Sunday, May 29, 2011

So, how did you celebrate Bob Dylan's 70th birthday? Me, I was gonna dig out some old Dylan boots (A RARE BATCH OF LITTLE WHITE WONDER does come in handy for these occasional Dylan-inspired moments) and try to act especially forlorn. Didn't get a chance to do that, but I did spend quite a lot of time thinkin' about just how strange it was back when I was a kid seeing rock stars and other relevant youth idols reflecting on what it was like to be a member of that magic generation that was turning thirty, then jetted forward to the present day only to find out that it was way more irritating seeing 'em hit the septugenarian cycle! (And what does that say about aging bloggers like myself? Not a heck of a whole lot actually!)

Got a few interesting shards to send your way this weekend, and although I know that little of it will satisfy Your Royal Pickiness just think of what people will be saying about it fifty years from now! Gee, the thought of it really does make me wanna make it into the triple-digits just so's I can bask in the glory of not only these posts but the past thirty years of my writing "career" which I know will be finally appreciated the way it should by scores of future language fanatics. Either that or maybe when the aliens do land I'll finally have some copasetic communicators who will understand my scribings to the fullest extent and with whom I could exchange pretty high energy transmissions! Well, it's a whole lot better'n getting half-braincelled responses from dolts who wonder why I don't post any mp3's!

Anyway, here's the flotsam:
Fireballet-Two, Too LP (Passport)

Brad Kohler gave this to me for a present and all that gracious me can utter is...some present! But then again what can you say about a rekkid with a cover featuring five beefy New Jersey longhairs prancin' around in tutus (complete with cutout paper doll decorating the enclosed lyrics insert!) other'n "these guys really must've been tryin' very hard t' get noticed!" Of course their plan didn't work which is why Brad rescued this from a Salvation Army bin just so I could write it up on my blog and make mincemeat outta the thing in my patented snarling style, right???

But hey, in progressive rock circles this album (their second, meaning that they actually cut a first one!) is considered hot patooties. I guess that somewhere out there people still have a soft spot in their hearts for symphonic prog rock played on esoteric percussion and every kind of electronic keyboard advertised in the pages of DOWN BEAT. Fortunately I don't tend to hang around in those kind of circles even if some blokes out there like to tag acts like Roxy Music and Can as progressive rock indicating that the term is big enough to hold the likes of them and Gentle Giant without bursting at the seams, but as far as Fireballet goes all I can hear are sweet Association harmonies (at times sped up) performed to some of the more technically precise (and therefore dud-like) mid-seventies progspew that has that typical "look how smart we are" look and feel that was pretty common at the time. Toss in a few classical swipes here 'n there which might have worked for Frank Zappa in the sixties but faded well beyond cliche by the time this 'un popped onto the radar and what have you got? A pretty boring way to spend a good 45 minutes of your life!

Heck, even a cover of the Left Banke/Montage classic "Desiree" done with seventies techno-flash can't help this DOA effort out. But the album as a whole did help make me even more homesick for the seventies, which is why as soon as the tone arm rejected this dribble I slapped some Rocket From The Tombs on if only to resensify myself as to what that decade held as far as the promise of high energy jamz replacing this garbage! Buy yourself a copy and you too will find those Talking Heads albums soundin' a whole lot better, and more meaningful while yer at it!
Max Roach duos with Archie Shepp and Anthony Braxton-THE LONG MARCH 4-LP set (hat ART)

Thursday's review of WE INSIST! actually made me feel guilty enough to dig this four-LP live set out which features beyond-legendary drummer Max Roach in duo situations with equally beyondos Archie Shepp and Anthony Braxton, and considering how NOTHING can instill a sense of shame into me these days this really is sayin' somethin'! Can't say that ignorin' this four-record set (sheesh, when I was a kid I only thought Elvis Presley and Chicago were worthy of the quadruple-disc treatment!) was exactly a smarty thing to do on my part but hey, this '79 live sesh does do everybody involved proud. The sides with Shepp evoke the hard and deep emotion that's always been a part of his (and Roach's) entire young and angry black image even when they became old and crotchitier, and it drives on with that rage certainly not being kept in tow as the echoes of Coltrane bounce about even longer. On the Braxton sides Roach gets into a more small-percussion-y setting showing that the man could attune himself not only to bebop or swing but AACM-styled intricacies while Braxton does well on his usual gear ranging from contrabass clarinet to sopranino saxophone. Fantastic enough but I think this would have been more exciting had Roach teamed up with one of the more freer AACM players such as Henry Threadgill or Roscoe Mitchell. But wishful thunk aside this must've been a pretty wild gig all over and thankfully one outta bazillions that's been preserved if only that nth-raters like myself have something to write about!.
The Velvet Underground-APRIL SOUNDS bootleg CD (Verve, Germany)

