Saturday, October 31, 2009

And a Happy Halloween to youse and yours! Hope this holiest of seasons is treating you fine and dandy because I can tell you for sure that it ain't doin' me any good! Y'see, just this past Sunday my trusty and not-so-old ghettus blastus clunked out which sad to say has made a big indent in my typical compact disc listening routine. Not that I'm that much bugged by the unexpected croaking of said machine since I got the thing free a few years back, but the li'l mofo was nice enough to play most if not all of my burnt Cee-Dee disques (the more elitist players in the house had solidly refused to spin such low-life forms of music reproduction!) and its compact size took up much less space besides my comfy chair unlike my original boom box which, not surprisingly, continues to rest upon the shelf in my bedroom waiting to go into action whenever I dare to call it to duty. Might just crank that one up and play only the brightest and best of my collection, at least until I can find another inexpensive box that respects disques regardless of their race, creed or color, Until then it's the old vinola that will be tingling these hoary old stirrups of mine!

In many ways this mini-tragedy may be nothing but a blessing since I've only been venturing down into the dungeon only once in awhile to indulge in the pleasures of analog. At least I'll now be able to re-acquaint myself with a number of old faves as well as some recent acquisitions I haven't had the chance to make friends with yet busy loafer that I am. And yeah, as we all should know picking up a vinyl album, looking at the bee-yootiful cover art and holding that foot-wide disc in your paws when placing it on the turntable sends quite a shock into the ol' system, one you can't get by thumbing through boxes of Cee Dee (an unpleasant task if there ever was one) and a feeling of yore that reminds me of my misguided youth thumbing through albums at the record shop when I was barely into the double digits. The memories would have been much greater if I could've only afforded to buy some of those by now obscure sides, but it's sure a lot more fun remembering things like this than all of the degradation I hadda endure thanks to teachers, classmates and family!

So until I get hold of a new cheap and undependable box or have to take a long car trip to Bizoo and back it's records all the way here at BLOG TO COMM central. Here are but a few of the slabs of plastic I've dug up as of the past week which might interest you, but then again if you decides to forgo this 'un for a Pieroghi dinner I wouldn't blame you one bit!

The Frenchies-LOLA COLA LP (Harvest France)

I don't think I reviewed this one on this blog, but I know I wrote it up twice (first as vinyl, then as a CD) inna mag so I guess this would count as "new" in a kinda/sorta way. I'm sure that you were (as was I) probably first made aware of the Frenchies' sole album after reading Greg Shaw's review of it in a mid-seventies issue of BOMP!, and his description of these obscure-os being a Gallic New York Dolls certainly seemed interesting enough to a guy like me who was on the hunt for every shard of proto-punk energy he could get his hands on during the early-eighties. Unfortunately when THE FRENCHIES would come up on a set sale list the price was usually very prohibitive which is maybe one reason we should all be thankful that a market for outta-the-way rarities such as this popped up so's that long gone albums could get reissued on Cee-Dee by small labels that are helping to fill in the cracks regarding our rock & roll curiosity. Either that or we'd all go broke in order to hear a lotta items that we otherwise mighta gone "eh!" to while being too poor to buy discs we'd definitely go "aah" all over!

As far as being "Dollsy" go the Frenchies sure had a long way to go if they wanted to catch up to even the likes of the Harlots or Queen Elizabeth. It's still entertaining enough French rock & roll that's certainly not as bad as people make the French scene out to be. Still, THE FRENCHIES lack the energy that drew many disaffected youth to the likes of the Dolls and Stooges back in the early/mid-seventies with a few high points being smothered by others that might be passable, but are far from the overdrive needed to sustain the necessary energy levels. Imagine it to be kinda bubbling-under glam rock with some punk inspiration to be heard here/there and a load of funny Amerigan gulcheral references tossed in for the sake of who-knows-what and you'll come close enough. It still sparks up in places, but even at their worst the Dolls sounded better than these guys at their best which would figure.

But even when all is said and done I love this 'un just for its manic attempt at trying to be a decadent Parisian version of the Dolls that frankly could have been a lot worse. A record of mystery true, but the biggest one would have to be why Harvest, a label hardly known for its punk aesthetics, signed these guys in the first place!
The Third Ear Band-EXPERIENCES LP (Harvest England)

Now when I talk about a Harvest label "sound" I more or less have these guys in mind. True, if you wanted to pick nits there probably never was a "real" Harvest sound since at one time or another Harvest was home to everyone from Pink Floyd to the Move/ELO, Richard Brautigan, Barclay James Harvest, Can and Be-Bop Deluxe, but when I think of a style and ideal that would be unique to that label it would be that of a post-Psychedelic rock mixed with what some might call an English whimsy and/or psychosis dobbed all over it. Talking more Syd Barrett and Kevin Ayers than the Saints and Shirts, and I'm definitely talking these English trolls who seemed to be birthed from some fevered dream of a Tolkien fanzine convention. Yeah they're acoustic and yeah they play oboes, cellos and tablas, but these Third Ear Banders really knew how to put a lotta electricity into their performance. How else would they have gotten a gig opening for the Pink Fairies and MC5 otherwise?

Another "Harvest Heritage" collection, this '76 offering's got tracks from all of their extant albums which helps me out since I'm missing MUSIC FROM MACBETH and besides, the cover art is top notch imitation-Hipgnosis anyway. (I remember seeing a documentary on MACBETH in English Class hoping that, because of this Polanski film's PLAYBOY backing, I'd get to see some bare somethingorother from the chick playing Lady Macbeth during the nude sleepwalking scene. No such luck occurred.) Nice selection too with that great drone sound that does qualify as "rock" (or at least it did much more than Genesis and ELP did) and was quite mesmerizing in an Amon Duul I way. The tracks from the MACBETH album seem tainted by the occasional use of an electric guitar, but as far as a first time spin goes I found them satiable, even if their dischordancy did break up the spirited drive of the rest of the platter. But whaddeva this collection is just another reminder of some of the more interesting items one could find if one searched the import bins long enough...and wisely knew enough to not give the Manticore label albums a second look.
Tangerine Dream-ALPHA CENTURI/ATEM 2-LP set (Virgin UK)

Speaking of seventies progressive rock labels, remember when Virgin was up there with Harvest, Vertigo, Charisma and Island as far as those types of labels went? Of course that was before Richard Branson hop skip and jumped onto the reggae and punk bandwagons thus skyrocketing Virgin into something that meant a lot more than those hippie record shops he used to run all over England. Anyway, right around the time Virgin was beginning to re-think their image they released this "twofa" of Tangerine Dream's second and third albums for English consumption. Having signed the group to Virgin in the wake of those earlier Ohr-label discs I guess this was Branson's way of getting some of those by now rare albums into the English progressive mainstream and again at budget prices.

Not having played either of these since at least 1994 it was almost like listening to two new albums. In many ways I'm surprised that both of these still had an undying allegiance not only to A SAUCERFULL OF SECRETS but the Dream's very own ELECTRONIC MEDITATION debut (y'know, the one that still gets tagged as an unbridled Velvet Underground/punk homage by retrogarde collector wags). However unlike that outta nowhere debut these two did seem a little sparse in the sound/production department perhaps pointing the way towards those Virgin-era albums that really made a splash with people who still had their lava lamps in order so's they could listen to PHAEDRA while watching the psychedelic spermazoid effects. Nice enough blah blah but you heard it done better before and after by Floyd, Can and Amon Duul II. I did notice just how much Tangerine Dream's use of wailing synth and church organ influenced the Kongress sound, though those guys had a heavy swing to 'em while Dream were seemingly past the rock & roll state heading towards the dawning of a NEW AGE (music). Nurture the inner amoeba in you!
MIRABAI LP (Atlantic)

With special thanks given to Peter Grant and Led Zep for their help in making this album a possibility not to mention a track entitled "Stairway to Heaven", I was kinda hoping this Mirabai chick, mystical Krishnian name and all, was going to be some hard rock standard bearer helping to bring the original age of heavy metal to a grand close. Well, once again it only goes to show you just how wrong a feller can be. MIRABAI (the album, the group and the singer) really ain't nothing but more seventies singer/songwriter in the worst ROLLING STONE/Stephen Holden sense that's perhaps made slightly digestible by a scant few interesting shards of downright tasteful melodies here and there. Otherwise this is nothing but instant seventies eclectic gunch with a dab of seventies folkiedom tossed in with downhome country sprinkled about in a mad dash for the eclecticism so needed in these types of recording acts. Of course the usual emote so attuned to the seventies in rather omnipresent. Given Mirabai's chance gig opening for Orleans??? at Max's (don't laugh, they used to play the Mercer too!) I was hoping for perhaps some sense of guttural snide. Sad to say, none could be found which I guess only proves that this Mirabai gal actually believed the Krishna Konsciousness rant she was dishing out after all! (Oh, and by the way "Stairway to Heaven" is not the Zep song but an original gospel kicker, one of those joyous numbers about dying and how happy she is to be doing so which is oh so tempting as far as witty retorts go, but for now I think I'll pass up any snide remarks just begging to be made due to this blog's new credo of SWEETNESS AND LIGHT. Given the involvement, however tenuous, of Grant and the Page Boys I sure would have thunk otherwise!)
Before I leave you, I gotta congratulate all of you BLOG TO COMM readers who are tuning in for boosting my stats way up this month, not quite a record as far as visits to this blog go but pretty impressive nonetheless. Strange thing, I've been checking in to Site Meter to see just what kind of a person would be reading this blog and for the most peculiar reason I've noted that a lot of my readers are emanating from the continent/nation known as Australia, many of them from none other than the city of Melbourne! Gosh, I guess I must have a lot of fans down there in the ol' outback to which I say tie me kangaroo down, and get out the KY jelly! Anyway, glad to see that some of you dingos are getting your daily dose of some real high energy rock & roll scribing and whatever, don't make yourselves scarce, y'hear?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


