Wednesday, November 30, 2011

BOOK REVIEW! MISS FURY BY TARPE MILLS (The Library of American Comics, 2011)

Betcha wonder why I bought this particular collection of forties vintage Sunday Funnies, hunh? C'mon, like you can't guess??? I mean, lemme give you a hint! Or how about TWO nice, big, JUICY hints at that!!! Y'know, sometimes I just wonder about just how much of a mental capacity you readers (let alone myself) really do have!

But yeah, it should be pretty obvious why I purchased this new collection of MISS FURY reprints, though even if I weren't such a sucker for tits I woulda bought the thing anyway. Y'see, I've always wanted to know more about this long-forgotten newspaper strip featuring the first ever costumed female superhero (who made her grand appearance before the grandmama of 'em all WONDER WOMAN!) ever since Wally Wood drew her with typical Woodian hubba-hubba-ness in that "Comic Strips Old Folk's Home" spread that appeared in some late-fifties MAD. And while I'm at it, the plain ol' fact that Timely soon-to-be Marvel then Atlas until finally settling back on Marvel used to reprint her Sunday travails did add somewhat to the mystique even if technically Miss Fury was not whatcha'd call part of the superhero stable at that venerable company. Naturally the whys and wherefores behind just exactly why Miss Fury was never invited to join the All Winner's Squad remain under wraps, though if you ask me I think Marvel was secretly coveting her costume which would, with few not-so-minor alterations, become virtually the same one used for the Black Panther a good two or so decades later!

So, I finally get to read these Sunday strips and well...I gotta admit that MISS FURY ain't exactly the kinda comic that I was hoping it'd turn out to be. Unlike that other comic strip-bred costumed crimefighter the Phantom, you rarely see Miss Fury in her panther-skin costume which is a real disappointment for a spiritual Saturday Afternoon Barbershop Kinda Kid like myself. In fact, most of these sagas feature Fury in her "secret identity" as young debutante Marla Drake getting into the undercover espionage racket without the aid of her magic costume making me wonder, for all intent purposes, just why this strip was conceived and billed as being even remotely superhero-oriented! Well, considering how the actual panther skin works "black magic" when Drake dons it, and that for every good deed done its power invokes two bad ones you can see why the gal fears the use of her special powers! But gee, this is supposed to be a superhero(ine) comic and ya'd think what the boys were more'n anxious to see was some gal with nice guffies dressed in a skin-tight panther costume fighting axis spies and various other underworld shadies 'n not a lotta soap opera love and secret identity shenanigans!

So yeah, MISS FURY can creep on at times, but when the action picks up and Drake slips on the ol' skin (though unfortunately no scene like the one on the cover transpires in this tome!) the strip is about as good as any other red-blooded comic to hit the papers of the forties. Artwork's snat too even if more comic book-y than strip and best of all the plots can get kinda creepy at times, like when this certain Nazi badski is about to dissolve the toddler son of Drake's old boyfriend in a vat of acid (he already did it to the brat's pet rabbit!).

Some pages are inexplicably in black 'n white (like you'd think the publishers woulda paid someone to color 'em up!) and the forward by noted underground cartoonist/feminist Trina Robbins only proves that she probably likes just about anything as long as it was done by a woman (well, not quite but it sure reads like it sometimes), but despite the occasional if expected gaffes and goofs I gotta say that I mildly enjoyed this volume. Not enough to dish out extra for any future ones mind you, but as far as what it is and where it stands, MISS FURY is like...pretty enveloping.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Still reeling from the Fangsgiving banquet I indulged in three days ago to really get into whatcha'd call any thought-provoking opening schpiel. Not that there's really anything of a socio-political nature that I would care to bore on about, but I'm still pouring through a stack of recently-purchased platters that I sure enjoy enough to blab onto you regarding their worthiness. So without further a-doo-doo...
The Gruberger Brothers-GREETINGS FROM READING PA LP (Rerun)

And right when I thought the entire well of archival fanzine rock had been spent for all eternity! I mean...who woulda thunk that anybody outside of Bear Richert'd even care about releasing an entire album of rarities that were birthed from the brains of the Gruberger Brothers (Solomon and Jay), they of seventies-vintage fanzine scum fame! But hey, the smart brains behind Rerun Records have, and this doozy of an album featuring the pair cranking out their bedroom (too primal for garage!) recordings has come just in time to lift me from the bitterness of cultural despair.

And for that all I gotta say when are you gonna get to the rest of the plethora of fanzine writers fantasizing about being rockstars in their beswetted boudoirs laying down early-seventies riffage that wouldn't find a viable audience until at least five years after the fact? (So I guess the well of seventies fanzine bedroom recordings hasn't been as spent as I surmised!) The Kenne Highland tapes (with the verifiable anthem "I Got a Dagger For You Jagger")  are just beggin' to be released as are the Metal Mike Saunders recordings which feature future Angry Samoans riffs that would be put to good use a whole lot later in his career. And you thought he was swipin' 'em all from Ted Nugent, eh?

Not to say that Solomon and Jay don't utilize enough early/mid-seventies hard rock watermarks on this platter...after all late-sixties garage band moves and early-seventies heavy metal equaled late-seventies punk rock, and if anybody could work out this equation with any semblance of intelligence it would have to be the kinda guy who spent the years 1968-74 immersed in Cream via Zep via Iggy via Sabs and digested it all with the entire written screed of Lester Bangs. After which defecating it all out as the p-rock that millions of disaffected if aging scions of the Atomic Age still act as if it only happened this past afternoon. That would be a good approximation of where the Grubergers were headed with this album, a hard churn out that takes the already minimalist/animalist natures of the Gizmos, O. Rex and Afrika Korps and reduces it to even tastier depths.

Kinda like eighties Ramones meets "Muff Dive" Gizmos with one of the best unassuming vocalists (who I assume is Solomon) doing some of the tastiest talk-singing ever since Lou Reed. So packed with all of the better ideas to come out of the seventies that it would look just swell if it were stuck in some $1.99 bin at one of those cheap-o record shops that used to be all the rage at least until they deep-sixed just because they were so great they just hadda die!
Malcolm Mooney and Tenth Planet-INCANTATIONS LP (Milvia Son)

Sheesh, I woulda thought that an album of Can covers by Mooney and his long-time backing group Tenth Planet would have been a know...too obvious. But whaddaya know, this album doesn't go out of its way to offend you like I always do. Mooney may sound like he's ready to head for the Social Security office, but he can still manage to belt out a throaty vocal just like he did when he was in Can, and Tenth Planet sound just as good as any truly off-the-wall, experimental outfit from the seventies that snuck Can recordings in between spins of Iggy and Beefheart did..

The live performances (in front of what seems like a small, invited audience) are faithful to the originals yet refreshingly different enough that these don't come off like some exploito re-recording to sucker in whatever audience there would be for ancient krautscapading out there. Energetic and punky, and all through the entire spin I kept thinking about how this would have been the perfect 1979 surprise outta nowhere had this only transpired a good three decades before it actually did. But then again, given the archival, almost sacred aspect of its mere being you know that it couldn't.

I've read that one of the members of this group was previously in Negativland, that eighties SF group who used to go nuts on the samplings (to the point where Brooce Springsteen dealt out some workingman's legal action) and were obv. kraut-oriented in their approach to underground sound spasm. Never did pay attention to 'em because frankly, from what I've heard they seemed too eighties experimental 'stead of seventies high energy, but after spinnin' this soiree I'm having thoughts about checkin' 'em out a good three decades after all of you decadent snoots living off trust funds in large city enclaves most certainly did! If any of you have any concrete, honest and typically snide comments regarding whether or not I should shed shekels over old Negativland albums please lemme know via the combox listed at the end of this certainly pallid posts!

Gee, the guy was pretty busy...not only pumping out records, but pumping out babies as well! Make Father's Day a special one with an album by the daddy (in more ways than one!) of them all Screamin' Jay Hawkins! A repress of his Epic debut longplayer, this one's not only got the all-time biggie hit "I Put a Spell on You", but Hawkins gasping, choking and gurgling through a whole slew of standards ("I Love Paris", "Old Man River", "Deep Purple"...) and creepy non-PC plastered plunkers like "Hong Kong" which  no doubt about it goes to show you that black people can be downright racist despite what Dick Gregory sez!

