Sunday, January 31, 2010

SHOCKING LATE-BREAKING NEWS (or at least I just found out...)

RIP Big Brother and the Holding Company guitarist James Gurley, done in by a heart attack. More information as it comes in. (OK, this just in...he died December 20th at his home...complete obit info can be readily found out there but just why it took so long for me to find out will remain a mystery.)

Saturday, January 30, 2010


And if that's the case I'm the most aware person in the galaxy, or at least I do get the feeling that Random Insect Death is but a moment's notice! (Thanx be to Brad Kohler for the timely quote.) Quite a change from the way I was feeling last week at this time. Therefore this particular post ain't gonna be as char-broiled as previous ones, a major disappointment on your part true but sometimes even Superman has to cool his heels a bit. Besides, after those eye-openers from the past two weekends were you expecting yet another topper to tingle your frazzled nerve-endings? I thought so. Glutton!


Superdude-POTHEAD PUNK CD (Superdude)

Over the past few years I gotta admit to having a passing interest in some of those outta-nowhere sixties/seventie vintage New York City rockin' outsider types who somehow seemed to weather the storm and continued on their own perhaps-uncharted courses long after you'd have thought their shelf lives would've worn out for good. First there was David Peel who dealt us two very good slabs of street-trash before John Lennon boosted his stock a few points in the early seventies; later on there was "quirky" folksinger David Roter who hung around the Stoneybrook/Meltzer/Dictators axis before finally recording a number of albums (plus a single) on the Unknown Tongue label, none of which featured his original folk stylings. I'm sure we could add a few more people to the list like perhaps Von Lmo and Sandy Bull as well as Ruby Lynn Reyner if you wanna get female about it. And of course, as if you haven't figured it out by now, there's this Superdude guy who has been performing his maybe not-so-particular brand of underground rock funzies for an audience that I guess has been appreciative enough or why else would this relatively new (2007) Cee-Dee exist in the first place?

From what else I can discern Superdude has been around much longer than the seedy late-seventies, even being a part of the 1968-vintage Andy Warhol Family as you can easily enough find out from his myspace bio (just click the highlighted link above for this and more to-the-core-of-it-all information). This must make him either a pretty "with-it" sexagenarian or a guy who hasn't given two whits about the growth and development of music over the past three decades to which I say it's all the better! Y'see, POTHEAD PUNK's what anyone in on the under-the sheets lower Manhattan game'd call pure late-seventies/early-eighties cusp New York Rock, or at least something from the remnants of that era that seemed so outta place on one hand yet around 1985 you wanted more and more of it!

Beware, the vast majority of BLOG TO COMM readers will writhe in agony upon hearing this album since it will not settle well with nervous systems honed by repeated exposure to Lexicon Devil CD releases. However, to people like myself who find that intellectual residue and class/social/Marcusian consciousnesses in rock to be totally irrelevant with regards to what the music meant will love it the same was we go for such other peripheral punkisms as, say, Luther Thomas's YO MAMMA. Fake punk, fake rap, fake jazz...these were what the last days of En Why See's first punk generation was all about and if you don't still shed a tear over the demise of the original Max's or the cancellation of GLENN O'BRIEN'S TV PARTY you just wouldn't understand.

Typical cheap New York exploito sound fact I woulda thought this to be some early-eighties release that, like FUTURE LANGUAGE, got lost in the shuffle of various Clash and B-52 albums. Only it came out years later which makes the references to early-eighties new wave, reggae and rap seem even more "dated" but I like it perhaps because it does recall past outta-the-way musical movements done in what seems like a pretty flybynight way. It adds to the "charm" and surprisingly enough, most of the time this sounds a lot more interesting than the "real" dabblers in the form who by the early eighties began releasing some pretty duff albums!

Most of POTHEAD PUNK does come off like quickie new wave crank out, kinda like a budget disc which some cigar-chomping manager woulda dumped on an already oversaturated market during the very early eighties. If they still sold albums in supermarkets back then you might have found this one snuggled somewhere in the bins. It also wouldn't be hard to imagine Superdude gigging amidst the budding hardcore, leftover glam and fifties revivalists who were playing at Max's during their final days and, come to think of it, I think he did mingle with a number of the seventies leftover crowd (like Another Pretty Face) there until the bitter end.

Good cross-section ya got there Superdude. In fact, "Superman" is even typical early-eighties pre hiphop-generation rap back when the Sugarhill Gang were getting hefty NEW YORK ROCKER space after all of those innerlectual clubhoppers began snuggling up to that particular style. "Step to the Music" maybe not-so-surprisingly sounds a whole lot like Von Lmo's "Nobody Plays With Rose" with its spoken vocals (and don't you note a similarity between his and Lmo's very hotcha shades? Could it be a coincidence by any chance???). And if "African Herbsman" wasn't about that pungent illegal substance then I'd wonder just why Superdude won the marijuana music awards for 2006 because this reggae raver ain't exactly your typical "having tea with Mary Jane" snicker snicker hide hide! The rest ranges from 1981 new wave the kind that was used to plug dish soap to cranky pseudo-punk and it's so wonderfully disposable that even that hipster nerk on SQUARE PEGS woulda puked over it with a vengeance!

Sure brings back a lotta memories of the leap twixt the underground seventies and the thud eighties, many of the same sentiments which can be found in a whole load of recent reviews on my part that you can easily sort out for yourself. But with all of the utter ridiculousness of these numbers Superdude does earn a strange place in my collection reserved for the crazier amongst us. Too bad his association with Warhol wasn't played on like Peel's was with Lennon or Roter's was with Meltzer or else we'd've been reading more about this guy in CREEM.

Naturally I was hoping for another under-the-radar punk masterpiece outta this especially after reading that rave-on article UGLY THINGS dared publish in their latest. However, despite all of the promise and hope that I had for these guys being at least a more palatable for the massholes Stooges knock off I found STEPSON to be pretty mid-energy light metal. Not bad, but not exactly the hard-edged offering that I was expecting. Think of a less cocksure Jukin' Bone or maybe One Dog Night without the teenybop (Chuck Negron is thanked on the cover if there's any doubt) and you might have a good idea of where Stepson were coming from. But if you were expecting the epiphany of RAW POWER ferget it!...frankly the Imperial Dogs coulda whipped 'em w/one ball tied behind their backs in a 1974 punk rock battle of the bands, and that's with Jymn Parrett refereeing the thing as well!
The Jimi Hendrix Experience-SMASHING AMPS LP (Dragonfly bootleg)

Not sure exactly what the source of this 'un is...HOT WACKS is vague and besides they don't even mention this version on the Dragonfly label adding up to even more mystery across the boards! (And yeah, I know that I can just dial up my favorite search engine and find out for myself, but I'll leave that up to you if you really so desire because I'm too lazy.) The sound is at least AM-radio quality excellent, much better than the "VG" that WACKS gives the TMOQ version while the performance is on-par with an instrumental "Sunshine of Your Love" starting side one off and a raging climax of the national anthem closing out the proceedings. Where the smashed amps come in I don't know...perhaps right at the finale but given how Hendrix played his guitar who could tell? In between ain't that bad either. Only real beef is that "Wild Thing" and "Waiting For That Train", both listed on the insert sleeve, are nowhere to be found. I hope Don Fellman doesn't read this or he'll never talk to me again (y'see, he hates Hendrix and for more reasons than Jimi's vulgar stage routine)!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

KIPPLE #'s 157, 161, 163 and 166 (fanzines published by Ted Pauls during the year 1969)

You can tell that I'm getting hard up for my fanzine fixes when I have to rely on old outta-nowhere "genzines" that were more or less soapboxes for whatever flavor of the month ideals the contributors wanted to espouse! Right now I so hungry for any classic fanzine energies to tingle my nerve endings to the point where I feel like some skid row denizen guzzling antifreeze or straining shoe polish through some old nylons, but get my kicks I will and oddly enough I can still find 'em in the most outta the way placess possible! Like take this publication entitled KIPPLE,a political/cultural scene fanzine that, judging from the impressive numerical run, must have been cranked out a number of times a month by this Ted Pauls guy. Pauls used KIPPLE as a vehicle to voice a variety of concerns/ideals/beefs that he had re. the World Situation during the late-sixties, and the KIPPLEs I've read remind me of many of the lower budgeted fanzines of the day whether they be of a Sci Fi, comic strip/book or even rock orientation only without some nice photos or perhaps a cutting enough cartoon or even some reproduction from an art book used to fill up space. Kinda plain in fact, certainly not eye candy enough for the fanzine gobblers of the sixties/seventies and come to think of it rather dry on the insides as well.

