Sunday, January 29, 2012

As you can see, there's not that much to babble on about this weekn'd though in typical long-winded fashion I will try to pad this out using my keen sense of sticking my finger up just what you, the average BLOG TO COMM reader, not only wants but desires in his reading matter. Can't say that I'm totally sorry about this...after all, I have been busier than the obit writer for THE NAGASAKI DAILY NEWS way back August '45 way what with the ever-encroaching drama of REAL LIFE taking an undue toll on me. Just be thankful that you got these two bits of recorded wonderment presented for you 'stead of nothing. Y'know, I could have just said *#&% it and fluffed off this weekend ramble-on but I didn't, mainly because I must indulge in my rockist obsessions every chance I possibly could get and besides, I don't want to live under the cloud of any of you readers thinking I'm a wanker in my responsibilities, y'know...

But I will say that the items presented here are promising enough to make me think that maybe the year of '12 will be a greater, more high energy and powerful one than I had let on earlier. The Breau Cee-Dee has the potential to become a long-time repeated play rather than another one-spin and back of the binner, while Mordecai at least give one hope that there's more to punk rock as it stood in 1975 and as it will be in 2012 than the reams of overhyped quickies that many blogsters have been raving to the heavens these past ten or so years. Both of these items are what I would call upper-echelon, and the sooner they make their way into your lives the better!

So w/o further ado'n all that, here's this weekend's rambler...don't say you weren't warned.

Edgar Breau-PATCHES OF BLUE CD (Flying Inn , Canada)

This one certainly caught me by surprise when it came in the mail a few days ago. Well, maybe it shouldn't have done that since Breau has been talking up this new solo Cee-Dee of his for awhile as if he was talking up a new cigar, but then again it ain't like I've been payin' that much attention these past few weeks what with all of the forces of real life yankin' at me like a li'l kid begging his dad to buy him a new tootsietoy. I know, I have nobody to really blame but myself.

But man this is a good 'un...if you like Edgar Breau with or without the Saucer people you'll really go for the other side of the guy, who on this platter does a whole load of beyond-passable goodies that really make all of those claims goin' 'round about him being a "Canadian Primitive" sound like even more hackneyed rockcrit hype. Breau reminds me of some sorta late-sixties rockin' troubadour who I probably never heard of but would like with the dickens if I found out he had some hipster hook in his credo, like played at Max's in 1972 or something, and the way he can mix various aspects of singer/songwriter sunshine and lollipops with a draconian vision straight outta the Velvet Underground is something that continues to amaze me considering how EVERY OTHER ATTEMPT TO CONVEY THE SAME VISION (both on pro and amateur levels) HAS RESULTED IN SOME OF THE WORST DREK TO GRACE MY EARS IN DREK-FILLED AGES!!!.

And hey, I dunno about you but I'll listen to "Dandelion Kingdom" (a verifiable Syd Barrett exclamation of addled joy) over and over for hours on end if I wanted. Heck, the guy even does a song here about my neck of the woods ("Pennsylvania") which sure sounds more like a homage than the usual bleary-eyed mewls that one might hear if one were asked to write a ditty to say...Pulaski. And any song that can mention a nada town like Grove City (home to a once-famous Supreme Court case involving a reformist college, a gigantic shopping outlet plaza and lotsa boring types) and make it sound like a place one would actually want to visit let alone live in has got something goin' for him.

Saucer fans'll be glad to hear that longtime bassist Kevin Christoff is front and center here (which could make this yet another Simply Saucer via. Third Kind via Shadows of Ecstasy platter if you wish!), and if you like the work the pair did when they were in those aforementioned Shadows back '90 way you'll like this 'un to the rafters. And then again, if you haven't heard this interim Breau band don't worry, because in a few short months you probably will (Cee-Dee is inna works!) which is one good thing that I have to look forward to once 2012 starts getting into gear and all of those rarities that have been promised to us for decades finally materialize thus giving all true BLOG TO COMM readers years of enjoyment!


Here's one of those outta-nowhere recording (and possibly performing) acts that used to get the hotcha rock screedics all excited dog-earing their Thesauruses looking up superlatives that haven't been used in eighty years. Y'know, the kind that some outta-the-loop fanzine would plug to the rafters back in the seventies because these guys were rehearsing next door and frankly there was nothing else local to write about unless you wanted to type on about some cover band that played at the local bar. Real down and dirty stuff that brought back memories of all of those sixties groups you liked whose ideas were being reshaped in the seventies only now it was the oh-ohs and you thought all of those stuff died out with the last issue of SONIC IGUANA 'r somethin'! Well, here we are in 2012 long after the era of high energy had petered out into fuzzy wuzzy pablum for the pueriles, and what do we got but none other than MORDECAI!!!!!

A nice way to start out the year, these Mordecai guys are an up and cummin' band from none other than Butte Montana who not only know how to bust a few eardrums, but have recorded a double disc demo in their basement (knotty pine at that!) that brings back nice and cozy thoughts regarding all of your favorite seventies punk skiddoos from the Neon Boys/Television (talkin' 'bout the days before they learned to handle their instruments in a more adolescent fashion), the Electric Eels and Pagans as well as the Gizmos, the ever-popular Kid Sister, the Screamin' Mee-Mee's and even the various Umela Hmota offerings that were getting stifled in Prague back in the middle portion of that wowzer decade. I was also reminded of the Sonars, an unheralded Cleveland group from the latter portion of them days which was led by Matt McManus, the younger brother of Electric Eel Dave E who managed to at least get a mid-fidelity demo out and about into a few collections and who better get a complete archival release available shortly if the people at the various reissue labels know what's good for 'em (us archival rock fans can get to be a pretty frothing at the mouth bunch, as if eight years of this blog didn't tell ya that already!).

This sounds like it was recorded on a portable cassette player sometime in 1975 which is a good start already, but Mordecai's use of classic Velvets unto Kinks unto Stooges unto Sabbath unto unto riffage really makes 'em a "punk gryphon" (copyright 1982 TAKE IT! magazine) that we can certainly use more of these days. None of that precocious put on that way too many current day under-the-kultur acts put on which only takes the original source and waters 'em down for AV Club consumption. Believe-you-me, this is great straight-ahead punk (as in 1975 CREEM magazine) that has reduced me to the same wallow of vibrating gelatin I used to get back in '79 when spotting old Red Crayola refs. in a variety of articles used to give me the same thrill of unbridled joy that I would get spotting DEVIANTS refs in the same kinda mags!

Keep these names in mind....Elijah Bodish-bass guitar (he's the guy who sent me this!), Holt Bodish-guitar; drums, vocals; Garin-drums; Louie-drums...and that's a whole lotta drums if you ask me! Dunno who plays the one-note sax honk on  "Dead Head" which closes out disque #2 but whoever it is, it oughta get some credit around here! Keep an eye out for 'em next time they play Arnie's Bowl-A-Rena, or better yet why not write 'em at 325 W. Gold, Butte MT, 59701 and ask 'em when the record's comin' out. If you have computer handy, you can email em at and you might even get a prompt reply!
MY SEMI-MONTHLY CONTRIBUTION TO THE SOMETHING TO BITCH ABOUT DEPT.: here's this li'l bitta flufferoo that I happened to glance upon while I was trolling Facebook today, a nice example of what I like to call public masturbation courtesy of none other than the Poster Boy for the touchy-feely generation himself Lawrence O'Donnell! Really Lawrence, I gotta admit that this was a nice try at making yourself look oh-so saintly and the straw men you set up so dastardly but really, why come down on conservatives (or at least your own personal definition which I guess would differ greatly from mine) so hard when it was you liberals who were all for the Leviathan State as well as those Social Engineering measures that wrecked families and turned neighborhoods into war zones? Not to mention eugenics and the racial superiority of the Northern European stock, putting Japanese-Americans in concentration camps then sniveling as if you had nothing to do with it (ditto w/the Vietnam War, as if JFK and LBJ were rampaging right wingers!), Eminent Domain, the right to do what you want to with your body only if its an abortion or one-night stand where you're tied up like a hunk of roast beef hanging from a rafter, all sorts of urban projects that really haven't panned out the way starry-eyed types like yourself wanted 'em to back inna mid-sixties, draconian measures that have kept helpful medicines out of the hands of people who could have benefited from their use because they cause athlete's feet in lab mice, income tax, the AIDS scare, the hatred of the right to associate with whomever you please, legalized snooping etc. and so forth. Prohibition (of the booze and drug kind) fits in here somewhere too. Didn't even get to mention my own personal favorite regarding the new liberal pastime of parents who let their boys grow up thinking they're girls then cause a ruckus because he ain't allowed to join the Girl Scouts! Dunno about most "Conservatives" (many of whom I guess would even approve of some of these measures!), but I think these are just some of the reasons that a good number, perhaps even a majority of people on this planet hold the meddling, intrusive, "we know better than you! (trust us)" do-gooder liberal in utter contempt!

