Saturday, January 29, 2011

It didn't take long for me to get over the winter blahs, did it?!?!? Well, I'm not exactly 100% over 'em, but perhaps I've finally learned after all of these years to take one day at a time and enjoy/accept the weather situations as they hit me square in the face rather'n mope on like I would when it would be two weeks into school and already I was staring out the classroom window missing summer vacation with a passion! True there's gonna be a whole two more months worth of the white stuff to contend with but the way I look at it a good sixty, seventysome days from now it's probably gonna be a little warmer and all of those get out 'n have fun juices are gonna start flowin' about like the sap from a tree. And I'd make a particularly vulgar reference as to which part of the body the sap is gonna be flowin' from, but I will refrain at least this one time

Hey guess what I made for dinner? Paella! Of course I hadda make do with a few minor substitutes like using a couple of links of some leftover Eyetalian sausage in place of chorizo and canned tomatoes 'stead of diced, skinned and de-seeded fresh ones, but I think the results were OK even if I don't even own a paella pan! I must admit that the paella did turn out kinda bland (the recipe I used didn't call for paprika which I think woulda spiced it up a bit) but edible enough that I am going to attempt it again mainly because I actually bought some real-life saffron for authenticity and surely do not want it to go to waste! Of course I'm no Manuel from FAWLTY TOWERS, but I think I did a halfway decent job if I do say so myself because the stuff just flew off the plates and into the gullets faster than you can say "bon appetit!" (Next time I will leave out the tomatoes and double up on the peppers and seafood, maybe use some chicken and let the liquid base reduce about 50% before adding the rice etc. and so forth...)

Uh, er, now onto the main blood and guts of this post! If you're expecting one of those big weekend blowouts where I babylon and on about all of those tasty goodies I've heard this weekend ferget it! I must 'fess up to you faithful readers that I not only haven't received anything good enough to write about this week, but I haven't received anything at all PERIOD! Things are pretty slow (monetarily, spiritually...) around the BLOG TO COMM offices right now, and though I undoubtedly will find some old platters inna collection to write up if only to satisfy your vicarious living through my maybe stellar to your existence right now I'm having a hard time enough getting rah-rah'd about anything other'n a whole load of oft-mentioned goodies that I just can't shake loose from myself and why should I repeat myself as to items you've known and loved for years anyway! Maybe when I finally get that order in to Forced Exposure, or better yet those items I won on ebay that have been held up in England for well over a month this blog will once again get into high gear and we can ALL sweat this winter out with total aplomb! (The excuse being given for the non-arrival of a number of overseas goodies is the horrid weather they're having over in the well-monikered "Blighty" which is somehow slowing down the mail delivery but sheesh, don't you think that those platters I won back in December should have made their way to my door long ago? Let's just say that this hungry lad is actually getting hungrier for these items which I bid on for the express purpose of getting me through them bitter winter months!!!)
Hokay, there's one item that I did receive which I know you sophisticated urbanites who tune into this blog would want to know all about even if it is about as uppa date and as relevant to your own personal well being as the Edsel. What I'm talkin' at'cha about's this particular issue of MORE TRASH FROM MAD that I'd actually had been seeking ever since I was a mere teenbo, mid-teens at that! This is the ish from '63 (pretty boss year, perhaps the last truly boss year there was as well!) with the original (as opposed to the more popular 1972 edition) TV GUIDE insert spoof which I must say looked mighty enticing to me. Well, maybe this one wasn't as enticing as the one with the mock Sunday Funnies section from a few years earlier of any of those record inserts with Alfred E. Neuman burping "It's a Gas" or bad Archie Bunker impersonations, but it sure seemed like it would make for a fun read. Unfortunately the early-sixties vintage "TV Guise" spoof ain't as hot as I thought it would be with the writers even muffing up a perfect gag such as "The Hillbilly Doctors", an obvious spoof of the BEVERLY HILLBILLIES/BEN CASEY/DR. KILDARE trend which I thought they coulda gotten a lotta comedy mileage outta but didn't. The program listings as well as the "TV Teletripe" sections were also flubbed badly enough which made me think that my thirtysome-year wait really was all for naught. Sheesh, the Jay Ward one that appeared in the April Fool's Day '63 issue of the real TV GUIDE (with a pic of Bullwinkle tickling Vince Edwards on the cover and a really guffaw-inducing interview with Dudley Dooright) was way funnier and even contained a few ideas later to be found on FRACTURED FLICKERS t'boot! Stick with the '72 edition if you want a way better ribbing of the television norm with high-larious writeups on some new programs for the upcoming season such as THE EVEN NEWER DICK VAN DYKE SHOW and of course ALL IN ONE WEIRD FAMILY. And come to think of it, considering that MAD wasn't exactly at their tippie-toppest at this point in time (face it, HELP! was running rings around 'em!) even the reprinted material from the '61/'62 season ain't that special either! At least they coulda snuck in some of those Wallace Wood-inked newspaper comics parodies which as I said was the thing that got me reading MAD inna first place!

Yeah, I know that you came here for some music so here goes (don't say I didn't warn ya!)...following are just a few of the vinyl-edition platters that have been capturing my attention as of late which I don't think I've ever mentioned on this blog before, the first being an interesting piece of seventies non-esoterica that goes by the name of
THE ESSENTIAL SANDY BULL. This is one of those budget-priced "twofa" sets that features what I guess is somebody's idea of the should-be-famous multi-instrumentalist's "best" slapped onto two longplaying albums and rushed almost directly into the cutout bins of the land back around the time the guy finally left the Vanguard label some time in the early-seventies. As you already know I've been a huge fan of Bull's at least since the middle portion of the previous decade (and could kill all of those naysayers who were badmouthing him back when I expressed some interest in the mid/late-eighties---I was so impressionable back then), and although I already have all of the actual releases by this hard-to-categorize performer on hand this set is a nice addition to the collection especially since I can now hear "Electric Blend" without the stops and warbles that affect my defective Cee-Dee copy!

Given that Bull was only able to crank out four albums during his nine-year contract with Vanguard it's not like this album was really as essential as the title would make it out to be. But like they used to say if you couldn't get the originals and this thing was starin' you right inna face what other choice did you have but to pick the durn thing up! And it is a solid set with a pretty even-handed sampling from all of Bull's albums which sound just as great the way they are programmed here as they did way back when the original albums came out. What's more, this thing clocks in at almost two hours which used to be considered a humungous bargain back in those album length-conscious days when we'd all feel cheated after buying an album consisting of only a half hour's worth of music! Of course while you're listening to Bull tackle a variety of stringed instruments filtered through reverb as well as various percussives (even steel drums on the Caribbean-inspired "Sweet Baby Jumper"!) you could always peruse the come-ons for the rest of the Vanguard stable which are proudly displayed in the gatefold sleeve, but then again you'll only end up muttering 'bout how that label really came up with a buncha losers with Bull being the only real winner in the entire batch! And if I didn't impress you enough, Bull was a guy whose music and career transcended a whole slew of styles and tastes going from early-sixties folk to Fahey/Basho-styled strumming to blues to rock & roll to underground, and he's the only guy I can think of who palled around with Dylan before Dylan hit the big time, appeared in performance with Joan Baez and Patti Smith plus got booked at Max's Kansas City and CBGB making him a true underground rock scion you surely could do well by giving a listen to!

Another long-lost goodie dug up in the mess known as my album collection is the ELECTRONIC MUSIC sampler that was released on the Turnabout label way back in the days when tape manipulations were considered to be just as electronic as those early analog synthesizers that were filling up entire rooms in university music centers across the United States and Europe.
My copy is worn a bit and emits the crackles and pops known to drive audiophiles into fits of rage but it's still solid enough for my listening pleasure not only with John Cage's "Fontana Mix" (named so in a vain attempt to get this on the Fontana label a la Wayne Fontana!) but Ilhan Mimaroglu's "Agony" (no obv. joke here nosiree!) and an entire side of Luciano Berio's "Visage" where once-wife Cathy Berberian gets to coo and moan all through ex-hubby's obv. Cage-inspired tapework. It's the stuff that everybody poo-poo'd until "Revolution 9" came out and suddenly tape realizations were hip since they now had the Beatles' imprimatur proudly placed upon it! Speaking of Beatles, Berberian's freaksody singing on "Visage" made me wonder whatever happened to those tapes of Yoko Ono doing her own version of "Fontana Mix" as well as other pre-John rarities that were supposed to make it out way back in the early-seventies. I mean, wouldn't you think the time was ripe for that BEST OF YOKO ONO Lennon mentioned in the Wenner ROLLING STONE interview just about now because frankly, I really could use something like that to snap my brain synapses!

