Thursday, December 31, 2009


I can hardly believe it. Here we are, not only at the end of another year but at the end of a dad-blamed decade! And what a decade it was!!!! Yeah right, once you get down to it the oh-oh's were even less energetic, exciting, entertaining and downright livable than the nineties and eighties combined, and everyone knows what a drag it was living through those years unless you just happened to like grunge and radical in-your-face gulcheral upheaval! Like the nineties, I can't think of anything stimulating or life-reaffirming that came out of these past ten years, and for the life of me I am not going to do a "Best of the Ots" rundown on this blog because...frankly the past ten years are like one big roll of dough to me that maybe should be best left in the hamper until some diddley dolts decide to "revive" it. One good thing about the years 2000-2009 was that they were the first decade that I totally began to devoid myself of any knowledge whatsoever of the general culture and civilization for that matter, something of which I am definitely the better for!

But I will tell you about the past 365, which had its little ups, mostly downs and was more or less just time spent passing before I hit the good ol' six-feet-under (though frankly, I hope they lose my body in transit!). Some good items did hit my nerve-centers during those years, and since I pretty much ignored the hotcha underground amerindie new flavor of the week music like I had these past few decades I didn't bother much if any with the dross being passed off as new and innovative. Thankfully I did have my fun along with the aggravation, and if I hadda do it all over again I'd do it all over Heinrick Olausson.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR! Believe-it-or-not but there were a few good releases this year one would think I would have automatically chosen to top the list this year, Lou Rone's and that Meercaz 'un amongst 'em. However, if I hadda point out just one album that I would consider a favorite at least judging from pre-bedtime spins and whatnot it would be the DARK SUNNY LAND KON TAN KOOR Cee-Dee which I must give additional brownie points for since it managed to keep my attention with its amorphous creeping bent sound for quite a few many nights in a row. It was so good that it gave me the same teenage tingly feeling I got when I was about 18 and a good portion of the amorphous avant garde bent of the previous fifty years was making up the soundtrack to my ever budding phony-intellectualism!
SINGLE OF THE YEAR!There wasn't gonna be one until I got hold of the Sun Ra double-header "I Am Strange"/"I Am An Instrument" on Norton (where else?). Pure "electric" beauty from this long gone madman who on these sides dwells deep into the o-mind while remaining incomprehensible to about 99.999...% of the populace. A downright "sleeper" as they say.
BOOTLEG OF THE YEAR! The Yardbirds' LAST RAVEUP IN LA even if it did come out thirty years ago!
ARCHIVAL COLLECTION OF THE YEAR! Surprisingly enough my favorite gathering of trackage past this year was not available in stores or only on television, but was copped off of the PUREPOP website when nobody was looking. Yes, I'm talking about the collection of rare mostly-English proto-punk glam rock that I gathered from choice available single sides on this boffo blog, and the numbers that I stuck onto my hour-plus disque really do satisfy even more than the legit GLITTERBEST which my own collection was perhaps not-so-obviously inspired by. Made a fine backdrop for my automobile driving this past summer, and to prove just how potent it is I was at an intersection blasting this and some pretty girl in the car next to me actually FROWNED at me! And some say there is no shock value left in this world of ours! Of course if ya wanna talk about something that was actually manufactured and sold to the general public, this item was pretty durn good in itself!
JAZZ ALBUM OF THE YEAR! That Gunter Hampel double disc set recorded live in '68 (with Sonny Sharrock!) that Rick Noll sent me!
REPACKAGE OF THE YEAR! Mirrors' SOMETHING THAT WOULD NEVER DO which you probably think you don't need, but you'll end up getting anyway. Honorable mention: TV Toy.
BOOK OF THE YEAR! Lotsa nice ones to choose from natch, but the one that really hit the spot despite the various faults I found in it is the HUMBUG collection of boss late-fifties satire created by the same creative team that gave us MAD long before that rag ceased being humorous on any level! If you like the spirit of the original MAD and find HELP offensive in that great early-sixties way you'll love HUMBUG, and I only wish I had this 'un back when I was twelve when I really needed it 'stead of a buncha hippies telling me to smile on my brother while they beat the stuffing outta me!
FANZINE OF THE YEAR! No question, whatever UGLY THINGS just happened to come out! Can't beat this 'un nohow, even if the fanzine world seems to have shrunk to the size of a peanut, or at least the size of __________________'s manhood!
BLOG OF THE YEAR! Hands down winner is Jim Marshall's THE HOUND BLOG which you can retrieve on your I will say that Miriam Linna's KICKSVILLE 66 had been doing some strong up 'n runnin' not only with her illustrated recollections regarding the Cramps and the late Lux Interior, but after a quick burst the entire blog fizzled out leaving me gnarlier than Dick Gregory in the middle of a hunger strike for unfunny comedians. Oh well, at least Marshall's HOUND BLOG is to his boffo NEW ORDER/VILLAGE VOICE (really!)/KICKS writing as what Linna's blog is to her various fanzine endeavors. (And please don't laugh, but Marshall's VOICE contributions were one of the few reasons to pick up that weekly piece of yellow liberal journalism for quite some time, at least until the likes of Chuck Eddy and a slew of lesser knowns began cluttering up the "riffs" section or whatever it was called by then with some of the worst ca-ca passing as out-there gonzo rock criticism!) Mighty good stuff in of which is most def. his personal recollections regarding Lester Bangs which I linked up at the time and you can find with enough blogsearch savvy. Let's just say that thirty years after the death of seventies Golden Age rockscreeding it's sure great reading something with that old-timey fanzine/CREEM-inspired swing in the here/now.
DEATH OF THE YEAR! Actually, 'tis a tossup twixt that of Ron Asheton and Sky Saxon. Lux should figure in there somewhere but at least for me ('n this is my blog, remember?) it was Asheton and Saxon who pretty much made the underbelly of mid/late-sixties rock & roll as good as it was, Asheton with his sub-strata guitar playing and Saxon as "the prince of the punks" fronting the Seeds long before he became about as organic as the dog manure that was crowding him outta his house! In an age when even youth shock seems to be pre-packaged the mere existence of both Asheton and Saxon only goes to prove to us just exciting outrageousness used to be!
HEY DAVE, IF ANYONE CALLS YOU A SISSY JUST HIT 'IM WITH YOUR PURSE! And now for the DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE YEAR we have this walking specimen to contend with. When I think of how close this "human" came to expiring this past year due to a sudden attack of appendicitis boy does my mouth go a'frothin'! If only the ambulance had a flat tire or the paramedics had a few too many beforehand maybe we wouldn't be putting up with this poor excuse for a rock "critic" (as much as that term seems to exist these days) anymore! Hopefully next year might bring more physical and mental travails to this herb so's we won't have to put up with his precocious opines regarding a number of "pertinent", "relevant" and "crucial" recordings that he somehow deems worthy of letting his small group of toadies in on. C'mon Dave...keep reaching for that MORAL HIGH GROUND that makes you oh so superior to paranoid me!!! Also noteworthy of mention (but certainly not a disappointment)...Gerard Cosloy's house burns to a crisp, an entry that I'm sure will make it into that all-time best seller WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO BAD PEOPLE. (Just consider it me "gettin' some 'get back'" as they say on the streets Gerard!)
And that was the year that was that! Phooey!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Like I promised, here's a mini-smidgie kinda post to sorta top the year off before I pree-sent to you my not-so-massive year's end roundup this Thursday. Not much to say in the way of anything earth-shattering or life-reaffirming, but I thought it would be pleasing as punch to give mention to a few little items that have wormed their way to the bunker before we cap these oh-oh's off for good. I have no idea what this particular post is going to mean (for you, me or the bedpost for that matter) as far as anything aerie/philosophical-like, but I thought it would be a good way to "get rid" of a few reviews before 2010 clocks in and we all start anew. Anew at what I have no idea of either.

