Saturday, November 28, 2009


Hey readers, hope you're enjoying your holiday weekend (even though some of us have to WORK!)...thankfully I myself managed to make it through Thanksgiving Day without succumbing to that traditional sport of overeating, although it sure helps your waistline if you happen to be sitting smack dab next to your mother who's giving you the evil eye and complaining about how fast you're gorging yourself despite this being the national day of gluttony and a time-honored tradition to boot! Hey mom, how else am I gonna enjoy my meal if I don't scarf it down like a wild dog going down on a baby gazelle's belly! Otherwise the day off was pure enjoyment...I mean it's sure grand to have an entire twenty-four hours devoted to acting like you did when you were three and there was nothing else to do but sneak around the house and look through your sister's underwear drawer. Sure could use more days like that!

Enough...hope you like this particular post collecting a bunch of reviews and other jetsam pertaining to items that you might want to discover but then again could care less about. It's hard figuring you readers out, but I figure that if you've tuned in this long you're probably more than apt to accept my impressions re. a wide variety of review items a whole lot more than you would say, those of DISTORT BLOG. So sit back and enjoy, and always remember that if you think my opines are outta line and unacceptable in today's harmonious world, there are at least ten blogs (some even located in Melbourne!) filled with the kind of Stalinist hammer-fisting shove-it-down-your-throat credo you were obviously born for! Have fun with my bloviating, or get ready for the next Five Year Plan. The choice is up to you!

One nice tidbit that I came across this week is the following video of Kongress, shot at what I believe was the real Halloween '76 (not '77) show at Max's Kansas City recorded by none other than that photographer of the stars Bob Gruen. It's a fantastic snippet not only of a considerably obscure yet legendary New York rock act true, but also an accurate document of what really went on at a Kongress show (dig that cra-azy Crozier dancing and cra-azier Crozier wig!) as well as captures the high-energy drone music that Kongress was best known for at that time. Note that this lineup of Kongress has the dual axemanship of German emigres supreme Robert Crash and Renate, who is a woman but you know what I mean anyway.

'n so w/o further ado...

KongressHalloween76 from Otto von Ruggins on Vimeo.

And while we're on the subject of Max's, you may have noticed a new entry onto my list of pretinent blogs entitled THIS AIN'T THE SUMMER OF LOVE 'n yeah, I know that new rock music blogs are probably about as welcome in the here and now as new fanzines were in the already over-saturated eighties/nineties but as the old saying goes this one is different! And while we're on the subject matter I must admit that I did have my doubts as to whether or not I should link up this blog (Imperial Dogs-derived name and all) given their devotion to some of the more metallic musings extant (which I have nothing against mind you, but might seem out of place at least in my hemisphere), but I knew that THIS AIN'T THE SUMMER OF LOVE bears mention because of the blog curator's Herculean task in not only writing about the fabled Max's Kansas City nightclub but his attempting to present an entire gigography for the venue running the club's entire lifespan! Well, at least the lifespan of the upstairs space from roughly 1970 until its closing in 1981 when many an act played this dive causing serious competition to friendly rival CBGB, but any way this effort, monumental as it may be, is something that should not only be lauded but SUPPORTED!!! (If you want to be taken directly to this particular post 'stead of searching for it on the actual site you know where to click.) Naturally at this point in time there are a lot of omissions and perhaps an error or two (maybe some of you eager beavers can help out), but I'm sure whatever efforts that are put into this particular ongoing post will be for the betterment of all, especially reagrding knowledge-hungry anal retentives like myself. And frankly, if somebody's gonna hafta pour through years of VILLAGE VOICE and EAST VILLAGE OTHER microfilms in the name of research better he than me!!!
Thin Lizzy-FIGHTING LP (Vertigo)

One from a pile of albums I bought from Tim Ellison about five years ago. Nothing special or particularly eye-gouging here, but it made for nice enough bg sounds while reading through fifties/sixties vintage TV GUIDEs in the basement. Liked the song about the suicide with a .45 and don't it make you cry a whole lot, and the rest couldn't hurt you that much either.
Ut-IN GUT'S HOUSE 2-12-inch 45 rpm discs (Blast First)

A certain writer, in the pages of my very own fanzine even, once referred to this demi-famous femme trio of New York/London origin as a bunch of "grating no-talents", and even though this particular writer is for all I know a pretty with-it scribe and all (at least judging from his various other opines spewed during the very-late-eighties) I find that I must disagree with his assessment of this surprisingly long-lived no wave (in the truest sense) act on a number of levels. First off, I find nothing inherently wrong with music that "grates" as long as that grating is, shall we say, attuned to my own sense of enjoyable anti-music aesthetics. Grating is one thing that made no wave music such an appealing style of rock & roll in the first place (that and its relationship to/enhancement of the New York scene of the day) and hey, didn't a lotta members of that "older generation" we used to hear about hate rock & roll in general because it was grating i.e. didn't adhere to standard pop music structures or at least the kind they grew up listening to and somehow used as a standard for what all music should aspire to no ifs/ands/buts?!?!?!?

And as far as being "no talents", well as the old canard goes who needs talent to play rock & roll! In fact as history proves, the more that talent was poured into rock & roll the more boring it became, and considering that acts brimming with chops were obviously the big money makers of the seventies and beyond only proves that despite their image as young turks and wild carouser types the musical buying public (a.k.a. people between the ages of 18 and 34) were just as one-dimensional and as ball-less as their old folks who watched LAWRENCE WELK or JACK BENNY only to hear Dennis Day sing. Of course there are exceptions to the rule since the people in say, Can and Manster could play their gear, but at least they certainly tried their darndest to sound like addled teenagers who just picked up their budget guitars last week and were still struggling to get the chords to "Wild Thing" right. Sheesh, what good are technique and style if the ultimate end result is playing in some pit orchestra while some ditz sings her soprano voice beyond the hearing range of dogs onstage?

Ut are grating no-talents and I love 'em just because of that! Yeah they might have come out of the same late-seventies "art" enclave that became so overtly VILLAGE VOICE radicalized in the eighties, but thankfully they never stooped to brandishing radicalized socio-sexual polemics (that I could discern) and in fact took off for London once NYC became the hotbed of extremist prattle which it unfortunately remains to this day. (Not that they left for those specific reasons, but they sure had a keen sixth sense knowing that the best time to skeedaddle was when the skeedaddlin' was good!) And perhaps best of all, these no wave veterans fortunately didn't go off in artistic non-rocking directions unlike a good portion of the no wave originals who traded in their punk rock ideals for downtown improv chic. Ut sound just as much of a no wave rock & roll artyfact years later as they did back in '79 when they were more or less tailgating the latter portion of that particular rock stratum. Y'know, right before it all sorta became obtuse and more of a "statement" than a continuation of a sound that began with Link Wray and sorta electricized itself via the Yardbirds and Who on and on up to what seemed like a bright nova that hardly anyone around here would have given the time of day to!

Recorded during Ut's London era, IN GUT'S HOUSE shows the trio of Nina Canal, Jacqui Ham and Sally Young reverberating just as New York underground as ever, and in a high-energy 1977 NO magazine kinda way too! Like with the rest of the early no wave acts these recordings are the perfect reaction to/continuation of the New York style of the mid-seventies (y'know, when all of those staid rock mags began reporting about the new punk bands in the city and all of these bored and pissed teenagers headed for lower Manhattan to get in on the act?) as everyone from early DNA to Red Transistor did. Ut make it even as a seventies New York extension of the Velvets, or at least the wise use of violin sure gives these proceedings that special VU feel sounding like any standard seventies emulation stripped to the barest of essentials. Yes in many ways this is a cliche, but we sure could use more cliches like this these days!

Otherwise you could say that IN GUT'S HOUSE is seventies no wave recorded in the eighties w/o the eighties decadence and other general "isms" thrown in. Sound is scrunk guitar with standard Maureen Tucker drumming so akin to the no wave mode with mad chant vocalizing, and if I had to compare it to anything in particular I'd say this sounds more like mid-'77 period Mars when they were still halfway-gelled or perhaps a good idea of what those unrecorded no wave acts (including Canal's very own Gynecologists) might have been attempting at one of their all-too infrequent gigs. And perhaps it sounds better today than it did when I first reviewed this back in the eighties (thought it was OK though it did get tossed on the sell pile---fortunately you do not have to break the bank to get one today) because so much gunk was going down during the eighties and has ever since to the point where these outta-the-way stabs at "experimental" rock w/o the put-on pretentiousness are all the more welcome. And now that I have more time to separate the chaff from the wheat I know enough which wheat I want to toss out and chaff that deserves my attention, and here in 2009 WE REALLY NEED ALL THE CHAFF WE CAN GET!!!"