But hey, I can overlook a few lapses into bad taste, which I must say come off so refreshing here in the teens when the modern-day variation on the "uplifters" have pretty much turned the entire planet into one sick sad concentration camp where we all gotta smile and march in unison. At least records like this exist to show us just how fun, wild and uninhibited those "repressed" fifties really were, and like Bo Diddley and Link Wray Hawkins was one fifties survivor who certainly remained meaningful in a rock/blues sense long after everybody on this earth seemed to pronounce 'em all dead! (Hokay, I never heard his disco cash-in sides which Byron Coley so valiantly railed against, but somehow I get the feeling that even I would appreciate those in their [and my] own twisted, unnatural way!)
Primal Scream/DTK-MC5-MUSIC FROM THE FILM BLACK TO COMM LP (Easy Action, England)

I don't think I told you this, but I actually swore that I wasn't gonna snatch up any record, tape, Cee-Dee or neural implant for that matter that was related to the recently-reformed (whatever's left of the) MC5. Naturally this was for purely aesthetic purposes, since really I kinda thought a buncha sixty-plussers romping around on a stage like they were still eighteen would seem about as silly as an aging doof like myself still writing about long-dead rock 'n roll ideals. But since I figured that the best thing to do with aesthetics of any kind is to toss 'em out the window, I not-so-promptly changed my mind and decided to snatch this live platter of a show where the new "Five" take to the stage with an act called Primal Scream, about whom I know nada about, and hear for myself what was happening for better or (hopefully not) for worse with regards to what the revised "MC3" were up to long after you woulda thunk nobody on this earth'd care anymore.

Sure glad I did too, because this superjam is one of the more exciting records to grace my turntable in quite awhile, a throbbing mass of aural matter that doesn't sound as contrived as something along these lines could get but way better'n alla those revived bands cranking out the old hits for an audience that can now afford 'em. The opening blast of the Them/Troggs classic "I Can Only Give You Everything" sets the pace as the two acts scramble through a couple Primal Scream numbers, a rousing "Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa" and a side-long take on the title track which combines the best avant-rock proclivities of the original Five along with a free jazz feeling that you woulda sworn was ripped right from the soul of a BYG Actuel session! Only the mid-song appearance of John Sinclair reading one of his post-beat poems drags the energy levels down, but otherwise this is a great screamer of a platter that equals Ascension, the Sonics Rendevous Band, Destroy All Monsters and the better of the eighties Australian aggros for total all-out energy assault!
Various Artists-FILLING THE GAP volumes 1-5 5-CD box set (Psychic Circle, available through Forced Exposure or CD Universe)

Yeah, I know...just why would I want to splurge my heard-begged depression-era wage moolah on yet another sixties garage band punk rock sampler! Especially since, for all intent purposes, most of the  recent ones (and I'm talking twenty-five years of recent ones!) are either one-spin-only affairs featuring good if lackluster crank outs, or worse yet one-spin struggles to get through thanks to the plethora of late-sixties fringe jacket Grateful Dead-inspired jackoffisms inherent therein. Yeah, I have been burned on way too many of these collector/fan-oriented AMAZING GARAGE PUNK ROCK CLASSICS collections that have turned out to be nothing but ENDLESS HIPPIE TRIP NOODLINGS, and if I could get my money back on all of the erroneously-advertised collections I've been known to purchase then maybe I could afford not only all of those other expensive records that have escaped my grasps but that lifetime membership in hair club for men that I've been desperately in need of these past few years!

Glad to say that these FILLING THE GAPs ain't quite the duff choice even if there are what I would call a few "questionable" entries to be found. And true, a lot of the material here is, as they say, psychedelic (something which I wouldn't exactly think was a dirty word even if some of its practitioners weren't exactly the most hygienic people), but it still has that punk rock feeling and attitude even if the music might trek into questionable early-seventies terrain. At least the connection between the hard romp of the mid-sixties and the post-wail that at the time was more often than not being ignored in favor of more relevant Cat Stevens and JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR fluff has been made, and frankly if you ask me it's about time more aficionados of the form were coming to the exact same conclusion!.

The obscurities mingle with the class of NUGGETS, and even if there are a few hunhs? here like Jake "Dazed and Confused" Holmes there are also such in-place rarities as the post-Red Krayola Saddlesore single side "Old Tom Clark" and some non-LP Moloch, a group who did live up to their tangential connections with the Stooges and MC5 even if their background was pure mid-South. Makes for a fine high-energy listening session for those simmer down evening hours as well, and not only that but the enclosed booklet's as informative as these fan-bred archival digs can ever hope to be!
...AND IN CLOSING, YET ANOTHER SNIPPET FROM A ROCK 'N ROLL-RELATED DREAM I RECENTLY HAD. Editing all of the extraneous jizz outta it, what was I doing but finding myself in my basement listening to (get this!) the Imperial Dogs roaring through a particularly potent rendition of "Sweet Jane", only with a slightly different if better chord progression and lyrics that were being extrapolated on a whole lot more'n even what Lou Reed was apt to do during his height in the Velvet Underground. Stronger than the Third Rail take and in fact coming off particularly Rocket From The Tombs-ish, the "raw" sound quality (complete with a drop out during the second about dreams imitating low fidelity reality!) certainly adding to the overall high energy effect as lead singer Don Waller was tossing lyrics along the lines of "the kids just wanna hear some rock, with a lotta cock".  'n yeah, I don't exactly know what that means either but since Waller sang it with such conviction I just hadda sit up and take notice.  Could use more dreams like this 'un, especially since the other dream I had was one of those innervoid nauseating grossouts with disturbing images galore that kinda make you not wanna go back to sleep for at least the next fifty years!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I know it...I'm not supposed to come out and admit that I like early eighties new wave acts like the Social Climbers. I mean, why should I show my insecurities in public even more than I already have? And really, why should a living and breathing lump such as myself care if the likes of a Gerard Cosloy or Patrick Amory think I'm "cool" or not even if throughout my growing up years the first and foremost thing that was rammed into my mind was to be popular and "with it" just so's people would like me. Those days are (perhaps thankfully) gone forever, and since people still loathed me even if I tried so hard to be one of the gang why shouldn't I just come out and say that I don't give a flying fanabla what you think regarding what I think of the Social Climbers' LP/EP-set that Drag City has rescued from the chasms of eighties new wave obscurities.

I like this not only because the group has enough "hooks" they can sink into my rockist psyche from leader Mark Bingham also being the mastermind behind Bloomington Indiana's Screaming Gypsy Bandits of yore as well as MX-80 Sound producer not to mention the Climbers' omnipresence on the early-80s CBGB scene, but because for being an early-eighties new wave band complete with the usual trappings (though not as retch-inducing as what the mainstream concept of new wave was at that time) the Climbers sure put out some rather energetic and definitely non-rote music. Yeah, in some ways it is typical 1980 beatbox electrofodder, but good electrofodder at that which coupled with Bingham's smart set songwriting certainly doesn't bug ya the way too many of these New York acts rife with members trying to look like early-sixties heartthrob pop singers of Italian heritage, and I'm even talking the girls, most certainly did!!!

It's true that the Social Climbers sound "dated", but at least they're stuck in a rather good warp twixt New York innovation and scene disintegration. You already know the score I've been ranting for ages about how the downfall of Max's Kansas City (where bonus track "Tickhead" was laid down) and the passing of Lester Bangs heralded a new era of Ameriga goin' squeaky-clean 'n flabby, and where Ameriga goes the rest of the world follows 'n all that which certainly doesn't add up to funtime jollies on any count. The sounds to be found herein do straddle the punk generations rather swimmingly, even though at some point I would say that Bingham and crew seem to be falling way too hard into then-contemp Talking Heads art emote with a bit of sacrificin' on the rock 'n roll. But before you're ready to head for the nearest vomitorium the crew can cook up some hotcha and unique ideas, at a few points even coming pretty close to what the Monks were up to on "That's Why" and hey you know that they never even knew who the Monks were until a few years later like the rest of us! And thankfully these guys ('n gal) spare us the horrid new wave whine vocals that were so prevalent amongst various acts with David Byrne haircuts and trust fund bankrolls.

Only real bummer to this 'un is that Drag City blew a good opportunity to pad out this platter with the wide array of Social Climbers material available on various samplers (such as the SEGMENTS cassette as well as the one-minute slice of a live jam recorded with jazz guitarist John Scofield taken from the STATE OF THE UNION album) and elsewhere for all I know. As it is, the only bonus fodder that pops up here's the aforementioned Max's track as well as version of Bernard Herrmann's "The Day The Earth Stood Still" that was laid down when ex-Theoretical Girls drummer Wharton Tiers joined the act. C'mon Drag City, you coulda done better, unless you were saving all of this stuff for a future endeavor...