One good thing for you avid BLOG TO COMM readers to look forward to in 2010 is more Dee-Vee-Dee reviews! With my computer's DVD drive acting extremely finicky either rejecting disques totally or playing them at warp drive (meaning they play as if they're warped!), it was sure heartening to know that my very own mother has received not only a DVD player of her own on which she can spin her opera and JAG disques, but a mini-sized screen planted smack dab in the privacy of her own bedroom (since the tee-vee we have hitched up to the satellite is too old to accept such new technology as DVD players) as well! This means that, at least when nobody else is home, I can sneak into her room and watch a huge backlog of platters I myself have acquired, so expect some hotcha writeups of everything from THE CORPSE GRINDERS to THE HOWDY DOODY SHOW in the coming months! I spent a good portion of Sunday watching a few episodes of GOMER PYLE, including the huge guffaw-inducing one spoofing THE DATING GAME where Gomer remarks to Sgt. Carter how the other contestant's even handsomer than Rock Hudson and sounds like Cary Grant! Sounds like a date that can go three ways, at least if the rumors that have been going around for years can be believed! And the "OK, let's hear it for Henshaw" one had me rolling in the aisles, or at least in the comfy chair!!! Also watched were a few episodes of AMERICA 2-NITE which were really boffo though I recall "The First Fifty Weeks" special (touting the first fifty weeks of the UBS Network, whose motto is "We put U before the BS"!) being way funnier than what actually transpired thanks to a thirty-plus-year memory hell bent on embellishing everything to the point of rose-colored nostalgia rear-viewing so to speak. Whatever, this "replacement" series for MARY HARTMAN X2 remains a whole lot better than anything that has been broadcast since 1979, not counting reruns that is! Expect reviews of both of these series and of course much more in up and coming BLOG TO COMMs!

And now, here is the pittance I have been promising you:


Tin Huey-BEFORE OBSCURITY; THE BUSHFLOW TAPES CD (Smog Veil, available through the usual sources)

I remember getting grief from a few people (OK, maybe two at the most!) in the eighties for mentioning my like (not quite luv) for this bunch of Akron confusionites who weren't quite sure whether they wanted to be punks or Canterbury-derived art-rockers. The memories of Huey's solo major label output on Warners, CONTENTS DISLODGED DURING SHIPMENT, really must have thrown 'em for a loop and although I must confess to having loved the dickens outta the platter at the time (enough that I even own two copies of their "I'm a Believer"/"Hump Day" 12-inch promo single, one autographed by the band!) I should also admit that I ain't played the thing for nigh on twenny-five years! Not surprisingly, I find myself preferring the group's early "self-produced" seven-inchers on the local Clone label not to mention a number of early live and studio tapes that fell into my mitts during the late-eighties, a time when it seemed as if my yearnings for the seventies underground were growling louder and louder because that eighties stuff just wasn't cutting it and no matter how hard I tried the Membranes just weren't gonna replace the likes of Huey and MX-80 Sound in my book!

Smog Veil seems to be doing its job, albeit slowly, in bringing the seventies NE Ohio underground to the present with this Tin Huey collection being just the latest. Most of it was taped in '78, live as well as at the group's Bushflow Studios, and even at this later date the group still sound a whole lot more than the eighties ginchy goo Devo music this stuff eventually evolved into. (Which is saying something since one track features the more or less debut of the Waitresses complete with new wave songstress Whatzername Donahue fronting the '78 Huey lineup!) Looks like Harvey Gold was scouring the used and import bins of the area for all the Soft Machine and Amon Duul II albums he could find just like I and presumably you were. You can hear how the group had honed itself into a sleek underground rock act emanating out of the Industrial Midwest...of course I prefer their early raw material but it's sure nice listening to them being true to their punk roots while presenting them in a more stylish, professional way. Well, at least to the point where they're not going to make you sick with that eighties-bred Pee Wee Herman new wave music that ex-Huey Ralph Carney was excelling in after the group's 1980 break up.

And what is this??? Some early (1973) live tracks have been tagged on at the end, taken from that show recorded at the Townhouse which has been making the rounds at least amongst serious tape-trading circles for quite a long time! Showing the Hueys as a quartet in their pre-Carney days, these songs have that ragged, rawer and thus more appealing sway which'll give you an idea of how Huey sounded back when they were opening shows for Rocket From The Tombs and Mirrors and Peter Laughner was writing articles about 'em in the local entertainment rags. They had a stronger, more intense punk approach at the time with covers of the Velvets and Stooges rife in their sets amidst the krautrock, and although I would have preferred hearing the entire show including the show-stopping closer "Sister Ray" 'stead of the newer recordings that make up the bulk of this disque I guess beggars can't be choosers or so they say.

One major beef I have with this package is the uh-glee cover art which doesn't conjure up visions of seventies hard-flash but nineties/oh-oh's alternative kitsch seen in way too many record ads that were and continue to pop up in the "'zines" of then and now. I guess they couldn't get whoever did the artwork for that boss debut EP from '77 so they hadda settle for one of those Coop/Kozik-derived cartoony-time delineaters who continue to be in vogue even as we dig deeper and deeper into the new millenium. Well, I guess with a lot of alternative/underground clubs closing up and groups folding by the score they need to get some work considering all of the posters they won't be drawing in the upcoming years!
ACID DREAMS EPITAPH CD (Past & Present, available through Forced Exposure)

Another questionable purchase considering how I have most if not all of these tracks on other albums and disques throughout my collection, and the selection really isn't quite as obscure as the blurb-writers would have you believe. Ranging from the familiar (PEBBLES lifts, Norton label signings) to the less-than (the Journey Men, the Sweet Acids), at least the sound is clearer and if you haven't been paying that much attention for the last ten or so years these do remind you of just one reason why listening to rock & roll music back in the late-seventies was a rather enjoyable task. Still, it doesn't match the wonderment on a boy's face when he'd go to his favorite local record shop and espy a copy of PEBBLES VOLUME ONE thinking it every bit as exciting and as adventurous as a moon rock, and in many ways he was right!
HANK KETCHAM'S COMPLETE DENNIS THE MENACE 1951-1952 (Fantagraphics, 2005)

Look what Santa (aka Bill Shute) got me for Christmas! Never would have expected getting this collection of early Dennis the Menace cartoons sent to me and I'm glad that Bill knew what one needs for Christmas is not socks or underwear but fun unadulterated reading material like this! It sure beats the heck outta that one X-mas when I was ten or eleven when ever-sagging grades prompted the folks to get me books like MRS. WIGGS OF THE CABBAGE PATCH and TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST (along with some "scientific" games that were meant to educate me but were about as informative as a Julius Sumner Miller Physics Demonstration) in a vain attempt to "uplift" myself so to speak. A big hearty thanks to Mr. Bill for at least realizing that a dolt is a dolt and there's nothing you can do about it!

Since none of the very early stories were available in paperback when I was eleven and a huge fan of the comic and tee-vee show these are all new to me. It's interesting seeing the way the drawing style and the character developed during the comic's first two years, almost unrecognizable at the beginning but starting to take shape by the time '52 clocks out, and even at this early stage DENNIS THE MENACE was a fun, guffaw-inducing comic that was only hinting at the raw carnage that would take place once the strip "developed" into what we know it as in the mid-fifties. No Mr. Wilson yet (Mrs. Wilson does pop up later on) and you could expect a proto-Margaret here 'n there, but some of the great gags we all love like Dennis getting his wimpass dad into hot water with musclebound bullies are popping up and being used to good effect. And for you homos out there, Dennis even makes a few butt-naked appearances which I'm sure will get your jollies up even more than a few other things, if you know what I mean. The one where Dennis shows up nude at his (male) friend's door asking his mother if said pal wanted to join him for a bath will really get a lotta titters at the clandestine bar with the double-entendre name closest to you!
Anthrax-"HyProGlo"/"Got The Time" (live) promotional CD (Elektra)

I may be wrong, but weren't Anthrax one of the better eighties heavy metal aggros making a far superior holy racket in the face of a load of pale imitations that cluttered up that decade with nothing but a lotta hair? This promo disque does give a good sample of why they were so good next to the competition...while loads of eighties metal seemed to be distorting seventies accomplishment or utilizing the worst aspects of its late-seventies variations, Anthrax remained true to metal's early-seventies thud-credo making them avant garde (with a retro attitude) the results which certainly sounded better'n what the anagram metal brigade (WASP etc.) were dishing out at that sorry time.

