Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Hitmen-THE HITMEN 2-CD set; IT IS WHAT IT IS 2-CD set (Shock/Savage Beat, Australia)

Really, I didn't wanna review these disques. Didn't feel like it one bit, but since I got 'em along with the DO THE POP REDUX twofa set a few months back and they were intended "for reviewing purposes" I was obliged to write these things up even if my poor precious nervous system felt otherwise. But really, I gotta say that these two offerings by the post-Radio Birdman/pre-Hoodoo Guru Hitmen had two things going against them...first off they came outta the continent of Australia which might have been a hotbed of high energy rock jamz a good twenty-five years back but whaddabout TODAY?, plus the owner of the Savage Beat label's named none other than Dave Laing, and although that doesn't mean he's another Melbournite who goes by the nom-de-puke Dave Lang (as in Lana Lang, the bitchy high school tart who was always giving Superboy grief by trying to prove that he and Clark Kent were one 'n the same) the similarities are quite startling and perhaps too close for comfort. And if the mere thought of it doesn't make you wanna toss your cookies then you must have a cast-iron constitution!

Sometimes I have to put these prejudices and bigotries aside which is what I did after months of grueling debate and loads of blood, sweat and tearsheets, and for the past four nights I decided to do the dirty deed and play a disque from each of these Hitman collections every night during my pre-beddy-bye settle down and relax time, usually under the sedation of some ibuprofen I've been taking to quell a nagging backache and accompanied by the choice reading of either a classic seventies-vintage fanzine of my choice (or whatever's not packed away in boxes that would take hours combing through) which only goes to show you that I know how to make good use of my precious free time!

Onto disque #1, the self-titled debut of this group going under the hotcha name Hitmen that featured ex-Birdmen Chris Masuak and Warwick Gilbert along with Birdman compere Johnny Kannis as well as Brad Shepard and Mark Kingsmill of the soon-to-be Hoodoo Gurus, a band that never really topped the frosting on my cake because frankly I've heard so little of 'em. I actually own this 'un in its vinyl format, and although I remember liking the platter enough to review it in one of those now outta-print issues of BLACK TO COMM where I even threw in a gratuitous comparison to MX-80 Sound it ain't like I was spinnin' the thing non-stop from here to Kalamazoo and back! But then again, I probably got this one just around the time I began tiring of a lotta the Australian high energy rock when, for all intent purposes, I realized that this stuff no matter how hard it tried just wasn't gonna come close to the avant-rock stylings of the Five and Stooges especially with a lotta the slick production and post-punk credo that seemed to be slipping into the sound at the time.

But believe-it-or-leave-it, THE HITMEN sure tally up a good rockin' whoompa in your cranium despite all the amputations. True they probably woulda had a Grande Ballroom audience heaving the paper cups at 'em, but for a good solid hard rocking group these guys could still cut it a lot more'n many of the post-Birdman Australian acts who seemed to think that they were so "cool". Anyhoo, this double-disc set has the entire first album plus tons of FM live tracks, demos and rare b-sides which feature such seventies fanzine fodder as covers of the New Order's "Rock 'n' Roll Soldiers", BOC's "Don't Fear the Reaper" and "The Red and the Black" as well as the Flamin' Groovies' "Shake Some Action" (amongst other easily-enough identifiable underground rock points including not only the Dictators but the Wailers' '59 opus "Dirty Robber") which has me thinkin' that had they popped up a good six years earlier these guys coulda made the cover of ROCK NEWS easily!

The original moosh is good enough, and even the anti (or maybe even "pro" in a sick way!) wifebeating ode "Don't Hit Girls" has me doing a few cartwheels of joy even if it does seem to have a taint of feminist bleed amidst it. At times as caustic as the Birdmen were in flight, THE HITMEN (and the Hitmen) were worth my time even if I seemed to be dozing off in spots, but I blame that on the medicine.

Wish I could say the same about followup IT IS WHAT IT IS, but something went awry in the process. Was it the curse of the eighties, which turned many a promising high energy outfit of the seventies into snivelling new wave fluff rockers (and they shoulda known better!)??? I doubt it, but then again I wonder what transpired to the point where these guys began sounding more mid-energy hard than crunching. For me, a good portion of IT IS might as well have been typical eighties AOR schlock that had me hating the prospects of being young and alive even more than I did. Despite my usual bitching and grumping though, I should say that I felt that the covers of "Shake Some Action" (again!) and "Godzilla" were fine enough rockin', and the original track entitled "Bwana Devil" was creepily energetic enough, even though the title of the thing would probably have everyone involved branded as a racist these days.

So remember, these Hitmen platters are pick and choose as far as I go. And also remember, when you, like the Hitmen, come "Down To Kill" it's Dave LANG and not Dave Laing, although to be safe I'd just firebomb the entire city of Melbourne and hope that the former gets the crispy critter treatment thus sparing the world from yet another blotch on an already-blotched landscape that we can do without. (And don't worry...SAN FRANCISCO is undoubetly next on the list!)

