back them mellow memories of rabid seventies/eighties album scoop-ups that only goes to show ya that those days of yore were a lot hepper'n a lotta the seventies naysayers out there make it out to be, at least as far as finding rare booty material like this in the strangest places goes! And yeah, I gotta admit that in many ways both the Beatles and Stones sound more alive and intense on these tossaway BBC session sides than they do on the legit takes (a moot point perhaps) and hey, I dunno if you're the kinda guy who gets them throb-thrills rehashing this forty-plus-year-old mop-top-pop-slop, but for geriatrics like me hearing the Beatles crank out a proto-mania "Misery" or Jagger belt out "Carol" in a 1963 sorta frameset sure makes a lot more sense'n listening to these same fogies a good four decades later, or a lotta the quap that makes up the body and soul of pseudointellectual college boy underground rock these sorry days as well!

The Rolling Stones-STONES IN THE PARK (Swinging Pig)

While the original bootleg scene was fraught with low-fidelity tape sources and quickie churn-out rubber-stamped or insert sleeves and consisted mostly of recordings pilfered from the bigger recordings names in the biz (with some cult/fringe acts included inna mix, but not many), the late-seventies saw the beginnings of a new bootleg era not only with an explosion of higher quality product (cleaner sound, full-color covers) but more and more discs featuring a vast plethora of outta-the-loop acts that certainly couldn't sell as much bootleg-wize as a fresh spanking new Paul McCartney tour platter but fugs like us sure benefitted! I mean, back in '69 there was a rumor of a Velvet Underground bootleg that could only be found on the west coast floating about, and even the Rubber Dubber people were alledged to have released a Thirteenth Floor Elevators double set (!) while a '71 issue of JAMZ told of a plan by some Detroit White Panther rejects to release an MC5 boot with the then-rare single sides and tracks from the legit albums! And as we all know, by the time the eighties rolled around all three of these acts had bonafide bootleg material available and from the same sources that pumped all those Beatles and Pink Floyd platters atcha! I mean, who woulda thunk it?

Naturally the Stones are big-deal rockers and don't fit into the above bray o' mine, but at least this product of theirs came out right about the same time boots began making this way from cheap-crankouts to authentic works o' art. I got this Stones Hyde Park disc (released on the post-TMOQ Swinging Pig label way back inna early-eighties) and many more items from this Pittsburgh-oriented mailorder bootleg biz that was sellin' up a whole load of the European stock of the day and, for once in my life I decided to splurge a little and actually scored a nice stack of booty that even twennysome years later I've yet to regret! This 'un's the (as they say) legendary Brian Jones Memorial Concert recorded at Hyde Park '69 with a great collage cover featuring the infamous Jones-as-nazi photo along with snaps of him playing sitar etc., not forgetting a touching photo of his tombstone, coupled with so-so sound and a varying performance from Jagger and his lackeys that actually does have some appeal despite being kinda slipshod in its own strange way. Fortunately the opening poem written by that incest-mad Percy Shelley was lopped off, but the general performance through old faves, blooze chooze and a side-long "Sympathy For the Devil" ranges from hard-on intense to middling yet sturdy enough to suit 'cha even if you're not a crazed Stones aficionado. Casual observers such as I find these things a once-in-awhile reminder, but as you'd guess I do find things such as Rolling Stone bootlegs rather pleasurable in their own strange, quirky ways.
Iggy Pop-SUCK ON THIS 2-LP set (Ruthless Rhymes)

Ahhh, here's one that really dredges up the old memories of the great Iggy Pop comeback putsch of 1977! I wrote a bit about it in my "Iggy, We Hardly Knew Ye" article in BLACK TO COMM #19 (now hopelessly out-of-print which is why I didn't link you up to the BACK ISSUES
post like I normally would in a vain attempt to get ya to buy some of these much-needed-by-you fanzines of might and worth!), and frankly, who other'n Helen Keller could've missed the grand return of Iggy (accompanied by his on/off bosom buddy David Bowie) to the world of recording and performing because as far as I can remember this seemingly-major event was on the lips and even tongue of many a rockism fanatic back inna day. True when most of the diehard old Pop fans eventually heard Ig's comeback disc THE IDIOT they threw up their arms in total disgust especially after expecting RAW POWER PART TWO all those years, but I'm sure even the most turned-off punque out there got a few jollies not only watching the Popster tell Dinah Shore that he "wiped out the sixties" on her AM coffee clatch talk show (a program I watched incessantly summer '77 if only to catch that particular episode but all I got was Corbett Monica!) but to read Jane Scott wax eloquently about the man in her Friday CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER column! That piece must've been a real feather in the Iggy Pop cap because not only did it get a featured billing, but the thang came complete with a staff artist's rendition of the man done in the same "establishment" fine pen and ink sketch style that the same artist used for his portrayal of Greg Shaw which accompanied an Anastasia Pantsios piece on the venerable Bomp! founder a few months later!