One studio and one live...a short deal but if you got it cheap you have a pretty good enough taste. Well, at least these guys came closer to the Alice Cooper credo than Alice himself did long after his fame ran out even if that ain't saying very much!
Hmmmm, that was longer than I had planned...aren't you peons lucky?

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Well how did you spend your Christmas Day anyway...all snuggled up by the fire singing songs written by long-deceased English choirmasters with bad teeth? Not me! I wasted it it like any other true day off goofing around the house watching old cartoons on tee-vee and reading my stack of HELP! back issues. Oh yeah, and listening to my huge backlog of music that's been wasting away here due to abject neglect on the part of your blogmeister. The recent Velvet Underground tomes for our time (which I am continuing to peer through even though both books have been well-digested within my psyche for quite some time) had me listening to (over and over) the July '65 rehearsal tape found on the PEEL SLOWLY AND SEE box set which, next to the LIVE AT THE WARHOL MUSEUM has become perhaps my fave-rave documentation of this group at their early primal best. Of course I am still sloshing through the recent FORCED EXPOSURE order which will probably keep me well and happy all through Janvier of next year. Well, it's sure a lot better than having to go out in the bad weather just so's you can act all nice and friendly towards Aunt Petunia whom you can't stand and never will!

But, trouper that I am, the Holiday Festivities are not keeping me from shirking my doody and forgoing my usual weekend blogpost! And for today let me concentrate on some of the highlights of my recent FE order, mainly a couple of recent issues from the much-heralded Norton label that have been preoccupying my time as of late. Yes, this is the same Norton label (as if you didn't know!) who brought you such wonderments as Hasil Adkins, Jack Starr, Esquerita and all of those Link Wray volumes that their KICKS magazine was enticing us with throughout the eighties and oddly enough, I must admit that their choices for recent musical upheavals are pretty strange for a company (and fanzine) that bravely stood against all that was trendy and downright kitchy-koo from the late-sixties onwards! I'm talkin' such releases featuring none other than the long-forgotten works of KIM FOWLEY and SUN RA of all people...I mean, who woulda believed it??? Kim Fowley, the man whose had his fingers in every hot trend (and hot blond) ever since the late-fifties of which many were certainly not Norton-approved, not forgetting the master of outer space free jazz brouhaha Sun Ra which reminds me of the time Norton head Billy Miller was putting down JD King in the pages of KICKS for liking Ornette Coleman!!!! Well, looks can be deceiving and these releases ain't whatcha'd call Norton pandering either to the SoCal beach bleach new wave gang nor the outer-spiral fringe jazz crowd either. Both stick to the Norton credo of GREAT MID-AMERIGAN HOTCHA TEENAGE ROCKIN' TEE-VEE WORSHIP JUNK FOOD AND BLACKHEADS fun and games, and without either Norton or these new releases around we'd all be the poorer you bet!

The Fowley pair of releases are ingeniously entitled ONE MAN'S GARBAGE and ANOTHER MAN'S GOLD and both feature rare and maybe 88not-so Fowley single sides and productions that range from the familiar (Althea and the Memories' "Worse Record Ever Made") to the mythical (Fowley with Mars Bonfire doing "Surf Pigs" which just might've had Fowley replacing Iggy in the '71-vintage Stooges!) and even if you have those Fowley LP rarities that came out in the nineties these would be worth the additional dinero to have and to hold (and to listen to!). Magical stuff both of these platters are, ranging from Jan and Dean swipes to protest songs with "Alley Oop" beats and INSTRUMENTAL MADNESS cheapniz intermingling with enough campy high school putdowns to make Frank Zappa blush. Consider it kinda like the maddest Moxie release of 1979 only sounding 1000 X better, and even if you are one of those kinda guys who actually met Fowley and came away with a taste in your mouth akin to the bottom of Dave Lang's underpants you just might (begrudgingly) enjoy these two volumes that I must admit sure remind me of the thrill I used to get ordering those early PEBBLES albums from Bomp! back when "the sixties" became, at least to me, much more than a bunch of rambling hippie memories being annotated in the "Random Notes" pages of ROLLING STONE.
The Sun Ra dig-ups aren't gonna be that much of a left-field surprise to anyone who owns the double-CD Evidence collection of Ra 45 rpm rarities, but they sure do expand on the original concept of that one even if there may be a handful of overlaps. Featuring rehearsal tapes along with the rare Saturn single sides (as well as a few niceties on Pink Cloud!), these three volumes of Ra at his Ra-est (geddit?) pretty much gather up his various fifties recordings done for a smattering of vocal groups and solo wannabes during the man's Chicago days when the work certainly seemed easier to get in the down and out clubs of the South Side. INTERPLANETARY MELODIES features the Cosmic Rays of "Daddy's Gonna Tell You No Lie" fame as well as the Nu Sounds, whose Christmas jingle re-appears here in case you missed out on that rare bootleg single the first time. Even Juanita Rogers, the lovestruck bronze gidget of "Teenager's Letter of Promise" shows up not only doing that tear-jerker but an acapella demo for all you fifties schmoozers to rub to! Disc closes out with Ra himself doing a home recording playing and singing something about "Tony's Wife", a more traditional offering if you can believe it!

THE SECOND STOP IS JUPITER has more of the Rays, Nu Sounds, Rogers and the rest of the vocal acts taken under the wing of Ra (as well as another Ra solo piano and vocal number recorded right as the "el" roars by), but for even more extraterrestrial treats try #3 in the series ROCKET SHIP ROCK which features nine count 'em tracks by the master of Muck Muck hisself Yochannon, a guy who you could consider a Screamin' Jay Hawkins orbiting Mars. Un-Nortonly, a few of these Yochannon tracks have backing by the Arkestra that clearly points towards their abstract free jazz days making for some pretty interesting results that go off halfway between obscure r&b mutterings and the early avant garde sounds that Ra and the rest of those Space Age freedom players were conjuring up at the time! Also of note on this disc are two takes of the Batcraze cash-in "I'm Gonna Unmask the Batman", one sung by a Lacy Gibson and the other by a short fellow going by the name of Ebah who later checked into an oven and turned it on full blast. Fittingly closing out this platter is some guy called Don (Dino) Dean and his "Space Stroll" which apparantly is the man singing over a radio broadcast of "Twine Time" by Alvin Cash with total disregard for the melody screeching forth from the Westinghouse. Of all of the Sun Ra-related single sides extant, this one has got to be the most, obscure, beyond-the-ken-of-human-comprehension and indecipherable of the lot! Naturally I love "Space Stroll" quite a bit!

After you've digested these three items you might want to get out your turntable and slap on Ra's Norton-only single entitled "I Am Strange"/"I Am An Instrument", a magnificent slice of Ra that few if any of us knew about even after thirtysome years of collecting his various on/off again available albums. Side one is pretty much autobiographical, yet another home recording (perhaps done the same time those various Cee-Dee-closing Ra sides were) with Ra playing some pretty abstract piano while discussing his own personal philosophy which I doubt anyone will be able to decipher for at least another hundred years (when gas huffing is legalized). On the flip he takes the point-of-view of an actual musical instrument on 1:46 of even stranger introspection to the accompaniment of what sounds like either a zither or the insides of his very own piano! I never thought I would say this in a millyun years but it is true...Norton has gone avant garde!
When you're done with the above fun and games you might want to give this li'l reissue a try. It may not have been prudent of me to buy this vinyl reissue of the Doug Snyder/Bob Thompson DAILY DANCE album since I already have two of 'em on Cee-Dee, but considering on how I missed out by just this much! getting an original album from The New Music Distribution Service a gulping thirty years back maybe I felt that I was making amends of sorts. Whatever, this new issue on the Canadian Cantor label is el fantastico not only because of the old-styled heavy vinyl and sturdy album cover, but because Cantor felt it proper to include a nice li'l informative booklet filled to the brim with some rare photos and of course various recollections from all involved and more. Of course you'll get plenty more info if you'd only dare to purchase issue #24 of my tres obscure fanzine, but until you get your order rolling in you'll just have to settle for this neat enclosure!

