Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Etron Fou Leloublan-LES TROIS FOU'S PERDEGAGNENT (AU PAYS DES...) CD (G&R Essential Music, Russia)

When I picked up this Cee-Dee (purely outta curiousity) I really didn't know what to expect. Believe it or not, but your humble blogger has about as much knowledge about the "Rock in Opposition" groups of the seventies (even Henry Cow, the most opposing rock band of all!) as he does of advanced calculus (or anything else that's growing on his teeth) mainly because...well there were always these other exciting groups worthy of my time and what little money I had and it wasn't like I had an opportunity to seek everything out. But I'm always on the go to try something different (no, not that you thilly thing!) so's I decided to pluck down some dinero for this recent reissue of the second platter by the French sax/bass/percussion trio Etron Fou Leloublan just to see for myself whether or not all of those innerlectual articles on these supposedly "austere" continental groups that were popping up in OP and TROUSER PRESS were worth paying attention to in the first place!

The good part: Etron Fou's use of a variety of Gallic and international starting points in creating their own style which, while sounding "French" enough owes loads to not only the jazz rock likes of Magma but people as diverse as Philip Glass and Captain Beefheart. And like Magma or Beefheart you can't call it strict avant garde jazz or even progressive rock (or at least prog as in "classic" rock ELP/Yes/Genesis mellotronica), but something that while still in the realm of brainy anal-retentiveness does have a certain swing to it that makes for good foot kick-up listening. I'm sure these guys wowed the audience at CBGB back in '82.

The bad part: the Zappa influence which not only seems to permeate a good portion of this European progressive rock but seems to overwhelm the more "freaked out" vocal stylings just as much as Zappa's own lack of personal hygiene knocked out more than a few groupies. I mean it's bad enough listening to Zappa's own "bizarre" musical/societal jibes and "digs" but it sounds even worse spoken in a foreign tongue! But at least these Leloublans don't stoop to the slick fusion music of mid-seventies Zappa, and personally I felt this engaging enough that perhaps some more of these late-seventies RIO platters are in order, right?

UGLY THINGS #26 (a rock & roll publication!)

Although I only got the thing yesterday, I thought I'd better tell you all about the latest issue of UGLY THINGS before some creep out there trying to garner up some blogger brownie points does. And man-oh-man is this one yet another winner! Remember when you wuz a kid and you'd stay buried in your bedroom for a good two or three hours just pourin' through the latest comic books, or back in the eighties when you'd finally get the new issue of KICKS or THE NEXT BIG THING and nothing short of an atomic bomb up your wazoo could rouse you from the intense concentration of finding out more about your fave rock and roll icons than you ever knew existed? Well this new issue of UGLY THINGS'll not only bring back fond memories of a spendthrift youth but keep you locked inside your abode for a good four nights let alone hours straight with only time out for pee-breaks! (Which doesn't matter since you can always bring the magazine in there witcha!) And really, if you don't salivate at the thought of holding one of these throbbing young issues between the palms of your sweaty hands then you don't know what rockism means, an' it's a lot more'n what you'll find in a wide variety of newsstand mags claimin' to deal with the heart and soul of "rock music" (or "rap" or "jazz" or "what-have-you") these days that's for sure!

I'm sure that there are many people out there in real-life-land who will tell you that UGLY THINGS is a fault-filled, unworthy periodical not worthy of your time or moolah, but these people are just about as wrong as I am straight! I dunno where these naysayers, and they are out there, are coming from because the way I look at it UGLY THINGS is perhaps the ONLY rockism mag worth reading these days! If you can, imagine a combination of (WHO PUT THE) BOMP!/DENIM DELINQUENT/BACK DOOR MAN/(insert one of many seventies/eighties worthies here) and multiply the energy by ten and you've got a typical ish of UGLY THINGS, especially in the way it writers hand it to you all matter-of-factly w/o the b.s. and extraterraneous hokum used for filler by way too many rock "critics" using music as a stepping stone to a career writing douche bag instructions. The people of UGLY THINGS come from the suburbs and they know what this music means to people still living there, which is why UGLY THINGS is probably more relevant today than it was when it started up a full quarter-century back!

And yeah, it's a given that the best rock and roll was laid down in the past, and UGLY THINGS editor Mike Stax knows that which is why he's milking the entire sixties/seventies punk era for all its worth and much more! That's the reason UGLY THINGS is such a success and why you should be reading a copy of this mandatory mag as soon as possible before you turn into another Robert Christgau or something. And you wouldn't want that to happen to you now, would you?

Number 26, like the previous killer-diller, is just chock-fulla loads of pertinent and life-enriching rock and roll information and if you think I absorbed every shard, every little factoid of information that was presented within the thing after only a good four hours straight readin' the thing then you're even screwier than I originally thought! However I gotta say that after last night's marathon my head kinda felt like that guy on THE WILD WILD WEST's whose own cranium swelled up because he had gathered so much knowledge that his brain just had to expand! Yes, UGLY THINGS is just that much info-packed, and one mere issue has more real rock and roll history packed in its pages than the entire leather-bound collection of ROLLING STONE has in a good forty years worth and that's including all the ones where they got Lester Bangs, Mike Saunders, Meltzer and Patti Smith to help out with the writin'!

Loads of goodies here, like the 1988 interview with Rob Tyner where the former MC5 frontman got to let his opinions about past White Panther glories be known (and not so glories as well...seems he still had a bit of a mad-on about John Sinclair as did some of the other members of that troupe!) as well as loads of hot, in-depth and potentially hazardous to your underwear pieces on the Sons of Adam, the Pop Rivets (Billy Childish pre-Milkshakes), Pretty Things, Artwoods, Trees, and even the Cedars from Lebanon (!) get a few pages in here which only goes to show you that when Mike Stax and company pay homage to the sixties they go out of their way to do so! And add to that the music, book and DVD reviews and you got it...a good reason not to go out for at least the next seven or so weeks and save your money so's you can purchase a good hunka junk that's being reviewed or advertised...things you NEED 'stead of those bare essentials your parents were always tellin' you about!

And although it's really too early to call, I gotta say that my favorites article in this ish just has to be Johan Kugelberg's hot rundown on "punk before punk" which is mainly a good excuse for him to rant and rave about his favorite proto-punk music and imagery, everything from the Electric Eels to TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE with a whole lotta rare records stuck in-between. Given how much my head's still stuck in '73 like O. Rex's let's just say this piece's gonna be the re-re-re-reread of '08 because there's just so much good high energy here to waste on just one go! But then again, I'll read just about anything on Rocket From The Tombs even if it's those words printed over and over on a sheet of paper...I'm that stoked!

And OK, I know that a few of you readers will want me to write something NEGATIVE about this ish if only to show that I'm not in the back pocket of the one called Stax so...(ulp!) here I go! Actually, I gotta tell you one writer who wrote a whole lotta reviews about Beatle books and DVDs this go 'round is way too much hippydippy 16-pin up 1970 trendy for this mag's great pages. I mean, anybody who would want to take a hunk of nauseating Beatle hagiography like THE US VS. JOHN LENNON and write about it in such glowing, teenage revolutionary terms straight out of a 1960s junior-high underground paper seems part 'n parcel to the unquestioning Beatle brigade of hidebound sixties idealists that I thought UGLY THINGS fought so valiantly against! Sheesh, those reviews where the Beatles get unmercifully bashed for straying from their rock roots sure come off a lot more smooth to my digestive tract, and I am not one of those Beatle-hating guys you sometimes still see either! However, I'm sure this particular person is very nice and I certainly don't wish her any ill will. How's that for an example of just what a kind a generous sort of person I can be when I put my mind to it! And that one page "article" on Les Rallizes Denudes...yikes!!! Everything in that obviously cranked-out tossaway is something I knew about already so where's the originality??? I know that Mike Stax is always on the lookout for "name" writers and he did earn another feather in his cap by getting none other than Gene Sculatti to do a few DVD and book reviews, but what on earth possessed him to include that Denudes piece as well as a half-baked review of some Elliot Murphy demos other than he just felt sorry for some schmuck down on his luck! Well, Stax always did have a kind heart for rock writers and stray dogs I guess, though I wonder how he got this far in life giving bums like that guy precious space in his million-selling mag! You better watch out Mike, or the next thing you know you'll be losing money hand over fist trying to sell your unwanted magazine to people who think you've lost your marbles!