On the downside, an album like ELECTRONIC MUSIC also brings back bad memories of that term paper I did on the form when I was a sophomore in high school and my sister flubbed up the typing, referring to Sun Ra as being "Sien Ra" amongst other things which really helped notch the darn thing down a few grade points! And after all that hard work I put into it too! (Sorry Jillery, but after all these years you could still say that I continue to smart over the entire debacle or else I wouldn't stop mentioning it!)

Here's yet another old one from the bin that I haven't listened to in quite awhile, and I must admit that spinning the thang did send me back well over twennysome years to a time which I think I would have preferred to have forgotten considering what a miserable go of it I was having during those not-so-funtime days! But you all know about HAVE MOICY, that album which was so all-encompassing and chock fulla that Americana goodness that the blamed thing was even powerful enough to "bring together" such disparate minds as Robert Christgau and myself, and surprisingly that little fact hasn't negated my opinion of it one iota like you thought it would now, didn't it!

I can barely remember this three-way collab twixt the Unholy Modal Rounders, Michael Hurley and Jeffrey Fredricks and the Clamtones getting a li'l bitta push when it came out back in the bicentennial year of '76, and since then HAVE MOICY has become a under-the-radar classic of sorts. And why wouldn't it with its kounterkultural mix of hippydippy, good wholesome folk music and typically Roundersesque snide making what just haddavebeen "thee" last word in Lower East Side underground folk (with a heaping helping of Bucks County), at least until the arrival of the various "new" folkies in the eighties who sure stole more'n a lotta thunder from these guy and even made a li'l headway with it. Sure the platter might "suffer" somewhat; for example the absence of former Rounder vocalist and Leather Secret/Robert Mapplethorpe haberdasher Camille O'Grady is sorely felt, but by this time she was scouring the New York punk scene with her own act and I guess couldn't be bothered. Waddeva, a nice li'l blast from the mid-seventies which was probably "aged" even at birth, but as Linus used to say in the old PEANUTS strip "500 years from now who will know the difference?"

R.I.P. TIME: Jack LaLanne dead at 96...morning television never was the same since they took him and that good old timey organ music off the air! Butt of jokes for years and peddler of "juicers", LaLanne was a pioneer of the tee-vee fitness craze whom I'll always associate with Veg-O-Matic commercials considering how the local station (channel 33) used to slip ads for that monstrosity in during his program as if exercise and eating french fries went hand in hand. Does anybody remember the name of his dog who used to lounge about on the couch while LaLanne was doing all of those facial exercises for the frowzy old housewives who were tuning in? And hey, was Debbie Drake (the female counterpart to LaLanne as well as two of the biggest names in television exercise) available for comment? Let's just say that the passing of this health "guru" as they say really does drive home the fact as to just how far television has devolved from fun cornballisms to stodgy political piousness these past few decades, and frankly I won't rest until I turn on my set and see TELECOMICS on where they once ran Ellen Degenerate thus insuring a healthy future for the suburban slobs of Ameriga like myself!

Also just heard about the passing of Charlie Callas...who could forget his old tit-squeeze routine which he actually got away with everywhere from HOLLYWOOD SQUARES to PSA's for Ma Bell (I still remember his retort to Elke Sommers...[voice a la Cary Grant doing the old "Judy Judy Judy" routine]..."ELKE ELKE ELKE...honk honk!").

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


When I was a pre-teenaged brat I used to get a kick outta the Bizarro featurette that used to be found in the back pages of ADVENTURE comics! After all, their twisted logic and natural bassackwardness would be guaranteed to ooze the guffaws outta any self-respecting comic book nut who had barely made it into the double digits!!! Surprisingly enough, at first I felt that the Bizarros were kinda grotesque to look at and gave me the creeps, but dang it if I didn't just appreciate the entire shebang once the concept of grossness kinda settled into my adolescent mind as something not to be feared but admired and perhaps even EMULATED as any admirer of EC comics or GG Allin is willing to concede.

Passed up on this 2000 collection of prime Silver Age stories when it first came out, though the thought of eventually snatching up a copy was dangling in the back of my own bizarro mind for quite a long time. And after all these years I finally got it, and wouldn't ya know it but these classic early-sixties vintage sagas are a great read guaranteed to rush all of those glorious old memories of a lazy kid-dom back to you in one felt swoop! Yes, once again osmose these off-kilter stories about the imperfect duplicates of Superman, Lois Lane and the rest of the denizens of the cubed planet where everything is turned topsy-turvy from Earthen tastes and ideals. With their cracked faces and inverted thinking these imperfect copies of the Superman Family will keep your attention held even longer'n when you were reading these for the first time and it was like all part of a typical kid upbringing along with violin lessons and onanism.

It's always a hoot seeing how the writers are gonna use twisto-logic in these stories without them getting too far out into the realm of disgust. Fortunately everything is kept within the bounds of the Comics Code as the Bizarros practice their strange credo strictly for laffs as they act out of disgust for reasons of love, or create chaos as their own idea of order. My fave of the batch has to be the one where the Bizarros celebrate Halloween by masquerading as Mickey Mantle, John Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and Jerry Lewis while engaging in mischievous pranks like repairing roofs and forcing the Bizarro Krypto the Superdog to eat cooked weenies! And forget about the Bizarro World, in some perhaps not-so-strange way I would find JFK and Jerry Lewis masks frightening here on Earth!

Of course I could get on that old rift about how the Bizarro world pictured in those early-sixties stories has in fact manifested itself smack dab into the year "In the Bizarro world dull, boring, peaceful, unexciting music is considered rock & roll!" Or "In the Bizarro world, Katie Couric is thought of as a highly skilled, talented news presenter", but I won't. Whatever, it is extremely fortunate that the writers didn't take the whole Bizarro notion and run whole hog with it into the realms of tastelessness, like perhaps mention that after defecating, Bizarros don't wipe or maybe they do with rough sandpaper or even yet wipe before doing the dump! (I'll leave the references to the olfactory nature of the act out of it for now.) Sheesh, they could do wonders with menstruation and menopause references galore. Don't worry, if they ever do decide to bring back the Bizarro series they're gonna put all of that stuff in! But don't fret yet because I doubt they'll ever revive the Bizarros...I mean, with real life the way it is who needs a comic book?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The wintertime blahs really must be getting me down! Not that they usually don't, but frankly I normally start gettin' 'em around mid-February or especially March when some freak snow shower 'round St. Patrick's Day manages to hit leaving the area with one big mess of slush. Worse yet is when I get 'em in April especially when I espy the sight of snow encrusting the blossoms on a that's bound to send me into fits of pure afanacaga even though the weather usually breaks within a few days after which it all melts into the sanctity of your basement. But at least the eventual thaw and warm sunny shirtsleeves weather will be just around the corner, and that always gets my spirits up at least until I start mowing the yard and pulling weeds while trying to beat the impending thunderstorm making me wish it was Winter and all I hadda do was lull around the house reading old comic books!

Does my frustration show? Y'know, I can never really be happy in whatever situation I find myself in lest I can come up with even more ways of goofing off and indulging myself in the finer things of life like old fanzines and "the music of our lives" (hard blare avant garde scrunch or doofus suburban teenage rock wankings). Though sometimes I wonder...when I finally retire and can spend the rest of my life just reading and listening and watching old tee-vee programs, will I get bored to death within the span of a few days and yearn for the good ol' 9-5 workaday schedule I'm now inundated with? Somehow I don't think so. You know, once a layabout always a layabout and if my eighth-grsde teacher wasn't right about me then who was???

In udder news not much else going on. The Forced Exposure order was canceled after 99% of the items chosen (including the Stooges '70 album on Easy Action [which I sincerely hope is not the same as the Rhino handmade live set] as well as the first two Soft Boys albums) were already sold out. Will try to get another order into them probably by next week in the anticipation that its arrival will coincide with my day off, but until then I'm gonna hafta rough it like our ancestors hadda do amusing each other with the tonal purity of their flatulence! I mean, how do you think music really got wasn't because some hunter liked the twang of his bow so he decided to make a harp outta it! Naw, it was something a lot more gaseous, and considering some of the music being made today I would say we've come FULL CIRCLE.

Five-day-old news true, but I'm sure you all'd want me to give my own personal two cents regarding the late Don Kirshner who passed away Tuesday. Not much to say really other than if it weren't for DON KIRSHNER'S ROCK CONCERT airing on channel 3 in Cleveland after SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE back in the late-seventies I don't know what I would have done during my usual bouts of teenage insomnia! And given the quality of a lotta the acts Kirshner was booking onto his program who needed Sominex? Of course being so tuned into the music biz he was bound to do something right once in awhile like get the New York Dolls and Ramones onto his show, but fighting to stay awake through the likes of Kansas and Cat Stevens to see 'em surely was a battle we all hadda fight back in those days when the pickin's were so slim that we hadda get what was there when it was there for the pickin'!