Cantor Records is a new label that, according to its website, plans to devote itself to reissuing various doo-wah classic rarities of the sixties and seventies, an ideal that sounds pretty tangy to me considering the number of such albums just waiting to be (re)discovered. Hopefully their future projects will be just as enticing, at least if this reissue is any indication and if you missed out on DAILY DANCE in any of its previous incarnations there's nothing holding you back at least at this time, is there shorty?
Before I dish out my year end wrap 'em up this Thursday I just might get at least one small entry in, just so's I'm not too overwhelmed with writing about all of the niceties that have graced my turntable and bedside cee-dee player between now and then. Anyway, keep an eye or three peeled for probably Tuesday, or maybe even Wednesday if I get lazy enough.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Since I won't be seeing any of you until after the BIG DAY let me wish at least some of you a Merry Christmas. Hope you will be having fun sitting at that little card table along with the rest of the for me I'll be sure to enjoy my day off pounding out whatever may be of a weekend post, as well as tidy up my year-end roundup of the best and worst that have preceded us this past solar spin. May you be making the best of this Holiday Season, unless you're one of the many who have earned a nice spot on my all-time hate list. Then may Rudolph relieve himself in your eggnog.

Just started working on my recent Forced Exposure order and have some nice, juicy writeups on the Kim Fowley and Sun Ra exhumations that Norton blessed us with this year in the oven roasting, but until then here are a few items that I have come across (either outta that FE package or on my lonesome) that you might or might not want to know more about. Excuse my's that festive time of the year which affects me so, y'know.

Brainstorm-SMILE A WHILE CD (Lion Productions)

I got this one solely on the basis of its Penelope Playtex-influenced cover shot thinking these guys might have been a pretty hot German proto-punk sorta nutzo act that I know I could sure use a lot more of especially in these long-washed out times! Well I was wrong again, for Brainstorm were "in reality" a good Canterbury-esque jazz/rock group that might have bordered on the fusion-y aspects of the day but seemed to circumvent a lotta the least desirable aspects of the major bin stuffers. Includes a few German radio tracks to pad the thing out to a lengthy bargain. If you like the seventies Soft Machine, Caravan or Quiet Sun you'll obviously enjoy spinning this one a few times as well.
Charles Mingus-OH YEAH LP (Atlantic/Rhino)

A verifiable wowzer of an album from the boss early-sixties cover art (in many ways not too far removed from a Mitch Miller album!) to the great blues-unto-avant music to be found inside. It's too bad this one didn't get out into the general populace more than it did or else parents across this nation would be practically begging their children to listen to rock & roll 'stead of this atonal blare with hefty blues refs that's even more abstract in spots than Ornette's epoch-making FREE JAZZ from a good year-and-a-half earlier. Mingus on piano and vocals, Booker Ervin on tenor sax, Roland Kirk on the whole kaboodle (inc. siren), the soon-to-be punched out and toothless Jimmy Knepper on trombone, Dannie Richmond on drums and Doug Watkins on bass, all pretty much traveling way outside what was even accepted in the freedom scene at the time with a heavy disregard for form and structure. The tres outre "Hog Callin' Blues" and "Passions of a Man" (imagine a cross between "El Watusi" and the AACM) sandwich some of the most brilliant stylings to be committed to wax during the Kennedy years and one can only wonder the reaction in the Bangs household once their precious scion arrived home with this in tow!
THE ART OF HARVEY KURTZMAN, THE MAD GENIUS OF COMICS by Denis Kitchen and Paul Buhle (Abrams Comic Art, 2009)

An info-packed history of one of the better satirists of the past century complete with the mandatory casual photos, outtakes and of course up close and personal photos of the original artwork complete with all the paste-ups and fine blue pencil guidelines readily visible. Those of us who have been fans and followers of Kurtzman and his various endeavors will definitely want to own this, though the casual observer will probably wait for a remaindered copy or just get the same information at a much cheaper cost via your favorite search engine. Just because you're fanatical doesn't mean you have to be a spendthrift!
KRAFTWERK 2-CD set (Germanofone, Germany)

In time for the holidays comes this double disc collection of the first two Kraftwerk albums reissued as they were by Vertigo during the height of Autobahn-mania. Sure brings back fond memories of borrowing John Stanton's copy and attempting to tape it, but not following through for some unforeseen reason. Whaddeva, this was Kraftwerk at their best before the gloss of RALF UND FLORIAN sorta edged the group in a more, er, glitzy direction. LP #1's the best with future Neu! drummer Klaus Dinger giving this a particularly motorik drive and Ralf/Florian giving this a particularly frightening electronic vision that was pretty much unheard on in 1970. #2 finds the group traipsing into John Cage territory that I know threw me for a loop upon first hearing this way back in...was it really 1976? Either way, a complete surprise especially for those of you who used to disco to TRANS-EUROPE EXPRESS back in the late-seventies.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Yeah, that title does sound nauseating enough for a rough and tumble manly blog such as this, but I guess it might appeal to the more "effete" members of our society and why should I ignore 'em especially in these all-inclusive times? Or maybe I took the "bait" hook line and flowery language!!! Whatever, I hope that it draws at least a few more readers in!!! And no, I am not proud copping two Dave Lang quotes for post titles two weeks in a row, but I must admit that I've always been at a loss for coming up with even the weakest puns for these things. Maybe I should be ashamed, but I am not of this weekend roundup which I think at least equals some of the better ones I have provided you with these past five-and-a-half whopping years.

Anyway things are picking up around here...just got an order in from Forced Exposure that I've been building up on for a good six months or so and that's keeping me even more occupied than that time when I was a kid and discovered how fun it was peering into neighborhood windows with those binoculars and periscope that I got at a garage sale! Expect some hopefully juicy reviews upcoming in the next few weeks, especially a couple dealing with the recent Norton Sun Ra and Kim Fowley collections that certainly got my mouth salivatin', amongst other body parts. And once they send me a bill I'm anxiously awaiting a package from Volcanic Tongue which I'm sure will contain a lotta classics that I'm plum positive would have made my "Best of '09" list, only they'll probably arrive this Janvier at least to soothe me out of my winter doldrums. Well, I gotta do something during those months other than sit around in my room re-reading old issues of BOSTON ROCK (which I do when I'm in a "penitent" mode).

Before I get to far and since this is the Christmas Season, I thought I'd better link up this particularly informative and perhaps thought-provoking piece relating to this time of the year written by one of my fave living political commentators Thomas Fleming. I'm sure at least a few of you irregular readers might find this particular piece just another example of rampant paranoia or perhaps even downright offensive (but then again, since when was anything outside of MR. ROGERS not supposed to be offensive at least on some level?), but I find that it sums up a whole lot of the same thoughts I've had on the subject of these last days of the ots more than anything else I've laid eyes upon, more or less. Now if I can only dredge up Fleming's piece regarding George Reeves, Christopher Reeve and the entire concept of celebrity worship (a downright winner despite Fleming's obvious dislike for the Superman of television notoriety).

Roxy Music-FOOL PROOF LP (Korneyfone bootleg)

For some odd reason I don't recall seeing this one popping up in the bootleg bins of the day, but given its Korneyfone imprint I'm sure it was to be found in the best around-the-corner used record and trade-in shops nationwide. Taken mostly from a SIREN-period show in Boston 11/75, FOOL PROOF is fortunate enough to also include a hefty portion of an earlier gig during the COUNTRY LIFE era which certainly sates me fine enough given my love of that particular period in Roxy history. Sound is very clear FM quality (must have got an early pressing) and the performance exemplary at least until its time for the older tracks which seem to be performed kinda draggy and flop around a bit despite the group's attempts to inject a li'l fresh plasma into 'em. I was surprised by the frequent use of Eddie Jobson's electric violin playing which I think was one of the post-Eno group's better assets (though if Eno had only studied that instrument and applied his own non-musical credential to his playing of it who knows what would have transpired!).
NANCY by John Stanley (Drawn and Quarterly, 2009)

Really, the last thing I would have expected would have been a hardcover edition featuring comic book reprints of the late-fifties Dell version of NANCY! At least for someone like myself who spent a good portion of my early/mid-teen years leaving no flea market or garage sale left unturned these definitely non-Bushmiller etched comics weren't exactly whatcha'd call flying off the tables even if artist Dan Gormley could do a reasonable facsimile of the kinky-haired character and writer John Stanley (of LITTLE LULU notoriety) had a keen enough if off-kilter Bushmillerian sense mixing the banal with the obtuse. This version of NANCY, which I must admit was superior to the various hands who have attempted the comic strip in the wake of Bushmiller's demise (with the possible exception of Mark Lasky), was more or less a creation of its own not as bad as the KRAZY KAT comic book and animated cartoons were from the newspaper original mind you, but for diehard fans of the comic pages they just didn't jibe even with a below-average way underachiever like myself and perhaps even you!

