Friday, February 29, 2008


Well, it's either an outtake from that infamous 70s kiddie show (which still can be seen on small low-wattage stations very early in the morning) or perhaps a look-see into the lives of a couple of infamous bloggers having a spat. Whatever, as the sage once said, guaranteed to offend:

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Various Artists-DO THE POP! REDUX PART ONE 2-CD set (Savage Beat)

Awlright AWLRIGHT!!!! I'll review these blasted Aussie things I received inna mail yesterday even if it is against my better judgement! An' besides, last night's Radio Birdman listenin' sesh has suddenly got me all stoked on the post-Detroit underground rock scene that began on that forsaken continent way back in the late seventies and continued for a good decade or so thereafter, and as any casual reader can tell you I sure am a sucker for the Detroit "heavy metal" sound even if it is being played by Antipodean dorks who wouldn't know the right end of a glue bottle if it was shoved up their noses!

Anyway, y'all remember the Great Australian Underground Detroit Rock Scene of the eighties, right? You better, because during those rather pallid "hip to be square" days Australian Underground Rock was perhaps one of the few saving graces of an otherwise horrible era in music, rock & roll or otherwise. Let's face it, with the seventies breed of underground rock either dead of with members devolving into sunshine superman visions and twee-pop machinations and with hardcore fizzling out into New Left bromides that were more or less a throwback to the radicalism of the early-seventies (and those 1971-vintage hippoids came off so one-dimensional and stupid that NATIONAL LAMPOON, heck, even the underground comix had a field day makin' funna 'em) there really wasn't that much music being made that would soothe the savage boobs of any self-respecting rock & roll maniac! 'cept for the new Australian groups of the era, who seemed to be taking alla that fantastic Velvets/MC5/Stooges/Up-styled crank of the latter portion of the sixties and running with the ball towards an end goal of total unbridled eruption! And lemme tell ya it certainly went down a lot more pleasing to mine ears than listening to some self-loathing pseudo-punks tell us why our craving for barbeque was beyond the pale (and why massive intrusion into our lives by "well-meaning" do-gooder social worker and government types wasn't!).

There were rumblings back in the late-seventies when the first Radio Birdman album was released on these shores and got a pretty caustic thrashing at the hands of a variety of rock mags (TROUSER PRESS comes to mind). By the early eighties more hints were cropping up, this time via Byron Coley in his article on the new "six-oh" revival that was taking place thanks to the likes of Bomp!/Voxx records and the recently-released superfine BATTLE OF THE GARAGES sample from whence came a Deniz Tek (of Radio Birdman fame) solo cover version of the Four Speeds aka Beach Boys classic "RPM". (A track I must admit I originally thought way too over-the-top for a garage band revival disc, and considering the variety of sixties-styled aggregates on the thing maybe I was right to begin with!) By the time FORCED EXPOSURE #7/8 came out as well as a string of Lindsay Hutton's unparalleled fanzine THE NEXT BIG THING back in the middle portion of that decade the word was out to the long-suffering high energy rock enthusiast...there actually was an entire new generation of hard rockin' high energy bands comin' from "down under" that people like you 'n me hungry for the seventies-sense-of-rock were just waiting for, and with all of those tales of hot bands sprouting to and fro (as well as Au Go Go catalogs being flung our way with almost-instantly deleted rarities for sale) who could resist sending well-concealed money down Orstralier way for what promised to be a total hard-rockin' affair unheard since the likes of Rocket From The Tombs morphed into the pale-in-comparison early-eighties variety of Pere Ubu?

There was another DO THE POP 2-CD set released earlier in the decade and if you want to read my review of it just pick up a copy of BLACK TO COMM #24 here. Keeping in typical feet-dragging record label time it took five years for the second volume of this presumably ongoing series to come out, and Thank Goodniz that I'm not as anal-retentive as I used to be about these things or else I would've burst and given the walls of my bedroom a nice brown coating long ago! But this is a beaut, another fantastic lookback into a scene that really was vibrant, happening and totally in-gear with the fanzine-bred rock fans of the day (and totally ignored by all of the people who shoulda given it that li'l push), and I hate to say it but who ever thought I'd be nostalgic for the (eck!) EIGHTIES like I am after hearing these aural torpedoes bludgeon my frail inner child!

Great selection too, like two tracks from Radio Birdman proper appear not counting all the ones with various spinoffs like the Hitmen (soon the subject of their own review), New Race, New Christs and the Visitors amongst others. (And those "others" include an early TV Jones recording of "Skimp the Pimp" which I believe did come out before though not on disque...too bad Deniz Tek's pal-sy with two former BTC contributors turned deadly enemies or else I would really be praising this platter to the rafters!) The Saints also appear here not only as they were in the late-seventies but as they originally popped up as Kid Galahad and the Eternals (with an early version of "I'm Stranded" that sounds like it coulda been recorded in the Rocket From the Tombs/Electric Eels loft), and for a bloke like me who passed on that early Saints demos CD for "personal" reasons all I gotta say is...boy I sure can stick to a vendetta despite the overwhelming odds!

Not that DO THE POP! REDUX is a total tribute to the sounds that came outta the Grande Ballroom and into your mind via Sydney and other areas o'er there. A good hunkerin' portion of these disques do show the ever-present influence of the British variety of punk which did coagulate into the minds of many an impressionable teenager of the day whether they knew it or not. But that's no reason to pass on this set even if you were one of those guys who got sick and tired of punk turning into "punque" as the days rolled on, because DO THE POP presents solid, hard-edged, energetic rock and I'm sure a good portion of it coulda passed a Grande Ballroom audition with flying colors, if not flying bottles!

Liner notes in the well-endowed booklet are by Dave Laing (please note spelling) and they would be good if only I could read 'em. Black on red printing is rather hard to discern to these eyes suffering from macular degeneration and danged if I could make anything of what Mr. Laing wrote in 'em! But the pix are sure nice and I'll bet that booklet's a treasure trove of fun information both old and new if I can only find my magnifying glass! And hey, if I really wanted to rack my eyes up good I could do a lot worse, like re-read one of the old issues of my very own fanzine with the cootie-sized print, right???

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


...and perhaps r.i.p. to the political movement he founded as well.

Radio Birdman-JUNE 2, 2007, THE BLENDER THEATER, NEW YORK, N.Y. CD-R (burn sent to me by Paul McGarry a long time ago though I'm only seriously getting to listen to it now)

"These reunion things are the bust." Can you (the ever-discerning BLOG TO COMM reader) guess which World-Famous rock critic made the above statement? Was it Mike McGonigal? Chuck Eddy?? Parke Puterbaugh??? No, none of these well-known rockscribes we've been paying attention to all these years in order to decide where we dump our hard-begged moolah have said the above (though choice #1 once scribbled something to the effect that only jazz groups can do the reunion thing OK), and come to think of it, neither did I make that very same remark either in my writings or via the ether (though I am disqualified, for I am NOT a "rock critic" [sheesh!] nor am I famous by any stretch of the imagination). If you do know who made this statement, please write me in care of this blog.

Actually, for a guy who was paying attention when the Velvet Underground briefly reformed in the early-nineties (although they turned their entire oeuvre into a warmed over greatest hits package with a few new turdballs thrown in whilst doing so) and actually dug not only the Stooges' TELLURIC CHAOS live set but THE WEIRDNESS, I'd probably be the LAST person who would even conceive of dumping all over the reunion of past glories even if said regroupings would somehow tarnish our old memories of cashing in pop bottles in order to scam these groups' latest recordings. But sheesh, I gotta admit that looking at recent snaps of the Sonics live had me feeling like I too was just about ready for the rocking chair and Depends...I mean, couldn't these guys've gotten back together twenny years back when they at least looked a lot less ready for the Social Security rolls???

Anyway here's this Radio Birdman reunion disque I got like late last summer or early in the fall from Paul McGarry (who else?), and although I spun the thing was back when I first got it just to tell Paul "I heard it" it wasn't like I was exactly paying attention that closely. Frankly, Radio Birdman were one of those groups that I thought was extremely hotcha way back in the eighties, although by the nineties I wasn't exactly busting down the barn doors in order to play any of their albums 'cept maybe for that great SOLDIERS OF ROCK & ROLL documentary LP. And besides, their "locale" wasn't exactly a zipcode where I'd prefer ro spend any great amount of time, at least if I weren't packing any heat, and sure Radio Birdman were from Sydney and not Melbourne but to this Yankee Doo-Doo it's still too close for comfort!

Anyway this recording was taken from an En Why See appearance last summer at the start of a tour that I understand was such a bust that promoters hadda drag people in off the streets to help fill up the venue a la Von Lmo's infamous Palladium gig. Maybe not, but I guess the group finished up their tour of the states pretty whipped and dejected o'er the lack of response, but then again what can you expect from a general music populace that takes banality at both extremes to heart and has foregone high energy for muzak even schmoozier than the Vicki Carr of their parents' generation!

