Saturday, March 27, 2010


Yeah, not really that much to report on right now. I guess the recent snap of cold weather has put my ambitions, whatever they may be, on hold making me wonder if spring will ever arrive or if this will be another one of those perennial badweather years that just seem to go on from late winter into mid-autumn. And you know that when I start getting gooshy mooshy like that I better get my head back in order pronto!

Fortunately I do have some hotcha news to spread that you just won't find on cable tee-vee (or any other newz outlet for that matter...first off, I know that some of you will be glad to hear that none other than Von Lmo is back in circulation after spending a few years of taking up residence at Riker's Island. He's now living in Harlem where he's getting a new band together, and naturally we at BLOG TO COMM extend hearty congratulations to Mr. Lmo and good luck with your current endeavors!

Another item that may be of interest to all of you manic high energy rockism fans out there is that there is going to me a two-Cee-Dee collection of old Josef Vondruska material heading our way within the next few months! Yes, this is the same Vondruska guy who was co-founder of Umela Hmota and later went on to form and lead Umela Hmota 3, and reports have this double set consisting of nothing but UH 3 numbers as well as tracks from his late-seventies group Dom, a band that reminded me of Bryan Ferry leading the Cramps! Umela Hmota 3 were nothing to sneeze at either, putting out a good proto/avant-punk rave in Communist Czechoslovakia at a time when such things weren't quite conductive to the government in charge who were more interested in pushing disco on the masses! In case you're still nonplussed, Umela Hmota 3 have been describled as having a Detroit rock inspiration and I can only hope that this set will include "I'd Rather Be Made Out Of Stone" which was a show-stopper reportedly in the tradition of the Stooges and MC5!

In case you're interested, let me tell you that I've had the honor (thanks to the permission of Mr. Vondruska himself) of having released tracks by both of Vondruska's groups on the Cee-Dee that came with the twenty -second issue of BLACK TO COMM, and although that particular mag is pretty much gone for good I do have a few disques left that I'm willing to part with. If you'd like a little "preview" of what's in store on this epochal release just drop me a line via the comment box below (I will refrain from printing your missive if you so desire!) and I'll wing one your way for a good five smackers plus postage of course which I will have to figure out in advance just so's you or I don't get stuck with a humongous-sized bill! And the proceeds do go to a good cause, mainly my stomach!

Bill Altice got mad at me (not really!) because I forgot to mention this particular upcoming release in last Saturday's NECROSCOPIX pre-release hoopla. So in order to make amends let me also clue you in to this particular piece of Virginian Underground Crank that should be hitting your boom box before the shouting is through. The group's name is (now get this...) KARENCOOPERCOMPLEX, and this early-eighties underground aggregate is pretty much what had become of the Richmond-area proto-punk group Big Napter (again, see last Saturday's post) by the time music like this was being accepted as the hot new direction for young and precocious youth to head in, altruistic sots they may be.

But this sure ain't no gnu wave bandwagon jump the kind you used to see plenty of back then...naw, like Big Napter and of course Titfield Thunderbolt (whose Key Ring Torch provided "electronics" for Karencoopercomplex) these ozobs were into a total avant freak noise approach to the "new sounds" that were taking Ameriga by storm. Lead singer Karen Smith (haw!, you thought it was Cooper, right?) does nothing but choke out these truly epoglottal talkscronky type syllables that sometimes come out like actual words (more Joan LaBarbara than Yoko Ono) while the rest of the group keep up in a total choppy atonal fashion. Rather smart approach to the early-eighties underground if you ask me, and a type of punk-addled approach that I'm sure a few fanzines would have taken note of if this had only gotten around back then. Definitely a southern-kinda sound that reminded me of Pylon, and believe-you-me I hadn't given thought to those Athenites in nigh on twenny-five years!

Unfortunately Karencoopercomplex broke up (Karen got married) before they actually played any public gigs, but at least they've left this pretty good document in their wake that might enlighten a few of you readers (which you can actually download if you so desire!). But then again given the Quindenesque nature of most of you dolts it's be better that you just stay in your bedrooms (notice how I left the descriptor "fart encrusted" out as to not irk Brad Kohler?) and rub yourselves off to your favorite SST album. At least you're not annoying anyone, or hurting anything other than your wrist.

Bobby Beausoleil/Arthur Doyle split picture disc LP (Qbico, Italy)

For a guy who's been in stir for the past forty years this Beausoleil guy is sure keeping busy trying to maintain some sort of relevancy with whatever there is of a psychedelic stoner element interest in late-sixties rock. Or at least the kind of rock that he was involved in. These efforts being just two of 'em, the first one being a double set of old Orkustra recordings and the second a pic disc (featuring his artwork) where the Orkustra take up one side and give the other to Arthur Doyle who as you know is one of the leading survivors in the seventies post-Ayler bop sweepstakes which is certainly an honor in itself.

OK, you're probably wondering why I'm giving this convicted murderer as much space as I have already. Well, I'm more concerned with the historical nature of these recordings that were laid down back when San Francisco had yet to become a dirty word long before hackdom ensued. The Orkustra were but one of the hundreds of groups making their presence known in that burgh back then, and although I'm sure a good portion of them aren't worth the effort to (re)discover and were probably hell-bent for the nearest needle park, at least the Orkustra were a unique diversion from some of the more hippified offal that could be found in the Land o' Wenner. Besides, I gotta say that, for some inexplicable reason, I do have a soft spot for a guy who laid to waste a fellow with the surname HINMAN.

But all kidding aside (after all, if we can't kid the people we loathe who can we kid?) this attempt at "serious" chamber rock doesn't fall into the gulcheral abyss. In fact, the Orkustra remind me of perhaps a slightly more swinging Third Ear Band with a trap drum set and a more West Coast approach to their Eastern Spells. Add a few touches of some classic '66 SF jazz moves via Big Brother and whatcha got here's a pretty good "period piece" that doesn't tend to bog you down like the rural Marin County drek that eventually came outta these musings a good two years later.

The double set on Mexican Summer is an eye opener. Not only does this come in a classy gatefold sleeve containing a nicely-rendered painting of the group but there's also an enclosure featuring the Orkustra story in Beausoleil's own prison-stationary handwriting amidst some pretty nice snaps and posters from back in the good old days. Just the kinda whipped-cream and cherry topping one could wish for these days. Kinda reminds me of when I was ten and I'd rip the shrink wrap off of albums just so's I could peek inside those gatefolds on the hunt for all sorta curiosity-seeking record thrills!

A nice variety too, which (I believe) has nada overlaps with the previous Orkustra album and an equally clear sound quality, considering that the tapes these came from are almost 45 years old and you do get to hear a few crinkly crunchies here and there. The results are mostly nice and downright spooky, like something you would expect to have heard on the 1966 SF cusp between the hippie love and flowers cult and the Anton LeVey occult trip. At times it might get a little too much into the former's hippydippy altruistic jive, but there seems to be just the right amount of energy (mixed with a few swipes from the current jazz scene) that keeps this from being just another backdrop to downing Boone's Farm Apple Wine.

The Qbico pic disc is yet another wonder, though the Orkustra side here just seems to be an edited take from the aforementioned album (the track entitled "Flash Gordon") lasting but a good twelve or so minutes I would guess. Good enough, but the main reason you'd really want to get this platter is for the flipster where free jazzer Doyle's working out with one of this current aggregates on a hot live session that kinda delivers full force on a lot of the promise that free jazz had been giving us these past fifty years. Doyle heaves on his sax-o-net like the spirit of Ayler and spawn of Roscoe Mitchell were upon him like hellhounds and it doesn't matter that Ornette's 80 because this music is way fresher than anything that pretends to be an art or soundtrack for the edgy way of life. It's also sure refreshing to hear Doyle once again return to that familiar "Nature Boy" theme which he obviously has taken as his own trademark if you can believe anything that I write!