(As you have known for quite some time)...boy do I hate Autumn! At least I hate it until the leaves are raked/bagged and the place "winterized", not to mention the rain gutters cleaned out of leaves and cat doody...then it's pretty much smooth sailing until the winter season arrives and I have to awaken at five in the morning to shovel the massive driveway! But then again I love those short winter days because I don't have to toil in the outdoors until sundown like I during the hot summer months and can snuggle up with a load of fanzines and other reading sundries for an entire evening while choice music purrs from my bedside Cee-Dee player. Only wish I had my vinyl turntable and collection up here with me so's I could enjoy plenty more music at the reach of my fingertips, but there's only so much space that can be utilized without crowding me out of house and home!

But read on I will in between doing all of that sundry outdoor work, and thankfully there's been a lotta good reading entering these portals over the past few days to keep me from digging into well-stored boxes of various eighties examples of fanzine nada that has clung to my collection like fat to the inner portions of my heart chambers. All pretty good reads too that have kept me captivated at least as much as my aging brain can stand...not as captivated as I was when I was 13 reading old comic book-era MAD paperbacks Friday after school (being forbidden to read comics during the school week until the grades zipped upward) but captivated enough that I thought I should write about some of my recent acquisitions in order to make this more of a fun extended mid-week article 'stead of some quickie record review churnout that you (and I) are most accustomed to.

If I can believe what I read (and nowadays, one has to be mighty cautious to venture very far from this blog lest the truth be damned), there were a few rock snoots out there who really upped their noses at FUSION magazine. I remember reading an interview in which one well known critic of a Bruce Springsteenish hagiographical design really tore into this not-so-long-lived magazine of Boston origin, calling it a load of subpar sputum hooey that certainly would not be worth the time and trouble to remember, let alone read. Such a statement only goes to show you that the more some "critics" get puffed up and promoted and write reams of books on whom many would consider superficial fluff entertainers (making them out to be larger-than-life demigods straight from the top of Mount Olympus), the more they can spout off whatever inanities cross their pointy heads and people will lap it all up as if it were the honest-to-Meltzer truth!

Contrary to this person's offhanded dismissiveness, FUSION was not quite the bastion of poor writing and lousy "hip" journalism that this still-active hack made it out to be or else I wouldn't be writing about it and pardner, let me tell you that this mag was definitely one of the better of the late-sixties/early-seventies rock rags that not only looked way more striking on the stands than ROLLING STONE, but read better. Much better. Almost as good as CREEM but that had punkitude going for it and the Scions of Walled Lake knew enough to jettison the New Left Youth Revolt schtick to the point where even Lester Bangs was hoping they'd keep John Sinclair in prison for a long time! FUSION...well, their politics might have had a tad bit of a similarity to STONE's radical paens to...I dunno, longhaired kids smoking pot in a peaceful new civilization or something like that but like CREEM they had an ear for high energy rock and intelligent scribing as well, something that seemed to become less and less of a matter at STONE as they slowly sunk from their hip radical self-consciousness to settling into the whole singer/songwriter comfiness of downhome!

So whereas STONE was infested with the worst aspects of the San Francisco New Left hipsterisms soon to manifest itself in the far fringe of the Democratic Party FUSION took a more serious and perhaps cynical look at their subject matter. They also had a way more intelligent array of subject matter to write about, from Wilhelm Reich to the mindnapping Michael Metelleca/Spirit in the Flesh religious hippie scam to even the New Youth Press of STONE and fanzines. And they didn't even come off like vegged out Marin County rejects, even when they'd get into their way more digestible Nixon bashing which came off a lot better than the stuff heard once everybody started jumping on the hate Nixon bandwagon. Plus where else was anybody going to read Wayne McGuire's "Aquarian Journal" or Lester Bangs reviewing long-gone sixties garage band albums for that matter?

The ish that I just received (#78. September 1972) is one of the better seen not counting the early fold-over tabloids like STONE, PHONOGRAPH RECORD MAGAZINE and CREEM used to have before getting into a handier format you could read on the toilet. Nice touch putting Lou Reed on the cover, he still being a cult figure and not quite the star he would be after "Walk on the Wild Side" and ROCK 'N ROLL ANIMAL thrust him into the ranks of superstardom. After all, the Velvet Underground had pretty much held court in both Boston and Cleveland throughout the late-sixties (and if there happened to be a major Cleveland rock publication coming out at the time I'm sure Lou woulda been front and center on its cover!) and what better way of Boston reflecting its ginchy-goochy thanks than by putting Lou on the cover of a mag that typified Boston's response to the new rock anyway. I mean, they used to print his poetry and gave the Velvets plenty of article and review space in the past which even prompted a letter to FUSION by one John Felice so why not?

It's a good try of an article, but too short especially for a cover feature. And it ain't quite as much an interview as Lou and some guy by the name McCormick more or less having a "conversation" before Lou gets drunk and goes home (don't laugh, that's exactly how this was billed by FUSION during its run as a back issue!). A few nice comments here/there (I liked the one where Lou relates telling a reporter about the difference between the Grateful Dead and the Velvets, where the Dead take kiddies backstage and turn 'em on while the Velvets take 'em backstage and shoot 'em up!) and a few nice pics that were probably unseen since their publication are used, but I was hoping for something meatier in the Velvets dept. here. (I did get it, in editor Robert Somma's magazine forward as well as a review of the Max's album in which Gary Kenton actually drops the Modern Lovers name a good four years before that became trendy!)

The rest of the magazine is pretty up-to-snuff as far as youth-oriented intelligent publications went. The article on William F. Buckley was surprisingly copasetic as that it showed exactly what is was in the sixties and seventies that made Buckley an outta-right-field household name and pretty much nails down his politics and behavioral traits long before the guy tried to become "nicer" just so liberal people would like him (as if they ever would). In many ways this article could have been written at least in part by the Buckleyite fanzine editor Mark Jenkins during his HYPERION days even though it is plainly obvious the piece's author ain't exactly gonna join the YAF any day soon. This particular tome, oddly enough, reminded me as to what that weird concept of conservatism used to mean in the days before it became waylaid, it then being a lot more hard hitting and offensive (and perhaps downright mean, an attribute if you haven't caught on yet) making me wonder where the new Sam Francis or Joseph Sobrans might be hiding these days. Heck, it all fell into the ocean a good decade back anyway.

That's just some of the more interesting things in this ish and if you're a fan of J. D. Salinger and Randy Newman there's more, but what I'm more concerned with at this time are those few choice moments when punkitude rears its pimply little head. It can be found on the letters page, where Alan Betrock writes in about his fanzine JAMZ and corrects author David Newberger for saying that the 'zine did not bother much about discographical data (let's just say that Newberger couldn't've been further from the truth!). The record review section has a nice, for once positive write-up of the Velvets' Max's album which I had mentioned earlier, and hey that's Greg Shaw writing a long piece on Phil Spector, how about that! (And given Spector's recent legal troubles these early histories seem to come in handy making a fella like me wanna mutter "wha' 'app'd?") And one big surprise can be found at the end of I. C. Lotz's "Quick Cuts" mini-review section where she gives a nice long 'n well-deserved plug to that new and upcoming fanzine FLASH which at that point had only published two issues...and that's all they were gonna publish unfortunately but it was still nice to read some professional kudos for a kitchen table enterprise such as that.