If you can't get enough Mark Bingham here then why don't you try this solo album of his entitled I PASSED FOR HUMAN that was released on the Dog Gone label during the decidedly non-musically interesting year of 1990. Although the lingering dinge of post-new wave pop moves does permeate this platter I found myself enjoying this for what it was, an outta-nowhere mildly rocking effort that doesn't offend even if it doesn't quite inspire. Jazzy in spots, experimental all over and even the eyeballing towards mainstream pop moves doesn't make you wanna rip it off the laser launching pad perhaps because Bingham does have a sway with the lyrics and the music isn't anything to wanna slay crippled nuns 'n orphans over. Not only that, but Bingham gathered up some good name musicians to help out in one way or another including Scofield, bassist Steve Swallow, Peter Stampfel (who once joined the Social Climbers onstage at CBGB during their first anniversary concert, something I wish would have ended up on the Cee-Dee reviewed above!)  and none other than famed Man Boy Lover Allen Ginsberg who fortunately doesn't get into his kreesh-na-kree schtick or any explicit ravings about the kid fresh in from Biloxi he met in some bus depot last night.

I'm sure some would find it strange that jazz guitarist Scofield as well as former Ayler bassist Swallow would be working with the likes of Bingham, but in actuality the two camps go back quite a ways. At least as far back as '80 when Bingham was producing the Scofield trio's BAR TALK album for Arista. And hey,  I still recall that day eons back when I picked up the VOICE and noticed that the Scofield trio were opening for the Social Climbers at CBGB, thinking that either Scofield had gone underground no wave rock or at least was peddling his music to the jaded New Yorkers the same way everybody on the new jazz scene from Joseph Bowie to Sonny Sharrock were! Boy was I a stupe back then, though as time rolled on and I bought the STATE OF THE UNION platter I proved myself to be even stupider because when I saw the Social Climbers track (the one-minute segment of a jam to a tape loop of Jerry Falwell of all people!) and Scofield's name mentioned in the credits I thought he was a bona-fide member of that band as well!

Now that I'm older and can sort things out a whole lot more'n I could thirty years back the truth is plain to see, and that is BOY COULD I JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS ON THE FLIMSIEST EVIDENCE!!! Still, I am curious as to what might have transpired on that night when Scofield, Swallow and (I believe) Adam Nussbaum traipsed upon the CBGB stage, and although BAR TALK is going for a pretty penny these days at least OUT LIKE A LIGHT might give me an inkling of what the three were up to at least until a tape of the actual CB's gig makes its way to mine ears. Recorded 12/81 in Munich for the Enja label, LIGHT shows the three in a polite if restrained atmosphere trailing through various jazz forms from mainstream to avant, relaxing to engaging, and keeping my attention held throughout which I must say is a stellar deed considering my naturally born ADD. Nothing that I'm gonna feast heavily upon mind you, but still miles ahead of the dinner tie and jacket jazz mindset that's unfortunately overtaken that entire movement to the point where you know the Art Ensemble of Chicago might as well be Jan Garber to the whole lot of 'em!

And hey, considering how some guy (no names please!) once gave me the razz because he thought I was a fan of Scofield's, now that I've heard and digested more of him all I gotta say is hey...razz away! Don't do nothing to me and besides, the guy's gotta be a whole lot more lyrical and open to different variety of jazz and other modes'n the majority of recent experimental guitar players who have lost any semblance of swing and verve along with their hairlines ages ago! And yeah, a further dig into his back catalog just might be the thing, especially if other vistas of underground expression are being withheld from me as the years roll on...
In the interest of trying to adhere to at least a shard of a human nature, let me wish each and every one of you (at least here inna states) a Happy Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving was always a fun time of the year for me especially since back in the old days us schoolkids were guaranteed two days off right before the weekend, and considering this is the time o' year where it's usually too late to mow the yard and too early to plow the driveway there was much freebee time to be had! Nowadays overworked/underfunned me would murder for a good four-day weekend, and while I'm at it I sure could use some additional time off like I usedta get so's I could spend precious hours scouring the record shops looking for rare albums and new arrivals that would certainly tingle my tootsies. Only there ain't any record shops left nor can I find albums outside of the internet anyway and even if there were record shops they don't stock the kinda music they did back inna seventies an'... Awww, just forget I said anything! (drat!)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

And you readers don't think I live a normal, agony-filled life! Well I do, and considering the pain and turmoil I'm going through this weekend I'm positive it's probably a whole lot normal-er than anything you'll be up to with all the fun frolicking the average BLOG TO COMM reader likes to pack into his two days off! Yes, although I do not like to admit it I am subject to the pains and strains of everyday life, and right now I'm going through a pretty big 'un myself in the form of an abcessing tooth which is driving me battier than a Monogram-era Bela Lugosi flick!

Yeah, those voodoo darts aimed at my face sure did their job, and although this 'un ain't as painful as the abcessed tooth I had right next to this 'un back June of 1983 way lemme tell you it's still a smarter. Enough that I have been waking up countless times during the night usually by weirdo dreams brought forth by the jucily-pulsating throb taking place within my jaw so you know this pain is a killer! Some of these dreams have been rather vivid as well as entertaining in their own way...however for the sake of brevity I'll refrain from giving you all of the funny, if convoluted details regarding the rather realistic if bizarre goings on I've been conjuring up during my nightly snoozeathons. (Though the one where none other than a scruffy-looking JONATHAN RICHMAN was performing at a family gathering taking place in my uncle 'n aunt's old living room was a really winner even though I was flinching during one song he was wailing on regarding his adolescent days, especially the part where he mentions something about masturbating! Fortunately he slurred that word and my father couldn't understand what he was saying, thus saving a whole lotta agony on my part.)

I'm still digesting the latest Forced Exposure order and want to save my opinions re. that untamed and at this point mostly un-listened to booty I have received for a future post, though during my toothache travails I have had the opportunity to settle back and read a whole buncha the comic-related bookage (copyright 1985 Byron Coley) which has been making its way to my abode these past few weeks. Well, I did mention in an earlier post just how this autumn season brings out the pre-teen pudge in me, and frankly there's nothing like an overcast or downright rainy November day, a stack of silver/early-bronze age comic books and a bag of artificially-flavored orange "belly guts" to bring back the days when I knew what was best for me, and it wasn't more homework or learning the social graces I'll tell ya!

Lessee, which one shall I start with? Howzbout the Marvel Masterworks edition of THE AVENGERS, VOLUME 9???? Gotta say that considering the extremely jacked up prices on these hardcover and full-color collections of classic Marvel wares I've only been able to splurge for a few of 'em, but since this particular volume not only features the infamous superhero squad during one of their heights but the famed Women's Lip story "Come On In, The Revolution's Fine" (a tome which fit in snugly enough with the rest of the "relevant" early-seventies garb both Marvel and DC were puttin' on full display at the time) this was just one book that I wouldn't dare pass up on! And besides, trying to get a flesh and blood copy of AVENGERS #83 (the ish featuring the aforementioned feminist frenzy) was gettin' to be a costly affair, but for a few added shekels I could own a good ten ish reprint run so like, why piddle about on something I woulda murdered for when I was a mere thirteen?

The saga featuring the appearance of Valkyrie and her Lady Liberators was a good 'un...a whole lot less didactic'n the DC morality plays that National Perodicals was dumping on us long even after the entire "relevant" trend fizzled out 'round '72, and a winner mainly because it does a good ol' fashioned cop out to avoid digging itself in way deep! Really, don't you think we've had enough comic book controversy nigh on these past forty years already, what with the introduction of gay superheroes and many a story of questionable taste?!?!? Can't argue with taking the easy way out, and it's sure great readin' something that, while trying to be hip 'n uppa date in order to not look too L-7, still had that classic sixties-styled post-Jack Kirby artwork, action and attitude that drew me to these funny books inna first place!

Considering the roll Marvel was on at the time these sagas undoubtedly rate as the best the company was putting out back when they were riding a good four or so year tide that unfortunately would come to an end that fateful day in '73 when Stan Lee decided to hang up his editorial cap and push Marvel into a wide variety of new vistas and markets. TRANSLATION: by 1978 all the Incredible Hulk really was was a green variation of Snoopy product tie-ins and all, but between these stories and the upcoming Kree/Skrull War saga the Avengers were at their hotcha best'n only a stick-inna-mud Charlton fan woulda said otherwise! Hmmmm, methinks that I'd better dig out my nineties-era collection of that famed K/S battle in order to resensify myself, perhaps reading the final installment on New Year's morn around two thirty in order to re-live past comic book accomplishments to the fullest!
Changing gears slightly, here's a collection of comic panels that shame-filled me'll admit that I never even knew about before, but now that I have read, digested and spewed these funnies out all I gotta say is howcum nobody mentioned this'un to me before??? Not that MR. TWEEDY was exactly a upper-echelon panel but sheesh, I woulda thought that at least somebody out there in comic strip loverland'd mention this to me at least in passing! Of course it's easy to see just why the standard comic strip fan woulda upped nose regarding these sitegag-laden comics...I mean, look at the stiff art, the definitely pre-seventies silent majority stylings, the decidedly non-CATHY reflections on a modern workaday world. In other words...JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING THAT I LIKE IN MY NEWSPAPER FUNNIES, and to be totally honest about it the downfall of the funny page began when comics of this caliber were being jettisoned by space-conscious editors and young upstarts trying to make their comic sections just as modern and as monochrome as the rest of the paper which is one good indication as to why these fishwraps are going the way of the Edsel!