Great production too, like on that one number entitled "Mosquito Botecelli" where some interesting work in done distorting the vocal track. Perhaps Ut are due for some kind of retrospective release? Better them than say...Great Plains????*
The Randy Coven Band-SAMMY SAYS OUCH! CD (Guitar)

As some of you readers know, I like to peruse those old NYC club listings to espy the names of whatever group or act was playing at such notable hangouts as CBGB, Max's Kansas City and Club 82, then judging from the group's name (which I'll admit is like judging a book by its cover so forgive me Bo Diddley) perhaps pick up a recording or two by said band just to see if their music happens to live up to the punkiness of their interesting moniker. Sure, trying to score platters by groups on the basis or their seemingly under-the-covers gritty New York sounding name is obviously risky to an extreme, but I have come across some relatively enjoyable obscurities in my various travels and continue to snatch up whatever I can by groups who perhaps ain't exactly my cup of tea, but enjoying 'em through the filter of a gritty New York rock scene is sure more pleasurable than hearing 'em touted by some local newspaper critic who happens to look at everything through a sickening FM classic rock mentality!

Happened to catch the Randy Coven Band's name on a CBGB listing along with that of ex-Brand-X bassist Percy Jones and two acts with fantastic yet going-nowhere names like Cinema and Detour via this 1988-vintage (May 12th, a Tuesday I believe) CBGB listing, and since in no way could I ever locate recordings by the last two acts no matter how hard I try (though I see that A&M had a group called Cinema on their roster around the same time...could they be, and should I care?) I decided to latch onto one by these Randy Coven Groupers. And hey, it turns out that this Coven guy is well-known in guitar avenger circles and even has a number of recordings that were available at one time and what he does (mainly instrumental jazzy-rock guitar) is rather entertaining despite the image of the guitar hero as it stands after thirtysome years of classic rock mutation. So even if he's one of those guys who plays a professionally-made ax which is oh-so-finely tuned and knows his chords like I know the skin-tag burn marks on my face, Coven has made a downright listenable recording with SAMMY SAYS OUCH!, and even some of you more doubting BLOG TO COMM readers might want to check out for a change from the same-new, which can easily turn into the same-old once overplay sets in.

Beware, if you're one of those nattering nabobs who say that even though I do champion a lot of "good" acts I still do the same for artists who produce pure merde, you probably won't like this. But then again your own musical tastes might veer way off my own perfected course and how can I argue with a horse-blindered amerindie fan anyway? Nice groove Coven and band get into here, at times maybe too commercial for my tastes but just when you're ready to flick off the switch he sure knows enough to get atonal and rough just to please us musical masochists. In many ways Coven reminds me of Lou Rone, and if you're really hopped up on Rone's axmanship you'll probably like Coven as well with his nods to the fifties greats filtered through the sixties experimenters, thankfully forgoing the seventies dolts in the process. Might still be available on the web mine through ebay which was fortunate enough for me even though the people who sold me my copy didn't tell me that the cover was soaked and stuck together to the point where I can't read a thing about Coven and company in the insert. Hey people, if you wonder why you got the negative feedback, now you know!
VEHICLE OF THE WEEK! THE 1957 BRITISH LEYLAND ROYAL TIGER COACH! There's this guy called diskojoe who sometimes comments on this very blog, an' he happens to also be an automobile enthusiast so undoubtedly he peruses sites pertaining to that other subject matter so near and dear to his heart. Anyway, for reasons known only to himself diskojoe, perhaps out of an undying love for automobiles and perhaps my own soapbox, clued this one vehicle-oriented blog in about my piece on sixties-vintage Japanese automobiles which they dutifully linked up, a nice gesture even if they had to insult this humble blogger by suggesting that the post in question was written by a person who definitely wasn't an automobile enthusiast! Whaddeva, while strolling through the various linkups offered by said blog I managed to come across one dedicated to vintage trucks which I thusly decided to peruse out of curiosity, and lo and behold didn't I happen to come upon a snap of this very beaut which just happens to be a British Leyland bus of all things!

Now it ain't like I get excited over public mass transit the way I do over expensive European luxury cars of the fifties, but this one was different not only with its massive chrome grill which seems so unlikely for the likes of a bus, but the addition of tail fins (!) was definitely a spirited touch! What a beautiful piece of craftsmanship this vehicle was, and if you somehow think the things looks familiar it does and it SHOULD, because none other than the Lesney/Matchbox people were sellin' a model of this one for as little as fifty pennies back in the early-to-mid-sixties! Really, who (including myself) didn't drool over this crazy looking bus with the American automobile design motif back when they were saving their change to buy the Matchbox car of their choice circa age six!

It's no wonder that the Royal Tiger looks so hotcha, for it was actually designed by none other than the Eyetalian Ghia coachbuilders who also gave us the infamous Karmann Ghia and loads of those flashy Chrysler experimental cars that still get written up in various automobile magazines years after the fact! Combining fifties-era Italian design and clunky transportation might seem like a lost cause, but Ghia certainly pulled it off here with total smoothness. I mean...marvel at the sparkling grill and sleek modern styling that with little change (like maybe elongating it somewhat) could have appeared on a special order limousine owned by some head of state, not to mention the interesting if needless use of those tailfins which naturally add that sense of speed and grace to something usually associated with grubby city streets. It's too bad none of these that I know of were imported to the USA, and for that matter I wonder if this model was mass-produced since I can't find any references to it on the web other than the aforementioned snap...perhaps only this one prototype was made and Leyland chickened out and decided to stick with a standard clunky model leaving this concept model just that! Maybe it would have been too expensive to mass-produce with all that chrome, and what do jaded inner city people on the go really care about aesthetics anyway?

If you do want to see a 3-D version bad enough you can always snatch up the Matchbox model which is relatively easy to obtain, and maybe cheap enough at that. I dug mine out of my aged collection just for that purpose, and danged if I haven't even put it back yet considering how I like to absorb its late-fifties aura when I get a little tired reading my fanzines. Heck, sometimes I'll get down on my kness and go "vroooom" with it just like I did as a widdle kid, that's how much this vehicle affects me in a pure unadulterated way! Now don't go saying I never pour my heart and soul out for you!
IN CLOSING... I thought that I'd share a li'l something I found in an old punkitudnal-era issue of CREEM (dated February 1972) that sure has added meaning and historical value into a subject that deserves a lot more of it that it ends up getting. Now as we all know the letter section of that once-tuned magazine was almost as important as the actual mag itself (in fact even more when the likes of Dave Marsh and Greil Marcuse would get on their cultural high horses when discussing everything from Bruce Springsteen to the Chicago Seven) with the famous or soon-to-be writing in with their own at-times witty comments and/or responses on/to various articles and reviews included in prior issues. Even a cursory look into a classic-era CREEM (roughly 1971-1975) will find such names as Peter Laughner, Charlotte Pressler, Andrew Klimek, Michael Weldon, Peter Holsapple and Lance Loud scattered amidst the usual aliases and other wizeacres writing in with their own personal vendettas and opines which certainly got out of hand the same time the magazine did. Well, amongst these future partisans of the proto-punk brigades comes yet another name of all-import, that of underground film maker and Figures of Light singer Wheeler Dixon who as a college-aged provocateur actually winged this particular letter CREEM's way thus becoming part of their eternal legacy if only via this note. For historical purposes I have reprinted the entire missive which I believe will help out future punk entomologists when they are compiling the textbook for Elliot Murphy's "Rock 101" class sometime in 2074, after it's all really dead and buried:

Who are Slade? Slade is "just a buncha "skinheads from London", once called Ambrose Slade, who had an album out on Mercury called Ballzy, which was mostly a bunch of covers of other stuff, not so hot, but then they metamorphosed into Slade and "Got Down" was big stuff when I was in England this summer, blasting from sunset rooftop to basement, smokefilled flat in late August, almost as much as "Get It On." The other thing is about a band I hooked up with while in London called the Pink Fairies who as far as I'm concerned are the only real authentic, functioning loud, violent and arrogantly assured band left in that desolate burg, which has become a rip since decimilisation revalued the pence and upped it's unit by 1.4 times approx. Really (shock) but London is just as expensive as mid-Manhattan now. Anyway, the Fairies have a single out on Polydor called "The Snake" b/w "Do It," and the album is called Never Never Land. Dig Black's opening guitar work on "Snake," which is faster than (or as, so pick a good simile). Also a former member of the group is Twink, late of the Pretty Things, but a few weeks before I knew them he vanished, leaving no word of his whereabouts.
And with that I declare this post ended, and ended for good!
*Hope you guys can still take a ribbing even though I know you Columbians continue to hate me to pieces even after all these years!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hokay, this is probably one of those posts that will elicit a comment from Bill Shute and no one else, but given DEPUTY DAWG's importance to the entire BTC canon of hotcha kiddoid tee-vee upbringing how could I manage to run a blog without mentioning this crucial and oft-neglected cartoon series? We're talking my earliest and perhaps happiest life memories when I tell you that it sure was a joy to eyeball these early-sixties vintage 'toons when they ran on THE BARNEY BEAN SHOW during my turdler years, and when I just happened to tune into channel 17's JEEPERS' CLUBHOUSE during the middle portion of the seventies and discovered that this verifiable BEAN ripoff was also running DAWG, well you can bet that I would attempt to be front and center for that 'un which eventually turned out to be a great difficulty considering how JEEPERS got canceled rather post haste. I guess seventies kids were more sophisticated than their sixties counterparts, the sad results of which can be seen today.

Anyway, out of reasons that were more than just purely nostalgic I bought a few DEPUTY DAWG Dee-Vee-Dee's in order to remind me of what fun I used to have back when the boob tube was definitely my very best friend until it began showing MAUDE and we were suddenly pretty angry with each other. The 'toons that were used on these "bootleg" disques were recorded off the the USA network back in the late-eighties long before they started cramming their schedule with old tee-vee movies, and hey, you too might remember when DAWG seemed to be popping up around the same time on your local stations during what was perhaps commercial broadcast television's last gasp of ever airing 50's/60's obscurities again. Locally 33, who used to run 'em on the aforementioned BEAN show, was sticking 'em on Saturday mornings at 7:30 (and who gets up that early on Saturdays unless they're going to be shot!) although 23 in Akron had the good sense to run 'em weekdays at nine in a move which I hope indoctrinated enough kiddies of the day to grow into maladjusted wizeasses guaranteed to continue the grand tradition of fun mid-class trash gulcher for at least another seventy years. Well, if you got 'em on broadcast or on cable and at whatever timeslot that was available good for you, because for the unforeseeable future I can't fathom any outlet airing these oft-ignored cartoons ever again, preferring to pump a load of modern-day subpar sputum into the brains of mindless postnatals who obviously need and crave this kinda programming that certainly made ME the well-adjusted and proud example of manhood that I am and will remain!

It also looks as if you probably won't be able to find this one at the local Dee-Vee-Dee supermarket either cuz like I said these are illegal dupes (though I have the feeling that the copyright holders, if any, ain't knockin' down any doors with their barrage of lawyers!). Too bad, even though the general quality with some of that faint cable snow kinda looks as if these were retrieved from some boss UHF station out in the boonies back 'round 1974, the classic age of UHF/indie/syndicated television if you ask me. Maybe the best thing for you to do if you latch onto your own burns is to watch 'em on a boss workable 60/70s television (b&w preferred though if it's color make sure it's one of those really ghastly kinds that bleeds green all over the place) and plop belly-down in front of it with a lotta snax and koolaid by your side...real Amerigan kiddiehood pleasure even though there ain't no kidshow host hawking cheap X-mas toys or cranky sister bugging you to change the channel so she could watch PATTY DUKE reruns!

Can't believe I gabbed through three paragraphs w/o actually telling you about the cartoons in question! They're great mind-numbing entertainment about as good as Terrytoons could get at that time (1961) and loads better'n those MIGHTY MOUSEes which kinda rubbed me the wrong way with all of that sissy singing in 'em. Pleasant enough too, conveying an idyllic view of the Southern portion of These Here United States featuring the cornpone antics of the klutzy Deputy Dawg as he and friendly adversaries Muskie, Vincent Van Gopher and Ty Coon try to outwit and scam each other in that ol' Southern way that used to be milked to the hilt at least before the Civil Rights movement had the entire white population down there become held in contempt even more by standoffish New England liberals. The music also adds a lotta easy-living atmosphere with that accordion and harmonica playing these hopped up scales or lazy fishin' by the river toonz. It's so good that even the more ass-picking animation snobs who sneer at anything less than CINDERELLA might actually enjoy it for what it's worth as far as television cartooning goes. But I kinda doubt it. (Personal fave episode is the one about "The Whopper Contest" where Muskie and Vince get to tell their biggest lies, only to be superceded by Deputy Dawg's real-life adventures!)

It's funny in one way and sad in another that these cartoons were a major part of a healthy broadcast day in the early-sixties then sorta got shoved to the back of the bus once the flash of late-sixties gulcher made these cartoons oh-so-obsolete. But fear not chaps, because thanks to the miracle of Dee-Vee-Dee's and even youtube it's not like we have to starve and only live on our fading memories like I know I and a whole lotta people did back when we suddenly realized it was (seemingly) gone for good! Turn your computer or television into your very own personal independent station with DEPUTY DAWG and a whole load of other fine programming now available on disque, and all you need to do is do a little ebay hunting and internet scouring for the lost classic of your choice!

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Well, it's the best I could do given my combination apathy/lethargy and most of all paucity of ideas, or at least ideas that will just have to wait and moil in the vast resources of my mind before they come to total fruition (or "fruitation", which got me laughed out of English Phase Three oh so many years ago which in its own strange way is probably why, out of spite, I continue to use that term even this far down the line!). Well, at least I managed to get at least semi-excited about a few items that graced my ears as of late if only for your benefit, and of course I will pad this post out with the usual inanities passed off as insight so don't consider this particular weekend rundown a total loss. I mean, it is one, but please don't admit it lest you bruise my tender feelings.

So, let's see how can I start this weekend rigmarole up anyway? OK, how about me talking about something other than the usual musical fare like perhaps tee-vee! Now I must admit that I haven't been sitting in front of the old boob-tube the way I did when I was four or even fourteen for that matter, but when something hotcha does make it onto one of the 400+ stations one can get with a satellite dish you can just bet your effeminate son that I will be watching the ol' box with both eyes wide open. Unfortunately almost all of the good shows are on while I'm at work, but whenever I got a day off you know where I will be, yardwork be damned!

Thus, the biggest television news to hit my frontals all year just has to be the return of LOONEY TUNES to the Cartoon Network. Of course I'd feel much better if these classic 'toons were being aired on my or even your local station complete with a middle-aged kid show host pluggin' Duncan Yo-Yo's but beggars can't be choosers. Still, it's nice to click on the box to view these long-forgotten and at-times reviled cartoons once again, and although the newer ones from roughly from the early-fifties on are merely good but not as crucial as the Golden Age wonders once in awhile one of those 30s/40s classics will thankfully appear in the mix. You can bet your bottom buckskins that I flipped when the Tex Avery directed DAFFY DUCK IN HOLLYWOOD was recently aired since I haven't seen that one since...since I dialed it up on youtube last week! I only wish that someone'd put out the old Bugs Bunny show that was especially made for television (prime time even!) in the early-sixties and lasted on Saturday mornings for quite a few years...I sure could use a viewing of the episode with an Alfred Hitchcock-ized Bugs giving us the lowdown on "portable holes", a term which seems to have way more meaning in this blog world of ours today than it did way back then!

Nothing much else to say about what else I think about tee-vee as it stands here at the dusk of the ot's (and as you know I'm probably the last person to give you the lowdown on what I think about some new cable-only detective or reality show) so let's just get down to the meaty potatoes of this pixeled blowoff, mainly the MOOZIK REVIEWS! Not that much that really lights any buttocks this week (next may be different but I doubt it) but a few things did manage to rouse me from my boredom thank God (or at least Norton!). And if I didn't share my own biased opinions with you, then this just wouldn't be BLOG TO COMM now, would it!

Jacques Berrocal-PARALLELES CD (Plana-B, France)

(Sorry, that's the largest resolution I could dig up!)