Attention should be paid to the disc art which, like I said, was done by Beausoliel himself since I guess there's nothing much else to do when you're stick in prison for life. Pretty nice job you did Bobby, though for some perhaps not-so-strange reason I don't think that looks like Doyle at all. Could be wrong, but it's still a very nice effort on Beausoleil's part. Nice touch his portraying Doyle expurgating his horn of all those evil demons...I mean, if anyone should know about those things it would be Beausoleil himself!
Rashied Ali/Frank Lowe-DUO EXCHANGE CD (Survival/Knit Classics)

While waiting to open up the recent batch of UGexplode offerings that have been sent me I just happened to chance upon this old moldy in my collection that just doesn't get the spin time that should be afforded to it. I've mentioned this disque that was originally released on former Coltrane drummer Ali's label back in '75 a few months back but haven't had the time to play this mad session as much as I should have given its all-important scronk quotient. Lowe plays like the complete madman he was (think BLACK BEINGS, FRESH and THE FLAM) before he began to take his reviews too seriously while Ali proves why he was one of Coltrane's all-time fave drummers with his free-form between the beat stylings. And when ya put 'em all together they spell TOTAL HIGH ENERGY FREE-SPLAT ERUPTION that really does lay the groundwork for the entire mid/late-seventies underground loft jazz scene that never did seem to get the press and popularity that the Bee Gees did, but then again we're talking musical triumphalism here, not Antipodean coke snorters.
Rocket From The Tombs-"I Sell Soul"/"Romeo & Juliet" 45 rpm (Hearthan/Smog Veil)

The first bit of all-new material from the reformed Rocket From The Tombs which is great, but with an unrecorded backlog like "Redline" and "Gasoline" maybe they should dish some of that stuff out first. Actually the a-side sounds just as much of a swipe of the Spades' "We Sell Soul" as I thought it would be with a mere reverse of the riff, while "Romeo & Juliet" is a downbeat offering that oddly enough reminds me of "My Dark Ages" perhaps mixed with the "Just Like Romeo & Juliet" that I was thinking Rocket copped for this side.

It's hokay actually, dare-I-say punk rock-y in that great mid-seventies fanzine sense and a repeated spinner, but I fear that the heavy crunch of the original "dumb metal" group is gone for good. Rilly, what I could go for right now is a Rocket From The Tombs Rocket From the Tombs - I Sell Soul / Romeo & Juliet. that was the same kinda group they were back during the '74-'75 season with that high energy pounce and total abandon, y'know when they were singing old Stooges songs and David Thomas was still Crocus Behemoth and had that tangled hair and beard that looked like he groomed 'em with an egg-beater. None of this "maturing" stuff (y'know..."now that I'm thirty I see things differently than I did when I was fifteen"!---sheesh, I still look at things the same was that I did when I was three!) that only seemed like a bad reason for the Who and Iggy to make alla those duff albums. Yeah, I know you "can't go home again", but maybe you can move next door or something, y'know?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Muruga Booker/James Gurley-IT'S BIG HUGE LP (Qbico, Italy)

Former Big Brother and the Holding Company guitarist James Gurley's death last December came as one of those hunh? kinda surprises, and it is a shame that more of you farts who claim an "allegiance" to rock & roll as the backdrop for your sordid lives didn't pay proper homage to the man's memory like you shoulda. Well, it's not too late, because the Italy-based Qbico label has managed to release what just might be this guitar great's final session recorded a measly month before he died on which he shares billing with some guy called Muruga Booker. In case you're wondering who he is, this Booker fellow not only played drums with Detroit's Spike Drivers at one time but David Peel and George Clinton so it ain't like somebody spotted him panhandling outside of the local K-Mart y'know! It's a pretty wild set too that will surprise people who are familiar with Gurley's stylings but probably didn't think that the old pooperoo still had it in him this late in his life.

I remember reading an interview with Big Brother from around 1984 where the interviewer mentioned how drastic they would have sounded if they had a synthesizer in their band. (Supposedly during their pre-Janis Joplin days they were running their gear through a synthesizer, which I think would have been an extremely drastic statement to have made in 1966 San Francisco even!) Well, if you were wondering exactly what Gurley would sound like in consort with one of those electronic monstrosities here's your chance, for a synthetic pulse seems to permeate this album amidst the great '67 drone rock and general psychotic heights that this music could sometimes reach when it wasn't dealing too much with the world of incense.

Gurley's guitar work shows that he never did lose it (so maybe those post-Janis Big Brother albums just might be worth picking up?) and with a calculated use of electronics and other exotica such as harp this album makes for a listening experience that reaches far beyond the usual cliches (fun as they are) into some pretty frightening terrain. Not-so-strangely enough some of this reminds me of what the Orkustra with Bobby Beausoliel were cooking up at the time (more on their latest exhumations in a future BLOG TO COMM) while the outright riff drone does have a slight similarity to various late-sixties rock experimentation that typified West Coastisms at least until the visions of the Old West sorta overtook more than a few local bands. Even the closing track with Muruga's wife fronting the group on a more structured rocker doesn't deter especially with the synth set to sound like a cheap portable organ!

Given how Gurley has been pretty much absent from the recording studio since his days with Big Brother (with a few where-are-they? releases here/there) this might be your only chance to hear him in a context where he's a featured player showing just what promise he might have showered upon us. Unfortunately for you (but not for me!) there were only 99 copies of this one pressed up (which is probably why Qbico didn't put too much money into any quality cover art!) and if you don't hurry up fast you might be outta luck. Volcanic Tongue had 'em last time I looked...howzbout pestering them to see if they can wing one your way lest you wait for whenever Qbico decides to release this as a Cee-Dee for a lot less smackers!

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Yeah it has been a bad 'un with the demise of Alex Chilton, one of the few survivors of the boss sixties who fortunately enough didn't wuss out once they morphed into the snide seventies. As for Charles Gillett well, eh, I dunno, since I do rememeber him dismissing the Velvet Underground in the pages of BOMP way back in their early days and just forgive me if I never even laid hands upon a copy of SOUND OF THE CITY. But Chilton...well, he did prove that there were second acts in American rock, although they weren't always as strong or as potent as they were in the first. You've read all of the accolades elsewhere from mental giants and midgies and since I don't have any personal memories of the man and in fact didn't even care for some of his efforts (including that one late-eighties album where he did a whole load of lounge schmoozers like "Volare") maybe I better keep my trap shut at least for now. But don't let it be said that I didn't put my two centavos in w/regards to the passing of this musical might. His work with the Box Tops, Big Star and solo speak for themselves (anyone out there got the unexpurgated version of LIKE FLIES ON SHERBET which I must say is rarer than kosher pickle sundaes?) and even if some of his latter work is not up to snuff well, it's like he did enough for us music-wise so why should I quibble?

Before I get onto the meager meat and potatoes portion of this blog (translation: DON'T EXPECT MUCH!) I thought that I'd better letcha know that any of you readers who were enthralled by my coverage of the Titfield Thunderbolt and wanted to hear more will most certainly be in luck, for a double-disc set entitled NECROSCOPIX featuring the Thunderbolt and more is in the works and might just be unleashed upon an eagerly-awaiting public (hopefully) within the next few months. Really, I never thought that any of those obscure tracks that lurched forth from the Richmond Virgina underground in the very-early seventies would ever get the reissue treatment but it looks as if they're going to get just that, and from what I can tell you the people who are putting this out (mostly former TT member Bill Altice and some smart backers) did a fine job slapping these two disques together, complete with an insert booklet with loads of obscure information on groups I don't think anybody outside of the area (or inside it!) knew existed. Some of it, like the TT material, is primitive garage rock cum Smegma-like experimentation while others, like the Big Naptar tracks, are early proto-punk musings which settle really swell with my own personal aesthetics. And yet other moments range from Albert Ayler-influenced "fake" jazz as well as home experimentation the kind you used to read about in OP. In all a fine effort that I hope brings the Thunderbolt and their brethren to a new audience that I guess got fed up on the stuff these groups ultimately led to a good two/three decades down the line. I'll let you know when this thing actually hits the real-life market.