Yeah, I gotta admit that I sure miss that old style of comic fodder that I grew up with and sure hated to see cut loose oh so long ago, and MR. TWEEDY definitely ranks with such long-ignored faves as OFF THE RECORD and THEY'LL DO IT EVERY TIME as one of those reads you always thought your Uncle Ferd 'n Aunt Gladys woulda loved the same way they used to rave about OZZIE AND HARRIET and how that song the Browns did about the bells and Jimmy Brown always gave 'em a lump in the throat. Kinda old-timey 'n hokey 'n all that but sheesh, it still makes me feel sad to think about my long-gone relatives and how they used to like these things and how they mourned for years about the loss of their grandparents as well as pets in a down-home, quite humble way. Yet they enjoyed old movies and comics like this in their own innocent, definitely anti-decadent smarm kinda way and I have the feeling that had they known about MR.TWEEDY they would have had fond memories of him as well.

Not to say that MR. TWEEDY was some kinda cornball strip that only appealed to the yokels (who come to think of it need something to appeal to them, though the yokels of today who drool over Thomas Kinkade sure ain't the same kind of yore who used to at least settle in for fun frolics like THE REAL McCOYS or Norman Rockwell) fact I would call MR. TWEEDY a downright sophisticado comic in its own way. Creator Ned Riddle might not have been a Milt Gross, but his use of those aforementioned sightgags and surreal humor worthy of GREEN ACRES made for some pretty whacked-out situations as you can see from the samples (admittedly not the best) that I slipped in. And hey, I gotta say that I really enjoy the antics of Tweedy, a guy who has drawn comparisons to MR. BEAN (or at least the blurb regarding this recently-issued collection on the Ken Pierce Books website sez so!) not only because of the crazed humor (ranking up there with MR. MUM in the bizarreness dept.) but due to the simple, unassuming style which would never "make it" with the new breed of comic strip snob who tend to go for the fast and loose style with none of the meat 'n substance!

Like the best comics old timey and not the gags in MR. TWEEDY catch you off-guard and can either be so heavy you feel like you've been slammed with a sledgehammer or they could be so sublime you feel like somebody knocked you over with a feather. Either way they hit you pretty good, kinda in the same way a good old NATIONAL LAMPOON gag panel would only without the references to sagging boobs, genital warts or race riots.

Anyway, like I said Ken Pierce is sellin' this nice hardbound collection that was done up by the same people who were also puttin' out those ELLA CINDERS and SQUIRREL CAGE collections I was writin' up last year. I believe a good portion of the comics reprinted herein were lifted from a "legit" TWEEDY paperback collection that came out in 1960, but a whole slew of 'em are actually of an early-eighties vintage which seems strange considering the post-WW II/pre-hippie generation look and appeal of these panels. Some might call these out of place/time, but I call 'em the last gasp of hotcha, to-the-point and funny comics that you just can't find anymore outside of maybe the new DENNIS THE MENACEs or even BC now that Johnny Hart and those overbearing bible-based strips he was churning out are a thing of the past.
The arrival of the latest COMPLETE DICK TRACY volume is always cause for celebration here at BLOG TO COMM hindquarters, and the latest (#12) is certainly no exception. Even though the Golden Era of Tracy was probably over by this time (or at least you would get that impression after reading various "nostalgia"-oriented comic histories written by the usual old-timey suspects for whom life seemed to end somewhere around 1949) it's clear that TRACY was still popping on all cylinders with all of that stark art, the bizarrely convoluted story lines, and best of all loads of gratuitous, gory violence! The kind we ALL love!

TRACY creator Chester Gould must have sensed the sorta zeitgeist that was about to befall the latter portion of the twentieth century with the big bang he produced with these particular storylines! First off, longtime Police Chief Brandon's forced to resign from the force after unwittingly being involved in (and thus responsible for) the murder of Diet Smith's adopted son! Lotsa shades of the Joe Paterno situation that's happening even as we squeak can be found in this particular segment, and like in the Paterno case I get the feeling that Brandon was gettin' treated unfairly for something that wasn't entirely his fault and one thing we don't need on the police force is a scapegoat, especially the chief! But as the Mayor told Tracy, this wasn't the first goof up that Brandon had made so out he went in yet another surprise move from the mind of Gould! Funny, if he was making lotsa errors as of late, I wish Gould would have at least told us what these other indiscretions were because frankly, I was caught off guard!

It's clear that a new day's a'dawnin' in the strip, with longtime sidekick Pat Patton getting kicked upstairs to chief and the easygoing Sam Catchum introduced as Tracy's new partner, and with the marriage of Tracy and his fiancee of eighteen years Tess one would think the strip was gonna fall into the same aura of mush that ruined a great number of once-hotcha reads that settled into domestic duh. Wrong again puzz, for the storylines in TRACY remain just as hard-edged and the product of a sick mind as ever. I especially liked the episode dealing with the disgusting Wormy, a willy-nilly murderer worthy of the forties TRACY villains deformities and all, but your personal fave might be the ones with Pearshape (who surprisingly looks like Chet Gould himself [above the waist, that is!] making me wonder...) or Sketch Paree,  a pretty sickoid fellow in his own right and don't say it's because he's French (a people who I kinda admire!). Really liked the way Gould worked a thinly-disguised parody of none other than Spike Jones into the story, and come to think of it that radio personality who hires Wormy does bear a passing resemblance to Arthur Godfrey without the ukelele! Sheesh, if Wormy stayed on the radio show a li'l longer I think he woulda gotten fired faster'n you can say "Julius LaRosa!"

Also included in this volume's an eye-opening rarity, a limited run story tied into a real-life contest which  TRACY's home paper THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE and eventually a number of local papers were publishing in order to boost circulation! The deal with this open-ended saga was that you had to help Tracy solve a mystery regarding the whereabouts of a satchel filled with a million dollars in bills, and not only that but any reader who could do so in fifty words or less was privvy to some pretty hefty monetary reward! It's a wild saga too, with Tracy trying to find out what happened to the briefcase (as well as the situation behind the strange death of a rich widow) complete with the strange twists, turns, and even comedy relief courtesy the B. O. Plentys that were usually found in a classic Gould-era TRACY story. Unfortunately the winning answers were never revealed to the public which makes me wonder...who was responsible for running off with the loot anyway??? Personally I think it was the secretary who is in cahoots with the president of the bank, but how they actually tie in with each other has me stumped at this point. (Volume 13'll print the best response from you, the modern-day reader, though unfortunately no reward money is in sight so like I ain't gonna bother sending my answer in!)
In closing, perhaps a small note regarding the death of Laura Kennedy, whom most all of you reg'lar readers remember as the bassist for the infamous Bush Tetras (an act that never did grab me by the kajoobies, though I must admit that a good majority of the post-no wave groups who were rising from the ashes of the original generation didn't), but was first and foremost to me a member of Tender Buttons during her Cleveland days along with the likes of Serena WilliamS Burroughs, CLE-editor Jim Ellis and Carol Rutz. Dunno if any of the obituaries popping up across the web mention this important fact, so I thought I would stickler for Cleveland underground details that I am.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Considering that I received and reviewed the previous UT a scant few months back, getting hold of the latest 'un fresh off the press is a mind-overloading affair! Really, I hadn't even time to digest the previous ish and now this beaut turns up...sheesh, this reminds me of the good ol' days when so many fanzines and other proper forms of reading material were flinging their way into my life to the point where I felt like that guy who gained all of the knowledge in the world and ended up with a swelled head I saw in some long-ignored episode of THE WILD WILD WEST! So lo 'n behold this new ish, one that's got the same great writers, the relevant to your personal way o' livin' articles and best of all enough interesting and heretofore unknown information/trivia/whatnot that's bound to get your head swelled like the globe in your third grade classroom, esp. when you consider the hefty amts. of pertinent facts the previous thrity-one of 'em have already crammed into your bean!