But why should any of the above critique really concern Mike anyways? According to the man hisself, UGLY THINGS is bringing in enough revenue that he actually quit his long-running dayjob at the dungheap to devote his full time to such a moolah-churning endeavor as this little cottage-cheese industry and to that I say...lucky dawg! Let's just hope that we'll continue to see more and more of these UTs tossed our way as the months roll on, because frankly with KICKS just keep getting harder to find and the majors either losing their importance long ago if they had any to begin with it's not like we have that much of a choice, eh?

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Yes I am sadder than Elton John on the day the sailors leave port, for just this very afternoon (while doing a little reconnaissance checking out the enemy) I discovered something that, although I prefer not to know, I must for the sake of not only myself but for all humanity. Remember a few months back when none other than Jay Whatshisface, that Hinman guy who engaged in a load of slander and half-truths directed against not only myself but my highly-underrated BLACK TO COMM fanzine said he was going to deep-six his second attempt at a music blog which was titled "Detailed Twang" because it just took up too much of ol' whitecollar's time and energy, thus relieving me of some of the inner-mounting pressure of having such a loathsome "competitor" even if only a tad bit? Well, as some of you may know it didn't take long for the "man" to create a movie review blog called "Celluloid Hut" which deals with that I would call the artsy-fartsiest of the uppercrust arthouse flicks (with a few slummers tossed in of course) which I guess would be more suited to the blogster's "talents". Nothing of my concern true; after all I shall never fear that Jay would review a good Bowery Boys flick on this particularly tiffany-esque blog even though the idea of him writing not only about microbrewery beer and hoity-toity moom pitchers still doesn't do my guts any good!

However, in the sage words of Bob Dylan "now is the time for your tears" because (get this!) contrary to his word, Jay actually went and reactivated his allegedly dead 'n buried "Detailed Twang" blog and is (shudder!) once again writing about all of his favorite "post-punk" amerindie/whatever alternative muzik drivel, polluting the blogosphere with his oh-so-precocious ramblings regarding quaff that a good portion of us knew enough to trample over whilst heading for those great sixties garage band and seventies proto-punk platters that remain near and dear to each and every one of our pea-pickin' hearts! It is a frightening experience akin to that legend where when one villain is slain THREE pop up to give us even more of a hassle! Only this ain't some myth straight outta JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS but for real and that's enough to scare a full grown rockism-inspired blogger such as myself!

I know I shouldn't react like this...after all, in the wild and wooly world of rockism people like Hinman are what one would call a flea-bite on the pockmarked derma of ineffectual rock criticism. But sheesh, after the number that not only Jay but his spiritual butt buddy Dave Lang did on me a few years back (and with the lack of any decent justice or at least apologies being emitted from their stodgy stiff upper lipped beings) you can bet that I am still thirsting for some fresh hides on my den wall! I get that way sometimes even though justice delayed or justice denied for that matter is par for the course as far as my life goes, but that doesn't mean that I can't still LUST for a bitta that elusive justice with a nice hunka revenge tossed in for good measure!

And so here we are, with Jay's three to my one blog 'n who knows what inanities this faux-libertarian (who rah-rahs for none other than Benito Guiliani while the real libertarian/traditional conservative candidate RON PAUL continues to dodge the slings and arrows of the posthippie libertineians at REASON) will be spouting off about a wide range of musical philosophy (or myself for that matter!) as the weeks roll on. It certainly is cause for distress in the hearts of any true BLOG TO COMMer out there in internetland, and you can bet that there will be many a sleepless night here at headquarters as I toss and turn beneath my Beaver Cleaver "dooner" recently won on ebay thinking of ways to "off" this evil man of such vile repute. I got it, how about a nail bomb disguised as a package from Chuck Warner! He'll be sure to fall for that 'un and who knows, perhaps that yank of the string'll be enough for those flying shards to permeate not only Jay but some of his visiting San Franciscan alternative stage door Johnnies who come over to listen to those rare eighties offerings the guy made his name with writing 'em up in his own inimitiable style during that long hard climb up the shaky ladder to rock criticism heaven. Now wouldn't that be just ducky!

But until that eventful day I just guess my heart will have to bear the sorrowful knowledge that Mr. Jay once again is out there dumping his printed toxins into the well of civilized blogpatter and there's nada I can do about it. Now I know how Dick Tracy felt when he hadda let the Mumbles Quintet free due to lack of evidence, and frankly unlike Tracy I don't think that the evil guy's gonna come to justice in this particular saga! But despite my the heavy weight upon my fragile and deeply sensitive self I will soldier on and give you another brief-yet-pow-r-toch-esque "Comm-A-Rama" just oozing with pertinent info regarding some of my recent Cee-Dee acquisitions. It's the least I can do for you, the face-front fan of this tried and true weblog, right?


Todd Rundgren-SOMETHING/ANYTHING 2-CD set (Bearsville/Rhino)

The votes are in, or shall I say that the "vote" is in for only one person dared let his opinion as to whether or not I should've purchased this double-disque set be known (my interest was piqued after reading Fred Whitlock's "Todd Rundgren is a Punk" article in SPOONFUL #2 natch!). Said voter said "go for it!" and so I did, although other than for the boss pop single "I Saw the Light" I actually found very little on this two record set that tickled my fancy, or anything else for that matter. The cheap-sounding Woody's Truckstop tapes starting off side four (using archaic elpee lingo) were of course fun enough for mid-sixties necromancers like myself and I kinda liked some of the more power-poppish moments that were scattered about (even the Wolfman Jack tribute!), but SOMETHING/ANYTHING seems to bypass the promised punk for a more early-seventies SoCal appeal that doesn't do my system any good. In fact SOMETHING/ANYTHING comes off like typical 1972 Warner Brothers cool-teen hipster fodder from the laid-back Los Angeles industry-rock feel to the "aren't I so clever?" instrumental whiz of a Frank Zappa album, and if I wanted to hear that I woulda gone for their albums 'stead of this! A few more spins might have SOMETHING/ANYTHING growing on me, but really didn't Brian Eno and Brian Sands for that matter do this troubled multi-instrumentalist rock genius trip a lot better?

Saucers-WHAT WE DID CD (Grand Theft Audio, try Bomp!)

Any act following on the heels of Mirrors and Rocket From The Tomb's bound to come off like an episode of SHIRLEY TEMPLE THEATER after a few hours of TWILIGHT ZONE, but despite the anticipation of letdown I must say that these Saucers were an excellent late-seventies bunch that took the best that the early-seventies proto-punk era hadda offer (Cle first wave "demonic intensity", Roxy/Eno, Sparks...) and made sure it didn't become obsolete in the anything-goes latter portion of that decade. From Craig Bell's Cle re-dos ("Frustration", "Muckraker", "Annie" and the excell-o "Slow Down") to Malcolm Marsden's pure pop for someoneorother you can't go wrong with this Golden Age of Underground Rock collection that'll bring back tingly memories of just how great it was hearing all this long-gone energy the first time 'round. And if you think I didn't buy it because of the presence of one Seth Tiven (future Dumptruck/ex-NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS scribbler) and all of the psychic vibrations emanating from my earlier writeup on his brother then you'd be wrong as usual!

Television Personalities-DON'T CRY BABY....IT'S ONLY A MOVIE CD (Damaged Goods)

I know I'm treading upon Hinman territory writing about post-seventies alternafashion music such as this, but since I was "in" on the whole Rough Trade revolution whilst it was happening exploring the depths of Swell Maps and Raincoats discs while Jay was still questioning the existence of Santa Claus I feel that I have every RIGHT to pontificate on the TV Personalities since it's just as much MY music, if not more, than his. But still, Hin' may have the last laugh on this 'un because DON'T CRY BABY sounds like one of those TV Personalities albums I just hated back in the nineties but I'll admit sounds pretty nice, if sparse here in the late oh-ohs. From the covers of Richman and Harrison (!) to Treacy's own sloparound on old Velvets/Barrett riffage this does make for a once-in-awhiler that's just as tender-yet-snide as all those great TVP/Times singles I spent the very early-eighties snatching up because they were a lot easier to find than the real things (John's Children, Creation...)!
Robbie Basho-VENUS IN CANCER CD (Tompkin's Square)

Argh! More late-sixties nudity on elpee covers! At least this ain't one of those strategic hide-the-goodies sleeves that way too many chickenhearts dished out at the time, but come on, just what hath John Lennon wrought when he'n Yoko dared to be The Bare Hair Bunch anyways! Nuttin' but a whole load of copycats jumping in on the nude trend of the day (and at least Yoko looked a lot better'n the twiggy they got to post on this 'un!), but I ain't interested in "poozle pushing product" as Lester Bangs once said but the magnif sounds found herein! And as far as Robbie Basho goes this is some pretty enveloping music that this long-gone stringbender's put out for our listening pleasure. Pretty much like his earlier outings on Takoma with that rich eastern-tuned guitar playing that sounded so full it coulda been an entire band, not to mention Basho's patented vocalese which comes off like a western take on Indian raga-moan. Works wonders especially during those late-night kick-uppa-feet times when you wanna forget the stress and strain o' the day. A must for thost of you who, like me, began following Basho only after we first heard Edgar Breau's recommendations, but frankly I'll still trample over Basho and even John Fahey platters to get to my NEW "world music" guitar fave, mainly Sandy Bull!