Following are just a few bits 'n feces that I threw together to make it look like I actually care about doing this particular post. Nothing spectacular, but then again I'm spending my time immersing myself in old recordings that have been languishing for quite some time which I don't necessarily think warrant posts of their own but who knows, if I get that hard up maybe they will. The Norton Link Wray sets (as well as various Epic/Sundazed reissues) are getting plenty of spins here (my personal favorite being SOME KINDA NUT, volume three of the MISSING LINKS series which I remember pestering Tim Warren to put out as early as 1985!) as is the 39-minute "Sweet Sister Ray" live at La Cave 4/30/68, perhaps the Velvet Underground's most avant-garde statement extant which I believe to my soul must have been the precursor to a variety of drum-less Cleveland underground aggregates that came out in its wake ranging from (sometimes) the Electric Eels to Harlan and the Whips. Everything else right now can take a back burner except for Can, as you will find out in just a short while.


Who ever woulda thought that Collectables would issue a Bloodless Pharaohs Cee-Dee anyway! But they have, with most if not all of that old Distortions album included as well as their set from the 1979 Max's Kansas City Easter Festival! Not only that but you get a single side which I believe was recorded long after Setzer skedaddled the band for rockabilly glam fame. A decent presentation of just what New York underground rock could aspire to during the closing days of the seventies, with a sleek enough electric sound that reminds me of early Roxy Music most of the time and, along with such acts as the Comateens and Ronnie and the Jitters kinda straddles the boundaries between mid-seventies intense underground energies (Pere Ubu, Kongress, MX-80 Sound...) and early-eighties gnu wave fashion-kitsch. But don't blame 'em yet, or at least until Setzer put on the eye makeup and sashayed his way to fame and fortune.
Can-OGAM OGAT LP (bootleg of European origin)

Given the dearth of exciting archival digs (forget anything new of worth ever to be materialized) it's sure great hearing these discards and rejects which have remained buried for years. This Can album is no exception, an outtake from the TAGO MAGO sessions featuring Damo and the boys ranting and droning away reaching new heights and hitting a few bummers in the process. Nothing that I think would have been worthy of a legitimate release during those days, but forty years down the line it sure has more potency and meaning to you (the discerning BLOG TO COMM reader) than all of the amerindie stuff that was attempting to imitate Can and failing miserably in the process.
BOOGIE #3 (fanzine, volume 1 number 3, Winter 1973)

Slowly but surely these old issues of the South's only rock fanzine (during the early seventies---dunno about later on) keep reaching my abode, and while this one has a higher-quality cover than the first issue it still has a way to go on the evolutionary scale to reach the heights of the fifth, a pretty a-OK budget production in itself. Still...why the one-sided pages and faint Eddie Flowers drawing on the front, and why put the masthead there as well when it fully belongs on the title page?

Picky ain't I? But whaddeva, this issue of BOOGIE is another early-seventies two-fister that I will have fun (re)reading for a good lifetime or what's left of it, if only because it contains all of that fanzine spunk and energy that really was in short supply once the eighties rolled in and everybody got worried about being bombed to shreds. This ish starts off with a hotcha "best of '72" section which of course is fun to peruse especially when you consider what a load of hooey had been coming out during those days and how the good stuff was usually buried under tons of Carole King albums for anyone to notice. There's also a great piece on the then-current rock et roll fanzines not forgetting some book and record reviews. I must bring up Bialas' review of Richard Meltzer's GULCHER, a book that had earned many positive reviews throughout the years but none quite like this one which, in the interest of spreading critical thought and padding this post out, I've decided to reprint at least in part:
Meltzer's book deals more with rocknroll as a way of life as it does rocknroll as a form of communication. The articles in GULCHER are evidently the core of what America has become, a seamy and slimy perversion of what most people are not able to observe. In other words, GULCHER is the literary equivalent of the Stones' EXILE. Meltzer concerns himself with the subjects that represent American depravation: booze, Hollywood, dope, sports, sexual deviation. Yet Meltzer, unlike the pop sociologist who would see the connotations of those subjects pointing to the shadow of doom, treats his subjects with a whimsical lightness. The lucidity of humor in his writing in GULCHER brings Meltzer to the forefront in his fields of rock journalism.
And maybe truer words have never been said, even if I thought Meltzer was holding up a death mirror to Ameriga in the throes of early-seventies decay...

The record review section pretty much fills this ish out with writeups of current releases of varying stripes. Mostly of a not-so-interesting stripe mind ya, but at least we are treated to interesting opines regarding the Raspberries and, poignantly enough, Big Star's #1 RECORD. And as was the norm, the mag closes out with a nice bit on current bootlegs even listing sources where you could find 'em (this being just before the BIG CRACK DOWN much to the dismay of rabid rock fans such as yourself). Kinda interesting to see bootlegs going for $3.50 back then (they were $4.99 by the time I started buying the things) especially since these items, when they pop up on ebay, usually go for about ten times that amount and in VG+ condition as well! And yeah, I forgot the Eddie Flowers singles review section and a roundup of current cutouts!

Sparse when compared to an UGLY THINGS true, but if you had to choose between this and ZOO WORLD would you choose to lose or choose to go?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Not having had my fill of crank out cinematic cheapness lately, THE CORPSE GRINDERS (an ancient X-mas gift from Brad Kohler, the Judith Crist of BLOG TO COMM) sure comes in handy. A legendary film in its own right (if I can believe the press agents), THE CORPSE GRINDERS has just about everything there is to like that I enjoy in movies from by-the-lines teleprompter acting, realistic on-the-spot locales that look like the shopping plaza just down the street, and best of all FUN, FAKE GRISTLE!!! I can't imagine a good zilch-budged moom pitcher existing without that, and thankfully director Ted Mikels put plenty of that in this film that I believe says a whole load more about what '71 meant to you than BLESS THE BEASTS AND CHILDREN ever will!

A great no-name cast stars (and I mean star in the classic Kuchar Brothers sense!) in this tale about a coupla flybynighters who operate a cat food company manned by a skinny alkie and one-legged deaf mute woman with LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE hair that uses human corpses for the main ingredient in their canned kitty gourmet meals! Yep, these two shysters got this crazy gravedigger and his doll-carrying hag wife to rustle the deceased up, then they put 'em on a conveyor belt which chops and purees 'em into moosh which all comes out looking like potty meat product. Then it's sold as a high-priced fancy-feast cat food and that's not all...since the kitties have now developed a taste for human flesh they're attacking their masters and tearin' 'em to shreds!

Like I said, the acting is fantasticly low-keyed and thus a whole lot more realistic than the Meryl Streep emote that we've been inundated with for centuries. At times you might think you're watching an old SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE skit (Sean Kenney, who plays the male lead, does resemble the young Dan Ackroyd) or better yet those early-seventies educational children's programs that PBS used to run during the school hours for classroom usage sporting titles like INSIDE OUT, RIPPLES and of course the ever-popular KNOWING ABOUT GROWING. But that's the charm of this flick, which captures the mind-numbed capacities of seventies gulcher better than anything that ever did come outta Sopor Nation with its somnambulistic nature (and nurture). The bad guys, especially the one who looks ethnic, are pretty nasty themselves even if the older of the two looks like he just escaped from an episode of IRONSIDE. As for the smaller roles like the aforementioned bulemic drunk and legless mute not forgetting some old hippie who finds his lady pal mauled by her precious feline, I kinda assume from the high quality of their performances that these geezers were just picked off the street and asked to act in a movie! Well, it worked for Dwain Esper!