And how about those stately liberal icons like Eleanor Roosevelt, who displayed such righteous indignation when she saw a photo of a child in a KKK uniform but on the other hand fell in with the likes of Paul Blanchard, a man who didn't need a sheet to convey his loathsome views which maybe did bridge the Klan and those of lofty Utopians who certainly wanted a better world for their own WASP-dominated visions. (TRANSLATION...there ain't no difference between the cross burning lyncher and the millionaire who pumps cash into a variety of uplifter causes aimed at the "betterment" [read: destruction] of people who just don't smell as good as they do.) Well, I can go on. Sheesh Larry, you can whack off all you want about your lofty and sainted ideals, but I think I'll just stick with those "Conservatives" that "opposed" all of your wonderful goals, men like H. L. Mencken, Murray Rothbard, Pat Buchanan (who I guess was too hot for that cable net you work for which is why he got 86'd... so much for a perceived semblance of balanced opinions eh?), Joseph Sobran, Sam Francis and... Well, if you can call these people "Conservatives" in the strictest sense OK (frankly I don't and I'm sure that most of 'em shudder[ed] at the c-word themselves!), but for some odd reason I get the feeling that if you offend the likes of an open-minded guy like O'Donnell on one point, you're a dreaded Conservative no ifs ands or buts! It's enough to make me wanna vote Republican next November just to spite the guy, and that's something I really do not have any otherwise strong desire to do!

And yeah O'Donnell, I can see the results of the amazing policies you and your ilk put into practice every time I go into downtown Youngstown Ohio. Wonderful society for all we've got there, hunh?
Closing with some better news, here we have former American Indian Movement leader and downright radical Russell Means FINALLY SEEING THE LIGHT by endorsing none other'n my current political favorite, congressman, presidential candidate and downright hero Ron Paul! Welcome to the true cause of freedom Mr. Means...glad to see you on the right side of this one especially after some of the wrongheaded political moves you made lo these many years (as if running for Veep on a ticket with Larry Flynt wasn't a boneheaded thing to do in the first place)! 

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Really, it does seem strange that I would even possess such a book as this because for the life of me the one thing that I used to avoid like the enema was CRACKED magazine. Wait, I will take that back, since I actually bought one of those CRACKED specials featuring nothing but old fumetti reprints which were clearly inspired by the photo caption book trend of the early-sixties as well as some much better (and far more adult in intellect and subject matter) variations in HELP! As you can prob'ly guess, I was totally nonplussed by these satires lampooning everything from horror mooms to politics and the milking of the memory of Laurel and Hardy with silly word balloons which added nothing to the pair's mystique, so that partic'lar ish ended up in a box stashed in the basement which also contained various grade/high school weekly reader-type magazines, an EMMY LOU paperback, parts and pieces of cut up comic books, and examples of my own ten-year-old cartooning abilities including such long-forgotten faves as IMPY (named after the Lone Star diecast car company natch!) and of course RATS REAGAN. While prowling around in the basement looking for various flotsam to use as clip art for BLACK TO COMM #18 (hey alla you readers who wanna scarf up some available back issues of my long-decayed fanzine and keep writing to me personally or via the comment box...just click on ANY of the highlighted mentions of my shoulda-been-infamous crudzine and be taken to a post which not only lists the various back issues that are available, but the prices and how they can be obtained with relative ease!!! No need to burden yourself with the fact that your collection isn't complete dial up and make your choice AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE!!!) I said, while in the basement looking for some old bits to use in that now long-gone issue with an in-depth interview with Edgar Breau featured on the cover what should I find but this long-forgotten mag that I was rather embarrassed in picking up back when I was naught but a wayward thirteen-year-old and you know what...I thought it still sucked worse than a La Leche convention!

That particular mag is now snuggled comfortably and cozily in a box filled with MAD and other comic magazines of my youth and not-so that is stacked in a closet about twelve feet from where I'm pecking this, but then again what in the world possessed me to snatch up this copy of MORE CRACKED, a collection of various late-fifties vintage articles from that exact same publication which was purchased (along with a paperback fulla old HAZEL cartoons) at an outdoor antique/flea market about a good fifteen years back? Dunno, though for some reason I thought that it woulda been a great buy even if I never thought very much about this verifiable MAD imitation even when fifties-vintage flea market copies were being thrust upon me like potrzebie. I guess that I just couldn't pass up on a bargain, kinda like Wally when he bought that rusted out wheel-less mini-scooter for 75 cents on some old LEAVE IT TO BEAVER.

So as far as this particular slice of late-fifties snidedom goes, all I gotta say is that it sure holds up better than I thought it would! Dunno if that's because nowadays the notion of humor is so phony and piously preachy to the point where COMEDY CENTRAL and Bill Maher are nothing but ranters and ravers pretending to rage against the powers that be when in fact they are the powers that be, but it's come to the point where even an nth-rate cash-in on the teenage/college humor mag market like this can run rings around the entire nation of comedy circuit "moralizers". Not that CRACKED couldn't get preachy themselves (after all, they were always peeking over at MAD to see which way the prevailing winds of teenage sentiment were blowing) but at least in the late-fifties humorists knew where their audiences lied, and I'm sure they didn't want to fall into that Lenny Bruce/Dick Gregory rut where unfunny and threatening rants were somehow to be construed as "educational" commentary about the state of everything from race relations to the "hypocrisy" of everybody out there but themselves!

Thin volume here, but it does present a nice sampling of where the magazine was rotatin' back when more'n a few MAD imitations and emulations were popping up confusing many an ignorant twelve-year-old out there. Of course it was a real coup getting MAD originals John Severin and Jack Davis to work for 'em (Bill Elder, fresh from HUMBUG along with Davis, was an early recruit although he sure bailed out fast!), and although the satire certainly coulda used a little beefing up it ain't anything that drives me as bonkers as some of the turds that eventually would come out (Joe Simon's SICK, who also boasted Davis as an original staff member, comes to mind). True a lotta the stories are old, too indicative of MAD (as with the beat talk primer spoof) and perhaps hackneyed, but they still pack a whole lot more amusement into 'em than a George Lopez monologue and are digestible in their own cornball way. Of course the Severin art is excellent (too bad he didn't stick around at MAD so he could at least illustrate something written by better satirists of the postwar sphere), and although Davis's art ain't in that fine-lined detailed style that made HUMBUG (and a few of his magazine-era MAD contributions) such a fun read it's always nice to see the guy doing everything from spoofing HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL (which he also did for HUMBUG but why cry over it) to LASSIE. And true they coulda been funnier, but next to Robin Williams I guess even the phone book's packed with a lotta laughs!

So really, nice going here. True, CRACKED wasn't exactly the tippie-toppest of the teenage satire heap, but nowadays these old comics at least hearken back to not only a hot time for such fun and games, but a great time to have been alive unless you were some sexual pervo freak. And next to some of the others that were floating around at least CRACKED had some testosterone pumped into it by the artists who could take feh scripts and work some magic. And as far as I can tell, in these early stories there are no sly references to the biggie mag that CRACKED and their minions were swiping more'n a few ideas from unlike some of the other short-run efforts who weren't ashamed to sneak an Alfred E. Neuman into a panel (and this even went for TRUMP, and of course HUMBUG couldn't have survived as long without one ref per issue to Harvey Kurtzman's creation which would figure since once you get down to it that mag was more or less born directly from the loins of Moxie Cowznofski!)...naw, the MAD refs would come much later as CRACKED had risen up the spoof pole mostly on the coattails of the big one. But that was much later...and did I ever tell you how I was once shocked to see this one cover where janitor/mascot Sylvester Smythe was ramming pins into a voodoo doll, whose shadow looked ominously like the head of none other'n Alfred E. himself???

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Looks like it's gonna be one of those poop it out and paste it together kinda blogposts this weekn'd...not that it's exactly what I would prefer but the lack of 1) moolah, 2) free time, 3) inspiration and 4) lotsa recordings both old 'n new to stimulate my nerve endings have been keeping me from doing my doody of pree-senting for you information on alla them hotcha platters that we should all know and care about deep in our already deepified hearts. Hope ya dig it anyway...hadda do some hearty creepy crawling into the archives to find these things but it was worth it, if only bccause I probably haven't heard most of this stuff since my early fanzine wallowing days way back when!