SQ's surprisingly thin, almost sounding like an audience tape circa the early-nineties when the technowhiz was getting better but glitches were par for the course. However the performance is still pretty high-energy and a lot more vivacious than the recent Rocket From The Tombs' attempts at the same post-Detroit whirl (albeit nowhere as good as what the Stooges could cook up on TELLURIC CHAOS). Rob Younger still sounds as mid-Amerigan garage as he did on those old recordings (and the fact that he now looks like one of those balding fifty-plus longhairs that always sit next to you at the free clinic only makes us follically-impaired ones a lot more at ease!) and the rest of the band seems to be playing it just as hard as they were back in the seventies, almost as if they just picked up where they left off almost as if 1978 segued directly into 2007. Maybe they're not as energetic as they could've been on some of those live '76 tapes true, but it still whips the butt of most Amerigaindie rock 2008 so quit complainin'!

The old material's cooked up just fine enough although I frankly thought that the new stuff wasn't up to par. Too same-y in its sameness I guess. Still the overall performance and jams being kicked out are just as nut-twist as they were back inna day, and not only that but the covers of BOC, the Who and Kinks show that Birdman were most certaily heavy-duty contenders in the hard rock game and if they played their cards right they could even have been as big as...the Imperial Dogs???

If you think that this writeup is a harbinger of things to come then you may just be right! Y'see, in today's mail I happened to get a package from something called Shock Records in (eck!) Melbourne, the garbage scow of the earth, featuring some CDs that I may actually PLAY despite my better judgement. Two of 'em are by the Hitmen, that hotcha aggregate featuring Chris Masuak ex-Birdman (a guy whom I understand is difficult to get along with, and if this is so MORE POWER TO HIM!) while the third is yet another edition of DO THE POP!, a sampler of even more seventies rarities from some of your Australian faveraves crammed into two CDs making for an instant party in your ears, or instant insanity depending on which side of the vomitorium you crawled outta. But the question is...shall I review these items even if they come from the City that also houses the one called You-Know-Who??? (I mean, what if the guy even touched these???? Ooooh the cooties!) As usual, your votes will tell.

(An' let's give a little hand, for the boys in the, give it for Rick Noll for letting me use these Younger snaps he sent my way! A twenty-one straw-shoot salute to you, Rick!)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

TRACTOR CD (Ozit/Kerrang, United Kingdom)

Harmonia-MUSIC VON HARMONIA und DELUXE CDs (Brain Germany and Brain/Polydor Japan respectively)

Over the past twenty or so years the term "proto-punk" has been snapping my nerve-endings in arpeggios of eternal rockism joy. And yeah, I know that to you Johan Kugelberg's article on "punk before punk" (a clunkier variation of the form) in the latest UGLY THINGS was some sort of major musical epiphany opening your mind to previously-unheralded worlds of music collecting, but for me it was just a rehash of loads of fun facts I pretty much already knew about crammed into a nice package. Don't get me wrong, I really loved the article to the point where a number of pages are actually stuck together, but like I've been a proto-punk fan (perhaps even more so than an actual punk fan!) for a long long time and will continue to be long after I'm chucked into that big hole at the popper's cemetary!

I dunno exactly how I first got to be such a fan of the pre-punk punk groups in the first place, but even during the late-seventies days of rage I was more intrigued with the under-the-counterculture scene that was happening way back when than I was with the then-current goings on in underground rock music! Well, not really, but frankly I can recall spending more than a few hours at the library scouring through THE MUSIC INDEX trying to locate information not only on a wide array of classic mid-sixties garage bands but late-sixties then-obscurities that captivated my tiny dago-brain just as much as I did combing through the back pages of THE VILLAGE VOICE just to see what hot upstarts were playing CBGB and Max's that very week! Nothing much else to do while stuck here in God's hemmorhoid (that's Western Pee-YAY! to you), and come to think of it I was probably more stoked by the old Flamin' Groovies albums and NUGGETS at the time than I was with a lotta the goings on in New York and London! And Pere Ubu appealed to me more or less because of the Seeds references than anything else you'd care to think of, unless it was the Hawkwind comparisons.

But back to my trowling through THE MUSIC INDEX trying to find shards of info on all of those groups from the sixties until the mid-seventies that sorta wooshed right by me the first time around. Still wouldn't mind reading that Deviants interview that I believe Richard Williams conducted in the pages of MELODY MAKER (or even the article on them that I searched through the bound edition of late-'69 ROLLING STONEs for, only to find out that the ref. I had was for the English edition!) as well as a whole slew of late-sixties/early-seventies scraps o' info documenting a whole slew of groups both well-known and instant-obscurities, which only proves that once I get obsessive about something I stick with it until I've beaten that dead carcass for all it's worth. The sign of a true fan (or true anal-retentive...never could get the two straightened out).

But why this obsession? I can trace it to a perhaps a few articles read in CREEM (and maybe even GIG) or a number of freebie Cle-area college papers perhaps. Y'know, back when there still seemed to be this big tie-in between the then-current underground rock and all the great stuff that was getting pumped out in the late-sixties, a sorta limbo where it was too late for the Dolls and Stooges yet too early for the Sex Pistols which is why all those references to Television I was reading made 'em out to be one of the strongest attempts at rock creating a new language based on old dead tongues. And it sure seemed rather tempting at the time. Of course the little asides here and there, such as in the Z. Z. Top article ("Whorin' and Scorin' with...") in the Feb. '76 CREEM where the guys talked about their own past in now-infamous local punk groups the Moving Sidewalks and American Blues mentioning the greatness of loco hero Roky Erickson as well as this group called the Red Crayola that had some guy who used to play electric razor in it added to the (inner) mystique. Also sticking out in my mind are various tossaway reviews of late-sixties punk gems in STEREO REVIEW written by kultured kritics who couldn't handle the rising mass of primitivism led by such thud-stalwarts as the MC5, Stooges and Black Sabbath, a trend which lasted well into the late-seventies as a tasty review of Devo's DUTY NOW FOR THE FUTURE with the scribbler in question saying that our Akronites reminded him of a group he saw at a frat party about a decade earlier that had a member of the group that played the fender of a '59 Edsel or some equally antiquated auto which eventually turned into a riot...well shucks, if that just wasn't the sorta tonic that a guy who was forced to listen to the latest Juice Newton single to and from school was looking for, and don't let anybody out there tell you different!

And as the days roll on and I get crochitier and crochitier, those early budding days of what would eventually be called "punk rock" mean all the more to me. Maybe it's because this kind of soundspew is what was happening in many a joint back when I was a kid, and man I sure wished there was some crazy proto-punk group in my neck of the woods, perhaps even in a garage near my very own home back when I was young and sprouting just so's I could spy on 'em and get some free entertainment whilst they were rehearsing. (Which is a true enough story for me because when I was like four or five my neighbor Eddie Barton was in a group where he played drums, and one day when they were rehearsing in the basement I was looking at 'em in awe through the basement window giving Eddie a load of grief in the process! It took not only Eddie's mom but my own to pry me away, but not without a lot of tears on my part. Still don't know why my espying on what seemed like a momentous occasion could have gotten Eddie all discombobulated, but my presence was really upsetting to the guy and I guess it was his house anyway and what right does a mere turdler have espying such a thing as a rock & roll rehearsal!) And of course, this is the sound of punk before punk really got a name thus opening up entire new vistas of musical possibilities to...boring kids who really needed a roadmap to know which way the wind was blowing in their typically 2-D lives. Like heavy metal, when punk rock got a name for itself it lost a lot of its inherent power in the process and never really was the same again.

Here are three disques culled together not only because they all seem to have some proto-punk credo but because they just happened to by top spins on my Cee-Dee launching pad this week. One of 'em is a reissue of an album I had heard about a decade back and poo-pooh'd. The other two are longtime faves that even made it onto a top ten list of then-current boppers about a year ago, but since I never did write about 'em on the pages of this blog I figured that perhaps now was the time to take advantage of their existence and maybe hip a few readers even though I'm sure anyone who didn't accidentally stumble across this writeup in search of the "Gay/Feminism and Bestiality" blog already has these platters in their collection. Such are the dangers of "cruising" the internet. Tractor's self-titled debut's the first on the chopping block today, and frankly when I first head this way back in the early-nineties I didn't exactly dance the polka to it. In fact I thought, especially after all of the proto-punk hype surrounding this long lasting (even until today!) group that it was a wee bit too progressive rock for my high energy tastes. I believe I mentioned something about how Tractor would have fit in snugly on the Famous Charisma Label in one of those early-nineties issues of my own fanzine and if you thought that this one was going to get a heavy-duty spin in the years following then brother you haven't been paying attention that closely.

