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'.


Anonymous said...

the CDR Santa may be visiting Hermitage soon with a Bill Dixon early Christmas gift...give him time to put things together...funny, you and I bought the exact opposite Soul Note/Black Saint bought Taylor, Russell, and Bowie, and I bought the Steve Lacy, Bill Dixon, and Braxton ones!


John E. Bialas said...

This is off topic, but thanks for writing about Boogie in 2008. You were on target. I just stumbled upon your site.
John Bialas