Some of this I skimmed through, some I dove into schnoz-first, but whatever the situation may be I know that this 'un'll stick around for quite some time serving as pre-beddy bye/toidy reading as well as fodder for one of those rainy Sunday afternoons one comes across during these autumn months that makes ya wanna revert to your adolescent comic book snugglin' sessions complete with stocking'd feet and perhaps the tee-vee on to give ya added company. And if you too are marooned in your own boudoir and wanna do something to get your mind off the terrible stinky foot/encrusted fart smells to be found therein then why not whip this one out and be taken to spaces far beyond the reaches of your rather pallid existence!

Skimmed over the Them piece, but what I read of it is pretty interesting esp. the Rolling Stones putdown which I guess still appeals to my late-seventies sense of SOME GIRLS loathing. Speaking of the Stones, Greg Prevost's piece on Rolling Stone collectables (similar to the Kinks collectors scum piece of last ish) was mildly enjoyable, though I gotta wonder just what kinda guy (especially one like Greg who ain't exactly holding down a FORTUNE 500 kinda job) would have enough of the long green to be able to afford some of the rarities he obviously got long after the fact! (I wonder if he has the same kind of a side business as other record shop clerk-types that brings in the buckskins such as...naw, not Greg!) The Raiders material was also invigorating, especially the Mark Lindsay interview where he talks about everything from Charles Manson to the group's late-sixties output that I'm sure glad has been reissued because I've wanted to hear COLLAGE ever since reading Lenny Kaye's review of it in ROLLING STONE way back in '78 or so and that's a pretty long time! And while on the subject of the Raiders, the Brotherhood piece (regarding the famed Raider mutiny of '67 when Smitty, Drake and Fang struck out on their own) was especially good even if I didn't quite care for 'em back when Mike Stax himself jetted a tape of theirs my way a good decade and a half back. It's sure interesting to see what kind of animosity there was between Paul Revere and the rest of the group considering the lawsuits he was racking up against 'em for splitting the Raiders (not to mention some negative comments directed by Mr. Dick himself against Mark Lindsay!) because hey, I always thought the group got along rather nice and swell-like! Well, that's the impression I got watching WHERE THE ACTION IS when I was but a mere turdler!

Rambling on, the Vibrators article had the good insta-zoneback aura that I always go for in a good piece, while I will prove my eternal cube-ism and admit I liked the $27 Snap On Face story even if Brad Kohler thought they were nothing but hippoids because they used to open with a Grateful Dead song (not exactly a hot-headed thing to do, but it doesn't anger me the same way it would have thirty years back so you know I'm growing senile!). Of course the other pieces from the Limey and the Yanks, Sloths, Wimple Winch  and so on were fine even if I am saving them for marriage (wanted to rush this write-up out!), but you know they'll be getting close scrutiny once I'm done staring at pix of Betty and Veronica and need to give mine eyes a rest!

Dunno if I can call this a beef or not, but I thought the review sections (books, recordings, Dee-Vee-Dee's) were way too skimpy. I guess this is because there just ain't as much archival hotcha material worthy of UGLY THINGS stature being churned out these days, and not because the well has run dry but because this material just ain't sellin' up a storm like it used to. Given how up-tapped the seventies underground scene has been I know that there are tons of tapes molderin' away in collections world-wide, but if you readers just sit around trying to protect your assets by saving it for the bare necessities (but what could be barer'n rock et roll?) these reissues and archival digs just won't be comin' out! I suggest that you stimulate the economy, loosen your purse strings and buy up all of the records reviewed in UGLY THINGS that you can thus ensuring a fine and music-laden future not only for all of us, but for me.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Like the Big Man in the Sky, this blogger has been known to be slow to anger (although not exactly quick to forgive), but frankly there are times in which even calm, cool and collected """""I""""" am bound, driven to blowing my stack worse'n Mount Vesuvius during a six-point earthquake! Take this particular piece of agitprop on the left that I just happened to come across while strolling about the internet a few days back, and if you think that I would just wanna shrug it off like the good li'l eunuch you all want me to be well, you better have another thought comin'! And yeah, I know that the WWW ain't exactly the most reliable place to dig up factual information and there are half-truths and dribbles being tossed about on it all the time (just check out wikipedia, then try to change something on it you find downright incorrect or even misleading!), but when I happen to chance upon such things as this well, let's just say that this definitely is one no-truth slur that I will not let go of in my typical leave 'em alone and they'll leave you alone kinda mentality that's been my credo for nigh on my entire life! yet another Great Amerigan once sorta said, "If you're runnin' down my candidate, you're walkin' on the fightin' side of me!"

Frankly I dunno how such a distorted (and preying on the fears of people set within a certain frame o' political mindset) piece could even be conceived, but considering some of the downright lies being passed off as undeniable facts o' life all over the place maybe I answered my own question. But this 'un really got my gall not only because of the playin' 'round with facts (which a good portion of the political spectrum has done w/regards to the John Birch Society o'er the years despite calmer claims to the contrary) but because it defames a guy who I consider one of the few if not ONLY truly honest and trustworthy man working in that slut-riddled thing we know as Congress (let alone any of the other branches of govt. which also need a good pruning). A man whose enemies seem to be the most controlling, micromanaging and downright altruistic people to stroll the face of this earth and if you ain't willing to march lockstep with 'em with a nice smile on your face right off of a Cultural Revolution-era Chinese poster well then, better get ready for the blindfold and cigarette because you're gonna need it!

So many bubbles to burst in the above hitjob that I don't know where to start, but duty deems that I must. First off, isn't it time that we all just faced the fact that, despite what all of the enlightened minds at work have been telling us for nigh on fiftysome years, the John Birch Society is not some ultra-drooling barbaric organization that is having a hard time hiding its Nazi-like slip. 'n yeah, I also read the MAD articles and how HELP! used to make light of the Birchers with old Nazi-era photos just like the rest of the sixties cadre of wishy-washy commentators would, and for years I believed the exact same thing about them as Dave Berg. However, after some perhaps not-so thorough investigation my opinions have changed somewhat, at least to the point where I believe that all of the ire directed towards the Birchers by various postwar commentators and satirists was heavily due to the fact that they were anti-communist, and as it has been said for quite a long while it might have been uncool to have been a communist even in the chic confines of lower Manhattan anything goes-ism or press rooms for that matter, but it was way more uncool to be an anti-communist!

But in actuality, the Birchers, despite the innuendo and downright prefabs directed against them, held and continue to hold many political positions that I must admit to finding very admirable. While some might call them "isolationist", I find them to be more in the old paleo-conservative and libertarian mold, concerned about the United States trying to shape the world in its geopolitical image and all of the negative ramifications years of "democracy building" has left us. Face it, the last number of presidents we've been blessed with, including the current Commander-In-Chief, were/are way too concerned about spreading our influence overseas instead of keeping its nose in its own backyard where it pretty much belongs. And although many would find me to be an alarmist in saying so, I truly believe that the way the United States is handling its foreign policy will only lead to more situations the nation will never be able to wiggle their way outta, anti-American ire (and deservedly so) and perhaps even a "war without end" as we battle on in the Middle East trying to get the populace to be nice 'n friendly and maybe sell a few McRibs to 'em in the process. Frankly you didn't see any Birchers coming out solidly for war the way the last few decades of both democratic and republican administrations had, usually to the point of mass destruction of populaces who for some strange reason seem to have it in for us all. Maybe it should be noted that the founder of the John Birch Society, Robert Welch, for all of his hatred of communism, was adamantly against the Vietnam conflict which is more than I can say about the "enlightened" politicos of the early/mid-sixties who didn't know their ass from a hole in the ground when it came to foreign policy.

Secondly, I gotta laugh when I see both Rush Limbaugh and David Duke's names crossed off the above list, as if the John Birch Society would even consider inviting them to speak at their Golden Anniversary celebrations. Both of these gentlemen are strictly off the Birch reservation, and I could assume that the only reason they would have been included on this list was for the purpose of misleading the uninitiated into thinking that these two somehow share the same values and beliefs of the Birchers (but I guess if you've committed one sin against "the people", you've committed 'em all!) . First off, let's deal with Limbaugh who is a standard post-NATIONAL REVIEW conservative who has on at least one occasion lambasted the JBS in the tradition of his spiritual forefather William F. Buckley, a man whose purging of the Birchers and libertarians from the pages of his magazine is perhaps the only positive accolade the guy has received from the Old Time Television/Radio/Print establishment who somehow thought slightly better (but not that much) of him for doing so. Frankly, I can not see the Birchers inviting Limbaugh to speak at any of their functions considering how the two are diametrically opposed on such issues as the use of the military overseas, nor could I see them even considering the possibility of having noted klansman David Duke speak for them. Although airbrushed out of the memories of quite a few commentators over the past five or so decades, the Birchers were anything but racist or even racialist in their opinions. Their wariness of the civil rights movement had more to do with the communist infiltration of these groups and how certain elements were more or less for agitation real equality be damned, and considering the heavily Marxist makeup of many in the movement history did bear the JBS out. But the Birchers as a whole were far from being racists and in fact expelled such highly-visible members as Revilo Oliver and Westbrook "You Stink" Pegler for opinions and actions that most civilized humans would find reprehensible.