I mean yeah, the concept of a fanzine like the concept of a weblog is to get some ideas out into that public of yours as fast as humanly possible, but some of the ideas spouted off in KIPPLE might have been better had they been left in the fridge to gel a bit. Maybe it's because I'm way out of the target area that Pauls and his contributors are aiming at, but some of the flotsam to be found in KIPPLE brings forth a whole number of questions regarding the political/youth situation of the day like...was it really this boring? One contributor, a John Boardman, has his own running column entitled "Matter In Motion" which details his own personal spur-of-the-moment opines regarding everything from the Vatican and Galileo (which was an issue that has always been akin to whipping that dead horse until it could be sold for ground round at Kroger's) to an admittedly interesting assessment of Henry Kissinger as an "Establishment Liberal", but even if he does make the bright observation here or there the end results are quite staid and perhaps downright sophisticated in their own strange way. Nothing I would particularly pick up a fanzine for, even if many of the ones I've read these past thirty years have come off quite the superficial crudzine of legend and lore.

So why did I snatch up copies of this long-forgotten read? Certainly not for the observations of political or societal development as it was seen through people I assume came up out of science fiction or comic book fandom. As you might guess it was because of my forever undying devotion to rock & roll fandom, a glimmer of which can be found in these pages thanks to a rock column entitled "The Fnork Speaks" which was penned by none other than longtime fandom standby Jay Kinney. Those of you who have been following Kinney's career from comic book fanzine contributor and publisher (NOPE!) up through his underground comix work throughout the seventies until his present day stint as the editor of GNOSIS should remember him a very talented individual with regards not only to his artistry but his writing on a vast array of comic-oriented subjects (such as his positive assessment of the old PANIC comic book in the pages of ODD). Along with Bill Griffith, a man who shares some stylistic and intellectual traits, Kinney was one of the top artists of the original underground comix era and his various cartoons dealing with everything from rock & roll groupies to the Detroit White Panther scene ("Armed Love" from YOUNG LUST) to punk rock ("Anarchie" in ANARCHY) proves that the man was just as tuned into rock & roll as a form of bared-wire intensity as he was of comics as a means to express pretty much the same set of anarchistic/nihilistic values (for wont of a better term I guess!).

Some of Kinney's musings are par for the course 1969 rock observations such as his take on the latterday Yardbirds and their relationship to Led Zeppelin (a group he expresses great fervor for) or how THE WHITE ALBUM was doing everything from surpassing the Fugs and the Students for a Democratic Society with its unabashed revolutionary/social upheaval tone. That's all well and good I guess, but what really surprised me about Kinney's "Fnork" column was one that, now get this, appeared in the June 12 1969 issue highlighting his opinions regarding the Velvet Underground. This particular piece, given the low-budget fanzine nature of this publication, was naturally missed by just about everybody who was on the lookout for interesting writings on the group, and undoubtedly that list includes the various writers and editors of the recent Velvets histories who come to think of it left out willingly or not a lot of pertinent information regarding the Velvet Underground's influence in the late-sixties. Not that they'd particularly care to reprint any of Kinney's ideas and projections regarding the band but, it woulda been nice if they at least said something positive about the guy!

The column begins typically enough as a commentary on the then-hotcha subject of drug references in teenage popular/rock music. Y'know, the big brouhaha that started in '63 when some people found "Puff The Magic Dragon" to be a little too "nudge nudge" for their own sense of propriety. From those humble beginnings Kinney works his way into a discussion of the Velvets who obviously transcended the usual druggie double entendre and anagrams and dove into the hard opiate stuff head first.

As I halfheartedly expected there are no major epiphanies in the piece, but it is sure nice reading something about the Velvet Underground that was written back when they were still alive than to endure the heaps o' goo that have been thrust at them (sometimes by myself!) ever since usually in typically dulcet tones that always belie the group's rough New York street rock image. (This is a trait that unfortunately has even carried on into the group's influence on the vast majority of Velvets acolytes over the past three decades, bands who find the pleasant poppier tones of "Sweet Jane" to their liking but who could never create a monument to the true power of the VU as was heard on "Sweet Sister Ray".) And Kinney, to coin a phrase, "lays it on the line" with just how the Velvets stood with many of the music listening public of the very-late sixties. "The Velvet Underground's thing is smack. Part of their mystique is probably due to everyone's amazement that the group makes the most of its habit and even turns it into strangely compelling songs."

From there Kinney goes on to describe the group's first two albums rather enthusiastically and track-by-track, something which I guess might have taken the fun out of chemistry like Elliot Murphy said but probably lays it down on the line for the readership of KIPPLE whom I'll bet were your typical late-sixties teen/college-aged fandom freaks with more than a few toes dangling in the budding rock fanzine world. These two albums (Kinney had yet to hear the third, though he is aware of how much of a stark change it is from the others) are chronicled in a matter-of-factly way by Kinney and for the most part described positively. I particularly got a chuckle out of his description of "I Heard Her Call My Name" where Kinney wrote that he thought the needle was skipping across the vinyl! (Kinney also draws comparisons between Lou Reed's lead guitar on that track and the fuzz-drive of Blue Cheer.) "If you are looking for a genuine 'underground' experience, give (the) Velvet Underground a try. They are not very delicate, but they do put down some good music." In all, a piece that shows that yet another mover and shaker of the late-sixties (albeit in the comix/fanzine world) was a solid Velvet Underground fan, and one can wonder just what other interesting pieces of Velvets-related "ephemera" there might be lurking in the fanzines and music columns of the late-sixties just waiting to shed more light on my all-time favorite rock & roll group.

Oh, and another little outta-the-way aside on the part of the March 17 1969 issue the esteemed fanzinemongerer even puts in a plug for good friend Greg Shaw's latest endeavor MOJO ENTMOOTER. "This is darned good Rock criticism of the old MOJO NAVIGATOR variety and there is even a picture of Led Zeppelin on the back cover." I'm not sure if this is the same MOJO ENTMOOTER that has Shaw's review of the Deviants' PTOOFF! (probably not since that one came out in '68...this must be the "experimental" second and last issue) but its existence goes to prove that there certainly were more rock fanzines being produced in the late-sixties than any of us would have believed even a few short years ago.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


It's almost like 1975 here at BLOG TO COMM central and no, I don't mean that I'm wearing a "WIN" button or tuning in to DON ADAMS SCREEN TEST either! I'm talking moozically, which might come as a shock if you're one of those kinda people who believe that thirty-five years ago was a pretty duff time for sounds whether they be pre-recorded or not. Well, of course I will admit that those mid-seventies days were rather sordid on a mainstream AMERICAN BANDSTAND AM/FM radio level, but I'm naturally talkin' 'bout the seedy avant garde punk rock-y underbelly of it all which, although poo-poo'd by the vast majority of drivel-infused music listening putzes out there in record-buying land, certainly made a big splash with the high energy people who wanted their mad rush and wanted it NOW! And you can bet that all of those great high energy punkist memories were undoubtedly heightened by a disque that I have received (thanks to Laughner box set compiler Andrew Russ) containing a vast number of pertinent PLAIN DEALER newspaper clippings that relate to the birth and growth of the Cleveland "first wave" of underground bands! Sometimes one forgets just how knock-out-drag-down intense and interesting those post-psychedelic dayze were, so the refresher course that Mr. Russ sent sure stirred up a lotta old ghosties in me and made me remember just why the years 1974-1979 were pretty special in various rockism terms and how no matter how hard we try those days will never come back! But that doesn't mean you have to settle for Matador Records.