Unfortunately FUSION's fortunes would eventually fade and the magazine go the way of all of those other youth culture cash-ins that never did make it out of the seventies alive. The worst thing is that most of the mags that didn't make it out alive weren't that good to begin with, while FUSION had more than its fair share of above-competent writing and snide wariness to have made it compatico with the early/mid-seventies' general air of jadedness. Maybe it would have turned into a terrible late-seventies travesty like CREEM eventually did not to mention STONE (which really never did make it outta Wenner's womb intact), but for the time FUSION would have remained vital I'm sure it would have left a good portion of the competition in the dust. And at least such things as the Mad Peck cartoons and Richard Meltzer articles did live other, maybe less-deserving publications.
Did I ever review an issue of COMSTOCK LODE in these "pages" before? Oh yeah, I did a few's one in case you're interested. It was a rather above-par fanzine, heavy on the San Francisco which doesn't always suit me but at least editor John Platt and crew tended to "view" the SF scene from the fresh viewpoint of how it was in '66 rather than STONE's appreciation of it through consumer hack eyes. As you may know, I've learned not to hate San Francisco Rock but to appreciate the burgh's finer moments during those mid-sixties days of discovery, and for me that "scene" was at its best when groups like the Charlatans, Mystery Trend, Moby Grape, Big Brother and the Holding Company and naturally the Flamin' Groovies were rockin' away. Everyone else...well, let's just say that I do have to set my rockscam meter on full blast before treading into Grateful Dead territory, not that I have done that much if at all these past thirtysome years.

So whereas mags like RELIX reportedly dove head first off into the entire cliched peace/love fashion, at least COMSTOCK LODE had their tastes and appreciations on pretty tight which is why I just love the dickens out of each and every issue I possess. And thankfully I now own the entire line, for the once-obscure #4, the "International Artists" issue, has finally arrived after years and years of fruitless searching and ebay outbids at the last minute!

Now, I've owned that special Red Crayola fanzine which reprinted the interview Platt did with Mayo Thompson here along with some lyrics and the snap of Mayo Thompson with Epic Soundtracks, Gina Birch and Laura Logic for ages, but having an actual flesh-and-pulp issue was another thing entirely. But let me tell you one sure woulda served me better had I latched onto this magazine then rather than now, mainly because immediacy and instant gratification are what rools and maybe some of its initial impact is lost to time, kinda like those movies that were blockbusters but you waited until they played the 99-cent theatres at the shopping plaza and by then the adrenalin rush was long gone.

But despite the near-three decade wait it's a boffo addition to my library. It has a fannish and informative for the day International Artists rundown/discog which I know has been updated many times since this '79 publication, along with the aforementioned Mayo Thompson interview and a saga on SF poet Gary Snyder for those readers who bought this for more of the boho West Coast coverage that still had quite a following. There's even part two of a Pete Brown interview conducted by Pete Frame where you can find out more about those Battered Ornament albums that mailorder businesses were trying to dump on us back in the eighties! Now tell me, which would you rather do, read this groundbreaking fanzine (in the English trad. starting with FAT ANGEL and living on through BUCKETFUL OF BRAINS) or spend your time reading the current stack of rock mags with that dribble that passes for rock criticism these days? And once you get down to it, the only real thing that comes close as far as West Coast worship goes would be Alec Palao's CREAM PUFF WAR and how many of those have come out lately?
Finally on today's reading schedule's this late-eighties English rarity I knew nothing about until recently, a mag that I must say should have won some aware for "Most Peculiarly Packaged" or "Boy You're Gonna Tear This One To Shreds Trying To Get It Out Of The Envelope" or something to that effect! Y'see, A LETTER FROM HOME is a fanzine that comes in a large envelope which more or less serves as its cover. Once you open the flap and carefully pull the magazine out from the rather flimsy sleeve you will find a fanzine printed on color paper, one-sided at that, with articles on a whole bunch of late-sixties psychedelic/proto-punk groups complete with discographics and typical fanzine-ish record reviews of the latest sixties reissues and the like. The magazine actually reminds me of JAMZ, especially the final issue which was so big that Alan Betrock had to divide it into two portions, and frankly knowing that something like this existed in the late-eighties, a time when fanzines more or less moved on to better things, is quite mind-boggling!

The two issues I luckily latched onto are, as I said, pretty much in that glorious pre-tech early-fanzine style highly reminiscent not only of JAMZ but the early WHO PUT THE BOMP! and a few other similar-minded excursions into early-seventies amateur rock screeding that will come to mind within a minute or two (NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS anyone?) Issue #2 of A LETTER FROM HOME features the Nashville Teens on the cover and the Misunderstood, Sharon Tandy and Fleur de Lys, "Hey Joe" covers and loads of reviews of then-current psychogaragin' rock & roll records that we were too poor to get back then! (Strangely enough, the only thing this magazine made me really nostalgic for was the old BOMP rare records catalog!) It's only twenty years old (and thus far out of the Golden Age of Fanzine range) but this ish of A LETTER FROM HOME ranks with the classic early-seventies mags with its xerox/mimeo look and of course those pages filled with classic reprints from the British weeklies and record labels that always made these fanzines look all the more sophisticated despite their limited printing capabilities.

The following ish is the one that got me all hopped up due to the promise of a Deviants article, and I must admit it's a hands-down success even if it's only an edited interview with drummer Russell Hunter. Anal retentives like myself will be thrilled with the heretofore unknown shards of Devies info which are presented (such as that these guys used to do the Mothers' "Hey Punk" [or as it is known on the WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY album "Flower Punk"] and that before becoming the group's full-time bass guitarist Duncan Sanderson was a backup singer/"straight man" for Mick Farren!) plus we do get to learn more about their mysterious original drummer, this short-haired fellow who was either a Born Again Christian or a Born Again Zionist depending on who you talked to who used to chastise pot smokers at Deviants shows as well as tell scantily clad girls to cover up! Kinda makes me wonder how he put up with the usual Deviant antics that were going around, especially when they'd use some of the sex toys found at the Happening 44 club as part of their stage act.

There's also a good interview with Thom Mooney about the Nazz, filling us in on some of the lesser-known things that I certainly wasn't aware of regarding their partnership for wont of a better word with the future Cheap Trick guys, plus a piece on Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders that perhaps said more than I wanted to know (not being familiar with them outside of their two US hits) but it's there if I want it. The same wonderful quality as #2 is resplendent here, and it's too bad A LETTER FROM HOME didn't get out the way that it should or perhaps the entire history of rock music from the late-eighties on might have been changed for the better! Just kidding, but don't you think we could have used a lot more A LETTER FROM HOME and a lot less ALTERNATIVE PRESS back in those confused times?

Monday, October 26, 2009

R.I.P. Norris Jones, a.k.a. Sirone

Just so you found it out through me rather than some dope, let me be (one of the) first to inform you that the noted avant garde jazz bassist Norris Jones, later to be known as Sirone has died age 69. Click the ESP-disk link for a neat obit, but as far as me putting my own two cents in let me just say that the jazz world, if it were still meaningful enough, would be mourning this great loss but of course they won't since their collective heads are still burrowed deep inside Ken Burns' hiney to notice. Sideman for everyone from Cecil Taylor, Noah Howard, Sonny Sharrock, Charles Gayle and Billy Bang amongst many others (his playing with Bang and Gayle on the live CBGB Lounge CD that Silkheart released is incredible and worth the effort to snatch up despite its obscurity), Sirone was probably best known as the bassist/pianist/trombonist/percussionist in the co-operative group the Revolutionary Ensemble along with Leroy Jenkins and Jerome Cooper, a trio who not only released a slew of albums between 1971 and their disbandment around '78 (I count five) but made a wonderful cacophany mixing jazz, classical and Burundi in a way few have since. Highly recommended is the trio's only major label foray, A&M/Horizon's THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC from '75 which not only has them operating under professional production and studio standards, but features some of the group's best moments in a digipack sleeve if you can believe that! Undigitized as far as I know, but I got mine for a dollar, still sealed, at a flea market in 1982 and maybe you can too!

Friday, October 23, 2009


Before we get up and runnin' with today's typical batch of "I got it and you don't" infantile oneupmanship, I thought that I'd better say what will hopefully be the final word regarding the recent "controversy" that has been going on between myself and a certain Australian blogger who operates under the name "the Barman". Y'know, the riff twixt us regarding his description of my Stooges '71 "box set" review as "blather", something which I'm surprised has caused as much of a kerfuffle as it has but given the fighting nature of some out there in the blogworld who knows. In case you haven't been tuning it much, I recently strongly objected to the Barman's description of my review of The Stooges' '71 5-CD YOU DON'T WANT MY NAME set on Easy Action using that choice adjective while commenting as to why the guy would want to become a "follower" of this blog given his use of such a derogatory term! Nothing more or less as you an plainly see, especially given how the guy's choice of words would save him a lotta money at the oral surgeon's should he want to opt out for false teeth. Surprisingly enough, I actually got a response from this Barman who said that my objections were just another heavy duty example of my "paranoia" (?) because, for some strange reason, this guy says that he has used that particular adjective more or less in jest (a "playful descriptor" as he puts it) which if you ask me is sure a strange way for one to show any sorta affinity or camaraderie for a guy and his writings! But what kind of judge of human character am I anyway...I mean, there was a time in my life where I actually thought Dave Lang was a fit human being and how wrong can a guy get?!?