Most of SUCK ON THIS was taken from a WMMS-FM recording of Pop's March '77 Agora concert that Scott's piece was undoubtedly written to boost up, although given the quality of the obviously fifth-generation tape used by Ruthless Rhymes (the bootleg company probably best known for their use of the infamous "buy this magazine or we'll shoot this dog!" NATIONAL LAMPOON cover on their labels!) ya coulda fooled me. Sound is particularly muddy although the performance is strictly late-seventies Pop, meaning that you're gonna get the Stooges "best of" package along with the usual IDIOT material all done in that toned-down post-Stooge style which is OK, but frankly I can see just how alla them longtime Stooge-watchers'd up their noses at this stuff in favor of something more meaty like METALLIC KO or even that low-fidelity NIGHT OF THE IGUANA boot that sounded like it was recorded off a pay phone. Side four, taken from a Santa Monica show late-77 (LUST FOR LIFE-era), comes off way better'n that's an obvious audience recording which would only lend one to believe...wha' the hey. Of great importance to the solo Pop fan but for me, Iggy without the Stooges is kinda like San Francisco without the gerbils, right Neo?
Various Artists-FUNF FIGUREN AUS VERSCHIEDENEN MATERIALIEN (Bebeck, of European origin as far as I can tell)

This 'un and its "sister" release LAS BOTAS DRACIOSAS MARCHAN SOBRE POLONIA! seem to have been custom made for the same breed of seventies rock fan who began the decade absorbing all of the newer innovation to come offa the racks only to fall head first into the entire punk-wave brouhara of the latter portion of them days, eventually spending the eighties chomping down on the fetid remains of those rather invigorating times that were a lot worse'n any of you bloggers would care to 'fess up to. FUNF FIGUREN...'s a grab-bag of then-rare gunk just made for what was left of the early-eighties gnu wave audience, not only with the inclusion of both sides of the pre-Stooges Iguanas single (which was a rarity at the time I must admit) but more of the obviously-overdocumented '77-era Iggy/Bowie band (with Iggy even singing the Bowie biggie "Fame"), Roxy Music at their first-LP height doing a particularly noisy "Ladytron" and some DAF stuff that just ain't as nervewracking as their debut platter, which methinks I should check out on the reissue market one of these days. In many ways this album sure brings back memories, not only of just how exciting seventies underground rock could be, but just how meaningless the entire post-post-punk/New York/Amerigan underground rock scene got once the rabid seventies clocked into the dullsville eighties! After being bombarded with Stooge-rock, post-Velvets trauma and no wave and then having to settle for the likes of what eventually did transpire was almost like being in a nudist colony for ten years and then having to get all excited over ankles again!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tall Dwarfs-FORK SONGS CD (Cloud Recordings)

Remember the eighties? I sure do, and every day I make a special attempt to forget 'em! If you ask me (which you probably wouldn't but since you're reading this just humor me) the eighties were one of the most unfun, dull and outright contradicting times that one could ever have the displeasure of living through, with squeaky-clean antiseptic entertainment and general ginchiness on one hand (a sorry state o' affairs that I valiantly tried to fight off with my own fanzine noodlings of the time!) and a sick decadence on the other that seemed even more nefarious than the late-seventies sleaze of Larry Flynt and child pornography (and their defenders) that unfortunately led to all of that horrid NAMBLA/Queer Nation and VILLAGE VOICE-sponsored sexual role elitism that never did get washed outta the Amerigan/World mindset like it shoulda. Television was pretty much rotted out for good at least on the network level (though the indie scene was still ripe with fifties/sixties classics and even PBS was hopping with old moom pitchers and perhaps a Groucho Marx or George Burns tossed into the usual heady mix!) and if it weren't for the Monkees revival in '86 I don't think I'd've dared to go near a radio that only seemed to play Genesis! However, conscious-of-other-peoples'-feelings me has gotta admit that if you happened to think that the eighties were a particularly boffo time in your own personal existence I have nothing against you. I mean, there were a few oases of gulcherally-significant reasons for not slittin' the ol' throat during those rather wasted times, and guess what but rock & roll was just one of 'em.