Of course there were other surprises on the show like the time Richard Robinson performed his magic act and I'm there watchin' the whole thing thinkin' "Wow, that's the guy who produced the Flamin' Groovies and Cramps!" soaking it in as much as if those groups were on instead!!! And of course I keep remembering that upcoming blurb for one particular episode on Youngstown's channel 33 that they were hyping all week featuring an appearance by none other than Roy Wood's Blizzard. (Missed that one but caught "Blizzard" doing a track from the abysmal EDDIE AND THE FALCONS platter on THE MIDNIGHT SPECIAL around the same time!) I wonder if Mike Nesmith was available for comment?

Oh yeah, and I understand that Peace Corps founder and father to Maria the chin, Sargent Shriver died as well. Was looking for that NATIONAL LAMPOON spoof entitled SARGENT SHRIVER'S BLEEDING HEARTS CLUB BAND to post here but I couldn't find any available on the web. Sheesh, and it would have looked soooo good.

Better quit now before I really show my general burned-outness. Anyway here are da revooze! As you can plainly see most of 'em are of old-timey vinyl stock...y'see, I've been spending a lotta time in the basement goin' through the stacks o' wax that have been accumulating there lo these past few centuries, and to be honest wit'cha about it I haven't had so much fun since I used to prowl the flea markets during the v. late seventies/v. early eighties trying to cop all of the early "important" rock that I sorta missed out on the first time 'round because I was too young or too stupid to realize what I was passing up. Perhaps it was a better thumbing through my own possession rather'n having to put up with the gruff peddlers who'd sneer at you when you'd ask 'em if you could come down a bit on an album. Reminds me of a time when I was at the flea market they used to have at the old Clarkins this one Saturday morning in 1982 espying this copy of Blue Cheer's VINCEBUS ERUPTUM, the black cover issue which was torn and the record was slightly scratched and scuffed, and some typical flea market dealer was asking like $3.50 for it. Asked if he could come down a little bit and got my bloody head chewed off! Naturally I just plopped the album aside and departed from Mr. Bad Vibes but sheesh...all these years later I just wonder what it is about these flea market dealers that made 'em all out to be a pack of wild maniacs anyway. Then again, I've noticed that most of the people in the Youngstown/Warren area are the rudest, most curt types you can find outside of New York City...maybe it has something to do with the industrial flange, or lack of it since the mills closed down? Wow, that was really long ago...hope all those people who used to give me all of that grief are now burning in Hell!

Alfred 23 Harth-MICRO-SAXO-PHONE, EDITION III CD (Kendra Steiner Edition, see link on left for blogsite)

You may know about Bill Shute's Kendra Steiner Editions' chapbooks, but did you know that there's also a Cee-Dee label going by the same name? If you didn't, then I'm afraid you haven't been reading this blog long or close enough because I've written up some of their earlier releases a good while back! Be sure to pay more attention next time and while you're at it give this latest release of theirs a spin because you probably need it more that you'll ever realize.

MICRO-SAXO-PHONE, EDITION III's a collection of material recorded by a chap who goes by the name of "Alfred 23 Harth", a moniker that's just about as mysterioso as the Cee-Dee's title. Actually I knew nada about Narth before receiving this particular disque and rather than show my ignorance for all to see by reviewing this cold-like I decided to do some research on the guy...turns out Harth's had a pretty long history in the field of European avant garde jazz, and if you're the kind of person who can trust Wikipedia there's even an entry on him there which will fill you in on most if not all of the essential info. I am surprised that a person like Harth who has performed with the likes of Peter Brotzmann amongst many other biggies on the free jazz range has remained under my radar, but he sure has been around and as you can see from this particular entry he has a lotta things goin' on under his belt, if ya know what I mean...

Featuring recent work as well as old trackage re-shifted for this release, MICRO-SAXO-PHONE, EDITION III's got a wide array of sound sources not all of 'em sax. Electronics produced by a lap-top figure in nicely (even if they do drive my beanie bonkers) as do crumbled up and truncated German voices. Never did figure out how a lap-top could be used to make music (when some group playing at the CBGB Lounge freestyle series had a member listed as playing a laptop I assumed they meant a Hawaiian-type guitar!) but whatever Harth has mastered its uses making for a pretty zapped-out affair. His sax playing is pretty hotcha as well reminding me of Roscoe Mitchell for some reason, but then again I've noticed that most of these new players do which is why I say maybe Mitchell is the new Dave Brubeck only far more visionary.

My fave track just has to be the one where you hear some Kraut talking about Madame Blavatsky while a wooden flute plays a simple melody amidst the confusion. Another topper reminds me of those old chord organs kids used to get for Christmas being run through a few effects and a big speaker before everything gets fried to a frazzle. Anyway, it's a great encapsulation of yet another direction the New Jazz is going in that you won't be reading about in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY anytime soon, and who knows if THE WIRE is still around to bother with it...I don't!

Gotta admit that Lake's perhaps my least favorite of the St. Louis BAG players, but he sure put out with a doozy on this particular '71 sesh that Arista/Freedom reissued with a couple of hard-to-get Human Arts Ensemble and Julius Hemphill platters back '76 way. Great playing from all quarters which, given the presence of Charles Bobo Shaw and a number of BAG regulars, might as well be a Human Arts Ensemble album the way it moves and careens between the new jazz, the new jazz-rock and the AACM-inspired "small instrument" motif. Fantastic guitar playing from Richard Martin as well...I remember Bill Shute telling me about how he used to be stymied at the quality of the guitarists who ended up on these various BAG sessions because for the most part hardly any of 'em got the universal notice they so deeply deserved. Martin did appear on the Solidarity Unit Inc. LP which was reissued a few years back and more or less functioned as an early Human Arts Ensemble get together...if you thought that one was beyond the ken of freeform blitz then you'll probably take a liking to this 'un as well.
John McLaughlin-DEVOTION LP (Douglas)

Decided to dig this 'un up from the bowels of my album collection because the thang actually made the "Best of '71" list in the ROCK REVOLUTION book reviewed last week. And as George Takanappus would have said "Wow, what a hunch!" I must admit this DEVOTION did take me by surprise when I first gave it a spin some time back in the late-eighties...and this after a good lifetime of thinking McLaughlin was just another jazzoid guitarist who was brainwashed by the teachings of Sri Chinmoy and thusly inspired to "higher" ways to express oneself including playing an acoustic guitar with these weird diagonal strings placed upon the body. Only goes to prove what the perils of being an ex-junkie can entail.

I'm still surprised by the hard dynamics of this as well as the high-energy grooves that McLaughlin and band (including his former Lifetime partner Larry Young as well as Hendrix clingon Buddy Miles) can crank out, as well as the overall tension that'll envelop you when McLaughlin's playing gets into that overdrive mode. Hokay, maybe there are a few numbers where you figure why not go 'n take a dump, but overall this is a whole lot more exciting than the dross that eventually followed. And the best thing about it is that you can actually hear where MX-80 Sound got a lot of their early inspiration from on these sides, though while McLaughlin evidently reached a little too far into the cosmos for his personal enlightenment at least Bruce Anderson kept both of his feet on terra firma and I can listen to his playing all day without conjuring up images of flybynight spiritual hoaxters like I always do when listening to the one called Mahavishnu.
THE SHIELD; AMERICA'S 1ST PATRIOTIC COMIC BOOK HERO softcover (Archie Comics Publications, 2002)

Given that MLJ/Archie never seemed that keen on reprinting their Golden Age titles back when I was an avid superhero maniac it's sure nice seeing this one available in the here/now and for a halfway decent price at that. And having heard a whole lot about the Shield from my father (who used to regale me about his antics back when I was combing through garage sale piles of OUR LOVE STORY to get to that one elusive DOCTOR STRANGE) it sure was nice reading these classic sagas which surprisingly pre-date the US involvement in World War II by almost two years. And not only that, but this first of the star-spangled patriotic superheroes pretty much carried the MLJ company for the first few years of its existence with these pretty good if primitive superhero sagas, or at least he did until some teenaged kid with a bowtie and sweater took a whole lotta wind outta his sails to the point where he even took over the Shield's fan club badge and all! Well, by then the war was over anyway and alla them star-spangled heroes were being mothballed until the time was right for a revival...