Before I tune out I think I should mention at lease one little bit of rockism esoterica that I hope you'll wanna know about given you had the brains to read my rants and raves this far down the line. You may have noticed the link to the Hackamore Brick Myspace page on the left, and if you have I also hope you've spent some time on the thing even though the idea of Myspace doesn't quite ignite me the same way blogging does (which is why I don't really promote or publicize my own Myspace page even though Lou Rone keeps telling me that I should have one not only for myself but for BLACK TO COMM...maybe the thought of being contacted by various blasts from the past tends to nauseate me worse than a bout of Russian cooking). And for once I am not shuddering at the thought of some aged ex-rockers getting back together for one last fling (or something along those lines) in order to recapture lost youthful goals or whatever it is that pushing-sixty types go for these days. The duo of Moonlight and Newman are still good enough as far as singer/songwriters (in the best old-time CREEM sense) go and even stripped down to the acoustic guitars sans bass or drums they're still putting out meaningful enough music. The one track I heard on their site was fine, perhaps like some of the better acoustic acts that played the CB's 313 Gallery space were, and you can bet I'll be heading back to give their other numbers a spin as soon as I finish up this particular post. Let's hope for the best...after all, the Velvet Underground reunion was iffy and the Stooges one boffo (despite what you naysayers think!) and the various Deviants ones interesting even without the proliferation of methadrine into their systems...who knows what'll transpire once the Brick get their followup out as their page seems to oh-so-slightly hint at?

Not much else to gab about right now. Summer and warm weather mean less posts, but I will try to do my doody and keep you eager peons alerted to the fine and dandy whenever something that I know and you don't pops up. Until then keep the faith at an Adam Clayton Powell-esque level, and don't forget that no matter what happens in the wild and wooly world of what used to be rock & roll I'll be here, though whatever for might be way open to discussion these days.

(Two hours later Hackamore Brick Myspace update: surprise surprise, but amidst the current crop of pleasing enough acoustic introspective-yet-strong-enough-for-me numbers from the new edition of the band that are available on HB's Myspace page come some unreleased tracks dating from the seventies and eighties. One song whose title escapes me sounds rather mid-seventies pop-ish as opposed to the Velvets-punk I assumed the band would have been doing at the time which would figure since it was laid down in '76 perhaps when the group was performing under the name "Moonlight"...oddly enough, this 'un reminded me of the Movies, this mid-seventies band that was signed right off the stage of CBGB around October '75 and released an album on Arista before sinking without a trace [see issue #24 for a review], or at least what I'll bet a good portion of those under-the-covers 1976-vintage CBGB bands that never got signed were hinting at. The other track from '84 has a more early-eighties new wave feel to it thanks to the synth drone typical of the time, yet it sorta saves itself with at least one catchy pop hook. Overall, fans of ONE KISS will probably [most certainly] be let down, but hey, I guess I'm more eclectic than everyone else!)

Thursday, May 29, 2008


This in from close personal friend Imants Krumins via "Mousrock" who I don't think will mind that I reprinted his post here (if so, say the magic words and I will remove.):

Hackamore Brick reunion in NYC Thursday May 15th, at Bar 169 (what a dump)

just the two guys (tommy and chick) playing acoustic in the worst venue in town. only one song from the album, and the rest were unrecorded or otherwise mothballed. real nice, easygoing melancholic NYC singer-songwriter vibes (see also John Sebastian, Alzo, 5th Avenue Band) and it was a sweet time. all these old people came up to me and shook my hand for writing nice things about them.

they're older dudes who seem to have just discovered the internet, and don't really know how to go about booking themselves in town. they could probably use a rhythm section and just get right back into it where they left off. one lives in LI and the other out by JFK. looking forward to getting this interview down. (just got the go-ahead to interview these guys for Ugly Things)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Ain't kismet strange? Just last week I was wondering why this oft-seeked (at least by me) album by the shoulda-been-famed English blues-rock trio known as the Groundhogs was seemingly unavailable on Cee-Dee, and today not only do I have a copy of '69's BLUES OBIT in my possession but three more of these guys' early platters all coming in a neatly-compiled box set which was making the under-the-counterculture rounds back in the mid-nineties and boy am I happy about it! Talk about package deals, and although I did receive these mandatory disques in one lump sum for the sake of brevity I felt it best to write 'em up as I see fit 'n at my own leisure just so's the reviews won't read like rushed out book reports finished off at five in the morning like some of my more "deadlined" material for various publications tend to do whether I mean for them to or not. Remember, I'm doing this not just to "inform" you lowly peons as to "what good is" as the Amish say, but for my own personal enjoyment. Why should I rack my brains for you guys anyway?

Anyhow I was spurred on to buy this Groundhogs set after reading Hot Scott Fischer's article on these guys that was published in the second issue of the hotcha NIX ON PIX fanzine (which dates from way back in '72 making it one of the fore-est of the forefront proto-punk 'zines extant!). Not that this tome for our times was my introduction to the band...heaven forbid! Back in the mid-eighties I not only borrowed a batch of Groundhogs albums off some long-gone acquaintance but actually dished out a few smackers for the comparatively sub par BLACK DIAMOND which showed just how far down the ladder this group had fallen to the point where this band was reduced to doing an actual "living off the land" number! But bad career moves aside, what a better place for me to reacquaint myself with these ozobs than this '69 the trio of McPhee, Cruickshank and Pustelnik are stretching out from their patented British Blues sound into new (some may say "progressive rock") territory with a style and grace that while still having one foot in the Chicago Blues, comes off complete late-sixties British anarcho rock in the same fashion as the Deviants and Hawkwind! And even for a blues upper-nose-at like me (being estranged from Bill Shute like I have been for the past decade certainly has curbed my appetite for various more rootzy forms) I can still appreciate it when the 'hogs take the already-hackneyed British blooze fashion and go for it into more heady realms sorta hanging about somewhere twixt John Mayall and the aforementioned Devies. Killing Floor come close, maybe Stackwaddy to an extent, but if this is progressive rock then call me Rick Wakeman and set my controls straight for the heart of the sun!