The whole thing stinks. I mean, yeah, maybe the guy does think that my writing is foolish nonsense which is his own mislaid conclusion, but the Barman's crying crocodile tears over my response (one that was comparatively subdued compared to the reaming he could have received) is something that suspends all manners of belief. I refuse to believe that the guy used such a negative term in jest because if he only would have responded to my post in a relatively civilized way telling me that I was mistaken I would have immediately retracted my entire story and shrugged it off. I even would have re-invited him to become a follower of the blog even though he only tunes in ones every six months but gee, that's the congenial kinda person that I can aspire to. Unfortunately he didn't want to correct any misgivings I might have had but decided to do a little more deriding of my character while engaging in some amateur psychiatry by calling me paranoid, a description the man doesn't back up in any way shape or form in his reply which only makes this whole garbage heap of an issue reek to high heaven.

Hokay, so maybe "for the sake of argument" I am engaging in a tad bit of paranoia like the Barman says. Or maybe I'm just being "cautious" or better yet "suspicious", mandatory attributes while dealing with strangers on and off the web. After all, I've been in many a situation where I trusted someone and trusted 'em pretty good only to have 'em switch gears and rip deep down into me when it became career-climbing expedient to do so. Perhaps the name Ken Shimamoto rings a few bells, Barman? A guy like myself who's been around the fanzine block a few times and has encountered more than a few shady and self-centered/righteous characters and still comes across 'em once in awhile BETTER know better, even though I do occasionally get suckered in by some fandom-infused mountebank even this late in the game which, sad to say, is my own stupid fault. Naturally I learn the error of my way usually after said person does his typical turnabout, making me just another stepping-stone on that big road to Universal Rockworld Acceptance and always at my expense!

So hey, for a guy who was on good terms then bad with more than a few Big Time Bums maybe I should be wary, especially of people who think that describing my writing as "blather" is actually some sort of accolade I should be proud of. And horror of horrors, if the Barman liked that particular piece I wrote like he claims, I'd loathe to know what adjectives he'd use had he hated it! Note that he described Jim Marshall's review of the same Stooges set as "erudite" making me wonder why he'd go and give me the bum's treatment had he some occult ax to grind (some theories abound of course, or is that just my unstable mental state?).

Many questions do remain though, like if the guy only reads my weblog twice in the past year why did he want to become a "follower", something that I thought only the true-bluest aficionado of said blog would be proud to sign up for? There's something extremely foul regarding this Barman's "rant" despite his in-his-own-mind act of innocence, but perhaps none of us outside of the guy's small enclave of toadies will ever know. Not even the mysterious "Jimmy", though judging from his own comments on buttboy Lang's blog (DL cheerfully chiming in with his own little tee hee) I doubt he would have the cranial capacity for anything quite that mentally stimulating.

But after all is said and done why should I care? I just made my own harmless little response to the Barman's hate-spewed word usage, and if anyone really got blown outta shape it was the Barman, not me. And like I said, if he had only responded in a non-threatening gloves-off way saying that my objections were indeed misguided I'd have shrugged the whole thing off. But he's the one who went on the defensive and instead of acting what you or I would assume to be in a logical manner tore off on a rant while calling me paranoid in the process, and that ain't exactly the best way to make buddies! And really, it ain't too late for the Barman or anyone else who wronged me to get in touch and apologize, but for some strange reason I don't think anyone who has would want to living in their own worlds of righteous self-deceit.

Some might point to this particular post and twisto-change-o it into even more proof of my own mental imbalance, and if so I guess that's my tough luck. But hey, I guess that I like my writing to be called "blather" just about as much as the Barman would like his to be, or about as much as Dave Lang would like hearing me call his wife a whore...whether those things are true or not is open to debate but I do have the strange feeling that these people would probably react to such exclamations as I did to my review being labeled as "blather". So please Barman and the rest, lay off that phony shock routine for once...I got enough of that infantile false indignation all through kindergarten and that was enough as it is!

And really, I hope that will be the last word. At least for today. As time rolls on I guess we'll see who the real paranoids are and who the perpetrators may be, and really, I have a pretty good hunkerin' feeling that history will bear me out. Probably about a thousand years after I'm croaked, but hey, I'm sure I can have a good chuckle or two in the afterlife no matter how much the likes of the Barman and his ilk continue to sully up my good name for what may seem like an eternity!

Now that we got the children's portion of this blog outta the way let us tend to matters more, er, pressing. I've been feeling quite lazy as of late, and that coupled with the annual drudgery of leaf raking and raking in the moolah at work has been cutting into a lotta my blogtime so you'll have to settle for two reviews and nada more. I was gonna dig into my Cee-Dee collection and find an oldie I haven't played in years or perhaps lift a few heavy stacks of vinyl to rediscover some mid-eighties underground rock rarity that I probably dismissed at the time, but given the above defense and the reviews that I have already written I figure that this post is quite long enough as it is so there's no need to say now what I could say in a later post that might need lengthened just a tiny bit. And besides, the writeups I have presented for you today are rather top-notch stop-the-presses good if you ask me, so why should I bring their statures down any by adding some quickly-churned padding to the mix?

I know you're all waiting for my blather (yeesh, now I'm really making myself sick with the overuse of that word!) to get into full gear now, so without further ado...
BOMP!---BORN IN THE GARAGE, edited by Suzy Shaw and Mike Stax (Bomp and UT Publishing, 2009)

I guess that the BOMP! book from last year must have been quite a success, what with this addition to the library comin' at'cha right on its heels. As we all (should) know, that first BOMP! treasury was quite a treat and as I would have expected SON OF BOMP! follows well in its footsteps, helping to fill in some of the little gaps left by the original while creating all new gaps in the process! And since when that something like that not been a good sign?

Mike Stax had a big hand in getting this BOMP!/UGLY THINGS co-production out of the frying pan which would figure since if anything UT is the logical successor to the BOMP! way of rock fandom and if anyone has picked up the mitre dropped by the fallen Shaw it is Stax himself. And as far as this book filling us in on bits and pieces that didn't make it into the original volume goes BORN IN THE GARAGE sure does its duty with regards to giving to us even more of the unabashedly strange BOMP!/Greg Shaw story, with more rare pages taken directly from BOMP! throughout its history (even those early issues nobody seems to remember) as well as from some of those earlier Shaw-edited fanzines, a few of which were even running concurrently with BOMP!, that sometimes delved into the nature of rock & roll proper in that great old time fanzine mimeo style that seemed to go out of fashion once photocopiers began coming into general use (an issue that irked Shaw as you can find out just by reading one of his choice early rambles to be found herein).

It is in these early magazines that the creative, fandom-nurturing side of Greg Shaw, the sci-fi fandom hippie who wanted to be a punk so bad, comes through in the proverbial loud and clear. Even at this early mimeo stage you can see Shaw's early-seventies appreciation of rock evolving to the point where even a choice sentence from ALLIGATOR WINE (last paragraph on page 81) is very reminiscent of something Richard Robinson might have written regarding the promise that the seventies held as far as the development of an "abstract" kind of punk music. It's this early heretofore unknown era of the Shaw Dynasty that really got my rapt attention, and although a pretty good job was done collecting these extremely-limited edition fanzine articles to appreciate from a good forty-year perch all I gotta say is why did Stax tease us about a review of the Deviants' PTOOFF! album from MOJO ENTMOOT yet neglect to reprint it???

But hey, this is Stax's baby I guess so he can write all he wants about Shaw and BOMP! from his own perspective which is spot on perhaps 99.999...% of the time. He does make a few boo-boos which are reflective of that whole seventies punk thing that rejected what became of new wave around 1980 (see KICKS, the writings of Jim Marshall and Todd Abramson etc.), like in his dismissal of the last few issues of BOMP! which ironically were my favorites just because they mixed up-and-coming underground rock with crazed sixties garage band information, but if that's what he believes well, I'll take it with the fab reprints and new commentaries that sorta round out not only what Shaw meant, but what his particular brand of rock fandom had come to mean even this far down the line.

For a guy who has most all of the original issues maybe this book ain't as mandatory as it could be for you, but it's sure handy to have the choice pages all in one page even if there are some things that I really would have liked to have seen reprinted along with the rest (like this article on the aesthetics of the new underground from that loathed final issue, one which is barely represented here!) if only for handiness sake. I must admit that a lot of the more professional, typeset pages from the mid-seventies onward issues are repro'd rather ickily, but I guess they hadda work from the actual mags 'stead of the masters which probably went missing or got sold down the line along with all of those letters Gene Simmons wrote to Greg Shaw back during their science fiction fandom days!