A really fun frolicking film that I know you better enjoy or (like Madonna and Frida Kahlo) you just can't be my friend, THE CORPSE GRINDERS is an entertaining film for the whole family to enjoy. Don't let that "R" rating (or the fact that this was banned in Norway!) scare you off...there's nothing offensive or grossout about this flick that would warrant such a rating and personally, I wonder how it ended up with a "R" since I for all practical purposes would have given it a "G". It's that family friendly and you don't have to worry about such things as Junior seeing a pair of bare "you-know-whats" and any "down there" hair and the "violence" for wont of a better term is all in good fun. I'll bet the same jamokes who rated this one are the same kinda people who would subject their daughters to such "coming of age" drivel like "Why Does My Peep Smell The Way It Does?" or some other sexual propaganda. Hey, if I were you I'd force my kids, at gunpoint even, to watch this movie! It may be the only way we can SAVE the up 'n coming generation, y'know?

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Of course I know it's spelled "library", but y'see, I'm trying to convey a youthful exuberance similar to that of a six-year-old being exposed to a whole buncha new and exciting reads that are usually associated with his first trip to the biblioteca of his choice. Naturally the kid's supposed to be reading the stuff in the kiddie section, but sooner or later you know that the little grunt's gonna trek on over to the big people books to take a gander at some anatomy, art collection or volume just filled with topless island lovelies! Now that's what I call the joys of learning! You know what I'm talking about, something very similar to that feeling you had when you first entered one of those outta-the-way record shops and saw bins fulla imports and bootlegs or who knows, maybe even the first time you entered one of those "private booths" with a fist fulla quarters and just started plunkin' away! And when you're young these feelings sure have a lot more potency than they do when you're my age and have been around the world a few times ifyaknowaddamean... I know you get the drift. Anyhoo, here are just a few reads that have graced my eyeballs as of this past week that I know you'll be able to osmose some pertinent and perhaps life-force reaffirming information outta which only goes to show you just how vapid your life is, not mine!

SWIFT PREMIUM COMICS (Bantam Books, 1971)

...'n boy I ain't lyin' t'ya when I say that this 'un sure brings back some hefty comic book collecting memories. I remember back inna early seventies when I first chanced upon this in the comic book section of the Valley View department store in Brookfield Ohio, then a popular stopover for the family whether it be during the afterschool hours or perhaps a Friday evening or Saturday afternoon of shopping fun and games. I was always buying my comics there which were proudly on display right beneath the rock mags which is where I first saw an issue of CREEM 'round the same time (twas the ish with Spiderman on the cover making me think that the estimable Motor City publication was in fact devoted to comic books and related esoterica!), and one day, amidst the various ARCHIEs and Marvels that occupied my buying time, I saw this strange paperback snuggled between a few moldy old issues of MONSTERS ON THE PROWL. Sure seemed strange, and surprisingly enough that book remained in the comic section for quite some time even to the point where you could see some smartass kids had been manhandling it by jabbing the alienoid character on the left between the legs (where I remembered a spigot 'stead of the "male" end of an electrical plug!) with some sharp object. I always figured some hippie must have sneaked this book into the store and left it there as a prank, and oddly enough one time when my mother just happened to be nearby I pointed this thing out to her in a "how'd this get here???" sorta fashion and surprisingly enough she offered to BUY it for me! I still don't know what possessed her to want to do that, but I have the sneaking suspicion that she didn't see the rows of teats on the obviously female monster in the middle.

Anyway, now that almost four decades have gone by I figure that it's now safe to latch onto this one, a book oddly enough consisting of underground cartoonists making their early trek into the mainstream and at a time when I don't think that anyone but the most rabid comix fan would have been ready for this stuff. And yeah, it's a pseudo-representative enough book with its highs and many lows I'll admit, and one that like COMIX BOOK and ARCADE later on hadda make "concessions" to get this major distribution (meaning no pornography or extreme gore/blasphemy). Unlike those two, SWIFT PREMIUM COMICS couldn't make up for whatever was lost even with the snat writing to counterbalance whatever it was that had teenagers worldwide tuning into these books in the first place.

Kim Deitch's contribution, "The Sad Case of the Fructified Flower Kid" features the old Sunshine Girl character who seemed to fizz out along with Deitch's other old-timey creations once the flower sixties morphed into the decadent seventies. I wonder if Left End's "Sunshine Girl"'s about her but anyway although this is one of Deitch's less effervescent efforts I can still marvel at the good artwork and I guess engaging-enough plot twists here, using whatever plot there may be in this whacked out story about the blobbed-out mute who winds up going the CANDIDE route after her mentor od's on heroin.

I never really cared for Art Spiegelman that much (he only showed a few moments of flash during his ARCADE days and ever since he was propelled to the forefront of chic Amerigan artistic value via MAUS he's only become more of the cosmo uber-liberal I've always suspected him to be. Sheesh, he deserves to have had to (and perhaps continue to) endure his father's and children's anti-negro rants, the latter which he responded to with an old Lenny Bruce line regarding Lena Horne and Kate Smith fercryinoutloud! His "Thumbwhere Over The Rainbow" does little to further the comix cause especially with the art that looks more like it should be on a hip greeting card. Next.

...which is Trina Robbins, Kim Deitch's eventual ex and a cartoonist in her own right. I could say pretty much what I've said about her that I said about Spiegelman, only I must admit not having read very much of her work to make a valid judgment. But I won't let that stop me, and her "June Mooney Head Agent" just seems like more underground radical hijinx only drawn with a feminine touch and with a hint of OUR LOVE STORY romance on the moon girly stuff. The thought about an aged Nixon about to re-take Ameriga from the hippies in the not-to-distant past (1998) does bring a chuckle to this weary figure, although considering what was going on back then perhaps it would have been a welcome concept.

Finally on the boards is Allan Shenker's "Doom in the City", a halfway-there detective noir thingie which does try, and maybe one of these days I'll be able to tell you if it succeeded or not! Featuring "Miracle Milton", this story takes you through Spain-like urban decay and manages to portray Blacks, Hispanics, Jews and Italians in a less-than-favorable light which I know will bring ire to the more precious amongst us but least Shenker knew enough to insult the right people...mainly the limousine liberal clientele who tuned into the underground/radical culture because it was the hip thing to do!

I guess it would take awhile before the underground became firmly implanted into the legit swing of things. At least before the seventies clocked out you were seeing the undergrounders all over the place in NATIONAL LAMPOON and PLAYBOY and by the '90s even Deitch was working for NICKELODEON, but back in '71 well, a book like this might have been an adventurous, and maybe even profitable venture. Who knew that a chance appearance of this in the comic book section of a now-defunct department store would reverberate this far down the line?
COMIC CRUSADER #7 (fanzine edited by Marty Greim, 1969 I think...)

As you know, when I can't get my fix on old rock music fanzines I have to search elsewhere, and most often comic book fanzines fill the bill just as well as their musical brethren do. Here's one I think came out in late '69 if only because this 'un covers a July comics convention from that very year but whatever the release date be it's a pretty good encapsulation of just where comic book fandom stood at the time. In a field of many, COMIC CRUSADER stuck out like a sore hemorrhoid along with such titles as GUTS and SENSE OF WONDER, and although it wasn't quite of the upper-echelon of the field as, say, ALTER EGO it sure served its purpose a lot more than many of the crudzines that were infiltrating the field at the time, nothing personal against those cheapie crank-outs mind you since I used to PUBLISH one myself!