So where does this leave Ron Paul? A highly principled man with many opinions that I believe would lead to the betterment of those around us, unlike those usually being spouted off by the republicans who are interested in starting an even newer Cold War with the Middle East and the democrats who are still buried deep in the old sixties liberal mantras to the point where you kinda get the impression that their idea of a good time would be singing "Kumbaya" around a campfire. He's for a constitutional government (an idea which might be considered treasonous nowadays and if so try me and lock me up!), an end to those hideous overseas military excursions which even our "peace" president (whose rings of "bringing all of the troops home" rings about as hollow as Woodrow Wilson's pledge to stay out of World War I) has been fuddy duddy on and drug legalization which should benefit people who need to smoke weed for medicinal purposes or those who just wanna get high, as if any of it is our business unless you're an old maid busybody who likes calling the cops all the time. And what's more, he's for a more localized idea of how your government and life should be run, meaning that perhaps the same standards that would be fine and dandy in Bumhole Iowa wouldn't pass the test in San Francisco, and vice versa for that matter!

Or, as a commentator on a recent TAKI'S TOP DRAWER article said:
There is a reason that Ron Paul supporters tend to stand by the man so strongly, and that reason is: Reason. Paul's platform is not some hodgepodge of conflicting positions aimed at pleasing special interest groups, but a cohesive philosophy of government based on the constitution, economic reality and basic common sense. I came to my own conclusions about government a long time ago, and when I found that Paul's ideas were very similar to my own, I was shocked and highly enthusiastic. In that sense, I am a lot like many Paul supporters: an individual who greatly appreciates a kindred spirit.
Simplistic maybe, but these words pack a whole lot more meaning and vision than anything I could find coming out of the Tea Party as it stands, or the Occupy Movement which as time goes on just seems like a jumbled rehash of old Lower East Side politics being re-lived in hooded jackets 'stead of flannel workshirts.

So to the people who "crafted" the above li'l smear directed towards the Good Doctor, well I gotta congratulate you on your propaganda skills. Not as good as those people who did the ventriloquist dummy head videos on youtube which really played fast 'n furious with the facts, dates and intent, but at least your hearts are in the right place. Also gotta heave hefty congrats to all of those eighties punk rockers (such as the survivors of the DC hardcore scene) who were so anarchist and anti-government back then but now line up to shill for the same state they once loathed, all happy about doing their duty paying taxes and putting down the other p-rock survivors who at least held on to their original vision which now manifests itself in a particularly healthy anarcho-libertarianism.  I gotta give yez all an "A" for the way you played the always-boffo guilt by association card as if being associated with the Birchers in any capacity was something to hang head in shame about, all the while attempting to categorize a person like Paul (who I would not exactly call a "Reagan Republican" like some fact, he's miles ahead of that neo-conservative as far as smashing the state goes!) in with the likes of Limbaugh and Duke. And yeah, I know that the majority of Paulistas, the people who are disaffected by both major parties and see Paul as the real Third Way, could care less about a cheap shot like the one espied above. They know that the guy is perhaps the only honest man to set foot in the Capitol these days, and that although his views on crime and race can, like Pat Buchanan's unfortunately have, be twisted and molded into something that many enlightened types might find "racist" (but are more or less truthful given some of the statistics and future we are facing) he is perhaps the most color-blind representative we've had in years. This typical sniping unfortunately is just more personal reputation destruction, the kind that seems part and parcel to sticking your nose into anything public-minded these days. Even if you dibble your little pinkie into the waters this is what you're bound to expect, usually from the same breed who would shudder at getting the same anal probes they're more'n apt to be handing out to anything they deem against "the revolution" or whatever they're calling it this week. (And for a person who has been called racist amongst other equally damning epithets online I know just what the ramifications are...first hand!)

Take it for what it's worth. Even throw a few grains of salt in if you like. But in the words of the famed philosopher Charles Starkweather "when you pull the chain on a toilet, you can't blame it for flushing", and as far as chain pulling goes the above is enough to yank the entire water closet off the wall! I only wish that I could find this other anti-Paul pixel-placard I once espied, this time from a "conservative" perspective railing against Paul for being an "anti-Semite", but I guess I'll have to save that one for another post.
Whew, bet you thought I'd never end, eh? Well, as the famed French philosopher Pierre Giscard de Fafoofnik once said, "let's cut the crap'n get to the hotcha stuff!!! And, thanks to a well-timed series of orders and ebay purchases, I've been reveling in a whole slew of new items that have been making their way to my front porch! After all, I gotta do more'n just stare at the same ol' ARCHIE comic strip collection (even though I could look at a Bob Montana-delineated Betty and Veronica for hours on end!) while spinnin' rare Les Rallizes Denudes disques dredged up from the nether-regions of my collection, so in order to break up the monotony, here goes...
Rocket From The Tombs-BARFLY CD (Fire)

Brad Kohler really is a guy who can, and with little if any effort at that, have you rollin' 'round on the floor in stitches!  In his last missive to me, the verifiable #1 BLOG TO COMM grouper (he's too mature to be a groupie) actually wrote down, and in Stigliano-ese at that, what he thought my review to this Cee-Dee was going to come off like complete with the usual adjectives, cliches, snide remarks and arf-arf asides that I like to toss into a wide variety of writeups in order to prove what a gonzoid, envelope-pushing scribe I have been these past XXXXX# of years. And it was a good 'un too---accurate to a "T" and so on-target that even I shuddered at the thought that this man could channel my inner thoughts so thoroughly and without me giving him express permission to do so!

I could have printed his parody of a review of this platter for you and just slapped my name on it but as Leo Gorcey might have said, it wouldn't be mythical. Besides, there were a slight number of discrepancies twixt Kohler's concepts of what I think of this digital disque and what I actually do, so in the interest of honesty, truth and all sorta flag-waving stuff here is my down and outright opinion of the new Rocket From The Tombs album, BARFLY (though really, I should print Kohler's pee-take if only to spice this post up a li'l bit!):

It's true that having a Rocket From The Tombs up and running in the teens is probably about as relevant as if I had kept my own fanzine extant into the present day (though for all intent purposes the thing did not have a valid reason to exist past '89 at the latest!), but I will admit it does break up the monotony somewhat. And y'know what, BARFLY is such an upgrade from the reunited Rocket's earlier REDUX spinner which sounded too much like some old chart-topping act reduced to re-recording their old hits a good ten years later. And although a few of the tracks on BARFLY don't quite grasp the kajoobies the way I would have hoped, some of this is rather inspiring even if the former Crocus Behemoth does not sing in his patented bellowing style like he used to ages back (it's more of a high-pitched mewl these days which I in no uncertain terms think benefits the high energy music he is accompanying).

Still, certain tracks have a distinct post-Velvets drone that doesn't offend the way most giddygiddy VU aficionados have these past thirtysome years and although in no way could I confuse the 2011 Rocket with the '74/'75 season variation at least I do see a firm, bared-wire intensity lineage between the two even if it was interrupted by 27 years of inactivity. Nice stuff, but the big surprise for me was the inclusion of a previously unreleased Rocket number from way back when entitled "Maelstrom", a "Brainstorm"-derived ditty which I always believed was a Craig Bell composition even if the entire group gets credit. It also reminds me a whole lot of "Read 'em and Weep" and is so in-sync with the original impetus that I sure would like to hear how it was originally performed, hopefully on the upcoming ten-CD "collected works and improvisations of Rocket From The Tombs" set that I hope will be coming out sometime before we all hit senility.

As far as Brad's version of what I think about this 'un goes well...I don't think I'll be printing it anyway. Brad put a few good lines in that 'un I'm surely gonna wanna "appropriate" for future writeups and all I gotta say's is...I better do my swiping while the swiping is good!