And even with the barely passable even for the Golden Age art and patented cutout scripts these Shield sagas are downright entertaining and funtime frolicking reads! Nothing out of the Golden Age ordinary mind you, but they're still action-packed enough to bring out the depression-era poverty-stricken kid in ALL of us! And while I'm at it, gotta admit that I was surprised to find out that the Shield actually had superhuman powers (I always assumed that he was just a powerful costumed crimefighter in the Batman vein) who could fly through the air and have bullets bouncing off his chest just like Superman! Talk about nerve...MLJ had the audacity to sue Timely over Captain America's shield when they could have easily been the target of a suit from National given just how close this guy came to the Man of Steel! Well, given some of the slimy stories I've read about the early days of the comic book biz it does seem par for the course!

Talking about par for the course, the usual early-40s violence and grotesqueness, the same kind that riled Dr. Wertham so much, is evident despite MLJ/Archie having the reputation as the goody-two-shoes wholesome publisher we've all known 'n loved for years. Even I was rather creeped out by the final story in this volume where FBI agent Joe Higgins (in reality the Shield!), his sidekick "Ju Ju" (!) and some shapely blond dig up some coffins in order to identify the bodies of a few alleged gangster victims! When the gal breaks down after seeing her decaying dead father and Ju Ju innocently remarks "Gosh Miss Morgan, we all gotta go sometime" I almost barfed up my dinner...really! Grotesqueness aside, it's sure fun watching Higgins don his star-spangled costume and do everything from holding back speeding trains to stopping a Moscovian attack at Pearl Harbor a good year before the real one took place! If only he'd been at the actual one...well, I'm sure the writers thought of a good "out" to explain his absence!

One interesting piece of info regarding THE SHIELD is that the only one who knows his true identity is none other than J. Edgar Hoover, a man who also figures in as a major character in these sagas to the point where I was wondering if he was going to get his own feature in the back pages of PEP comics alongside Archie (where you see the FBI head fighting saboteurs all by himself!) or perhaps get his own super powers and becomes part of the MLJ crime-fighting stable! Don't laugh too hard...the relationships between these comic book heroes and real-life political/entertainment figures used to be extremely strong whether it'd be FDR personally thanking a hero for his contribution to the war effort on the White House lawn or Superman being a close personal friend of JFK and Jerry Lewis. (And Herbie a.k.a. "The Fat Fury" seemed to know just about every personality, political or otherwise, good or evil, who was making some kinda noise on the face of this earth!) I guess that's something that went out of fashion when Watergate kinda jaded more'n a few miscreants out there who didn't want their heroes intermingling with the establishment and in many ways I can see what they mean. After all, how would it look if you laid eyes upon a comic book story which ended in a scene where Richard Nixon personally thanked Iron Man for brutally quelling a race riot, or Dick Tracy chumming it up with Spiro Agnew right before he plugged some hoodlum right between the eyes?

Do you remember the Spanish Civil War? I don't because believe it or not I wasn't even born yet but I know that a lotta folks out there in political struggle land do. Mainly some of the more altruistic types who look upon the late-thirties Spanish war as some noble dress rehearsal for World War II that should have been won by the Spanish communists no ifs ands or buts. And if you can believe some of the things that had been said about that war from the likes of THE VILLAGE VOICE or PBS the difference twixt the sides involved was easily discernable...the good guys were the on the side of the republic which was marching Spain forward into the twentieth century if all of that newsreel footage showing smiling kids eating nutritious food could be trusted, while the bad guys were Generalissimo Francisco Franco and all of those mean and nasty falangists who wanted to return Spain to the bad old days before socialism had its hooks into the ways and means of everyday breathing. Of course it wasn't really that simple, but just try telling that to some frothing sandalista type who may sniff and blubber when the people he's rah-rahing for get slaughtered but cries nary a whimper for the thousands of priests, monks, nuns and various other sundries get bumped off in droves by the communists. After all, his side has the smarts to kill the right people and why should the documentary makers who get their films aired on PBS quibble, eh?

Of course it ain't as simple as that either, and today in Spain the understanding pretty much goes that maybe both sides had their point, one being anti-fascist and the other anti-communist. Of course I dunno exactly how Charlie Haden would have taken all of that given how the longtime Ornette Coleman bassist, in between stints at Synanon (!), was also a true-blue card-carrying member of the Communist Party USA! Can't really argue or debate with these kinds of people given how they KNOW the true meaning of everything, but if I were a betting man I'd say that he hasn't changed his political opines one iota despite the evidence that has stacked up against the World Credo whose koolaid he's gulped down voraciously for quite a long time. Maybe he has shed his Stalinist tendencies since I've last heard but somehow I kinda doubt it. I mean, I get the feeling he's all for "people's revolution" even in the here and now although the guy's probably gonna be one of the first to get the bullet inna neck if his political allies actually do get into power.

So anyway here's this album he did as a leader, the first of a variety of "Liberation Music Orchestra"'s and perhaps the best known because it was the first and even got advertised in ROLLING STONE. Nice all-star cast here including such frontrunners as Don Cherry, Gato Barbieri, Perry Robinson, Carla Bley, Mike Mantler, Roswell Rudd, Dewey Redman and others whose names will tingle the lobes of late-sixties free jazz lovers worldwide. And in many ways this could be considered the first JCOA release given the personnel behind it and a whole lot easier to find as well (and cheaper!) than those now-obscure releases which used to show up in record shops only on scant occasion. But despite the outright agitprop and clenched fist angst that permeates this release what is there to satiate the standard avant garde jazz lover who finds left-leaning bellowing empty and something to downright fear (if there are any, that is!).

Frankly LIBERATION MUSIC ORCHESTRA fails to fire off any pleasure synapse in my head unlike say, various Archie Shepp (a fellow traveler by the way) did on his black anger releases let alone the Revolutionary Ensemble on their ESP classic VIETNAM. The Spanish melodies being infused into the free playing (along with the pertinent "field recordings") might "work" at times along with Sam Brown's flamenco-styled strumming, but the entire effect seems to getcha only about half way there. I will admit that some hot cooking does pop up on "Viva La Quince Brigada" section of "El Quinto Regimento" plus Haden does deeply satisfying bass solo on "Song For Che". Ornette's "War Orphans" gets a beautiful rendition as well. And now for the big BUT...most of LIBERATION MUSIC ORCHESTRA sounds awkward and dragging to these ears, not quite sparking any real emotion or energy and kinda being just "there" for us to like because of its good intentions which I know matter to the people making this but, what about us hungry freedom jazz lovers? Sheesh, the album ends with a rendition of "We Shall Overcome" (which the boys in school would sing emphasizing the syllable "come"..wonder why?) that sounds about as exciting as a Salvation Army performance, and though I might be able to see two late-sixties college radical types looking at each other nodding their heads in approval over this I move my noggin outta totally different sentiments!

Would I tell you to go out and buy a copy for yourself? Well, that would all depend on how much of a frothing late-sixties avant garde music maniac you profess to be. I kinda like to think that I'm one as well but frankly this isn't the expressive slab of fire music that I was hoping it to be. Maybe it only goes to show you that despite their airs of openness and experimental natures and being well-informed on various societal issues and all, these communist artists are just as stodgy and as dogmatic about their own world views as some dreadlocked odor-laden and tenured college professor who still bows to the altar of Stalin. It's too bad the Soviet Union fell, or else maybe Haden would have survived the purge to teach Brecht in some university with all of the comfy fringe benefits that job woulda given him!
LATEST ROCK & ROLL REFERENCE IN A WEIRD DREAM DEPARTMENT!: Yeah, I know that people tellin' you about dreams they had can get pretty boring unless you're in 'em, but not if they're rock & roll oriented ones which are something we can all share freely w/o fear of being socially shunned. My latest one, dreamed up sans any outside stimulation I might add, had me receiving a 2-CD set of LESLEY GORE'S GREATEST HITS and other Gore-related rarities stuck on it courtesy of none other than one Brad Kohler of Coraopolis Pennsylvania fame. After sticking a disc into a small player that was barely larger than the slim James Bond cigarette cases these disques are packaged in I actually get to hear Miss Gore sing what else but...her version of the Kinks' "All Day and All of the Night"! She vocalized it in a particularly breath-y fashion after each phrase..."I (huh!), believe (huh!), that you and me (huh!) forever..." Don't remember if she changed the sexual orientation of the song but then again, given the stories Don Fellman (and nobody else!) told me about her perhaps that wouldn't be necessary. Anyway the dream ends with me pressing the eject button to raise the lid on this strange player and finding out that I accidentally put both disques into the machine and had to quickly grab 'em all so's none of 'em would scratch up like has happened on a number of these tiny monstrosities which I had been careless with o'er the years!
Closing out this week's blabathon's this li'l gem I discovered while prowling youtube, an interview conducted by John Peel with Mick Farren who discusses not only his involvement with the then-spanking new INTERNATIONAL TIMES underground paper but the Deviants' upcoming gig in Holland. Nice to see these shards of historical fodder being made available to us peons for once in our lives, and hopefully some other rare gems will pop up in the upcoming months to sate our ever-craving need for sixties rockist-related filmware. Sure is a long way from those days when ultra-serious fans hadda pay beaucoup for some short 8 mm film being sold in the back of some Beatle fanzine!:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I've stated thing many a time before but you can all stand to hear it again so here goes...if PBS really were as smart, on-the-ball and as cutting edge as they've always lead us to believe then why did they pull many a boner when it came to what they were, or better yet weren't, putting on their broadcast schedule? To be honest about it I actually can't judge what those fru-fru's are up to these days since the only time I tune in's when the weather looks suspicious (y'see, the local PBS station has a large broadcast area range so I can get heads up on when a storm's a'brewin' long before the other local stations get wind of it), but in the past they have performed what I would call ultimate goof ups and obvious errors regarding their lack of smartipantsness in the scheduling field. F'rinstance, when MONTY PYTHON finally got a weekly timeslot here inna States after being piecemealed to death on various other programs (with PBS actually earning some Neilsen's for once in their born days) whywhywhy??? did they do their best to suppress RUTLAND WEEKEND TELEVISION when it seemed like the best way to cash in on all of that Python success anyway?