But onna lark I decided to give Tractor another chance, and whaddya know but this "30th Anniversary Special Edition" of our heavy duo's debut had made it into my greasy paws just inna nick o' time for me to do a nice writeup of the thing. Talk about luck, and after spinning this 'un after a good twelve or so years all I gotta say is that I must've been on the rag back then because TRACTOR really is a hit straight outta nowhere! Now that I've hit menopause I can settle back and enjoy Tractor's great high energy rock which spans so many genres and styles that it's no wonder that the punk rockers as well as the KERRANG heavy metal enthusiasts (who put this platter our since I guess John Peel's Dandelion imprint is once again deep-sixed) both claim Tractor as one of their own. TRACTOR slips and slides between hard rock of an early UFO/Hawkwind/Pink Fairies nature (hence the true proto-punksterisms of the thing) with a few sidesteps into early Black Sabbath (who coulda been proto-punk contenders had they fizzed after MASTER OF REALITY) and hey, this one swings swell enough that even the acoustic proggy numbers surprisingly don't offend me like they usedta. But that don't matter because most of TRACTOR is good hard throb-rock of the best early-seventies variety, and it's amazing when you think that this two-man band is still playing around after a good thirty-eight or so years and can be hired to play your next orgy if you supply the air fare and appropriate pharmaceuticals. Hmmm, and come to think of it even the acoustic number "Everytime it Happens" is just as much a cooker as the hard-edged tracks complete with a Mike Karoli-esque guitar lead that has you looking twice for Damo. Additional bonus tracks including this great Indian Raga Whoop are more than worth the price of admission. Damn, are these two good even if they look like Uncle Biff at his retirement dinner these days...gonna hafta check out their flesh and blood punk rock track on my long-buried STREETS collection just to remind myself of what these guys were up to during the late-seventies "upheaval"! (And it's so well-organized that even those acoustic "bopping gnome" tracks that were stuck on at the end were OK by me---hope you have the smelling salts handy!)
And while we're talking about proto-punk, the krautrockers did that trip with much aplomb back in the early-seventies. I'm sure this strange fact would have shocked a few outright punks back in the day since krautrock was more or less associated with hippies getting high on things besides life and hey, I remember the time I was at this West Covina shopping mall record shop in '77 seeing a display of classic Ohr albums amidst an artsy layout of bongs and other paraphrenalia! I even remember the long outta-circulation Jade Hubertz telling me about the days when he was working in a record shop and hippies were trading in horribly scratched copies of PARADIESWARTS DUUL and ya hadda be careful taking the records outta the sleeves because hypodermic needles were more'n likely to start pouring out! Not exactly an atmosphere for punkism proper you may think, but in many ways a lotta these early krautrock pioneers sound just like what those Amerigan garage bands were cranking out in the 'burbs of the oft loathed states at the time, and true a lotta these krautsters were pushing-30 collegiate types who had only recently discovered rock music after playing avant classical or jazz, but at least these aging hipsters had it made over their Amerigan counterparts (especially the ones in San Francisco) because the music they were making sounded a lot more like that of some sixteen-year-olds who learned to play while spinning Stooges albums, maybe mixed with Stockhausen but it still came off pretty scrunchy if you ask me!

Don't know exactly how Harmonia would've exactly fitted into this scheme of proto-punkdom but they sure have two things going for their inclusion into the p-rock hall of fame even if the whole of Cluster (not exactly one of my top-notch echelon of German Expressionist groups) is in it along with Neu!'s Michael Rother (for me the hippie half of the band counterbalanced by Klaus Dinger's extroverted punk stance). One fact that can place 'em squarely in the punk rock arena is that none other than Volcanic Tongue's very own David Keenan once declared Harmonia a punk rock group (wish I could re-read the exact review, but all of the Harmonia albums at Volcanic Tongue are sold out), and if Keegan sez Harmonia are punks then so be it! Another pertinent fact is the fact that member Dieter Mobieus himself said Harmonia were influenced by "the Velvet Underground, Mozart, Coltrane, Brel, Arabic, Hindu...the list goes on and on" which seems to me like a statement that your standard artsy-punk in a fit of braggadocio would have made around the same time (mid-seventies)! And hey, I'm sure you remember that story about the band Peter Laughner wanted to form with Paul Marotta which would have had influences as far-ranging as the Velvets and Mozart? Maybe Harmonia were really onto something even if I doubt that the Laughner/Marotta group, had they ever made it outta that night alive, would have sounded anything like this!

MUSIK VON HARMONIA does "have it all" or at least enough to qualify it as being as much a proto-punk contender as RAW POWER or maybe even the first Blue Oyster Cult album had they ended up struggling for a good seven more years playing Wednesday night CBGB gigs with the Brats. It does have "it" more than Kraftwerk outdoing them at their own electronic rock game, and in many ways they even equal the likes of Can, Amon Duul (I and II) as well as Faust, three groups who could have easily survived as late-sixties Amerigan garage bands triple billed with the Stooges and Alice Cooper at the Ludlow Garage (even though Umela Hmota 2 and especially 3 would have mopped the floor with alla 'em!). But still, the Velvet-inspired repeato riffs and general seventies electronic whirl (I dunno about you, but back in the day I really had an "affectation" for that old warm Moog synthesizer sound that seemed so state-of-the-art! Was I crazy or what!!!) sounds a lot more engaging and experimental than a lotta the stuff that Harmonia was eventually made obsolete by. I know that's sorta like comparing Supercar with all of the flying jets and other air travel one may see today, but then again the general stylistic warmth of the 1959 model sure has it beat over the cyborg coldness of technology as it eventually turned out, and the same can be said about Harmonia tenfold!

Followup DELUXE seems to veer even closer to that Euro-take on Velvetisms than the debut...dunno if that's because of the presence on some tracks of Guru Guru drummer Mani Neumaier (who certainly could be a devotee of the primal steady-beat thud a la such legendary hamfisters as Maureen Tucker, Scott Asheton, Twink and Jaki Leibzeit!). Maybe it was the opening title track which sounded more like a mid-seventies Eno number down to the chanted vocals. And sure it's "treacly" at times but then again so were La Dusseldorf and I'd certainly consider them hefty competitors in the mid/late-seventies Velvet Underground groove sweepstakes. The rest of DELUXE ain't that bad either, pleasing enough riff-garage rock that's not as electronic as MUSIK VON... but closer in style to Neu!'s more street-rock take on the "motorik" style (is that the "hypno-beat" Criswell was predicting?) complete with Rother's glissando guitar playing that I guess was actually good enough to get him a contract with the snazz late-seventies British underground label Radar, and at the same time they were issuing a lotta Amerigan proto-punk classics so don't say that he wasn't in good company!

Whaddeva, it makes a good hunk of what came after that great late-seventies surge in underground music (most of which gets bantered around using that horrid term "post-punk" which always crawed my throat!) sound positively tepid. And yeah, a lotta it was, and what's even more surprising about it all is that 2/3rd of Harmonia (the Cluster part to be precise) weren't exactly spring chickens with Hans Joachim Rodelius pushing the big four-oh when these recordings were being made! And yeah, I know we've thrown all of those old notions about ageism out the window long ago, but remember this was inna seventies when it sure seemed strange that Alex Harvey was old enough to be our dads and Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts were so desperately trying to hide their ages from the public. Kinda gives hope to all you geriatric readers out there that maybe you too can recapture a lost youth with your own punk batallion, eh?
Since writing the above windbagger I chanced upon a couple of related platters that fit into the aforementioned screedathon. (Which I find pretty dullsville if you ask me...too bad I'm outta Maypo!) As for the first...well, I must be the only person on the face of this earth who enjoys the NEU '72 LIVE disc that Captain Trip in Japan released well over a decade back. It's amazing just how many people really tear into this 'un, but (once again) going against the grain of "conventional" thought I'll declare this perhaps Neu!'s most defining moment. Sounding more like a clandestine recording of an EPI-period Velvet Underground performance (or that of one of those very early Velvets-inspired aggregates who knew enough to absorb the energy from the get-go), the low-fidelity of this rehearsal tape actually lends an air of grace as the trio of Dinger, Rother and Kranemann weave in and out of some rather majestic twists and turns that seem to plunge the Sargasso just as much as Lester Bangs said Can did. The recorder is left on even after the group finishes their extended workout, and strange utterances in the German language can be heard making us dumb Amerigans wonder what all the fuss is about. Then the three get into this hard cranky tangent that sorta reminds me of the Germs' "Sex Boy" more'n anything! Dunno about you, but this proto-punk racket that Neu! cranked out sure comes off a lot smoother'n what alla that post-punk doldrums groups that took their cues from the krautrock movement were whipping up in their botiques back in the eighties! Also getting the spin was Thomas Dinger's FUR MICH, a disque I got over a decade ago even though I've only played it all the way through in the here and now. Kinda candy-coated like the latterday La Dusseldorf releases true, but frankly FUR MICH still made a nice enough impression on my late-night listening even if I thought that the occasional trips into twee-dom were pretty much...well, evocative of a more eighties-styled music scene that sorta trashed all the good the seventies promised. But it's still way tops over most of the underground pretensions that poured outta the chasm of "artistic license" back in those sorry days. Don't let the glammy cover fool you, FUR MICH is an undiscovered krautrock/proto-punk in a modern "new music" world platter that I'm sure you'll get more'n a little enjoyment outta especially during those more hormonally-challenged moments alla us male menopausers have to fight off!