And although there is much care given to the reprint aesthetic (for wont of a better term) I have spotted a few "additions" craftily snuck in here/there, and although I shouldn't let such minoot things like that bug me I kinda get the idea that Stax and Co. were kinda tampering with the past when they snuck some Troggs Japanese pic sleeve into the British Invasion issue that clearly wasn't there before. But hey, Stax and I guess Suzy also did show some good judgement by reprinting some of the original ads (mostly for long gone items we now have to pay mucho dinero for) which I thought was a nice touch both graphically and aesthetically. Too bad they didn't reprint that great ad for the Sonics' EXPLOSIVES comp from the back pages of the very same British Invasion issue...that was just about as informative and as fun as many of the actual articles in that very issue were, kinda making me wonder why the Sonics didn't rate their own piece in the following issue's punk rock rundown!

Once I get down to it how can I argue about all of the history and pure genius that can be read within these pages? Sometimes I do marvel at it, like in that aforementioned ALLIGATOR WINE remark where Shaw, in describing a concept for a new "liberation music" in 1971, pretty much predicts the growing underground/avant-punk trend that would come to fruition only a few short years later. Or how about the reams of letters featuring the stars or soon-to-be's of fandom...not only the familiar names but such upstarts as Eddie Flowers, Michael Weldon and hey, even Imants Krumins clocks in with two letters even if they spelled his name wrong in one of 'em ("Imants Kru Mins"!!!!). Yeah, I know, some people don't care what is written about 'em as long as their name's spelled right, but I wonder how Mr. "Mins" felt when Kim Fowley wrote in correcting him by saying that Megan Davies from the Applejacks was not the sis of Ray and Dave! And really, to this day I do not know whom to believe (not wanting to offend Imants)!

Of course there's the personal side to this book that draws me not only to BOMP! the magazine/record dealer but BOMP! the tastemaker/monger, since this magazine was pretty much instrumental in getting me outta the usual everyday music fun-and-games that you, I and everybody else heard on the radio (AM band as well as it equally geeky FM brother) into something way more meatier with regards to music as teenage punkitude. You could say that this book even had some rheumy sentimental value to me, gushy softie that I am. And given my recent marathon pre-beddy bye re-readings of BORN IN THE GARAGE o'er the past few nights you know that this one will be sticking to my ribs a lot longer than say, some of the old ROLLING STONE record review guides where tough guys Lester Bangs, Mike Saunders and Richard Meltzer battle it out with the Stephen Holdens and Jann Wenners to see whether or not the Asheton Brothers or the Taylors are really "the first family of rock". (By the way, Meltzer's companion piece to Bangs' immortal Troggs article has finally been reprinted here, better late than youknowtherest...)

But whadevva, this one's a godsend and if I ever see Mike Stax or Suzy Shaw I'll shake one's hand and kiss the other (no jokes!) because BORN IN THE GARAGE is that kind of an exciting, high energy read and after years of fluff presented as to-the-matter rock writing we can all, you know, use more of this instead of that...savvy?
Snatches of Pink-DEADER THAN YOU'LL EVER BE 12-inch EP (Dog Gone)

Never would have thought that a good group would have come out of Athens Georgia! All kidding aside these Snatches of Pink guys have little if anything to do with the standard "Athens Sound" as typified by a whole number of groups who might have had enough charm and stamina at one point that even I liked 'em but eventually fell into a mire of anti-commercial commercialism of the worst kind. Snatches of Pink come off more like what you'd expect some tough eighties/nineties Amerigan local band who was still operating on seventies gas fumes would. Hard rockin', high energy and with a backlog of influences that transcends the usual names kinda sounding more like what the fare at CBGB (where most of this was recorded 1/90) was like before the fashion and pose began to set into the underground consciousness to undoubtedly negative results.

Live side's hot. Hard but not quite heavy metal and perhaps one part punk rock (talking ROCK SCENE 1975) and the other part the better aspects of dinosaur FM around the same time frame. I only say this because the side ends with a particularly rousing version of Neil Young's "Rocking in the Free World" which might have been 1990's version of Peter Laughner and his Wolves playing "Rock On" in '76. Flip side's the lone studio track which reminded me of Simply Saucer's "Low Profile" more than anything. I'm sure that Bruce Mowat and even Edgar Breau would probably object, but if you ask me the hard drive and negative energy are pretty well matched up! A nice outta nowhere surprise from twenny years back that proves that there still were hard-rocking unpretentious garage bands who seemed to be playing their music despite the prevailing winds of sameness that characterized rock music that far down the line.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dark Sunny Land-KON TAAN KOR CD (Gulcher)

Funny that I'd latch onto this platter of solo avant garde guitar musings while right in the middle of wading through some Loren Mazzacane Connors burns that Robert Forward has, er, forwarded my way. Y'see, this Dark Sunny Land/Steve Painter guy is (more/less) doing the same thing that Mr. Connors has on a number of now probably op. albums you can't get no matter how hard to try to download all of those free files. Now, I think that Mr. Connors has recorded a few interesting things and of the very little of his material I've heard some of it can actually be downright exhilarating, but frankly I've been having difficulty "appreciating" those platters that were burned for me. They're just too brittle and abstract which is nothing bad per se, and I was more on the lookout for some of his less caustic musings which seemed to be born from the middle of some idyllic late-summer's dream (yes, I too can get gooey when I want in order to impress the old-time singer/songwriter ROLLING STONE-bred critic types!). Surprisingly enough this Dark Sunny Land disque is just about everything I was hoping to hear in Connors' solo guitar work...shifting electronic sounds with beautiful atonal melodies that contain a tasteful air of controlled chaos making this a whole lot more satisfying than most "musique concrete" I've encountered as of late. Yes, all of that without the horrid stain of trash art smarm and general underground elitism, and how much of that do you get these sickening days, eh?

I used to get really annoyed by this type of post-music decadence back in the late-eighties and throughout the nineties (even into the otz!), but I gotta hand it to Painter for tackling the medium of avant guitar w/o succumbing to the cliches in front of or behind the mic. This Bostonian, formerly of 12-Cent Donkey (I'm gonna hafta give a re-listen to those old Slippytown discs of theirs hiding in my collection!) doesn't look like your typical chic underground music star with his thinning top (an inspiration to people like me whose tops have thinned ad infinitum!), round spectacles and longish fringe, but aging longhair aspiration looks aside KON TAAN KOR sounds as if it's at loggerheads with what is "expected" to be haute cusine for the listener with ears wide open which I can only take as a sign of better things to come somewhere down the line!

The less lucid side of me might be tempted to remark that perhaps Painter is in reality Wayne McGuire and that Dark Sunny Land might in fact be that Intermedia-inspired "Shadows of Ecstasy" project he mentioned in his 1970 writings, but that's stretching things way too out of proportion even for this blog even if it does sound engrossing. Painter does have the ideals behind him that would fool the unsuspecting into thinking that McGuire might in fact is making a "comeback" of sorts...Painter's influences range from the likes of John Fahey to the Velvet Underground and Stooges, which are retty hefty Boston credentials if you ask me. If you readers are primed for the more avant moments of all these acts (and more...Painter also has an affinity for the likes of Howlin' Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, Blondie, DNA, Mazzacane Connors natch and Talking Heads!) you'll probably be more than "in gear" with what KON TAAN KOR has in store.

Some of it does recall Fahey during his more experimental moments with the outer space bend of Sun Ra and Bruce Anderson's solo heavy metal excursions tossed in. But don't you go thinking this is more of that torture music that's been in vogue with the more masochistic amongst us. Even at its most cacophanous KON TAAN KOR sounds euphoric, and the electro/acoustic mix and match can even offer up images of Heaven during some of its more Hellish moments. It is a music that is really hard to "tag" but it is fun trying as you can see from this review.

If you wanna learn more about Painter/Sunny Dark Land why don't you just skedaddle over to his myspace page and maybe even contact him in person to learn more about the whys and wherefores of his music. I did just that myself (went to his myspace page, not contacted him!) even though sometimes learning too much about the music at hand turns everything into Biology class and takes the fun outta it just like learning more about music in school almost made me appreciate it all the less. Whatever, this outta left field release just might be one to really stick to my ribs and become a top contender for best new release of the year...really, last night while I was reading the new BOMP book (review forthcoming) I spun KON TAAN KOR two times in a row and I don't ever do that unless I'm really impressed with a release, feeling masochistic or just too lazy to find another platter to play! The last time I did that was when FUNHOUSE played on and on a few months back, so we're talking heavy duty pleasure here and even you hardcore rock & rollers might be due for a little change of pace, eh?