Friday, January 25, 2008


Got yet another bootleg bundle to tell you rabid readers about, and I got it from this on-line record dealer called Saturn Records. They're a pretty good bunch to deal with, so I recommend that you hit their site to see exactly what kinda wares tickle your own personal fancy. And what's best about dealing with these guys is that I didn't have to dish out that much moolah to get this trio of clandestine digitalis, and you can bet that I'm glad I did (part with the fresh fish, that is) because there's a lotta good high energy music from the oft-loathed past comin' outta the vaults and collections of many a tight-fisted tapemonger right now getting slapped onto silver, and if you're one of those guys who really longs to hear way more'n what yer fave artist has to offer you legal-wise then it's always beneficial to seek out a dealer like Saturn who dabbles in these items and makes 'em all the more available to us peons out there! And like I said many a year back, we're now really heading into a Golden Age of bootlegs where, thanks to the proliferation of computers, shared files and a little sneakiness just about anyone can become a bootlegger, and a pretty hightailin' one at that. Ah yes, bootlegs have come a long way from those insert-sleeved items stuck inna back of headshops nationwide, eh?

One caveat for all you emptors out there...these "fan recordings" that I have purchased have turned out not to be the originals but CD-R copies of long-gone titles which I know might bug a few of you purists out there who hate these rather inexpensive knockoffs being sold at 1000% profit. And yeah, it shoulda bugged me as well especially considering I didn't have any prior warning that these weren't the real McCoys (just like when Midnight was sellin' a buncha bootleg copies back in the nineties and lettin' on as if they were the actual kahunas---good thing they hauled that fraud Martignon off for sellin' the things, the jerk!) but since I'm so grateful to be getting these items into my grubby paws and even grubbier ears it's not like I'm doin' any complainin'! But in the future, please be sure to inquire before dishing your hard-begged moolah out for something your six-year-old nephew could do for the price of a mere Three Musketeers bar because there really is no excuse for paying such high prices for such second-generation wares!

Can-MOTHER SKY (knockoff of an Asteroid label boot of Japanese origin); FUTURE DAYS AND PAST NIGHTS (originally released on Keep An Eye Out Sounds)

Although I never dreamed that I'd ever utter these words from my lips (or from a typewriter keyboard) I must now admit it...Can are one of my favorite rock & roll groups of ALL TIME!!! And yeah, for a guy who thirty years back thought of 'em only as just anudder one of those import-bin aggregates that had neat-o album covers you could say that I've certainly come a long way (in an equally long amount of time) in expressing my deep gratitude for this long-suffering band. Yes, to me Can are pretty much everything from a smart group with "progressive" overtones to a multi-faceted act that dabbled in everything from electronica to heavy metal (in the purest CREEM/fanzine sense), and if I do tell you that these guys were even TRUE early-seventies-styled PUNK ROCKERS (again, in the purest CREEM/fanzine trad) please don't treat me too harshly. But I certainly do believe it!

The Asteroid label which released the MOTHER SKY CD also released a Can offering called UNOPENED way back in the nineties. That one, with a CHECKMATE-styled swirling psychedelic cover, featured a bunch of Malcolm Mooney-era outtakes most of which were unheard by anybody's let alone my ears and I am forever grateful (to my own sense of spendthriftitude) for picking that 'un up when it was readily available during the last great rush of bootlegs pre-crackdown in the mid-nineties. At the time I nixed on the other Asteroid Can offering MOTHER SKY (which, not surprisingly, also has a swirling psychosockic cover!) for who knows what reason, but thanks to Saturn I do get a second chance and I guess for that I should be grateful. Y'see, this 'un's a keen document of a live '71 gig showing the group fronted by none other'n the equally-infamous Damo Suzuki and boy is it a kazoomer of a gig that no real Can maniac, or even camp follower, should be mitoudt.

Recorded live in Berlin during June of '71, MOTHER SKY captures the TAGO MAGO period of Can perfectly, and even with the typically skewered audience recording (electric piano and guitar out in front with drums and bass buried) this gives one a great idea of just what the Cansters were able to cook up for unsuspecting Krauts back inna day when Germany was starting to develop its own rockism tongue. Suzuki screeches it out like a nutcase just ready to be committed to the local boobyhatch...if you liked those vocal "histronics" that he was ranting and raving kinda like Andy Kaufman doing that bizarroid Third World nightclub act that got my mother all unnerved you'll love this. The rest of the group ain't no slouch either, with Michael Karoli's guitar kareening all over the place like you knew it would while Irmin Schmidt's electric piano is pure abstract expression sorta like it was on TAGO MAGO's side three dive into total incomprehensibility. (And I'm sure that bassist Holger Czukay and drummer Jaki Liebezeit are in fine form as well, even if they do get crunched outta the thing!) And dig that version of the title track which many consider Can's ultimate moment, their "Sister Ray" which outdoes that 'un because there's a bass guitar in the mix! (Well, that's what Hot Scott Fischer said, and who am I to argue with the spokesman for a generation?) Kinda reminds me of what Iggy circa. '68 mighta been able to do fronting the Velvet Underground circa. '66 if it were recorded by Thomas Edison circa. '76...that's 1876 to you...

You might prefer the FUTURE DAYS AND PAST NIGHTS disque more, this 'un being recorded during Can's last great phase in the mid-seventies just before they became yet another rock casualty case like so many others in their European rock strata. The credits say that Suzuki's doing the vocals on this 17th of May '75 UK gig but I thought he was long-gone from the fold by this time. But I could be wrong. Still, some of the vocalese on this mostly-instrumental set do seem kinda Damo-esque...perhaps guitarist Karoli, Can's new designated warbler, was doing the imitations? Haven't played my copy of SOON OVER BABALUMA in ages so I can't tell ya if that's him or not. Still, it sure makes for a good excuse to dig that 'un out!

Unlike a buncha you more primitive-induced creatures out there I can settle back with this edition of Can and purge myself of the everyday doldrums with relative ease. Irmin Schmidt was one of the few rock keyboardists who could tackle the whole array of synthesizers and other rock gimmicks and not come out looking like a studious Keith Emerson or Rick Wakeman brainiac, in fact using those various boxes o' wires in ways that pretty much were au contraire to the whole idea of what progressive rock was supposed to be about. So the electronics are, shall I say tasteful and nothing that seems especially geared towards all those pimple-encrusted boxboys who used to toke to WMMS while their fave Yes tracks spun! No Dungeons and Dragons fantasies to Can's hardnosed blare that's for sure, this is still a trip that could become one Suicide Sally for your average FM-rock target audience on the lookout for something a little more...Tolkein?

And while doing research for this particular writeup I discover that there are way more Can boots out there just waiting to be heard, not only one with Canaxis 5 outtakes alledgely featuring Malcolm Mooney (!) but loads of early-seventies live disques with that potential for total abandon, and there's even a downloadable multi-disc set that features the complete take of "Dai Doko E" and other recent finds including the gig featuring Tim Hardin as lead vocalist! Of course I have about as much luck downloading these free bootleg disques as I do getting a refund outta my Income Tax, but if you're the kinda guy who has the tenchowhiz to download and print up disques and you happen to come across the Can set which I think is available via one of the kraut-oriented blogs listed onna left, howzbout making me a copy for my own personal enjoyment! 's the least you can do for all the hard blogging I've done for ya, so why dontcha be grateful for once in your miserable existence???
Tony Williams Lifetime-VILLAGE GATE NY '69

No label on this 'un so it might just be one of those homemade platters I told you about cranked out by some enterprising fellow. Anyway there's been a surge in rare stuff comin' out as of late, and for a guy who quit the tape-trading game a good twenny years back I'm just surprised at how much hot rare booty has been popping up on tape trading lists ever since I gave up on the hobby due to financial constraints. A few good New York items have surfaced including some late-'77 Contortions gigs with 2/3rds of 3/3 in the ranks, and now if only someone would dig up some of the true obscurities from the likes of Master Radio Canaries, Junior Birdmen, Third Sun and especially Sorcerers (hey Major, are those disques ready yet???) will I be the complete human being. And thankfully this gem has finally made its way to the public...Lifetime live in New York city '69, a gig that I guess was so hot that Ubgun was telling me that supposedly Charlie Watts invited a few of his fellow Rolling Stonesters to go see this very show with him which must prove if anything that when it came to swiping ideas these guys knew no bounds!