OK I've been told that RWT did air in the New York City market so perhaps the show earned a smattering of showings across the fruity plain, but it sure wasn't to be found on any of the PBS stations in the tri-state area I'll tell the world! A shame too, because given that RUTLAND was being presented to the great unwashed during the mid/late-seventies Golden Age of Bizarre Satire (the same stew which spawned NATIONAL LAMPOON/SNL and SCTV), young and impressionable dolts like myself coulda really used something like this to stare at on lonely weekends 'stead of THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW or some of the other hit/miss humor that seemed to permeate "straight" tee-vee way back when.

After years of suppression at the hands of Eric Idle no less comes this bootleg DVD-R collection of the entire series containing all sixteen episodes complete with the Christmas one where George Harrison played a pirate. This compilation should please at least a few of the more serious Pythonites out there, especially the ones who missed out on the fun and games the first time around because of the utter daftness on the part of PBS. And after giving these programs a viewing for once in my born days all I can say is...I wonder how could they have passed this show up given it had just about everything under the sun going for it! Talk about "stupid, stupid, STUPID!"

Hokay, now that I'm a jaded oldster I will admit to you that RUTLAND WEEKEND TELEVISION sure doesn't have the same impact it woulda had if I'd glommed the thing at age sixteen when my satirical impulses were coming to a pimply-like head. I'm just an old fogey now and watching this series in 2011 is slightly akin to silent film buffs who were studying Biograph shorts from 1900 at some MOMA showing back in the forties. The show looks nice 'n all in its mid-seventies way while the mix of Pythonesque surrealism and Neil Innes musical numbers would really have settled well had the local PBS station ran this marathon-style during a pledge drive like they once did alternating PYTHON and THE DAWN OF LAUREL AND HARDY (a series featuring silent clips of the duo working together before the L&H team was officially created), but being burned out by everything including life in general has really jaded me to a lotta things. I mean, you can laugh at some English comedian in drag once, but the umpteenth time around the whole schtick wears kinda thin.

Still I found a lot of worthiness in RWT, from Idle's overall brash style which rarely if ever grates on you (unless he was performing in front of Amerigan cameras which really diluted the entire effect) while fellow DO NOT ADJUST YOUR SET cast member (as part of the Bonzo Dog Band) and longtime sidekick Neil Innes is enjoyable even if his tunes could have used a little beefing up. These two pretty much hold up the entire series even if the rest of the regulars did take a bit of getting used to, especially David Battley whom I'm trying to figure out is supposed to be a surrogate John Cleese or Graham Chapman. Or is Henry Woolf but a Jewish Terry Jones and Gwen Taylor a passable Carol Cleveland substitute? Come to think of it, the specter of PYTHON does hang heavily upon this series!

Can't complain that much given the smart humor that does rear its ugly head at the time as well as the usually-cutting mid-seventies satire which spoofs everything from THE OLD GREY WHISTLE TEST (featuring an appearance by the original Toad the Wet Sprocket whose brief presentation here was eons better'n the group who eventually copped their name!) to Amerigan cop shows complete with those high-lariously bad accents you've come to expect from these Limey comedians! (And hey, what do you make of Idle's Rod McKuen sendup, the subject in spoof now going by the name of "McQueen" hmmmmmmmmm?) Not forgetting Innes doing all three Marx Brothers thanks to the miracle of videotape which was good timing since this was being done at the height of seventies Grouchomania and at least Innes knew a good bandwagon to jump on!

A nice encapsulation of a certain place and time that's long gone and which hardly anybody I know would care to re-live, but this not-so-humble reviewer sure wouldn't have minded inundating myself with back during my own formative years. At least these woulda fit snugly in my addled mind along with my old MAD paperbacks, whatever HELP! magazine I could scrape up and all of those bad Chevy Chase impersonations that were all the rage during those rather timewarped days. And frankly, what this country needed back then was a good guffaw and chortle given how hard really funny kicks were getting harder and harder to find. Of course I'm talking intended funny kicks...if I recall correctly reality was already giving us too many real life ones from Gerald Ford to Larry Flynt out the wazoo!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

No I don't wanna talk about Tucson. But I will. Really, what could I say that's remarkably different than all of that the predictable blab which has already been said other'n my own personal opinions which are bound to get me hell from all quarters! The whole circus of self-righteousness surrounding a "current event" we won't even remember in six month's time makes me laugh, especially when all of a sudden we the great unwashed hoi polloi are being preached about "brotherhood" and "civility" from people who never exuded an ounce of it in their born days! (As if anybody being uncivil had anything remotely to do with what transpired that fateful day---it still seems like the sole work of a lone wanker than the result of any political commentators or even the "division" in this land I thought President Obama was supposed to obliterate once and for all!) Frankly I think the nastier these pundits and people are the better even if they are irritatingly so and while you're at it members of the media, quit using these isolated incidents as an excuse to start beating your chests in self-righteous angst because we've known you all to be amoral phonies from the get go! Sheesh, it's really irritating to be lectured like a little kid on how to behave by people who never had an ounce of moral fiber or dignity yet prance and preen as if they were some sorta gods leaping straight offa Mount Olympus for us while we all gaze upon 'em in utter rapture!

Naw, I'd rather gab about something way more nearer and dearer to the hearts of every true blue BLOG TO COMM reader, mainly the recent passing of none other than David Nelson. Yes, the last surviving (and least visible) member of the once-omnipresent Nelson Television Family (as in THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET, ABC-TV 1952-1966) has passed on to the great syndication package in the sky, though frankly if you think that I'm going to unquestioningly praise the memory of Nelson since we should speak no ill of the dead well, once again you've guessed wrong. Not that I loathed the man, far from it actually considering his all-umportance as a cast member of one of the better long-running sitcoms in tee-vee history but sheesh, if you ask me I think the guy was a little creepy. A few of his off-screen comments and actions really had me scratching my head wondering "wha' th'???", like the time when I read this entry on him in one of the old WHATEVER HAPPENED TO... books from the seventies where it was mentioned that David had been directing his parents in OZZIE'S GIRLS, the early-seventies vintage post-O&H syndicated series that had a slightly successful run back in those Watergate-laden days. (Unfortunately it never ran here so all I can really go by is the pilot which aired on NBC one evening that really got my mom 'n me all excited though as usual Ozzie-hater dad could care less!) Strangely enough, in his entry Nelson actually stated that although he was directing his parents in this new series he didn't associate with them outside of the studio because frankly, David and his folks just couldn't agree on anything politically so the less time the three of 'em together the better lest some major eruption occur to really create a rift in Ameriga's Most Typical Family! And if something like political differences could induce such a divide within the Nelsons whom we all used to see proudly walk out their front door with big smiles on their faces every week well, I just wonder...

Not only that, but David also mentioned that at this point in time he had also given his life to Jesus, offering up this piece of information perhaps in order to tell us workaday readers that he really is a good and downright wholesome person even if his liberal views don't quite jive with the old folks' conservatism 'n all. Okay, but then again if this is in fact "so" why did David contribute to that one series in HUSTLER of all places where celebrities would "direct" their own photo shoots, something that I wouldn't quite associate with a person who proclaims to adhere to any verifiable Christian attitudes and values. Maybe Nelson had fallen off the churchwagon by then but anyway, learning about this particular career move was but one thing that not only made me think of him as the most expendable member of the Nelson's but the shadiest one as well!