Sorry to see Etta James go. Actually have a record with her doing "Dance With Me Henry" (which my mother used to sing to toddler-era Jillery as she danced with her clown doll [which she still has!] named what else but Henry!) which of course is a bigtime spin when I get into one of my occasional mid-fifties r/b moods. Funny that the woman didn't die earlier considering her heavy duty jones which has taken many a weaker soul o'er the years, but I understand she did put up a brave front and after what I've read about her life I gather that the entire span was one brave trek despite her slides into the murky end. Naturally the first thing that I think of when I read about her passing was not the also recently-departed (by one day) Johnny Otis but none other that Sleep 'n' Eat himself Willie Best, the Stepin' Fechit clone who also doubled as a pimp and dope dealer when not doing his slo' mo' routine. Best actually tried his darndest to make sure that James kept away from the white stuff, obviously to no avail, though the thought of this oft maligned actor as a dope dealing pimp does make one wonder. Strange bitta H-wood gossip there, tho I still gotta ponder (considering Best's extracurricular activities) just what none other than  Bob Hope meant when he said that Best was "the best actor I know"...perhaps if "actor" was replaced with a coupla other words knowing what we now do about Hope and his own free time frolics we might get the true meaning behind it all!

Before I get into the actual reviews maybe I should mention these three items that have been hanging around in my Cee-Dee pile since December at the latest. Seems that the old Soul Note label, the same Eyetalian company that released a whole slew of ultra-rare albums back in the mid-to-late-seventies  (the kind that THE VILLAGE VOICE used to say that you could only pick up in local specialty shops, which naturally were very few and far between in the tri-state area) have reissued a nice portion of their produce in boxed sets, and surprisingly enough these platters won't set you back an arm and a leg to procure like these albums in their original forms mighta a good three-plus decades back. Of course we're a whole lot richer now, right?, but frankly I wish I didn't have to wait so long inna first place because a lotta the spirit that I had when I was 18 is like...well, dissipated and I don't know where the hell it went.

The Cecil Taylor volume's by far the best (well, at least if ya ask me and why else would you be reading this swill?) featuring five platters fulla rare Taylor material most of which I never thought I'd ever get the chance to hear no matter how many flea markets I would have traipsed throughout the early-eighties. All are highly recommended hard-crunch avant scrank, though I must admit that I really enjoyed the double disc HISTORIC CONCERTS series featuring Taylor along with Max Roach doing some amazing full tilt percussion. And get this, not only do you get to listen to the two live at the McMillan Theater 12/15/79 but they even get to talk about what it was like performing with each other. Really, if two saints meeting is s'posed to be a humbling experience, the long battles to prove if this one even made it out to the racks back when it was first unleashed upon an unsuspecting public.

As for George Russell...well, I will admit that I have tremendous respect for the guy not only as one of the originators of the jazz avant garde back in the late-forties but as a fellow who knew how to roll with the new trends and be creative with the new tide of atonal glory, then go back to the Ellingtonian bop of his earlier days when the mood fit. The guy did crank out a grand number of albums for Soul Note (nine total!) which range from innovative fifties-styled avant jazz not that dissimilar to what Sun Ra was doing during his Chicago days to more conventional musings that remind me of some of those early-seventies Gil Evans recordings to stuff that you think you have to wear a suit and tie to listen to. Nice pick grab bag here, though if you're one of those guys who like to put the freedom into the free jazz you'll probably be nonplussed.

Lester Bowie only managed three platters for Soul Note, though they're OK in their own way. Not Bowie at his AEC or Muse best, but a good representation of the trumpeter's late-seventies output when he was starting to pull in the free reigns and emit some comparatively subdued output. Maybe it was the ghost of the late-seventies tellin' him that things weren't gonna be the same for quite a while. Given the way those latterday AEC albums sounded, I think the entire AACM mighta gotten the same message as well.

Must say that there are more of these box sets comin' out, though due to financial restraints I'll probably be passin' on 'em faster'n you can say fanabla. (The Bill Dixon one looked enticing, if only because the man has been such an ignored free jazz figure for way too long.) For now, these three'll keep me busy, at least until the next great underground upheaval gets into gear sometime in 2100 but I'm not holding my breath.

Dredd Foole and the Din-TAKE OFF YOUR SKIN LP (PVC)

First dredge up of the week's this long-forgotten splatter by an act that unfortunately has been passed over in the ranks of GREAT HEAPING BIG AMERIGAN UNDERGROUND EARBUSTERS by the likes of such deserving aggregations as Rancid and Rage Against The Machine. Which (as the old saying goes) is too bad, because those early Dredd Foole records were some of the better hotcha hard-edged post-Velvet Underground Bostonian rock to grace just about anybody's ears, and not only that but at a time when "underground rock" was splintering off into various factions that never could comprehend what the other tentacle was doing these guys seemed to stay on a straight path of no-holds-barred pure adrenaline high energy rock that come to think of it was rather unfashionable ever since the days when THE NEW YORK ROCKER began catering to the more obvious amongst us and CREEM decided to bank their bucks on the stadium rock and hair metal bands sans the keen rock acumen that the mag built their reputation on back in the early-seventies.

Yeah that's all turdism that's long been flushed away, but I gotta admit that this '88 release is some of the better blare to have made it outta that sick decade known as the eighties, a time when it seemed as if all of the hard promise and exploding nihilism of the sixties and seventies got wooshed away under a rising tide of sameness and preachy goody two-shoeism straight outta THE MASS PSYCHOLOGY OF MISTER ROGERS. At least Foole and his Din were one of the few to plunge through those days (Sister Ray and the Droogs being just a couple of the others) who acted as if the stultifying sameness had never existed, and when I look back at those pacifying years I'm sure glad that I stuck it out with groups like this who really knew how to kick out jams at a time when the only thing that really needed kicking was the collective hindquarters of laid back squeaky clean teenage Ameriga!

Probably a cheap "buy it now" on ebay, and I would do what the seller sez. Highly recommended forgotten fave that would have been a bargain bin find of 1994, if they still had bargain bins then (did they?).

David Peel and the Lower East Side-AND THE REST IS HISTORY; THE ELEKTRA RECORDINGS CD (Rhino Handmade)

It doesn't surprise me that more'n a few goofs (and some goofs that I even admire) think the lowest of the low of David Peel. Maybe that's why I've taken a shine to the guy, especially after reading the reams of negative record reviews that have been directed towards our fave "Hippie From New York City" for nigh on fortysome years...not because I have sympathy for some guy whose entire career seemed to be trashed from the get go, but because in all of the reviews that I have read demeaning Peel the description of his music (cheap electric guitar gutter garage primitive teenage rock) sounded like something that I certainly would appreciate to the max! Kinda like that review in STONE of the debut Stooges platter with all the mention of wah-wah pedals and fake leather jackets...I mean sheesh, if that wasn't something that would have every goofus suburban teenage pimplecrop kid rushing to the nearest record shop with his last $4.99 jangling in his pocket I don't know WHAT would!

Back in 2000 the enterprising souls at Rhino Handmade reissued both Elektra-era Peel platters on one shiny pancake along with a couple outtakes (including one entitled "I Am a Runaway" which was later recorded for Peel's oft-banned Apple outing from '72 THE POPE SMOKES DOPE), a nice move by Rhino considering how I was just too scared to pick up both the HAVE A MARIJUANA and THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION albums back when they were filling up the flea market bins of the seventies. Now that the LPs have been reissued on one disc with a rather innocuous cover (no hemp plants or fake crossing the Delawares in sight) now I can sneak it into the confines of my abode without fear of reprisals, as long as I keep the volume way way down!

All funnin' aside, I find that both MARIJUANA and REVOLUTION hold up rather swell-like even though the former's forbidden indulgence is now the subject of serious legal scrutiny regarding both its medicinal and extracurricular benefits and the latter hasn't made a dent in teenage Amerigan thinking since at least 1972 when the revolution in question seemed about as phony as many of the rabble who were promoting it. MARIJUANA, recorded on the streets of the Lower East Side as it happened in true documentary form, comes off like old timey hootenanny music only with boss six-oh garage riffage and ratty drug/protest rant replacing the earnest brotherhood angst. Yeah I know that this was the sound that was probably comin' outta the bedrooms and dorms of thousands of wannabe revolutionaries and hanger-ons back when this '68 platter was unleashed, but in many ways don't you think that was the reason why this 'un came out inna first place? Heavy duty kudos must go to Danny Fields who knew a good teenage hype when he saw it, and thankfully he continued to see it for years afterwards or else we would have all been the poorer for it.