Hot gig even if the quality is a bit shady, with a good hunk of EMERGENCY's total abandon transplanted to the stages of En Why See with a pre-suck McLaughlin still strung out not only on the white stuff but some of the better "new" guitar almost but not quite up-there with Sharrock, while Young's just beginning to traipse upon the avant garde organ style that would come to fruition with Love Cry Want a few years later. And yeh, it's not hard to see why Williams was considered one of the hotcha new drummers on the jazz scene and one with strong commercial possibilities at that. Too bad McLaughlin hadda go the guru route and sold more than his long locks in the process, while Williams hadda become one of the biggest names in jazz sacrificing a lotta this early power in the process (after all, why else would he even conceive of covering McCartney's "Blackbird"?). At least Young had the good sense to knock off early before he could be tempted with wealth in exchange for his jazzed up soul. But please, I don't wanna know if sometime before he died he too went the boogie up your ass route like way too many jazz guys. Really, I don't think my heart could take knowing this!!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Hey! I really liked the idea of writing nothin' but short 'n maybe not-so-sweet reviews of some of my recent Cee-Dee acquisitions a coupla weeks back so much that I decided to re-live past glories and whip up few quickies regarding this week's batch o' newies! Howzat for hopping on a new trend when I see one comin'!

The Blue Humans featuring Rudolph Grey-INCANDESCENCE CD (Shock, England)

Here's a Humans disque I missed out on for some reason when it was released way back whenever, probably because it didn't come out on New Alliance or Ecstatic Peace! Rec'd live June '88 at (where else but) CBGB, this one features not only one of our favorite "crossover" guitarists but Borbetomagus' Jim Sauter on saxophone and the late great Beaver Harris doing their best to create more mind-addled dissonance and blues within the grueling span of a twenty-minute set. I love this one not only because Grey's certainly in tip-top form this go 'round and Sauter's inciting the spirit of Coltrane while Harris tries to give Sunny Murray a run for the money, but because a certain someone (whom I more or less helped introduce to Grey way back in the day) is not playing on second guitar thus I have no reason to boycott this 'un out of some perhaps misguided self-pride. Still, a powerful, cataclysmic set. When's the Grey bio comin' out anyway???

Dashiell Hedayat-OBSOLETE CD (Mantra, France)

Sheesh, I know I'm pretty ancient if only because I can remember when this was "album of the week" on the old WKSU-FM "Fresh Air" show back in 1978. And although it took me thirty years to buy the tham ding all I gotta say is better now 'n much later! Basically a Gong album, OBSOLETE has Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth helping out as well as fellow Gongster Didier Malherbe, Canterbury scenester Pip Pyle and even William Burroughs and Robert's turdler son Sam contribute a few bits o' insanity! Oh yeah, and it's all held together by this Hedayat guy who besides playing guitar does some keyboards and sings all over the place which I guess he's allowed to do because it's his session! Those of you who like the smart continental prog of the very-early seventies probably already have this in your collections by now. The rest of us will catch up one of these days...I hope!
Johnny Lunchbreak-APPETIZER/SOUP'S ON CD (Numero Group)

A load of postmortem armchairing regarding this mid-seventies Connecticut band has been shoveled about the rockosphere as of late, and given the story behind Johnny Lunchbreak you'd ponder that they'd be one of those top-ranking underground garage band wonders I'm always on the lookout for. After all, these guys even rated an appearance at the fabled New York City watering hole Club 82 (and they hadda drive back home directly after the show so's they could be at their day jobs next morn!) and something like that would get the attention span of a rockism-oriented anal retentive like myself all hopped up, right? Turns out that Johnny Lunchbreak were a good group but nothing spectacular, with some fine suburban rock moments but nothing much that would really light a fire under the more avid aficionados of Amerigan garage-punk forms. Maybe if you could imagine a cross between LOADED and...whatever the Bee Gees were doing at the time? (At least that's sorta what the hypesheets say!) Nice, but not engaging enough.

Didja ever wonder why Cadence Records never released a full-length el-pee on the strength of Link Wray's '58 cruncher "Rumble"? Turns out that there actually was an album recorded by Link and his Wraymen on the basis of "Rumble"'s pimple-popping popularity, but Cadence bigwig Archie Bleyer nixed the thing because he thought Wray's music was a corrupting influence on the youth of Ameriga! Sheesh, only a grade-a turd would believe something as stupid as Link Wray being the ruination of Our Youth's wonder Arthur Godfrey fired him! Well it took a good fifty years for this to come out but come out it did, and as you'd guess it is a wowzer of a platter featuring Link and crew in that great low-fi rumblin' mode cranking out a good number of boss instrumentals and even a vocal from Link that's surprisingly tame but like I ain't gonna burn my Wray records in protest! A raw performance from an already-rawed out group that almost sounds like garage demo versions of tracks later made popular on Epic, and you don't have to be told that this is a definite must for not only followers of Wray but anyone who claims to pledge allegiance to all of those old KICKS fanzines that winged their way to our abodes back in the sterile eighties! But I'll tell ya anyways!
MOBY GRAPE '69 CD (Sundazed)

I always thought that the general concensus was that '69 was a close but no cigar comeback after WOW's earnest but misguided excesses. Well, since I've come to love those "excesses" on the second Grape outing it ain't like I think there's anything for this group to rebound from! I still find this 'un a fine mix of the folk, blues and country-rock (with a li'l acid tossed in) that was more in line with where San Francisco should have been at the end of the decade 'stead of with the Jefferson Airplane dabbling in lousy revolutionary humor ("Which stripe on the flag is your favorite"...sheeeeesh) or the Dead getting into their CSN&Y trip. Now dear readers, should I dish out the dough for TRULY FINE CITIZEN, the fourth in the series of Columbia-period Moby Grape albums? Like with Todd Rundgren's SOMETHING/ANYTHING, the choice is up to YOU! And you know where you can leave your vote...inna comment box!!!
OK, they were longer than even I wanted them, but they sure beat those ten-paragraph borgasms I've been cranking out, hunh?

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Y'know, I never really understood why there was a whole lotta venom and general animosity directed towards the noted rock critic, fanzine editor, producer and music-maker Jon Tiven throughout the years, even continuing well into these very days long after you would have thought any controversy associated with the man would have fizzled out to the point of oblivion. And of course it's true that perhaps there could have been some anger directed at the man regarding certain opinions directed towards a number of musical acts that some of us may have disagreed with, but that's (at least on the surface) no reason for anybody to call for the man's head like they have. I mean, look at Lenny Kaye who is one of my all-time fave rockscribes, and true he was one of the big champions of such things as garage band rock and its twisted child punk, but even a casual reader of CAVALIER can tell you about the times he would be praising to the rafters everyone from the Grateful Dead to JAMES TAYLOR and yet I never saw anyone comin' for him with the pitchforks and torches! Let's face it, none of the explanations that various rockscribes in the know (Bernard Kugel, Byron Coley...) really explain just why Tiven has been given such a bum rap lo these many years!

And I'm still not comprehendo as to eggsactly what that big feud between Tiven and TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTEer Adny Shernoff was all about, and true I've heard stories about how it was a "rich Jew/poor Jew" sorta enmity (sounds like a seventies miniseries!) and somethingorother about a review Tiven wrote that really got Shernoff's Irish in an uproar but let's just say that in typical LOST IN SPACE fashion I do not compute! And howzbout the time when Tiven went to visit noted bigtime rock writer and then-NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS contributor Richard Meltzer and his then-galpal Roni Hoffman at their En Why See apartment and after that not only would Meltzer not want to have anything to do with the guy, but he continually started berating the Subject in Question whenever he had the opportunity whether it be in his review of Paul Williams' DAS ENERGI in the pages of FUSION, or who could forget Meltzer's letter to Shernoff's own fanzine where we're all let in on the dirty deal behind this meeting which resulted in Tiven only managing to take one bowel movement during the time and not flushing the commode (mechanism was hadda reach into the tank to pull the chain which Tiven was unaware of), but Meltzer describing the contents of the bowl which, besides his detailing the size and color of the doody in question, we are told contained nary a shred of toilet paper! Of course, insult was added to injury by Shernoff's response regarding how maybe Tiven had either used his hand, or "in an economy move" eaten the toilet paper and how in the more fashionable areas of New Haven it is the duty of the maid to wipe the hineys of family members. (And strange as it may seem, occasionally Meltzer would still be listed amongst the masthead as a "contributing editor" well into the last year of NHRP's run! Go figure!!!)