Of course I know that what we saw on television regarding the Nelson Family and what really transpired are two different animals and anybody who'd think otherwise is probably of the terminally delusional variety, the same sort who used to come to Liberace's defense back in the fifties when my dad'd tell 'em he was a fag. But you might ask, does this tarnish my opinions of the O&H show even one minuscule degree? Not in the least Nellie, for I know that it was a fun, entertaining and realistic in many ways sitcom that reflected the lives and attitudes of a whole lot of people I knew as a child, many of whom continue to live on in a world that's certainly a whole lot different than the one they grew up in and has more or less passed them by a good many years back. A vulgar and degrading world at that which is not only going to get worse the more the social planners and do-gooders amongst us get their way but is going to attack the adherents of the Old Way with a passion once they get a firm hold on their unchecked power. And though I could go off on a tangent about that I will spare you, at least this time. I'll just end this soapboxing by saying that despite any personal shortcomings (which I really couldn't care that much about...y'see I'm not one of those living vicariously through my tee-vee heroes types who blindly follow the leader through whatever abyss might befall us blah blah snooze snooze) OZZIE AND HARRIET was and remains a program that will continue to obsess me and a great way to wind the day down back when I was but a toddler and my mother and I would watch it while eating corn chips and drinking root beer. I'm sure it was also a weekly passion for more than a few overworked white collar guys who could fantasize about Ozzie and the kind of family he had especially while the wife was out whoring it up and the kids were overdosing on Bactine stashed away in the medicine cabinet. I still have strangely fond memories of one Saturday evening when I had the show on while being babysat feeling great in that way only a young kid could feel. And knowing what a creep David might have been ain't gonna stop me from liking this show the same way knowing that Lou Reed wanted Duncan Hannah to drop bowel movement upon his face ain't gonna make me give up any of my Velvet Underground records either!
Not many pickings this week, and given the technical difficulties I've been having with the computer (mainly trying to download certain pix) it's lucky that I was able to come up with this pittance. If you really must know, I've been enjoying myself with many an old recording that's been dug up after a short time in moozical limbo which, while too obvious to warrant their own personal reviews (or perhaps they've already had one) still rate a top mention on this blog where the prestige'll do 'em good.

Amongst this week's old-timey plays are the first Wire album (my spinning of it spurred on by a Kris Needs review in an old ZIGZAG) and Syd Barrett's THE MADCAP LAUGHS, both not surprisingly enough released on the old Harvest label, the company with the logo that either looks like a harvest moon hanging above a valley that looks like a cow nipple or a closeup of a man burping a big gas bubble. As far as the former act goes, I refuse to classify Wire as "post punk" which is a term I associate with dullard experiments and fizzling inspiration that eventually set the stage for the dryer moments of eighties/nineties "independent" rock (no "roll"). But semantics aside, PINK FLAG really is beyond that even though it inspired a whole load of the Rough Trade stylings which I believe fizzled out before their time, and to these ears it sounds like the perfect mix of English punk take on the Ramones and the Velvet Underground back when their name hadn't been trashed about by lameass eighties rock dweebs the caliber Well, that might be debatable but at least PINK FLAG comes off as if it were recorded by experimental music bozos who spent the year of 1973 wearing out copies of EGE BAMYASI makin' 'em more of a Can for the late-seventies than some nth-rate flybynights cashing in on the punk rock cow. Still, these guys sound as if they've spawned more than their share of imitators and for that maybe I should knock 'em down at least a notch or ten.

As for THE MADCAP LAUGHS it's surprising how great this 'un satisfies me during the late-night hours whilst thumbing through ancient issues of CREEM. Slow burn intensity, folky yet punky and a good idea of what Pink Floyd might have sounded like had Syd Barrett kicked the rest of the guys out 'stead of the other way around! (Yeah I know that the Floydians were always in Syd's corner even when he shunned their presence helping him on his albums whenever they could, and in fact they sure saw to it that his specter hung about for years given all of the sly references they stuck into their ever-increasingly maudlin music!) And while we're talking about the Velvet Underground's hanging influence on the seventies rock scene I sure thought that "No Man's Land" had a strikingly Velvet-y sound to it. Wonder how intentional that really was given how the Floydsters seemed more or less anxious to disavow themselves from any Velvetist relationship no matter how teensy weensy it may be!

Lessee, what else can I blabber on about in order to pack this post up to a normal-sized bornado of an entry? Howzbout talking tee-vee! Naturally I haven't watched a prime-time network tee-vee program in's too short to waste on such dribble even if only to "educate" myself as to what is happening out there in tubeland...but I sure enjoy the older programs that occasionally will turn up when one is not looking. The TCM tribute to Hal Roach this month had the cable network digging out a load of rarities from silent OUR GANG shorts with horrible modern musical scores added (sheesh, it was way better when channel 33 just ran an LP of old ragtime sounds or channel 25 that creaky organ music that had no relationship to the screen action at hand!) to the Laurel and Hardy two/three reelers which unfortunately have vanished from sight probably thanks to the same tastemakers who somehow thought that Whoopi Goldberg was funny. Not having seen many of the L&H shorts since they vamoosed from local television back in the early-eighties it was sure grand to give 'em another go especially when such faves as THEM THAR HILLS and TIT FOR TAT were being aired for the millionth time in broadcast history. And what was best about these presentations is that we didn't have to put up with some conceited and smug actor like Alex Baldwin telling us what was so good about the acting and directing when we could see such things with our own eyes and discern for ourselves what made comedies like these so great in the first place! I guess that, according to these presenters and commentators, we're too stupid to understand the context and the timing and things of that nature, and frankly if I did wanna know more about what made a certain movie "tick" I'm sure some geek freak in the neighborhood would have more insight and depth in his opines than some ham actor who probably thinks he's the new Elmo Lincoln!

One program that I'll tune into whenever I have the opportunity is THE RIFLEMAN, which is now being shown on some religious cable network which also run episodes of DANIEL BOONE and GREEN ACRES in the afternoon kinda reminding me of those old indie stations that existed on this sorta stock for years on end before they got bought out by the small yet rising networks in the eighties/nineties. THE RIFLEMAN is one program that I can't complain about given its mix of hard-edged western drama, ultra-violence and downhome family entertainment rolled into one massive and at times bloody ball. And of course a guy like myself who will always believe in the eternal beauty of 1958-1963 just can't get enough of this type of entertainment even if you could say that Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain's can get too straight and narrow for even a straight and narrow person like yourself. I's just that THE RIFLEMAN's one of those programs that you can easily get sucked into the same way I'm sure the terminally unemployed and/or those incapacitated by their personal "habits" got into THE MATCH GAME/HOLLYWOOD SQUARES hour back in the mid-eighties. Only THE RIFLEMAN exudes tension while MG/HS was custom made with its mind-numbing sameness for the addled misfits amongst us! Am I correct about this? Any lower-class scum from the past willing to write in to fill me in on all of the gory details? And while we're talking gory, what do you take of the opening showing Connors walking down the street firing his rifing while striking a particularly phallic pose with it?

Well, I think I blabbed enough about my personal well are the reviews which I hope you can squeeze some beneficial information outta. Hope to get some more fresh goodies in soon when my Forced Exposure order arrives. Funny, the package should have shown up here yesterday but for some occult reason it's been held up somewhere along the way, but I know it's a doozy and you're going to believe so as well once I open up the cardboard package and indulge myself in some pure sonic bliss! More information the next time around, or maybe even the time after that!
Charlie Mingus-MINGUS MOODS LP (Trip)

Talk about blasts from the past! Remember the old Springboard label, this really strange quasi-bootleg company which used to clutter up the cheap bins of Ameriga with records of dubious quality like JEFF BECK AND THE YARDBIRDS not to mention ERIC CLAPTON AND THE YARDBIRDS and of course who could forget JIMMY PAGE AND THE YARDBIRDS? Well, I'm not sure the last two existed but this label was pumping out a whole lotta albums back in the mid-to-late seventies featuring old and usually out-of-print material recorded by people now hitting their stride in the big time. I believe the Yardbirds material used was taken directly from their Epic albums while the Rod Stewart stuff was from his Steampacket days. Might be wrong but I guess that after awhile the legal eagles caught up with Springboard which is probably why these platters seemed to be nothing but a mid-seventies memory by the time I saw them popping up in flea markets during the early-eighties.