Considering all of the great and mandatory music out there deserving to be heard it's no surprise I finally "got into" as they used to say Jacques/Jac Berrocal so late in life. Having to sort the wheat from the chaff can be a frustrating job for a serious music maven such as I, and sometimes it's hard to discern on first glance whether a certain act might or might not be worthy of one's time especially considering the lack of that and money we have to pour into our various obsessions. And with my usual poor finances and grasping at a hundred leads for that special one sound that might just zone me (but most likely not) it's no wonder that someone like Berrocal might just slip under the radar only to be discovered long after the time that I should have been devouring his various talents. But better late'n never I always say and rather I hear Berrocal in my waning years than get a huge package containing each and every one of his recordings the day after I croak!

If you heard Berrocal's debut you will have an idea of what to expect here, mainly a smattering of free jazz recorded between 1972 and 1979 done up in some of the most angular ways imaginable. Berrocal's entire oeuvre owes just about as much to the Futurists as to the even newer thing of the late-sixties that Berrocal and his Frenchmates have borrowed from, and many of the same things I said in my original review linked above remain pertinent...the Roscoe Mitchell/AACM-styled noisebleat (complete with a violinist on "Bric-a-Brat" who sounds slightly Leroy Jenkins-ish w/o Jenkins' natural gospel ballziness) and frequent trips into pure atonal play w/o any of that stylish Zappa freak quality that really doesn't satisfy now like it did when we were seventeen. Only PARALLELES's played as a serious and many times frightening dwell into the avant garde jazz mindset and not a cheap commercial grab with some classical influx to silence the critics. It's angry, atonal and perhaps a load of uneasy listening for you (but not me). I happened to enjoy the entire hour-long trek complete with the surprises including an appearance by none other than Vince Taylor right before he began taking more than a few cues from idol Gene Vincent (or so the story goes).

As usual, items like this only whet that musical appetite making me want to hear much more. The teaming with James Chance on "I Wanna Be Your Dog" that Andrew Klimek mentioned in the comments section sounds rather desirable if difficult to get, and undoubtedly there are more entries into the Berrocal discography just waiting to be uncovered. But whaddeva...PARALLELES is one disque that should be getting quite a few spins here, at least before its temporary retirement (usually in favor of another stone classic to grace my ears) and if anyone's begging for a career-spanning exhumation and archaeological study it's Berrocal himself. Any takers out there willing to edjamacate the rest of us?

(Interesting production note...track #2 "Post-Card" was recorded in "the pigsty of Jouancy" which should conjure up all kinds of obvious jokes from which I will spare you at this time.)
Sunny Murray's Untouchable Factor-APPLE CORES CD (Baystate, Japan)

You can bet that I was madder than a Mormon in a Coca-Cola bottling plant when I found out that Volcanic Tongue had sold out on a load of the original vinyl pressing of this rare album by avant drummer Murray's late-seventies collective. Naturally my rage later turned to tears of joy once I discovered that this supposed rarity was now available on Cee-Dee in one of those Japanese mini-sleeves, and you can just imagine that I rushed my hard-earned dinero overseas the moment I found this 'un out, impetuous spendthrift that I am.

Hmmmm...good line-up here, and this sounds just as free as that side-long Untouchable Factor track on WILDFLOWERS vol. 5. Such familiar names as Don Pullen, Oliver Lake, Cecil McBee and Hamiet Bluiett fill out the Factor along with a few newies to me, such as that of guitarist Monette Sudler whose style comes off like a more-jazz induced w/o the rock influence Sonny Sharrock even though I have the feeling that the rest of Sudler's output may not be as free as the work she does here. (I mean, just look at those Cee-Dee covers resplendent on her website! How mainstream jazz-reaching can one get anyways???) Especially tasty is the appearance of Youseff Yancy, who besides playing trumpet and flugelhorn also performs on the theremin as well as "various electro-acoustical sound manipulating devices" which sounds as if the man has been hanging around Alan Silva for a pretty longer time than one can imagine. When was the last time you heard a theremin used in free jazz outside of maybe the Art Ensemble of Chicago anyway?

That said, I found side one of this particularly bebop-ish, not at all what I was quite expecting with the playing pretty crisp on the title track and getting into a down groove filled with fraught tension on Oliver Lake's "Past Present Tense". That's a surprisingly beaut of a track which reminds me of a few other late-seventies loft-era takes (Michael Gregory Jackson's "Clarity" comes to mind, oddly enough with Lake present on that one!). Even a take on Coltrane's "One Down and One Up" closes out the side with neat frenetic post-bop coming pretty close to the Blue Note take on avant jazz with Jimmy Vass sounding particularly Dolphy-esque and bassist Cecil McBee doing an ample Jimmy Garrison IMHO.

Once side two rolls around the Factor gets into total eruption free play, the kind that made men like Murray stars in their own field and many an under-the-counter player get to release their own albums on small outta-the-way labels only to get curbstomped once the NMDS went belly up in the late-eighties. On "New York Maze" the group gets into that great AACM-ish all-out blast while Sudler gets to do some mighty impressive quasi-Sharrockian string-bending and Yancy wails away on the theremin to especially bizarroid effect. "Applebluff" is rather perverse in its own way with Yancy playing his horn (and using that "sound manipulating device") along with Abdul Zahir Batin on flutes and whistles while Murray adds his irrythmical blessing all over it kinda sounding like Can doing one of those Ethnic Musical Forgeries on Uranus. Great cap on a fantastico platter that is one of those things that just about every bloke smart enough to tune into this blog should have experienced at age 15, but I guess all these years later we can at least make up for our deprived childhoods by scamming all of the boss free sounds we can before we all clock into that big record shop in the sky and argue about who gets the sole copy of SUNNY'S TIME NOW on Jihad that's up for sale.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Kinda slow here, though some more irons in the fire might produce a few posts of worth as the months progress (while other irons have more or less cooled down despite the best efforts to keep 'em warm 'n toasty, for which I am not proud). I did manage to fight the sluggishness enough to wade through the el-pee collection and find the following reliables that I've unfortunately ignored o'er the past decade, so you can say this mid-week "update" isn't an entire waste.

Various Artists-ULTRA VIOLET'S HOT PARTS LP (Kama Sutra)

The only reason I dug this soundtrack album from an Ultra Violet-narrated collection of stag films outta the heap was because some writer for THE ROCK MARKETPLACE, maybe Alan Betrock but perhaps Joseph Fleury, deemed the Steve Martin-warbled "Love Songs in the Night" track to have an early Velvet Underground sound and appeal to it. Velvet-dropping along these lines especially when written BEFORE the mad rush to Velvets homage and the obvious dilution of the form still manages to get my interest up. Or at least it sure does more than reading about every tinhorn "alternative" amerindie folksqueak act with acoustic guitars and well-scrubbed cheeks tagging themselves with a Velvets influence in order to pass themselves off as something along the lines of "new" and "innovative". Considering how much of a classic-FM rock dump this area is maybe claiming an affection for the VU would be considered a daring act, but then again so would be giving oneself a testicle probe so what do these local yokels know anyway?

Naturally these two Left Banke reunion tries succeed aesthetically enough and yeah, I could say that "Love Songs..." sure comes off about as much a decent Velvets derivation as perhaps the Styrene Money Band had. Well, at least it would have made a great addition to the BEFORE THERE WAS...TIME album with very little change. The rest of this album ranges from the Left Banke-ish pop of Montage to the Donovan-esque folkie rock blahs of Bert Sommers, who didn't have any Jeff Beck to prop him up which is why be typically falls flat...sheesh, he was better with Kaptain Kool and the Kongs! I did get a kick outta the brash retro nostalgia of Allan Nichols' "Bad Lady" which actually made me ponder just exactly what sordid actions were happening on the screen during this particular number! Guess I'll have to put on my raincoat, get my plastic bag and head on over to the Foster Theater to find out!
The Who-ODDS AND SODS LP (Track)

Here's a teenaged fave of mine, the first ever Who album possessed by me in fact, and although here in the age o' flab it sounds not quite the total eruption of energy it once had but it's fine enough. True the horns on "Postcard" are quite obtrusive and even "Little Billy" tends to grate with its moralistic anti-tobacco jive but otherwise this is the Who at their non-hit/FM playlist best covering the years '64-'72 before they became too big of a rock commodity irritant. It's no WHO'S ZOO or other under-the-counter product produced with love and care by fans, but it captures an important part of the Who's career and for the longest time was an easy bargain bin/flea market catch and who could go wrong with that???
Dark Carnival-THE GREATEST SHOW IN DETROIT LP (Revenge, France)

Yet another one that got pushed way to the back which is a shame because even though this is a long-after-the-fact celebration of Detroit Rock from during a time when High Energy seemed to be replaced by High Crime Rates, THE GREATEST SHOW IN DETROIT sure brings back a lotta that hard-edged Michigan music of the seventies. Recorded when you woulda thought the ginchiness of the eighties would have had that entire scene dead and buried, THE GREATEST SHOW IN DETROIT gathers up some of the hard hitters of the classic '67-'73 seasons as if it was still "back in the day" and this music wasn't being consigned to the back pages of hippie-scribed rock "history" books quite yet. Hard and haunting, with Niagara singing in top form and various ex-Stooges, Mutants and Motor City Bad Boy types helping out, it all goes by with a manic amphetamine pace that keeps you breathless from the pre-recorded circus music opening to the last feedback blurt. Considering what else was going on during the early-nineties when this first appeared I'm surprised I haven't been spinning this one a whole lot more often! Punkitude at its best, kinda like the way CREEM woulda wanted it before the dangling dollar signs turned that mag into yet another major label mouthpiece!