Naturally it was a hoot (re)reading these classic PLAIN DEALER pieces mostly if not all written by longtime teenager Jane Scott, and eyeballing the history of groups such as Rocket From The Tombs and the rest of the first wavers like Mirrors and the Electric Eels written as it really happened does bring back that inexplicable rush as to just why underground rock was so exciting even for a thud like me so far removed from it all. Really, it does bring a thrill to the ol' jelly-filled spine catching things like Scott's ever-so-clever detailing of each and every Rocket From The Tombs personnel change worthy of a Pete Frame family tree (now I know where Dick Korn fit in on the drum seat!) not to mention finally getting to read that "interview" twixt Laughner, John "Regular" Morton and Michael Weldon regarding the Cleveland groups and their lofty hopes of "making it" (sounding maybe too serious on one level yet so intensely driven on another even if they actually thought their bands would be well-known and respected amongst the music fans of Cleveland by the time 1976 rolled around!). Of course it was a real chill thrill to discover all of that minutae ephemeria I never knew such as that Eel/Mirrors member Paul Marotta actually used to go by the nom-de-key "Poli Styrene" as in "Jass Band," and given what else was going on in Cleveland at the time these little shards only make the day and time all the more engrossing

Reading Scott's article heralding the debut Rocket gig at the Viking on June 16 1974 was a gas as well reminding me of a lotta little things I had pretty much forgotten in the thirty years since first reading the thing like how Crocus was planning to watch tee-vee onstage while relaxing in his "easy chair" when he wasn't singing (shades of the Hampton Grease Band!) and that he pretty much considered Rocket to be a cross between the early Mothers of Invention and glam punk (shades of the Deviants?) and that amidst the comedy and fifties rockers they were spoofing they were also doing to do songs by Spirit and Mountain (shades of every other band in the area?!?!?). Well, dunno about you but I sure would have loved to have heard Crocus wrap his tonsils around "Mississippi Queen"! Also of importance re. the original "comedy" version of Rocket From The Tombs is that the three other members, Charlie Weiner, Thunderhand Hach and Tom Foolery, were still playing as the Funn Bunns at folk clubs city-wide during their stay in Rocket and in fact one Wiener number, "Loose Lips Sink Ships," was being performed (and sung) by Weiner in Rocket and the Funn Bunns simultaneously! This number might even appear on one of the early Weiner albums which does stir up the ol' cat-killing curiosity quite a bit... (And how could I neglect to tell you that they also did a country and western version of Bowie's "Moonage Daydream"!)

(By the way, did I ever tell you about the time I phoned up Weiner for some pertinent Rocket info back in '81? First time he was nice and gracious with his wife [who answered the phone] even mentioning how her forebearers came from hometown Sharon PA! Weiner regaled me in stories about his tenure with Rocket sayin' that he was a little miffed that everyone remembered the version of the group with Cheetah Chrome and Johnny Madansky but nobody seemed to recall the time that he was in the group! [Perhaps if he released those reel-to-reel rehearsal tapes he said he had wallowing in the collection somewhere...] Second time he was grumpier than Courtney Love in a chastity belt despite my ever-graciousness which doesn't prove anything other than I caught the guy at a bad time. I don't carry grudges...not me! BTW did you know that Weiner hosted a Saturday PM kid show on WAI-TV channel 29 in Akron for a short time which went under the title WEINERLAND, a gig that probably would have been heightened if only he could get his old partner Crocus in to re-do some of their old routines!)

Whatever, the original Rocket sure seemed like the ultimate trash-concept band around, perhaps one to have given the Electric Eels a run for the confrontational stage presence moolah! And really, I just can't tell you just how enriched I felt scouring these old articles absorbing the growth and development of a sound that pretty much had a stranglehold on me for a good portion of my measly life. Reminds me of when I was ten and I'd hit the local library not to do research for a science project or history essay, but to scan the microfilms for old NANCY comics so you know what kind of an event in my life this disc most certainly is!

Only bad part about all of this is that along with the articles on or even by the likes of Laughner and Crocus Behemoth (btw, the members of Rocket jokingly called his alto saxophone a "Croco-phone"!) we get stuck with a few "critical" pieces written by that wretch Anastasia Pantsios who comes off like a sour schoolmarm at an orgy with her hippie critiques of a music (actually, of rock & roll in general) that she never could fathom or comprehend let alone understand as her stodgy elitist smarm has proven over the years. I often wondered how she ever got a job as a professional "rock critic" especially when there were dozens of superior if under-the-carpet scribes who could write her off the page even without a dog-eared thesaurus, but I guess that's just one of the injustices of life that we all have to put up with. It's an even greater injustice than all of those shivs she shoved into her supposed friend Laughner's back throughout the eighties and nineties. (And if you don't believe me, just get hold of her writings for the DEALER and various other local papers of the day such as her "review" of FROM THE VELVETS TO THE VOIDOIDS in whatever low-rent free paper she was working for in the early-nineties...and as far as "other" matters went I mean can anybody really be that ignorant to take the letter pages of FLIPSIDE to be a cross section of what underground music had entailed, and was she really that naive to believe that these oft-loathed [by "true" rockers like herself I would surmise] bands weren't putting out fanzines and promoting their own shows like the heavy metallers were??? What an ignoramus, or at least a person who distorts and prefabricates the words and actions of others for her own occult purposes! Frank Secich should have killed her when he had the chance!)

Anyway, if all of this first wave frenzy wasn't enough I just happened to stumble across a pretty interesting ref. to one of my favorite Cleveland underground groups and in the pages of none other than CREEM magazine (the March 1976 issue in case you want to drag this one out and see for yourself!). No wonder it took so long for me to locate this little bit o' esoterica for it appears in an article on Kiss that was written by whateverhappenedtohim? Robert Duncan. In this typically classic-CREEM piece dealing with Kiss and the concept of rock outrage Duncan and his un-named friend were talking about...well, in order to make this post a lot more easier to read let's just take it from the top:

"As the conversation progressed, we got around to the subject of the proliferating New York punk bands, and I relate to him the apocryphal tale of a certain Cleveland punk band who shall go nameless (a spin-off from another band there called Rocket From The Tombs). It seems that this band is having a tremendous amount of trouble getting club work these days - even more than usual (their sound comes out of the threshold of pain school of music). You see, I explain to my friend, they feature a lawn mower in the act. One night, just after they had yanked on the ol' chop machine, the club owner's dog wandered by the front of the stage. Inspiration apparently struck and the band members waylaid the pup onstage ostensibly - and now I'm in-ter-pol-ating in the interest of humanity - to give him a haircut with their power mower. As one can imagine, it is a delicate procedure to shave a dog with a lawn mower, a procedure easily botched. Well, botch it they did and exit one canine in a spew of blood and guts and fur. (They got fired from the gig.)

My friend laughs hysterically (good sense of humor, no?) and allows as how the Blue Oyster Cult/Kiss New Year's Eve show at Nassau Coliseum is strictly 'pussy stuff' relative to the stage atrocities of the Cleveland group. My friend says to me: 'Now that would be the way to bring in the New Year! Some dog spraying out of a lawnmower all over the audience!' And you know, in concept, I really have to agree with him. And I'll tell you what (if I really have to wrap this whole thing up) I've figured it all out. I HAVE UNLOADED THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE!"
Historical to say the least even if the "unnamed" Electric Eels are construed as being somehow directly related in lineage to Rocket From The Tombs and that the lawnmower never even started up! Of course that doesn't make for good copy but it sure fuels them punkism fires! I guess this is how rumors get started, and who could think of a bigger national platform to start such a rumor than in the pages of the soon-to-capsize (in quality that is) CREEM magazine?

Too bad I didn't read this slice of ROCK RUMORMONGERING IN THE MAKING while I was an impressionable lad, because I have the sneaking suspicion that back when I was going through all of my available printed matter to read and re-read those clandestine paragraphs on the hunt for any strand of proto-punk puzzle-piece gathering this bit would have driven me up the padded cell wall!

Anyway, here are just a few items that have graced my psyche this past week. Maybe you'll be able to memorize enough of this to spout out at parties and bar mitzvahs thus making yourself look less like the dim bulb you most certainly are! Whatever, g'wan and have a ball!
David Bowie-LITTLE TOY SOLDIER LP (Albino bootleg, England)

As well as being stoked on all of those Cleveland First Wave clippings you can tell that I'm still way under the effect of the recent double header Velvet Underground book deal or why else would I have bought this bootleg documenting Bowie at beginning of his Lou Reed homage anyway? If you read the Unterberger book you would have discovered that Bowie, like Mick Farren, had his Velvet Underground epiphany long before the rest of us and resultantly was incorporating hefty VU-refs in his music months prior to their debut elpee hitting the British shores. Unlike Farren, at least we have documentation which, if accurate, proves that the famed chameleon was not only covering Velvet Underground material during those swinging times but injecting a lotta their influences into his own sound which might make him more of a plagiarist than a prophet but I'll let history decide.

This album, released during the second big bootleg era of the eighties, features surprisingly decent if AM-radio quality sound and production besides a nice if bargain-bin sleeve and very limited playing time. Side one's the hotsy for us unrepentant Velvet Underground maniacs beginning with Bowie's first waxing of "Waiting For My Man," a rather good rendition better than his later Spiders-era takes even if Bowie does fall ever-so-slightly into that late-sixties pop rut which brought down similar VU covers. However, the Lou Reed inflection in the vocals does boost the quality quite a bit and Bowie brownie points are in store since the guy was astute enough to give this classic number a go before just about everyone else did. Bowie's homage to "Venus in Furs" entitled "Little Toy Soldier" follows, a number which starts off pleasantly enough like a typical 1967 Bowie flower-fop piece before getting Velvet sinister complete with obvious "Venus" lyrical swipe until it all ends like a big mechanical explosion right out of Pink Floyd's "Bike"! Maybe if this one got out 'stead of those other legit flitzy numbers he was also doing at the time more people would think highly of Bowie's early recording career! Closing out the side (told you this was a shortie!) is an early demo of "Space Oddity", perhaps distinguished by the fact that for being a mere acoustic guitar/stylophone duet it sounds a whole lot better than the live versions that Bowie was barnstorming the country with back when he was trying to break the US. Too bad he didn't have this arrangement in mind when he was vying for the precocious confused teenage kiddie money of the day or else some of those live shows just might sound better to these ears!