Actually BLUES OBIT's pointing more to the early-stylings of heavy metal as CREEM would deify it long before the sound got a "name" and lost its meaning for all intent purposes. But man it's still eye-opening enough that if I were one of those snooty Big City Rock Critics I'd be comparing it to the other biggies of '69 like THE STOOGES, PRETTIES FOR YOU, and TROUT MASK REPLICA (which remains a so-so for me even if it isn't "hip" to say so). My fave of the lot just happens to be "Mistreated" which comes off like a harpsichord playing this maddening repeato-riff (it might be a 12-string electric wound up tight) to McPhee's typically English post-Hooker moan resulting in one strange mix of sophisto UK bluesology and late-sixties punk rock. And of course the rest is no slouch either as it topples between the blues and revisited raga music that perhaps was the last vestige of the psychedelic movement at least until the likes of Hawkwind, the Pink Fairies and Krautrock decided to carry things well over into the next decade. And like I said, even a guy who ain't as hot on blues music of any persuasion can enjoy it from the straight take of "Natchez Burning" to the extended snake-charmer slide guitar instrumental "Light Was The Day".

Stay tuned for writeups on the rest of the early Groundhog albums to make it into my home and perhaps my mind as well. And whatever you do, don't tell George Brigman that I've waited so long to commit any major musings on this band to type...he'll come over and BRAIN me, that's for sure!

Saturday, May 24, 2008


These proto-punk archival digs just keep on a'comin', and although this one ain't exactly fresh off the conveyor belt of past follies (it has a 2006 copyright date) this Rags Cee-Dee is but the latest in a long line of seventies rock (re)issues to hit my laser launching pad! And if this 'un's any indication of just what future thirty-plus-year-old revivals may entail well all I gotta say is who needs this current rock scene brouhaha anyway???

A good 'nuff part of the mid-seventies New York underground rock scene (with appearances not only at such respected dives as Max's Kansas City and Club 82 but the infamous Mothers as well!), Rags' main influences were reported to be (via the pages of the fanzine RAUNCHY ROCK) the New York Dolls, the Velvet Underground and Fats Domino! Well, while they sound like the Dolls about a half-hour after coming down from their latest fix, have none of the avant garde energy of the Velvets and Domino could have out-rocked 'em all even with a cramp in his left hand, these guys could still do well enough as evidenced by these demos (and live track) that probably give us a good idea of what else was going on in lower Manhattan in the seventies besides Talking Heads and Blondie.

The Dolls seems to be Rags' major swiping point, and although lead singer Joe St. John sounds like David J. with a head cold he still seems an affable enough frontman type at least judging from the at-times bouyant material he's warbling. And most of the tracks from "Magnum Lady" to "Rock & Roll Shoes" (not the Reddy Teddy track) do seem to have that Dolls "feel" to it, perhaps an underproduced Dolls but then again this was the mid-seventies and beggars can't be choosers! And yeah, some of the tracks might be too "cock rock" for the more alternative-bred amongst you BLOG TO COMM readers but I find Rags' applications of heavy machoness a lot more palatable than most seventies/eighties "hair bands" (ie. by the time the struttin' starts to get to you the song's over) plus they manage to balance their act with some quiet popsters like "Lilly La" which has such a nice early-sixties pop feeling to it that they could stick it on one of those "quiet hits of the fifties and sixties" radio stations and your Uncle Ernest with the American Legion cap'll probably get a kick outta it as well! (Unlike he would have thirty-five years back after getting an eyefulla of these guys' tresses!)

OK, they can't all be the Stooges or Dolls or Dictators or Velvets or what-have-you, but Rags, even with their play for the bigtime AOR FM-radio market approach (with a Dolls demeanor of course!) sound a lot better'n some of the competition that they were battling for precious gig-time back then. Perhaps this release is but the start of a busted damfulla releases by long-gone seventies underground acts who used to play for peanuts at CBGB until they gave it up in frustration 'round '76 while seeing the oft-plugged stars of the place getting recording contracts. Considering the rather pallid state of jamz these days I can only hope so...I mean, the Electric Eels and Magic Tramps got their posthumous praise, so perhaps the time is ripe not only for Rags but a thousand other long-forgotten bands out there!

Friday, May 23, 2008


...ya just gotta read this and see your arguments built on wax foundations melt to the ground. I mean it!!! Aren't you cowering in shame already???