Saturday, November 14, 2009


I remember a longtime Canadian reader of mine asking me if I felt any anger, hatred or animosity when the importation of Japanese automobiles as well as other wheeled vehicles suddenly went into overdrive back in the late-sixties and early-seventies. To his surprise I responded a hearty "no"...y'see. this particular fellow was under the misguided impression that, perhaps due to patriotic doody or deeply-held provincialism I would have been a rabid opponent of vehicles such as the Datsun Bluebird and Toyota Corolla roaming the streets of These Here United States, but being an auto buff since way back when I had a totally different opinion regarding this new breed of foreign imports. For one thing, just about every item from Japan that made its way into my paws seemed really exotic to me at the time, and while most people used to see the label "Made in Japan" and automatically deem it as junk I thought said item was a mystical relic from halfway around the world. And when automobiles from the Far East began making their way to our shores with increasing numbers I thought of them as welcome additions to our showrooms and parking lots! For one thing they looked cooler than the American cars and in many ways seemed to retain a lot of that early-sixties styling that was fast rusting away. Also, these vehicles seemed to take the place of the Studebaker and other long gone Amerigan marques whose demise somehow signaled the end of a certain era not only in motoring, but in mid-Amerigan fun and games. And since I didn't have the same sorta inbred hatred of anything outside my own ethnic enclaves like many of my relatives (some who even fought in Europe during World War II) these cars just seemed all the neater to my barely double-digit self.

I remember my grandmother's neighbors who had a farm which they drove to in a dull blue Toyota pickup, a 1963 model the kind which has been recently revamped and reintroduced to an auto-buying public looking for old designs in new wraps so to speak. My father used to point out all of the so-called cheap handiwork in the vehicle and say how this truck was prone to rust, but those neighbors sure kept the thing for a long time and got rid of it after a good twelve or so years of usage. I also remember seeing my first actual Japanese automobile in the parking lot at Idora Park in Youngstown Ohio, a Honda sports car which surprised me since I knew about their motorcycles and had no idea they were in the automobile biz. It seemed like a rarity of such a magnitude it might as well have been a Maserati or some other six-digit sports car rather than a "cheap" Japanese import! And after thinking about about such important watermarks in my life all these years later all I can say is never in my wildest dreams did I think that we'd be swamped with these kind of Asian-born and bred cars that, for all practical purposes, have taken over a big chunk of the national market! And for one thing I am sorta glad about it considering some of the turds that the Big Three have been churning out for a longer time than I can imagine.

The Japanese auto industry has been cranking 'em out for quite a long time now, and just like here inna US or in Europe they also went through their own Golden Age, one which I would roughly say was the late-fifties to mid-sixties kinda like everywhere else. And they produced some great lookers too, cars that unfortunately weren't available over here or if so in limited quantities just like a good portion of imports from England, France and Italy that were ultimately squeezed outta the market by the Japanese cars which I'll admit had a lot more going for them than all of those World War II vets would admit. Anyway, here are but a few I thought were really snazzy in their own way, some for their basic utility and others for their luxurious flash, and if you don't get a buzz looking at these cars (or any other great cars from that long gone era) that I do then why don't you just skedaddle over to some blog that's more worthy of your intellect and emotions, like maybe DECADE OF CHILDHOOD ANAL CAVITY RESEARCH ENDS or something along those lines, eh shorty?

The 1958-72 SUBARU 360!

You wanna talk absolute basic? Naturally there were a ton of mini-cars coming out of Europe and Japan during the postwar years due to gasoline and other resource shortages but none of 'em (with the stark possibility of the Isetta) can hold a candle to the Subaru 360 when it comes to low budget looks and craft! Designed by the same people who drew up the dreaded Zero back inna forties, the 360 was Subaru's entry into the Japanese "People's Car" market along with such other low-fidelity stalwarts as the Mitsubishi 360 and the Mazda R360. However, when Japan got back on her feet and the need for such disposable vehicles was made obsolete, Subaru was on a roll with their 360 and kept it into production well into the early-seventies!

In fact, the 360 surprisingly became a hit inna US of Whoa, at least until those killjoys at CONSUMER REPORTS put the kibosh on by printing an article which more or less called the car a hunkin' piece of junk. If the Corvair was supposed to be unsafe at any speed then this 'un was unsafe just standin' there, since it hung so low to the ground that its headlights were about the same height as a "normal" car's bumper and who knows what else. Well, I guess this one outlived its usefulness anyways and Subaru were more eager to concentrate on their other small cars which were easily enough finding a niche in the Amerigan car buying world.

Imagine if you will a strange prototype Volkswagen Beetle only smaller, with tail lights situated near the rear window rather than on the fender. And old-fashioned suicide doors as well as one of the basest dashboards you can imagine, and you have the Subaru 360

Besides the standard sedan there also was a 360 station wagon which does bear a striking resemblance to those special order Beetle wagons that were availabe via the Beutler coachbuilders in the early-sixties. I dunno if this one could function as a standard station wagon, y'know, the kind you'd pile the kids into in order to take the brood to McDonalds. In fact, I doubt if you could pile one kid into the back of this one. There was also a Subaru 360 minivan which did resemble the VW variant, an item that I'm sure made it big with the budget-conscious hippies of the day.
1961 MAZDA R360!

Somewhere in between producing three-wheeled trucks and the Wankel engine came Mazda's first entry into the "serious" vehicle sweepstakes, this variation on the aforementioned "People's Car" budget automobile. I must say that even though it does look like an inverted bathtub there is a certain sway to it, and if you do catch a rear view shot there seems to be a bit of an experimental Italian influence to the curved, airflow styling. And most interesting of all is the fact that this one was available inna US early on, though I'm sure any surviving vehicles would probably be worthy of the Christie's treatment. Not surprisingly enough, soon this Mazda was phased out in lieu of a newer model, the Mazda Carol, which looked more like a Ford Anglia fetus (late-second trimester) than anything else to these eyes!

Yeah, I know that Prince Gloria sounds like some strange breed of lezbo royalty but we're talking about the once-famous Prince automobile company, and those Japanese automobile names always had that classic sorta snobbish sound to 'em (like the aforementioned Carol, Cedric, Fairlady, Debonair...). And when it comes to classy names, the Gloria lives up to its moniker for sure! The first Japanese luxury car, the Gloria boasts a design by none other than Giovanni Michelotti and had quite a reputation not only given its design but the fact that Prince was known for its well-built automobiles, a rarity in an industry that seemed to have a fall-apart and rust-out reputation known far and wide. The car really does resonate inside my bean in a positive, early-sixties cool fashion reminding me of what an early-sixties Rambler aspiring to be an Imperial might have looked like.

Anyway, in order to give you an idea of just what this vehicle meant to the highways and biways (calm down Dave!) of Japan, here's a vintage tee-vee commercial that ran in the land which shows this Japanese boss who looks like Nippon's answer to Mr. Drysdale driving around in a Gloria, and even a good forty-five years later it still looks inspirational enough to make me want to go out and buy one!

While I'm champing at the bit, I might as well tell you about Nissan's take on the Gloria, naturally created after that corporation gobbled up Prince on behast of the Japanese government in order to thwart any hostile takeovers by foreign competition. When it comes to the Japanese (or any other nation) trying to ape the Amerigan styles of the day this late-sixties variation's got 'em beat hand down, from the sixties dimensional aspect to a front that looks straight offa the Chryslers of the day. I kinda get the feeling that Japanese automobiles woulda been thought of highly at the time if they were importing these 'stead of Bluebirds and Corollas. The station wagon variant (pictured here) was an obvious tipoff that this was a foreign job since it sported one of those European lift-up tailgates that weren't seen in the USA for years on end and seemed kinda neato to a Matchbox-collecting kiddo such as myself.