If you can believe it the other side's even shorter (as if these bootleggers are supposed to be held up to some higher moral we all didn't know that they have the same set of values as the major labels!). "The Supermen" demo retains the energy of the legit take despite the acoustic sound proving that when it came to early heavy metal there was no way you could tame it, even unplugged, unless it was Dust doing some pallid ballad on their second album. In contrast "Right On Mother" and "He Was Alright" are just more of the introspective Donovan-ish side of Bowie that was fighting it out with his punk inclinations and, as we all know, neither side really won. I guess that's why I have this perhaps ambivalent attitude towards Bowie which only proves I have mellowed at least in some respects! I mean, twenty years back I really would have loved to have seen him murdered, but that's just my emotions talkin' I guess. Maybe these various gender/musical confusions are just why Bowie always seemed like a putz next to role models Lou and Iggy. I guess he was just hanging around them the same way Frank Sinatra hung around all those mobsters, to accrue a little class I believe.

But class or not, I found a lotta this 'un def. worth the time to discover if only to see how they fit with regards to that BIG VELVET UNDERGROUND PATCHWORK OF ROCK & ROLL INFLUENCES...maybe you can find a zip file somewhere on this internet thingie of ours and burn one for free? If you are that impatient, I did glom some youtube videos of "Waiting" and "Soldier" that will give you sweet taste.
Kevin Ayers-ODD DITTIES cassette (Harvest, England)

Why would I buy a 1976-vintage cassette tape of an album that I've had on vinyl since 1985 anyway? Pure remembrance of product packaging past, mostly because when I was a youngster I used to have this strange obsession with the way cassette tapes differed from country to country! It was nothing but a childish curiosity on my part like, just what did cassette outer sleeves for certain labels look like in other nations anyway? Por ejemplo Capitol in the USA's cassettes looked different than EMI's did in England, and the German and Australian ones were unique in themselves as well! Ditto for Mercury across the world, though I believe that Island's cassette packaging did not vary world-wide all with all of that pink all over the place! What a crazy mixed up world we live in, and for some reason at a time when I should have been paying attention to my studies and even the rather plain-looking girls of Eastern/Southern European and Irish extraction surrounding me I WAS MORE INTERESTED IN KNOWING WHAT CASSETTE PACKAGING WAS LIKE IN OTHER NATIONS!!! And now that I know I kinda feel like Starchie in that MAD spoof bangin' his head on the brick wall in his cell 'bout how Biddy was jumping all over him but he was going nuts for Salonica who didn't give two lumps! AAARRRRGGGGH!!!!!!

But lo and behold, don't this cassette just play so sweetly next to my bedside chair late at night. This is one of two Kevin Ayers' "Harvest Heritage" releases (the other, a twofa of his first two solo albums, might get the BLOG TO COMM treatment when I dig 'em outta the Jurassic stratum) and it's one of those b-side/unreleased take collections that Harvest rushed out at a time when Ayers, back on the label after a brief Island sojurn, was perhaps at the peak of his commercial prowess. Some, especially (or should that be naturally) the earlier material, has plenty of that English experimental bright flash that made those early Eno records so appealing. The later gunch is comparatively toned down and although there are more than a few dudsters to be found (like the times Ayers gets into his South Seas and Mexican ethno-grooves) when he gets good he gets...entertaining like on his Velvets paen "Stranger in Blue Suede Shoes" or the classically-inclined "Jolie Madame." Even when the former Soft Machine bassist sings a French-language version of SHOOTING AT THE MOON's "May I?" ("Puis Je?") you ain't gonna cringe like your better nature always seeme to tell you to!

This one must be a winner because about a decade-and-a-half back I casually mentioned to someone who shall remain nameless that I had the vinyl version and was suddenly bombarded with offers to buy the thing and at a price that I might have agreed to had I been destitute! So it's gotta be the unabashed classic that it is...right???
Dizzy and the Romilars-"Elizabeth's Lover"/"Star Time" single (Jimboco)

Typical v. late seventies En Why New Wave (not quite "Gnu" at this time) which I guess you me and the bedpost are supposed to hate with a passion, but considering the other stuff in the mainstream/"Pantsios" world that was floating around this might as well be Red Transistor! Nothing offensive even if my own recollections of what underground rock during the '79/'80 cusp was supposed to be were a lot more HARROWING. Let's just consider this the tiny first step before that second step had many of us tumbling into a bigger abyss than we could ever climb out of.
Gary Wilson-LIVE AT CBGB'S two 7-inch (one a 33 rpm EP, the other a 45 rpm single) set (MCP)

Certified jazz schmooze nutzo's rare live set which I believe dates back to '77 despite the 1980 and 1994 copyrights to be found in various places on this package. Mystifying as usual, with more of Wilson's Michael Franks-ish seventies fluff sorta marinated in absinthe and displayed for one of those late-seventies New York audiences who'd eat anything up, as long as it had that long-gone fringe element firmly embedded in its set list. And if you liked YOU THINK YOU REALLY KNOW ME's display of seventies electronic deca-smarm these platters do compliment. Might be available on one of Wilson's recent rehash Cee-Dees but if not you might be able to scarf up an original if you search hard enough.
WHAT BETTER WAY TO TOP OFF YET ANOTHER INFO-PACKED POST than to present the following youtube video, featuring a recording made by none other than guitar great Lou Rone with the late Joey Alexander of Koala fame (check out your old UGLY THINGs for more info on those guys!) doing a track that I gotta say I kinda sorta really like as it doesn't offend me at all even if various "pop" moves are supposed to do just that to my "rockist" sensibilitie. Nice enough as in I wish more up-and-coming En Why See rock of the early-eighties came off like this even if this was done in '90. Pretty nice slow burner if I do say so myself:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


(BLOGMEISTER'S NOTE: well, I told you that I would be too pooped to pop out a midweek post! Here's boy wonder Brad Kohler to take up the slack more or less...most likely less! [ha ha, me must make funny little insulting joke funny me!!!....yeesh!])


I remember the 1983 issue of FLIPSIDE that carried an obit for Ivers. (By the way, regarding the endless debate in the FLIPSIDE letters column concerning who was and wasn't punk, I plunked down five bones for this remaindered book on the off chance there might be some obscure nugget about the early L.A. punk scene. I'm 48. Some of the mohawked specimens crying "punker than thou" back then probably spent the same fiver on Starbucks coffee while on their way to their C.P.A. gig. So who is the real punk now buddy boy? [Yeah, I know, and who has a real life...])

My impression of Ivers at the time was that he was a flamboyant queer who made the world safe for OINGO BOINGO. Brother, was I wrong. HI background extended back to the late 60's Boston music scene, where he was an ace harp player. (He learned harmonica with Muddy Waters and Little Walter, playing with both.) He was also quite the lady's man despite having the physical stature (and apparently the charisma) of Charles Manson. Besides being a whirlwind of active also involved in theater, he was a brainiac who attended Harvard. Pressured to take over his stepfather's business, Ivers instead chose the route of semi-destituute performer for the rest of his short life, always planning to strike it rich and send a "screw you" check to stepdad for the full amount of his pricey education. He hung around a colorful assemblage of people including Van Dyke Parks, Stockard Channing and Harold Ramis among many others. He wrote the music to "the girl in the radiator song" in ERASERHEAD, flounced around in a tutu on NEW WAVE THEATER, asked innumerable people the question "What is the meaning of life?" and got bludgeoned to death in a loft in a seedy section of L.A.

I have not heard any of Ivers' music but his 1969 Epic LP, KNIGHT OF THE BLUE COMMUNION, described as a fusion of jazz. blues, classical, rock. folk. medieval and middle-eastern modes (what, no Tin Pan Alley?) sounds interesting. Critics received it well, and DENIM DELINQUENT fanzine gave thumbs up to one of his later records. (Though from the lyrics, his later stuff seems a bit on the self-indulgently whimsical side, without the panache of a Jay Gatsby.)

