Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Yes, I'm so full of it...the Holiday Spirit that is, that I'm even wishing a Happy X-mas to these aforementioned heathens who certainly have done me wrong as well as to you, the doody-ful BLOG TO COMM reader. Hope you all have a cool yule, and may your stockings be free of stool! Anyway, howdja like the Christmas ornament that I got from none other than champion blogster Lindsay Hutton? I was expecting him to send me a nice haggis but I don't think he had the "balls" (geddit?) to do so! Though I do wonder if the person pictured on the bulb is none other than the NEXT BIG THING editor hisself, but until I find my stack of back issues which are stashed away who knows where I guess I'll never be able to find out! (Nice toupee you got there Lindsay!) Anyway even though it is Christmas 2008 (gleep!) and the future we all dreamed about as kiddies just ain't as JETSONS as we had hoped I'm sure that you, me and the kitchen sink can still ooze some pleasure outta this Holiday Season just like you did when you were still in the single digits and it seems as if everything out there was seemingly made specifically for you and your own mere whims and fancies!

Anyway, while you lucky bums are chomping down your turkey and stuffing here are a coupla reviews that I thought would help your repast go down rather smooth-like. And in order to be "inclusive", may I wish to my pagan readers a happy Winter Solstice Virgin Deflowering Festivities Day???


There was a time in my life (which never did die down come to think of it!) when I wanted to know just about everything that was going on in the New York underground rock scene whether it was of the seemingly distant past or the ripe and ready for picking present. Of course this was during a time when rock music, at least on an underground, gut-wrenching level, was perhaps at its apex with bands of a variety of genres (punk, garage, metal, no wave or any variations thereof...) creating a vivid sound that, although pretty much invisible on a mainstream level, was sure kicking up a pretty big storm in a variety of clubs that had sprung up across the lower Manhattan scenery. Being a reader of the rock mags and follower of the goings on oft pictured in rags such as CREEM and ROCK SCENE, I was a pretty obsessive/compulsive type regarding this music scene which seemed to reek of an excitement only I could dream of stuck in my suburban Sharon bedroom...and I dunno about you, but o/c me used to live to read THE NEW YORK ROCKER not to mention the music pages of the once-useful VILLAGE VOICE whenever I had the opportunity in order to see which bands were playing at CBGB, Max's Kansas City or any of the imitations that popped up in their wake.

Y'see, I had this strange sneaking suspicion that these haunts were booking nothing but top-notch quality underground rock & roll bands comparable to the over-ignored groups that were performing the Cleveland/Akron/Kent area, and if that area could lay claim to having at least two dozen or so of the best acts ever to hit the area just imagine all of the crucial acts that just hadda've been playing in En Why See on a nightly basis! As you can tell, during this time I was stoopid enough to actually believe that every act that graced the stages of CB's or Max's was some sorta punk garage band real deal not aware that many of these groups just weren't up to BLOG TO COMM standards, but just the fact that they were up there and playing seemed to be fine enough to give even some worn-out heavy metal band who I would have jeered at had they come from these parts at least a shard of underground respectability.

As time went on so did the mode of the music, and many of those bands that seemed to have sparked some sort of fire in my brain at one time were not only becoming famous, but losing a lot of the original energy and ideals in the process. Unfortunately the new bands that were popping up to take their place on the stages of these clubs weren't as innovative or as original as one would have hoped, and worse yet it seems as if the "rock press" that had once jumped on the bandwagon every time a new and exciting act would roll down the runway could have cared less anymore with more'n a few "New York Rock Critics" (and say that with a sneer) going back to their old games and singer/songwriter origins.

Really, if I had a fanzine in that town back in '82 I would have been covering the reunions of groups such as Manster and the Planets as well as writing up some of the more exciting bands playing in that mid-seventies underground style, but it seems that if so I would have been perhaps the ONLY one doing just that! And maybe I was getting wary of it all. By this time I began peeking into the VOICE less and less. Not that it mattered...I mean, the hippydippy politico bent of the rest of the paper began seeping into their music pages where it was tough enough to get into a review without reading a reference to Nicaragua or sodomy laws, though I still wondered about what exactly was going on at CB's that late in the game, Max's having died a slow and under-reported death right around the time the music was heading into a decidedly non-seventies direction anyway.

I remember once while in a certain record store 'round '88 or so when someone happened to mention the group Bitch Magnet having just recently played CB's, telling me that member Sooyoung Park told him that CBGB had "gone heavy metal" pretty much based on the fact that all of the other groups on the bill that night with the Magnet were of a decidedly metal persuasion. That didn't surprise me any considering not only the slight strains of difference between what had become of the punk and heavy metal movements over the years but still, with that late-seventies fire still a-flickerin' in my musical soul I was curious as to what kind of metal was being performed at the club during those rather dim days for the old underground rage. Well, with the release of these Nasty Savage albums I get at least a little glimmering twinkle of exactly how far into the metallic lore CBGB was willing to go, and frankly I find the spirit and energy displayed on these two clear vinyl offerings just as attention-grabbing and over-the-top as many of the groups performing their stuff in a more "alternative" setting if you know what I'm talkin' 'bout.

These Savages (who hail from Florida making me wonder how many gigs they were able to latch onto down there!) sure do the heavy metal game right as you can tell by their singer's leather gear in the pic to your left. And as you see from the studded self-defiant pose struck on this cover Nasty Savage ain't exactly no metal sissyboys akin to those hair bands you used to see all over the place during the mid-eighties. This ain't brainy metal like early Blue Oyster Cult or MX-80 Sound either nor is it fluffweight metal or commercial metal or even what most acne-riddled boxboys of the day would have considered "their" metal! Nasty Savage go for the all out throttle style of heavy metal, not that far away from the various late-seventies Motorhead-styled hard rock excursions yet with a pace about one step behind the "speedmetal" of a Powertrip or even Metallica pre-progressive inclinations. Sound quality is typical club portable recorder, and the singer in his 'tween-song patter seems to be so happy to be playing at CBGB as he pants and recovers from the mania of the previous number.