Well guess what, turns out that Springboard had their own jazz subsidiary label called Trip who originally put out today's platter in question, a '57 side from Charles Mingus leading pianist Hampton Hawes and longtime drummer Dannie Richmond through the usual smattering of originals and standards done in a hot late-fifties pre-Ornette style. Teetering between post-Ellington bop and the avant garde, MINGUS MOODS is a surprisingly engaging enough set showing the volatile bassist at his more trad yet adventurous enough moments especially when he takes up some of the lead lines or makes his instrument sound like a whacked outta-tune guitar. Hawes, who later got sentenced to ten years in the slammer for not ratting on any of his, er, inspiration suppliers (eventually getting his sentence commuted by none other'n JFK) holds up well though he ain't a Cecil Taylor by any stretch of the imagination while Richmond is fine as usual, no Sunny Murray but still wild enough even while staying the course with Mingus' exemplary (ooh!) bass playing.

Great slice of pre-new thing here that might hold the average tuner into this blog's attention complete with typical seventies sexploito cover and of course a come on for the 8-track version on the backside. The really ironic thing tho is that now you'll have to pay at least four times the original price for this knockoff which you probably coulda found for $3.99 even at National Record Mart!
THE ROCK REVOLUTION by Richard Robinson and the editors of CREEM magazine (Curtis Books, 1973)

It's as obvious as the chancre on my face just how much rock scribing has declined in quality since the early-eighties as if this blog wasn't living proof of just that! At this point in time rock writing (in the classic high-energy sense) is pretty much a dead horse and has been for at least the past three decades, surviving only via small fanzines and an occasional blog where some old gonz spirit might glow on like a pilot light waiting for that big gust of gas. At least during the GOLDEN AGE OF ROCK WRITING (roughly 1971-1982 more/less) the ominous specter of half-insane gonzoisms and Nietzsche-ripoffed attitude permeated the pages of the better rock publications (with even the notion that the more hippie/radical rags were spouting off June Moon Poon palpitations for a better world being quite off-the-mark), and believe-it-or-not but there actually was a time when even the token college newspaper rock critics were more than aware of the energy that was being spewed forth from the likes of Bangs and Meltzer! Unfortunately those days came to an end somewhere around the time that rock as a heavily controlled industry began to exert its iron fist and the founding fathers of the New Gonz had either passed on or were passed up to the point where the spirit of Lester Bangs, a guy who probably was responsible for a good 75% of ROLLING STONE's sales ca. '69-'71, would have his memory trashed in a STONE review of the LET IT BLURT biography by New Generation Hack Parke Puterbaugh! It was an action that, although an obvious payback at Bangs and biographer Jim DeRogatis, perhaps enhances the overall credo of Bangs but frankly I'd rather live in a world filled with even the worst of Bang's tossaway prosody than I would anything that STONE deemed important enough to publish in the last three decades (to be generous about it).

CREEM was always the Amerigan rock scene's Stones to STONE's Beatles, and even though the two rags often shared contributors and at one time maybe even a shared vision there was a marked difference between CREEM's Detroit punkitude and STONE's San Franciscan journalistic tendencies. Eventually CREEM would ditch its smartass nature in a vain attempt to alienate less members of boxboy stoner nation while who knows what STONE has been up to since that brief time in the early-eighties when they began playing up to the English Rough Trade people in order to look "hip", but back in the seventies battle lines were definitely being drawn. Unfortunately the worst aspects of sensitive schlock Ameriga as defined by STONE won out which is one good reason that the entire rock writer field as created by Richard Meltzer has caved in and NOTHING seems as fresh or as back-brain stimulating as it one had way back when we were actually young enough to be altuistic about it all!

And if both rags could dupe self-important pseudointellectual teenagers out of enough dosh with their magazines then by gum they could do even more biz in the book trade. Gotta admit that STONE did a pretty good job with their collection of record reviews (if only for the Bangs/Meltzer/Tosches/Smith/Saunders/Kaye contributions) while CREEM held their own with a series of rock histories and the like which might have looked like crank-out fodder but read pretty good sans the elegant underlying current that STONE seemed to be exuding at the time. ROCK REVOLUTION was but one of the CREEM reads, a nice li'l encapsulation of the history of rock & roll from the rough and tumble beginnings to the early-seventies miasma "written" by ROCK SCENE editor Richard Robinson! Surprisingly enough, for being the "author" of this trade paperback Robinson's contribution to the entire shebang seems rather limited considering how Ben Edmonds wrote the foreword and the majority of contributions are done by rockscribe regulars Lester Bangs, Lenny Kaye and even Greg Shaw before he was unceremoniously kicked off the masthead for reasons that I've totally forgotten about but I'm sure it was all politics as usual as someone who was the victim of a purge at YOUR FLESH could tell you! (Well, it wasn't actually a purge...y'see Peter Davis called me to ask if I'd care to contribute to their newest ish and since I was too busy tidying up the then-current ish of my own rag I respectfully declined...just never heard back from him after that which I guess was a message being sent the hard way even if at that point in time I could care nary a whit.) But whatever, ROCK REVOLUTION is a winner, a top notch early-seventies paperback written for us dolts by the same guy who also gave us the ROCK SCENE book a few years earlier, yet another quickie crankout that also went out of its way to tell us that the Stooges were one of the most important rock & roll groups of the day even if none of us had heard a note of 'em yet!

The writing does vary...f'r example the opening schpiel regarding the birth of rock & roll zooms past you to the point where the compression of the years 1956-1959 within the span of a few pages leaves you muttering...wha'??? And naturally a whole lotta important facets of them early years are gonna be MIA but whaddaya expect from a 95-cent paperback anyway! But when the CREEM-sters get into their own comfy li'l niche and start talking to you about matters nearer and dearer to their corazons then the book begins to cook hot tamales. You get things like Shaw on Los Angeles in the sixties, Kaye on the Beatles and the East Coast scene, Lisa Robinson on Led Zep, Ed Ward on the early San Francisco Sound and of course Bangs gets to lecture us all about the Stones and heavy metal which at the time was not only the cutting edge end-all in rockism but something that seemed to hold promise for a bright and pleasant future to the same kinda guys who would eventually embrace punk rock by 1976. Naturally this was long before heavy metal got the patented trademarked look/style/attitude that CREEM undoubtedly banked any mid-eighties sales it could eke out on, but hey it's sure strange to remember that to many in the CREEM camp metal was born of not only the Yardbirds blues wail but the Velvet Underground on WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT and the Detroit epiphanies of the MC5 and Stooges! Talk about notions that went out the window within a few years time!

So whaddya got? Howzbout a pretty nice, concise collection of rock basics being yapped to you 'stead of at you by some of your most fave-rave writers who were sure smart enough to realize early on the importance of the Velvet Underground and Stooges to the canon (their albums actually make the "best of" listing in the back, something you never would have seen even CIRCUS have the nuts to do!) and were willing enough to stick their heads on the chopping block 'bout it at a time when hardly anybody else outside a few fanzine editors were addled enough to take a chance like that. And really, I find it nice and engaging enough even with the obvious glaring errors such as the identification of Sterling Morrison as John Cale in a Velvets photo or Lester Bangs mentioning Pink Floyd's first US hit as being "Monday" (and while I'm at it, Paul Jones was in PRIVILEGE, not PERFORMANCE) but hey, I think I might have made one or two errors like that in my 29-year "career", eh?

I read the second edition to this book about a good twenty years back and thought it was the end-all especially when Lester Bangs was yapping about the acts he thought were going to define the rest of that sorry decade he seemed to like enough despite it all. The original edition is fine as well, once you forget the asinine writing of Dave Marsh and settle in for the hard-clang. A fun time is to be had with ROCK REVOLUTION which only goes to show you that if people thought the rock & roll scene was rancid in 1973 they shoulda waited to see what it would be like in 2011!
TV Jones-"Eskimo Pies"/"Skimp the Pimp" single (Nomad)

It was about time somebody got the two surviving TV Jones sides and slapped them onto a handy dandy single for one-stop enjoyment. Great high-energy rock the kind that Detroit used to produce with a passion before the revolution fizzed and the entire area turned to economic rust. Radio Birdman maniacs will definitely want one for their collection while the rest of us will just think it looks fine and dandy moiling about with all of those other recently-churned releases that hearken back to the days when these kinda singles seemed like the end-all in a well-rounded, healthy rockist upbringing. Dionysus has 'em, and I'm sure a number of other mailorder bizzes that deal with the high energy end of the stick got 'em in stock as well so check the search engine of your choice and have your card and number handy!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

BOOK REVIEW! THIRTEEN "GOING ON EIGHTEEN" by John Stanley (Drawn and Quarterly, 2009)

Two-thousand-ten will definitely go down in the annals of time as the year in which I immersed myself extensively into a backlog of ancient (and not-so) comic strip/book collections of varying degrees and quality. It was inevitable that I would be getting a jump-start on a second childhood like this even if the first one hadn't quite run its course; after all, I had many youthful obsessions, comics being amongst them, that were the end-all and so ultimately important to my own well being and sanity which I discarded while traveling on life's one-way street only to get the urge to re-evaluate it all now that I'm heading into my twilight years. Not only that, but as of late I've been discovering a load of forgotten classics that I either poo-poo'd the first time around or totally avoided my radarscope, and with the number of reprinted titles being made available these days I gotta admit that there sure were a whole lotta downright classics that wooshed right by me! I will be brave enough to admit that these comics probably have more meaning to me (as an aging addled gulcher fan) now than they would've had I discovered 'em at age twelve...after all, what else is there to do these days?