Comus-FIRST UTTERANCE CD (BGO, England); EAST OF SWEDEN CD (Gnostic Dirt, England)

As anyone who's read my scribblings o'er the past few decades can attest to, I will look for anything in a music to latch my hooks into, and with Comus that hook-latching thing was the fact that they evolved outta a folk singing duo who used to perform Velvet Underground covers on the London club scene back in the late-sixties! Good start true, but how does Comus, the full-fledged acoustical rock group that grew out of these humble beginnings, fare themselves? Well, on this FIRST UTTERANCE reissue from the nineties they do sound rather er...cabalistic. Nothing like the at-times frilly and fruity Steeleye Span, nor are they that close to the Fairport Convention scheme of things. Comus seems bred of that late-sixties/early-seventies occult trend that gave us everything from Black Sabbath to all of those groups on the DO WHAT THOU WILT sampler, the same dull thud only with acoustic gear. Sounds like a cross between the Third Ear Band and Tyrannosaurus Rex if Marc Bolan was getting his beanies crushed in by one of Cthulhu's tentacles, or even Donovan falling down an empty elevator shaft and how long have you reg'lar readers longed to hear that???

Lotsa patterpatter bongos and whatever those Indian clunky-sounding things that pop up on Ravi Shankar albums are, along with acoustic guitars and even some droning violin/viola to add to the weird East/West sound of it all. Conjures up feelings of late-sixties English period piece dramas set in the 17th century, perhaps with some occult-esque theme considering the coven-ish tone of the shrieking vocals of Roger Wootton, and although I certainly don't feel like making a steady diet of this stuff I like the way it fits into the entire spookshow atmosphere of the English scene of the day. Even if it is acoustic and aimed towards the same kinda people who press leaves in books and make gravestone rubbings.

Not so surprisingly, I found the group's reunion show at a Swedish music festival, released as EAST OF SWEDEN on the ever-popular Gnostic Dirt label, far most engaging, superior, entertaining and a whole lotta other interesting descriptors that I call pull off with relative ease. Thirtysome years after the fact Comus come off a whole lot more punchier and fact they sound a whole lot younger and if it weren't for the obviously moderne recording techniques which can make even your $25 boom box sound like a four star stereo system of yore I might even have mistook this for some recently-unearthed archival dig up! But it's a recent platter, and surprisingly enough I'd recommend that you'd start with this 'un if you just happen to wanna know what the aging English post-folk mysticos are up to in between incantating at Stonehenge and occupying whatever there is of worth left to occupy in that sad isle that had to ruin their entire reputation by becoming an "Empire" 'stead of just minding their own business like everybody else shoulda all along.
HOT KNIVES CD (Grown Up Wrong, Australia)

Sheesh, I remember when the Hot Knives "Hey Grandma"/"I Hear The Wind Blow" single was one of those $1.00 budget singles one could get from Bomp Mailorder for years one end. That's where I got my copy, and I sure remember that lonely spring of 1991 spinning this 'un over and over again in some perhaps not-so-vain attempt to keep myself from toppling over into one of those endless chasms that take me just about forever to climb outta. Don't know if this record helped rescue me from doing something that some would consider drastic (and others beneficial to the state of the world at large) but let's just say that if I had been stuck playing the X-Tal album during this rather fragile time in my life you wouldn't have any Chris Stigliano to kick around today!

OK, enough of the semi-factual pseudo-autobiographical quap and let's get to the disque at hand! And it's a pretty snazzy (supersnazzy in fact) one featuring an entire LP's worth of tracks from the should-be-seminal San Francisco band Hot Knives. Best known for containing former Flamin' Groovies members Tim Lynch and Danny Mihm, Hot Knives had little if anything to do with the way the Groovies were sounding during their mid-seventies return to their Beatle Boot Roots...naw, they were more in the early pre-hippydippy San Francisco vein long before the shredding feedback gave way to tinkling acoustic guitars and Marin County karma. They sound a lot like the early Groovies, not to mention early Moby Grape and the Vejtables, and in fact if you could claim any kind of "punk" credo for this act it would be the punk rockers of the mid-sixties who were eventually wooshed away by the advent of psychedelia ever-churning into visions of the disease-riddled past the hippies somehow found romantic. 

Brother/sister team  Michael and Debra Houpt actually began doing folk hoots in Pennsylvania as li'l kids, but at least by the mid-seventies they had a good sense of what the early SF sound was all about and did their best to scrunch it into a vision that perhaps wasn't that alien even after years of the city's acquiescence into dull hackdom. The addition of Lynch and Mihm added the same power and might to the Knives that they did on those early Groovies sides, and the results are even mind-blowing for a jaded non-romantic such as I. For once the harmony vocals don't sound like something you woulda heard in a music class that would have transpired in the school that ugly lady in BILLY JACK was runnin', and the powerful backing melds the mid-sixties great pop hopes of the day with the mid-seventies punk credo. Put 'em all together and you get some fantastic tracks such as the "Hey Grandma"/"I Hear The Wind Blow" 45 (which does lose something in the translation from cheap vinyl to pristine digitalis), that other 45 I never could find, and a whole slew of wonders from the Vejtable-packed "Secrets About Me" to even a cover of the Knickerbockers classic "Lies". All points in between are worth checking out as well.

Fantab 'un to have around, esp. if you too get into one of those deep funks that just about anything can help set off. Sound's great, the material's eons ahead of the  pale emote seen these last few decades, and best of all it's cheaper'n a prescription of lexapro. So what's it gonna be...Hot Knives or sharp ones?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

MOOM PITCHER DOUBLE FEATURE REVIEW! SUPERCHICK  (1973, starring Joyce Jillson and Louie Quinn) and GALAXINA  (1980, starring Dorothy Stratten and Avery Schrieber)

Hoo boy...another Crown International double-feature taken from the BIG SCREEN BOMBSHELLS set Lou Rone gave me last Christmas!!! Well, if there's nothing much happening on the boob tube and you don't feel like burrowing your way through thirtysome years of records 'n tapes then hey...why not?

SUPERCHICK's a standard early-seventies affair complete with that typically Nixon-era-esque "movie-of-the-week" incidental music that makes me think more about what's on the other channel more'n anything. It  stars a lady named Joyce Jillson playing an airline stewardess (this is before they called 'em "flight attendants" for some reason or another...probably due to all of that bad publicity that these stewardess movies were givin 'em) who plays it sweet 'n Moral Majority-like while on the job, but once she hits the city she whips off her Sandy Duncan wig and settles down for a whole lotta hotcha man-hungry action! And like the sailors of yore, she's got guys in every port; a germophobic doctor in New York, a beach bum gambler in Miami over his head in debt (played by the male lead from  POLICEWOMAN which I reviewed a coupla months back) and a fading teen idol loosely based on David Cassidy. Meanwhile, the big boss whom the beach bum owes plenty of filthy lucre to (played by Louie Quinn of 77 SUNSET STRIP fame) wants his client to wipe out his debt by having our stewardess be an unwitting accomplice in a mid-flight robbery. Between all this there's loads of bouncing boobs 'n butts for the twelve-year-old boys who are watching from the woods at your local rural drive-in to steam binoculars about, a cameo from Uschi Whatzername getting whipped, and even John Carradine pops in as this sicko who placed that swinging personal ad in a local underground paper so you know this has gotta be a good moom pitcher with lotsa class!

Nineteen-eighty's GALAXINA's a bizarrity, perhaps best known because the soon-to-croak Dorothy Stratten shows up in the lead as an android, but even a class-a star like her (well, that's what Peter Bogdanovich keeps sayin') can't save this typical example of late-period "snide" comedy/spoof in the ANIMAL HOUSE/SNL/MEL BROOKS-style that just doesn't gel like ya hoped it would. Still I gotta admit that I enjoyed what there was of it just because it was a strange period piece that, although failing dismally in poking fun at everything from ALIEN to STAR WARS, kept my eyeballs glued to the screen as if I were watching a clittoradectomy being performed on Anastasia Pantsios in slow motion. Funny how this type of humor really hit the target only a few years earlier, but by '80 it all seemed to get washed down the drain for whatever strange reason there may be (some say the advent of Reagan, others the ravages of cocaine). Still, if you wanna know what people like Avery Schrieber were up to after they slowly began fizzling from the cathode tubes look no further.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Please forgive the slim pickins this week. Other'n the Sinatras platter which starts off the shebang this particular offering's nothing but old rehashes or long-lost booty that finally rose to the surface like scum inna bathtub, something which only goes to show you either how hard up the real high energy rock 'n roll scene has become as of late (like, these past thirty years!) or the lack of moolah that would only go towards some hefty disque-buying if only I could scrape enough of the long green together! Well, I will try to get an order in to some place (Forced Exposure seems the most likely) this upcoming week just so's I don't have that much of a shortage of fodder to keep me well and happy for at least a couple of weeks, but for now it's rerun time and nothing else but, hole!
The Sinatras-ARE YOU READY! LP (Rave Up)

Ah memories...I remember how these guys along with fellow LESiders the Erotics were the punkier of the various house bands popping up at Max's Kansas City during the v.-late-seventies/v.-early-eighties strata of rock. Y'know, right before that club, along with the punk generation such groups were representing, sorta gave way to a music that might have been more harsh, but ultimately turned out to be less enthralling considering its unabashed traipses into what I would call hippydippy love 'n radical peace territory. My curiosity regarding the Erotics was sated by a now-rare CD they had released way back in the late-eighties (overdrive hard-punk not quite hardcore but still in out there territory---maybe I'll dig it out and review it for you one of these days) and now the Sinatras have this 12-incher to their name, a pretty good effort even if the thing runs shorter than an early Elvis album.