By the advent of THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION in '70 Peel and the Side stepped up a bit, to cheap electric guitars and the kinda drum sets you used to see proudly emblazoned in low rent thrift shops that the poor people used to shop in back when I was a kid. Y'know, the kind with the sparkles that usually adorned banana seat bicycles and seemed cut from the same kiddo cloth in many respects. Of course the music represents this low budget set up remarkably well, kinda like a slightly dippier Deviants or the dolts from that weird school in BILLY JACK if they had chanced upon the Stooges 'stead of James Taylor. Downright punky grasp and feel here that doesn't offend at all, even when famed somethingorother Marshall Efron gets into the act doing some passably funny cop and guy onna street imitations.

So yeah, count me in with the Peel fanatics...all ten of 'em... for this guy not only delivered but continues to dish out some pretty hotcha late-sixties via early-sixties rock vibrations that do sound rather conspicuously suburban at times. And even though the old turd's still out there twangin' away for the occupied people (who I get the feeling don't even know who David Peel is, or care for that matter) I gotta like him for NOT being a bandwagon jumper like onetime mentor John Lennon or the rest of those sixties relics. Unless you actually count Howard Stern as a bandwagon, that is.

Yeah, I know that the eighties were such a drag time for underground rockism unless you were part of the underground, but gosh ding ya if I don't think that the Meat Puppets were one of a good hunkerin' 100 or so groups to have sprung up from '80 to '89 that shall we say had a certain Gennesee Quah that separated 'em from the vast majority of hardcore zealots, hair metal morons, pop-squeakers and asst. other freakazoids who cluttered up that particularly vile decade. And this second outing of theirs does hold up pretty nice...far from the Deadhead vision that many rockque critics seem to tag it as, II in fact comes off like one of those Great Amerigan Rock Albums of the seventies that I still seem to squeal over, maybe not up there with LOADED or ONE KISS LEADS TO ANOTHER but pretty straight-ahead in its own way. Nice bounce here twixt "old school" h-core and early-seventies mid-Amerigan suburbanisms make this sound either like the big lost indie album of 1983, or perhaps even 1973 for that matter. A definite winner that goes to show you that maybe the folks at SST weren't as potsmogged (or maybe they were, but it a positive way) as I kinda thought they were inna late-eighties.


Gonna try to scrape together some more forgotten newies and well as long-lost oldies for next time. However, considering the current situation on all fronts combined with the lack of folding jack and general lethargy within a once seething underground (with a load of stress from work 'n real life dolloped on like sour cream on a big messy taco) next week's post might actually come off weaker 'n this poor excuse. Well, considering how the teens will probably be the decade which finally kills of all semblance of hot music from rock 'n' roll to free jazz, don't say that you didn't see it comin'.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

BOOK REVIEW! THE NEW AMERICAN CINEMA, a critical anthology edited by Gregory Battcock (Dutton, 1967)

Ever since I developed an interst in film as something other'n what the tee-vee stations would air in order to fill up time between network feeds, just about every aspect of history and perhaps even style of cinematic blunderment has graced my ever-shiny beanie. And naturally the underground or avant garde if you will cinema had caught my attention ever since I began prowling through film books, making me want to glom loads of mooms that certainly weren't being made available via my local tee-vee outlets. Of course actually being able to appreciate such films back in the seventies and eighties wasn't exactly an easy enough task...I remember when trying to see something along the lines of, say, SCORPIO RISING meant a trip to a distant college campus for a rare Wednesday night showing in some cramped classroom (usually during a winter month on the snowiest night of the year). Thankfully, with the advent of home entertainment and video trading it has become possible for even somebody like myself who's way outta the hot and chi-chi loop to view such items as these old underground films but way back then the best thing that I could hope for was that some local college branch'd maybe have an evening of everything from twenties dada/surrealist shorts of forties innovation up through sixties breakthrough when even the likes of TIME 'n' NEWSWEEK saw a hot story when it bit 'em on the ass. Or better yet hope that maybe PBS'd get the brains to run something innocuous yet still within the avant realm like an early James Broughton short to fill up the time between the ten o' clock documentary and the captioned ABC news repeats they used to sign off with.

Therefore,  THE NEW AMERICAN CINEMA is a handy book when it comes to disseminating info about the mid-sixties underground film explosion, not as handy as Parker Tyler's own book or some of the other collections that were popping up from the sixties onwards, but good enough if you wanna fill in some of the myriad assortment of blanks that might have popped up in your mind. Mainly a collection of essays that appeared in all of those "important" publications I'm sure every high school phony intellectual's scarf up in order to impress someone that he wasn't the noodge everyone has him pegged as, THE NEW AMERICAN CINEMA has a wide array of writers (all coming outta the same channel of new hip Amerigan thought) who, in twenty-plus chapters, all have the same message to zap right into your unaware suburban button down plastic mind. Naturally these tomes all have that brainy, allegedly witty, allegorical and at times obtuse in its flowery style that you don't what the hell you're reading, but at least you can sift through the references to Greek Philosophers and the bloated nature of Hollywood and find something concrete regarding whatever hotcha mid-sixties underground filmmaker you'd choose to research.

Of course that's the problem when say, you'd like to know more about Gregory Markopoulos and you'd like a concrete filmography and descriptions of his work in a way that a ten year old would understand, but I guess you have to put up with the likes of Susan Sontag dredgin' up some of the most intellectual gobbledygook ever in order to lay on the line just what it is 'bout Jack Smith's FLAMING CREATURES that makes it such a powerful and evocative film. Well, at least I haven't come across the word "redolent" yet, but that doesn't mean it's not gonna pop up within the next closer reading since sometimes my mind skips a few words when it gets so late at night...

What I woulda liked to have read was something a whole lot more "concrete", like how did Markopoulos' "in camera editing" work, or just what exactly was PULL MY DAISY (which you'd never know was a neat li'l personal film dealing with the meeting of some of the bigger beats of the fifties narrated by the biggest one of 'em all!)...most of this reminds me of that old comedy gag from the twenties and thirties where the stereotypical fake intellectual black guy spouts loads of big words (some even with actual meaning!) at his audience of old black men in a meeting room who react in righteous "amens", when all the while what we ALL could use is some plain talk without the socia/political aspects as to what we are about to receive! I will say that reading something like Carl Linder's notes for his debut film THE DEVIL IS DEAD made for wonderful reading, but if someone had only bothered to give me a shot-by-shot like has been done with everything from UN CHIEN ANDALOU to SCORPIO RISING I sure woulda appreciated it especially since there's no way that I'm gonna be catching this on youtube any day soon. But I still am hoping.

If you saw 'em all this'll make a good toothpick, but the rest of us lumpen proles need something a lot different, like a big book with lotsa shiny pix and large print and solid descriptions/appreciations. Since that moment has long gone all we're gonna get are textbook lessons and rheumy reminiscences, which might do a lotta good for Jill Johnson if she hasn't dyked herself outta existence but does practually nada for curious cubes like myself!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I don't know whether I should be proud, ashamed, or just plain ol' flabbergasted, but it finally took me over thirty years for the debut Siouxsie and the Banshees platter entitled THE SCREAM to finally worm its way into my not so often wormed heart. I'm not exactly sure as to why this 'un finally hit the core of my being or whatever flowery rockcritic jargon you'd care to dredge up, since just about every word of praise and exaultation regarding this album that your mind can think of has been directed at me regarding this (as some would say) "epochal" release. I kind of get the feeling that it was because of the Nick Kent writeup in a long-lost NME dropping everything from the Velvet Underground to Can that finally clenched gears within my rockist sense of well-being, which only translates into I'll listen to this guy shovel the rock evaluations and opinions anyday though if some schmuck next to me deals out the exact same schpiel I'll be more'n apt to IGNORE the upstart sucker. After all, if I'm going to be dishing well up to two hours worth of pay (before deductions) for a platter that I might have some reservations about, I might as well hear it from a well paid professional 'stead of some knowitall off the street! Besides, if the record turned out to be a dud it ain't like I can go all the way over to Gay Paree 'n slug out Kent like I could some Joe Fafoofnik who works in a bakery and skids his underwear just like everyone else!

But for being an "experimental" punk rock album (perhaps even "avant punk" in the best Velvets/Imperial Dogs sense) THE SCREAM ranks up there with Wire, the Pop Group, the Slits and the rest of those English art rockers mentioned in that Talking Heads/electronic possibilities piece the adorned the cover of the final issue of BOMP. True the entire format seemed like way too much English Weekly fodder once 1982 rolled in, but at least when the idea of taking various sixties epiphanies and deconstructing them to the point where rank amateurs could do with nth the musical abilities (but with all of the acumen) what the Velvets did with their inborn genius groups like Siouxsie/Banshees were able to pull it off with much elan. Great spidery sound here gives this the same starkness of that last dream you had when you flashed back to mid-teen loneliness and angst and lived it all over again in your modern day hulk of a remnant post-man...uncertain past meets stark present.

