Sunday, March 25, 2012

Yes, I am burnt out. In fact, I feel more frazzled'n an afro subjugated to a short circuit, and although everything that I have written below reflects my current state of nervous agitation I'm still gonna present it to you as inspired and perhaps even thought-provoking critique. After all, you goons'll eat up anything I put to pixel these days, and if THE VILLAGE VOICE could get away with some of the quap they've been presenting as rock criticism back in the eighties (haven't read a word of it since...really!) they you KNOW even me at my worst tops the whole buncha "them" at their most pretentious twaddle try to tie something that outta-the-way alternative group wrote with the current repressive sodomy laws way best! Enough of that...on with the program.
Shrapnel-LIVE CBGB's 5/1/82 CD-R burn

Given that I've been starved not only for some previously-unheard punk rock (of a more seventies pre-spikehaired Amerigan bent) but never spun anything by this long-gone group featuring future Manitoba's Wild Kingdom and Monster Magnet members it was like hey...why not snatch it up? Sure glad I did, because not only were these guys performing punk as an early-seventies neo-metallic endeavor with a healthy mid-Amerigan attitude a good ten years after the fact (think the Sidewinders morphing into the Dictators with just the right touch of speedmetal slowed down a few paces custom-made for the favorite cut out bin of your choice), but the music was so straightforward and energetic to the point where your mind keeps thinking that sounds like this were not allowed to have existed this late in the game what with all of that New Romantic and hardcore and electrowhatsis replacing that "old" seventies-styled straightforward sounds that seemed so out of touch with the current trendy movements in full gear. I'm sure there were plenty of groups also playing CBGB at this time who were affected little if any by the previous decade of underground upheaval, and if this was so then I wouldn't mind hearing each and every one of 'em and as soon as possible because rilly, after a good three decades of some of the worst abominations being passed off as new and innovative this old drive continues to keep me pumping on all gears!

Shrapnel cook even better'n you would've expected from anything even remotely associated with the original surge of En Why See underground rock (given how it was all over no later'n '79), starting off with an appropriately jacked up take of the theme from UNDERDOG all the way through a rather romping twentysome-minute set that certainly left me breathless. Dunno the song titles, but whatever it is they're doing Shrapnel sure did it swell with parts echoing then-current Motorhead riffage with various punk points tossed in coupled with an approach that reminds me of just what Jeff Dahl was up to back in the eighties/nineties only without the El Lay smarm that eventually sunk into his overall sound. Given their choice of influences both musical and not (Lester Bangs himself brought up the entire JETSONS/COMBAT aura of early/mid-sixties television greatness embedded in the Shrapnel psyche) these guys coulda been the ultimate UHF/suburban ranch house group that shoulda been playin' down the street, only by the time Shrapnel was on the ascent everything was so watered down to the point where most jerks thought that drek like Styx and Journey were the ultimate in high energy thrills! Wrong place, wrong time, but the RIGHT style, sound and tackle!

And one of the best things about 'em is that Robert Christgau thought they were a bunch of fascists because they used to prowl the stage in army gear and sing songs with titles like "Hey Little Gook"! Personally, I couldn't think of a higher recommendation for picking up a recording such as this, could you?????

Another one of those mighty surprises that kinda sneak up behind you and goes WHOMP! when you least expect it. David Keay may not be a household name even in my household, but this verifiable BLOG TO COMM reader has, along with the assistance of Laura Feathers, come up w/one of the best self-created/produced/delivered home made offerings I've had the pleasure of hearing since the Golden Age of Home Recordings back when cassette tapes were flyin' off the shelves at Zayres nationwide. This duo definitely remembers exactly why a sizable number of those home recordings were so powerful to begin with...with only the barest essentials (acoustic and cheap electric guitar and percussion) Keay and Feathers have created a release that brings back the best memories of the sixties and seventies, recording it with an eighties DIY ideal before pressing the whole thing to aluminum like was wont in the nineties thus making for a modern-day release that's just brimming with everything you've loved about the idea of bedroom bands but were too inhibited to admit to anybody you knew!

With a deep down inside flicker that reminds me of a primitive Shangs, the Kiosk take those boss references to past accomplishment and recreate their more powerful moments with the aid of their strictly beginners gear. Song titles do give hint as to the content..."Ralf and Florian," "Roky and Stacey," "Jan and Dean" and "Billy J. Kramer" give you at least a little hint of what's gonna be in store on these rather consuming numbuhs. And what you will eventually lend ear to might just surprise you, especially if you've never experienced the "motorik" sounds of Kraftwerk or La Dusseldorf created with clanky acoustic guitars, cheap chord organ, tambourine and bongos! Not to mention a rather keen strip down of what made the 13th Floor Elevators so inspirational in the first place with their basic chordage reduced to a sound that reminds me of those early Messiah/Magic Tramps track back when Eric Emerson wasn't singing with 'em! And I gotta admit that I thought the tribute to "Mr. Chomsky" with the extreme psycho-guitar interplay was one of the more boffo things I've heard from this decade even though I would have preferred Keay was singing about somebody closer to a Karl Hess or Murray Rothbard for my own personal tastes.