And there's also the story about how Alex Chilton had threatened Tiven with a serious thrashing after the latter did somethingorother to offend the former Box Top singer (I think it had something to do with the appropriation of Chilton's Ork Records EP tapes and reissuing them with overdubs...memory's kinda hazy on this 'un!) plus a few other things that have been flying about but hey, if anything all of these stories I've heard about Tiven, perhaps because of how vague they are this long after de-facto, not-so-surprisingly enough tend to make me want to sympathize with the man himself! Now I'm sure this is something that would surely arouse the ire of a Tiven-hater such as Bill Shute, but the way I look at it is here's a man who not only created the first real rock & roll fanzine (NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS which predated WHO PUT THE BOMP! by almost a year, and I dunno if the original CRAWDADDY and MOJO NAVAGATOR could be considered true fanzine-y reads per-se) which helped him springboard to a career as a rock journalist in bigtime publications such as FUSION and ROLLING STONE and who can hate this modern-day Horatio Alger for doing just what a whole generationfulla fanzine upstarts only wish they coulda! Plus, like all of the cool rock writers of the day Tiven also had his own late-seventies punk band (OK, powerpop but we're talkin' "punk" as a strict blow against the established AM/FM-dolt-cum-cover band mentality of the day) so mebbe we should give him just a wee bit of slack for once???

But still the slings and arrow come, and frankly for a guy who hadda dodge more'n a few of those things myself it's kinda like I even have a strange sorta affinity for Tiven. Maybe I'll know better when the comments start rolling in telling me about all the horror stories surrounding the man or maybe not, but for now I gotta say that I'm gonna rah-rah for the guy if only for the fact that he unleashed a long line of NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS fanzines which do make for advanced rock reading as well as an album by his late-seventies group the Yankees, an act that although nowhere as attention-grabbing as a lotta what was coming outta the garages of USA (and elsewhere) back in the late-seventies sure comes off sweet and smooth a good three decades later! And how often can you say that about a good portion of similar-minded pop-rock of a late-seventies variety? (Well, it's not like I'm exactly an expert on the wide range of power-popping music so maybe I should refrain from that previous statement until I at least slip on my old Pezband album and give it another go 'round.)

Naturally it was that recent arrival of those long-anticipated fanzines at my door and into my life (the one that yielded that boffo SPOONFUL which was reviewed earlier this week!) that got me on my current NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS kick. Now I've been familiar with the mag before, and in fact I already own about five other issues of this mag which include a good hefty portion of writings from the likes of Meltzer (on Yoko Ono, and I'm surprised that she didn't sue!), Tosches (including the ish where he actually printed Ono's phone number, and there's even an article in an early-seventies CREEM about the time Brian Cullman or one of their lesser-knowns actually got her number from this NHRP, called her up and played a bitta accordian music for the lass!) and Greg Shaw. I don't have the ish which included an actual Fillmore East poster because those go for magnifico bucks these days, but at least I got the one with the free movie and that's gotta account for something!

So with boffo contributors and interesting enclosures, just how do the NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESSes I have stack up? Pretty good actually, not only as far as in a "history of rock fazines" way but in a nice and informal gab about the music of the day as told to you by one of many Paul Reveres out there who were more'n anxious to tell you that the British and the punks and the longhairs and whatever were comin' straight AT'CHA!

True, a gander at your typical early cover of NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS would have you wonder just what was the difference between such an upstart mag and the biggies like STONE were since the likes of John Mayall, the Grateful Dead, Cactus, Jethro Tull and Pink Floyd ain't exactly small potatoes! But oddly enough Tiven mentioned in the big FUSION fanzine article rundown of 1972 that the reason he started his mag up was to write about these and other groups that just weren't getting covered in the mainstream rock press which kinda astounds me. But I guess Tiven thought he was filling a need for additional information on his fave raves, so why should anyone've faulted him for that?

Still, these mags do make for pleasant reading whether on or off the toidy or kicking back in your bedroom as the disques spin away. Nice mimeo style (I guess Tiven got one for his birthday and decided to go into biz for himself not only running off his own rag but taking in outside print jobs [an ad does appear in a '70 issue!]) and although the earlier ones show signs of near-crudzine quality (faint print, one-sided pages) the writing is pretty much up there in fanzine talk-to-you fashion.

Lotsa reviews, in fact lotsa short and sweet reviews on albums you may have wanted to know everything about as well as those you didn't even know or care existed! Some are to the point and sweet, with the likes of the Deviants and Alice Cooper getting the raves (with the Devies being compared to a rockin' Mothers of Invention and Cooper to the Devies!), while others fall flat like the one of the hotcha YOKO ONO/PLASTIC ONO BAND which only gets about five words of dismissal while her hubby's eats out almost all the review space. (And I still can't fathom how anybody could still go for that downhome cooking hokum like Brewer and Shipley not to mention Crosby Shrill and Nutless as Billy Miller called 'em...sheesh, whenever I have the displeasure of hearing that crap I feel like I'm down at the commune munching down some placenta or something equally unappetizing! But still, I must say that I enjoy the overall get-up-and-go feeling behind these NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESSes even with all of the "timely" relevance that continues to make my stomach do a few whirls!

Another nice thing about these NHRP's is that they have all these little surprises, like John Mayall and Bob Hite interviews more or less done "on the fly" kinda like those ones with Iggy and Ron Asheton that popped up in DENIM DELINQUENT. Natcherally by the time the mag became more "established" actual sit-down and shoot-it interviews were taking place like the one with Pink Floyd in Vol. 5 No. 1 where we get to read that Roger Waters really likes James Taylor (and although I'll let Lenny Kaye get away with it Waters will HAVE TO PAY for this not-so-mild indescretion!!!!). And if you dig harder (like into the very same issue) you'll even get to read an article on local heroes Blue Ash written by bigtimer Bud Scoppa who actually trekked all the way to Youngstown to catch these guys rip it up for audiences totally unworthy of them!(However the New York Dolls piece was pretty tepid, failing to capture any of the excitement and energy that band was pumping out to wide acclaim/derision!)

Oh, and one interesting thing, the later issues also feature the talents of one Seth Tiven first as "art editor" and then just plain ol' editor (with Jon moving up to solely being publisher of the entire shebang). Not only that, but Seth also ended up writing a sizable portion of what's in store. For eighties readers, you might remember Seth as being the guiding light behind Dumptruck, the New Haven-bred alternative rock band that made quite a splash in college boy rock circles at the time, and considering their entire style or what I remember from it given it's been a good two decades since I've heard any of it was rather fehsville I guess they really fit into the whole post-seventies groove like a hand into a boxing glove.

I'd guess that NHRP died out around '74...the latest ish I have is their twentieth from that very year with a drawing of Todd Rundgren on the cover and an article written by the very-same rock star on the inside (!-and I don't think it's a fake) which really must've been a feather inna cap of Tiven to be able to score such a bigtime name for the mag writing about himself! Of course there's laods more, from an article on Jeff Lynne and the whole Move/ELO hitmongers (with rumors of Roy Wood wanting to get back with Lynne and Bevan to reform the Move?!?!?), an interview with Badfinger and one of the worst Velvet Underground articles I've ever read in a fanzine, and there were plenty of those! Too little about the VU here and too much on everything from Roxy Music and Eno to the Ayers/Cale/Nico/Eno live album which might've satiated the typical import bin fanatic of the day but at least for me comes off like yesterday's news. Eh!

I'm not sure exactly what Tiven was doing as far as his own personal sense of musicianship goes at the time, but I do recall that he put out a call in a '72-era issue for bandmates in what he was hoping would be a Raspberries-styled hard-pop aggregate. Dunno if THE YANKEES is what that group became, but they were an act that released a good enough album on the Big Sound label back in '78 right at the height of powerpop mania, pretty good timing on Tiven's part if you ask me.