Friday, February 22, 2008

NEU '75 (actually '74, but who's counting)..."HERO"!!!!!


I'm obviously in a vid-posting mood right now, so here are two ultra-obscurities (that Imants Krumins tipped me off to!) from The Third Kind, a group which most people think of as being the mid-eighties reincarnation of Simply Saucer because of the presence of mainstays Edgar Breau and Kevin Christoff but that ain't exactly the case. The first of these tracks is a spright, FIFTH DIMENSION period Byrdsy number called "Vecki" which has one of those melodies that's gonna spin through my head for the next few weeks or so:

Dunno what the title of this 'un is, but I find it pretty much on the same wavelength as not only the late-seventies Saucer recordings but what a lotta groups were whipping up in their garages back in the day:

It's really unbelievable that these audio (and visual!) obscurities are finally seeing the light of day....praise be to Youtube! I mean, back in the seventies and eighties, who would have ever thought that any of these long-archived recordings would be making their way to the public at large? Tune in for more of these totally outta-nowhere garage obscurities as soon as they hit the web!


If you thought the scene with Farfour the bogus Mickey Mouse in a marked down costume that I posted a few weeks back was bad enough, just get a load of Nahool the Bee (Farfour's replacement) swinging kitties by the tail and throwing rocks at lions!

But even Nahool's tenure on TOMORROW'S PIONEERS was short-lived since our bee with the human relatives was denied access to hospital treatment by the Israelis! His replacement on the show? None other than Assud the mock Bugs Bunny, who not only is Nahool's brother but has such a vengeance for his sibling's death that he boasts that he will actually eat the Jews!

BARNEY BEAN never got this surreal! Twenty years from now when the target audience of TOMORROW'S PIONEERS finally stormtroop their way into Ameriga, can you imagine the look on their faces while pillaging Disney World and coming across the real Mickey, bursting into tears saying "Farfour, we thought you were dead!" Laugh along with the apocalypse!!!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

JIM JONES (1951-2008)

I really don't like writing these obituaries, and it's even harder to put mind to pixel especially when you've actually had some sorta contact, no matter how slight, with the person you're now eulogizing but I just found out via Lindsay Hutton and his NEXT BIG THING blog (where I always seem to find out about these rock & roll deaths now that PSYCHOTRONIC seemingly went under) that former Mirrors/Styrene Money Band bassist and latterday Pere Ubu guitarist Jim Jones has died. I guess according to the PLAIN DEALER Jones had been ill for years (which prompted his leaving Ubu about a decade back) but it's like I haven't heard a thing about him being in any sort of ill health so the news of his passing is affecting me a lot more'n something like this usually would. And now he's gone, which if anything really dredges up the old memories of those not-so-glorious eighties when I was not only in contact with the guy but actually got to see him when Home and Garden hit Youngstown. That's where the two of us finally got to meet face-to-face and chitchatted for a few minutes or so, something I doubt Jones would ever remember, but for a young budding upstart in the world o' rock it was sure a memorable experience for me! And if you don't think that was definitely one of the tippy-toppest highlights of my life then brother, you don't know what it's like to be trapped in the aura of greatness!

And yeah, as the PD obit also said, Jones was an extremely nice guy to be in contact with no matter who you were. I remember this time I called him at work back when he was still at Record Rendevous and some gal who was in his employ got my phone message to him totally mangled up! Y'see, I was on the hunt for some of the rarities that Jones had in his collection including the Electric Eels session he played bass on and a tape of Mirrors' version of "Sweet Sister Ray" that was recorded around October '72, and somehow the Miss thought I was in search of some recently-released cassette tapes that were being sold at Record Rendevous that I wanted to personally buy from Jones! Anyway, Jones wrote me a particularly funny note back regarding my message asking if I was looking for some "Codger Rotters" tapes (that's "Roger Waters" to you) and that yeah, he would be MORE THAN HAPPY to dub his Eels and Mirrors cassettes for my personal listening pleasure! Whadda cutup he was! Anyway we made phone contact once or maybe twice afterwards and he regaled me with the sagas of Cleveland in the seventies with Mirrors and the Styrene Money Band...what a class act Jones was, taking time out of his busy schedule to talk to li'l ol' me! And yeah, I eventually got those tapes which helped ease me through some pretty low-energy times, and although thankfully the Electric Eels tracks have faithfully been released on a number of disques o'er the years that 19-minute "Sweet Sister Ray" remains a much-needed obscurity even to this day. If I were a conniving rat I'd bootleg this and other Mirrors rarities moiling away in my tape bin, but I won't.

I actually got to see Jones in the flesh twice in my life, the first time being when he was a member of the Easter Monkeys (who at the time were working under another name which escapes me at the moment...I believe it was Desperate Energy) at the Mather Courtyard at Case Western Reserve University June '81. (This is the same place where the final Mirrors and Electric Eels shows took place six years earlier, and judging from the photos of the stage taken in '75 and in '81 it hadn't changed much in those years!) I was there the whole day on my lonesome listening to the likes of the Wombats (pix from that show appear on their H*******d mini-album), the Human Switchboard and Modern Art Studios (not to mention that band that had Titch from Bernie and the Invisibles who did a little stage dive into the bushes) and...right when it was time for the Monkeys to play with the entire band front and center...the power was cut by the university (it was getting a bit late, but not that much!), causing some pretty caustic comments to come from the mouth of lead singer Chris Yarmock as the assembed began plotting a violent overthrow of the upper echelon. I took it as a cue to head back up to Coventry and pick up a few more albums for the pile...after all, getting caught up in a free-for-all because the authorities pulled the plug wasn't exactly my idea of a great way to cap an otherwise pleasant late-spring afternoon!

Thankfully I got the chance to see Jones again when his Home and Garden played the Cedars in downtown Youngstown 'round '86, back in the days when I still had the stamina to get up at five inna morn to go to work and party 'til the wee hours on a Friday night. I remember liking H&G at the time since they seemed like a good enough approximation of latterday Pere Ubu (this being right before I started losing interest in them and the groups they had spawned), and although I probably would just pass on that whole style of post-seventies alternarock these days it sure was great not only seeing Jim Jones perform but having a short gab with him pre-gig. He kinda reminded me of a thin Jackie Coogan whose hair was only starting to recede, and if I can recall correctly he was wearing a tank-top with the OUI magazine logo proudly emblazoned. And yeah, he was a real gent, something you don't quite see in this drugged-out, turncoat world of rock & roll!

It seemed as if everybody from the Cleveland area (and beyond) who I was in contact with back in the eighties and nineties liked Jones. Brian Sands of Milk fame was pals with him enough to release the first Foreign Bodies single on his own Bizart label, and I remember that Al Globekar, also ex-Milk as well as Andy Gerome Band and Circus ran a record store called Platterpuss with him as well. Come to think of it, I can't recall a bad thing being said about Jones by anyone, which must be a record considering the temperaments and general tone of way too many people out there in underground rock-land.

Did I ever tell you that the only time he went to see the Velvet Underground was when they did "Sweet Sister Ray" at La Cave back in April of '68, and he was sitting at the very same table with future bandmate Jamie Klimek and the hand-held Norelco (that's the Philips brand as it was known inna US) primitive cassette recorder that taped that show which we now all seem to have in our Velvets collections somewhere? And how about this story I was once told about how he caught the Silver Apples at that very same club later that year and how he thought their set was incredible, feeling apprehensive about approaching the two members of the group during intermission thinking that anybody who could make that sort of a racket must be total freakazoid axe murdering drugsots with spiralling eyes! Of course they turned out to be really nice guys and the three had a good conversation I sure wish I knew the exact details of!

And I'm sure you also know the story about how Jones, who was in England roadying for Pere Ubu back in '78, played an Electric Eels tape for Jon Savage who was impressed enough with it that he pestered Rough Trade into releasing the boffo "Agitated"/"Cyclotron" single!