A latch onto the Peel sessions is a definite possibility, though what I would like to know is, is the 100 Club set featuring the original free splat variation with Marco Pirroni and the one called Sid available anywhere (and in better fidelity than the horrid mess that's been flying around for some time)? I coulda sworn there not only was a bootleg featuring this set floating around, but that somebody (one of my adoring fans, no doubt!) had sent me a cassette of this show and it sure sounded better'n the mass of wallow that had been made available to tape to traders everywhere for years on end!

Essra Mohawk's one of those singer/songwriter fringe rabble (who's been associated w/Zappa and the Grateful Dead as well as hung around the Laurel Canyon area a little more than any sane person would dare) that more'n a few people, some of whom I even admire, claim a strange if almost clandestine allegiance to. As far as cult figures go Mohawk doesn't quite live up to the expectations I'm sure that her SoCal compats like Tom Waits or even Joni herself can deal out to disaffected and way-too-introspective for my tastes kinda people, but I gotta admit that she sure did a better job on these two WEA discs back inna seventies than I would have given her credit for. Downright rocking, jazzy and driving at times, both PRIMORDIAL LOVERS and just plain ol' ESSRA MOHAWK (here double packaged in a 2000 Rhino handmade edition complete with rare b-sides and the like) come off like Carole King's toughest only done even tougher, Joni Mitchell with a prescription for Celexa and as some of the best solo seventies woman rock since the Shangri Las or at least Yoko Ono's APPROXIMATELY INFINITE UNIVERSE (OK, that's an inside Metal Mike Saunders joke which I hope you get!). Once you get the fact outta your mind that this lass wrote songs for Tina Turner and Cyndi Lauper (and nicked her Asylum LP cover offa Maxfield Parrish, one of my least fave artists) you might even consider Mohawk one of the few people outta the SoCal land of la la to make it into the present without losing much sanity or strength in the translation! A nice once in awhile spin that I thought actually had the intelligence, move and swing that the rest of the competition, cult or mainstream, just totally lacked.

You already know about my natural inbred weakness for the Velvet Underground and the utilization of various forms either developed or extrapolated on by this musical act which have been borrowed, lifted or developed on throughout the late-sixties and seventies ny more than the handful of acolytes the likes of Jann Wenner would care to admit. And, as you also undoubtedly know, I still have an almost infantile weakness for the Velvets and their various progeny who have helped create some of the most vibrant and electronic energy throughout those years. This  weakness is evident even to the point where I continue to cherish coming across a variety of references (mostly written while the group was still functioning or recently deceased) where various scribes would compare certain acts boht up-and-coming as well as established to the Velvets in various musical capacities as if this was perhaps one of the most intelligent and crowning achievements in said group's entire kultural makeup.

A reference to the "early" Velvets will get me more than champing at the bit to search through three decades of flotsam for a certain tape that will reveal said act's abilities to decipher the Reed/Cale period in rock history when the Velvets were such an alien force that only the fringiest of the fringe (or the nerdiest of the suburban fanboys) could comprehend the addled might. A '73 VILLAGE VOICE piece on Patti Smith which compared the Lenny Kaye/DNV Sohl backup to a cross between the early-Velvets and Kurt Weill had me giving the Max's portion of THE POETRY PROJECT bootleg a good three nights worth of pre-beddy bye spins, while a recent writeup of the Smith boot PATHS THAT CROSS which described "Farewell Road"'s early VU lilt had me spinnin' that with the repeat button goin' on ad infinitum (even though the piece was written well after the allure of Velvets-unto-rock decadence had long worn off thanks to the news filtering down to where just about every amerindie dork could take the magic and ruin it. But somehow the idea and mood was just right and...). I know that Mick Farren's writeup of Dylan's HARD RAIN live set with the early-Velvet Underground refs (though with good ol down on Maggie's Farm fresh air and sunshine replacing the gutter homo drug visions) had me scurrying to latch up a copy if only because Farren's such a deep into the soul writer, while even dorkoid Robert Christgau comparing the Fugs of FUGS FOUR ROUNDERS SCORE to the '66 vintage VU in some '75 "Consumer's Guide" was enough to...well you know the entire schpiel anal retentive exactness of it all.

Gotta admit that even though I do consider myself an up 'n front Velvets fan I rarely play their legit albums anymore, or even a lot of their bootlegs for that matter. This is mainly because I don't want to become overly familiar with 'em even afte a good 30+ years of knowing these platters by heart, and besides the call hasn't been overcoming me as much as it did when I was a mere 18 and for some strange reason rock 'n' roll seemed to have a deeper, more invigorating meaning in my life than it even does now. When I do spin the VU it's (once again) the early stuff...or shall I say the real early surviving and downright experimental entries from their ESP "Noise" track of pure undistilled beauty or the CHELSEA GIRLS soundtrack where shards of neo-Asian tuning are performed to Ondine's maddening monologue. And not-so-surprisingly this particular platter, the first disque in the '95 Velvet Underground box set which gets way too much play as of late which isn't at all that strange. But as far as the early-EARLY Velvets go, these embryonic versions of the big hits of '66 affect me as much if not more than the original takes, showing a Angus Maclise-less act as they probably sounded back when they were still the Falling Spikes and Electrah Lobel was doing the guitar parts that Sterling Morrison would eventually make his mark with. Sparse, driving and downright intense, these acoustic demos only go to prove that Lou Reed and company didn't need electricity to make highly-charged sounds though when they did it sure helped!

Yeah, perhaps there's a bit too much of a Dylan influence where there shoulda been more Reed, and instead of hearing all of those takes I woulda preferred whoever compiled this to choose the best versions of each song and add more early rehearsal tuneage if only for historical reference, but for what it is what else can I say but I sure love it because it packs just as much of that oft-needed resensifying force into my still-teenage beenie as Smith or Hackamore Brick or all of those acts that tried so grandly to be the Velvets of the seventies while everyone else was looking for the new Beatles. Sends me way back to when I was a young teenage goof trying to latch onto something interesting for once in my life, and that progressive rock and disco sham just wasn't cutting it. Now that I'm an OLD baldoid goof well...I gotta admit that I sometimes get the original feeling which does help connect me, at least spiritually, to a time and place when I thought that music like this was being created for me only because who else did I know of who would even go near the stuff!

Besides collecting rockist-oriented fan publications, I have been known to dabble a few tootsies into the fountain of other forms of fandom that have been sprouting up like lily-livered spots across my face. Amongst the various branches of "amateur" publications that I have been purchasing over the past fifteen or so, comic book fanzines have made a big indent in my own 'zine collection. This is perhaps because the beneath/beyond the mainstream work to be found within the pages of a wide array of long-deceased amazine pubs have somehow registered with my own adolescent comic art fantasies which have produced such beloved if forgotten titles as FEEBLE FABLES and RATS REAGAN. Not that there weren't an inordinary number of "crudzines" out there featuring work that woulda made the above titles look like Steranko, but there sure were a whopping batch of characters, stories and downright decent fan artists out there who did a pretty good job approximating the previous twenty years of comic book history and distilling it into whatever they could get outta some spirit duplicator or (if very lucky) offset.

LABORS OF LOVE was a fanzine-styled history of comic fandome written by former SENSE OF WONDER editor Bill Schelly, who later extrapolated on the idea with a large softcover book that filled in a lotta the missing details and general historical background that clued more'n a few newcomers about such crucial comic fanzines as ALTER EGO, XERO and STAR STUDDED COMICS. A nice and breezy li'l read that'll take you at least two pre-beddy bye sittings to complete, LABORS gives the basic backgrounds and general impressions regarding the birth and grown of comic book fandom courtesy Schelly, a guy who has a takent to really show ya just how much of an importance comic fandom was in the sixties, enough that he can actually zone you back to that early/mid-sixties teenage gulcher fun and games attitude that permeated itself into everything from comic books to tee-vee, rock 'n' roll, slot car racing and even the kind of new pleasure foods were being pumped at us from cathodes nationwide. Makes me feel sorry for kids today who have nothing but computer gadgetry and their genitals to rely on!

When you're done reading this 'un you'll undoubtedly want to give Schelly's GIANT LABORS OF LOVE a try. Reproducing some of the better dittoed fanzine sagas (nicely reproduced so's you don't get stuck with a faint page as was wont some of the ditto 'zines you'd get back then), GIANT's got some of the better stories of the sixties era front and center for you, featuring such stars of the spirit duplicator as Biljo White's The Eye (sorta like the early Batman w/o the grotesque badskies), the infamous Ronn Foss's "Velvet of Venus", future undergrounder Grass Green's "Speed Marvel vs. The Laughing Phantom" and the legendary (at least in comic fanzine circles) "Death on Night-Tide World" where a famous fandom hero actually bites the dust in action! Won't tell you who it is because you might want to latch onto this 'un and read for yourself, but let me tell you it's a real weeper!!!