Mostly originals with a few good covers tossed in here/there (I particularly liked their metallic take on Larry Williams' "Bad Boy" as well as the Chilton classic "Take Me Home and Make Me Like It"), THE YANKEES wasn't exactly gonna be taking any major rockism awards for their brand of rockaroll but they sure did a pretty good job of cranking out a good example of the form that seemed custom-made for that infamous BOMP! powerpop issue as well as the entire modcut/sunglasses craze that showed up in hipper clubs nationwide at the time. One thing does "get to me" about it though...y'see, the band (as far as the credits go) consisted of not only Tiven but a Sally Young on acoustic guitar and backup vocals, a Paul Ossola on bass guitar and keyboards and Mickey Curry on drums with loads of bigtime guest stars helping out, but on the front and back covers none other than Ivan Julian (who is listed as an "occasional bassist" and backup singer) is pictured as if he were an actual member of the group! True this disc was probably recorded over a time in which membership in the Yankees might've been in flux, but it does seem fishy for whoever's responsible to promote Julian as an actual member not only on the front cover drawing but in the group session photographs on the reverse! I guess since Julian was fresh from a major label effort with Richard Hell and the Voidoids his name had a little more marketability than Tiven's or the Yankees, but still this whole idea of promoting Julian as a bona-fide member of the band comes off pretty underhanded if you ask me.

So there you have it, and like I said I find these NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESSes pretty fine reading whether or not Meltzer is contributing! Good kick-up-the-feet stuff, and the Yankees are nothing to slouch at either! So what's it gonna be for you...NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS versus TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE, the Yankees vs. the Dictators...who will WIN??? I think I'll sit onna fence and watch the battle from a safe perch...should be a fun 'un!

Friday, January 18, 2008


I usually don't review mooms that I've only recently copped via the tee-vee screen, but here's one I've been curious about for quite awhile. Or shall I say that I've been wondering about this '37 James Cagney song and dance vehicle ever since it ran on WVIZ-TV 25's OLD MOVIES, THE GOLDEN ERA back in January of '75 and I was doing some of the most exquisite antenna juggling in order to try 'n draw that distant PBS station's signal in! And twiddle the rabbit ears I did, in fact long enough to see that great "Grand National" artsy-deco clock opening before the picture fuzzed out into oblivion, and if you don't think that little things like this eat away at my poor fragile "cry at the sight of a broken flower" demeanor then you're a bigger doofus than I ever would've thought in the first place!

Made during Cagney's brief walkout from Warner Brothers, in some ways SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT has a good portion of the major H-wood fare of the day beat-all-hollow from the low-budget look (reminds me of the very-late-era Educational Picture comedies coming out of their Astoria Long Island studios) to the general un-tuned production and overall claustrophobic feel which positively reeks late-movie UHF viewing let alone anything a PBS station such as WVIZ would dare run! In it Cagney plays an En Why See night club song 'n dancer who's bound for moving picture glory, leaving his girlfriend (Evelyn Daw) and band (including the crack-upping bassist Conte Candoli, who has a multi-octave vocalese that Captain Beefheart only bragged of!) far behind for the green pastures of BO pictures with its namby studio head (character great Gene Lockhart) and super-pushy press agent (William Frawley, best known to you as Fred Mertz and Bub) who are bound and determined to make Cagney the next Robert Taylor or Clark Gable, albeit totally straight!

After being given a hard time at BO due to Lockhart's express orders (y'see, he didn't want Cagney to realize just how good an actor he was so Lockhart put the word out for everyone at the studios to make him feel like a grade-A turd!) our hero takes a hike after a fight scene turns too real, hitches up with Daw and heads off for the South Seas only to find out by the time he returns from his honeymoon that he's not only one of the hottest properties in Hollywood, but that his contract expressly forbids him to be married!

And it gets pretty good afterwards, with the slimy Frawley cooking up some hot studio schemes in order to bolster Cagney's popularity while trying to wreck his marriage (mainly by hiding the marriage from everyone and cooking up a fake romance with BO's hot leading lady foreign star) and of course it all gets straightened out in the end, but not before a few more musical numbers that I hope meant more to the people making this film than to pad it out a bit.

And true these various hoof-it-up scenes are at least a good reason to head for the head, but like in those aforementioned Educational comedies they are entertaining enough for those of us empty enough to stick around perhaps because they lack that whole glitzy MGM polish that I so despise. And production numbers aside, this film's really handy either as serious entertaining or light pre-beddy-bye fare especially if you do like these poverty row-styled comedies that still seem to retain a good sense of fifties-through-seventies off-hour movie watching on one hand and a good lesson in film history on the other.

And the rest of the cast is notable enough, including not only Johnny Arthur who's better known as Spanky and/or Darla's fussbudget pop in a number of Little Rascals shorts, but none other than Dwight Fry of Renfield/"juicy flies and spiders" fame! Also standing out is Phillip Ahn as Cagney's Japanese houseboy who fakes his accent only because his previous employers believed it made him more respectable! Many of you old-timey movie fans probably remember Ahn from a number of World War II films where he played Japanese saboteurs and the like (such as in the infamous East Side Kids romp LET'S GET TOUGH!), and sometimes the cynical side of me is just warped enough to think that perhaps the Big One was in reality started up by Ahn and other Chinese and Mexican actors in order to create a demand for movie roles they were just itching to play!

All funnin' aside, I must 'fess up that I'm a wee bit happy (nice warm 'n' toasty feeling inside) that I finally did get to see SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT after a good 33-year (!) wait, but frankly it woulda done me a lot more good if I had watched it back when I wanted to in the first place! Carpe Diem and all that, and besides I really can't say that I'm that much of a fan of TCM host Robert Osbourne's studious intros and outros...I much preferred Stu Levin of the old GOLDEN ERA show with his sports jacket and trousers it looks like he was poured into giving his opines on whatever movie it was in question sitting on a folding chair in front of a cheap backdrop! But still, I guess it's better late than never and I only hope that channel 25 digs out all of those OLD MOVIES shows and puts them out on DVD because I sure miss that good ol' UHF cheapness we sure could use a lot more of these days!

And in closing, here's a neat Youtube treat from the movie where Cagney referees a catfight on the ship which he and Daw are honeymooning on. (There are also some good on-deck hoofers doing their bit in this scene including this weirdie guy dressed up as a lady that's got to be seen to be'll see a bit of him in the clip!) And when I say catfight I'm not talking about two wimmen in underwear yanking on hair and biting each other but two real cats in a miniature boxing ring tearing at each other in full feline fury! Kinda thought it was a neat scene myself even if the ASPCA would come to a different conclusion! Well at least they put gloves on those pillow rippers because this ain't no San Peckingpah film, so enjoy at your own risk!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


For a while, I dreaded the eventual outcome of the "illiterate generation" that was beginning to take hold in the eighties. That was a time when it was not hard to come by someone of your own class or "social strata" or what-have-you who was more'n glad to brag to one and all that he just "didn't read anything" with the same sense of pride as if he were spouting off to one and all all about his alleged sexual conquests or larger-than-thou record collection. A sorry state of affairs if you ask me because frankly, the more a kid was less likely to read only meant that there was one less bozo less likely to snatch up a copy of my own fanzine which I gotta admit was selling about as fast as books on chastity in San Francisco. And frankly, when I discovered that there were kiddos out there who actually took time out to read, they were wasting their precious few eyeballing some of the worst politically-poised neo-Marxist drivel ever to pass for rock writing to hit the boards! It did seem kinda funny on one hand to see a buncha "free-thinking" and "non-conformist" youth reading about their fave rock groups marinatred in some of the most totalitarian jiz to ever come down the pike (basically your typical CPUSA "tract" with a few foul words tossed in twixt the exclamation points guaranteed to drive yer average upper-midclass philosophy major to heights of revolutionary zeal) but on the other hand the entire trip was pretty frightening esp. when the punks of the seventies were tellin' everyone to eschew that whole revolutionary hype overtaking the youth of the land whilst the punks (or shall I say punques) of the eighties variety were trying to outdo such seventies icons as Abbie Hoffman, George Jackson and Dave Marsh in the teenage rebel-rousing game!