You can tell that I'm getting desperate for booty to purchase if I have to resort to this collection of recently-unearthed Velvet Underground recordings that have been flying around in different forms o'er the past three or so years. Oh well, at least this is a good place to get under one roof more/less the entire Gymnasium show as well as the long-circulated take of  "Guess I'm Falling In Love" from the '81 John Cale radio interview. And how could I forget that the crafty bootleggers even included those tracks from that VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO acetate that eventually got re-recorded for the official release. If you don't have these now's the time, but dontcha think we're just about due for some fresh archival goodies headin' our way? Bootleggers, bust open them vaults!
The Crummy Fags-FOUNTAIN LOUNGE, AKRON OHIO 7/17/84 cassette tape

A recent dig into a box of cassettes unearthed this gem, a short but oh so sweet recording of an '84 gig by one of Akron's better bands of that decade who went under the fantastico moniker the Crummy Fags. I mentioned these guys on this blog once before in the course of a Spin Age Blasters review with regard to the fact that not only did both of these bands cop their name from Electric Eels songs but they swiped more'n a few ideas from the fervid imaginations of Dave E. and John Morton in the process. However, while the Spin Age Blasters were a relatively new discovery, I've been aware of the Crummy Fags for quite some time thanks to the likes of Jim Clinefelter and Bob Forward, two chaps who were more'n happy to help spread the word and thus educate lumpen proles like myself as to the majestic beauty of these guys who were also busy with other acts (perhaps the names Randy Russell and Johnny Phlegm mean something to you!) but didn't mind joining forces in order to keep the spirit of Northeast Ohio avant garage rock alive!

During their lifetime the Fags "released" a number of ltd. edition cassettes including one that was the soundtrack for an experimental film of Russell's entitled THE MONARCH BUTTERFLY STORY.  I recall that this particular production was pretty spasmodic indeed especially when the melody began taking on airs of various post-Velvets watermarks that thankfully still echoed the late-seventies underground smack dab inna center of the eighties doldrums. I have these tapes somewhere amidst about 35 years of collected crapola and naturally will spend more'n an inordinate amt. of time searchin' 'em out, but for now at least I have this typical recorded-inna-audience gem to soothe me until the tapes DO pop up or a Crummy Fags Cee-Dee release makes its way to my door.

Typifying the Electric Eels' entire reason-for-throbbing, the Fags plow their way through their songs with Eel-like anti-aplomb cranking out their tuneage with the same heavy-thud stylings of their mentors and more, even to the point where one bemused fan remarks "Bernie Joelson lives!" (referring to the famed Bernie of Invisibles/avant garage fame) after a particularly cold stop to one of the numbers. Covers of "Agitated" and "I Wanna Be Your Dog" will give you an idea of the group's er, aesthetic nature perhaps doin' their influences even prouder the way the lyrics to the former get all mangled and how the latter does NOT sound one bit like one of the billion lame eighties/nineties "homages" I've had the misfortune to hear these past few decades.