Nice cover by future Jack Kirby "successor" at Marvel Rich Buckler which, in typical comic fanzine fashion had NOTHING to do with the contents inside (I was hoping that the conflict presented beneath the drawing of the Vision would have been worked into some halfway-decent story dealing with the racial situation of the day, but worse cover come-ons have happened.) The innards do the mag well though, with not only the report on "Con-69" in En Why See but a bit on then-hotshot Neil Adams as well as the last half of a Ditko MR. A. saga. Most of this issue is taken up by the convention though with some interesting bits and pieces here/there (like didja know that Trina Robbins of the above review fame actually dictated to Frank Frazetta via telephone how to design Vampirilla's costume?), and if you're a serious enough follower of the late-silver/early-bronze comic book days like I was then this will bring back more than a few hard-edged memories. Nice artwork too, some of it by editor Greim, but others like the pic of the new and hipper Green Arrow are by Adams himself! Steranko also did a thing or two as well...real fanzine oneupmanship goin' on here!

As for the MR. A. story well, actually it's the same one that was eventually reprinted in this first issue of the character's own title a few years later, only for some strange reason editor Greim felt it prudent to HACK THE STORY IN HALF with the first part of the saga turning up in the previous issue. At least Greim got Ditko fan and fanzine artist in his own right Bob Fujitake to give us a rundown on what went on earlier, but sheesh I find it a breach of artistic integrity for CC to truncate this story which was intended to be a one-parter. No wonder Ditko felt that he had troubles dealing with the comic fanzine medium with editorial judgments like this!

In all, a nice slice of late-sixties comic fandom. A lot of this stuff I can not get excited over like I might have if these mags had hit my abode when I was twelve, but I still like their home made look and the fact that there were no big editorial decisions being made that would inhibit the writers in any way. Kinda like a rock music fanzine of the same strata come to think of it, not to mention a good self-produced single before amerindieism turned it all into mush. And you don't have to be Fred Wertham to appreciate the entire DIY factor one bit either!
CREEM Vol. 3 #3, June 1971 (newsstand rag)

Believe it or not but this is the earliest issue of CREEM that I've ever gotten my mitts on! In fact, it's so old that it sports the mag's original pre-toothpaste logo which had me thinking that this was gonna be one of their early tabloid issues from the days when they, PHONOGRAPH RECORD MAGAZINE and FUSION were utilizing the same format that ROLLING STONE did perhaps in an effort to fool stoned teenagers into picking up their wares 'stead of the real hippie artifact! Well, thankfully this one's a standard magazine which is great because, unlike a tabloid I CAN READ THIS ONE ON THE TOILET leading to not only reading but evacuation pleasure as my stool peacefully slides outta my chute and into the serenity of my toilet bowl!

Nice looks fact if I didn't know what CREEM was I woulda sworn this was some long-forgotten early-seventies rock fanzine, only an early-seventies rock fanzine wouldn't have any major label advertising nor would they be spending an inordinate amount of time covering some of the schlubs that do end up in this ish. A certain air of early-seventies teenage "relevancy" also permeates, though thankfully CREEM would be one of the mags to lead the charge away from all of that BILLY JACK hokum and into serious punkitude. And you know it could have been worse...worse like ROLLING STONE making all of those hah-hah titter comments regarding everything from Nixon (if God did not create Nixon, Abbie Hoffman would have had to) to such spurious rumors regarding Buckwheat joining the Black Panthers and George Washington dying after having a tryst with a local prostitute. Or worse like those early-seventies sociology textbooks which helped warp an entire generation of numbskulls into thinking that it was somehow neat to know that the workers cheerfully volunteer to cut the sugar cane during harvest time in Cuba!

And next to Jon Landau suckering seemingly everyone into thinking that James Taylor and his sibs were "The First Family of Rock" in the pages of STONE you know that CREEM was definitely on the right track. Not that they had brushed off any of the early-seventies hippie folkdom in favor of a total punk assault (witness Ed Ward's review of sister Kate and brother Alex's own albums, and positively at that), but they sure were trying. After all, this is the issue that featured Lester Bangs' infamous mock history of Count Five and their phony followup albums which some souls for years on end actually believed existed, with even me having been told that CARBURETOR DUNG might in possibility be an actual release back when this story first got reprinted in the CREEM 15th anniversary special! And who could forget Greg Shaw doing the first of many rock music fanzine histories, and at a time when that particular genre had just been sprouting up and was a few years away from being in full bloom. Beautiful stuff, as one would figure out when this is indeed compared with some of the dross that has cluttered up the rock press passing as new and adventurous during that exact same nanosecond.

Of course I ignored the Greil Marcus "Rock-A-Hula Clarified" piece like I would be wont to do, and as you know Dave Marsh is strictly verboten here at BTC headquarters. But there still is much to read, and not only the bountiful Stooges info to be found in the "Rock & Roll News" segment. Loads of reviews, some which are interesting and other which should be but ain't, and it's always fun to give Lester Bangs an eyeballing even if he's writing about Barbra Streisand. Plus that Grateful Dead article by one Robert Christgau...sheesh I thought MELTZER wrote that one which really stymies me to no end! (It's also nice to read not one but two of Richard Pinkston IV's reviews, he being one of the many overlooked rock writers of the early CREEM days who unfortunately skeedaddled pretty soon into the game, only to end up being mentioned in Bangs' racism in punk piece before vanishing off for good. If you happen to read this Richard...COME BACK!!!)

It's unfortunate that the CREEM-style of rock publishing did not prevail and the post-hippie laid-back ROLLING STONE one is what got the kids of my generation all hopped up much to my disgust. Too bad, because if anything spoke to the true heart of disaffected youth it was CREEM, at least the hot Bangs-period issues, while STONE was never anything but the worst aspects of Amerigan youth reshaped and rechanneled for the BIG BUCKS with little soul or verve to sustain it. As if Amerigan youth ever had soul or verve (at least outside the Velvet Underground/Stooges album buying minority) in the first place but I digress, it sure was neat getting hold of this issue and I wouldn't mind seeing more even though for all my money I'd rather read the entire run of HYPERION before I'd tackle these early issues I'll betcha!
OK, I feel it 's my civic doody to at least slip in one rekkid review which I know you'll be sorry for!:


As I'm sure you may have noticed from last week's New York punk blowout I am a fan and follower of what you might call the early going ons at clubs such as CBGB as well as Max's Kansas City, not forgetting such wannabes as the 82 Club and even that old standby Mothers. So when I discover some long-forgotten recordings by some of the bands that used to play those old haunts back before THE VILLAGE VOICE had sleek collegiates heading toward these dives my antennae usually perk up like Uncle Martin's, being on the hunt for particularly interesting sounds like I tend to be. Some of these obscure early CBGB-era groups did put out interesting albums (I still play Musica Orbis on introverted occasions and find David Patrick Kelly quite pleasant in fact) while others were nothing like what I would have expected. The Movies were a disappointment and while City Lights had the potential their album left much to be desired perhaps due to the production and choice of material rather than the performance itself.

All of that only makes me wonder about this Johnny's Dance Band group, an act from Philadelphia that performed at CBGB in the mid-seventies even playing at the infamous CBGB Summer Festival where Talking Heads, Blondie, Television and a few more first got their national exposure to the delight of many a rocker looking for more than just another progressive rock hook.