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

SOGGY LP (Memorie Relive, France)

I just got finished playing this album and man, let me tell you that I am shaking! And I don't mean shaking like a leaf but more or less trembling 7.0 on the richter scale and it's Japan 1923! Yes, this group, and this album, are that raw and slug-to-the-groin hardrock maniac like being tossed down an empty elevator shaft or getting your finger caught in a slammed car door! Soggy give no mercy and run roughshod all over you to the point where you kinda wonder just how all those petit so-called "heavy metal" groups of the eighties got recording contracts in the first place! And speaking of metal, this is metal kinda like you remembered it from 1971 CREEM magazine suburban slob aesthetics. It's hard to envision this being recorded an entire decade later, a time when it seemed as if heavy metal, for all intent purposes, was dead and buried, replaced by this feathery put-on fluff that come to think of it was zoned in on the downed-out youth of the day!

Anyway, those of you who drooled over my previous Soggy post a short while back have probably already sent off for this 12-inch wonder, but for those of you who haven't in the sage words of Snuffy Smith "Time's a'wastin'!" Only 500 copies of this total obscurity were unleashed and ya better get it asap lest you miss out on yet another high energy brawler that I'm sure'll fit in snugly with your Franco-rock collection next to the Angel Face and Rotomagus recs. Well, I am positive that the more astute of my readers have enough braincells to know enough to pick this crucial album up without being hit over the head more than a dozen times, which is nice to know in an age when the national IQ average seems to be slipping into even deeper chasms as the years roll on.

But man is this Soggy album great on a whole array of planes and traumatic levels. Greater than all of those mid-eighties heavy metal revival platters even, with more of that eternal oomph! that seemed to be lacking in a lotta HM and general hardrock outlets for a longer time than one can imagine. As a frontman, lead singer Beb can't do any better'n be the forever-shakin' emaciated shag of hair that he is with a voice that comes off like a Gallic Ozzy filtered through the dynamic magesticism of Ig. The power-trio backing is equally over-the-proverbial-top, pushing through enough energy to light the entire city of Rheims at night for miles around as they crank through song after song reminding me of what I was hearing back in the eighties when bands like Powertrip were trying vainly to bring back a hard-edged blare in an age of nonexistence.

Fans of the classic early-seventies Stooges, amongst the other heavy metal mongers of the day (that is, if you still think that Iggy was the "Robert Johnson of Heavy Metal" as I once read!) will be pleased. There are hefty Stooge references here from the "Down on the Street" crank of "Lay Down a Lot" not to mention Soggy's own take on "I Wanna Be Your Dog" which actually starts off with a "TV Eye" scream bound to fool more than a few unsuspecting listeners. This discus is such a fine meeting of the Detroit heavy metal proper style and the hard rock that immediately followed to the point where you kinda wonder why is all (even Aerosmith...even THE DICTATORS!!!) didn't fall into the same brand of full-strength soundscapading as Soggy. If you were one of those DENIM DELINQUENT kinda guys who used to mix your Iggy and MC5 in with your Kiss, BOC and the rest of hard rock fandom 1975, then this is the album for you!

And Soggy also display a fine sense of Stoogian O-mindset as is evident in such a song title as "Cellulite is the Top of the Shapeless Body" which has to be one of the finest I've seen at least since "Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell"! Quick, somebody get Hot Scott Fisher a copy!

With this year shaping up to be a pretty hot one if only for the various reissues and other archival digs of past glories (which sure helps considering the lack of current glories to keep our attention spans going) it's sure great to know that SOGGY has arrived to lift our spirits outta that mung that also goes by the name "the present". Let me just reiterate that SOGGY is a foot-long that you (if you are of the high energy over-the-top all-out rock & roll brigade...dunno how many wussies read this blog!) will want to get, and considering just how hard kicks are getting to find these days it's like do you have any choice???

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Kosmic Daydream-PSYCHOSOMATIC PLAYGROUND CD (both available through CD Baby)

IMPORTANT NOTE TO BLOG TO COMM'S MYRIAD ASSORTMENT OF MALCONTENTED CAMP FOLLOWERS! PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE PROCEEDING ON TO THE ACTUAL REVIEW!!!!: the following review of these three items is going to be one that will, like a good many of these postings, have interest, relevance and meaning for me and me only! Although some of you faithful standbys "might" be able to extract various shards of much-needed information from this review, a good many will find both the subject matter and my re-reinforcing of various well-known facts and common assumptions in this writeup a total waste of one's precious time and perhaps even bodily fluids. Therefore, if you do not feel in the mood for any of my rock history rehashings or discussions of musical acts you never heard of and perhaps never will outside of this blog and a few personal myspace pages, please exit as soon as possible and try to console yourself by rubbing off to various amerindie/alternative speculations that can be easily obtained elsewhere. Don't say you haven't been warned.

OK, now for you REAL, TRUE-BLUE BLOG TO COMM READERS who dared to stick it out with your Fearless Leader this far down the tubes here's a review of three discs that I've chosen to lump together not only because the two acts in question seem to have a certain sense of under-the-counter rockism appeal to 'em (in their own way) and both tend to take to the more quiet side of musical erudition, but because today's acts were both easily spotted at the old CB's 313 Gallery located smack dab next door to the more famous CBGB, and as people who've read me for years can tell you I certainly know when to milk my underground rock & roll historical knowledge for all it's worth!

