Saturday, November 06, 2010

Hokay, I'll at least try to do a lot less rambling here than I have the past few weekend posts, but we'll just hafta wait and see if I succeed. Frankly, I doubt I will. True I promised that I wouldn't ever blab on aimlessly again like I have been for way too long, but this mid-autumn overcast weather season hanging over the Western Pee-YAY area ain't exactly conduit to gettin' the spirits uplifted, nor the ol' braincells a'poppin' either. And after only one good month of chilly weather I'm already missing the nice and toasty summer season which won't be back for at least a good six or so months, and that's letting me down just like it did in first grade when I'd stare out the window during a boring dissertation on subtraction! Now I know that we can all hope for a bit of Indian Summer to come our way hopefully by the end of the month but considering how some might find that particular term to be socially unacceptable even that concept of a break in the mid-autumn weather is probably verboten for all time!

I'm still spending my evening hours pouring through the volumes of THE COMPLETE DICK TRACY which have been a godsend I sure wish God woulda sent me back when I was twelve! Right now I'm wandering about during the final months of 1938 when "Karpse", the evil genius who headed up a slave-operated poison gas factory, has escaped to the exact same city where Tracy lives (undoubtedly Chicago) and gets scalded by an exploding water heater while working in a bakery which coincidentally just happens to be owned and operated by Tess Trueheart's mother! Pretty gruesome indeed, since right when I stopped off Karpse was seen running out of the bakery howling in agony looking like a boiled lobster and who knows just how this story's gonna turn out at this point! And, to add to the overall goriness of it all, Tracy is in the hospital having not only been blinded but placed in an iron lung because of a gas attack at the hands of Karpse! Of course some of you more "sensitive" readers may wonder if stories such as these were responsible for Charles Manson, but I prefer to wonder if they were responsible for Richard Meltzer!

While I'm on a comic strip jag lemme clue (or "clew" as they say in these old TRACYs) you into the wondrous fact that there's yet another NANCY book in the works, this one dealing with the history and creative energy behind the strip. (And yes you ding-dongs there WAS a "creative energy" that resonated through the strip though people weaned on BLOOM COUNTY wouldn't be aware of it!) Last I've heard there was a call for someone to locate the very first appearance of the frizz-headed one in the old FRITZI RITZ strip, and bagels-to-doughnuts I sure hope this book will be all-inclusive w/regards to the entire NANCY chemical makeup with information on all of the major and minor characters including this weird Nancy lookalike with a bulbous nose who made a brief appearance in the strip back in 1962. As you all know, NANCY along with TRACY are my two all-time favorite comic strips which continue to connect with me long after these two as well as a whole load of other "old-timey" strips sorta got shoved to the back of the bus. I only wish that there would have been some sort of crossover between the two somewhere down the line back when creators Chester Gould and Ernie Bushmiller were still alive and kicking...I could just see it; Nancy assisting Tracy in the apprehension of one of Tracy's most tricky and fearsome foes, Slughead!

So, what else can I prattle on about here? Howzbout the end of yet another election season, one that seems to have been hyped up to all get out as if it were yet another presidential contest with loads and loads up for grabs affecting us for at least the next twenty centuries (and counting!). Actually I have very little to say about the 2010 mid-terms and their results other than...I am disappointed that I did not have the opportunity to use an analogy regarding something that had a slim possibility of succeeding having about as much of a chance as Christine O'Donnell getting the jackoff vote! I thought that line would have looked good somewhere here on the blog but I couldn't place it anywhere which does get my goat quite a bit considering it's such a cute'n darn clever funny one. Oh well, maybe another person will run for political office who might take a stand against the brushing of teeth, overall hygiene and wiping up who might make for a fun aside in these pages, and considering the political scene as it stands that day might be a lot sooner than any of us might think!