Here's one I probably would have ignored had not someone on an internet site posted a comment remarking how much this was "borrowed" from the original Studebaker Lark!
Being a fan of the Lark ever since I was a wee lad I naturally decided to look into this particular model which I guess does come off like an Italian coachbuilder's idea of what a Lark should have looked like. Well, I gotta say that the Crown does look a lot smarter than that Lark that the Lombardi body design team did for Studebaker around '61 (which looked too much like a Fiat, nothing against that marque) and if someone were to present the Crown as an actual contender for the "new" Lark look that debuted in the '64 season I'd fall for their hoax hook line and chromium plating!

Not a bad looking vehicle which does have that non-Big Three early-sixties appeal. A whole lot better than the previous Crown design which was just a bad swipe of the 1954 Ford and dare-I-say smarter than some of the Toyotas that were being cranked out in the early-sixties. Yet another vehicle that woulda looked great roaming the USA highways of the sixties complete with a backseat fulla yammering kids asking "are were there yet?"

What do you get when you take the basic body of the 1962 Lincoln Continental, add a grill influenced by the 1960 Ford Fairlane and shrink it down to the size of a Falcon? You get Mitsubishi's entry in the Japanese luxury car sweepstakes! Again, the American-esque styling would have gone over well here making me wonder why Chrysler didn't think of importing these 'stead of the Colt. Nice albeit boxy, but a whole lot roomier than a Daihatsu 3-wheeled pickup if you ask me!

Speaking of which, this must have been the king of the Japanese three-wheeled pickups that were all the rage in Japan back in the late-fifties. Mazda and Mitsubishi had models that were so similar that I'm surprised there wasn't a lawsuit brewing, and the reason for the proliferation of such trucks seems to be rather obvious. After all, I can see some Japanese fisherman loading up the back of his Midget with ice, spending the morning catching a nice batch then driving with his wares to market for the afternoon supper-hunting crowd. I'll bet someone in Japan feels extremely nostalgic over this model, and in my own downhome corny way I don't blame 'em!

Proof positive that you can even market a truck with a snazzy, Italian design making me wonder if this is yet another Michelotti venture! Also getting hefty design points in the truck division is the Prince Miler, which is classy enough to merge typical early-sixties pick up looks with the slanted quad headlight design of the then-contemporary Plymouths! Not as nice looking as the Mitsubishi Jupiter Junior which looked like the results of a mating between an early-sixties International pickup and the very same Plymouth/Dodges, but wonderful enough to have me zoning back to those days when cars and trucks had their own special personalities and didn't look like those styrofoam boxes they used to put McDonalds hamburgers in!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Well (as Stud Leather would say) hally-hally-oh-hally-looyah, I finally bought yet another miniature boombus box type thingie, this time with a cassette player that will sure help out if I happen to be in the tape mode mood rather than a digitized frenzy and considering how 35+ years of cassettes are piled up here at the house I better make good use of 'em! Hopefully this player will last longer than the previous one since it's a Sony 'n not an Emerson, but given the rate of planned obsolescence built into just about anything these days who knows, I may be on the hunt for another one as soon as the thirty-second warranty expires! Only beef I have with this new player is that although I can record to cassette from Cee-Dee I can't do the opposite, something I had been considering in case some of the rarities I do have decided to rot away for all eternity. And I do have a few things that maybe should be preserved so's future generations can listen to just how messed up people of the late-twentieth century stratum could get. Now I know how those aficionados of old cinema felt in their race to preserve just about every shard of volatile silent film that was bound to snap crackle and pop away to the point where here in 2009 what's lost is now lost for good!

But I ain't here to talk about that...actually I'd like to take time out from my usual blather (hee!) to tell you about some of the brand-spanking-new disques that the infamous Gulcher label has released over the past few weeks or so. Gulcher is a label that really has been on a roll as of late, and surprisingly enough the people behind it have been able to keep up the quality while staying heavy on the quantity which is something many (especially I) would have great difficulty doing. It sure is nice to see a company along the lines of Gulcher up and running this late in the evolutionary timespan, and if you considered yourself a supporter of those great indie labels of the seventies and put them ahead of purchasing the major league products on mere principle etc. and so forth well, there's no excuse stopping with a company like Gulcher up and runnin', eh?

Seems as if Gulcher can do no wrong not only with the amazing Dark Sunny Land CD from a few weeks back but with this new batch from outta left field and catching us all by surprise as they say. Topping off the list is Lou Rone's new one, GUITAR SLINGER, yet another all-instrumental album by the same guy who gave us ALONE not to mention a few great moments of guitar mayhem in acts such as Kongress, Cross and Von Lmo. On PLASTIC PISTOL Lou continues with his electronic music fascination (sounding pretty pre-digitial at it as well!) while adding his particularly pat guitar lines over it all which makes GUITAR SLINGER kinda sound like a 1980 Harmonia reunion album guest starring Jimi Hendrix. This ain't some stuck-on-himself kinda guy thinking he can wang-dang-doodle with the best but a man who is about as much a master of the guitar as Howlin' Wolf was of the mouth organ, and it's sure pleasing to the nervous system to hear someone pull off something that you'd think was instant douse, yet come off so masterful.

While you're waiting for your copy to arrive, howzbout checking out this youtube clip of "Tired Lady Blues" where Rone's metallic vision is set to the motion of a heavenly vision, mainly Blaze Starr!

Quite different from Lou Rone comes the Gynecologists, not the New York no wave band that I've been interested in hearing for years but yet another one of those outta-nowhere punk rock bands that seemed to say everything that could have been said about the eighties, but somehow got buried under the weight of Robert Christgau making goo-goo's at Cyndi Lauper records. If your memories of eighties punk whether of a "hardcore" or slightly slower variety aren't as strong or come off as pure denouement next to rock of a seventies underground variety feel safe and assured that these Gynecologists are more in the Angry Samoans/Rancid Vat vein of hard gunch and total eruption w/o any of the Gnu Left baggage that sank many a group to the bottom of Hippie River. Think '81 politically-incorrect hardcore with the appropriate sense of humor that went along with it (the lyrics are guaranteed to offend...all the right people for once) mixed with '66 PEBBLES budget guitar riffs and recording capabilities and you'll get the drift. The disc's called HOOSIER an extra one for your dog, who btw will love the back cover!

The death of Tim Carroll this past year was something that really jarred us aging BLOG TO COMM-sters to the core and just proved to us that we're not young chickens anymore ourselves and...oh, wait, that was Jim Carroll, not Tim! No, this Tim guy is someone who was in that second version of Bloomington Indiana's Gizmos, the one that had nothing to do with the original group 'cept the title and perhaps cleaner songs, and Tim is an accomplished "singer/songwriter" in his own right as this release will reveal to even the stodgiest of nonbelievers. And when I mean "singer/songwriter" I mean that Tim could have held his own with a writeup in any early/mid-seventies issue of ZIG ZAG or FAT ANGEL let alone ROLLER READER with his sound that comes off part Midwest outta nowhere pounce and another country-swoosh but not the kind that is represented by pale ale imitators these sorry Gnashville days. Maybe if C&W had somehow mutated into a more urban serious goo rather than into AM pop with a steel guitar. Still that's not quite right. How about a continuation of the Gizmos sound with an Elliot Murphy air to it? Why don't you just buy the thing (or look for a download) and find out for yerselves! Pretty good effort from a guy who left music for Wall Street then decided to get back into it, probably because he went belly up last year!

While I'm still on the Gulcher bandwagon I might as well mention this 'un...remember three years back when this outta-nowhere (Indiana...same thing to many) guy called Mykal Xul put out a disque called GIZMOS MY WAY? Yeah, what the world really needed in 2006 was a Gizmos tribute album (I'm not kidding!) and if anyone was ripe to do one it was this Xul guy who, after a three year hiatus, is back with a new full-length disque entitled JOHNSON COUNTY LINE. And boy is it a wowee zowee release that'll remind you of all the excitement one could find back in 1976 opening up a record mailer and obtaining a copy of some new underground act playing raw ramp rock with utter abandon! If you like the Gizmos you'll love Xul, a man who is one of the few who could take the mid-seventies gutteral gunch sound and excitement of the Gizmos and all they stood for (cheap reruns, heavy metal, suburban squatting, dirty stuff...) and "update" it for the late-oh oh's. Only his resultant splatter is just as low-rent as the original as he rocks his way through such decidedly non-friendly terrain on "Is Your Daughter Home?", "Chicken Choke Blues" and the inimitable "Poontwang". It's sure good to listen to something "modern" that reminds me of everything good that the past sixty years has managed to puke up for our edification.