Heartbreakers meet Voidoids here, nothing whatcha'd call English p-rock-influenced but steadily in the New York Rock territory of all-out energy w/o the kultured British class-conscious bleat. Hard driving as well, though the Sinatras had that perfect touch of melody to slip into the mix just so's you could tell they had the TALENT to create instant classics in a Thunders vein. In all, a great reminder of where punk stood in between addled innovation and rote heartbleed, and as a treat the folks at Rave Up even slipped in some actual live @ Max's tracks to pad the album out! Gives this release that certain class I've come to expect from these outta nowhere labels lo these many years. Too bad it took thirty of 'em for this to finally make it out, but then again when you're dead are you really gonna care?

The Tornados-THE EP COLLECTION CD (See For Miles, England)

Also got this supermarket Cee-Dee collection which has what I believe's the group's only Amerigan album and nothing else, but for a few raviolis more I ended up with this neat gatherin' of the "Telstar" boys' English EP collection which not only contains those early slush ravers  but a nice slew of rarities that'll sure send you back to the days when the future really did look bright. Nice packaging (with the expected detailed notes), plenty of tracks I and probably you have never heard before (including such weirdies as "Life On Venus" complete with a bad Amerigan accented spoken word opening and more "Telstar" references'n you can shake a stick at!) and even the group's final efforts when only drummer/Ed McMahon lookalike Clem Cattini remained from the original lineup appears. Yep, I'm talking about that one EP where the revamped and leather-jacketed Tornados actually do the dreaded Beatle Beat (with vocals!) in a vain attempt to latch on to the new generation of rock that was unfortunately wiping the likes of the Tornados off the charts. If you're ever having a 1962 party, slip this onto the box and watch the funsters sway and swoon in between showing of SUPERCAR, LEAVE IT TO BEAVER and ROOM FOR ONE MORE (how'd that turkey get stuck in here?).

PHEW CD (Les Disques du Soliel de Paree, France)

Really liked Phew's cooin' and careenin' on those oft-bootlegged Can tracks (making me think she woulda been the logical replacement for Damo Suzuki, but unfortunately that never transpired), but on this debut solo disque she, along with her Kraut masters Czukay, Liebezeit and Plank, fall into the early-eighties gnu wave stylings that by this time had permeated what had been known as krautrock but now seemed a startlingly different muenster. Still, Phew's Japanese charms save this from being yet another relic of a past that wasn't that hot to begin with, as she actually sings her traditional-minded Japanese melodies to the definitely Teutonic backing of the former Can-sters. Although this does have way too much of that early-eighties feeling that didn't quite gel with me compared with what came before, it sure digests smoothly when presented in such an entertaining and perhaps even underlyingly intense fashion. Well, at least it passed the evening pre-beddy bye book-reading lounge-about test. Hmmm, methinks I better search out that other Phew album of mine wallowing somewhere in the vast reaches of my ever-aging vinyl collection.

Allun-ADAN CD-R (Slippytown)

Before falling on hard times (which I certainly hope he has overcome), Eddie Flowers was riding pretty high releasing a wide array of interesting items on his own Slippytown label. I gotta say that it was a pretty neat idea of Flowers, a man who for a good forty years has been a fanzine writer in good standing even though that is one of the more thankless jobs around here, to operate a record label of his own no matter how shoestring the entire project might have been, because for once in our lives we do need more people who are on this side of the aisle to head on over to that side, ifyaknowwadamean. Really, could you imagine what it would have been like if Lester Bangs or R. Meltzer operated their own under-the-counterkultur labels back in the seventies? Well, I'm sure if Meltzer did we'd finally get to hear that conceptual rock act of his called alternately Applejack/the Stump which was being hyped in the pages of CRAWDADDY as early as 1967!

One of the neet surprises that Slippytown had to offer was this particular platter from an Italian all-gal act called Allun. And if you think you've heard all of the off-the-wall anti-music/rock acts that have been cluttering up the space o'er the past five decades you probably missed this 'un in the mad rush...fantastic free sound that seems to owe more to Roscoe Mitchell than it does Lou Reed, toy instrument and violin-dominated music that I gotta say outdoes all of the "cute" (even though they weren't trying to be) eighties feminist agitprop groups like Pianosaurus (I think) and Y-Pants (I know!) who were also dabbling in the noisemaker as musical instrument game. Free splat that drives you to the point of madness before it all ends in the billionth cover of "I Wanna Be Your Dog", only you don't quite feel like puking your guts out at the roteness of the entire affair (because for once, Allun knew enough to make the song itself the punchline to the entire nth generation Stooge worship joke, and perhaps we were part of that entire schtick all along!). A nice diversion from the usual clunk that you'll bet'll have be scouring the Cee-Dee boxes looking for more Slippytown gems that seem to've evaded my singular consciousness.
Last Exit-KOLN CD (Unheard Music Series)

Dunno why I passed on reviewing this free music classic for so long, but whaddaya know, while looking through a pile o' platters guess what I should find but this very passed up platter in question. Made me feel guilty enough to actually take it out 'n give it a spin, y'know? Really can't say enough good things about this all-star lineup who, on this (again) too-short offering plow through a number of ditties that sound like the perfect combination of late-sixties European blare and WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT noise extrapolations. Peter Brotzmann naturally does his best to emulate a boiler room explosion while (Ronald) Shannon Jackson plays on patterns that would have sounded alien even to former boss Albert Ayler as Sonny Sharrock does his best to prove himself the true heir to the jazz/rock guitarist throne 'stead of the usual pretenders who have been topping way too many DOWN BEAT critics polls. And the cohesive glue 'n brains behind it all, Bill Laswell, doesn't come off as the smorgasbord schmuck I'm sure a few consider him if only because he's had his pinkies dibbled in more'n a few projects that mighta seemed a li'l too "commercial". If you wonder what that version of Material ca. 1980 when Sharrock joined the ranks sounded like this might be about as close a guess as any of us'll come, at least until somebody has the brains the release the actual booty for our mortification!

Rancid Vat-ICONOCLASTIC ICONS CD (Baloney Shrapnel)

And in closing...this nice li'l bit of scronkoteria that I (with shame and total remorse) must admit I have ignored for quite a longer period of time than any sane person should. Back inna eighties, it was groups like Rancid Vat along with scant few others (Antiseen and the Angry Samoans come to mind) that set the pace and the tone (amongst other things) for what "hardcore punk" should have aspired to, and while most of the groups from this generation of p-rock ultimately revealed themselves to have been the hippoids that I always thought the punk stood against it was acts like Rancid Vat that reminded us that punk rock started out as a snotty, raggedy afterbirth of teenage addled scronk and, although it was goin' out a totally different animal at least some acts didn't forget where their true origins lie.

Purported a "Greatest Hits"-styled package, I'll admit too many of the Vat's best material was left "Larger Than Life", "Pencil Neck Geek" or "Cluster Bombs" are to be found on this spinner. However, there's more than a good share of true Vat wonders to be found, from the tres-addled (and much  improved) cover of Three Dog Night's "Joy To The World"  and the Heartbreakers' classic "Born to Lose", not forgetting such originals as "Guest List" (originally appearing on the group's definitive LP BURGER BELSEN), "Sad as a Turd", "Anti Social Disease" and of course the religious ditty "The Ballad of Brigham Young" which I once read actually got some airplay on the Brigham Young University radio station! And what makes this package all so special is that the liner notes were written by one Jim Goad, who now seems to be offending more weaknees than one could have ever imagined on the TAKI'S TOP DRAWER website. Face it, until Smithsonian/Folkways gets around to releasing the definitive Rancid Vat collection sometime 100 years from now this might be your only bet to give Rancid Vat a listen to, unless you wanna spend $$$ tracking down all of the original releases!