Sandy Bull-JUKEBOX SCHOOL OF MUSIC CD (Rom, available via any ebay listing you might come across)

Wasn't really planning on purchasing any more of those latterday self-produced Sandy Bull platters but since I happened to chance upon an excerpt from Dean "Luna" Wareham's autobio where he recalls a gig his eighties-era group Galaxie 500 did with Bull at the old CBGB Canteen I figured hey, why not? This recording dates from about the time that particular gig transpired and although I woulda preferred hearing that 'un which Wareham described as Bull playing reverbed oud I found JUKEBOX to be a pretty enticing affair, worth the budget price I dished out for a used copy if anything but still heart-cockle warming enough indeed.

Bull's country side does take a front seat especially with the pedal steel careening that sends you back to pre-popified Nashville, but the Bull of all genres can be sampled via everything from rewrites of Bach to the Isley Brothers and even some more throwbacks to Bull's Vanguard era (note the presence of Billy Higgins making a welcome return to the Bull sphere of things). There's even a new version of "Mahana de Carnival" and although there coulda been more at least there's something for everybody on this halfway-decent excursion.
The Flamin' Groovies-SLOW DEATH-AMAZIN' HIGH ENERGY ROCK N' ROLL 1971-73! CD (Norton)

Whereas SUPERSNEAKERS featured the Flamin' Ones at the beginnings of their goodtimey fifties-inspired/folkie rock period, Norton's SLOW DEATH presents 'em during their high-energy rock period right after the revamped bunch dumped Roy Loney and moved to England for a short stay with the United Artists label. You may remember this was a few years before Greg Shaw began making wild proclamations about how 1975 was gonna be the year the Groovies finally broke on through to commercial success, looking ever so ridiculous when that obviously didn't happen no matter how altruistic he tried to be. Not that I don't blame him...after all his mind was in the right place and frankly I think I've made some even wilder off-target predictions myself somewhere down the line!

Three of the four United Artists sides, longtime obscurities heard only by the more "serious" Groovies fans, appear though I sure wished that the UA take of "Slow Death" as well as the track they did backing up ex-Bonzo Roger Ruskin Spear of all people were here! Both Skydog single/EP's which have always ranked as the Groovies at their noisiest also pop up and they're beauts even if you've probably heard 'em repeatedly o'er the past 35 years (make it 31 for me, being such a Johnny-cum-lately!). And hey, just why more people don't worship these guys next to the Stooges and Dolls after hearing these great hard-edged, raw numbers is one of the great mysteries of life!

True, a good portion of this has been released o'er the past two/three decades on other labels both legit or not, but it's sure swell hearing it all in one place and in one sitting just getting that high energy pumped into your system which sure helps especially in these low-throttle days.

I'm sure the folks at Norton have a whole warehouse-load of these available and really, any true believer would do right by hitting the linkup on the left and purchasing a copy for your own personal pleasure right this very minute! Not too many groups in the early-seventies were sucking from the teat of the one called Ig, and those who did should be accorded some additional homage, if you know what I mean. Oh, you wanna read what those other bloggers out there in anti-BTC-land think about it first??? Thought so. Turds.

Boy are these European proto/pre-punk rock items just crawlin' outta the woodwork like the roaches out of Don Fellman's drain! Here's a French item by some group called the Rob Jo Star Band, an aggregate whom I've never heard of before this reissue hit the internet sales lists who, like everyone from Mahogany Brain to Rotomagus have been touted as being yet another one of those French groups that just might worm their way into my li'l ol' corazon given their love of Velvets drone, Stooges primitivism and Roky energy. This mid-seventies band who are now being hyped for Gallicizing various mid-Amerigan rock truisms have been creating a little bit of a stir on the garage/punk collectors sphere. Even more surprising about the Rob Jo Star Band is that they've managed to release this self-produced disc back in '75 at a time when most garageadelic types were lucky enough if they could press up 100 singles to sell at an infrequent local gig.

Some wonks classify this record as being in the "progressive rock" camp which might make sense if you consider Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd to be progressive, but if this is in fact so then the Modern Lovers might as well have been Genesis cuz the Rob Jo Stars are total teenage abandon rock & roll the kind that mags such as ROCK NEWS and I WANNA BE YOUR DOG would have spilled plenty of ink on had the RJS's only made it to the attention of one Michael Esteban around the same time this platter got released to a public that didn't even know it existed.

