Saturday, June 06, 2009


Don't expect much here especially after last Wednesday's boreathon, but neverdaless I managed to "scrape together"/d&c this bevy of comparatively new-to-mine-ears recordings that you can do whatever with if you so desire. Of course in order to look more intellectual and suave to you all I should perhaps tell you all about the other wondrous things that have been happening here at BTC World Headquarters in order to make my life out to be more than just some record-grubbing anal-retentive maniac, like discuss the World Situation or maybe toss a few deft putdowns at my real-life enemies that you will all chuckle about for the weeks to come. Maybe I can even crack a few funny lines about David Carradine's recent attempts at erotic asphyxiation, like pondering whether the venerable KUNG FU star came before he went. But I don't really feel like it. Or up to it. I'd rather channel my "harmonic life energy forces" into something more positive (not that there's anything wrong with negativity, something which I thrive on) but don't worry, I might make a mention or two of out descent into "good intentions" somewhere down the line not forgetting a deft kick in the groin to my heated enemies as well.

So, without further ado (to coin a phrase), here's my latest entry into the wild and woolly world of rock scribedom. May the blogperuser beware...

White Light-VELVET SANDPAPER LP (Taurus)

You might own that weirdie circa. '70 album WHITE LIGHT that I happened to write up in the now o.p. twentieth issue of BLACK TO COMM but if not lemme tell you it was a nice bitta put-together teenage freak rock with nifty Velvets/Fugs refs that sorta made it the early-seventies equivalent to the Gizmos. This reish of material from a few years later (roughly '73) shows lead singer Mississippi doing the solo rock thing on the a-side sounding just as confused and as tired as all of the rest of the guys who couldn't make it into the seventies without succumbing to that weary ennui which made many an electric punker take up the acoustic guitar and go mellow down on the commune. Fortunately there's a b-side of material recorded around the time of the original White Light album to contend with, but it too doesn't quite make it to the same garage-thud standards of the original. Nothing spectacular next to the original album whicn not only sported a neat Mothers Of Invention-styled bizarroid cover but housed some of the best garage-inspired bedroom two-track recordings I've heard since NOTES ON A COCKTAIL NAPKIN. Good thing VELVET SANDPAPER was a limited edition album or otherwise you might hear it!

You probably wouldn't expect me to buy good ol' vinola dupes of stuff that I already have on Cee-Dee, but this collection was just too good for sentimental ol' me to pass up. Sure I really coulda used this a good thirty years back right around the time when the hard-edge promise of the seventies underground was about to supernova, but as it stands SOMETHING THAT WOULD NEVER DO is a nice example of what coulda been had the quest to pander to the dark and feral drive in us all been a whole lot more serious. For a release of questionable legality (even though this is mentioned on Mirrors' very own Myspace page!) I gotta admit that whoever did the song selection sure picked the best of Mirrors' currently available stock, but given some of the unreleased wonders I've heard I'd say it's time for another dig deep into the tape vaults, eh guys?

Swell Maps-INTERNATIONAL RESCUE CD; SWEEP THE DESERT CD (Alive, available via Bomp!)

I must 'fess up to the fact that, by reviewing these two Cee-Dees I've had in my collection for nigh on eight or nine years yet have neglected to play (in fact, one was still in the shrink wrap!) that perhaps I am treading upon the territory of other bloggers who might claim stakes to this particular kind of music which is often classified under the unfortunate category of "post-punk". Well they may think that but last time I looked this was supposed to be a free country, and of course if anyone buys into that then they'd buy into my right to review whatever I want to on this blog and if they don't like it they know what they can do with their nether-region body orifice which I hear is now legal in many states.

Gotta say that I used to really like/love/champion these Swell Maps guys during the early days of my illustrious, er, career, but at a certain point in time I began listening much less to those late-seventies "Rough Trade"-styled bands and began putting my savings into the reams of rare sixties punk rock compilations like BACK FROM THE GRAVE which I believed were the ultimate statement in what rock & roll should aspire to. I credit my change to a drastic lifestyle upheaval (mainly getting a midnight shift job at a scrapyard in one of the more rundown section of town which smelled like manure on hot and humid days...the water processing plant was next door) and reading KICKS which sure did a lot to make me re-examine my rock priorities in the face of new wave gone "gnu" and Madonna being the end-all in a musical line that supposedly began with the Velvet Underground. Whatever, I began paying much more attention to the likes of Hasil Adkins and a lot less to Swell Maps, and at the junction in my life who could blame me?

But after all is said and done I can see why I would have found favor with this clanky crank back when I was way more wild-eyed about underground rock as a whole than I am even now. Just keep the artso pretension of much of the Rough Trade era outta it (not that there's anything intrinsically wrong with punk as art even if it swaddled in English Working-Class Marxist pose) and Swell Maps are just another buncha guys who are somehow torn between being the Heartbreakers and the Red Crayola. INTERNATIONAL RESCUE is the more "legit" of the bunch with I believe most if not all of those RT single and EP sides and unreleased surprises tossed in, while SWEEP THE DESERT has an outtake sound and approach to it with a clear rehearsal/bedroom ambience. Good but I much prefer the old WHATEVER HAPPENS NEXT two-LP historical overview released in '80 which gave us paupers a wide selection of rehearsals and Peel Sessions in low-fidelity for a pretty inexpensive price as well.

These two disques do bring back memories, and not all pleasant ones at that. For example, I now remember first reading about these guys via none other than Robert Christgau in his old VILLAGE VOICE column and being more or less sussed over his comparisons to the Velvet Underground feedback motif which I gotta admit I was a humongous sucker for back in the day. Funny how hard I fell for these Christgau come ons before I discovered what a real puss the man could be...oh well, growing up is always discovering, taking in and tossing out, and if anything deserves to be tossed out it is Christgau on his collegiate behind! Kinda makes me feel shameful for listening to the guy in the first place, eh?

From the people who brought you the "Flamin Grovies" bootleg reviewed earlier comes this one-of-many documents from the Patti Smith tour of v.-late '75/early '76, back when Patti was wowing both the cognoscenti and the wee folk alike with her mix of decade-old rock 'n roll and a buncha indecipherable Frog intellectuals and literary/sexual icons who just seemed custom-made for the mid-seventies chattering class brouhaha that was so "in" amongst the VILLAGE VOICE readers and phony high school intellectuals alike. Sound in amazingly good (making me wonder if this was taken from an FM broadcast) and the performance surprisingly together with only a few vocal gloops and glares to be found. Material is pretty much the standard fare for the day (meaning if you're only a dabbler in the Patti mystique you might wanna save your buckskins if you find this somewhere) but an added treat appears in the form of the early-set standby cover of "The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game" which sounds pretty (dare-I-say) "professional" in this company!


Bryce Henry said...

Damn high praise for the first White Light disc, because Notes on a Cocktail Napkin was the best thing I've ever heard outta Terry Hartman and it's one of the young Pete's best at that. I'll have to give it another listen I guess.

Anonymous said...

ok then, you give your view, let us have ours...
wheres the link to this LP, you are sharing it with us?

pete fine

Christopher Stigliano said...

Which one? Velvet Sandpaper is long OP, try ebay or maybe one of those underground CD dealers who might have a few in stock. The Mirrors LP is available via their myspace page (or at least the address where you can send for it is there) as well as on ebay, while its hit or miss trying to get hold of SUPERBUNNY, which might pop up on the auction block for greatly exaggerated prices.