Even future FANTASTIC FOUR artist (who got the job because he could do Jack Kirby better'n anybody else) Rick Buckler pops up with a Captain Liberty story that shows that the only limitations of ditto were in the mind of the creator. A great find if you can latch onto a copy, and if you consider youself any sorta fan and follower of the fans and followers then I'm sure you're more'n intereted in these long gone tomes'n I'm giving you credit for! Try ebay, or maybe even publishers Hamster Press (PO Box 27471, Seattle WA 98125) have a few left. Well, you could spend your ever dwindling lucre on something a whole lot worse, which I have the sneaking suspicion you undoubtedly will...
AND YOU THOUGHT THAT DREAM I HAD LAST WEEK WAS WEIRD! Well, here's an even weirder one that I can't make any real heads or tails outta. The whole night was filled with strange occurances in dreamland, but the part where I came home after a hard day at the nerve gas factory and found out that none other than well-published pipsqueak CHUCK EDDY was there to visit me was something that was really taking the cake! I naturally was irritated that this mental munchkin had invaded the sanctity of my abode especially after being run through the wringer, so while my parents "entertained" Mr. Eddy as if he were some visiting royal dignitary (y'know, like ask him what he does for a living and how many kids he has) I spent my time hiding in my bedroom and the bathroom where I did things like pluck a big long hair on my scalp resembled a black leek. After awhile who should bust into my vary toilet area but Mr. Eddy himself, looking a lot like the schlong I've seen in pictures o'er the years only smaller as if he were a mere ten-year-old loudmouth deserving of a big walloping!

Well, after putting up with his insults (like "nice bangs" in reference to my current Yul Brynner 'do) I actually piledrive the kiddo a few times which doesn't do much for him, given his spine seemed to be made of a slinky. I did this with no effort, as if I was play-acting studio wrestling with a three-year-old only with a ton of anger in my heart! The rapier-like witticisms kept on a'comin' (I remember him shouting "Keep your cholesterol-laden hands off me!" as I tried yet another debilitating wrestling move) though soon the social intercourse (no, not that!) was broken up by none other than mother, who chastized me for treating company in such a way even if that company was an annoying rock critic bigmouth who was more'n responsible for helping destroy the Generation of Bangs and Meltzer and turning it into one big Voice of Whoredom!

Too add even more turds to the toilet, I noted that yet another former BTC touter now on my condemned list had come to visit as well, but we got along fine, even to the point where I complimented him on the Leo Gorcey impression he did! The strange thing about this is, that I did not take any pain or allergy aids that night and those are the things that usually give me sharp, vivid dreams! Well, all I gotta say is that it wasn't one of those dreams that give me the creeps so much (like the ones where I observe gross mass genocide or various wartime atrocities first hand-like) that I don't wanna go back to sleep for another century or so. With this one make it at least a good month, because once you get down to it Chuck Eddy is Chuck Eddy and there's no way gettin' 'round that disturbing fact!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Well, given these are the post-Holiday slumparoonies what else would you expect? Hadda dig deep into the paperback bin to pull these longtime mid-seventies-era flea market finds out and yeah, I guess you could say that I'm the poorer for it. It's not that longtime MAD cartoonist and scrutinizer of all things midclass Dave Berg was a lousy artist...he wasn't although his style certainly had an awkward look to it that matched his own typically middle twentieth-century New York Progressive beliefs. It's not that Dave Berg didn't come up with many good zingers (he did, much to my surprise), and it's not that Dave Berg was the summation of just about everything that lay dead and rotting about depression-era morphing into baby boomer morality...but PUT 'EM ALL TOGETHER and they spell out just about everything that I can't stand about the guy from his mealy sixties homilies about us all loving one another to his generation gap quibbles that even a nth-rater like myself saw through when I first laid eyes upon his more preachy work during my mid-teen years!

After perusing these cheap-o paperback reads maybe you can see just why this guy sticks out  like an even sorer thumb with his rather "blinkered" as they say observations that got even more outta whack as the years crept up and Berg, along with the mag he'd been toiling at since the late-fifties, came off as an even bigger crank 'n the ones he self-congradulatorinly has been exposing to all of us pre-teens for the past twenny-five years!

MAD'S DAVE BERG LOOKS AT THINGS, page 35, a "strip" as we shall say entitled "Declaration of Independence" begins with a middle-aged father talking to his faux bohemian, Joan Baez-ish daughter with acoustic guitar in what looks like a typical mid-sixties suburban living room. Father: "What the heck was that you were just singing, one of those protest songs? What do you have to protest about?" Daughter: "Unreasonable, oppressive authority." SECOND PANEL:  Father: "By that you mean parental authority, I presume?" Daughter: "Well, if you wanna put it that way, yes! We've a new spirit of freedom and revolt amongst all American youth. I want to cut the umbilical cord, snip the apron strings, fly the coop, flee the nest and leave this house. It's not a home, but a womb. I WANT MY COMPLETE, UNEQUIVOCAL FREEDOM!" THIRD PANEL:  Father: "My poor darling, I didn't realize you felt that strongly about your independence. Well, if that's how you want it, I'll even help you find a little place of your own - away from the family. And I suppose, under the circumstances, you'd be much too proud to go on accepting an allowance. LAST (AND THANKFULLY FINAL) PANEL: Daughter: "Oh no daddy, I didn't want that much independence!" with father putting on one of those smug "I gotcha" parental authority smirks old folks used to display as part of the whole "we know the true meaning of life and you don't!" act that thankfully has lost its potency as the years rolled by.

Funny, if I were writing the strip, I woulda changed it to having the gal take dad up on his offer, then he opens up a newspaper a good year or so later and finds out that his own progeny had become Lydia Lunch! Or maybe even the newest porn sensation best known for her manyfold deep nostril abilities!!! But even that would need a little bitta ironing out. Still, it is a whole lot funner (and "relevant", in a true, non hipster sense) than the stuffy New York suburban credo that has permeated Berg's work ever since Bill Gaines or whoever consented to having him do that "Lighter Side Of..." feature that the guy sure ran into the ground.

Of course anybody who's been reading MAD since the early days of Berg can recite the entire credo by heart...slobs who don't shave and wear undershirts while watching lowbrow tee-vee bad, greaser kids in fake leather jackets bad, hippies bad, but they can be a good bad, everyday schmoes are good though they can be good fodder for exposing the foibles of midclass Amerigan living, and adolescents really need to be put in their place! Of course Dave Berg loves the whole world, which I guess would have made him an even bigger idiot than anybody reading this mess coulda guessed!

Really tough least with a MAD rag in hand you could glance over at the always entertaining Don Martin and "Spy vs. Spy" 'toons but here all you've got as far as giving your eyes a break is the spider crawling about on the wall. At least the vapidness that many have argued about as being part and parcel to bourgeois living is brought to life thanks to a guy who was a one-man definition of just about everything that was wrong with it!

OK, I'll try to find a better selection for the next mid-week gap filler. But sheesh, was this a rough ride through all of those mid-sixties humanist kumbayaisms straight out of THIS IS THE LIFE that were supposed to change us all for the better! Only makes one shudder at just how much of a failure that comfy-cozy midclass suburban liberalism has been here from the vantage point of a good fortysome years. I mean, here it is 2012 and we still don't have a black president!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Considering this is the first "real" jambus packtus post I've produced for the new calendar flip, maybe I should introduce it as such if only to set the tone for what hopefully will transpire for the rest of yet another uneventuful year. Yeah, I know that this just might come off downright stodgy 'n pretentious, but perhaps a few words regarding just how I feel entering into yet another 365 366 should be in order if only to pull off yet another lame attempt at showing some sort of dignity and class thus stymieing you reg'lar readers even more. And, in keeping with form, I'll try to make it as rambling and as incoherently stream-of-unconsciousness as possible.

Perhaps I should start off by mentioning something along the line of how weird I feel having even survived this long into the new century, which I would say is long enough to have experienced the "no future" that Johnny R 'n company have told us about a good 35 years back. Only now we're over a quarter century into that mass of blahdom that some consider the bright new future but I find an alternative universe worse than any Hell Dante could've imagined. Maybe the weird chill that it's been over a century since a lotta the things I used to hold near and dear to my heart were created (the modern comic strip being amongst 'em) and that all of the originators and extrapolators of the form were just hitting their stride a good 100 solar spins back also tends to make me feel older'n Methuselah. Of course that doesn't say much about comic strips TODAY, but then again any industry that would even remotely think that DOONESBURY and CATHY are anywhere the spiritual successors to LI'L ABNER and NANCY has taken a wrong turn long ago. If you ask me, the comic strip, along with the entire newspaper industry, deserves to die a long, agonizing death, and that goes for the rest of the so-called "media" which has stayed afloat on hackdom and a playing up to the worst aspects of Mr. and Mrs. Boob Ameriga for a longer period of time than I'm sure even the most curmudgeonesque amongst us would have ever believed.