Despite having zero commercial success, Ivers talked himself into another contract with a major. After opening for the N.Y. Dolls (where he appeared in a diaper wielding a phallus-shaped squirt gun that shot a milky substance) Warner Brothers decided to let his band open for a now-famous Fleetwood Mac (!) whee he pulled the same stunt (sans squirt gun). You can imagine how the jean vest and coke spoon crowd reacted. During the ruckus, his girlfriend yelled at those around her in the crowd to shut up and listen because he was a genius!

Transplanted to L.A. it was only natural that Ivers would fall in with the only creative thing happening, the burgeoning punk scene, He wasn't all that hep on the music, but identified with the rebellion. The campy getups on NEW WAVE THEATER were a deliberatge provocation to the by-then entrenched hardcore dunderhead element of the audience. His frequent sparring with the band FEAR make for amusing reading, even if te band's queer bashing/baiting was as authentic as a referee on STUDIO WRESTING. (editor's note-I'm not so sure about that one Brad...after all, some of those referees gave some pretty accurate calls!) Except for Lee Ving, who seemed to have genuine antipathy for Ivers and comes off like a sociopath that his own band didn't quite know what to make of.

Ivers' partner in NEW WAVE THEATER (which I remember not at all, despite it being syndicated on the early cable show NIGHT FLIGHT which I saw on more than one occasion) was a walking time bomb named David Jove (among other aliases). A compulsive mess of a human, Jove loved himself, drugs and guns, usually in that order. A one-time dope supplier to the Stones, he also bragged he came up with the phrase "instant karma" which Lennon nicked for a song title. Enthused by the emerging video industry, he had big plans for himself and for Ivers which included taking NEW WAVE THEATER to a whole new level. Except Ivers wanted out. And when he did...

Or maybe Jove didn't. The crime scene was horribly bungled (by L.A. cops? Who woulda figured?) and Jove, on his deathbed, gave no confession. If only to rub it in the faces of those who always considered him the prime suspect.

One could do worse than perusing this instant-remainder book that no doubt is the only work where the index contains Chevy Chase and Johanna Went!
NEW YORK ROCKER by Gary Valentine

Another title tossed on top of the discounted heap of 2009 puppies 'n kittens calendars, I'll save you five bucks and tell you all you need to know about this 'un.

Guitarist Valentine wa kicked out of Blondie twice, Twenty years separated the dismissals, which he muses is probably a record.

Early band photos show him wearing a skinny tie, while the rest of the band (except for D. Harry) and not far removed lookwise from Debbie's sixties footnote band The Wind in the Willows. For helping to bring the skinny tie back into fashion from the Mod Era, Valentine is quite proud. See why I'm saving you five bucks? (editor's note-Gee Brad, I like skinny ties...very 1962 y'know!)

The Valentine-penned "X Offender" was written as "Sex Offender" though produced Richard Gottehrer changed it. What innocent times we lived in.

Iggy Pop (who Valentine backed in the early 80's) was obsessed with the scene of Divine eating a turd in PINK FLAMINGOS and would watch it over and over and over on the tour bus.

When Valentine told Alan Vega what brands of cigarettes he smoked Vega told him that that was the quickest way to cancer, and to find ONE brand and stick with it!

Valentine was a Crowley-ite until the expected orgies didn't materialze and he lost a girlfriend by embarrassing her when he was proscribed to chant and bow at various times of the day no matter where he happened to be. No, really.

Did I mention Iggy?

Oh, and Debbie blew David Johansen in a phone booth at Max's.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Boy how situations can change in a week! I mean, just a good seven days ago I had to struggle to crank out even the measilest of posts, and here I am presenting what perhaps is one of my biggest, longest runoffs-at-the-keyboards to ever grace these here, er, pages. No early-winter doldrums for me!...and if I must toot my own horn 'n letcha know why I'm suddenly feeling as fit as a Dutchman in a kiddie porn bookstore all I will say is that I credit my new found energy to a revived interest in a buncha old disques and reading material that just happened to pop up while looking for other items, not to mention a heaping bowlfulla one of those sweet crackly oat cereals for breakfast which really get me moving and in more ways than one! Plus the recent upping of the thermometer sure makes me feel glad that spring is just around the corner, or at least it will be after about a dozen more heavy snowfalls and ice storms making mobility even harder than it was during that last blizzard which had me snowbound! But most of all, for once in my life I am in a good enough mood which may change at the drop of a hat, so dig my reality (even if, after re-reading this post I've come to the conclusion that it's probably one of the biggest piles of shit that I've had the misfortune to dump on you)!

I do get the feeling that I'll be doing a lot of "scrubbing" w/regards to the various spelling, grammar and opinion errors that will inevitably show up at least on my radarscope as the weeks progress but hey, it keeps me out of trouble and it's all for a good cause. But whaddeva, I hope that you'll find some magnitude of information, entertainment and perhaps downright philosophical appeals to the intellect here, and if you wanna borrow my microscope in an attempt to find any I'll be more than glad to lend it to ya.

Here's something I only very recently unearthed via the web after years of curiosity and engine searches, none other than the NATIONAL LAMPOON MAD magazine spoof from 1971! Discovering this semi-legendary piece after hearing about it for eons on end sure did help sate a lotta the "mystique" regarding the thing like, how can a satire mag make fun of another satire mag! Well, I was a pretty naive kid to ponder such an obvious question like that, but after years of knowing that the article existed with little if any hope that I'd actually get to read it I gotta say that I found this 'un to be a pretty har-de-har-har and cutting piece of work. Thankfully it didn't sink too deeply into the realm of bad taste like many of those LAMPOON pieces could, and yeah I gotta say that this takeoff just about skewered everything about the rag I didn't like, or at least didn't like years later when I was old enough to discover that all these guys were handing us readers was a lotta gross out demi-shock and recycled formula disguised as satire which you can get for free watching SNL every week.

The Don Martin ribbing wasn't too keen (which is strange since I thought he'd be the easiest one on the staff to mimic and hold up to tasteless ridicule!) but the SPY VS. SPY one did bring a smile to my face (the spies join forces to kill Che Guevara!) as did "The Lighter Side of Dave Berg" which would figure since just the other night I dug out one of his old paperbacks and thought its contents devoid of anything other than that typical middle-class lily-livered humanist mush the kind that Berg had been shoveling out at us for ages. Anyway, let me go on record saying that this takeoff was a guffaw and cutting enough rip into "the usual gang of idiots" (or what was left of them at the time this one made it out alive) and although I have the sinking feeling that you won't feel the same way too (somehow or other!) I gave up reading you losers' minds long ago so why should I fret. Not-so-strangely enough, many of the same cliches and pratfalls that NATIONAL LAMPOON would fall into are strikingly similar to the ones they accused MAD of lingering in, once again proving that things like this usually go 'round full circle as many of my enemies eventually found out, or at least will soon enough.

Before we get into the "fun" portion of this post let's get down home serious for once. And please, you better be sitting down when I tell you this piece of shocking news which I'm surprised has passed us by for so long, but none other than Connie Hines, better know to you as Carol from the MR. ED television program, died last month at the not-so-ripe old age of 79 (and considering how people are living and operating well into their 100s these days 79 is a kinda young age to pass away!). For someone whose career seemed to be MR. ED and nothing but, Hines sure made a big enough impression on a lotta "coming-of-age" boys who were starting to think about femmes as something more than Judy Hennsler-styled irritants not only back then, but in the years since. Heck, I even remember a cousin of mine coming over to the abode, stoked on the then-current airings of MR. ED reruns on the ever-decaying TV Land cable network, wanting to use my search engines to locate sexy photos of the show's venerable co-star (as if she would ever think of posing unclad with the title character, but boys will be boys!). And as far as I recall, our very own Bill Shute confided in me that he had an actual little boy crush on Hines during the show's original run along with one for none other than Betsy Palmer, which only goes to show you the good taste that my readers have for members of the fairer (at least they were then!) s-x!

Although not much of Hines can be seen outside of ED other'n perhaps an M-SQUAD, she did show up on a FRACTURED FLICKERS interview segment which surprisingly enough poked just enough lighthearted fun at MR. ED to be snide but not cutting. (FLICKERS later on razzed the series with MR. FRED, a talking rhino using footage from some silent-era big game in Africa film!) Hines was just perfect in this segment with its surprise ending (she mistakenly presents host Hans Conried with an award for an FBI-themed television program believing that he was actually J. Edgar Hoover!) proving that she could handle "hip" comedy along with that of the usual sitcom variety kind, something which I'm sure would befuddle big city newspaper critics and the dolts who read their swill alike!

Gee, I thought that the Obit Man himself Lindsay Hutton woulda posted something about it. (I had to find out in some strange retiree monthly paper myself!) He (or I) probably missed the thing during the excitement of the Christmas Season but really I thought this would be like late-breaking news flash material the kind they pre-empt television programming for! What a loss!!!

