Saturday, October 02, 2010

I suppose that I could start this post off rattling about a wild wonderful world of subjects ranging from the political scene to a number of current societal affairs, but I won't. Don't feel like it. Let's just say that it's a combination of over-work and under-fun that's tending to do me in right at this time. Hell, I can't even come up with any snide Dave Lang or Jay Hinman putdowns to sneak into the text, and given the rich subject matter I really must be a nerve-frazzled ends. Anyway, at this point in time politics bores and just seems like an updated battle between the Cavaliers and the Roundheads seeing who gets control of England with me hoping that both sides will lose. There will be no such luck, but I don't mind watching these sworn enemies in the current political divide bashing each other's brains out. But really, as Sam Francis said long ago it's just a contest between the evils and the stupids which only goes to show you the lack or real choice is given to us despite the people who offer up such dross claiming to be open to choices of all types and on all fronts as well.

Very little that stands part and parcel to 2010 is in fact engaging to me, kinda making me feel like one of those aged people I remember from my childhood who were born in the late nineteenth century either trying to make sense outta hippies, or better yet still living in their old worlds situated with their old homes and old friends thankfully oblivious to the turmoil that has become life. And yes, I was really shocked to read in the latest UGLY THINGS that Greg Prevost watches and loves the television series LOST just as much as you were. Sheesh, I didn't think that the guy liked anything broadcast after 1967 let alone in color. Sometimes I find it hard to watch movies made after 1929 which really must show you how far outta the "loop" I (thankfully) am.

Since I've pretty much read and re-read all of those comic-strip anthologies reviewed o'er the past few weeks to the point of blindness I've been turning to my old fanzines for late-evening comfort. It's always stimulating reading some REAL rock writings (as opposed to the sawdust passing for such seen in newspapers and blogs to this day) whether they came from the IBM Selectric of either Meltzer or perhaps some sadly relatively unknowns as Mark Jenkins or Jymn Parrett, but I gotta say that pouring over these 'zines only makes me feel more inadequate since my own "stylings" will never even come near the pinnacles the likes of these have reached well over 35 years back. It's funny, but people like Meltzer and all of those aforementioned fanzine greats are what originally gotten me into thinking that I could strut on their turf (of course I thought this way back when I was young and perhaps not as inhibited regarding making a fool of myself in public as I am now) but in all that time I couldn't even reach the levels of a standard crudzine writer let alone put forth something with the proper energy and conviction the likes of a say, Don Waller could. Hell, maybe in another thirty-five...

And (in order to really make your day about as miserable as mine) I just discovered that none other than Chuck Eddy has his own blog via BLURT magazine (which I have never gazed eyes upon, but given this revelation I wouldn't have too much hope for it). And if that isn't good enough reason to cast oneself into the ocean millstone and all. At least this BLURThing offers us a blog courtesy none other than the aforementioned Jenkins which I know will lead to hours of reading pleasure (actually minutes since there ain't many entries, all of which are over a year old) as well as the revelation of a few ideas which I can swipe and claim as my own! I've naturally linked that one up on the left-hand side along with all of the other blogs of importance, though you will have to scroll down to the very end of the list to find my link-up because for some reason blogger does not "recognize" the BLURT-blogs as being the legitimate, real thing! Sheesh, the things we have to go through in the name of science.

Not as much fodder for you this time as I would have liked. Managed to scrape the following two writeups together under less-than-stellar conditions (TRANSLATION: during work when the boss wasn't looking) and I hope you'll find something worthwhile in 'em at least to the point where someone might get a cheap laff outta this at my expense. As for me, I think I coulda done better but I guess that the general toll o' life is really wreaking havoc on my nervous system (and I haven't told you half of what is going on here at BTC-central, some of it which might even nauseate the most cast iron of constitutions). But enough of this self-pity which worked wonders for the Music Machine but not me, and onto the reviews!

ELEPHANT'S MEMORY CD (Collector's Choice/BMG)

Given how all umportant Elephant's Memory were with regards to the the Beatle canon (above that of David Peel and Brute Force even!) it's a huge honkin' surprise that so little of their recorded output is available in the here and now. Of course if you really wanna you can dish out into the double-digits for an original release but hey, wouldn't you think this group'd be worthy of a little better treatment considering how they had made quite a name for themselves long before Jerry Rubin turned Lennon onto 'em? But no, the vast majority of their quarry remains out of reach which I must admit frustrates an ever-hingerin' fellow like myself, and hey before I clock out I don't think it would be bad for me to spin their entire recorded output at least once just so's I could conquer another Herculean feat in my music listening life!