But then again these comic book stories were perhaps meaningful enough in their own fashion/world, and since I came to like the Dell Comics version of PEANUTS (written and drawn by Charles Schulz's assistant Jim Sasseville) why not the imitation NANCY as well? Imitations can at least reflect some of the better qualities of the original (see Stan Lee's ultimate NANCY swipe, the original version of his LITTLE LIZZIE!) and if it's all supposed to be junk and disposable fun meant for nondiscriminating six-year-olds why should I complain? (Then again, why didn't I get a six-year-old to write this review???)

Thin book (only 150 pages, just a little bigger than those Dell NANCY specials that cost a quarter!) is actually printed on slick paper even if it does imitate the old-timey yellowing newsprint which does make for a strange effect that is perhaps "nostalgic" on one hand and "cute" on the other. Not original, but I kinda like it a tad bit just because it does bring back the old warm and toasties. Maybe if they could reproduce that aging newsprint smell those old flea market memories would come a'tinglin' back, but I figure that the people who put this out did add a strange sort of sartorial elegance even if it is in reissuing these comics I'm sure many people have tried to forget on purpose.

But these stories ain't bad esp. when compared with the dross passing for comic strips today, most of which are being created by eighties softhearted leftovers lost in the new millennium and seem even less relevant than FERD'NAND. And these NANCY's thankfully do have a sense of humor to 'em that at least tries to ape the Bushmiller ideal, and even if the artwork is not as tip-top as I would have liked thankfully Gormley didn't attempt to re-create that fuzzhead in his own image like the artists who have tackled the strip in the wake of Bushmiller's demise.

First story features the debut of the not-so-strangely Wednesday-esque Oona Goosepimple who injected a bit of ADDAMS FAMILY whackiness into these comics a good seven years before the ADDAMS/MUNSTERS craze had even the Flintstones scrambling for horror hipster points. Sluggo's grumpy neighbor Mr. McOnion has yet to make an appearance, but Fritzi's boyfriend Phil Fumble surprisingly pops up in one saga and strangely enough judging from these comics Rollo the Rich Kid has a dowright upper-crust mean streak to him I never saw in the dailies! Maybe these comics emanated from the mad, occult side of Bushmiller's obviously twisted psyche he so hard tried to keep from the public at large???

One minor beef tho...if this is supposed to be "John Stanley's NANCY" then why all the drawing of the Bushmiller one adorning the inside cover and title page?
Vernon Wray-WASTED CD (Big Pink, South Korea)

For quite a long time I've wanted to own an actual slab of vinyl released on Link brother Vernon's own Vermillion imprint. I do have the boffo YESTERDAY AND TODAY which was Link's attempt to mix some greatest hits with his new '69 sides that came out on the Music Factory label (which I assume was a Vermillion subsidiary), but as far as anything released on Vermillion proper goes I just guess I'll have to settle for this Cee-Dee reissue of a 1972 solo Vernon Wray offering until I do happen to latch onto a real one! Unfortunately, Vernon did not heed the lesson that Link did on his Polydor debut, for this 'un's more or less pale introspective folk-y rock with hefty backwoods country overtones that dredge up not only some standard new country moves but more early-seventies relevant bantering that certainly doesn't bode well lo these many years later. I shoulda seen the cover with Wray in long-haired/beard mode as a tipoff...the Wray Brothers'd better keep this one under wraps lest the Norton Records crowd give 'em a good what for!

Link fans might want to note that this disque opens with a version of "Facing All The Same Tomorrows" which Link originally recorded as a demo in '65 and Norton released as the b-side of a single in '90, but by this time in history the song had lost any of the mid-sixties folk rock fun and games it had and sounds like it could have been yet another Nashville churnout. Hey Big Pink, how about some of those other Vermillion albums like that ultra-rarity LINK WRAY SINGS AND PLAYS GUITAR or even that Shorty Horton tribute???? Some of those would liven up the boudoir here quite a bit!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009


THE VELVET UNDERGROUND: NEW YORK ART edited by Johan Kugelberg (Rizzoli International Publications, 2009)

Things may have been going slow on the VU front as of late, but (thankfully) these two tomes have finally made it onto our personal library shelves just in time to save us from digging out old issues of BOSTON ROCK in massive fits of desperation. And whaddaya know, it just happens that both of these books are pretty durn well-thought out and written slices of pure Velvet adrenaline, giving off that same beautiful dark aura that used to make people like me spend a good portion of the 1976-1982 seasons not only scouring whatever VILLAGE VOICE/NEW YORK ROCKER references we could find but had us trying, often in vain, to locate those then out-of-print albums in whichever way we could if only to help bolster that hot decadent feeling that we loved osmosing! Let's just say that if you spent those aforementioned years thumbing through just about every ROCK SCENE you could pick up, or if you (like me!) were so far flung from every reliable source to the point where you hadda rely on references in THE MUSIC INDEX and THE NEW YORKER club listings to get whatever fix you could then boy will these books not only bring back memories of Velvet-induced thrusts past, but somehow act as a proud revenge of sorts.

It's funny that both should hit the racks around the same time, and it's equally strange that they seem to aspire to extra-large coffee table book stature as well (something I would have discerned as being tres obtuse for a fan and follower of the Velvets). Since I don't own a coffee table they'll have to find a resting place elsewhere, but both Richie Unterberger's WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT as well as Johan Kugelberg's NEW YORK ART just might amount to downright essential reading if you happen to follow the same rockism-derived beliefs as I do, that of the ("our"???) music being birthed in the nooks and crannies of Amerigan downhome entertainment getting electricized and creating a bared-wire intensity flowing from the original rockers like Link and Bo up through the mad wild ravings of the mid-sixties punkers to the Velvets and their various spawn into terrifying heights, only to dissipate and dribble about once everybody seemed to jump on the bandwagon! If you follow that line of thinking then yeah, these books WILL be considered major reading material and perhaps a strange sense of justification in all our lives.

Well, it ain't like I've been reading this Unterberger cat day in and day out for quite awhile y'know? It's just that our not-so-sweet parting back around 1987 still leaves a taste similar to the bottom of a birdcage lingering in my mouth. However, considering how '87 was a good year for breaking off a whole number of penpalships no matter how tenuous (Chuck Eddy comes to mind) all I can say is WELCOME TO THE CLUB, RICHIE! After all, it was you who was giving me a lotta hassles for those record reviews I sent in to OPTION (which might have been loaded with "obscure" references true, as if most of the reviews printed therein were easily understandable to the average guy in the street) and besides, maybe your lack of appreciation of sixties garage band reissues came off a tad effete to coin a phrase. It might have matched my lack of appreciation of those Pere Ubu tapes you sent, but then again I was in a horrid mood which would only grow and grow as the years progressed. Maybe I was acting quite gnarled at the time, but it ain't like you were helping any! But still, I really did value the way you sold off a good hunk of all those aforementioned freebie garage albums you had, and at bargain prices t'boot! Still cherish my copy of THE WIG LIVE AT THE JADE ROOM and some of those HIGHS IN THE MID-SIXTIES volumes that would have cost me twice as much had I bought 'em straight from Bomp! so perhaps you were put on this earth for a good purpose!