Anyhoo, both the Muscular Christians and Kozmic Daydream were groups who could more or less be easy enough to tune in if you (like me) were savvy enough to enjoy CBGB via virtual reality aka their live cybercasts. And, like most of the acts that played the smaller next door room(s) at CBGB (a space which, towards the end of its long run, was almost akin to what the old Mercer Arts Center was with three stages featuring simultaneous underground entertainment) these bands had that spiffy New York street smart sound that had been around since the sixties when the Fugs and David Peel were taking the folk boom into even more perilous directions than Jack Linkletter ever would have dreamed. And you know darn well that had both the Muscular Christians and Kosmic Daydream had been around in the sixties or even the seventies they probably would have been one of hundreds of under-the-covers local groups that woulda came and went without leaving any sort of recorded memorabilia to remember them by. At least with the glut in self-produced wares that have plagued many-a-rockfan from the nineties onward thanks to cheap Cee-Dee pressing rates there are a few acts which fortunately have released product that I at least find worthy of repeated listening, and thankfully my moolah was well-spent plunking it down on these two relics of mid-oh-ohs underground folk/rock/punk cusping that, fortunately, hearkens back to earlier achievements while staking some sort of occult claim for the future. Or so we hope!

As for the Muscular Christians...well, with a name like that I was expecting either a C. S. Lewis-derived buncha religious nuts or maybe something akin to the same sorta anti folk of the eighties that in fact helped create the original CBGB Canteen space that the Gallery eventually turned into. I shoulda been tipped off at least by the fact that these Muscular types have appeared on Gallery bills with ex-Holy Modal Rounder Peter Stampfel that they were going to be closer to the HMR-style of NYC street folk. I mean, sheesh, both Stampfel and fellow Rounder Steve Weber are thanked on both of this groups' platters! However, whether this act was taking cues from the acoustic folkie Rounders or the psychedelic rockin' version of the band remained to be seen and really, given how much I like the Rounders of both varieties you can be sure this was gonna be a mystery that I certainly was anxiously awaiting to discover for myself!

In my humble opinion Cee-Dee Numero Uno DAN MARINO IMPORTANT MESSAGE's the better of the group's two offerings, not only showing a fine Rounders-styled acoustic pounce that hasn't been heard in quite awhile but a high-larity that really does seem out of place especially coming from the oft-sullen underground (at least for the past twennysome years or ever since AIDS ruined these liberteenagers' fun 'n games for a long long time). And with subject matter ranging from molesting little boys to Harvey Fierstein all done in about as bad a taste as you could imagine how can one go wrong? Hokay (in order to prove I am not in the back pockets of these Christians or anything related thereof) I gotta say that the broken-tooth Appalachian style of the Rounders (as well as that of early Dylan and of course all those real broken-toothed Appalachians) is missing...these guys clearly have been to the dentist, and that there shoulda been more of that fingerpickin' style so crucial to all of those original Rounders platters you so nearly and dearly love. But then again the Michael Hurley classic "Slurf Song" from the "watershed" HAVE MOICY! doth appear here and that should help realign at least some of your basic core beliefs with regards to these guys.

Followup Cee-Dee LET'S GET A TAN is a whomper as well...a much different whomper at that as not only have the Muscular Christians undergone some personnel changes since release #1 some years earlier but good sound overhaul as well with the addition of drums and more electric instrumentation that makes this a much diff. animal 'n the Musculars of yore. But don't fret Sweet Polly, for LET'S GET A TAN is still a nice folk rocker in itselt, perhaps more akin to Peter Stampfel and the Bottlecaps than the Rounders but good 'nuff for those of you who miss the late-eighties mini-revival of the Stampfel sound that seemed to be making an imprint on the amerindie scene of the day. (This even has a re-do of "Slurf Song" that's pretty much an entirely different animal if you can fathom that!) This time the subject matter ranges from mideast terrorists to Dr. Phil, but no matter how grim the outlook may be these guys really know how to look in the face of the apocalaypse and laff out loud!

Finally on today's itinerary's the sole Cee-Dee by Kozmic Daydream, yet another new buncha young upstarts who like I said had been playing many a gig at the CB's 313 Gallery 'stead of the main room. However, at least judging from PSYCHOSOMATIC PLAYGROUND these cats 'n kitten're ready to play just about any major stage with their unique blend of classic late-sixties rock moves with less-enthralling modern punquisms that at least work unlike similar efforts by a variety of other new groups mining old territory out there! The Kosmic Goddess (!) a.k.a. Jennifer de los Santos is the lead vocalist who gives the group their unique push with her nasal-y Betty Boop voice, while the guitar/bass/drums backing are more'n apt in not only recalling the better moments of late-sixties West Coast rock but eighties/nineties underground styling of all stratas which like I said works despite these rather sorry influences. (Which is kinda strange, because when I tuned this band in back in the mid-oh oh's I thought Kosmic Daydream were just another buncha alternarubes who were mixing their hippie up with hokum even worse than David Crosby at his rheumiest!) Nice under-the-coverisms here, and if anything Kosmic Daydream remind me of this bunch that also came outta NYC in the early-nineties called the Deep Space Sextet who also had a Boopish lead vocalist fronting this Big Brother and the Holding Company-esque aggro with a synth (!) who wore their influences proud by performing "Turtle Blues". Kosmic Daydream don't quite go that far, but give 'em time and take away their Clash records and who knows what genius they may come up with!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pinkwind returns as...THE HAWK FAIRIES-PURPLE HAZE CD (Twink Records, England)