Yes, another alumni of the great Cleveland "first wave" has passed on joining Peter Laughner and Stiv Bators in that great rehearsal loft in the sky. Here's to you Jones, a man of stature who fortunately treated peons like myself just as well as he would heads of state or even Jane Scott for that matter. Rock on...for all eternity.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Despite being ravaged with the agony of lower-back pain (which was "set off" by a wild sneezing jag of all things last Monday evening!) that not only has kept me awake half the night these past two evenings but enveloped me in virtual torture ever since, I am still going to face it like a MAN and give you a typical mid-week update on just a few of the Cee-Dees that have graced my ears despite being held hostage by a feeling akin to your lower spine being sledgehammered by an unemployed Polish plumber! (And yeah, I would "wish it on my worst enemy" or Dave Lang even...I mean, he deserves it!) But hey, I guess in order to be a striving and successful blogger in this world of utter hippie swill soldier on I must, so don't go saying that I can't do the humble selflessness routine once in awhile too!

Television-MARQUEE MOON CD (Elektra/Rhino)

Yeah, I know that reviewing a top ten win place or show slab o' aluminum like this 'un is akin to hipping all of you lumpen prolesters to old Alice Cooper singles just like I used to do during the early days of my own crudzine, but since I just got this new mini-LP sleeve version o' the thing ("LOVINGLY REPRODUCED IN A CD-SIZED JACKET"...well, I'm glad they did it without malice in their hearts!) plus I gotta admit that I haven't even spun my original musicassette version o' the thing in quite awhile, what better fodder for this orgy can you think of? And true, Television come off like a group that spawned way too many imitators and emulators o'er the years (some of 'em even good!), but once you get down to it MARQUEE MOON was a whole lot more to me than just being one of those brave new wave offerings that miraculously sprung forth from the ether to educate all of us stoopid suburbanites as to the music that we shoulda been listening to. It was a pretty good late-seventies bargan bin find alongsides all of those '77-vintage Sire albums, and seein' once-revered "save-the-world" music like this intermingling in the cheap bins alongsides Flamin' Groovies and Young Rascals offerings was pretty invigorating for a fellow like myself who certainly hadda count the pennies in order to get a little bitta high energy into his life!

After years of listening to audience tapes of Richard Hell-period shows at Max's and CBGB not to mention the Eno-produced demos and loads of pertinent bootleg wares, MARQUEE MOON sure sounds downright major label spit 'n polish professional. Which is probably why I didn't totally cozy up that much to this 'un when I gave it a spin last night...of course there might have been extraneous circumstances extant (like a throbbing spine) that hampered my critical acumen, but danged if I'll take the wide array of pre-MARQUEE MOON demos (Eno's or Lanier's) and live recordings over the official product.

But that's no reason to dump on MARQUEE MOON which is still a superfine example of what some outta-nowhere New York City punk rock group could do with a whizbang producer and real studio to work in. And it's a good place in itself to start, even if the the thing sounds more like a 1977 professionally-produced product than it does 1971 garage band. If only MARQUEE MOON had the tough edge of TEENAGE HEAD would it be the no-holds-barred album I sure was hoping for. But for now, I believe it will suffice at least in the face of all it stood AGAINST back in the day.
STUMBLEBUNNY CD-R (private pressing)

I'll betcha yez all thunk I wuz some smartsy when it came to Noo Yawk punk rock releases, eh? Well, here's a late-seventies NYC-oriented disc that I never even knew existed, and to add insult to injury the thing came out on a major label if you can believe it! Of course I knew that there was a band called Stumblebunny playing 'round the local club circuit at the time...I mean, they seemed to be playing out a lot (they even opened for Link Wray at Max's!) and who could forget their single which appeared on the very first edition of KILLED BY DEATH way back in the dark ages of the eighties? Stumblebunny seemed nice enough, though with all of the other groups playing around in the 'burgh at the time I'm sure they got plowed under, if you know what I mean. What I didn't know was that Stumblebunny actually toured England and Germany opening for the Hollies (!), and while they were holed up in the former REICHSTAG they actually recorded and released an album for Phonogram which I guess has been all but forgotten 'cept for the most diehard of New York City punkitudeners a good thirty years after the fact!

Flash forward thirty years and none other'n ex-member Chris Robison's making CD-Rs of this very album and auctioning them off on ebay! Praise be to Chris for taking the time out to make this rarity once again available (if it ever really was) to a punk-starved public, and even though I'm sure this "re-release" was done without the knowledge of the parent company who cares? I'll bet that Robison's making more selling these burns than he did from the legit album, and it's nice to see that the artist is finally seeing some long-missing moolah for his hard work after all these years. I mean, you don't think he's doing this merely for his health do you?!?

Anyway this Stumblebunny album's pretty neat stuff that, while not of the hard post-Velvets/experimental hard-edge late-sixties garage band style, is still pretty good NYC rock that sounds a lot like what I figure many of these other underdocumented groups did. Nothing hardcore rocking but surprisingly nice pop rock...even melodic pop at times with harmonies and nice playing which makes me wonder why a lotta doofs out there were pouncing on punksterisms at the time w/o hearing nary a note of it. Kinda reminds me of back in the day when things like "Cruel to be Kind" were considered tres-outre by a lotta my peers which only goes to show you how repressed teenage mindsets were, and I only hope this gives you an idea of what I was up AGAINST at the time so don't go 'round thinking I'm some sorta bandwagon jumper-on, pleeze...

No track listings and the songs are "banded" into two sides so you can't just click on a fave so you'll have to do a lotta fast-forwarding to get to a fave song. (I liked this one numbuh with a Lovin' Spoonful sorta lilt to it...wish I knew what it was called because it was a proverbial ear-pleaser!) And yeah, there's nothing "meaning of life" anywhere on this platter but Stumblebunny are still worth tracking down if your tastes veer into the more melodic side of late-seventies self-produced gems. And of course stuff like this only makes me wanna hear more and more of alla them "under-the-cover" local bands from throughout the seventies from not only New York but elsewhere across the globe, and hopefully alla the vaults will be opened so's we can get a taste of what all those unreleased/recorded bands we used to hear about were just like. Maybe least while I still have my hearing, I hope!
Material-MEMORY SERVES CD (G&P, Russia)

My recent Sonny Sharrock dig-ups had me going back to this classic early-eighties album that was originally released on Elektra/Musician during one of their more lucid moments. Considering how MEMORY SERVES, like the Television platter above also seemingly went directly into the cutout bins I guess budget-conscious record collectors like us must've had a field day collecting rarities such as this and at low cost to our already over-taxed pocketbooks as well! I mean, who sez the eighties were a bad time for music considering all of the great sixties/seventies flea market and cheap rack finds that helped quadruple my record collection, and for the fraction of the cost had I bought these things at full price or from GOLDMINE set-sale lists!

And maybe not-so-surprisingly so MEMORY SERVES is an extremely boffo album from a time when the merger between punk rock and freedom jazz was pretty much being solidified thanks to way too many smarties drawing the comparisons in a variety of magazine articles o'er the past ten years. This of couse was a time when Rudolph Grey would get Ken Simon to play free sax in Red Transistor (and of course introduce the likes of Beaver Harris and Arthur Doyle to a new generation via the Blue Humans) and hard-edged players such as Joseph Bowie, Philip Wilson, Ronald Shannon Jackson and Luther Thomas were intermingling on the same stages where the Contortions and Von Lmo would perform. And Material, with not only Sharrock on guitar but free jazz players the likes of Billy Bang and Olu Dara (not forgotting sax player Henry Threadgill and AACM alumni George Lewis on trombone) certainly fit in with that budding trend in underground rock, and it's too bad that more of this kind of jazz-rock didn't get out to the public like it shoulda because I think we sure coulda used a lot more avantjazzpunk merger at the time and a lot less bands filled with people dressing up like Lilly Tomlin doing the gnu wave dance rock deal!

The two vocal tracks sound very mid-seventies Eno before he began to take himself too seriously with Sharrock's guitar playing angular enough yet fitting in with the funkpunk rather smoothly. (Of course Fred Frith also contributes a few licks as does multi-instrumentalist Michael Beinhorn, and if any of them are doing those twisted licks then may I call them ample imitators?) The instrumentals also digest well enough, not falling into those horrid dance-rock grooves of the time (which Material could certainly be guilty of) and even with the Ronald Reagan sample this doesn't sound dated one bit! And hey, it's always great hearing players like Bang doing rural fiddle scraping with that urban touch kinda coming off like GREEN ACRES inna 'hood proving that you didn't have to be an uptight Manhattan snob or decadent artiste to make true art statements. And it didn't even HELP either!