And frankly, I haven't read a word of yours since those days, unless we're talking perhaps some Cee-Dee booklet liner notes that I would peruse until finding out who the author was or a quotation in an article that just popped into whatever piece I'd be reading, something which was almost as shocking as when some mother would be watching a movie on television with her child only to see some questionable scene suddenly appear without warning. Yes I tried avoiding you like Dorothy Gish tried avoiding coming in contact with the Chinese Gongo...until now that is. Being such a fan of the Velvet Constantine Radoulovich or Wayne McGuire mind you but a pretty manic one at that, I just hadda buy your latest book on the band even if it were to contain nothing but blithering drool regarding thee greatest reference point in true rockism history. The reviews were great and the descriptions to be found therein made this one out to be perhaps the end-all in Velvet Underground entomology and while I don't quite buy that line of hyperbole the prospects of missing out on such a collection seemed quite...shall I say...dire???

And despite my various frets and snivels I find WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT (coulda used a more original title tho'!) great in the way it gathers and disseminates just about everything we knew and more about the Velvet Underground from their early rock roots right up through the just-post Reed seventies and that brief nineties reunion that many of us had severe mixed emotions over at the time (well, I know I was in a quandary!). Really, this could have been yet another gathering of the facts with Unterberger just reading a few meaningful issues of CREEM and THE NEW YORK ROCKER plus all of the biographies authorized or not, but the guy actually went out and did some footwork, interviewed a number of people in the know and even cross-checked and referenced dates/times/etc. almost as well as Mary McCarthy (or at least the reporters following up on her claims) did in that anti-Lillian Hellman screed, and the results are to be found in this pretty thick book which I must admit sure brings out those throbbing Max's Kansas City memories in me!

Unterberger really did an A+ of a job here detailing the trek from the pre-Velvet days up until the endest end of ends when Lou Reed receives an honorary award at his alma mater Syracuse U., and he pretty much nails everything down in a way that maybe you don't mind his occasional interjections of his own personal opines regarding various Velvet-related recordings that might not jive with yours. It's all laid down year-by-year and sometimes even day-by-day, pretty much matter-of-factly detailing all of the sordid and important baby steps in Velvet Underground history and even if you know 99% of the saga by now it's sure nice refreshing yourself in the process while learning a few new tidbits of an obscure nature whether they be about the lost Falling Spikes members Elektrah Lobel and Daryl or some of the backstage wheel deals that might be disturbing enough to give a few of you readers of weaker constitutions vivid nightmares.

However, even with all of the research poured into this book there are a few questions and notable developments Unterberger either forgot or perhaps just completely ignored in the name of "expediency". Case in has been said that the Velvet Underground and Nico had done a number of shows at Max's Kansas City in '66 (easily enough recounted in the Max's tome HIGH ON REBELLION not forgetting a NEW YORKER blurb on Television from '74!) but if that was mentioned here it must have been in one of those passages I "bleeb'd" over when my eyes began tiring late at night. Small point, but something a Max's fanatic like I would love to know more about so why the hush hush? While I'm at it, a lot more meaningful factoids regarding the influence of the Velvets on the music of their day would have been a welcome enough addition to this book, but other than mentions regarding the Deviants, Bowie, Stooges (whom Unterberger claims did not have a great VU influence if you can believe that!) and Jonathan Richman (as well as the interest that Italian popsters Equipe 84 had in covering "Heroin", not forgetting the double-sided pop-rock whammy recorded by Holland's Riats) there's very little if any recollections or notes detailing those acts who were clued in to the Velvets to such an extent. I would have figured that a reference to krautrock, a movement beginning during the lifespan of the VU that was in part Velvets-saturated or at least the acknowledgment that various big time acts were "borrowing" from the Velvets would have been welcomed in such a project as herculean as this, and it is stymieing that the grand opportunity to delve into this oft-ignored aspect of the Velvets' influence was passed up once again. After all, if they were the most influential group in rock as a '79 WKSU-FM program guide once stated, somebody please point out a lot more examples pleeze!!!!!

So in the long run this book sates even the more serious Velvets aficionado, the kind who bristles every time he reads about how they should be honored for making the world safe for U2 (a rant that does sneak in here albeit in comparatively hushed tones) and how their music was responsible for the wimpass mewlings of amerindie groups from the eighties onward. Things that I'm sure irk a few of the fans who date back to the 60s and 70s who hadda endure a lotta flack for their special tastes. But thankfully the mad unleashing of history mixed with the illios (some extremely rare whilst others so common one wonders "why?") made WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT a book that should sate even the longest-running Velvets fans to the point where I would think that even Wayne McGuire might like it. Its ability to conjure up that hard-driving intense ball of tangled nerve energy that drove virtual nobodies like me to the music certainly does succeed!
While yer at it maybe you'll want to use this book of noted UGLY THINGS contributor Johan Kugelberg as a chaser. Now Kugelberg is a fellow who I used to be in contact with as well, but since we just "stopped" corresponding sometime in the eighties it's not like I have any great animosity towards him, so I approached his collection of rare Velvets epheremia with a lot less trepidation that I did Unterberger's effort. And as far as earth-shattering rarities go NEW YORK ART has quite a few of 'em...some beatific snaps intermingle with other such wonderments in glorious black & white as well as color and this hefty volume sure gives off an aura of riff-drone energy that works wonders especially when a few interesting shards of hardly-read interviews and articles and the like are tossed into the jamz. Such funzies include a Meltzer piece (from SCREW I believe) reporting on the incident where Nico eye gouged groupie wannabe Emmeretta at a New York watering hole while Germaine Greer and Patti Smith looked on which lead to Nico's skeedaddling the country for quite a few years. Others include that Lance Loud article from a '75 HIT PARADER which actually captured a lot of that Velvets-level fandom worship that would get out of hand once the eighties rolled in, plus a pretty revealing interview done for some late-sixties underground rag which had Reed ranting and raving about how lousy the Thirteenth Floor Elevators were! (Kinda makes me wonder if that conversation he had with future Roky pal Billy "Angel" Miller backstage at the Vulcan Gas Works in 1969 ended in a fist fight!) Now, perhaps I should admit that I found that catalog which accompanied the (Kugelberg-curiated) museum exhibit entitled C/O THE VELVET UNDERGROUND from a year or two back to have had a lot more of a personality to it coming off like a lost issue of WHAT GOES ON from around 1981 or so, but I'm not one of those kinda guys who complains about everything under the sun, y'know?

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Be lucky you got this, a post which was a struggle to create/execute worthy of BELIEVE IT OR NOT stature if you can believe it (or not!). Luckily I had the basics mapped out earlier this week, but when I was just about to get down to brass tacks and slip all of the asides and usual gibberish into what I had thought was a bare and basic post wouldn't you know it but disaster struck (my sister dropped her cell phone through a rain grate and I had to spend Friday evening retrieving it!). Unfortunately that grueling task hadda take precedence to this 'un and it sure took a good chunk outta my personal late-night rest and relaxation in front of some hotcha reading material time. Like I said, please do feel grateful!

While I'm in bitch and complain mode, let me also clue you readers in to the fact that I'm getting really forgetful this holiday season, so if any of you people are owed emails or items of interest from me rest assured that they probably will arrive more later than sooner. And hey, if the guys doing that Laughner box set will only get back in touch with me, maybe I will finally get off my lard-laden ass and copy some of those choice meaningful moments I wrote about the man for your very use and abuse! Please let me know not only your address, but a deadline so's I can budget my ever dwindling lack of free time and get those xeroxes out to you! Really sorry about this, but it's probably that oncoming Alzheimer's that everyone around me said that I was coming down with these past few decades.

Actually, I think the first review is par for the course (talking miniature golf but who's noticing!), though the rest ain't up to BLOG TO COMM standards. If any of you readers do notice I will consider this a miracle. But then again, I guess not.

LINK WRAY CD (Polydor)

Ya wanna know why I actually bought a fresh copy of this Link Wray "comeback" album even though I could have listened to at least most of it if I had only bothered to search out that comp of Link's Polydor years wallowing somewhere in the collection? Well, if you're curious enough all you have to do is click here, and if the answer doesn't strike you deader than Tim Yohannon then you just haven't been reading my obsessive/compulsive screeds regarding a certain underground groundswell of raw psychosis that I've been prattling on about these past twenty(thirty!)some years! And yes, even this far down the line I must admit that coming across hotcha references such as this 'un just goes to remind me as to what a real hotbed of under-the-gulcher punkism even the oft-loathed early-seventies were, and how in many ways the fifties originators and their music were just as important to the entire hard-edge as the up-and-comers blending all together even at that early stage in the game!