I don't wanna mislead you here...this album ain't exactly earth-shattering and in fact it's kinda fluff-weight, but the thick accents from the male and femme vocalists are entertaining in themselves and the music does have a little bit of a nice late-glitter stomp to it that might have earned 'em an entry on the Purepop blog had they only released a single with a glitzy enough sleeve to catch our attention. A nice diversion (with primitive oscillators!) that, while not breaking down any barriers heading straight into nova music does capture some of the mid-seventies underground thrust that thousands of groups since never were able to reproduce no matter how hard they tried to put their eighties/nineties/oh-ohs attitudes behind.
ORCHESTRA LUNA mp3 DOWNLOADS (available here)

Strange as it may seem, I've harbored at least a little smidgie bit of interest re. the Boston-bred "theatre rock" group Orchestra Luna ever since coming across their handle in some old CBGB listing ages back (like, 1979 if you can believe that!). The name itself intrigued me (as did that NEW YORKER blurb regarding CBGB which mentioning Orchestra Luna as being but just one of the "local" aggregates there playing loud, out-of-tune mid-sixties rock), leading me to think that OL were probably some early precursor to the then-current groups on the En Why terrain who were sticking "Orchestra" in their monikers such as the Love of Life Orchestra not forgetting the by-now forgotten Chelsea Funk Orchestra. The actuality was far from the myth-conjuring case on my part (Orchestra Luna veering more into an avant-pop cum new wave cum mainstream rock direction), but it was fun enough to engage especially if one was grasping for straws trying to hang certain pre-conceived notions and hooks onto whatever to justify their understanding and enjoyment of the music at hand.

I still do spin Orchestra Luna's sole LP on rare occasion if only for the mid-seventies vibes, and now I find out that former Luna leader Rich Kinscherf/Berlin's very own site has a few unreleased tracks available for your very own (pardon the badgag) dining and dancing pleasure. Recorded live at either CBGB or Boston dive the Rusty Nail, these productions were laid down by the remashed version of OL who were so loved by Hilly Kristal that they were slated to appear on a ne'er to be released second LIVE AT CBGB'S album stacked next to such disparate types as the Dead Boys and Planets. They must've been the toast o' the town because THE NEW YORK ROCKER did a big spread on 'em, and even PUNK magazine dropped their name a few times which gotta say somethin'! To top it all off, Sire records got into the act offerin' OL a contract around the same time they were gobbling up groups like Talking Heads and the Voidoids...too bad the group turned down an opportunity for a second album because if they did record/release one you know it woulda been a two-years-later bargain bin find next to all of those other instant flashes that sorta fizzled out with the record buying populace only to find popular success long after the original moment had dissipated.

Strangely enough I find this second version of Orchestra Luna to be very similar to the original "Broadway Rock" take and not quite the refurbished rock group that I had been led to believe they'd "evolved" into. Heavy-duty seventies rock moments (I refuse to say "cliches") abound, with a hefty portion of the Island Records/Import Bin aesthetics in gear (with a lotta Deaf School thrown into the Roxy/Harley/Sparkisms), Queen-styled preen and Brian May guitar, Meatloaf theatre-cockrockism (which would figure given not only the OL/ML WONDERLAND connection but the fact that warbler Karla DeVito would eventually defect for the more commercial confines of the live BAT OUT OF HELL show once the gettin' was good), Manhattan Transfer mishaps and nascent roots of the new wave entwined. Lyrics also reflect the seventies miasma that Jimmy Carter warned us about a good six years too late with all too true tales of split up couples happier with each other from afar ("Long Distance") and homo teens leaving mom and dad (who are probably grateful for it!) heading for the big city and a good pickup at the bus depot ("Greyhound")...well at least that's how I interpreted the song 'n given how a good portion of this group "lived" well, I'm probably ain't that far off the mark!