And naturally my recent comic excursions have involved "looking into" such titles as THIRTEEN "GOING ON EIGHTEEN" which for the life of me I can't even remember seeing in the piles of flea market booty I've combed through during my adolescent comic book hunting days. Not that I was exactly looking for this "girl" title amidst the DC and Marvel superhero fodder that made this fine broth of a boy such a stew (although I was known to purchase the latterday MILLIE THE MODELs when Stan Goldberg was trying to turn it into a neet ARCHIE ripoff), but I must say that reading about THIRTEEN sure made it look like a title that just might appeal even to me given the "cult" that has formed around it over the years. And hey, if Carl Barks could have one why not LITTLE LULU writer/artist and THIRTEEN mastermind John Stanley...after all, Stanley was the one of the big names at the old Dell Comics line not only as the creator of this early-sixties title which I would assume was an attempt to capitalize on the ARCHIE-inspired teen anarchy market but the man behind the post-Bushmiller NANCY's as well as DUNC AND LOO, MELVIN MONSTER and that all-time forgotten fave CHOO CHOO CHARLIE! And with a resume like that, how can he miss with this teenage comic book that hit the racks at the height of teenage heaven otherwise known as the late-fifties to mid-sixties?

If THIRTEEN (GOING ON EIGHTEEN) was in fact an attempt to cash in on Archie's success as some have surmised it sure fell short of its goal. Unlike DC's BINKY or whatever title Marvel had out in the early-seventies there's none of that Stan Goldberg-styled Dan DeCarlo ripoff art to sucker the unaware kiddies in, not to mention the obvious ARCHIE-esque cover layout which I'm surprised never got DC or Marvel into hot water considering Archie Publications' litigious nature. In fact, without either an ARCHIE look or a licensed newspaper comic strip character easily recognized by the comic buying crowd it's a wonder that THIRTEEN lasted as long as it did. Maybe it was the inspired stories and art that had this title lasting long enough to the point where it would be remembered fondly enough for the Canadian Drawn and Quarterly publishing firm to reprint it as part of their "John Stanley Library", but stranger things have happened and in cases like this I'm sure glad they did!

THIRTEEN features the antics of pubescent pals Val and Judy, two young 'un's who sure get more than their share of grief dealing with the boys who they want to go out with and avoiding the ones who want to go out with them. Val's the slender blond ponytailed one just exuding early-sixties energy and excitement, while Judy's the fat pudge who in the early sagas seems more concerned with food than boys as well as with admiring herself in the mirror while flexing her bicep. Thankfully after a number of issues she slims down and the tiresome food and amazon jokes are abandoned making way for some funnier stories and gags that transcend the whole teenage girl comic schtick. At times THIRTEEN can become rather engrossing, interesting and downright high-larious even entertaining this guy who definitely is not part of the target audience Dell was thinking of inna first place, and really what other comic book could even attempt to do that here in the ultra-jaded 'teens!

But oooh, do the early ishes drawn by Tony Tallarico just gush sicky-sweet girl comics that no self-respecting red-blooded Amerigan boy with freckles on his face and boogers in his nose would DARE read! And hey, even "advanced" me felt just as creepy reading these as I did back in seventh grade when I ordered and received via the Scholastic Book Service a paperback of EMMY LOU comics based solely on her appearance on ARCHIE'S TV FUNNIES only to find it a saggy, frilly-fruity comic that was kinda like PONYTAIL only without the Hank Ketcham-inspired art and sixties suburban teenage gags. Hid that one in my messy desk out of pure shame though it's still in the archives here somewhere but anyway, THIRTEEN under Tallarico's pencilmanship is about as girlie-gooshy as being corralled into playing MYSTERY DATE with your sister which would figure since both items were aimed at the same icky girl crowd!

Needless to say there was a marked improvement when Stanley took over the artwork. His expressive, bold look now resembled something closer to what I would want in a fun 1962-era comic strip than the kinda art you'd find on a Barbie Doll box, and even the stories were improving with wilder plots and even a few bizarre twists that I'm surprised didn't earn this title a huge following amongst "serious" comic book freaks a lot sooner. And like I stated earlier it was a smart move of Stanley's (or his higher ups at Dell) to thin down Judy even though she retained her innate tough-gal character (as well as her nerdy boyfriend Wilbur with the Pork Pie hat and glasses) pretty much coming off as a Patsy Kelly-ish foil to Val's Thelma Todd, and naturally I'm going to spare you the comment that you all think I'm going to make about that particular arrangement!

It's also plainly obvious that the Stanley-delineated Val, Judy and their world are well older than the "thirteen" the title suggests, with the pair being extremely well-versed and knowledgeable about boys not to mention looking way too developed for their age unless they're from the South where women sprout up when they're ten. And one would wonder about just how inexperienced these girls really are given how Val really had her share of boys if one tale where she valiantly tries to hide (or divert attention from) all of the graffiti coupling her name and a myriad assortment of suitors while on a picnic with a new boyfriend (one of the better of the batch!), is any indication. Pretty active thirteen-year-olds, eh?

But whatever their ages there are some rather guffaw-inducing moments in THIRTEEN which transcend the audience they were obviously aimed at. The story which begins with Val fantasizing
about being on her death bed and, just when she is recovering her will to live thanks to the arrival of her boyfriend, gets doused with a sprinkling can fulla water by her rival had me in stitches along with everybody else who was cryin' their eyes out just a few panels earlier! THIRTEEN rarely reaches those heights of genius but it does come close enough for me. I still get a kick outta 'em at least for that early-sixties feeling that seemed to quickly vamoose from the scene once the layabout no-good kids started getting positive media coverage sometime in the early-seventies while the "older generation" who created these great, innovative and downright perfect comics and entertainment were suddenly put out to pasture as if the past seventy years of comics and general fun/games didn't mean anything anymore.

What really makes me give THIRTEEN a top-notch BLOG TO COMM rating is the backup series entitled "Judy Junior". It's not clear whether this featurette is about Judy as a child or perhaps her younger sister whom we never see otherwise, but waddeva it's a pantload-inducing enough tale about this rotund six-year-old girl who is always tormenting the scrawny sissy boy across the street who goes by the name of Jimmy Fuzzi. I know that I should hate this comic on pure principle alone...after all, there were kids like this in my neighborhood who used to bug the bejabbers outta me and tease me to no end and a lotta 'em were girls making me feel LUCKY that I didn't turn out to be a homo given the quality of females that I was surrounded by when I was in my formative years (and afterward come to think of it)! Judy reminds me of this certain skinny little girl of dago heritage (the worst kind) who always used to bother me (I believe her name was Judy as well)...she used to call me "cupcake" and although my mother thought she meant it in a sweet and endearing way she said it was because I was big and fat! I remember telling her not to eat the M&M's she found in a plastic bag on the sidewalk because they could be germ-y and who knows where they had been, though in retrospect given the way she treated me I wish I had forced the things down her scrawny throat just so'd she'd get the worms!

Hmmm, I better shut up or I might start HATING these comics kinda like the way I hated certain songs and television programs from my kid days I associate with utter humiliation, but I would be lying to you if I said that I didn't induce any pleasure outta the sadistic streak permeating these sagas. In fact, I like 'em enough that I actually posted a couple stories that I found on the Drawn & Quarterly blog (which is why they look better'n the comic page reproed above) just so's you'll get a sweet taste of exactly what I'm layin' at'cha here. Don't think they'll mind...might help 'em move one or two more copies and hey, I find a shrunken-down Judy a whole lot more entertaining than I did "Li'l Archie" which I thought not only looked grotesque but came off even worse than some of the less-exciting teenaged Archies that were being pumped out in the early-seventies. Whatever, if you want to get an idea of some of the things that have been flibbenin' my jib as of late here are a couple of items for perusal!