You probably would think this a Jesse Ed Davis album by the cover with Link playing up his American Indian roots to the hilt. No more pompadour and suit and tie here. I do wonder what the typical instrumental rock fan of the day'd have thought seeing this photo of Link...probably woulda believed the guy was going "hippie" with the new long locks and def. loose dress code, but if even the most hard-hearted rocker'd look beyond the updated "trappings" he'd easily enough see this album for what is it. Mainly a pretty durn good sublimely-high energy effort on par with the best garageisms of the early-seventies! It's loads better'n I remembered and if anything this platter, riff-drone and all, proves that maybe Patrick Carr was right with his comparisons twixt Wray's early-seventies act and a certain batch of En Why Icons goin' the opposite way on that train 'round the bend. And sure it ain't the Link Wray sound of the early-sixties but it ain't the James Taylor sound of the early-seventies either and if Wray had been a lot more weak-willed who knows what this longplayer might have ended up like! I shudder at the thought.

Surprisingly enough for a man who only had one lung, Wray sings on all of the tracks here sounding less ferocious than he did on those once-in-awhile vocals of yore, kinda like a real-life version of what Jagger was trying to project at the time with just enough Captain Beefheart thrown in at the right time to really make this sound deep-South voodoo (even on the way-above par Jesus numbers!). Come to think of it this album is pretty much everything the Rolling Stones were trying to ape with their rural trek to Muscle Shoals making me think they would have done better to stop at Wray's Shack instead. Really, this outdoes STICKY FINGERS on a whole load of levels and it ain't funny that people remember that 'un and sorta pass on this as merely another comeback effort.

Great backing band too...not exactly the Raymen in stature even if brother Doug is on drums but pleasant enough in its backwoods surge of electricity stylings which fits in with the swamp-punk utterances of Link and his various gear. The high-pitched background vocals are also the best heard since the Primitives, and the general rural underground feeling is only accentuated by Wray's bloozey playing on dobro which shoulda at least made this a running contender with TEENAGE HEAD for some sorta punkabilly romp of '71 award. Best thing of all is that every track's a winner perhaps because Wray does not fall into the dreaded relevancy trap of the day even when he does get heart to heart on "Ice People" (no cheap Leonard Jeffries references here!), which is more or less a commentary of isolation and alienation in the early-seventies and not a timely anti-war piece of fluff. I should know because this one still stands the test while the outright "meaningful" right-on hits of '71 were already seen as the jokes they were right around when 1973 clocked in. Trust me...I remember "One Tin Soldier" and "Things Get A Little Easier (Once You Understand)" so I know what hippie relevance pandering is!

The die-cut cover repro on this LIMITED EDITION (hurry up get one kiddoes!) is a nice touch if you go for that kinda stuff, but even if this came in a sleeve showing nothing but an up-close shot of each and every one of Dave Lang's beloved hemorrhoids LINK WRAY would be what I'd call all-important rock & roll listening, an especially welcome addition to any collection considering the rock dearth-y period it came outta. It's rare to come in contact with an album that never lets up with its hard-edged attack and the fact that it was a buncha rural middle-agers doing the retro-rural rock trip (some of 'em well pushing forty!) only adds more karmik brownie points to its inherent meaning. And best of all, this is not yet another nostalgia trip many would have thought Wray would have whipped up for some easy bucks but a downright real rock & roll CONTENDER, something we could have used a lot more of back in those wimpass times that's for sure!
VIBRATIONS MAGAZINE (Boston 1967-197?)

When VIBRATIONS took an ad out in an issue of Alan Betrock's taste/trendsetting publication THE ROCK MARKETPLACE they billed themselves as "a most unique fanzine", and being the sucker for such rock gulcheral come-ons I decided to do a little more research into this Boston-based fanzine (not "'zine" which I take as an eighties/nineties attempt to disassociate the "new" thought of underground drive from the old) which is probably best known for printing the early musings of local teen genius Jonathan Richman. VIBRATIONS (and Richman's writings) had pretty much become legendary in the Boston area not only being cross-referenced in Wayne McGuire's CRAWDADDY piece on the Velvet Underground (although Richman is not mentioned by name) but coming up in a 1976 John Cale interview in TRANS-OCEANIC TROUSER PRESS where the interviewer and Cale discuss Richman's er, eccentricity as well as that by-now legendary Velvets piece where he compares the group to sine waves (which I guess was a misinterpretation of his graph of the Velvets passing over the "make it" line while the heavies of '68 fall into the abyss). But anyway, I was surprised that this "most unique fanzine" had lasted at least into the mid-seventies given how the rest of the early rock fanzines from MOJO NAVIGATOR to NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS pretty much were dead (MOJO NAVIGATOR) or on their way out (NHRP) by this period in rock scribe history. Let's just say that curiosity juices were certainly a-flowin'...

In the interim I managed to locate one issue, a Rolling Stones special printed rather immaculately (slick yellow color cover) detailing the current '69 tour. Considering that Richman wrote on more than the Velvets in this mag I was expecting him to weigh in with perhaps his own piece on the band (esp. tasty given his vehemently anti-Stones opines stated in the aforementioned Velvets article) but the only reference of him in this issue was as art director, a position that I believe changed from issue to issue if the current batch of VIBRATIONS I have received is any indication.

Given that my cat-killing tendencies were getting the better of me I decided to dig in and pay steep prices for even more issues of this publication. Interestingly enough, both issues #1 and 3 of VIBRATIONS have that CRAWDADDY style and look I gather is supposed to appeal to the thinking teenager looking into the rock realm with more pseudo-intellectual reading glasses in tow. Maybe that was the whole problem, but ya gotta admit that from this new jetset uppercrust strata came a whole lotta the same breed that gave the budding underground its initial thrust so maybe it best that we just don't lump the weekend hippies in with Jonathan Richman and Danny Fields at least this once.

First 'un's dated April '67 and, like a poetry anthology of the day is rather small in stature, even smaller than the current range of comic books which have certainly lost in dimension since the Golden Age. However editor John Kriedl was able to use high quality paper (stiff/slick for the cover!) making this one fanzine that won't deteriorate with the passage of time! The writing is pretty much late-sixties free flow/association not that dissimilar to the stylings also found in CRAWDADDY at the time, a style that even the high schooler Richman was aptly emulating in his various tomes which I must admit nowadays may seem strange, but I have oddly enough learned to enjoy this at least when practiced by the more engaged amongst us. Those of you who might not be that familiar with this dated-yet-enveloping writing fashion might want to try the aforementioned McGuire's own WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT review in CRAWDADDY as well as his "Aquarian Journal" in FUSION, a mag that also published Richman's con to Ben Edmonds' pro review of FUNHOUSE which also gets into the same form of free-flow neo-abstractions and perhaps better remain buried lest the average Modern Lovers fan think less of Richman and his opines.

The use of space could have been handled better, with the inside covers blank while lots of empty areas just begging for some sort of snaps or at least drawings abound. The inside "spread "of local group the Orphans, who are touted as "Boston's most energetic and charming rockgroup", only opens a whole new can of questions if you ask me. Subject matter does seem apropos for the time with everybody from the Peanut Butter Conspiracy to the latest hot flash hipster acts of the day (Dead/'plane/Springfield) getting the lion's share of the publicity here. Maybe not that much different than the other budding fanzines of the day, that is, if one were able to make a side-by-side comparison of them. No Richman in sight yet, nor is he to be seen in #3 which graduates to standard 8 1/2 by 11 dimensions with a pic of Jim Morrison acting typically nonplussed for the cameras. Now sporting major label ad revenue (back when it seemed as if the major labels were more than willing to support local publications, a trend that sadly seemed to stagger off as time marched on), this Autumn '67 ish contains everything from a review of the Mothers of Invention's second which gets the raves even if I happen to think its the weakest of the Verve-period discs alongside WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY I guess (but then again I have a 40+-year advantage on author P. J. Muller, who also handles reviewing the Bee Gees' first) to the Doors by Kriedl (that's the benefits of being the can give all the juicy assignments to yourself!) while the rest of the mag is devoted to reviews of the last Yardbirds album and Procol Harum, a band that a lot of rockfans I know like though I never did hear A SALTY DOG which I guess is supposed to be their most popular effort amongst the more high energy amongst us (I recall it getting a top pic on Gregg Turner's all-time best-of list in a mid-eighties CREEM). In all this issue is pretty much what you would expect to find in sixteen pages, at least from a youth-oriented intellectual fanzine coming outta one of the more folkie areas in the US extant!