And now, for those of you readers who stuck it out this are thee reviews!
The 39 Clocks-PAIN IT DARK CD (Bureau, EU)


Do you remember the great punk rock crack-up of the early-eighties? I sure do since I was living right in the middle of it an lemme tell you it was not a pleasant experience! OK, for the sake of argument (not that any of you would want to do that with me) the 1975-1982 generation of punk/garage/underground rock, the one that was marketed under the very vague rubric (copyright 1985 Robert Christgau) of "new wave", had perhaps not-so-suddenly come asunder...not that it was some sort of one big happy and united new wave we're talking about, but somewhere around this time many of the early fans and followers of the form began to disgust at what this music had become (talking the various reactions to the underground scene of the day that were to be found in the 1979 issues of KICKS) and with the permanent closing of Max's Kansas City followed by the death of Lester Bangs (12/81 and 4/82 respectively) it was clear that the energy and downright magic that was beginning to show up on vinyl as well as the stages of various rock haunts in the middle portion of the previous decade had mutated into something quite contrary to what the sound and vision had originally stood for. As if this stuff "stood for" anything in the first place but that's besides the point but arguments aside, the original icons and upstarts who seemed like such out-there visions in '75 were either broken up or making duff records, while many of the more original movements that had been operating under that big new wave tent were fracturing off into various sub-stratum like hardcore, garage revival, post-no wave (which was sorta like the original stuff w/o the strident rock & roll energy) and who knows what else...British new wave of heavy metal perhaps??? It was a rather duff time especially for me considering how a lotta the groups that I had been listening to were either in hiding (MX-80 Sound) or putting out albums that really didn't stand the test of time even if you removed the needle from the vinyl a good second ago. I sure could have used more of that hot, Velvet Underground-y sound and energy that got me interested in this stuff in the first place as well as the hot new groups that were coming out in their wake, but even those new groups like say, the Babylon Dance Band, couldn't hold a candle to most of the most under-the-covers outta nowhere group of the seventies to claim eternal allegiance to the drone.

For people like me who were greatly put off by this current state of affairs there were the hardcore and garage band revival groups to look forward to. Hardcore would quickly burn itself out to a frazzle to the point where by the middle portion of the eighties it seemed like nothing but another soapbox for the tired radicals of the sixties to cling to. In contrast the garage revivalists, for all their hard work and neat coiffures, couldn't hold a candle to the likes of the Seeds or Sonics no matter how hard they tried. It was kinda like watching HAPPY DAYS and seeing seventies actors playing at being in the fifties, or THAT 70'S SHOW seeing nineties people play acting at the seventies. Nice but not totally convincing. That left discovering old fifties and sixties chestnuts which made fanzines like THE NEXT BIG THING and the aforementioned KICKS all the more important at least for a fellow like me whose knowledge of the early rock development remains rather infantile. And when a group that seemed exciting and worthy of my attention did pick up on my antenna like f'rexample, the Raunch Hands or A-Bones, you can bet that I would be making a bee-line to the post office with a money order firmly placed inside my trembling envelope!

The 39 Clocks do figure into this review somewhereorother...considering that they too were a product of the early-eighties music scene and sorta made themselves known to me during that duff year of 1983 (perhaps the worst year for existence not counting 1987, 1997 and a good portion of 2002-04), they certainly were at least one musical aspect of the day that caught me totally by surprise. And besides, their avowed love for the 1967 mad Velvet Underground rush is what really suckered me into giving a whit in the first place. True the fact that they were a duo and used a drum machine had me thinking Echo and the Bunnymen, but a certain kraut (who shall remain nameless) told me otherwise and in fact sent me their SUBNARCOTIC 39 CLOCKS album to prove it! I played it once, then twice, then threw it on the sell pile because I felt it was just more of that music that fell into that hotcha smart set new Velvets category that such groups as the Dream Syndicate and a number of the up-and-coming Paisley Undergrounders were filling up many a fanzine page with. No matter how hard I squinted my ears I never could immerse myself in any of those even newer new wave sounds because the times they were a 'changin', and they were changing into something that really made me miss the grubby, gritty and downright disgusting beauty of what the seventies stood for at their best!

Over the years I have been thinking about my actions, perhaps coming to the conclusion one minute that I had behaved rashly in dismissing this duo then remembering just how unimpressed I was with the whole shebang and how my trade off of this for some rare free jazz college radio discard was all for the better. But hey, maybe it is time for me to give the 39 Clocks yet another try given how attitudes and tastes "grow" with maturity. And now that I'm a wizened old man perhaps I can finally see the 39 Clocks for what they are in their spacious Velvet Underground glory? C'mon, do any of you people think I've "matured" in all these years? I'm still as addled, as jaded and as downright cocky as I was back then, and don't let Brad Kohler tell you any different!

Well, I gotta say that here in the teens a good thirty years after the original thrust of it all I find the 39 Clocks to be...good. Nothing spectacular as far as these post-VU hard-edged under-the-covers groups go. Kinda sparse considering how the duo of J.G. 39 and C.H. 39 handle their guitars and organ leading to a quite thinner sound that I would have hoped for. Maybe if they were from En Why See and had a sleeker name and more of a swinging attitude they could have released something along the lines of the early Comateens back when they were Max's Kansas City regulars, but I guess these krauts woulda been about as out of place in En Why See as the 'teens would have been playing for the remnants of the Baader-Meinhoff gang eh?

Yes the sound is thin (even with the addition of various guest musicians), but the Clocks can tick out (cute huh?) some halfway-decent melodies that sound like perhaps a more Teutonic Metal Boys while roaming around in the same early-eighties miasma. Of course I would be too obvious mentioning early Suicide, and oops I just did! I blame the general fluffiness on the production, as well as the fact that these guys were somehow trying to fit into that "neu deutsche welle" or whatever it was called and purposefully were attempting a somewhat original sound, but even with the general lightness of the proceedings I gotta admit that the Clocks' attempts at re-doing old VU songs with slight chord changes rivals some of the better attempts that many an overtly Velvets-inspired group has tried for years on end. Not only that, but they cover "Twist & Shout" which somehow in this starkly primitive form seems to encapsulate just about everything that was strange and perhaps ennui-filled (at least for me!) about those rather dank days of musicality.

I think I'll hold onto this one, only because I have the feeling I'm going to need to listen to it thirty years from now. I can't wait!
David Bowie-BOWIE AT THE BEEB 2-CD set (Virgin)

Me and God are watching Davey grow. First he's this mid-sixties English pop foppish fellow going for the big production sound then he's doing the introspective Donovan folkie thing and before you know it the guy's trying to out-Lou Lou with an Iggified hard rock romp. Fortunately Bowie stopped doing BBC sessions before he got into his pale ale James Brown mode, and that was before he became a bona-feed kraut automaton but that was way before he...well, exactly what has he been doing since then?

I really didn't care for Bowie's legit early material that was issued on THE WORLD OF DAVID BOWIE and I find ZIGGY STARDUST more or less watered-down Lou-cum-Bolan, but I will go on record saying that I agree with Nick Kent when he ranked THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD with FUNHOUSE as the two best albums to come out of the year 1970 (and can you name any longplayers other'n perhaps BACK IN THE USA or EASY ACTION that would also qualify????). But it's all here on this classic collection of BBC live and studio tracks which only goes to prove that what the bootleggers could do with ease in 1975 the legitimate labels would eventually release a good twenty years after the furor had died. Two extended platters taking you from '67 to '72 with all of the fast curves, surprise changes and forgotten moments these tracks will rip out of your long-jaded memory hole.

You may not have guessed it given my general live-and-let-live sense of values, but around here the subject of Tiny Tim and his general air of flitziness for wont of a better term really used to strike it sour-like with many of the older generation people I used to hang around with. I don't know whether it was Mr. Tim's shoulder-length hair, his falsetto, his outlandish garb, his ukelele, his shopping bag or his general demeanor that really rankled the oldsters at the time, but I suspect it was a combination of all of the above that did it. Somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind I would have believed that the generation-in-charge would have loved Tiny because he was singing the songs that they grew up with in the twenties and thirties, but that didn't cut any ice considering what a freak these very people saw him as. Anyway, I remember my mother being especially irritated by the entire campy 30s/40s nostalgia craze thinking that these gals wearing old timey nightgowns and granny glasses along with Cass Elliot singing "Words of Love" were nothing more than MOCKING her growing up years, and come to think of it maybe they were.