Boy, do I ever go on tangents, and Eddie Flowers and Jillery are RIGHT to castigate me when I step upon my soapbox and try to lay-it-onna-line for you unwashed mental toddlers out there! But hey, if nobody else on this planet is gonna tell ya that you is one of the stoopidest ignoramuses ever to exist then I guess it's my sworn duty to, and to this duty I shall not shirk! But hey, I was just tryin' t' make a li'l ol' point here about the gullibility of the youth of the eighties (and perhaps today!), and since it's my forum I guess I can get away with anything I do try to attempt, or at least give it the ol' college try eh? But enough of that, right now I wanna talk about some interesting bits of reading material I've come across as of the past rwo or so weeks that certainly tickled my psyche and may do the same for you. And the fact that three of these four items are dreaded comic books (and something I got absolute grief for reading when I was a adolescent although thankfully I was permitted to buy and enjoy the things!) might only upset the snooty Werthams amongst you but frankly I don't care! I find comics, at least the right ones, way more kulturally-relevant than all of that "good" reading that we were supposed to wallow in during our single-digit days. And way more memorable too...after all, just about every comic strip/book aficionado remembers the EC comics of the early-fifties, but how many remember all of those horrid primers they were forced to read in first grade anyways?

So here're some of the more recent comic book acquisitions that I've been combing through as of late, 30/40-year-old Silver/Bronze-Aged forgettables true but they sure mean a whole lots more to me than they would a guy born 'n bred on the McFarland-era Spiderman or some other atrocity done in the name of comics. Y'know, comics as they were meant for Saturday Afternoon Barbershop Kids 'stead of all of those innerlectual eggheads who used to drop acid and stare at various Dr. Strange panels for hours on end. Which might be fun for some of you readers but frankly, I'd rather read a comic book over a bottle of orange drink before headin' out with the guys down to the river to throw rocks innit before hitting the playground to cause a little trouble. I guess some of us never do ourgrow being 12 years old, eh?

Just like every other comic book publisher on the face of the earth, Marvel Comics really knew a good trend when they jumped on it. And in the late-seventies, what better trend was there for Marvel to latch onto than the fifties nostalgia craze that had pretty much taken that entire decade by storm? Naturally they did the whole fifties bit a lot earlier with this terrible multi-part FANTASTIC FOUR saga where the quartet actually land on some fifties-themed planet (and you should see how the entire thing ends, in a mush of horrid white guilt self-flaggelation that I'm surprised didn't turn a whole generation of comic book readers into raving racists!) but at least by the time the 3-D Man appeared in the pages of MARVEL PREMIERE in the glory-hole days of '77 Marvel knew enough to leave the social consciousness in the trashcan and put out a strip which, although set in an era not-too-fondly-remembered by do-gooders and other forms of evil, at least delivered on a pretty good saga that only goes to show you that in an age of HOWARD THE DUCK and other outre quick-flashes the old style of superhero storytelling could be pulled off w/o looking like a fanzine reject!

At the time I passed on this as well as almost all comic books (preferring to spend my newsstand time reading NATIONAL LAMPOON and other pubs more geared towards my own sick sense of humor) though thirtysome years later after loads of way-worse offal has hit the comic racks it sure comes off rather enticing. Always one to jump onto a bandwagon, Marvel decided to create a new superhero set in the year 1958 with this character whose powers and mere existence p'haps came off a little too much a copy of Negative Man from the old DOOM PATROL for comfort, but since that was DC and this Marvel I guess having heroes with similar m.o.d.'s was permissible because both companies were interchangable to a point!

But ripoff styles and nostalgic forays aside, I should 'fess up to the fact that I do find that the stories read in 3-D Man's first two appearances were good enough even for my ever-rapidly-growing anti-Stan Lee tastes, with the Marvel house style (mainly imitate Jack Kirby as closely as you can!) still in place and for once Roy Thomas's oft-wordy captions and overzealous scripting doesn't clog up your mind to the point where this might as well be MRS. WIGGS OF THE CABBAGE PATCH. And for a superhero strip set in the late-fifties, at least Thomas didn't go off the deep end making this overly-referenced to just about every craze to hit that bountiful decade. Enough references do appear, but this isn't like one of those HAPPY DAYS episodes where every hula-hoop/Toni Home Perminant/Edsel mention's trotted out to cover up the fact that if anything this show looked like a buncha seventies actors trying to convince you its the fifties all over again. And though the art is strict Marvel-seventies as is the entire oeuvre, you don't have to squint your eyes and make believe it's them good ol' dayze because it sure feels it!

And it's good yuks as the 3-D Man fights off communist spies and pops off some of those great one-line gaggers just like Plastic Man used to do and even gets involved with a new rock 'n roll singing sensation and this sleazy host of a dance party tee-vee show named Doc Rock, who turns out not to be either Lenny Kaye or that moustachioed man-about-town seen in the Mad Peck cartoons but...a skrull if you can fathom that! And yeah, it's good on your system glomming comic book art that don't preach to you or make you feel evil for merely being alive, but just plain ol' entertains. And in many ways, the 3-D Man was a great throwback to some of the better fifties superhero tries during the bried comeback of the form such as Simon and Kirby's FIGHTING AMERICAN amongst other well-intentioned yet short-lived comic book efforts that might or might not have worked, but are remembered fondly for whatever reasons there may be. Dunno how well 3-D Man did after his MARVEL PREMIERE'd be easy enough to find out with the web at my fingertips but considering how the guy just ain't on the lips of comic book fanatics the way Howard the Duck and Homer the Happy Ghost are I have the feeling he's gonna be mothballed for a quite longer time than any of us could imagine.

On the other end of the mainstream sixties/seventies comic book spectrum comes this oft-neglected title which I wouldn't've been caught dead buying back when it was readily available on the stands, but nowadays a much older and wise me's singing a slightly different tune! Y'know, I'd never thought I'd be picking up anything along the lines of a "kiddie" comic like SUGAR AND SPIKE in my life, but the recent purchase of GLX SPTZL GLAAH just, shall we say, piqued my interest in this long-running DC title a little more'n usual. And besides, I bought this particular issue (#75) for the Doodles Duck reprint that appeared as filler, and what filler it is because the thing's nothing but a deft anti-Wertham saga that not only tries to put the comic book point o' view forth but is good cause for some knee-slapping down the line!

But anyone who would think that SUGAR AND SPIKE is mere kiddie fodder has been playing with their own sense of pseudointellectualism a little too long. Sure the thing is "geared towards children" but I find a lotta what's going on in these pages rather intelligent and perhaps aimed at a much older'n the kids you'd think this was geared towards audience. And I'm talking the swinging over-thirty perusers as well as the teenage guffaw gang weaned on Jay Ward, and hey I gotta admit that I sure coulda used a lot more SUGAR AND SPIKE back in those days 'stead of being made to feel guilty enough to read TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST during one of my less-favorite Christmas breaks.

Everything is going right for SUGAR AND SPIKE, from the entire premise of two toddlers communicating in their own gibberish language and viewing the real world through their own budding existences to the witty storylines and definitely non-hack art, and why there just isn't a bigger SUGAR AND SPIKE cult in comicdom I'll never know because the stuff I've read so far is pretty good yucks-inducing material that you just can't get outta any moderne pretentious comicdom. Gonna hafta scoot some flea markets as well as ebay to see if there are any recent exhumations of this long gone 'un available out there because after a hard day at der kamp it's stuff like SUGAR AND SPIKE that helps me to wind down before I head for my Beaver Cleaver dooner'd (whatever that is!) bed for a few hours of shuteye!

And frankly, the Doodles Duck repro is also a great find. True we've seen many an anti-Wertham schpiel at the hands of comic book writers in the fifties, some more outspoken while others more veiled (take that crime comic that featured a gagged Doc on the front cover that Wertham told his gathered followers was none other than he!), but seeing Wertham attacked from the likes of a so-called "kid's comic" and rather wittily at that is certainly an exhilarating experience! Of course it ain't Kurtzmanesque or anything, but I thought that the portrayal of star Doodles as the uptight elder versus his know-it-all nephew (as well as the comparing of kid's comics and Grimm's Fairy Tales!) said it a whole lot better'n a generation of whiny college students who claimed that the Comic Code was a crime against humanity on par with the execution of the Rosenbergs and Joseph McCarthy's purging of unsavory elements in the State Department! The best satire and social commentary is always supposed to be the most sublime, and if that's true I guess that the great Sheldon Mayer sure did a better job of making the entire nannystate comics code debacle look as ridiculous as it was than all of the fanzine-based anti-Wertham editorials combined!
As John Cleese would say, now for something completely somethingorother, a rock & roll fanzine review! Yes, I finally got that big box of long-awaited fanzine esoterica (and not a bit of eroterica in the batch!) that I've been waiting for since late autumn and guess what, you can bet that I feel like some adolescent boy whose just discovered a long-long box o' girly mags and a discarded bottle o' vaseline diggin' through these classic rock reads and discovering so many facts heretofore unknown about some of my fave artists and writers to the point where I kinda feel like "the Leader", that bad guy from the Hulk who absorbed every speck and shard of knowledge in the universe and croaked as a result! (Pardon me...still in comic book gear!) Yes, you can bet that I'll be spending more'n a few lost moments going through these "Golden Age of Rock Criticism"-era fanzines for the next few weeks, and naturally mentions/reviews and whatnot regarding a good buncha 'em should be coming atcha either on their lonesome or incorporated into larger single-themed articles depending on what use I have for 'em at the time, being such a discerning editor and all.