After reading the Deviants/Pink Fairies bio reviewed awhile back, I for one sure get the impression that the remaining Pink Fairies are not quite happy with the group's former drummer/lead singer John "Twink" Alder. It's not hard to realize why, especially with the way the longtime psychedelic punkeroo himself has not only been capitalizing on the Pink Fairies name by reissuing old Peel Sessions and the GLASTONBURY FAYRE tracks without the other ex-members' knowledge but with his using of the Pink Fairies moniker, either in whole or in part, on a number of nineties-vintage outings featuring himself and former guitarist Paul Rudolph amongst other former Fairies/Hawkwind toadies. And after reading various comments via the dear internet you can tell that even the diehard fans of the old English "Peoples Band" credo seem to be shuddering over Twink's perhaps questionable practices, or at least they get into their cringe act when they come across this 1996 CD where Twink and Hawkwind's Nik Turner got together with some of the extended family and released this live gig under the "Pinkwind" banner, an outright reference to the infamous space jams the two bands used to engage in at many an early-seventies gig that ended only when the last man had finally passed out into true lysergic bliss.

Going against the grain of all conventional thought I gotta admit that despite the obvious grasping for past glories and whatnot that Twink may be engaging in I find myself digging PURPLE HAZE for many a reason. First off, Twink, Turner and crew sure come off a lot more honest and refreshing than all of those San Franciscan relics out there who've been trying to milk 1967 glories for over four decades already! Secondly, these "Hawk Fairies" do a pretty good job at it even if only two of the original crewmates are on board and the rest of 'em seem to be leftovers from the early-eighties post-punk battalion returning to their hippoid roots. Ceed-ly, the music that appears here, despite most reviews to the contrary, actually kept my imagination a'dancing and my interests held up even with the overlong jams that accompany such late-sixties standbys as Hendrix's "Foxy Lady" and "Purple Haze", not forgetting Hawkwind's very own "Masters of the Universe" and perennial show-stopped "Brainstorm". True it all comes out in a big ball of messy, atonal, freeform sonic wax that would only appeal to a hardened fan, or hardened criminal for that matter, but that's one ball of wax that I certainly can go whole hog for!

Nice live vibes here and general psych-punk osmosis is in store and really, I can't see how any truly passionate Hawkwind fan out there couldn't but just love this 'un even if it reeks $1.98 cash in. It does (like the best krautrock even!) have that sorta transcendental ability to appeal to both love children roots and late-seventies Pere Ubu-bred cold wavers as the electronic buzz seems to leave residue all over the sanctity of your very own bedroom, and the way this bunch breathes new life into songs heard a thousand times before is rather unique and shines on like the best early-seventies English rock always could when pried away from its more pompous moments. And despite the extended workouts evident this is not quite another "jam" Cee-Dee, and frankly PURPLE HAZE's so good in its energetic flow that I could've imagined track #3 "Thoth", had it gotten 'round back in the early-seventies, to've been compared to the Velvet Underground even by the corniest of ROLLING STONE-bred critics out there.

Call it a quickie ripoff cash-in if you will, but let this bustard be the first on the block to tell you that PURPLE HAZE just might be one of the lost crunchers of nineties underground jetsam that's due for another looksee. Help the Twink retirement fund and buy yourself a copy asap!

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Although it happened a mere two weeks back I just found out...r.i.p. avant garde jazz pioneer Jimmy Giuffre, a man whose career spanned the opiate-swing of the late-forties Woody Herman band to some of the starkest "new thing" music of the early-sixties and beyond that continues to enthrall at least ape-brained arrested-development types like myself this far down the line. An underrated master who never really did get his dues for helping to create the avant jazz genre, Giuffre, along with George Russell, Lennie Tristano and Cecil Taylor, was pretty much the standard-bearer for what eventually would be known as free jazz in the fifties even if Giuffre's fame was certainly eclipsed by the likes of Russell, Taylor and of course Sun Ra. True, without Giuffre there still would have been John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman making their turn-of-the-decade nova music, but someone hadda've been there to make the world ready for them, eh? And what a better pathfinder could there have been than Giuffre, who at one moment could be seen on national television with Sarah Vaughn and at the next recording some hot West Coast avant spew with or without the likes of Jack Sheldon! If you're so inclined, try to pay Giuffre's memory proper homage by spinning such necessary avant garde platters as Shelly Manne's THE THREE AND THE TWO (side one recorded '54 with Giuffre and trumpeter Shorty Rogers) and the always amazing "chamber jazz" effort FREE FALL (from '62 with Paul Bley and Steve Swallow, on Columbia).