It's atypically good enough mid-eighties HM with enough dunce-thud to satisfy the older metallic crowd yet it's chock fulla all the energy and dare-I-say innovation that helped rescue metal from the hands of such hideous showoffy bandwagon jumpers as Andy Secher of HIT PARADER "fame", a guy who certainly didn't want to know about the real power and might that heavy metal could aspire to preferring to stick with the lightweight moneymaking glop. And it's funny, but I remember about a year or so before this very show was recorded when me and some guy were having a discussion about heavy metal and me asking where all of the hard and truly metallic bands were in this sea of relative snooze. Little did we know that it was happening and in places we never woulda guessed about in a millyun years! LIVE AT CBGB'S only makes me wanna hear not only more of these hard-flash acts that fizzled out without a trace, but some of the other groups on the CBGB scene during those dark days of underground rock who mighta missed out on the real deal, but they probably had about ten times the interest and stamina of the big-name alternative acts they were undoubtedly forced to open up for at that long gone dive.
The Red Crayola-SOLDIER TALK CD (Drag City)

Gee willikers, has it really been a good 29-and-a-half years since I picked this shoulda been by now infamous Red Crayola "reunion" elpee up on a shopping trip to Cleveland? And while I'm at it, has it really been a good 27-and-a-half years since I began tiring of that whole British/Amerigan underground avant garde rock music, probably spurred on by a reading or three of KICKS #2 which I latched onto around the same time??? Yeah, I gotta admit that I, along with a nice portion of of what passed for the Underground Music Listeners of Ameriga at the time, went hog wild for the under-the-counterculture rock groups that were spurting forth from all corners back in the seventies, and with a nice portion of these same kiddoes I also began to wary of the direction these once-forward-looking reactionaries had been lurched into once the entire underground seemed to be falling into one massive hunking burning pit of pure CAMP.

So surprisingly enough I find myself liking SOLDIER TALK after way too long an absence in my life even though it has the makings of very-late-seventies "Rough Trade"-styled artitude and occult political schpiel, two marks agin it in my book. Thankfully the music, while angular and jarty (a word I just made up for the occasion, as in the sound just jarts all over the place [from the ancient Danish jahrk meaning "to dance about the room as if to have been corn-holed by Sven the houseboy with a glowing red fire stoker"]), also has more of a seventies underground avant-attitude about it which differentiates it from eighties post-avant miasma, the same attitude that made RADIO ETHIOPIA, NO NEW YORK and undoubtedly the Debris album such winners with their mix of underground rock and avant garde stylings that seemed to "turn off" the standard record buyer of the day though this stuff always seemed to strike a chord with the more addled amongst us.

Just goes to remind you that before these people began to take themselves way too seriously and see themselves as "vessels" for new social constructions and the like, they at least could kick up some mighty fine (and time-withstanding) rock & roll music. And although the overall quality of Mayo Thompson's various Red Crayola revivals seemed to ebb and flow almost with the tide his work for the Radar label is much to be admired. However, why did Drag City leave the "Wives in Orbit" single off here anyway? That would have been most necessary, along with that flexi-only remake of "Hurricane FIghter Plane" that did end up on a Texas 60s psychedelia compilation about a decade ago come to think of it!
THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT by Will Eisner (Kitchen Sink, 1994)

I have little doubt that Santy won't be giving me a complete bound collection of SPIRIT comics come Christmas Day even though that is one gift that certainly would make me almost as happy as I was during the great Corgi Toy Christmas of 1968. And with those DC bound volume SPIRIT reprints costing quite a penny (and believe-you-me, I have been tempted!) I doubt that I'll be reading many of these classic titles at least in the near future. Well, at least I have this collection of Christmas-themed SPIRITs that Kitchen Sink released in a softcover a good fourteen years back. Nice enough "timely" reading and the stories are naturally good in that Quality Comics style, plus if you strain your eyes hard enough you'll be able to tell that Harvey Kurtzman actually drew the final story presented here, a particularly good enough wowzer that packs power and pathos in a way most Will Eisner imitators have been failing at ever since. (For a boffo SPIRIT story drawn by Wally Wood in his also oft-imitated EC style, click onto this recent POTRZEBIE post and get an eyeload of a particularly strange science fiction saga which only makes me all the more hungrier not only for THE SPIRIT, but the rest of the Quality Comics line of masked crimefighters in flashy forties suits!)
BEFORE I GO, I thought that I better remind you that there are still a lot of those water-damaged issues of BLACK TO COMM that I told you about before available in case you're looking for a bargain, albeit a crinkled one. The ones that got the soaking are #'s 14, 17, 21, 24 and 25 (and that one comes with a thankfully un-drenched Cee-Dee!) which can be had for the ridiculously low sum of three smackers each (plus postage). To be honest wit'cha, you are getting a bargain considering that some of these mags might only have minor stains and are wrinkled only in the slightest, but I did find a copy of 25 which really got a soaking and should adorn the gaps in your BTC collection to the ultimate max! If you ask me kind enough, I'll actually reserve this one for you! You know what to do if you want one or many of these soiled issues...just write me via the comment box with your email, and I will do the rest!


Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Chris! Hope the new year treats you well, as well. Nice coup on the Titfield Thunderboat mystery too! Pax, Phil Donnelly

Christopher Stigliano said...

Thanks Phil...btw, I discovered that Nasty Savage had at least one recording on Metal Blade or Megaforce or one of those mid-eighties metal labels, so they were rather established on the underground HM scene it would seem.