I also received an issue originally published in '68 which finally lists Richman on the masthead, but again nothing definitely by him can be found inside and besides the mag had gone newsprint (cheap newsprint at that) tabloid and in many ways resembles one of those old TATTLER/LA STAR kinda cheap-o exploit rags one used to see. Jagger's on the cover and a snap of Ringo and Ewa Aulin from CANDY pops up on the inside, and frankly not much else of worth is there to be found but what else would you expect to find in eight pages? Do want to see the issues with any CONCRETE Richman contributions natch, including the one with the special Maureen Tucker supplement they issued and come to think of it, the entire run of this forgotten magazine would be a welcome Christmas present if anybody out there is willing to donate their oft-ignored copies to the BLOG TO COMM library! And while I'm at it, someone out there in blogland brave enough to fill us all in on the VIBRATIONS story with either pix, personal recollections or what-have-you???
BOOGIE #5 (fanzine edited by John Bialas)

Now for the other end of the fanzine spectrum! Well, not really, because although BOOGIE is not exactly on the upper-echelon of professionally-printed fanzine craftmanship it certainly wasn't your standard crudzine cranked out by a buncha illiterate nimnuls on the hunt for free notoriety let alone free records (I should know---caveat!).

You may have read my opinions regarding the premier issue of this fanzine before, and if you'll only peruse that writeup you'll see that this particular edition of the mag, while certainly lacking in budget, graphics and a general sense of professionalism, certainly had a good portion of the legit press beat with its high energy aesthetics and down-home goodtime fun. Being a fan and follower of this style of rock & roll writing (as opposed to criticism) for quite some time it was sure nice to once again read the opinions of a "nobody" from Gulfport Mississippi who seemed to be saying more about the current and not-so rock & roll scene than the "effete" snobs at STONE ever could, and the fact that it was just a guy who puts his pants on every morning and watched tee-vee at night just like the rest of us only made BOOGIE, along with every other low-budget fanzine, all the more copasetic especially in my own horse-blindered ideals of what does and does not constitute good rock & roll writing, let alone good rock & roll.

So after a period of worry and fret comes this issue into my possession...#5, with an Eddie Flowers cover and a generally better layout than the debut. The promise of a Lester Bangs piece also got my interest up, plus the overall fanzine atmosphere of the day always gets me more excited than an Italian in a garlic patch! Besides, I still am a sucker for Flowers' artwork, let alone this Son of the South's rock screeding which also appears in this "Oct. '73" issue.

Flowers' "column" rattling about on things he saw on tee-vee, personal putdowns etc. is as wonderfully on-target as you would expect from any seventies kiddo who's in on the high energy lifestyle brigade. However, I'm sure he would pay to have every issue of this one confiscated and burnt for the simple fact that he actually refers to Cheech & Chong as "the punk rockers of humor" as if Iggy wasn't funny enough! (Sheesh I can accept that in my own proto-punk way I guess, though if these guys were unknowns and I sought out one of their albums based on Flowers' mention...POW!) He even writes yet another review of Can's EGE BAMYASI which extrapolates a bit on his review of the same disque for INITIAL kinda reminds me of back in the late-eighties when I'd review the same disc for three different under-the-counter publications hoping that one would not know what the other one was doing!!! The rest of the mag is taken up by a myriad asst. of articles many of them Deep South-related (Wet Willie, Hydra!) but more often just opines of the latest albums and singles of the day. In grand fanzine tradition there's even a bargain bin section which still has meaning even in this world in which the bargain bin is long gone, for at least we still have ebay.

The Bangs article I was expecting does not appear tho...turns out it was actually slated for #6, an issue which may not even exist for all I or you know! How many more years of fanzine searching and xerox begging will I have to do through before I find that I wonder??? In case you wonder, the piece was entitled "I Don't Want to Live With My Mother For the Rest of My Life Like Kerouac", which might have appeared elsewhere if not here and sounds like one for the next volume of Bangs' work scheduled for...
Cool It Reba-MONEY FALL OUT OF THE SKY 12-inch EP (Hannibal)

Another find going strictly by an old CBGB listing, this early-eighties outfit isn't anything near or dear to the BLOG TO COMM mindset but more or less typical whiny voice dancable gnu wave not unlike all of those other new and supposedly uncompromising groups of the day with David Byrne haircuts, high-pitched strangulated vocals and a big trust fund that won't quit! Not all that bad, but once you start admiring the Television-esque guitar interplay all of a sudden the dance-y rock-disco (remember Hurrahs?) beat pops up along with the aforementioned whiny voice singing the obtuse lyrics. More of a Danceteria group than a CBGB one methinks, and if you were one to go goo-goo over the debut Madonna album you'll probably love this one as well. And I was expecting a lot more from a band that copped their name from a Soupy Sales catchphrase! (Reba was that weird ventriloquist dummy head who lived in the pot belly stove with Hobart...remember???)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


Not much goin' on. Have a few biggies inna fire that I'll enlighten you about once them reviews germinate in my fertile, manure-filled mind along with the rest of the mushrooms but until then chomp on these, sunshine!

Julie Normal and Olivier Zmo-ACCIDENT DU TRAVAIL LP (, France)

Didn't know what to think about this album when I first removed it from its quivering envelope, but ACCIDENT turns out to actually be a downright entertaining collection of avant garde musings located somewhere between Terry Riley and Fripp/Eno, all played on an ondes martenot! Pleasurable drones to help soothe the inner you battered daily by the constant onslaught of work and other disgusting necessities of life. (BTW I hope I got the names and titles correct since my French would get me murdered in downtown Paris!) The fact that it's analog also helps, especially with those pops beginning and ending each side that bring back long-lost memories of vinyl obsession I thought I'd never forget. If you like old old avant as opposed to newer old avant or post-postmodern avant, this might be the surprise hit of the season!
Better than Death-SWIMMAN LP (Lost)

Here's one I got on a lark after doing some CBGB gig searching, and although I kinda had the feeling that with a name like Better Than Death it just hadda be good in typical Smuckers fashion frankly I thought I was going to latch onto yet another bowzer considering the time (1988) and place (post-gnu wave Ameriga). Hmmmm, turns out there guys were actually on-target with some eighties new wave here, a little garage band ideals there, and a lotta avant garde free jazz stylings all over the place! Not that dissimilar to much of the underground rock spew being made at CBGB in the eighties but WAIT!!! that none other than free jazz musician Michael Lyle playing not only a bass clarinet but an Anthony Braxton-sized contrabass one as well??? No wonder they have that all 'round abstract bleat which makes this more than yet another feh amerindie tossout! An interesting outta nowhere surprise I probably would have loathed had I heard it way back when but nowadays it just doesn't sound as precocious as it used to.
Lou Reed-THE PHANTOM OF ROCK CD (bootleg)

Yazzuh, I know this 'un's available legal like but given how I want as little money as possible to go into that degenerate Reed's pocket I prefer to stick with this earlier bootleg version of his "comeback" show, tape glitches and all. Lou is still palatable enough as an entertainer at this point in time and he even seems to shine a bit as far as being a New York Street Poet goes (yet to devolve into the Dylan for the sot set), while backup band the Tots shine through sounding a whole lot better'n those blokes Richard Robinson got to back Reed up on the first album! Well, at least they sound as down home garage band as any hot En Why See group from the mid-seventies onward making me wonder why they didn't stick together long enough to conquer that scene! Some disappointments do pop up such as on the total disembowelment of "Sister Ray" which has been turned into more of a mid-eighties amerindie grope for hotcha decapoints, but the rest is way more'n passable early-seventies deca-rcok, and the Tots might have been the best band to back solo Lou ever even including the eighties Quine lineup and that's really saying somethin'!