The third place showing of personal political fave-rave Ron Paul in the Iowa Caucuses did incur the usual mixed feelings, especially after all of the exit polls showed him to be a strong frontrunner this past Tuesday night. Naturally deep in whatever's left of my once overly-bled-out heart I knew that he wouldn't do as well as many of us hoped he would given the stupidity of the average Republican lever-pusher (which is only equalled by the average Democrat who never did graduate beyond the "Kumbaya" level of social consciousness), but at least I can dream a li'l, eh? And if Lew Rockwell could be trusted (and why not?), the reactions amongst the usual elite smirkers commentators at MSNBC towards a possible Paul victory were typically hilarious...I really liked the way Rockwell described Rachel Maddow as having "the expression of a woman giving birth to a bowling ball" when discussing Paul's exit poll first place showing, while compat Chris Matthews "looked like a man who has just been told that his pet dog was run over" which I guess would be too much for a guy who has to talk down to his audience like a Sunday School teacher trying to describe what "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery" means to a class of six-year-olds! I'll bet that the facial scrunching was just as bad over at Fox News, who like the rest of the "mainstream" (read: "yawn") conservative media is just praying for the return to the steady, hard-driving and clear vision of a George Bush via Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum! As for myself, I sure wish I had the chance to check in on the vastly superior Fox Business News Channel to see what the blowhard-y (in a nice way!) yet etapoint Judge Andrew Napolitano, who has been perhaps the only visible Paul cheerleader seen on the tube these past few months, had to say about Paul's showing! Naturally I feel glad in my own ginchy-goochy way that Paul has done as well as he has so far, though I was hoping for a better placing considering all of the ups and downs that the polls have been spewing forth for the last month or so that gave more'n a few spectators like myself the queazie-weazies!

But still, Paul's twentysome % does prove that there is some hope for this wretched land of ours and that perhaps he will be able to do stronger in other states thus giving massive gut thrompings to the yakking heads on both the left and the right who see him as being one of the biggest threats to (their own personal sense of, and at the expense of everybody else's) liberty! And with regards to his enemies on both the left and the right, I gotta say that if a candidate such as Paul can really get these rumor-mongers and armchair Criswells frothing like they do then he definitely will remain my fave as long as I live! After all, anybody who could be such a threat as to actually "want to establish, at the state level, a male-dominated religion that will stone gays to death" (???) must be doing something right if his ideological enemies are stooping so low as to actually spew something THAT outrageous! All I gotta say is keep it up Ron...the unhinged comments your enemies are spewing make for some of the best laff parade material I've come across since they took GILLIGAN'S ISLAND off the air!

In case you're keeping track, I will now come out of the closet so to speak and say that, after about eight or nine years of really not paying attention and having it on in the car if only to keep my mind off of my driving, I have now sworn to never again flick on the radio to give Rush Limbaugh or any of his substitute hosts (perhaps even Walter Williams) a listen to again! The man's own political journey and mine have certainly swayed o'er the past few, what with his disavowal of the paleoconservative roots of his own credo to the abject dismissal of the likes of Ron Paul (no wonder the new nickname for the radio host amongst the more enlightened has become "El Neoconbo"!), a man whom Limbaugh has previously praised though now dismisses with the same half-truths and outright prefabrications you usually hear amongst the no-name commentators at CNN! Now I will say that there was some animosity twixt us brewing back when Limbaugh turned on Pat Buchanan with a typical party-line vengeance, and Limbaugh's paranoia at the paleo politics that could be found at CHRONICLES (not to mention his obvious dismay at having to mention Joseph Sobran's name when plugging THE CONSERVATIVE CHRONICLES, no relation to the other pub!) just helped piss me off even more, but his recent railing against Paul is how shall we say the camel-back-breaking last straw for this radio tuner-inner. Guess from now on it's gonna hafta be Neal Boortz (not exactly a fave rave though he's at least a shard interesting---forget it when that "Red States USA" Ericson guy substitutes for him!) when I'm out driving, and as far as the new media goes it's Lew Rockwell, Taki's Top Drawer and CHRONICLES all the way!

I hope that's enough blab passed off as viable sociopolitical speak in a lame attempt to make myself come off as something more'n an overgrown adolescent anal-retentive pseudo-autistic music obsessive! X-mas money's starting to wear thin, but I was able to eke out a few items (not including the freebies received!) to make this yet another one for the annals of history, at least as far as self-important one-dimensional fannish bleats go...

Tim Buckley and the Starsailor Band-LIVE AT ESCONDIDO, CA 10/1970 CD-R (burnt offering)

Yes, while the rest of you were out galavanting this past 12/31, I was spending the waining hours of the year listening to this rarity sent to me via the kindness of Mr. PD Fadensonnen, who also sent the Loren Conners and what else but Fadensonnen platters which also get the royal treatment below. Yes, lonely me wasn't getting plastered outta his skull whilst surrounded by friends (not that I have any!) while ringing in the New Year, but I will say that I truly had a fun time giving this particular one a spin even without the enhancement of various body stimulants/depressants which I'm sure many of you folk rely on daily. And considering its nature (Buckley during the height of his avant garde phase which was represented via one-and-a-half albums that puzzled most fans and critics of the day) I'm surprised this hasn't been pressed up into either a deluxe double-record set complete with the fannish liner notes and the deluxe color cover let alone a fashionable Cee-Dee via whatever's left of the bootleg industry these days. Hey TMOQ, if you're still in business here's one that'll just fly off the racks!

Sound quality is OK some times, pretty clear at others, but it's the band that really gets hot as Buckley 'n crew try to out-do the likes of Shepp and Sun Ra with this total mass upheaval! Naturally there are traces of Buckley as the SoCal singer/songwriter tortured soul that he had originally made his mark with, but most if not all of this can easily pass for a live show by one of the up-and-coming freedom explorers of the day even with Buckley's yelps and screams permeating this platter! Brilliant improvs abound, and the "chorale" is even stranger'n that over-tracked title cut on the STARSAILOR album to the point where if someone passed it as some 197X work by a then up-and-coming "serious" composer most avant sneers'd probably believe it as such! One deserving of wider distribution, and if you google hard enough you might even find a free download!
Loren Connors-RED MARS CD (Family Vineyard)

The second of Fadendonnen's gifts, this 'un's a recent ('10) recording from the famous "out" guitarist on electric accompanied by a Margardia Garcia on electric string bass.  And as you'd expect this is moving as it is pleasing, with Connors' wafting electric lines giving you that floating feeling with just the right touch of pathos and ennui and all of those fun things that you like to have pounded into your music. Reminds me a lot of "The Hymn to the North Star" in its enveloping beauty, and you know that if I could use such descriptive language as that this one really has affected me in a positive, life-reaffirming way! Of the many Connors albums out there to choose from, this one is, like, perhaps a mandatory if you want it kinda pick!
Fadensonnen-LIVE AT ACTIONIST STUDIOS CD (Fadensonnen Music...check the blog on the left for address and other important info)

The final of the three, LIVE AT ACTIONIST STUDIOS just happens to be the latest release this unheralded (and under-documented, under-appreciated and under-weight for all I know) musician has dared to unleash on us modern music maniacs , some of us who still harbor some hope that there's interesting underground avant garde rock being made a good thirty years after it all sorta went 'n deep sixed!
A lotta the same aspects of previous Fadensonnen releases can be discerned, but I was able to pick out a whole batch of new influences here (or was that just my ears hallucinating?) from Les Rallizes Denudes to even some of those Kongress workouts that I thought had only graced mine ears (esp. the one where Von Lmo was extrapolating on his own trapology!) It is heartening to know that people still play with stylophones! A pretty hotcha way to begin the new year if you ask me, and if this is any sorta start I just hope my hard can stand it these next twelve months!
Balloons for the Dog-"Tuna Tonight"/"Assassination Candidate" 45 (Baltech Industries/Random Radar)

Gee, I never bought any balloons for my dog, though it I did I'd bet he'd chew it until it popped in his face! The thought still kinda makes me feel guilty for neglecting him this way, even though it would have been fun to see the look on his face as the thing went kablooey!