And finally here's a disque from a group calling itself Handglops who have a sound that should really send all of you who miss the Golden Age of annoying basement recordings being passed off as bold underground trailblazing into throes of unbridled ecstasy! All funnin' aside, this Cee-Dee entitled RONK NG ROOL is a pretty strange bit of home-made music that sounds amped up distorted most of the time or at least it sounds like it was played through a 1962 tube stereo system on its last legs with a few moments of sane, nearly Lou Reed-ish music snuck in. I know I'm supposed to hate this stuff on mere principle, but Handglops kinda grows on me the way some of those outta-nowhere tapes I used to get during my fanzine days would at least until I passed them on in favor of some late-sixties punk exhumation. It wouldn't hurt to give it a spin or two as it wouldn't hurt to snatch up all these new Gulcher disques for your own personal enjoyment. It may hurt your pocketbook, but your pithy existence is none of my concern at this time so go get a job you bum or at least sell the Lexus, buy a clunker and pour your money into some real fun like MORE RECORDS, bub!

Saturday, November 07, 2009


My lack of a Cee-Dee player has upped my appreciation for my vinyl collection just like I knew it would, and amongst my recent traipses down into the dungeon I have been immersing myself in some Japanese pressed Sadistic Mika Band albums that I shoved to the rear of the stack at least until now. I reviewed a compact disc collection of theirs but a few scant years back but must admit that it ain't been getting the spins it should, perhaps out of lethargy more than anything. I dunno, perhaps with my infatuation with the Japanese underground rock of Les Rallizes Denudes and their various acolytes the comparatively commercial rock of Mikas was bound to be forgotten, but given the lack of digital gratification and the fact that the weather is cooling (which always reminds me of the more aware, maturing aspects of my youth for reasons you'd never believe) it was high time that I gave the Sadistic ones a serious listen at least to remind myself whether or not if those rock crits and import bin aficionados of the mid-seventies were RIGHT or just yanking at our sense of wonderment over new LP's arriving at our local shop daily!

If someone were to ask me what we really needed in 1975, I would've answered "a Japanese Roxy Music". Well not rilly since at that time I really didn't care for Roxy one whit (though I was a fan and follower, at least to the best of my abilities, of the more rock & roll-oriented aspects of Eno which is something I proudly hail!), but if I were as up on the international music scene like many of you undoubtedly were I MIGHT have given the Sadistic Mika Band more than just a passing glance! Really, maybe what the world really needed in 1975 was a Japanese Roxy Music or Sparks or Jet or Fans, and if any group was up on giving this decadence a twist it would have had to have been the Mikas, a bunch who at least on the surface looked as if they could have produced a good Far Eastern twist on the same English upper crust mirror gazing!

HOT MENU I guess is the one that broke the ice in England and was available only as an import here in Yankeeville, and surprisingly enough it appeared on the Harvest label which is a tad strange in retrospect because these Japanese Misters and Missus were more attuned to the Island label's infatuation with snazzy sexual decadence aimed at trolloping teens on the lookout for hidden throb thrill music. Maybe Harvest wanted to dig into that audience kinda like the way MGM would attempt to "do" a Warner Brothers with a gangster film like DEAD END, and besides since the Sadistic Mika Band was signed to EMI over there why not have Harvest appropriate 'em over here?

Soundwise HOT MENU seems about as much of a Japanese take on Western Decadence Music that a Japanese act could bear to muster up, though the Roxy Music let alone King Crimson influence touted by this group is minimal at best (the latter of which is OK by me, not being that much of a fan of the Crimsons for at least three-plus decades, and before that as well). Even the bound-to-make-me-drool ref to Velvet Underground white noise mentioned in a NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS tome of the time is MIA which naturally would depress me, but overall the resulting sound, finely tuned and all, is that of a extremely honed, Far Eastern pop-cum-rock (yes, the Kyu Sakamoto effect does come in as you would expect) Roxy without the brash guitar/electronics interplay that made those guys out-there enough that even Rocket From The Tombs would want to cover their numbers. Even Mika's vocals which you'd think would be a tremendous selling point for this group are kept to a minimum making me wonder if what I've heard about Japanese men and their treatment of women as either lust objects or hate figures (see Brian Eno discussion on pornography with Chrissie Hynde in a '74-vintage NME) is true after all, and in fact had carried over into this chart-topping Japanese act.

Still there is a nice lilt to this, nothing I'd want to have a steady diet of but it sure comes in handy when I do get into my occasional mid-seventies progressive/proto-punk blur moments (see Deaf School, Sparks) and feel like re-living those days through rose-colored rear-view mirrors of course. Oddly enough, the LIVE IN LONDON album sounds almost exactly the same as the studio tracks making me wonder if the Mikas are in fact automaton perfectionists and if so why didn't they tour with Kraftwerk! But I sure found it way more enjoyable than much of the hotcha rockmag putsch music of the day even with the lack of a high energy freak rock quotient and they certainly put the other import fodder of the day in the shade with their natural Japanese smart pop quotient mixed with the better moments England had to offer us at the time. And besides, you know that I could look at Mika all day even if she was just propped up there doing nothing but radiating that boffo Japanese femme pulchritude!

If you're able to you might want to latch onto the US Mika album which takes bits and pieces from HOT MENU and that other one which had Mika and band samba-ing on the front cover though don't be confused since thus domestic brand uses the same cover as another SMB album with the group floating in mid-air, only major diff. being that the US cover comes complete with new liner notes used to sucker the unwary prog fan into snatching this one up in the hopes of discovering a new Crimson or Beatles. The live one might set you back a few more dollahs, but it sure fits in swell with that Amon Duul II live London set as far as quickie cash-ins celebrating recent arrivals to the British shores go. And if you're still not sated there is at least one relevant youtube link up that is taken from what looks like a mid-seventies Japanese variation on BEAT CLUB which will give you a sweet taste. As far as later recordings post-Mika go you might want to caveat since even these shoulda-known-better types decided to fall prey to the dread disease of disco for at least for a short spell and why should you forgive 'em!

Interesting aside: after Mika split from husband/group founder Kazuhiko Katoh right at the brink of fame she eventually ended up marrying Harvest head Peter Jenner, while former member Yukihiro Takashi drummed for the Yellow Magic Orchestra, I guess a fate that would befall someone performing this style of Japanese electro rock well into the eighties long after its shelf life had ended. Meanwhile, none other than band leader Kazuhiko himself committed suicide just this past October 18th, presumably not due to any anticipation of this blog post though given some of the reactions I get to this I wouldn't doubt it one bit.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Well, at least that's the feeling I get going through my 35+-year collection of record albums moiling away in the basement since it does remind me of some small outta-the-way record shop/back of the bookstore from the seventies/eighties where not only were a wide array of budget albums, imports and bootlegs (some which I might have even wanted to buy!) readily available, but more likely than not there was some clerk sneaking into the back room during the slow hours to imbibe in a li'l illegal substance, usually right when I'd enter the shop to espy some recent release of ill-repute! But it sure is fun thumbing through albums that I haven't given the time of day to in years (some perhaps for good reason), and hey this lack of a Cee-Dee player in my pad has even spurred me on to buying a few new slabs of vinyl which sure does bring back that tingling thrill of record listening days long gone. Here's just a smattering of some of the music that has been gracing my ears in that good ol' analog way that sounds oh-so-pure surface noise, snaps, crackles, pops 'n all...

Nazz-RETROSPECTIVE FORESIGHT LP (Slipped Disc bootleg)

I'm sure a good portion of you readers would probably agree when I say that I don't think the Nazz were a good choice for inclusion on the infamous NUGGETS collection of sixties garage band/punk rock hits and near-misses. True there were a few questionable entries on that otherwise epochal set...Sagittarius weren't exactly a punk group by any means while the Blues Magoos and Amboy Dukes would have been better served by their hits rather than the covers of "Tobacco Road" and "Baby Please Don't Go", but the Nazz always did seem more of a late-sixties/early-seventies hard pop group closer to the spirit of the Raspberries and refurbished Hollies rather than a mid/late-sixties punk act. True Todd Rundgren became one of the few interesting forces in AM pop radio at least for a second or two once he went solo and began recording some definitely askew numbers that even had the fanzine forces bowing their heads in unadulterated homage, but the Nazz seem more or less part of that world, filed next to Badfinger in one's collection rather than the Seeds, Sonics or even Stooges.