But for today's installment of "Fanzine Knowledge Oneupmanship" lemme gab about the second issue of SPOONFUL, a mag that came outta the wilds of Teaticket Mass, and a nice xeroxed one at that put out by a chap named Fred Whitlock who managed to unleash at least five of these neat wonders before joining with fellow-Boston area fanzine editor Dennis Metrano's SUNSHINE to create...none other than SPOONFUL OF SUNSHINE if you can believe that! But as far as early-seventies fanzines go SPOONFUL was a real fanzine winner...true it wasn't as pro as WHO PUT THE BOMP! or FLASH, but then again "good" fanzines don't exactly have to be glossy and professionally printed just as long as they have the rock & roll zeal, and SPOONFUL was just chock-fulla that no-holds-barred spunk that I always believed made for a great fanzine read, or at least made for more of that really grande gonzo rock writing that seems to be in short supply these sorry days!

I reviewed ish #3 of this mag a few months back, and although that issue was a nice, matter-of-fact yet lacking a certain something read, I found myself going back to it over the next few months pretty much in the same way I've been scouring my old issues of HYPE(RION) and, as I was doing about five years back, THE GROOVE ASSOCIATES. Maybe it was Whitlock's own aw-shucks writing style that did it, or perhaps the various contributors including Alan Betrock of JAMZ and NEW YORK ROCKER fame piqued my interest, or even the idea that some guy who was all for the likes of sixties garage bands, early-seventies heavy metal and all of those boss BLOG TO COMM faves could also be a cheerleader for the progressive rock of Yes and Flash (!) turned my head 360, but whaddeva I really thought that issue was good even if the lack of graphics did tend to deter from the overall wowzer effect of it all!

Strangely enough, this earlier ish (#2) was an overall much better product 'n the previously writ-up #3, not only with a classier cover (loads better'n #3's drawing of an acoustic guitar that would have led one to believe SPOONFUL a folkie mag!) but with neatly-stencilled artwork and a lot more jam-packed writing that really kept me glued to my toilet for hours on end! And what an issue it is, not ony with an article on Humble Pie (eh!) written by fan/prozine regular Jon Tiven (of whom more will be written on a lot sooner'n you'd imagine) but Whitlock's own piece on the MC5 which is cool enough because when the guy wrote the thing the Five were still alive and "sorta" kickin', and it's great to read stuff about 'em that was written in the then and there 'stead of the here and now where it's rockism correct to write nice things about these guys who were more often'n not put down while they were still in business! And, amongst the reams of reviews of then-new album fodder (everything from Jennifer Warnes' John Cale-produced disc to the first Lou Reed and Bowie's ZIGGY STARDUST), we're treated to mentions, name-drops and general raveups regarding bands and artists of many sortsa stripes, everything from Pink Floyd and Mayall to War (!), Elton John's HONKY CHATEAU (!!), Joan Baez (!!!) and Bob Weir's Ace (!!!?!?!?...or is that "#%@&%*#!!!!!"). But before you're ready to dump your copy into the trashcan (which I hope you'll never do since SPOONFUL is a class fanzine read despite some lapses in taste) please realize that if you look hard enough you will also find much of worth, and even some downright pertinent material relating to that seventies phenomenon known as punk rock! What I'm talkin' about's Whitlock's very own piece entitled "Todd Rundgren is a Punk" which makes the same point as a lotta other fanzines of the day, that if Mike Heron, Peter Hammill and Thee Image (!!!!!-more on THAT in a future post) could be considered punk rockers, why not the Runt hisself??? Given how this article is rather short yet sweet I decided to do you all a favor and reprint the thing in its entirety and let you be the judge...whether or not it would be wise of me to dish out the moolah for a copy of SOMETHING/ANYTHING even if people like the Electric Eels thought Rundgren was the greatest, and as usual I will make my decision (by week's end) regarding on how the vote goes. Please, do not be shy, and while I'm at it let me say that if you wanna vote you can either do so privately via email (if you're lucky enough to have my address!) or in the comment box. No votes will be accepted after Sunday, January 20th (I'm in a hurry!). And for the sake of not only clueing you in to just what the hell I'm writing about but to present some fine Golden Age of Rock Fanzine writing, I will (re)print this particular piece with all gaffes, goofs, at least two spelling errors and Whitlock-imposed spaces intact because frankly, I am not a snob and find such fanzine-level scribing a whole lot more digestible than some rock screed just oozing a NEW YORK TIMES set of sartorial elegance! In fact, I will even omit the sics because frankly, who needs 'em!!! So read on and lemme know if you think that Todd Rundgren is a punk worthy of my hard-begged shekels...remember to cast your own vote before Sunday comes a'knockin' at your door!!!

Just when everyone thought punk-rock was going to die out, along comes a two-record set which Breathes new life into 1965, smooch- Beatle music, Beach Boy- Bee Gee harmonies and hep to the jive rock n' roll. It's jukebox Saturday night all over again.

Something/ Anything on Bearsville gives me a chance to finally meet Rundgren face to face. This album comes on like a gift to my ears. This cruisin' music, filled with acvanced coolness that gives off the sensation of a soul - kiss. He's been through playing the high school bops and local band scene (check out the beginning of side four), somehow he manages to retain the rowdiness and cleaverness one gets from the experience. The music is filled with passion, sentimentality and enthusiastim that's hard to sometimes find in today's music.

The album runs through many different styles - Beatle rock, the old L. A. sound, heavy mental, pop ballads and soul music. His songs sum up the combination of toughness and youth which punk - rock is all about. This is Friday night, on the prowl, hold my hand, let's bug out music. At the same time it has all the freshness and crispy sound like a new head of lettuce makes it stands out in the flood of this year's releases. Todd is a crispy critter, who plays all the instruments, sings all the vocals (on the first three sides, did the fourth in onetake) and produced the album. A real wise guy, right? This is what being creative is all about. Todd is a solid sender who never gets super-hip, obnoxious, nor does he let himself get bogged down with self indulged pretentiousness, to the point of turning off the listener.

Yes, Todd is a punk and I hope he stays that way. I love this album, SOMETHING/ANYTHING and I am looking forwards to the release of his fourth album, there's always room in my head for Rundgren music.
To which I must add...Fred Whitlock, where are you these days? And if anyone's willing to part with any other issues of SPOONFUL (esp. #5 with the EDDIE FLOWERS-dileneated cover) please lemme know!

Oh, and a final interesting revelation that certainly got my interest piqued appears on page 8, where we're treated to none other than a "THICK AS A BRICK contest"! As Whitlock writes "I find the new Jethro Tull album to be a drag. From what I understand Anderson meant this to be a spoof on concept albums but most people are taking it very serious. After spending some time listening to it, I've come up with my own outlook on what the album's about." Whitlock then goes on to say that he believes THICK IS A BRICK was all about KARL MARX and his development into a philosopher of "world renown" I guess as Europe was heading full-force into the industrial revolution! As a kicker, Whitlock then offers up a CONTEST/COMPETITION where you, the reader, can write in and tell us what you think THICK AS A BRICK is about! (No letters dated after 8/28/72 will be used, but if 1972 ever comes back boy, are you in luck!) Of course, nobody in Tull, friends, relatives or bedmates are eligible for this contest because you probably already know the answers, and what's more, the winner will receive TEN Warner Brothers/Reprise singles which certainly would have been a bargain for any music-starved young 'uns willing to give it a go! What I find most interesting about this contest is...a few years later in the pages of CREEM Lester Bangs used the same "gimmick" in his review of Tull followup A PASSION PLAY, making me wonder whether or not Bangs had copped his idea of having the reader explain what that concept LP was all about from the pages of a by-then defunct fanzine, figuring that not too many people had read the original in the first place and besides if Whitlock'd complained, who'd listen? Anyway, it is something to ponder though Bangs has been long gone from the scene and who knows where Whitlock is these days!