's good enough for me given its importance to the ever-budding local groups making good inna big city and at the right time (1976) credo, and darn tootin' I'm gonna attempt to burn these onto a silver dollar and spin 'em for my own personal enjoyment just because of it! You can't get enough seventies ennui these days (which is much better'n 2010 ennui that's nothing but mentally addled self pity) and as a substitute for the lack of RHODA reruns Orchestra Luna can't be beat!

One thing...Mr. Berlin, if you're gonna offer us any more OL downloads howzbout the infamous "Teenage Punk"? That sounds like one that shouldn't be lost to history 'n the sooner the better I say!


Robert Cook said...

I've always wondered at the passionate ardor of Groovies fans...few and far between as they are. Back in the early 70s I'd read articles about them in CIRCUS or whatnot but could never find their records. The first vinyl by them I could find or buy was SHAKE SOME ACTION, which I enjoyed well enough, although I found it marked by an odd melancholy underneath the faux-60s Britishisms of. I thought it good but not great.

When I have had rare opportunity since then to hear other work by them, I have been distinctly underwhelmed...sort of like my antipathy to another apparent rock crit fave rave: NRBQ.

Both bands--insofar as I have heard them, their respective bodies of work remaining largely unknown to me--seem like thin approximations of more vigorous work by other a bunch of fans wanting to replicate the music they loved. (The impetus as well behind many prominent music careers as well as many more that fizzled out or never were.)

I'm as puzzled as by the fascination of so many for the Grateful Dead, who seem to me to be as miserably amateurish a band as ever played a small-town sock hop...yet they played on a world stage for decades, and never seemed to learn how to write a good song or perform with force or feeling. Astonishing!

Have I just not yet heard the right stuff (Groovies' stuff), or are they a minority taste?

Anonymous said...

I think maybe you haven't heard the right stuff because if you don't like NRBQ, or The Flamin Groovies, the only other option would be you have shit for ears! The Groovies are fine in all incarnations: from the early happy hippy Lovin Spoonful jams, to the pure american rock and roll of "Teenage Head" and "Flamingo", and finally the Loney-less Brit worship of "You Tore Me Down" and "Shake Some Action"! NRBQ shared a love for the Lovin Spoonful and could lay down the best grooves in country, jazz, blues or rock and roll form. Both bands have created some of the best American music that exists at one time or another. Check those records that Chris is plugging, peep these and forever hold your peace. Pax, PhilthyRex

Christopher Stigliano said...

Phil, please be nice regarding your choice of words. Mr. Cook was stating an observation of his which wasn't beyond the bounds of taste and should be accorded some respect!

Anonymous said...

Nice entry . . . you should find a copy of the EMI cd A Bucketful of Brains from 1995 which has all the UA recordings including the 4 single cuts, You Tore Me Down, Shake Some Action (normal speed and speeded up mix used on their Sire debut), and Little Queenie. All totally essential. Obsessives also need to check out Mark Ashton's brilliant Get Up and Groove UA 45 on which Cyril Jordan plays slide. Hear it and read about it here:

Best, Peter

Anonymous said...

My apologies sirs.

Serena WmS. Burroughs said...

I am neither anonymous nor masked; I would just like to point out that I enjoyed Dean Wareham's book "Black Postcards"; he relates some of the most tepid episodes of debauchery ever in a rock'n'roll book (Ambien? I ask you...). Speaking of "Black Postcards," there is a YouTube poster name of blackpostcards who has some innaresting videos. You can see my favorites by going to bugmelterdotblogetc and searching on "clank." As for myself, I'd rather see Flamin' Groovies than the Grateful Dead any day, but I'd also rather be a sprat than a mackeral...

Serena WmS. Burroughs said...

Forgive me if I've mentioned this before, but there's an article by the cartoonist Ivan Brunetti about his experience of almost drawing "Nancy" that he did for "Roctober" magazine. You can find it online by searching on "Ivan Brunetti" and Nancy. The mikelynchcartoons blog is the one to use. I liked his rendition, and it's an odd little story.

Christopher Stigliano said...

Wow, he's much better than the guy who draws it now!