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Yes, I can become just about as jaded and as unresponsive to the whims of life as just about any of you readers out there. Personally I blame this current onset of miasma on the combination of lethargy, inertia, the autumn season (if you like it so much come over here and rake up all my leaves!) and a general lack of new high energy music in my life. Of course you can add to that working the usual 12-hour days at the salt mines as Fred Rutherford would put it, but if I hadda plunk down my money as to what's causing my current fit o' down in the dumpsterisms I'd say that my need for more heavy duty rock to be injected into my bloodstream is what is keeping me oh so low these days...that and the fact that no matter how hard I whimper and moan 1975 will never return! Judging from those old TV GUIDEs that I've been readin' in the basement I sure did miss a lot during those oft-loathed mid-seventies and chee, if I hadda re-live my life you know I would be doin' a whole lotta things differently than I had...mainly watch more tee-vee! Now if only I was able to drag in those distant UHF stations...

So pardon the rather subdued and tired tone of this post. I know that I coulda just skipped over it this week and put something up later on when I felt perkier than Mary Tyler Moore and Sandy Duncan trying to out-saccharine each other but I didn't want to deny YOU, the faithful BLOG TO COMM reader, out of any funtime weekend reading activities. So when you're pouring over my opines thinking of just how well and succinctly I wrote up these reviews just consider the conditions and personal trauma I went through to get this post out your way, and then you can have a good laugh at my expense like you all tend to do.

I'll bet some of you noticed that I linked up a few new weblogs on the left-hand corner of this page, and to that all I gotta say is look how observant you are! And yes, they are some doozies as well which is why I felt they should have the honor of getting the "seal of approval" via my very own blog, a seal that I believe means a whole lot more than receiving a blogger award from some monolithic entity that more or less seems to be self-appointed in its blog duties! So yeah, I guess there is more to this box of coils they call a computer than scarfing up free snaps of Bardot's bare butt, as fun as that may be!

I didn't know that Bill Shute was up and blogging but it turns out that the longtime music aficionado is doing just that under the KENDRA STEINER EDITIONS masthead (more or less). It's a neet reet 'n petite affair that really tingles my timbales to say the least, one which thankfully brings the Shutester back into the public eye after being away from the heart-of-the-matter for longer than I can imagine! KENDRA STEINER EDITION's a varied and downright interesting blog too that pretty much reflects what Bill happens to dig at the time, sorta like some seventies "genzine" which covered a whole lotta bases, and what makes this 'un way better than, say, DETAILED DOUCHEBAG is a relatively recent post that consists of nothing but Bill's reaction to the HOUND BLOG Lester Bangs "special" that I know got me thinkin' "Best Post of the Year!!!" And man, does the good doctor do a superduper of a commentary on the fabled rock "critic" which we sure can use a lot more of these days. Bill's opines are what one would call a lollapalooza (no, not that), and if you miss his old INNER MYSTIQUE fanzine you might like this one even if Bill is certainly one of the more under-the-radar survivors of the eighties underground press scene these days! Now, I'll be the first one to admit that even with his interesting tastes and natural writing abilities Bill is far from perfect, but then again he can't be me (who can?)...

Noted raconteur Jon Behar also has his own (promised for years) weblog together which is entitled WAITAKERE WALKS. Behar's now in New Zealand but this blog don't show it...the thing reads more Southern California 1976 than anything and it's jam-packed with Behar's own peculiar (I don't think he would be offended if I described them as so) tastes in music, film and whatnot. Wanna download some pre-Cars Cap'n Swing? Here's the place to do just that!

And last but most certainly least of these new additions is the KENNER'S GIVE-A-SHOW BLOG which presents for you a great hefty hunkin' portion of those old slides that used to wow the bejabbers outta us when we were kids (unless you're some hippie child of the eighties type or hate-the-world communist, then get lost!). The guy who puts this one out is whatcha'd call a serious collector and fan of the old kiddie show projector, and for our benefit he's posted hundreds of various Give-A-Show slides for all of those who have missed out on these things the first time around! And boy, did I learn plenty, like f'rinstance that they kept making these Give-A-Shows well into the late-seventies which is a time I thought such early-sixties fun would have been long dead, and didja know that there was even an English version via the Chad Valley brand which not surprisingly enough produced a few unique slides for the local market (some of which you can see on the blog!) featuring such decidedly British fare as DR. WHO and...POPEYE?!?!?!? In all this blog sure brought back some good memories, though for me the only way to view the Give-A-Show projector presentation is not via Youtube, but to lie on the floor with all of the drapes closed and use the ceiling as a screen! Of course this was before we'd all walk around the room to "Washington Square" before playing "studio wrestling" using the cushions from the old couch as the mat and getting a watered-down Kool Ade treat. And if you think I wouldn't give a million bazillion dollars to re-live just one classic pre-school day of joy like this you are sadly mistaken!

Oh, and while I have you on the line I know I should mention that the latest issue of Tim Hinely's DAGGER (see link at left) is now available at your favorite news stand, and this one (#42) has the Mummies (!!!) on the cover as well as a load of reading material on the inside featuring people who I've never heard of and probably never will listen to as long as I live! But I must admit that I sure do enjoy reading about these acts, their Cee-Dees and their Dee-Vee-Dees if only to educate myself as to what is hotcha and attention-grabbing out there in the underground. I know that you might feel exactly the same way too, but then again it was frightening (to say the least) to find out from these pages that Thomas Dolby is not only still performing but has a live disque out...sheesh, like I really needed to know that the eighties continue to live on when I thought it was for all practical purposes dead and buried!

And, as you have expected all these paragraphs later, here are da revooz!

Vinny Golia/Damon Smith/Weasel Walter-GROßES MESSER CD (UgEXPLODE)

Back in the mid-seventies, if you woulda told some DOWN BEAT L7 type that the future of free jazz would depend totally on the hard work and unbridled devotion of a buncha PUNKS, said square would probably call you a definitely nowheresville cat who didn't know which way you were boppin'. Thirty-five years down the line you would have been hailed as prophetic natch. Of course the MC5 and Stooges and no wave (not forgetting Lester Bangs raving about the whole mix all the way) were proof positive enough that free jazz and underground punk (at least of the avant kind) had more than a few similarities but let's face free jazz is punk rock and really I couldn't think of a better mixed-marriage in all my life unless you count John and Yoko.

GROßES MESSER is the latest UgEXPLODE label offering featuring punkoid drummer Weasel Walter banging it out with saxist Vinny Golie and bassist Damon Smith, and the resulting bash and crash had me swooning back the last UgEXPLODE release natch not to mention a whole batch of interesting free jazz of the past decade sphere as handled by guys you woulda thunk were punks (Freedomland comes naturally to mind). Hot playing not quite AACM-ish, but then again it sure seems post-Ornette and ESP. Maybe it's hovering in its own hive of new free blare in the trad of a few hundred self-released wonders of the past twenty years with Golia's massive sax screech and Walter's good enough to be Sunny Murray percussion which has me thinking back to all of those records I didn't get when the old New Music Distribution Service catalog would wing its way to my door. And yeah I know to you that all of these free jazz albums "sound the same" and if you have a nice one-D approach to the new thing maybe they do, but what s sound to sound alike to if you ask me and it wouldn't hurt to pick this up just to add to the IMPACT, ifyaknowaddamean...
Deep Purple-SINGLES A'S & B'S LP (Harvest England)

Here's one that I'll bet woulda gone over well with the 8-track gang back in the seventies! Deep Purple's early English singles complete with non-LP b-sides and special edits and all that fun stuff. Only really big 'un here's "Hush" which was a surprise outta nowhere hit in '69...the rest were flopsters in the USA so I dunno how well the marijuana and pimples crowd would have taken to this as opposed to some more domestic produce. I think it would have served their purposes (getting stoned after work in the supermarket parking lot) just as well.

Actually I found some of this Harvest Heritage budget album (budget for them, not for us!) rather entertaining even if typically pop mawkish such as that instrumental track on side one not forgetting their own version of "Hallelujah", not to be confused with either Handel's or Can's. However a good portion of SINGLES A'S & B'S seems to wander somewhere in between heavy metal and progressive with lotsa commercial appeal tossed in, and though I don't feel any great animosity towards these songs it's not like I'm going to play 'em again, at least in this lifetime. (In the lifetime I become a lab rat I expect this music to be pumped into my cage for what might seem an eternity.) By the way, I wonder where "Kentucky Woman" and "Flight of the Rat" are, or perhaps they didn't make it out as singles in England methinks???
The Dave Edmunds and Love Sculpture-SINGLES A'S & B'S LP (Harvest England)

Here's another Harvest Heritage budget disc that came out right at the tippy-tip end of the great import bin craze, a 1980 sampling of EMI-era Dave Edmunds material undoubtedly conceived to cash in on his new-found fame as a member of Rockpile with Nick Lowe. For a change it's a complete enough package too with twenty tracks and all of the goodies Edmunds did single-wise at EMI from his Love Sculpture and Human Beans days (such as that West Coast psych classic "Morning Dew") to solo Dave hitting the US charts with "I Hear You Knocking" and even some very early trackage under the Rockpile name proper! I'm sure that the gnu wavers that latched onto this because of Edmunds' sudden bolt into the upper-echelons of the hipster ranks were probably confused by the mix of fifties New Orleans, sixties UK psych and general hard rock that Edmunds produced at EMI, but those of us who have been on the train a little longer would naturally understand the development and nurturing of the artist's talents. Or something like that. Remember, I ain't poppin' on all cylinders like I usually am but I was comatose enough to enjoy this forgotten slab to the hilt!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lowell George & the Factory-LIGHTNING-ROD MAN CD (Bizarre)

I'll bet this one's going for a lotta dollars on the OP Cee-Dee market along with the rest of those "Bizarre"-label rarities that sorta came and went back in the early-nineties. However, unlike Alice Cooper and Tim Buckley these Factory guys never got the opportunity to release any of their wares during their lifetime. In fact, I doubt very much that they made it out of the Southern Californian freak scene alive, heading into the seventies under the guise of Little Feat and not quite chilling these bones the way these '67 El Lay folk rockers continue to to a good fortysome years after the fact.