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Plastic Idols-SINGLES, DEMOS & LIVE; HOUSTON PUNK '78-'80 (Hotbox)

Not much happenin' on the moozik front here at BLOG TO COMM central this week, so 'stead of re-re-reviewing some old chestnut in the fire you've known and loved for ages or (perish the thought!) neglecting to write about anything a'tall I decided to reach deep into the pile of PREVIOUSLY PURCHASED SPUTUM BEING SAVED FOR A RAINY DAY and latch onto this relatively-new item that's been wallowing amongst the flotsam for a longer time than I can imagine. And unlike many of you reg'lar readers (who surely know when to reach for the Feen-a-mint!) I gotta admit that over the years I really have lost a lotta my taste for the kinda punk proper that these Texans were spewing forth back during the late-seventies when such things seemed to matter even more than they do now...oh yeah, I can listen to and enjoy a straight-ahead punk rock disque the same way people go to the zoo to see primates flinging their excrement at each other, but when it comes to my hardcore listening desires these days it seems as if I'm lending ear to all of the things that either "made" punk (the "proto" variety of the form) or encircled punk (im)proper not unlike flies 'round some fresh turds not really punk per se but since in fact this stuff inhabited the same corner of the record bin so-to-speak it might as well have been. Dunno exactly where the Plastic Idols fit in...they had that same sorta sick Texas punk sense that began with the Thirteenth Floor Elevators true, and yeah there's a lot in their overall makeup that sure points the way towards early-eighties twee-dom (as doth beget many an angry punk soon to turn mellowed punque), but there's still a lot more to these guys' overall chemical makeup that made 'em perhaps the utmost in loco avant punkdom on the same level with (shudder!) early Pere Ubu or maybe even the Electric Eels, talkin' two Northern examples of worth.

Of course the long-elusive single and compilation tracks are here so you no longer have to worry about scratching your now-rare vinyl copies any more, and as we've all known these numbers are boffo examples of what mid-Ameriga could do in the garage long before snooty New York VILLAGE VOICE critics started conjuring up flitsy terms like "amerindie" in order to cue their worthless readers in. And, like the creem of this loco self-produced rockism you can hear a whole lotta smart influences in Plastic Idols from their own Texas past (many of those late-seventies Lone Star groups could have easily passed for late-sixties pre-ZZ Top/blues influx psychedelic remnants) to the just-previous generation of mid-USA/World "local rock" (Debris comes to mind, perhaps thanks to the occasional use of oscillator) and naturally the late-seventies upheaval which sorta took rock & roll as a meaningful form of youth communication outta the garages and into the streets has a lot to do with these degenerates as well. And yet, Plastic Idols are no mere copycats nor do they sound just like every other independently-produced record of the time which can be a blessing. In fact, there's a nice buzz of mid-energy fervor permeating this disc that doesn't have me chucking this back into the bottom box of my leaning tower of Cee-Dees where a whole load of "pertinent" and "precocious" late-seventies punk reissues reside at this very moment.

Good sound (even on the demo and live tracks!) and of course the info-packed booklet will learn ya a lot more than this post ever could (as usual). And even if you weren't one of those early-eighties import bin boppers who was scarfing up all of the same Wire, Pop Group, Slits and other "Rough Trade" sounds that I'm sure the Idols did you'll probably get more out of this than you would have even dreamed a good five years ago. I know I probably wouldn't've even given this one a second look has it whizzed by a half-decade back, but it's here and I've got it, and I'm sure enough glad that I didn't waste the money on...I dunno, whatever Jay Hinman's been hyping these past few years and Lord knows we have better ways to spend our hard-earned, right?!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Soggy-"Waitin' For The War!"

As my close, personal friend Imants Krumins told me, how did we ever live so long without knowing this band even existed??? And for a group whose very name conjures visions of breakfast cereal that stayed in the bowl too long, these Soggy guys were pretty hotcha up-there high energy rockers for whom obscurity is certainly not deserving. Anyway, for the uninitiated (and that includes 'most all of you), Soggy were a band of French extraction who were kickin' up their proverbial storm way back in the early-eighties, but I'll excuse you if you (like me) would have been fooled into thinking that they were a relic of the same early-seventies gallic heavy metal scene that gave us the likes of Rotomagus and a bevy of other hard-rockers who appeared on the TETES LOURDES sampler a few years back. Really, it's kinda hard to think of a band this much steeped in early-seventies Detroit metal and shag (complete with a lead singer who's doing his best to ape various Tyner/Pop stage poses) actually hailing from the gnu wave-riddled early eighties but these Sogsters did, and given the sorry state that rock & roll was in at the time no wonder they sunk like a stone! I'm sure that the metal crowd (who were more into "taste" and "chops" than they'd lead you to believe) would have thought Soggy too primitive and the punks would have shuddered at their long hair, and for the gnu wavers I'm positive they were too anti-art project! And who knows what the geeks who were weaned on album oriented "rock" woulda thunk of 'em as well! Let's face it, at the time Soggy were a group without a country destined to wander about until they capsized for good!

But Soggy were there and they came, they saw and they conked out just like too many worthies of the past fifty years that a million editions of BLACK TO COMM couldn't hope to cover in just as many years. And just because they did what they did and suffered through all these years of massive obscurity does BLOG TO COMM dare to rectify the situation once and for all, at least with a little bitta notoriety thanks to this very post. And (just for the sake of argument) if you're one of those doubting Tommys who still thinks I've steered you wrong with a load of previously-undiscovered high energy maniacs throughout the years from Umela Hmota to Les Rallizes Denudes, let's just say that you're going to regret ever having a negative viewpoint regarding yours truly after giving these Soggy guys a listen.