And even though the "underground" and the radical types tried claiming Tiny as one of the flower power freaks he certainly was his own kinda guy for whatever good or bad that might have entailed. Remember that time in the early-seventies when Tim was on I believe THE MERV GRIFFIN SHOW or perhaps it was THE TONIGHT SHOW, but anyway this was all happening during the height of student unrest and although things were still nice, quiet and peaceful in this area out there it was getting to be a madhouse with riots and shootings at Kent State and what seemed like a full-scale tactical assault on everything and everyone. In the middle of all this Tim appeared on late-night television wearing a hardhat complete with a US flag sticker emblazoned upon it, and although it might have been a surprise to see the usually flamboyantly-dressed Tim decked out like a hardhat giving a listen to him sing some old patriotic number from the World War One days to general boos and catcalls from the audience was another thing entirely! It sure was a switch from the time Tim was singing Irving Berlin's anti-war classic "Stay Down Here Where You Belong" supposedly to butter up the antiwar crowd, and amidst all of the negative response Tim was of course admonishing the studio audience for their lack of patriotism in his usual overzealous, apopleptic fashion prompting guest Dick Shawn to utter something along the lines of "Uh Tim, can you get a little more emotional?" If you would like me to relate what happened after that I'm afraid I can't tell you because that's where the story ends, at least for me! I do remember my father having extremely mixed emotions about it, hating Tim for his long hair freaky fag looks on one hand yet seemingly admiring him for standing up to the trendy political opportunists I would guess. Talk about confusion...kinda reminded me of the time my dog Sam was barking bloody murder at me while I was in the kitchen, and as a fun experiment of sorts I decided to get some food off the counter and started eating doing my "oooh, yummy yum" act as Sam's mind began conflicting between rage and food-thrills not knowing where to settle emotion-wise resulting in this weird bark/anxiety gasp on his part!

(A strange aside---both Tim and Shawn would die in strikingly similar ways...while performing! Well, not exactly since Tim had his heart attack on stage yet was rushed to the hospital where he passed away while Shawn actually expired in the middle of a performance with members of the audience thinking that he was reviving his old schtick where he'd keel over on purpose only to come back to life for the next set! Another strange aside is that both Shawn and Tim had graced the stage, at one time or another, at that famed New York City beer garden Max's Kansas City: Shawn in '74 and Tim for a night in June of '76 where his opening act was none other than former Stiletto Rosie Ross.)

Of course Tim, being the operator that he was, would try to do anything to stay in the spotlight and managed to stay visible by clinging onto whatever grasp or current affair he could find even if it was AIDS (re. his Christmas ditty "Santa Claus Has Got the AIDS This Year"!). I remember a mid-seventies appearance on THE MIKE DOUGLAS SHOW where Tim came out without his trademark ukelele doing a Beatles medley as a nonplussed backing group played from their charts. Definitely a new change in direction for the guy. I also remember Tim consciously slurring the word "breast" during "Lady Madonna", and later on while Dr. Alex Comfort was plugging his book THE JOYS OF S-X Tim asking him that if...and get this, he couldn't bear to even say the word "s-x"!, how come there were so many divorces in this day and age if the gettin' was supposed to be so good! It was all done in this very sheepish and puritan way only Tim could come up with, and perhaps I empathized with him perhaps because I was so mixed up about these things myself! Famed midgie Paul Williams was cracking up over Tim's inability to utter that three-letter word, but from what I've heard (especially about the time record producer Jack Nitzche, high on cocaine, walked in on then-wife Carrie Snodgrass and Williams in bed and tried to satisfy her with a handy revolver with Williams attempting to calm the guy down ever-so-patiently) I'm sure the famed songwriter knows a lot about the subject to give Tim a few good lessons!

But back to the grownup's impression of Mr. Tim. Their feelings against him sure continued to run deep for years on end, like that time I was working my way through some stacks of albums at the Hartville Ohio flea market during the summer of 1982 (the same pile netted me the first SRC album) and some septugenarian guy who looked as if he was of Eastern European factory worker stock pulled the GOD BLESS TINY TIM album outta the pile and for some reason asked me if I wanted to buy it with this smirking joking look on his face like haw haw! Yeah, I gotta say that Tiny Tim was one of the major bugs-uppa-ass for the old Silent Majority crowd, or at least until the arrival of Mister Rogers. Now that guy really got the old folks into a tizzy with his general namby pambiness I'll tell ya!

'n what does all this have to do with the CONCERT IN FAIRYLAND album? Not much other than to give you an idea of what kinda of an atmosphere it was growing up with Tiny Tim, as well as with those who hated him, all around you to the point where even to this day I feel kinda creepy purchasing this album or at least being caught with it. And I know that if I had gotten hold of this album back when it was released during the throes of Timania then my father really would have thrust his girly-boy into the manly world of athletics and outdoor living...y'know, all of those things that made Jack Kemp the homo he was but just try telling that to someone who equates manly stuff with a heterosexuality that dares not speak its name! Though really, I kinda enjoyed these 1962 sides even with the horrid audience overdubbing and typical crank-out cheap studio quality in my own peculiar, fun loving way. Some of these numbers (such as on that old standby "On the Good Ship Lollipop") feature Tim's trademark falsetto and ukelele while others have him backed by an actual cheezoid orchestra rehashing thirties Tin Pan Alley tuneage (sometimes with Tim doing his famous baritone/falsetto Nelson Eddy/Jeanette MacDonald duets) with an appropriate enough smarm to match Tim's seediness (if that's the right word). It's kinda like you too are at the old 82 Club in the fifties and Tim and band are entertaining during some TV stage production to a typically smashed crowd. It does let on to a certain atmosphere that Tim was working in during his pre-fame days, sorta like that scene in Jack Smith's NORMAL LOVE where he walks about playing his uke and seems startled at the sight of a topless and very-preggo Diane DiPrima dancing. Well, I'd sure be startled if I saw her like that too!

Before I split with the Timtalk today let me clue you in to a boffo photo of the guy along with longtime rockonteur Brian Sands that I found on the latter's myspace page some time back. It was taken one afternoon when Brian got out of school early so he could meet Mr. Tim who was then appearing at a Cleveland radio station for an interview. Pretty soon Brian would be getting out of school permanently, smart fellow that he was, in order to start up a career in rock that should have gone somewhere but somehow didn't despite the best efforts of ineffectual fanboys like myself. Reportedly the two exchanged rare 78 rpm records which I'm sure the Estate still has in its archives somewhere, and I'm sure a good time was had by all!
The One Hit Wonders-"Hey Hey Jump Now"/"Goodbye" (CBS Germany)

Boy that Robin Wills really knows how to make a living! All he does is go to record fairs in both the UK and Holland, buys up all the rare glam/freak singles he can get his hands on dirt cheap, then he auctions 'em off on ebay after praising these groups to the hilt calling 'em "proto-punk" and all other sorts of superlatives guaranteed to get starving rockist maniacs like me bidding up a storm! Well, it's a living I guess, and if I could sucker enough people into bidding on the loads of Polka and one-off religious albums that continually pop up at flea markets around here then maybe I could make a killing too!

But at least these records Wills promotes and auctions off have a lotta taste as does this one from the strangely enough non-hit group going by the name of the One Hit Wonders. These limeys brightened up an already-bright GLITTERBEST collection with the b-side, a track that sounded like 1965 mid-Amerigan garage band basement crank out sorta updated into 1973 English pop glam credentials. I should say that it does remain a winner as does the plug side which is as garage-bandy as the "b" and rocks on kinda like if the Bay City Rollers were not only as punk rock as PUNK magazine made 'em out to be but recorded their own version of "Hey Little Girl" for the tartan whordes! A double-sided wowzer that I know everyone reading this over the age of fifty wishes they coulda heard back when it first came out least this stuff was a valid alternative to the AM charts not only of the seventies, but the eighties and nineties as well!
Well, after all this garbage maybe I won't see you sometime midweek but tune in anyway!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Velvet Underground-IN 1966 THERE WAS... 2-LP set (Velvet Records, Italia)

Was this a wise purchase or was I suckered in (again) by my perhaps infantile rockism-influenced emotions? After all, there's no new material here...most all of it is taken from the Andy Warhol Museum tapes with a few even longer-circulating items appearing on side four padding the thing out to a somewhat decent length so whether or not this is worth the import prices is certainly up to you. The orange-colored vinyl's a nice surprise as is the professionally-printed glossy cover, all of which reminds me of the late-seventies explosion in quality bootlegs conceived to fool the feds, and the everyday record buyer as well. The labels even use a pic from that photo sesh where Nico dressed up like Batman and Andy as Robin! Along with the general care that only a bootlegger can put into these thing I believe I made a smart enough choice, but as usual you're going to be the judge/jury/executioner! Fun, huh?