Makes me wanna hear more such as some of those Material live shows like the ones done when Sharrock took over the guitar chair after Chris Cultieri left Summer '80. And with all the taping that was going on at the time you woulda thunk some of those gigs woulda made the trading lists but nooooo. I mean, I have a CBGB show from early '80 before Sharrock's arrival that's wasting away somewhere in the hovel, but it sure looks as if nobody and I mean nobody was astute enough to grab a recorder and take it to one of the gigs when Sharrock was front and center! Kinda makes me mad that these shows are rotting away in (the now "respected producer") Bill Laswell's collection when there are big bucks to be made in releasing this stuff to a hungry general populace! Hey Bill, why dontcha open sesame the vaults and share some of that gnarly stuff for once! (Until then, snarf up all the Last Exit disques you can find...those should sate your appetite for unchained Sharrock at his late-eighties best!)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

IN THE SAGE WORDS OF BETTE MIDLER, A COUPLE BIG ONES ATCHA! ('n yeh I know it's a variation on an old gag but they can't all be gems like Dave Lang's latest!)

Still not much happening here at BTC central, but that's not gonna stop me from shirking my bi-weekly doody to give you the best posts that blogdom has ever had the fortune of seeing in a good X years o' the form! Of course that means I gotta hit some of the old faithfuls in my collection for pertinant blogfodder, hopefully something I haven't reviewed before or at least on this blog, and considering how many Cee-Dees I have spun in the past few days solely for blog purposes only to realize that in fact they have been written up in these "pages" has been quite surprising to say the least. That's why there are only two "newies" this time (and believe-you-me, I hadda be quite certain they haven't made it to this blog thus a good hour or so of pre-publication research!), but as you can guess I put my heart, soul and maybe even a few glands into this post so don't go complainin' that I just don't care about you precious readers anymore. An' besides it ain't like I was ever made outta moolah, not unlike some of the white collar bloggers who take up way too much blogspace to matter, so if you've come here expecting the latest mp3 of whatever down-the-hatch new alternative hype there may be out there in alternativeland you've certainly come to the wrong place!

And unfortunately (for you) I haven't even had the time to venture into my rekkid collection down inna basement to refresh myself with some long-forgotten goodies! There certainly are a buncha worthwhile wares down there that need to be writ up for the express purposes of giving you a clear, concise and maybe even mediocre post, but once I get the time and have the ability I most certainly will take that long trek downstairs and maybe even play that enticing Lookies single that Rich Noll sent my way all those months ago! But until I do (go downstairs that is, as well as receive a few bulging orders I have on reserve one of these days!) here are them two disques in question, oldies but sureies, that I hope will enlighten you in some occult way or else the entire purpose of this blog will have been for naught.

But before we do, just take a gander at the drawing that I've posted on the right, an actual gift to me from none other than Jillery herself! Y'see, last Tuesday was the thirteenth anniversary of my "break-day", the day when Jillery actually went and broke my arm and boy is she still upset about it. (Mainly because she was aiming for the neck, but we can't all be perfect!) Anyway, in honor of the occasion Jillery actually went and bought me this original Barney Bean drawing seen on the right, a nice cartoon-y pic of a guy that was made using the initials "J. Z." which belonged to some lucky birthday kiddie who sent his name in to channel 33 way back in the day just so's Bean (a. k. a. Bill Harris, longtime WYTV announcer/station manager) could make this drawing for him onna air! (Those of you who have issue 17 of my own mag can see the drawing that he did with Jillery's initials way back in '65, albeit the drawing she received was done on cheap drawing paper unlike this new acquisition and probably was done off-camera since nobody can recall seeing any shows where he would have draw the thing for her!) Anyway, I am proud that this framed piece of artwork is now hanging in my very bedroom, and muchas gracias to Jillery for shattering my humerus (and believe me, at the time is wasn't humorous one bit!) or else I never woulda gotten hold of this classic sixties tee-vee memorabilia!

And now the no further ado part...

Television & Patti Smith-EARLY GIG '75 CD (Element of Crime bootleg)

From what I understand there's now a 2-CD boot featuring both groups' entire sets from the legendary April '75 CBGB run, but since I got this one already I thought I'd hold off on dishing out any more exorbitant import prices at least until the next great money purge. And it's a shame that nobody thought of releasing any of these recordings a lot earlier, like when both TV and Smith were pretty much hot fanzine fodder because this disque's got it all from the VELVET UNDERGROUND LIVE AT MAX'S KANSAS CITY ambience (with the geekoid college kids talking into the mic telling us all from a good thirtysome years how this is gonna make a swell bootleg just like Jim Carroll woulda done!) to the early documentation of both groups long before they released any major label fodder for the cutout bins! Television's just starting to get their grip on a more "serious" form of soundscapading (compare these tracks to those Richard Hell-era tapes from a year earlier just to see how much they've honed up) while Patti's still drummerless and kinda teetering between a basement-level band and cabaret, but either way I'm sure even the dullest of the VILLAGE VOICE-reading flybynights in the audience coulda seen that something indeed was in the air that night. A release that's custom-made for those of you who still fondly read the old Wayne County advice columns in ROCK SCENE...and follow his crazy suggestions t'boot!

Sonny Sharrock-GUITAR CD (Enemy)
If I'm not mistaken ain't this the one that sorta jumpstarted Sharrock's recording career after a few years of "wha' 'app'd"? You woulda thought that this venerable avant garde guitarist woulda been done good by eighties whiz kid Bill Laswell a lot sooner, especially since Sharrock was playing front and center in Laswell's own Material for a good five or so years prior (and speaking of live tapes, where are all of those CBGB gigs Sharrock did either with Material or on his lonesome rotting away at?). Still, for a guy like myself who had just gotten hold of the Affinity reissue of Sharrock's claim-to-destruction MONKEY POCKIE BOO and sure missed the raw aggressive edge of underground rock after five years of general namby-pambyisms a disc like GUITAR really did give this feller somethingorother to live for, especially in the face of way more post-hardcore drek than a sane person could handle!

Nothing but guitar overlapped and overdubbed, with general melodies taken not only from jazz but r&b and rock proper coming off kinda like Eddie Hazel's guitar solo on "Maggot Brain" isolated and used against itself. (Hey I dunno what that exactly means either, but it sure reads cool enough in a faux-rockcrit way to me!) And considering that some of the latterday Sharrock recordings I've heard can be less violent than one would hope for (with the exception of the brill ASK THE AGES natch!) this is perhaps thee quintessential Sharrock release from the latter portion of his career that's gonna be yapped about for years on end long after Al DeMeola breaks his last string. A downright classic that makes me glad I was doing stories on the guy in my fanzine whilst the rest of the "underground" was more content with re-copying Homestead and Matador press releases in order to curry favor with the Big Boss.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


(Blogschpieler's note: in lieu of the fact that here it is the middle of the week and I have nada that I want to write about in new records, CDs, reading material or visual stimulation...and that the older stuff I am engrossing myself in has either been written about on this blog or isn't quite up to BLOG TO COMM standards, I thought I'd once again reprint a bit of past mayhem from the pages of my very own BLACK TO COMM magazine, this time a piece on the under-the-counterculture mid/late-seventies fanzine CAN'T BUY A THRILL that originally popped up in issue #24 way back in 2001. A nice piece of fanzine esoterica if I do say so myself although a lotta the graphics that had originally appeared in the mag as well as a few other little shards of clip art/reproed covers etc. did not make their way to this particular pixel'd production so if you wanna read the entire thing in its original form [as well as some of the best rockism writing to have appeared in over the past twenty-five years) just click here to be taken to the back issues post where you can chose from a wide array of fanzine wares that'll take your mind off of a lotta the drek that passes for "clear" and "incisive" rock critiques these sorry days. Paypal is accepted...just contact me via the comment box [I "moderate" 'em, so yours won't be printed if you do send me confidential info and request anonymity from this cruel world] and maybe I can unload some of these albatrosses 'round my neck and get back into some real living for a change!)

Past issues of BLACK TO COMM had some really nifty reviews/articles on now-defunct old-timey fanzines that, although lasting but a flea's lifespan in comparison to this hallowed read packed more of a rock & roll wallop'n the last 20-plus years of mainstream AND fanzine rock scribing COMBINED could ever hope to. Yeah, mags like BACK DOOR MAN, DENIM DELINQUENT, TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE and lots of others even I ain't seen have definitely left their pox mark on the face of music with that teenage gonzoid approach to rock & roll NOT as some high-quality reflection of the sainted hippie evolution from freak to West Coast politico, but that of PURE UNADULTERATED SPEED-O TRASH which I can certainly take a lot more'n it being a groundswell for phony revolt like it was thirty-plus years back. And, as Lillian Roxon said, WE (the new up-and-coming delineators of a REAL new post-Youth gulcher) are the stars meaning that I am and Simon Reynolds isn't, which is the TRUE reason these olds rags, although created to be INSTANTLY DISPOSABLE like those old TV shows and cars and comics and records we all love, HAVE MORE MEANING THAT ANY APPLICATION OF THE TERM "ART" (hah!) JUST BECAUSE IT'S TRASH, but fun trash nonetheless. And for being trash, it said a lot more about where I was (am?) here in the middle of nada with only a warped mind to guide me than the entire collected leather-bound fifteen-volume collection of SPIN ever could. Frankly, how can a HIPPIE relate to rock & roll, or trash for that matter?