I must admit that I was surprised to find this particular platter available in the Cee-Dee age considering how the Metromedia and Apple discs are nowhere to be found digital-wise. I was inspired to buy the thing after spotting a copy of the original languishing at the Burton Ohio Antique Show last Saturday ("What a hunch!" as George Givot would say!) and to tell the truth my choice of purchase was rather inspired. Not that ELEPHANT'S MEMORY is an all-out topper...after all the protruding brass does conjure up memories of the rest of the late-sixties horn rock brigades...but at least it is done snattily and original-like amidst the usual hippoid pratfalls that have destroyed many tons of vinyl back in them times.

Unfortunately this reish doesn't reprint the informative gatefold notes and in fact NO credits whatsoever appear anywhere, but whoever the chick singer in the group is she seems to be doing the Janis thing only a bit better, while the horns (which sound electrified, or at least the trombone was) don't always dredge up memories of the days when BS&T and Chicago ruled the roost. In fact at times they even stretch out a little doing the avant garde thing w/o reminding one of the usual hippie token nod to free jazz that did rear its ugly head back then. Of course this album can also get kinda annoying at times like it does on "Yogurt Song" but at least the shimmering Philip Glass-like ambience of "Old Man Willow" does make for a pleasant diversion proving that maybe Elephant's Memory were somehow beyond their image as a stock hippie aggregate that backed up one of the bigger hasbeens of the early 1970's.

Funny how an album (and band) like this got lost in the late-sixties shuffle even thought they did pop up on the MIDNIGHT COWBOY soundtrack. And who knows, maybe there will be a tide of Elephant's Memory spinners coming atcha in the near future and perhaps that unreleased tenth-anniversary album recorded live at CBGB will finally see the light of day as well. It all would be welcome, at least into my own personal collection. But whatever, if that album on Muse which was nothing but schmoozy serious lite jazz remains deader'n a doornail that would suit me fine. I mean, what a waste of time, energy and ear-power that soft laid-back tuxedo and martoonies offering was especially in light of the high energy that these guys once exuded!
Musica Elettronica Viva-LEAVE THE CITY CD (Spalax France)

Gotta admit that I didn't like the MEV side of that Mainstream LP they shared with AMM, and that's only reason I didn't snatch this particular platter when it hit the cutout section of Musicland in '79. A shame too, because during those very late seventies I was pretty much gobbling up any shard of avant garde awareness I could get my mealy hands on and, considering this stuff wasn't just popping up atcha faster than disco-remixes of "Miss You" I hadda settle for just about everything that did come my way no matter how fruity fruity or cutesy wootsey it may have been. Well, on that NEW MUSIC IMPROVISED album I did manage to find in the cassette bin of all places MEV came off like a total douse despite the presence of such stellar players as Richard Teitelbaum and Fredric Rzewski (who I'll bet is still trying to justify ways to explain his Marxist philosophy to the eager beavers at DOWN BEAT, if he's still alive that is!) and it wasn't like I was actually that anxious to toss any more kopeks their way especially since I'm sure they were all sucking off some government teat, altrustic radicals they must surely be.

Well, a good thirty years hindsight still doesn't do a hill of beans for me but this MEV platter is a whole lot better'n that standard slab of electronic gunch that I lent ear to way back when. For one thing the performers here ain't of the Eyetalian MEV group...methinks they're merely a French contingent who somehow snagged the name for this release since the monikers here don't quite jibe with the ones I remember from the "original" bunch. Secondly, much of this release ain't electronic but acoustic in nature with clanging percussion, acoustic guitar and sounds that could have been made from the depths of your bowels as well as from an electronic music device. Thirdly there's the appearance of a "Nora Howard" on the second track (side two in analog terminology) which makes me wonder if in fact this is a mis-print and that the famed avant tenorist Noah Howard appears as a special surprise guest, something which would really boost LEAVE THE CITY's property value in my collection if true.

Musically 'tis a better trip than a buncha studious, serious performers attempting to make random electronic bleeps inspired by the toss on an I-Ching while suckering ever-curious teenagers that this was the new and inspired way. Lotsa ethereal chanting and percussive clanks appear with some strange electronic whirrs here and there, with loads of strange voices speaking in European tongues appearing elsewhere and who-knows-what within the grooves or whatever Cee-Dee's have (slipping into some late-eighties luddisms here) just oozing all over the place! And it all ends with this solo acoustic folk guitar kinda thing that sounds suspiciously close to the outsider folk being touted amongst former punx who just have to prove that they've outgrown their no-chord youths with such freakdom. Very European in approach, and I'm positive that those of you who were weaned on everything from Amon Duul I & II as well as Cromagnon would be pleased as punch to own such a recording as this. Just don't let the faux medieval snap on the back fool you into thinking this is some hippie throwback to the Golden Age of Body Odor.

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