I had my doubts. First off, Johnny was supposed to be a former member of Brooce Springsteins' E-Street bunch but got canned when he told the guy where to get off. It's good that he had the balls to mouth off to his "boss" true, but joining up with the guy in the first place shows a certain lack of mental capacity if you ask me. Second, from all reports (mostly Fred Kirby's review) Johnny's Dance Band were supposed to be one of those white r&b groups which I guess we've had a little too many of ever since the Paul Butterfield Band helped break the color barrier. Oh don't get me wrong, many of 'em are very good, but more than a few white blues groups I've heard seem to filter their Muddy Waters through Jerry Garcia if you ask me. Thirdly, these guys were signed to John Denver's Windsong which doesn't really say much about what one could expect with this disc if it somehow passed the test of ending up on that infamous eunuch's custom label.

Naturally all of my bad feelings paid off well, because JOHNNY'S DANCE BAND ain't the kinda punky r&b that I would have expected from a group rubbing shoulders with the Ramones and Television but a slick commercial late-seventies pop slop act that's so squeaky clean and well-scrubbed that any taint of a New York Rock Scene is immediately washed away. Irritating to say the least, like the kinda thing that woulda popped up on some muggy Sunday evening prime-time "entertainment" program in 1977, that dross which weaned me from modern television for thirty-plus years running. The kids from those Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney movies of the thirties pushed forward forty years making sweet dulcet music that's supposed to be an antidote to Elton John and his horrid rock stylings. A bad omen for popular music in general, and these guys even got to make a followup can you believe it????

Well, thank me for being adventurous enough to give this a try so you don't have to. One final note, former BTC fanatic Chris Price told me long ago that his dad worked with Johnny in the construction biz so I guess he eventually gave up music and ended up doing something more "constructive", if you get the drift. Well, I'm sure he was much better donning a hardhat than he was a guitar because, well he just hadda've been better no matter what, y'know?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pink Floyd-MORE (cassette via Harvest Records, Spain)

Believe it or not, but this is one (early and hopefully more adventurous) Pink Floyd album that I've missed out on all these years. For good reason of course. After all, I've been brave enough to listen to OBSCURED BY CLOUDS and figure that if that Floyd film soundtrack elpee could be that boring maybe this one was no diff. But then again, since MORE was recorded when Floyd was still trying to shake the ghost of Syd Barrett from their collective psyches and go whole hog psycho-commercial maybe there was a spec of self-respect and talent still embedded in them. And you know what, I'm right (again).

I never did see this film which starred Mimsy Farmer straight from her success in RIOT ON SUNSET STRIP (making me wonder if there was some sort of connection between the soundtrack to that one and the one to MORE since both originally came out on the Tower label here inna US of Whoa) but Michael Weldon's review in PSYCHOTRONIC sure made it look interesting with its portrayal of teenagers lost in a haze of European heroin usage, free love and mental breakdown. Floyd's soundtrack does convey a certain amount of that feeling in their typical late-sixties hazy one moment and terrifying stabs at emulating "serious" avant garde composers the next.

Actually a whole gob of various Floydian trademarks can be discerned from British blooze wannabeisms to proto-krautrockian moves to even a little imitation Cecil Taylor on "Up the Khyber" that sounds good in its own fake jazz way. Of course that's along with the spooky organ/mellotron-laden musique concrete and even a very decent hard rockin' "Nile Song" that sure makes those similar moves from ten years later sound rather effete in comparison. There's even some authentic-enough sounding Spanish flamingo music (don't write in, I'm using a Leo Gorcey-inspired malapropism in order to liven this dud review up a bit!) with some strange dialogue tossed in! And to put the frosting on the balls, even the tracks I've heard prior on various John Peel sessions are noticeably different enough in their original form even if those Peel seshs always did have a more immediate, urgent sound. Put 'em all together and I just wonder what the movie was like even if I think it's just another of those European experimental knockoffs that nobody who doesn't wear a beret would understand in a million years!

Maybe this one is the last real Floyd album since UMMAGUMMA was more or less the group on an avant jerkoff and ATOM HEART MOTHER seemed to me like the first of the Floyd as post-psychedelic prog schlogger albums. Or at least this might be the last one that the serious fans of late-sixties psychoterror took to heart before those later albums drove 'em all into the arms of the Jem catalog in search of that krauty esoterica which seemed to carry on the psychedelic fearmongering for quite a long time. The spirit of Syd must have lingered on this far if MORE was to have this much life (which is only half-life but enough for me) and energy in its sound especially given how those later Floyd albums were almost like the National Anthem for the 1972 pilled out Sopor Generation.

Before I tune out, I ought to tell you about the packaging that EMI's Espana division did on this thing. For once the brains at that label did good with the cover taking up the entire front rather than just shrunken down and slapped on without care for quality or aesthetics like many companies would have done. Definitely a nice touch even if I originally thought it was the soundtrack album to the Hayley Mills vehicle THE MOON-SPINNERS with that windmill. The actual cassette has a label on it unlike the American variety which used to have printing that would easily rub off like a crayon. Another feather in EMI's sombrero. Even better is that on the part of the case which actually holds the cassette the EMI and "Hispa Vox" (which I assume is a Spanish-only subsidiary) logos are embossed making this a rarity in just about anybody's cassette collection. It just goes to show you that you learn something new every day, and in your case it just might be what an anal-retentive obsessive I can be when I really want to!

Sunday, March 07, 2010


It really is a testament to something (my stubbornness, my obsessive nature, my stupidity) that after all these (thirtysome +) years I still have an undying interest in what one would call the early/mid-seventies underground (punk if you will) bands that were "proliferating" not only in New York City and its various environs but other areas including but not exclusive to Cleveland, Los Angeles, Boston and Prague. There are many reasons that I continue to have the same raw and naked lust for these groups and their music that I had way back in '79 (when that particular scene wasn't really that long gone), one of them being my never-ending search for that eternal Velvet drone that manifested itself in a wide array of musical acts that weren't exactly lighting up the charts then or now but should be honored for creating that beautiful crank long before the likes of J. Neo Marvin came along. Another's my being drawn to the dark energy that was being exuded from such places as Max's Kansas City and even CBGB, not forgetting whatever avant garage in Cleveland Harlan and the Whips might have played. Probably the most evident reason that I started to follow and continue to on some level tracing the history of Underground ne. punk rock is that I figured that the groups who were playing this racket naturally knew more about the inherent energy in rock & roll that was all but being ignored as well as about not selling out to larger, more fashionable forces like their sixties brethren did, so they must exist on some higher plateau, right? Just goes to show how altruistic (and wrong) one starry-eyed rock aficionado could get, eh?

But dig on I must, which is why I continue to pick up on whatever shard of underground rock information that I can even after three decades of hit-and-miss rock archaeology. I know that by this time in my cranial development I should have elevated myself onto some higher cultural plane and have interests more akin to people my age like retirement funds and golf but gee, I just can't help it if I like to peruse old club listings, Fred Kirby reviews and off mentions of nowheresville bands just like I did way back when I was first trying to get some occult meaning out of it all!

I guess that's just one reason I actually dished out some hard-begged dinero for a number of old mid-seventies vintage issues of THE AQUARIAN that had popped up on ebay a short while back. I've pretty much combed through the old VILLAGE VOICEs that were available at the Youngstown library on microfilm (though unfortunately their run begins with the 1/77 issues meaning I can't get hold of any earlier writeups including James Wolcott's Kongress piece) and the Kirby live reviews in VARIETY (which stop in '76 then re-up three years later cutting out a very important era in En Why Rock development), so let's just say that these few issues of THE AQUARIAN really do help out, in their own iffy seventies posthippie lowbrow niceguy VOICE way I guess.