What I really like about the Crummy Fags is that these guys weren't one of those watered-down eighties acts that always came off like carbon-copies (faded at that) compared to the various sixties/seventies innovators who seemed like the end-all for rock 'n' roll as that International Youth Language high energy up-against-the-wall form of expression CREEM magazine used to tell us about. The way they mish-mosh seventies thud punk and overall eighties stupidity in a way that actually does appeal to someone like myself actually has me thinkin' of Death, not the all-black punk bunch that's been gettin' the royal carpet treatment on the reissue circuit but that Milwaukee aggregation who were pretty primal in their own fashion and boasted of having James Chance as an auxiliary member. It's sure nice to know that something like the Crummy Fags could have been up and running during a time when underground rock sure wasn't as enticing as it once was and in fact had become downright putrid! Sheesh, I wonder why I never thought of puttin' 'em on the cover of my own rag, and at a time when I'm pretty positive that they coulda used some moolah-making publicity, since I know that ish woulda been an immediate hit with you readers out there who were looking for something a little more exciting!!!

Haven't spun this 'un in quite awhile which is a shame considering how we all could use a whole lot more Kim Fowley in our lives and, come to think of it, a whole lot less Lady Caga (to name an easy target which of course would never hit the object of scorn the way I'm sure many of you would like it to). Yeah, I know that for many of you the name Kim Fowley conjures up images of slick hype, bandwagon jumping, total disdain for the fans and of course the legendary MASSIVE EGO, but since I've never been face-to-face with the man and haven't experienced his self-promoting ways firsthand well, maybe you should forgive me if I still find him quite the charmer, the modern day Uncle Dudley as I said in the third issue of a certain crudzine that shall remain nameless.

Purporting to actually be bastard child Kim Fowley Jr., Fowley seems to be way more in tune with the then-current trend in minimalism than one would have expected from a forty-plus bandwagon-jumper who's had more'n a few fingers in way too many pies (and take that any way you wish!). But hey, he plays it as cool as Lou Reed as Fowley takes ideas from everybody from Suicide to Nurse With Wound (!) and makes it all sound like 1962 teenage filtered through 1981 El Lay sleaze with the help of everybody from Moxie regular Rich LaBonte to what was supposed to be that new Runaways ("class of '84") who do more than ample work trying to capture the spirit of the age while leaving all of the smarm behind (or at least taking that smarm and putting it to pretty good use!).

I really can't capture for you what makes this platter such a success, from the pseudo-musical backing (backwards tracks and sparse synth bleats amongst 'em) to Fowley's generally detached speak/sing which, like the work of Black Flag and Fear, exposes a side of Southern California that most wish would have remained unseen. If Kenneth Anger had a band in the seventies it might've sounded like this, only with more references to Crowley and Icarus than anybody out there could imagine.

And to think that Fowley did this for the Moxie label, a company best known for a wide variety of garage band compilations that, although exemplary in their selection, were considered shoddy in their execution even though thirty-two years back we hadda take what we could get and they didn't seem like that raw a deal even if those pressings were, shall we say, rather chance-y. Some day I wouldn't mind hearing the entire story behind this one, but given what I know about Fowley it probably won't be revealed until archaeologists uncover the third strata of the Hollywood Dynasty some time during the reign of The Pharoah Stiv.
Uh, like see you in June.


Serena WmS. Burroughs said...

That is quite a motley crew that you wrote up this time, but I do remember a time when the Crummy Fags came over to Red Dark Sweet headquarters after a gig in the Flats, and I do believe that I played an Anthony Braxton LP at one point (I know how to get the party started, right?), and was talking to singer Sean Wolf Hill about him. Anyway, I celebrated Brax's birthday yesterday by doing a gig with Alex Henry on sax (though he plays tenor, not alto plus a dozen other instruments)...

Anonymous said...

Monarch what the f*ck?
My delightful bandmates never told me anything...

KAB r.i.p. April 13, 1987
SWH r.i.p. June 5, 2002
"mors ultima linea rerum est"
Waldo Drogulus / Rugged Bugs
(a.k.a. J. Phlegm)

Anonymous said...

And P.S.-
CD and/or mp3 releases of Crummy Fags
'Pop-dog-whatever-the-hell' (I can't remember the title) and/or Rillylostinamireonarcisism
(once again, title?)
are up to the aforementioned Mr.Clinefelter - as far as I know he has the master tapes. Jim was also the producer of the
Ragged Bags 'Let's Go to the Mars.'
I've asked about these in the past. I got no response -
Maybe you'll have better luck.
- Johnny Phlegm (W.M.D./Rugged Bugs)