CAN'T BUY A THRILL fits in snugly w/paragraph #1's application of not only lowly fanzine geek as star but fun trash as the true intellectual concern. And fitting it is, because THRILL editor/chief writer Russell Desmond was perhaps the first if not one of the first true punk/intellectuals on the boards (see the ROCK MAG review in #23 for a deeper understanding I won't go into here), a guy with the smarts and the brains to pull off such a task as creating this fanzine (which, as specified on page two of the very first issue, was conceived soley to impress Lester Bangs into giving him a job at CREEM!). Strangely (or maybe not so?), this was a period when things were picking up even more (in rockism terms...1975 was a crucial year ESPECIALLY in retrospect) than anyone'd hope to expect. A kinda mysterious time filled with progressive rock on the rise, some still bright snatches of AM pop, and a rock press that at times was one of the best to be found with writers who were perhaps even superior to the product that they were writing about.

CAN'T BUY A THRILL was oft lumped in with the usually lumped BACK DOOR MAN and DENIM DELINQUENT as far as being a punk madcap affront put out by a buncha 22-year-olds acting on ten-year-old impulses, but there were plenty of differences from the xerox slap together/computer paper sprocket style of the first four issues to the cheap paste-up layout (similar to BLACK TO COMM #22's only DESMOND MEANT IT!) of the same not to mention the lack of discernable UP-FRONT-ON-THE-COVER features and hype meant to lure in the obsessive and curious. (Front cover pix on all five issues were drawing by 19th century kraut Heinrich Kley, which mighta given this an, er, intellectual air about it, at least for the unwary.) Let's just say that CBAT wasn't some rag meant to compete on the newsstand...if anything, it was a hard and to-the-point batch of opinions and bile spewed forth by a guy who KNEW he was of import which is why you NEEDED to read his opinions. And what's BEST is that Desmond/CBAT didn't come from some major hub of musical activity but from Baton Rouge, Louisiana meaning you can just leave the inside joke professionalism of things OUT OF THE MIX at least for this once and get STRAIGHT TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER.

This first CBAT (dated "WINTER 75-76") was an inconspicuous affair that just happened to find its way out "there", and if it weren't for a review in BOMP! (where the BDM/DD comparison first came up) who knows if ANYONE woulda bought it! OK, the subtitle "A ROCK 'N' ROLL JOURNAL" might've scared off a few people, but I doubt it. However, the extremely personalist nature of this magazine might've been the thing to do a lotta turning off at least for those weaned on puff-piece scribing and not on the gonzoid punk-intellectualism of Bangs and Meltzer. Since I'm a guy who LIKES such personalism if the person has some sorta electrode connections to my own tastes/desires, I'll dig into whatever plane or mode his li'l heart desires. And the electrodes ARE connected...

Mind-zapping no-holds barred electrodes too, all of which is evident from the opening schpiece which I MUST reprint elsewhere in this article's layout scheme because it's p'haps the BEST application of true gonzoid zap-into-your-gourd rock writing THAT LAYS IT ALL BARE re. rock as the International Yourh Language that I even believed in when I was eighteen or so many years back! (Another editor's note: the actual issue actually does reprint this stellar debut issue schpiel, giving you another reason to snatch a flesh and blood issue up for yourself in order to get the ehtire aura of this piece!) 'n within the twenty or so pages of #1 you'll find a whole lot perhaps not a whole lot within the realms of major features and snazzy review columns but plenty within the framework of the reviews that take up the majority of this issue (all written spaz and GUARANTEED to offend English Teachers and Honor Society students with its blatant disregard for propriety and use of slang and a derogatory term that describes people of African heritage which might be used in a Mark Twain sense [back then he said it was used w/o malice, but as school districts can tell you TIMES CHANGE]). 's kinda neat roaming through the "Best of '75" reviews not only because that was the first year I truly became aware of rock/rock 'n' roll/avant as a form to seriously explore, but because Desmond's expertise in telling you WHY 1975 had a hunka good records innit sure reads better'n TROUSER PRESS' similar attempt. And dig the FASHION and ELAN in which Desmond could pull it off like in this excerpt from his review of the Dictators' GO GIRL CRAZY..."Chuck-up the Dolls' stance, verve + vocal inflections, w/the Cult's awesome technique + production, mixed with the spittin' image of Handsome Dick Manitoba ("I don't hav'ta be here yaknow...I coulda been baskin' in thuh sun in Florida, This is Jus' A Hobby Fer Me, y'unnerstan', A HOBBY!"), shades of Sonny + Cher ("I Got You Babe"), three chord lumps + humps of rhythm, tubs of drums, and what must be the most ridiculous ("Well the girls are frisky in ole Frisco") banal ("I still drink my sody but I'm gettin' confused, sometimes I wish I was Black,") absurd ("I drink Coca-Cola fuh breakfast!"), Not to mention subversely outrageous ("We're thuh members a' thuh Mastuh Race, got no style an' we got no grace, sleep all night, sleep all day, nuthin' good on TV anyway,") lyrical approach wince a? the Fugs, b) Roger Miller, c) Annette Funicello, or d) Leave it to Beaver..." WHEW!!!! Could go on and on but then again we mightjust hafta be callin' Mr. Ripley to see if Desmond broke the record for longest sentence in the world. Tried to keep the syntax and punctuational errors (?) as close to the original, but there's NO WAY I coulda duplicated the strike outs/overs! But you get the idea...nothing but non-stop energy written at punkitude levels even when writing about decidedly non-punkdom like Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen (Duke and the Drivers?). Actually it all kinda squarely fits in w/the 1975 mindsets and screech that was going on elsewhere in print (CREEM) and in music (CBGB) at the time.

Mix in a three-page music mag review section (where once again BDM/DD are compared and contrasted), write-ups of current films and books, plus a feature/homage to Patti Smith written in stream-of-unconsciousness Frog symbolist style ("I'd die t be your---------------Gilles de Rais.") OK, Desmond uses a lotta French in this ("Venus dens les Fourres an Loques" [!!] but since he's from Baton Rouge which is a Frog name in itself I guess he can't help it) and you got a pretty slambang debut ish that shoulda gotten around a lot more'n it did, like just about EVERYTHING good that unfortunatey got tossed aside 20 + years back. And just how often do YOU get your psyche raped these days?

By #2, 1976 had arrived marking the transition from mid-seventies fun and games to late-seventies general nausea...'cept for rock and esp. the burgeoning underground stuff that seemed to be snowballing outta control. And CBAT was there to document it all, or at least document whatever Desmond could afford to buy. This one has a nice sorta "thinkpiece" on the US Bicentennial, a "conversation" on the role of this nation and concepts of "art" as it changed because of the existence of this very same country I'[m typing this review in and why Oscar Wilde HATED it, being America set out to ruin EVERYTHING the English aristocracy deemed important. Mixed in with loads of rock & roll ref. pts. re. ROYAL ALBERT HALL and the third Velvets album and why New York 1976 seemed like a hype to many outside the walls. Reviewswize this was pretty much in the heavy metal/punk writesphere that encompassed rock fandom at the time, complete with classic engraving illios to pack a wallop. For the first time we even got some TV reviews (considering that TV was just starting its late-70s slide), featuring a writeup on RICH MAN/POOR MAN (!---remember miniseries?...wait, they still make 'em, right?) and Patti Smith's appearance on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, an awakening to sixties aesthetics redone for the seventies for me but "...well, it wasn't that good" according to Desmond, "not half of what I expected from listenin' to the record and seein' pics of her in action, and, well, besides I was too busy watchin' Patti's over-dressed get-up an silly poses t pay much attention to the music, but I was sort of impressed, tho, by the amateurish flavor of the whole thing, the whole purveyor of punkdom, garage effect which more or less broke NBC's grown-up hippie show right down the backbone... Anyway, then she came on with a corny intro to "My Generation" and this time I COULDN'T WATCH HER STAND THERE WITH A GUITAR SHE COULDN'T PLAY---I JUS'COULDN'T DO IT DAMN IT, THIS ISN'T THE PATTI SMITH I DREAMED ABOUT... Well, then it was over an'a friend asked me 'An you really like that stuff, crude as it is?' and for some reason and for some reason even with all my emerging disgust I felt complied to answer, 'Yeah, that's right/ An that's why I like it...'" Ladies and gentlemen, the preceding quote has just OBLITERATED every shard of bad rockcritspeak uttered in the last thirty-five years. Topping this off, a rock retrospective column featuring Paul Revere and the Raiders where Desmond comes to the conclusion that maybe those later albums are pretty good after all.