For a rag that seemed to be in the shadow of its bigger brother across the border (comin' outta Montclair New Jersey fercryinoutloud) THE AQUARIAN had a whole lot more on the ol' cliched ball with regards to promoting local talent than the VOICE ever did. Naw, they didn't have any of the same big-name writers that their rival used to be able to boast about (the only name scribe that THE AQUARIAN published was Craig Zeller of TROUSER PRESS fame) but they sure tried a lot harder when it came to covering the up and coming groups appearing on the local underground rock scenes in both New Jersey as well as lower Manhattan. That meant prublishing a remarkable number of articles and dropping names w/regards to the young and perhaps even exciting bands that were playing around, and between Kirby's reviews in VARIETY and THE AQUARIAN's plugging of these groups there is a wealth of information just waiting to be mined and disseminated before it all somehow goes down a huge tube into the trashcan of gulcheral nothingness where many a worthy (and unworthy) act has ultimately found their sometimes unjust rewards.

The earliest of the AQUARIANs I've latched on to's dated September 24th of '75, and whaddaya know this one even sports a PUNK ROCK cover story! A good month after Wolcott did his piece on the CBGB Summer Festival for the VOICE true, but a good enough early indication as to what was going on in the New York Underground right around the time critics and collegiates began flocking to the club in droves. I do declare that the idea of a major article on underground rock certainly gets my flavorbuds roaring into overdrive, especially one with the promise of heretofore unknown (to me) information on both the famous and the obscure but---just who did THE AQUARIAN deem to be worthy of this all-important cover-spot? Was it Blondie, the Heartbreakers, Talking Heads or one of the many hotcha groups that had been getting their names publicized via the underground hubbub? No, the band that THE AQUARIAN must have thought best explained the entire punk rock concept as it should be told to bored 15-year-olds on the lookout for a new hook was...the Movies!

If you happened to have a copy of BLACK TO COMM #24 handy you can eyeball my review of this trio's sole album on Arista (reportedly the label's second signing), an iffy if not downright negative writeup of an album I expected a whole lot more from than what was ultimately begatted. Touted as "a jug band without the jug" by VARIETY's Kirby, his description made 'em sound like some goodtime rock group (upright piano, acoustic guitar and drums) that I hoped would have been a cross between Hackamore Brick, the late-seventies Modern Lovers and the Lovin' Spoonful with their reportedly upbeat show which at one spot had them marching around the audience while singing and banging away on the tables. Unfortunately this album retained very little of the Movies' stage show not only with an upgrade of instruments worthy of a Triumvrat album but material that ranged from good enough AM-pop to slushy ballads that I personally find had little to do with a "New York Sound", whatever that was supposed to mean. And besides, what can you say about a group whose singer looked like Mario from DONKEY KONG anyway???

The explanation for the Movies getting their fifteen minutes via a local alternative rag seem rather evident, at least on the surface. Y'see, the author (and photog) of this piece, a chap by the name of Charles Frick, while aware of all of the groups that were popping out of the punk "phenomenon"*, just happened to do his main pic snapping during a September gig @ CB's that featured the aforementioned Movies along with a group called Antenna opening for none other than Quacky Duck and His Barnyard Friends. You might remember them as a down-homey country rock group that featured two of Tony Bennett's sons who already had a year-old album out on Warner Brothers and by this time were on their last legs. Not exactly what I'm sure most people who had been following this grog were thinking about when the term "punk rock" came up at the time. That's probably one reason why this doesn't quite seem like the kind of in-depth excavation of a new and energetic sound that Wolcott's VOICE piece was in comparison.

(For one thing, I wish that Frick had concentrated more on Antenna, an act who weren't the Otto von Ruggins/Von Lmo side-project that appeared during the no wave era but a trio of Puerto Rican descent featuring vocalist/guitarist Jaime Canabis, his sister Nilda on drums and Guille Torre on bass. There's a nice snap of Jaime singing on-stage looking more like the typical mid-seventies CBGB denizen with his long curly hair than the leader of a hard art-rock group [which is how Antenna were described to me] while Torre surprisingly enough comes off like a punk of the early-eighties Black Flag stratum with his close-cropped cut being a harbinger of things to come. From what I understand, Antenna went into hibernation by the time '76 rolled around, only to re-emerge three years later as the Ants who were a popular enough I guess group on the same scene though unfortunately left nada in the way of any recorded legacy. Hey Antenna, if you happen to be reading this here's one guy who'd buy a compilation of your best tracks!)

But although Frick's article leaves one wanting to know much more, at least it does give us a taste of what CBGB '74-'76 was like before '77 became the year when the underground got punked out in a more Anglican direction. One thing that I had noticed regarding these early days is that the women pictured throughout this article had yet to succumb to the anti-sexy trend that seemed to overtake the entire gender to the point where you know why homosexuality has been on the rise these past few decades. Mid-seventies snazzy-styled dresses are still the norm, and it seems as if many of the rules regarding masculinity and femininity had yet to be taken over by the unisex craze that crept into the fashion scene only a few short years earlier. (Perhaps their stylish looks were a healthy reaction.) I mean, look at this photo of future Contortions manager Anya Phillips who was snapped in front of CBGB cavorting with members of the Fast. Note the typically teenage dress, the mod striped shirt and the leather boots which signify a more healthy approach to young womanhood than the leather skirts and multiple piercings/tattoos that seem to typify slutsville 2010. Also note the happy, healthy smile and Phillips' cute Taiwanese knees exposing just enough to please yet not to tease. Too bad more women aren't as fashion savvy as this...Lisa Robinson and Charlotte Pressler would be proud. It's a big wonder how she got to be such a big-time dominatrix given how little lost and innocent she looks here!

Maybe this is one of those pieces which I'll have to read five times before it really sinks in, but I can't hate the author for not writing about the groups I for one would like to know more about. After all Frick said that he could not do justice to write about each of the forty or so bands he caught over the past few months even if a group guide would have been the best thing for us history buffs. At least some nice surprises were included, like the snaps of some mid-seventies-esque sexoid mizz who appeared onstage during the Movies' set not only to sing "Happy Birthday" to the drummer but to shove a birthday cake in his face. And we better not forget Frick's description of Hilly Kristal as the true Father Figure for the hundreds of lost loonies permeating his club. Frick did a decent enough job even if he spent most of his precious space talking about the irrelevancy of mid-seventies mainstream rock (should we forgive him for using the soon-to-be overworn term "new wave" for perhaps the first time ever?), and I'm positive positive positive in an ABBOT AND COSTELLO sense that this piece enlightened perhaps a few more people as to something that was new and high-energy that was happening within their midst, and at a time when rock & roll certainly needed that additional oomph! Besides, I gotta give credit to the author for showing up at CBGB wearing an Electric Light Orchestra shirt and not getting the living daylights punched outta him!

Thumbing through the rest of the AQUARIANs that I received do elicit the few surprises and "gee I didn't know that"'s that I sure wish I did know about a good quarter-plus century back when I first began doing my seventies underground rock research in earnest. It sure is nice to read the little asides and mentions of some of the lesser knowns on the CBGB scene, sometimes complete with photos so that I now know what DeWaves looked like (they were all beardos just like most of the other groups during the punk before pUnK days at CBGB) as well as get another eyefull of Stuart's Hammer who made their mark on the double-set CBGB album even if most people seem to dismiss their track in a typically out of hand fashion. And if it weren't for that one Max's supplement (with a bunch of Planets photos I sure wish I had when I was doing my article on 'em in #22---just take a look to your left for but one example!) how else would I know that the Best (probably "best" known to me as the band that Cross were billed w/@ CBGB when they got banned) had none other than ex-Koala/Magic Tramp/future Joe Perry Project vocalist Jay Mala in their ranks!