Soggy's sole LP has just been reissued in an edition of 500 copies, and I for one am going to be on the lookout. Until then, one can go to the group's myspace page and learn a heckuva lot more 'bout 'em than I've given you in this pithy post. For the more adventurous, there's a Soggy blog out there as well and although it's entirely in French maybe you can translate a thing or two from it even if you got straight "D"'s in the subject. And for the remaining few who are still unwilling to bend to my ever-subtle attempts to win you over, here's a neat youtube video that'll have you flashing back to Detroit glory days faster'n you can say "resensification"! Who sez the French play bad rock & roll anyway? Not moi!

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Last-L.A. EXPLOSION CD (Bomp, visit the group's official website at

Yes, it's me again! In case you were wond'rin just what I was up to these past few days (and I know you do care!), I was in ol' Virginny on the lookout for that ever-elusive Titfield Thunderbolt "In The Can"/"Born on the Wrong Planet" single that came out on the Diskord label way back in '71! No luck latching onto that (and besides, I didn't make it down Roanoke way where the band was anchored and I'm sure millions of copies of this single are rotting away in Goodwill bins next to scratchy Mitch Miller EPs) but I did manage to get hold of a SUPERCAR coloring book that's in almost immaculate condition (shiny cover 'n all!) 'cept for one page that was colored in, and rather professionally at that! But you don't wanna hear 'bout my trek to Virginia nor my scoring of this particularly rare coloring book, and I don't want to tell you about my travels/travails either! Naw, what I want to do is talk to you about today is the Last!

Dunno about you, but I sure remember these out-of-time late-seventies Los Angeles folkpunkers being hyped about a whole lot, and from many a varying source way back when such a thing as a cohesive underground rock press and inquiring rock critics did exist. Heck, THE NEW YORK ROCKER even ran a nice piece on 'em that, if I remember correctly, was written by Phast Phreddie associate/Gun Clubber Don Snowdon and that's certainly was a coup in this group's private banana republic if you ask me! However, despite the underground buzz of the day, what I heard of these highly-touted "retro-rockers" at the time really didn't impress me as much as I'm sure you readers would have assumed. Their track on Bomp's WAVES collection of late-seventies self-released weirdities didn't exactly have me doing flip flops (and okay, I know that "We're In Control" wasn't exactly a good "starting point" to begin my familiarity with this band) plus their 12-inch EP that was also on Bomp and a cover of "Louie Louie" on a Rhino collection weren't winning me over either, perhaps sounding a little too modern on the retro side if you get my drift! Frankly, it wasn't like I was made outta money and could scam every shard of recorded bile this and many other groups out there in Notice Me! Land were cranking out with a strange frequency back in those punk active times, but man-oh-man why did I have to pass on L.A. EXPLOSION? True, I know that if I had heard the thing back when it was freshly hatched it wouldn't have been one of those planet-realignment-esque experiences akin to hearing the first two Velvets or PEBBLES, but it sure would have been a whole lot more fun'n spinning random new wave promo discs scammed in the basement of the Cle Hts. RECORD REVOLUTION in the hopes of finding some new source of atonal sound scrambledge, only to come up with yet another one for the compost heap!

Yeah, L.A. EXPLOSION (this 2003 reissue freshly repressed and once again thrust onto an unsuspecting public) lives up to all that hype and hyperbole that Greg Shaw spurted upon them in the pages of BOMP!, even to the point where this does sound like an actual artyfact from the folk-rock mad Los Angeles of 1965 if recorded under late-seventies standard temperature and pressure. (Last leader Joe Nolte's info-packed booklet notes mention that L.A. EXPLOSION was laid down in the same studio and at the same time that Frank Zappa's JOE'S GARAGE and Fleetwood Mac's TUSK were, so you kinda get the idea of just how far the city had sunk since the heyday of the [not-so detailed] twang.) But despite the time and place this entire album, even the token nod to late-seventies punkdom "I Don't Wanna Be In Love", sounds like it was being birthed from the same hole of West Coast genius that gave us the Turtles, Seeds, Leaves, Bees and Lollipop Shoppe and maybe that's what the whole late-seventies punk rock scene was really clamoring for 'stead of the Go Gos and Knack popsterisms that were being pushed as the haute new wave cusine!

I haven't heard this many Seeds (and even Doors) rips since I began combing through the PEBBLES and BOULDERS compilations back when they were hitting the mailorder catalogs at inflated prices! Even the cover of "Be-Bop-A-Lula" sounds like something the Stranglers would have cooked up had they used Sky 'stead of Jim as their template! And the best thing about it all is that these straight from the mid-sixties (with a few detours) rockers are done with the same beauty and taste of the originals that seemed so lacking in many of the mid-eighties "paisley underground" groups who were trying to walk walks and talk talks (!) yet seemed to have a certain something missing in their DNA. Perhaps it was the O-mind, but we're not talkin' Detroit, we're talkin' Los Angeles!

'n not only do you get the punk-packed album (fifteen-count-'em-tracks) in its entirety, but Bomp! felt it worthwhile to also stick on the three non-LP singles (primitive yet cool!!!) as well as that strange track from WAVES that creeped me out back then. And you know what, it still sounds goony enough, but as a Cee-Dee closer it sure seems in place, kinda like those token avant garde numbers that seemed to get tossed into many a rock album back in the late-sixties!