And when it came to that good ol' rock & roll there were plenny of spiffy acts that were comin' outta the various garages and basements of mid-Ameriga/World worth the time and energy to seek out. True most of 'em seemed to go woosh past the consciousnesses of the same people who would normally eat this self-produced blare up, but even a gonk like myself'll admit that searchin' for such under-the-radar wares was almost as good as finding 'em wherever they may be! But then again way too many of these eighties underground platters continue to remain way-elusive, and frankly I'm not planning on dying until I finally get hold of a copy of Lul's INSIDE LITTLE ORAL ANNIE which I have been vainly searching for these past twenny years with nil success!

But at least some of the better groups to lurch forth from the froth of eighties complacency have made it to my eardrums for which I am thankful, these Tall Dwarfs being amongst 'em. And if it weren't for such acts as the Dwarfs along with a wide array of bubbling-amongst-the-underground aggregates (the Droogs and Halo of Flies not forgetting a handful more come immediately to mind) who knows, I might actually have taken that big plunge off Lemming Mountain thus denying an entire generation of rockism fans not only twenny-five whopping fanzine issues but three good years of personalism disguised as the very blogposts you are now devouring with abounding glee, and I'll bet you're pissed off about that, right?

Anyway, the Tall Dwarfs hailed from the land of New Zealand which had a slight reputation for a certain breed of underground rock whimsy and charm at the time, though considering how little if any I've heard of bands other than the Dwarfs to have popped outta that island/nation at the time (only the Membranes and Verlaines, both of whom remain a specifically blocked memory) I really can't comment. But at the time I sure wanted to hear 'em all. Too bad the lack of money (and the usual lack o' notoriety that woulda guaranteed the entire Flying Nun catalog heading my way considering that I "was" the Toby Mamis of the eighties) helped keep this budding rockism fan in the dark with regards to the entire eighties NZ world of post-Barrett mimicry!

At least I did get hold of these bozos and boy was I glad about that! And I'm glad that I had the smarts to pick up this 2005 Cee-Dee edition of some great Tall Dwarfs material if only to remind me as to what an entertaining delight these New Zealanders used to be especially during a time when the entire concept of rock & roll seemed to be torn twixt pretensions on both a mainstream and underground level. But (thus tossing the entire concept of the Dwarfs as an eighties creation pure and simple!) the reason this duo succeeds the way they do is because the Dwarfs have nada to do with the eighties music-wise, in fact borrowing their entire oeuvre from various sixties/seventies accomplishments making them stars of that decade in the face of a whole lotta conformist adversity!

So thankfully there's very little eighties moosh here bub! And not only that, but the duo of Alec and Chris really know how to take their influences and stretch 'em like Robert Mapplethorpe's sphincter as they do Syd here, Lou there and then (gulp!) Donovan, and when you're not looking Marc, Kevin and Big Star get slipped into the mix as well. If there's anything here that even resembles some graspable identifying point from the punk era of bright new ideas it might be the likes of Mark Beer or even Brian Sands and their smart pop twists and turns for a new audience. If the Tall Dwarfs were from England and around during the same period that Beer and Sands were recording their various masterpieces they mighta put out a single for Rough Trade if they got lucky, these Dwarfs being pop-crazy enough with a strong sense of UK addled to appeal to the same sort of audience that put the likes of Marc and Syd in the charts only a few years earlier. Maybe not, but the fact that we have all of these great Tall Dwarfs recs/Cee-Dee's to listen to is a great consolation considering all of the forgotten talent that sorta got wooshed under the rug of eighties underground talent while a lotta lesser names grabbed all of the accolades and glory that the Dwarfs shoulda at least latched onto even a little smidgie bit.

So if smart seventies pop with electronic and tape loop effects and a general demeanor that sounds like the best 1969 album that Harvest never released with a Monty Python sense of something completely different tends to fill your bill, try picking FORK SONGS up...and if you do so you'll even get the inclusion of their 1987 Extended Play DOGMA slapped on at the end. It's a real wowzer with a strange spoken-word piece similar to "The Gift" and numbuhs that sounds like they were taken from one of those 1969 foreign films that you weren't allowed to watch on the late show back when you wuz a kid!