Like I said there's nothing extraordinary about this set, though the vinyl pressing brings out sound nuances that you just can't hear on disque. At times you think you're listening to an entirely different mix, or perhaps there were some general studio enhancements craftily slipped in (though I doubt it). The mutterings between the band members do sound clearer even if I can't make out exactly what is being said, and although the vocals may remain buried under the heavy thud of John Cale's bass guitar you can actually make out what Reed is singing, or better yet what he's trying to teach Nico to sing. It now sounds so personal you feel like a soup can on the wall taking it all in first hand.

But man it's sure beautiful listening to these early rehearsals and live performances no matter how often you spin 'em, and hearing the alternative versions of such old standbys as "Sheltered Life" and "Here She Comes Now" (which I have the tendency to believe have not been widely circulating as they sound different from previous bootleg and legit takes) sure dredge up those toasty old memories of finding about the Velvets and their unique approach to music in the pages of whatever Lester Bangs-helmed CREEM you first got hold of, usually back during those impressionable early/mid-teenage years. This music always induced me to throes of unbridled ubermensch ecstasy and really, I'm not ashamed to tell you these things now am I?

For an addled treat in general celebration of the Velvets I decided to slip the below video into today's mix-'em-up. 'tis the once-rare Warhol classic A SYMPHONY OF SOUND which I remember wanting to experience so badly whilst first discovering its existence via a filmography I chanced upon in a book some time circa. '79. At the time I thought it would make such a wonderful bootleg to the point where I was actually pondering (and out loud at that!) just why someone didn't rent the dad-blamed thing along with some other VU-backed Warhol cinema and put out a multi-album set tbat we ALL could use! Of course a good twenty years later my dreams were eventually fulfilled at least as far as this material being made relatively available, better late'n never though I would have preferred some vinyl product in the then and there when I really would have been influenced by it mush-brained fan awash in New York Rock that I was (and remain, to an extent!). Oh well, I still can recall 1981 clearly, especially that October night when I first spun the now-legendary 1966 bootleg thinking that the $12 or so I spent on it (then an exceedingly high price to pay for a single album of a legit or even bootleg variety) was not in vain. Break out the popcorn and enjoy this slice of early-Velvets that I must say I appreciate a load more that Richie Unterberger did!

Saturday, January 09, 2010


Smegma are (at least as far as anyone who follows my particular/peculiar brand of rock & roll aesthetics go) perhaps one of a hand-full of remaining musical aggregations that continue to ooze needless yet involuntary hyperbole out of me and my keypad. Sheesh, I remember first chancing upon the name via an LAFMS advert. in CLE #3-A thinking that their moniker was supposed to be some strange play on the Frog progsters Magma (of course I knew what the stuff was for a long time even though I am a victim of that ancient Jewish operation which I didn't ask for)...little did I realize that these Smegs were pretty much a boss hard-edged "experimental" (in the least pretentious mode possible) rock & roll group who could switch from free noise to free jazz to garage band rock at a moment's notice! This mere feat certainly made them a punk gryphon as Michael Koenig of TAKE IT! fame might have said. To boot, Smegma were also making sounds freakier than Zappa even at his most "look-how-dada-I-can-be!" pretentious (never mind that the guy had gone total fusion by the time Smegma was being birthed in the barren Los Angeles underground of 1973), but then again I doubt that Zappa would have had the gumption to make pure grate sound carnage the likes that Smegma had been excelling in nor could he ever dream to whip out a cover of "Rumble" as good as Smegma's (theirs being almost but not exactly "quite" on a Flamin' Groovies level). And while I'm at it, how many acts can you think of that were easily enough able to withstand the memberships of everyone from future Dream Syndicate drummer Dennis Duck to Wild Man Fisher to R. Meltzer himself ifyoucanbelieveit...

True there are a few Smegma moments (and entire albums) that kinda woosh past me...f'rinstance the joint effort with Japan's Merzbow doesn't quite ignite me the same way that album with Wild Man Fisher on the Birdman label did. However, for every dud this bunch might've farted out in the name of free-minded experimentalism there must be hundreds of ICBM-influenced direct targets hitting you all in the most fertile parts of your minds so it's like I'm not COMING DOWN on 'em in any wayshapeform.

Personally, I couldn't think of any higher accolades to print other than this bit from Meltzer himself written sometime 'round when he joined up with this particular act (and he was proud enough to have his publishers mention his membership on the sleeve-jacket to one of his late-nineties reads so don't go sayin' he's only in it for the gash!):

Now in their 26th year of existence, Smegma are a so-called "noise band," if not exactly by their own designation. Not that they would deny it, mind you--noise as a station of sonic oompah certainly doesn't rankle their metamusical ass. It's simply that other things figure more prominently on their collective agenda: group improvization with a heap of Unfinished Sixties Business factored in (the real-time-from-scratch multilayered equivalent of "I Am the Walrus," let's say)...Free Music in its grandest, and least superficial, sense (a la the denser moments of Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz)...a ritual fusing of any and all musics and non-musics at the level of the hum, the blap, the tink, the boom. By design as well as chance, every performance is an utterly NEW sonic event, one capable (some nights, anyway) of changing the way an audience will actually hear. (Y'know, forever.)
I mean, could you think of any higher praise for this seemingly infinite group of punk noisemakers and I mean punk in the truest 1969-1975 BACK DOOR MAN/Nick Kent/Charles Shaar Murray fashion which has fallen into disuse and abuse for quite some time! Not only that, but could you find any other paragraph on the entire web which I have used as the basis of my own writings on Smegma yet I dare not call it plagiarism?????

MORASS LIVE is a reissue of a live gig (+ more) that originally made it out back in the late-eighties during the height of the "cassette culture" that the people @ OP used to tell us was in full bloom at the time. Well, I for one am sure glad that it has been vinylized here in the teens rather'n later on in the twenties because this is a hot slice of live Smeg cassette quality and all, having the raw live urgency of a fantastic bootleg or at least an early seventies legit live album trying to ape the manic intensity of a live bootleg album. As usual the great ball of influences and music is tossed together and spurted forth in an even more random format than my sock drawer with hard musique concrete here and free jazz imitation there, not forgetting a few treks into great hot rock & roll proper which always seems to satisfy at least my preconceptions of what this music really is all about. My fave track on the whole kaboodle just happens to be "Happy Baby Rhumba" which utilizes sounds of happy post-natals cooing in abstract relation to the already dada music being played...kinda neat to hear that there are some pro-baby forces out there in the here and now!

When you're all done w/MORASS you might want to give this newie a try. SPLIT is not the Groundhogs album we all know and love but an actual split album, one side being Smegma doing three separate tracks (one from '75 sandwiched between two recent endeavors) and the other featuring Kommissar Hjuler and Mama Baer, some kraut noisemongers in their own right who really know how to destroy a tape recorder when they get their hands on one. The Smegma side is typical of their tape-loop/found sound/electronics numbers sounding like the lost side of TWO VIRGINS that made John and Yoko wanna put their clothes back on or better yet (while I still speak in Beatle-mode) the further explorations of "Tomorrow Never Knows" had the Fab Four decided to take that concept to its furthest reaches. (Okay, once again I might just be tinkering with the original source a little too much [re. the above Meltzer quote] especially if one if bent on substituting "TNK" for "Walrus", but I believe these sentiments to my soul and besides maybe it's minds thinking alike dontchathink???) If I had to state any negative feelings I might've had about Smegma's side it would be THE LACK OF MELTZER ON LEAD VOCALS but maybe he'll pop up on the next one.

Surprisingly enough I find the flipster from Hjuler and Mama Baer to be just as enticing with Hjuler playing his guitar while Baer (who I guess is the guy's real-life wife) does the singing, and it's all distorted way beyond belief and'll drive you even battier with Hjuler doing the same riff over and over while Baer moans and whines to it all. The quality is akin to that time I was fiddling around the family's old 1950's stereo set and was flipping around with the dials until I got this crazed sound made by turning the volume all the way up and motioning the tonearm to make all sorts of weird screeches at times even touching the needle for additional scronk! That didn't wreck the thing...what actually did was a clarinet blast of Dave E's made while I was playing an Electric Eels tape (number being played was "Pleasure Boating", and I believe it was an Eclectic Eels track which ended up amongst other cuts from both the original and attempted regrouping), and that was a good five years later!

Interesting paste-on color cover concept (just like an old bootleg!) and ltd. to 177 copies (yours will be numbered with a bit of plastic tape label!). Volcanic Tongue still has 'em for sale in case you somehow got moved by this article and want to dish out the dinero for a copy of your very own, but if I were you I'd like..hurry up because they're bound to sell faster than rat traps in Sheboygan!