But all kidding aside here's a weirditie that I snatched up if only because I saw this group's name on some old Max's Kansas City flier. The fact that the usually prog-in-opposition oriented Random Radar label had something to do with this also piqued my attention, and although these Balloon people sound nothing like the Muffins or Art Bears they do put up a pretty good pre-ginch new wave sound on these sides. The use of synthesizer and electric organ gives this group a rather Kongress-ish sound which certainly seperates this from the typical new unto gnu wave acts that were appearing on the scene at the time this was unleashed. Not only that, but Balloon had a hard New York-ish (strange since they were from Washington DC) sense of drive in their approach kinda making 'em kith 'n kin to the likes of the Comateens, Dizzy and the Romilars and other local acts that still had a sense of late-seventies dirt and grime in their style which would soon get wooshed away after the major labels and rock video movement discovered this untapped potential geek goldmine!

Nice sleeve for this which in actuality is an envelope that you probably coulda used for mailing purposes had you run out of one and needed to get your order to Bomp! in like quicksilver. Of course a collectorphile like yourself never would even consider doing something as destructive as that but hey, there were times in my life when the idea kinda popped into my brain when the envelopes just weren't to be found.
Nevertheless, this sure was a nice kinda package for an interesting group that's somehow slipped through the cracks and crevices of underground rock consciousness. Any more information on this group would greatly be appreciated!  (And while we're at it, check the Max's listing to see who the opening spot for the 12/10 gig was...none other than Lou Barone soon to be Lou Rone, ace guitarist who was by this time rockin' out in his own band featuring none other'n Iolsa Hatt on vocals! And while we're at it, that's none other'n the famed beat hippoid Copernicus playing 12/3 on a bill alongside other than the Mad and Howard Wuelfing's old group the Nurses!!! Betcha can't guess where I'm going as soon as the Wayback Machine is tuned to peak perfection, and it ain't to the founding of the Temperance League that's for sure!)
WHITE CLOUD LP (Good Medicine)

Y'know how much I like to take chances on early seventies obscuros hoping that I might find a new Sidewinders or Hackamore Brick in the batch. And this one looked a li'l promising if only because vocalist Joanne Vent later had a notable career of sorts singing backup on Lou Reed's CONEY ISLAND BABY album as well as leading her own aggregate (who were scheduled to appear at CBGB 11/76 yet canceled out---even more underground mystique to to dig into my own hook-laden psyche!). Alas, li'l early-seventies rockist magic transpires on this country bumpkin effort featuring the talents of one Thomas Jefferson Kaye who was put to better use producing the first Barbarians single on the Joy label...naw, this group's pretty much in that New Nashville rocking vein that was probably too freaky for the old country fans yet too cube for the rockers.

Now I will admit that Vent has a good set of pipes on her (sounds more Sally Struthers than Janis Joplin) and some of the material is what I would deem pleasant enough, but I sure coulda used a buncha good cheap fast rockers interspersed twixt the Mid-South twang. As it is, WHITE CLOUD is pretty much a stuck in neutral drag that only proves these guys 'n gal were custom made for backing the likes of a New Folkie moosh like Loudon Wainwright III after all!

The Flamin' Groovies-SNEAKERS 10-inch LP/EP (Skydog, France)

'n finally (at least as far the music reviews go) heres' a recent acquistion which I know will look good in the collection, the 1975 Skydog reissue of the debut Flamin' Groovies ten-incher, also done up as a ten-inch platter which certainly does lend an air of authenticity. Nice, european look to the cover and label ('s funny, this must be the only bootleg extant which advertises the group's legit albums on the back cover) and overall cool production make this 'un a definite keeper. Strangely enough, even though I didn't quite care for this early Groovies side when I first spun it way back inna early-eighties, I find that these definitely post-Moby Grape-ish cuts have a whole lot more to say about what San Francisco was than the entire recorded output of the Dead 'n Airplane combined! (And frankly, it ain't like I'm as much of a hater of this stuff as I was a good decade or two back, but the Groovies still trounce 'em on all counts!)

Of course, the sad part about the story is that, although I now have whatcha'd call a hotcha, excitement-prone vinyl collection which I could only have dreamed about when I was sixteen, who on earth would really want to pour through it to marvel at the obscurities and other such jetsam that is now in my possession? Sure it woulda been a thrill way back when...y'know, "come on over to my place 'n I'll show ya some REAL records!"...but now with the seventies age of music relegated into the restricted "classic rock"genre and most of the people I knew back then (thankfully) scattered across the globe, not only is there nobody I know who would want to see my collection, but nobody around to see it even if somebody would be interested! I know I told you about my wish to turn my record collection into someting that resembled one of those old record shops you used to see, the outta the way kind where you could get bootlegs, cutouts and imports at sometimes reasonable prices and there was some grumpy twenty-something guy keeping his eye on you behind the counter unless he decided to sneak back for a quickie you-know-what. A place where I could just go 'n prowl the racks 'n look at the goodies like I did when I was a mere adolescent and could only dream about owning this stuff, only now I have it and somehow it sates this raging feeling that if I didn't have these records I would be less the man that I am now. If that were the case you know I'd drag everyone who ever prowled a record rack to come down to my basement and pretend it was the old days skimmin' through the albums as I regale a whole slew of stories surrounding the whys wherefores and circumstances connected with my purchasing of said platter.  It would make me feel proud, though you know I'm gonna watch out for the usual shoplifting subjects with a typical eagle eye, especially those skinny kids with the big raincoats! They're the ones that "boost" (as they used to say) tons of platters to sell to unwary classmates at undoubtedly bargain prices and I'm sure many a record store went under (and record collection got depleted) because of cads like them!!!
BOY, IF YOU THOUGHT YOUR DREAMS WERE WHACKED OUT I JUST HAD ONE THAT COULD MAKE ME A MILLION! A million of what might be the question, but while the rest of you were out ringing in the New Year I had a dream spurred on by a combination melatonin/dirixoral/vicodin gulpdown (and maybe the spin of Tim Buckley mentioned above) that not only was clearer than a satellite beacon from Mars but would really make a good idea for a hotcha Britcom because that's exactly what I was watching in the dream! Somehow I was in some strange setting watching WVIZ-TV (that's channel 25, the PBS station from Cleveland) on some futuristic JETSONS-looking screen, and what was being broadcast was, suprisingly enough, a well-crafted if at times incomprehensible BBC-created comedy that seemed a little bit RED DWARF and a whole lot SUPERCAR combined! In fact, the show was so SUPERCAR-esque to the point where I could ideantify the obviously early-sixties looking Amerigan lead actor (clean cut style) as a Mike Mercury clone, and the old (albeit female) German scientist as a take on Professor Popkiss Doctor Beaker on down the line. No Jimmy or Mitch in sight, though the storyline, or what there could be of it in a dream such as this, had to do with the main characters being part of a rescue team or sorts which was centered around the all-purpose vehicle that was used for a variety of purposes, this flying, submarining creation somehow resembling a late-model De Soto. The strange part about it is that parts of this comedy were cheaply animated, including a scene where the hero has to rescue a family of African heritage who were stranded in some arctic-like snowstorm, the hero muffing his rescue to the point where the entire family get dunked into the freezing waters and come up encased in ice-cubes! This was something that not only the studio audience but all of us viewers in the dream laughed at, but for what reason I do not know! There was also a reference to the vehicle (which was draped in a variety of cape-like cloth attached from the wings!) being called "Superbilko" after the lead character in the famed Phil Silvers sitcom, and if there was such a program which featured our bald hero as a flying righter of wrongs I'd sure like to see it!

Oddly enough, the only other thing that I can remember about this dream is that I was chagrined that it was being aired on channel 25 since that meant it would most definitely not be airing on channel 45, the local PBS outlet. Y'see, there's been quite a squabble between the two stations going on for years regarding what "syndicated" PBS shows can or can't be shown since the signals of the two overlap thus causing a whole lotta similar programming to be aired in the same market. For whatever reasons there may be, this really got the people at 25 upset perhaps because more people were watching certain shows on 45 'stead of their station. It even came to the point where the people @ 'VIZ actually got channel 45 to stop airing DR. WHO back inna eighties because of this conflict. Thus, channel 25 can air MONTY PYTHON, MR BEAN and Canadian import NEW RED GREEN while 45 can't, though in retaliation 45 can run ARE YOU BEING SERVED? and a variety of programs that 25 will never be able to broadcast making for one of the strangest cases of tit for tat I've seen in quite a long time! Now, this sort of programming scheme might be just fine and dandy for the folk at 25, but for people like myself who can't get that station in anymore even if there is a tornado warning it can lead to a whole load of frustration! Funny I should be concerned about something like this in a dream, which must go to prove just how nitpicking my subconscious can get!

Yeah, I know it's filled with so many loose ends and all, but if anyone at the BBC wants to turn it into a series be my guest! Maybe if you mention this was based on a dream of mine, and perhaps give me a cameo...