You heard and even saw 'em on GOMER PYLE (although they have been so cleverly edited out of the DVD package along with Gomer singing "The Impossible Dream" and "Thoroughly Modern Millie") but if you'd like to hear what an actual Factory album might have sounded like had Zappa the nerve to release this on Bizarre/Verve along with Sandy Gurvitz well snatch it up! The title cut's the same one that pops up on all of those Mothers bootlegs (credited to Gail Zappa of all people!) which don't surprise me given that Beefhearty sound, while the rest is dang good power folk West Coast rock located somewhere between the Byrds before they gave David Crosby the heave-ho and San Francisco at its high-end shock best. (Think '67 Grape as opposed to '69 'plane and you'll get the idea.) Overall this would have been an atypical release for the fledgling Bizarre label but then again it was a tax loss company anyway so maybe them cutouts woulda been comin' at us at a faster rate than any of us'd expect!

Songs might have this air of sameness but just when you think you're gonna get candy-cane bored outta your mind along comes a real surprise like the "Hey Joe" homage "Hey Girl!" It's the stuff I think of when I think teenage and late-sixties. Pop yet smart, West Coast yet not silly or show biz. Surprise production tricks can also be espied with such niceties as Lowell George tackling dulcimer and woodwinds as well as Emil Richards adding his typically exotic/spooky percussion to "No Place I'd Rather Be" (and yeah, that is Zappa himself adding those boo-boo's on "Lightning Rod Man as if we couldn't guess!).

Biggest surprise of all is the way the tone of the disque changes from folk rock to nasty blooze within the span of two years of recordings. Dunno exactly when the Factory transformed from flower children into the country bloozers Little Feat but you can hear it plain and clear right here. Never did give a listen to those early Little Feat albums and I know that they eventually became too much a part of the seventies Joni and Linda laid back ROLLING STONE set for me to give two whits, but Mark Jenkins did like those early-seventies releases so perhaps the Feat had something on the ball for them. (And I sure remember a CREEM piece from the mid-seventies nailin' 'em as a punk rock group perhaps due to George's time as a post-Dick Dodd Standell!) Judging from these tracks I don't think I would be that much induced into heading straight for the Cee-Dee Supermarket to find out if Little Feat's early platters are that good even with that Neon Parks painting resplendent on the front cover of SAILIN' SHOES, but these tracks, including a standard late-sixties white-hard version of "Framed", do seem to be a good tag-on roundup of things to come especially for those of us who kinda shudder at a lotta the things that went.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Like I said, I never intended this blog to be just a buncha writeups regarding my latest "listening experiences" that you readers can osmose to vicariously, but at this point in my life all I gotta say is there's nothing other than reviews that I feel like churning out on this here blog. As stated in an earlier blogpost, I could wax on about the World Situation, the economy, my own personal travails and who knows what else people yap about on the blogosphere, but right now all I really wanna do is play at being Lenny Kaye and write up a whole buncha interesting items that have graced my ears ever since I laid down the law last time! Maybe if something exciting would happen around here, like some major catastrophe or even better the return of NAKED CITY to our boob tubes I could pontificate about something other than some new or old items to tickle my fancy, but for now I guess I'll just stay stuck in my current rut and crank out these sausages, tasty as they may be, just so you too can pretend to have a life as rich and as fulfilling as mine!

Before we get to the meaty potatoes review portion of ths blog I believe that I should mention this (as the elders would say) wowzer of a piece on Lester Bangs that Jim Marshall recently posted on his very own HOUND BLOG webthingie, a potential article of the YEAR that I know got my bald beanie spinnin' as I know it will yours too. Now that we're heading deeper and deeper in to the twenty-first century (which to me is like Abdul's mighty phallus digging deeper and deeper into cellmate Little Jimmy Lillywhite's un-traveled hershey highway) the long-gone twentieth century looks better and better in hindsight to the point where even the seventies, a decade which Norton/KICKS bigwig Billy Miller couldn't wait to squeeze outta, seems a whole lot more exciting and high energy than just about anything being presented to us as kultur or civilization these sorry days! Thusly, reading more and more about the movers and shakers of the high energy anti-hippoid rock scene like Bangs as well as the fanzines, the loves and hates and just about every nitty gritty detail about New York and elsewhere during THE GOLDEN AGE only goes to prove (at least to my horse-blindered mentality) that there was a whole lotta downright exciting and ultimately life-REAFFIRMING music and documentation of it going on during that oft-loathed decade. And frankly I doubt that I'll ever be able to fully absorb it all even if I live to be a hearty one-thousand, but it's still fun tryin'. Best of all this mad and vibrating "underground" wasn't exactly being "hidden" from us if we only knew the right avenues and vistas to search, and as far as opening up the proper paths to take goes I'm sure Bangs was perhaps the best catalyst in getting cloistered suburban and rural kiddies to latch onto hard-to-find Velvet Underground albums and obscure fanzines like HYPE in order to shed some light on that beautiful, throbbing underground in which we all could be stars! Maybe we should be thankful to him if only for this (how refreshing it is esp. in light of a comparative nimnul such as Patrick Amory, who chastised my own efforts to "educate" my readers saying that he wasn't in the fanzine game to tell people about musical acts that interested him making me wonder...what was he "in it" for????). And although Mr. Bangs certainly had his faults and did produce a number of flopsters that really did not stand the test of time he sure was miles ahead of a good portion of the competition...I mean, may I bring up the name ANASTASIA PANTSIOS if one would beg to differ? How about that all-time great Dave Marsh? Excuse me, I'm starting to make myself sick.

Anyway Marshall certainly churned out a good 'un here that doesn't gloss or candycoat what I guess really did happen, and it's sure grand that both he and Miriam Linna decided to get their two-centavos in regarding Bangs thus straightening out the distortions and lies that were purposefully perpetrated by some of the biggie in the biz in order to cover up their own prune-wrinkled behinds. And come to think of it, dontcha think that Parke Puterbaugh's very own damning review of DeRogatis' Bangs bio (cleverly removed from the ROLLING STONE website which is why I couldn't link it up for ya) might have been the ultimate tribute to his under-the-countercultural greatness, in a backhanded way that I'm sure Puterbaugh and his boss Wenner never would have thought in a million years?

And with that outta the way, here are da reviews!

Made For TV-SPIES EVERYWHERE 12-inch EP (Vinyl Siding)

Boy does this one dredge up memories of my commie pinko youth! Back in the day (1983 to be exact) John Foster from the old OP magazine actually sent me the original single version of Made For TV's "So Afraid of the Russians" for reviewing purposes, and in a rash of typical indignant self-righteousness I dashed out some writeup, nothing of which I can remember music-wise, filled with wild vitriol against the powers that be who were seeming making the world safe for meek and milktoast nebbishes to have their day in the sun. Believe-you-me, that screed was just brimming with scathing bromides dashed against the Machine That Be which, at the time, I felt it was the only thing I could with regards to the World Situation. I guess Foster felt otherwise, for my review was axed in favor of someone else's perhaps because the illustrious editor didn't want to embarrass me by printing that particular piece of agitpoop that might not stand the test of time the same way all of those other rants and raves seen everywhere from MAXIMUM ROCK 'N' ROLL to Daniel Ortega's last speech (which was a week ago!) haven't. I am forever grateful to him for having such foresight 'n besides, it really was a duff review!

Well, twenny-six years later Ronald Reagan's dead as a mackerel and despite the naysays of many has been revealed to have been the original neocon all along, while the Soviet Union he so hated's deader still and I must admit that I have more hope in the new Putin-led regime than I've had in the Washington one these past ten or so years! And finally Made For TV finally get a review outta me even if they too are probably deader'n Reagan and the Soviets combined!