One of the AQUARIANs I got did contain a review of an "up-and-coming" act that I wanted to know more about, nothing really that special only this group seemed like it would be eccentric enough to surpass a lotta pratfalls and dead ends many bands run up against and come out stellar despite themselves. Anyway, when I first discovered there was a group called Gan playing the clubs I thought these New Joiseyites were perhaps ripping off the name of those venerable German rockers Can which seemed like a good sign. A google search led me to a site of a new group called Boomerang which features one of the group's ex-members and mentions Gan being a fusion jazz/rock group that appeared at Max's and CBGB not forgetting other local venues, and that after they broke up said member went disco for awhile and now he's up and front just begging to entertain YOU as well as other hotcha showbiz generalities I haven't heard in quite some time. Not quite all of the information that I was hoping for true, but a nice lead that might dredge up some more tasty information on yet another one of those forgotten underground acts that didn't deserve to remain underground and perhaps will have "their day" sometime or another even if it is years after they ceased to be.

So whaddya know, outta nowhere an article on these guys pops up unexpectedly in the pages of THE AQUARIAN and although it just gives enough information to whet your whistle it sure makes me wanna beg for more. According to this review of the group's En Why debut at Max's Kansas City, Gan were pretty much an electronic jazz-rock group, technically proficient enough with not only a Mini-Moog in their ranks but a guitar synthesizer needing nine batteries which have to be replaced after every set so you can tell they were certainly up on their technology. Not only that but Gan had two vocalists singing amidst the electronic futuristic music being played, both bedecked in these seventies leisure suits with exposed chests looking like they're trying out for the Barth Gimble Lookalike Contest. (The reviewer mentions that the duo also did a few "Temptations-like" dance moves which didn't settle well with him.) The guitarist wore a gold lame suit perhaps signifying that he is the leader of the group the same way Paul Revere's tri-corner hat had the fur fringe, and oddly enough the rest of Gan dressed in their street clothes which might have signified either a lesser stature in the group or perhaps a smaller budget that could only afford the three more "important" members to be decked out like this.

But still, from the description Gan looked as if they might have been one of those interesting off-the-wall concept groups that actually worked. Electronic Sci-Fi rock might conjure memories of Gary Wright and Alan Parsons but when a buncha NJ chooches do it the results might very well be something strikingly different. From what I could decipher from the review, Gan seemed like a cross between Manster's freaked-out jazz riffage, MX-80 Sound and Gary Wilson's electronic lounge madness and in a scene that was begging for all different forms of expression it looks like they probably succeeded hands down. Perhaps some recordings will surface, but until then Gan will remain just one of the many wannabes who've crossed the En Why stages that just "might have", and maybe we are the worse because they flubbed up and Debbie Harry didn't.

Before we split I felt that it was my civic doody to present for you the above Max's Kansas City listing (apologies that I couldn't get it it for a better view) if only for historical purposes. Dating from March/April of '76 this reproduction does serve a purpose for those of us who were pretty curious about the goings on at Max's during the mid-seventies era of gestation. Oddly enough the club was still devoting its weekends to disco (a genre that would eventually be dumped along with the lighted dance floor after the infamous Easter Festival a few weeks later kinda enlightened owner Tommy Dean which way the prevailing winds were blowin') and acts outside of the standard underground/punk concerns of the day were plentiful as one would gather by the appearances of not only Luther Allison but Tiny Tim (w/former Stiletto Rosie Ross as the opening act) and Monti Rock III, here just going by the moniker Monte Rock! Of course the standard New York rockers were playing Max's in full force, but if CBGB stood for "We'll let anyone play here" as one wonk said then Max's stood for loads of coastal blues, oddly enough one of the original goals of ol' Hilly Kristal when he opened his dive up! But hey, can anyone out there tell me what a group with the name 300 Years was supposed to be all about???

*According to Frick: "Johnny Thunder and the Heartbreakers, the Ramones, Quacky Duck and His Barnyard Friends, The Planets, The Fast, Television, The Patti Smith Experience with Special Guest Lenny Kay, The Harlots, The Movies, The Gladys Bailey Band, Wayne County and His Backstreet Boys, The Talking Heads, the Shirts, the Liberation Army, The Lords, The Vacant Lot, the Billy Gorcica Quintet, Tough Darts, Space Bandits, etc." Add your own "sic"'s.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW---RUN HOME, SLOW starring Mercedes McCambridge

True the only reason this drive-in zilcher's known to modern man is because of Frank Zappa's soundtrack but don't worry, RUN HOME, SLOW's a creepy enough piece of "cinematic excursion" even without FZ's name on the poster. If you're hankerin' for one of those "new" anti-hero westerns that were beginning to pop up in the mid-sixties this one should satisfy you just as much now in the DVD age as it did insomniacs during the seventies let alone the drive-in inhabitants who weren't even watching the screen when this was put into circulation back in '65.

Mercedes McCambridge plays this tough dyke whose leading a band of miscreant badskis across the desert with a load of stolen booty on the search for the good life. The gang consists of her shot-up brother whom McCambridge wants to keep around only so's he'll keep the fambly stock going, as well as bro's dimwit slut wife who giggles like a reject from special education and kinda looks like Terri Garr. Tagging along's this equally mentally deficient hunchback who sounds like Oodles from the old DICK TRACY cartoons, and with a crew like this making up the bulk portion of this movie you know this ain't some old Roy Rogers pic but a true left-fielder that wants to be a psychological thriller on one hand, and a grind-out exploito on the other!

It's a slow goin' movie, this kind you used to find on Sunday afternoon tee-vee starting in the sixties and well into the eighties, and in fact I can testify to having watched RUN HOME, SLOW this past Sunday PM if only so's I could relive those old snowed in weekend feelings when it was either this or CHAMPIONSHIP FELCHING on the other station. And yeah, I got the same kinda time machine buzz watching RUN HOME, SLOW that I would've had it popped up on the screen some lazy Sunday PM years ago, even to the point where in my maudlin mood I'd give my eyes a break by marveling at how white the snow outside is when the z-grade dialogue got a little too boring for me.

Nothing visually astounding about this 'un...the print used for this DVD reissue looks like it's been through at least a dozen syndication rounds and the plethora of night scenes really made it hard on mine eyes. Too bad there weren't any commercials for art institutes or used car dealerships slipped in for reality's sake. Even a station ID at the bottom of the screen every fifteen minutes would've added a strange allure. But given how the majority of the movie takes place either on the desert or in this abandoned homestead doesn't really account for much visual variety. At least THE SADIST with its limited locale had some mighty high-intensity action going for it!

Despite the limited visuals, low-rent dialogue and overall dank production values I must admit that the macabre setup did have a certain appeal. Especially in the scene where the dumb blond and the hunchback make some whoopee in the shed next to the rotting corpse of their dead donkey (did Luis Bunuel ever cook up anything like this?), but I guess if I could appreciate a whole load of bizarre imagery in a variety of underground fare I can do the same for a slow-moving C-grader like this 'un!

Speaking of bizarre, as I said right at the get-go the real reason this movie is known at all is because of Zappa but if ya ask me, this sound track is just more of that plain everyday old orchestral work the guy put out for years with alla them fancy flourishes here and loads of Varese-inspired "Ionization" plunks used to fill the sound out and create "moods" there. Even some themes familiar to Mothers of Invention fans can be discerned, but after listening to this all I gotta say is that the kidz in high school who told me that Zappa's orchestral work sounded like standard schlocky movie soundtracks much to my indignation were right after all. Of course that doesn't mean I'm gonna go all David Crosby like they were, but at least they had some crucial insight that I certainly lacked!!!