Not that there's anything wrong with pop rock when done right as any look-see into an Alan Betrock fanzine would tell you, and it's no surprise that this obscure seventies-vintage bootleg album would only go to prove what a hot group the Nazz could have been if their albums were only...uh, livelier. And as far as pop documents go RETROSPECTIVE FORESIGHT is pretty "up-there" as far as continuing on a power-pop rampage that seemed to pass by a good portion of the record buying public at the time. Amongst other things, this 'un's got a smart update on the Raiders' "Kicks", a fun spoof of "Tighten Up" and even a gloppy string laden popster that sounds OK in the mix because everything else is so teenage pop-punk you really don't mind the gloss. (Hmmmm, so maybe their inclusion on NUGGETS wasn't a mistake after all!) There's even a live version of "Open My Eyes" that rocks out perhaps because of the poor sound quality, though the inclusion of this and perhaps other unidentified live tracks only beings up yet another bizarre has been reported that the live numbers that were used here weren't even recorded by the Nazz but by the Sickman of Europe, a group that I guess (correct me if I'm wrong, gently!) featured not only former Nazz member Thom Mooney but future Cheap Trick Rick Nielsen amongst perhaps others Tricksters (I believe Tom Petterson was in there as well). The weird thing about the Sickman of Europe name is that it was used in the eighties after Cheap Trick's fame had eventually deep-sixed and Petterson and perhaps Nielsen dug it up for a go 'round in a new combo which I doubt had the rest of the original members. The data regarding this group is still sketchy and I'm sure adds to the confusion for anyone doing a Pete Frame-styled family tree. Even more puzzling for me is why would two guys who were in a major league rock group have to start from the bottom only a few short years later playing the club circuit in hope of another big chance in the limelight? I guess this music biz is a lot tougher than I had imagined! If you do want to hear the Sickman of Europe in their original state they might actually be on here and if that is them then they sure were as hard-edged pop rock good as the band they eventually morphed into! (I didn't want to bring this up since it would only add to more confusion, but the Mooney-era Sickman used to bill themselves as the Nazz whenever they'd hit Philly which is perhaps why they are on this album to begin with. I'm sure that the bootleggers themselves weren't too sure either, and who knows even at this late date which is what!)
Amon Duul II-PHALLUS DEI (Sunset UK)

With the ol' Cee-Dee player being outta commish for what looks like forever (and me dreading to go on another bargain hunt for a new box all over town) it looks as if it's gonna be records for the duration. And what a better rec to start with than this long-time import bin stuffer, an English budget cash in on Amon Duul II's popularity complete with a low-fi chroma-key cover that belies the high powered music to be heard therein. Finding this one back in the old days was about as easy as finding John Travolta cutouts, and even though the rec didn't look like much with its stripped-down cover we all knew differently. Like most of this krautrock fodder there's a heavy influence of San Francisco before the plunge, but (as usual) what keeps this from being yet another nod out fest is the group's penchant for mixing in a nice does of mid-Amerigan sixties trash aesthetic and Zappa/Pink Floyd rumblings w/o coming off a whole lot pretentious like the Airplane did when they would attempt to inject some free jazz ideals here and there in order to get out of their own self-imposed rut. You may have the original, or even the eighties reissue which restored this to its "rightful" look, but whatever PHALLUS DEI sure brings back them teenage record store hopping feelings from a time when $5.98 seemed like a way too high price to even pay for a quickie job from the pimple faced slut in hygeine class.

In order to pay homage to the recently departed free bassist Sirone I decided to pull out the first album with his presence to grace my eyes while pouring through a stack or two of this long-ignored vinyl. This finale from the Revolutionary Ensemble couldn't've been a better choice with the trio of Sirone, Leroy Jenkins and Jerome Cooper playing one of their last ever shows in Austria (this originally came out on Enja) showing us yet another "dimension" of exactly what a co-operative jazz group of the late-seventies loft era could aspire to. Great jazz/classical/third world merging in the grand AACM "Great Black Music" trad with those fantastic moments of seemingly muddled free play intermingling with outrageous flash-burst. Burundi meets Bartok before the utter violin strain of Leroy Jenkins somehow works its way into your bare-wired nervous system. And Sirone is no slouch handling not only bass but flute as does percussionist Jerome Cooper, who switches between his balafon, a Marueen Tucker-esque drum kit and smart-enough piano for an added strange dimension that really would be hard to define if you had no prior knowledge of this group. Along with Air one of the better moments of mid/late-seventies co-operative free jazz that I guess was making waves somewhere, that is if you could believe what THE VILLAGE VOICE was daring to tell us at least music-wise.
The Rolling Stones-CRACKIN' UP LP (Beeb bootleg)

Kinda looks like old bootleg week here at BLOG TO COMM not only with the Nazz album above but this Stones boot of mid-sixties BBC session appearances done up in a fantastic mid-eighties fashion. Fortunately bootlegs had come a long way since RETROSPECTIVE FORESIGHT because CRACKIN' UP sports not only a deluxe color cover that expertly mimics the time and place, but the labels resemble the BBC's very own reference discs which of course is a needed touch even if I have no idea what an actual BBC reference disc label looks like! Not only that but the pressing and general sound quality for most if not all of these bootlegs had shot up quite considerably since the seventies, and who could doubt that the eighties were perhaps the real Golden Age of Bootlegs given this upsurge not to mention the reams of releases by both familiar and cult artists that had begun to appear at the time!

Other'n that this is classic Stones taken right off the radio and (for a change) from some pretty swell sounding tapes that don't sound like they were recorded off shortwave in Belgium during World War II. And you know they were recorded from the radio because you can hear those stodgy BBC "presenters" trying to be hip and swinging yet failing considerably given their cultured voices. Side one's all studio while the flip was recorded live for I believe the SATURDAY CLUB program capturing the Stones long before they became but a belch in the stomachs of a bloated "classic rock" mindset. Really, who in '64 woulda thunk that the same guy bellowing those Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley ravers would ever wrap his tonsils around "Angie"? Me neither, but that's what happened! Just a reminder that "The World's Greatest Rock Band" might have been just that, if only for a few nanoseconds in the mid-sixties.

Closing out this treasure trove of albums is a longtime fave I haven't spun in years which in many ways makes it all the more desirable, almost like listening to a great album for the first time once again if you can fathom that! I pretty much forgotten just how much pleasure I derived from the first ten volumes of the PEBBLES series of then-obscure garage/punk rock single sides and this one's no's perhaps (along with the first three as well as volume 8) my fave of the batch complete with such then-rarities as the Chocolate Watchband's "Sweet Young Thing" as well as the Edge's Left Banke paen "Seen Through The Eyes" amongst a whole slew of crankouts that really captures the sound of '66 w/o nary a hint of Simon and Garfunkel. And who could forget the inclusion of the Craig's all-out raver "I Must Be Mad" which I must admit sounds much better speeded up ever so slightly like it was here! It's a real surprise to find out that the drummer for this English group was none other than a 14-year-old Carl Palmer, making me wonder just what other future dinosaur rock icons might have been playing in the groups to be found not only here but on other PEBBLES/BOULDERS albums! If I only knew, I could only make a fortune blackmailing 'em with these records!

Another boss thing about these PEBBLES discs is the definitely fandom-oriented packaging complete with the satirical liner notes that remain funny thirty years later, which is more than I can say about Bill Maher. Whereas volume two sported imitation Meltzer this one as well as the followup spoofed the infamous Tony Parsons/Julie Burchill THE BOY LOOKED AT JOHNNY tome (here called THE BOY LOOKED AT ROKY, penned by the Reverend and Mrs. Tommy Parasite!) to high-larious effect, making that particular slab of rock reading look like the excrement it truly is. Too bad Greg Shaw couldn't have expanded on the format...I mean, wouldn't it have been a gas if the liner notes to say, volume 9 or 10 were done as an imitation Christgau Consumer Guide? The mind reels as to what something along those lines would have been like!