The a-side of this EP features the entire '83 side produced by John Cale and even if the former Velvet Underground backbone's name wasn't splattered all over the sleeve this one's still a winner and holds up a lot better'n a lotta the competition on the early-eighties DIY market. It's new wave but more or less like pre-gentrification new wave, or better still new wave as it was before it became gnu wave as Bill Shute so eloquently put it at the time. The vocals on the a-side are perfect with this rather professional announcer-type voice (of the old school like think 1962 and you're watching Sunday afternoon educational tee-vee) reciting the could be spoof or serious lyrics over a good robotic clank...the resultant sounds remind me of Cale's "Rosegarden Funeral of Sores" more'n anything even if in many ways both songs couldn't be farther apart. "Unknown Soldier" takes the Doors original and deconstructs it into equally android avenues of message music that has a grip on itself. Funny, considering what a Graham Greene/Bircher type Cale's supposed to be I'm surprised he agreed to produce these numbers which could be construed as giving aid and comfort, but considering some of the other stories I've heard he probably couldn't have cared less.

Flip it over and get some new to mine ears material which I guess was recorded at CBGB although it all sounds typical studio quality to me sans the usual applause, catcalls and neat-o hi-fi sound that usually accompanies such efforts. As on the other side these numbers have a late-period new wave styling to 'em that doesn't offend me now the way they did at least by the mid-eighties or so. Albeit with more of a vocal as opposed to spoken word approach that does reflect more of that late-period self-produced style that didn't make me gag. Personally I feel that these numbers pale next to the original single (which was a cult hit, at least according to the sleeve notes), but considering some of the patented pose music that new wave had become by this time this sure sounds a lot better'n all of those groups with names like the Alphabets, the Alpha-Bits, the ABCD's and many variations thereof.

'n so Made For TV get perhaps their last bit of press ever thanks to this blog where I finally get to make some all-umportant amends for my previous indiscretion. Sorry guys but, well, I felt like really so creepy at the time...maybe you do understand.
CARAMBOLAGE CD-R burn (originally on the David Volksmund Produktion label in Germany, available for download here )

After living through the whole "women in rock" miasma that permeated the early-eighties you'd think I'd be the last person to wanna download this album of female agitpostpunk or whatever it would be called. But Heavens to Betsy, I was really tempted to hear this 'un if only because Carambolage were signed to the David Volksmund Produktion label who also released a slew of albums by those German radical rockers Ton Steine Scherben, and act which actually put out a few interesting garage-prop albums in the early-seventies before heading for a quick oblivion of reportedly feh offerings once the mid-seventies began to clock in. The concept of hearing proto-punk stylings in a post-punk band did seem rather tasty (or perhaps I am bored beyond belief) and besides, for being a bunch of German women I'd expect them to naturally have hairy armpits so it ain't like they're trying to be unattractive on purpose!

I sure had a dickens of a time trying to download this one and you can read my comments regarding the hassle I had on the Mutant Sounds site, but once I was able to unzip this and transfer it to disque I was in krautrock heaven, or at least in German rock filtered through various seventies influences heaven which is good enough for me. Musically Carambolage owe plenty to Ton Steine Scherben and have the same kind of proto-punk chops as their mentors, but with the influence of punk as PunK their entire style and even substance was so up-to-date that I could've seen these frauleins even getting a Rough Trade contract where they would perhaps be promoted as a German Raincoats or maybe even Essential Logic!

Musicianship is superb and although the wide variety of instrumentation has me thinking that this trio had help in the studio (perhaps the TSS guys themselves) I still gotta marvel at the vast array of stylistic changes and the downright engrossing arrangements to be heard here. The vocals are snat as well and even though they're all sung in German they transcend into that legendary "International Youth Language" that anyone could osmose to with ease (besides, I dunno if I'd want to know what these femmes are warbling considering the crazed stance of the German left-league and their Baader-Meinhoff buddies in gore). And the switches in style from punky to gnu wave to even straight pop make for a great gonzoid time that I know woulda made Lindsay Hutton wanna devote at least a good half-hand-printed page of a 1980 NEXT BIG THING to, and that's really saying something!

Taken from the original vinyl you'll have fun counting all of the snaps crackles and skips to be found. Don't matter to me much but this perhaps proves that CARAMBOLAGE are worthy of a red (no pun intended) carpet treatment reissue. Until then take the cheap route and download this forgotten classic, a pinnacle of Teutonic Female Radical Ingenuity or my name ain't Rosa Luxemburg!
Red Shark-LE FIN CD-R burn of a self-released cassette available for download here

Another MUTANT SOUNDS find, this vintage mid-eighties cassette might be a bit outside of my choice timespan of crucial underground rock sounds but it'll do for now. Although having that heavy Velvet Underground vibe that you'd think I'd go for whole hog, Red Shark are more attuned to the eighties Jesus and Marychain/Spaceman 3 affectation thereof which is definitely hokay, but somehow not as crucially exciting as earlier experiments along these lines were. Still this made for a pleasant enough 45 minutes complete with a cover of the Velvets' "I Can't Stand It" and even some tasty blues number to close the thing out. And for free, how can you lose by getting it?
Hope to get another one out barring any future technical difficulties like I've had to endure getting this one out. Until then recklessly. The life you don't save may be Dave Lang's!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


I really gotta hand it to that Ditko guy. Here he is, one of the most respected names in comicdom, co-creator of SPIDER-MAN and DR. STRANGE, artist on THE HULK, getting more fan notice and accolades than you and I ever will, and right at the height of his talents he turns his back on all of it and skedaddles back to Charlton who certainly were not on any kinda roll like at home-sweet-Marvel. 'n not only that, but Ditko had the nerve to flood the fanzine market with his "moral avenging" MR. A. comics which were so full of the anti-good vibes Objectivist philosophy he's pretty much swallowed hook line and metaphysics thus alienating all of those by-now mellowed out pot smoking comic book readers who certainly weren't getting this kind of hassle reading the now-youth movement friendly stories that Marvel and DC were cranking out!

I really have to admire a guy like that who was doing his very own brand of METAL MACHINE MUSIC-styled career-wrecking, not just for the pure idea of it but because it seemed that Ditko was doing the only thing that he could do by leaving a successful if stifling career for relative obscurity if not scorn to "do his own thing" as those definitely anti-Ditko hippies woulda put it. I'm a guy who can sorta relate to that considering the number of people I've turned off (mostly inadvertently if you can believe that) with my own well-thought-out opines, and yeah, I really can also identify with a man who hadda put up with a lotta the flack he had for spouting off truths that were bound to rankle the peace/love rank/file not only then, but for years afterwards.

If you're still in the mood to be "offended" these might not help. Gotta admit that the octogenarian Ditko of 2009 ain't the fortyish one of 1967 and these stories do lack a lotta the bite of those early Mr. A.'s and Avenging World sagas. Not that Ditko's toned his rhetoric down per se, but if you remember those old stories of his where Mr. A. would pretty much crowd out an entire panel re-reiterating philosophical tracts, usually while the bad guy is bleeding to death, these do come off comparatively tame.

The artwork isn't up to his late-sixties height either, and is even simpler than his already down-to-basics early-nineties work. But I guess getting Ditko is getting Ditko, so consider it akin to going to a late-period Sinatra concert with all of the mistakes and bum notes because we were there for the aura of the master instead of what he might have been able to do a good fortysome years earlier.

But for the Ditko fan these books really do sate even if nothing here approaches The Question or any of his other late-sixties fanzine work. Mr. A. makes his grand return even if the story he is in sure lacks what one might call an exciting premise or plot. Not only that, but it's split up between two issues even though the entire story tallies in at a good ten pages with four panels per page, a far cry from those stories in MR. A. #2 where Ditko crammed about sixteen dialogue and plot-laden panels on each page saying about as much in one-tenth the time what Ditko now says in a whole issue.

The same themes and morals that Ditko has pumped into the fandom consciousness continue, surely much to the chagrin of those who think that Ditko more or less ruined himself and his image with those "personalist" comics. I would be tempted to say that if you've read one Ditko you've read 'em all, but considering his fervent rah-rahing for individual rights and rationality what else would you expect? Thankfully Ditko directs some barbs at yet another venue we haven't heard much about, at least from his pen, mainly fandom itself and especially the lies and distortions being spouted off by him that he's read over the internet. And I guess he does have a good point...after all, how can a person who doesn't even know him and has formed his impressions via mere hearsay be any real judge of what kind of a man Ditko really is? A lesson that I'm sure will fly right past the consciousnesses of both a Mr. Dave L and Mr. Jay H, but I guess they're both too busy practicing their libertarian poses in front of the mirror to really examine themselves ifyaknowwaddamean...

Steve Ditko is one of the last of the Silver Age greats still in operation (at least somewhat), and giving him and his books the support they need may really be the message that we'd want to send to the bloated new generation of comic book publishers. Latch onto these (and a whole lot more) via Robin Snyder, 3745 Canterbury Ln. #81, Bellingham WA 98225 and please, don't tell 'em I sent ya!