#3 (Winter 76-77) was a surprise as in it not only had a nice 1976 roundup but was printed on on 81 /2 by 14 paper making it hard to store with all the other fanzines in your collection but still a nice addition, with the '76 writeup much better'n most seen anywhere else again illio'd w/nice scraps of 19th century engravings etc. (A few sample subs for curious cats out there...Best Reissue-Elvis-THE SUN SESSIONS, Greatest Event-The Wayne County/Handsome Dick Manitoba slugfest, Too Good To Be True And That's Why They're Not-Boston...) Also featured are the hefty reviews (good teaming of the first Ramones and Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers not to mention a beaut of a Flamin' Groovies homage in the form of a SHAKE SOME ACTION review) and 'stead of a rock retro column a piece on an actual live band, this time the Danish group Gasolin', an act with big credentials and a number of albums in their name back in kiddiepornland but one with nil recognition in the USA even tho Columbia had 'em re-record songs in English and ran loads of ads all over the place. Given this must have been Gasolin's ONLY article in a U. S. mag maybe the band (unheard by me) are deserving of cult stature?!?! ("An they play a great, crazed mix pot of rock derivations so typically plagaristic and European you'll never notice which includes great guitar solos that sound like a cross between a synthesizer and a calliope gone berzerk, great STUPID id drums a la Charlie Watts, and weird half-muzak arrangements which're so off the wall they work["Lady Oh Lady" is honestly the most incredible, Spectoresque pop ballad {via mid-Europe melody} I've ever heard]--Larsen's great voice over swirls of acoustic guitar and bkgd vocals an this half-crazed, mad circus dwarf schmalz music--this thing's unreal!!!")

Four reverted back to the standard 8 1/2/11 format but was one mighty BIGGIE compared with the previous ones. Maybe because this one tookd a full year to come out, complete with a '77 wrapup that showed just how far rock and something more'n wild had gone in this period of time. Layout got a little better (tinier, more crammed pages) and now CBAT was featuring GUEST WRITERS like Eddie Flowers, Todd Abramson and one or two of Desmond's Louisiana friends lamenting the loss of Lynryd Skynryd, The effects of the punk rock revival had spoken in these pages, with loads of reviews of the new hot matter that whetted/wetted appetites and pants at the time (tops included everyone from Mink de Ville to the Real Kids, Television and the Saints to the usual midgies Elvis Costello and Van Morrison---nays included Neil Young's AMERICAN STARS AND BARS ["ROLLING STONE said this was his best since HARVEST so you know it sucks"]). Besides the up-to-dateness on a scene unraveling before everyone's eyes, you got live reviews from an on-the-road Desmond (Kiss, Dirty Angels at Boston's Rat, Flamingo Road on a CBGB audition night [!]...) and tons of moom pitchers/mags/books/TV review stuff showing that Desmond could be just as straight-old/tamebo as he could be wild with regards to taste, if some of his pix are to be TAKEN SERIOUSLY (SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER????) Topping the ish off is a retro on Steppenwolf, created just to remind us of how garage punk the band was at one time before giving all the heavy monsters of '69 a run for the Led Zepplin money.

By Fall '78 CBAT #5 came out to surprise everyone, a surprise since this ish was newsprint tabloid and typeset/professionally laid out in part to boot. It actually resembled a lot of those record shop freebies you might've picked up along the way if you were around back then, only this one would (as the cover states) "COST CHA UH BUCK ($1)" and it was well worth it to boot. Besides having an Eddie Flowers "no wave" (!-guess that scene hadn't penetrated Ameriga fully yet) insert w/wild reviews of Hawkwind, Coltrane, Ubu, Doug Snyder/Bob Thompson (!!!!!) etc. and a large long-promised Gizmos piece detailing the third EP session (mighty info packed here) the Granville-delineated cover (note my mistake in paragraph #3---at least Kley got the back) was later used for the front of Flowers' first Crawlspace album which was ironic because when Desmond met up with Barry Goubler years later he knew NOTHING of Flowers' then-current doings! The professionalism mixed with the typewriter hijinx (tho nary a crossout/over) and screened photos/pro layout really made this one tops with regards to small-press fanzinedom, but the newsprint for one thing doesn't hold up too well two decades-plus later. Oh well, if you can read a copy before it disintegrates for you'll also get the unexpurgated truth about Willie Loco, Brian Jones (that issue's "Rock Retrospective") and even an obit of Sandy Denny, something which woulda KILLED me at the time since with all of this new energy and vitality in rock (plus the discovering of past proto-punk forebearers), something like Denny was tres retro to get French about it.

Of course, more on (moron?) that previously-mentioned 1,450th fanzine article on the Gizmos, a tour de force (oh that FRENCH!) telling us about (in a whole slew of pages!) Desmond's trek to the third Gizmos recording session picking up Eddie Flowers along the way (Desmond stopped in Jackson Alabama to tank up the car and ask the attendants if they knew where Eddie lived, and all he got was upset looks!!!) and his run-ins w/the whole slew from Kenne Highland on down plus a brief encounter with MX-80's Rich Stim and wife Angel Ross who was playing bass to RAW POWER FULL BLAST...a copy of Lester Bangs' review of THE IDIOT hung on the apartment wall with corrections and comments in the margins!!! made this issue the top dog it is in fanzine desirability. Too bad you don't have a copy...makes a good read during the umpteenth play of the Gizmos CDs after you've worn your booklet out! (Pant Pant!)

Nice try, but that was the last CBAT to pop out during those oversaturated fanzine days. Not that Desmond exactly disappeared from the scene immediate-like...he did show with a Dave Edmunds article in the first issue of KICKS (editor's third note: since this article was written I discovered that he had previously written a piece for Miriam Linna's Flamin' Groovies fanzine, the cover proudly emblazond "Russell Desmonds BUYS A THRILL!"), but before the decade was out up Desmond was off to another life doing everything from private detective work to a stint in France to a split with his wife, last to be seen (Desmond that is) running a bookstore in New Orleans. I spoke with him briefly (folks were over the day before Easter) about ten years ago and he seemed to be just "getting back into" rock & roll after a decade of real life, actually expressing interest in Theolonious Monster (guess he was away too long!) I suggested the re-start CBAT and he seemed to dismiss that idea. In fact, that was the last I or anyone else asfar as I know heard from the guy. Too bad. Talent's always being wasted and Desmond's is no exception. I mean, Desmond shoulda made the CREEM cut back then, and in hindsight its a shame he didn't at least dish out a few more CBAT's just to relieve the boredom of what has begat rock & roll these past three decades or so! And too bad somebody doesn't put out a "Best of" CAN'T BUY A THRILL just like there should be with EVERY class 70s fanzine fill'd w/brill to-the-point writing 'stead of whatever is out there in funland these days (dunno...ain't read a "real" rock mag ina decade AND DON'T WANT TO!!!!) If only this were to happen we would cure illiteracy IMMEDIATELY! I mean it!

(BLOG TO COMM UPDATE!: since this article was printed Desmond did indeed get back in touch with me, having found out about this very article and expressing his satisfaction with it. Things were working out well between us, with him telling me not only about his relatively new paleoconservative views [he being a typical liberal until spending time living with his grandmother in Mississippi post-divorce and actually coming around to Ronald Reagan's way-of-thinking whilst watching the '80 Carter debates...this came out when I expressed a lack of emotion at the death of the former prez figuring that he was more hot air than actual do, and when he did things he was expanding that same ol' govt. he claimed he wanted to shrink!] He sent me some copies of a few pieces he wrote for CHRONICLES in the mid-eighties as well as some letter he was going to send to a local paper that was getting a little too ashamed of its Southern heritage [Desmond made the rather intelligent clain regarding the War Between the States that while Northern soldiers were fighting to free slaves, very few Southerners were fighting to keep them!], and after promising me a Moby Grape retrospective, the same one that was slated for a future issue of CBAT disaster struck in the form of Hurrican Katrina. Although Desmond's Ffrench Quarter bookstore was probably spared the carnage I felt very iffy, perhaps cowardly in trying to get back in touch with Desmond fearing the worst. Since the man was not hooked up to any internet it's not like I have any other way to try contacting him other than write to the 714 Rue De Orleans address. Perhaps someone reading this would care to pass on the word? Anyone out there care to tell me what really happened? Stay tuned for further developments.)