Hokay, I thought maybe some numbers toddled about a spell, but overall the Kiosk are a pretty nice example of that whole DIY "ethos" which didn't quite churn out the kinda quality music that Peter Laughner sure hoped it would but overall did a pretty good amateurish job of it! Only problem is I don't know where you can get a copy (no address on the case and I threw the envelope away) so David, if you read this can you fill the readers in???
Various Artists-TRASH! THE ROOTS OF PUNK CD (free giveaway courtesy of MOJO magazine o'er there in England)

I gotta admit that I really love all of these nuevo-NUGGETS "history of punk" collections that have been cluttering up the ebay auctions these past ten or so years if only for their mere being, and this 2006 release courtesy MOJO ain't no different. True it coulda used the ol' Kris Needs' hefty DIRTY WATER liner notes treatment plus the array of tracks is nothing that's out of the ordinary, but along with the aforementioned Needs offerings, IT CAME FROM THE GARAGE, CBGB AND THE ROOTS OF PUNK ROCK and various other history lessons this works as a tossout that was fortunately programmed snatly enough for my tastes. Artists include (but are not limited to) the Stooges, New York Dolls (and their English doppelganger the Berlin Brats), Dr. Feelgood, Kilburn and the High Roads, Mott the Hoople, Can, Hawkwind, Be Bop Deluxe (???) and even the Jook, who I once said were kinda dullsville but maybe time can soften this ol' turd up more'n a bottle of Kaopectate ever could!
Sachiko-ANKO CD (Utech)

Ain't been paying much attention to the new Japanese underground as of late, and not only because my terminal lack of moolah has limited me from doing so. Must admit that many of the newer practitioners of the form, even if such practitioners had been in one of the many lineups of Les Rallizes Denudes, just haven't been dishing out the bared-wire intensity thrills that I'm always looking for in this music. Frankly, I've been burned by way too many of these platters that have been promising early-Velvets thrills and hefty warm drones to help me through the coldest winters and loneliest summers, and ya gotta admit that almost all of these recordings sound more like half-baked theorizing rather than the hard-edged fire music that had been coming out of the rock underground throughout the seventies. Hey, if I wanted to hear milksoppish pale-dry appreciations of already overworked ideas copped from the Velvets, there are plenty of cheaper domestic examples for me to choose from!

Former Overhang Party member Sachiko more or less fits into this unfortunate pattern, and although her most recent is one that I will admit has its good points I doubt that I'll be giving this another spin as long as you live. On overdubbed viola, recorder, percussion and voice Sachiko creates a massive La Monte Young-inspired wall of angst that varies only a few notes. Meanwhile the lass had added some clanky percussion and her own Yoko-ish gurgles and cacks which remind me of the time the neighbor's cat decided to, at three in the morning no less, serenade me from the bottom of my bedroom window during a particularly hot and muggy August night. Engaging perhaps, avant garde definitely, but nothing that really reaches into the core of my inner being and all of that intellectual garble that teachers used to push on you with a vengeance. Not that I have anything against Sachiko, but like a good portion of the new experimentalism that's being created I felt a major component has been lost somewhere between the spark of idea and completion of same.
WELL, WADDAYA KNOW, no sooner had I reviewed the Paul McGarry burns received last week that yet another package from my biggest fan should wing its way to my door! And, as the old saying goes, will wonders (n)ever cease??? Even though it ain't as big as the previous parcel thus ain't as good (as Johnny Wadd used to say, size does count), Paul did send a nicey-nice enough selection of platters this time that I will admit did brighten up my pre-beddy bye time a whole lot more'n watching Rachel Maddow pretend she could talk to anybody with more than a third grade education. However, of the four that were jetted off this go 'round I am only gonna review three if only because Paul wasn't astute enough to remember that I have already reviewed one of the burns, the Stepson elpee, which as you all remember didn't exactly get the five-star treatment 'round here! Shame on yew!!! Well, that's one on him, but for the rest of us here's the stuff that did make it through customs.


Next to Mirrors' primal thrust the Styrene Money Band might as well've been Steely Dan, but that doesn't mean they didn't spend their Clevo years 'n beyond making some of the better ('n even Pere Ubu!) music to come out of the area (Pagans included!) at least until it all came down 'round 1980. Most of the early single/EP sides are here (though for some reason the original "Radial Arm Saws" and "I Saw You" continue to be MIA) as are the 1981 album trax along with a variety of new and old rarites that tingle the nerve endings to varying degrees. Personally I could have used a whole lot more of the all-out rocking material and less of the ballad-y saxophone-laden numbers, but this does serve to remind me about a whole lotta things that Cleveland in the late-seventies stood for which unfortunately was repressed and scorned by a whole load of people who I'll bet nowadays just love to say they were in on the entire schpiel from the beginning and how great it was blab blab slobber slobber, and you know who I'm talking about don't you Anastasia!
Johnny Dowd-WIRE FLOWERS (Munich)

Ya gotta be kiddin' me, right Paul? Hokay, I will be the first (or at least third) to admit that I never did cozy up to the new alt. country sounds, and this 'un by longtime cult fig Dowd really does fit into that entire genre complete with the heavy twang vocals and def  backwoods approach. So if you like that relatively new "alternative" to the slick drek that passes for c 'n w these days then you'll probably snuggle up to this more than I did. As for me, the only consolation I could get from it was that, considering Dowd is a tried and true Southerner albeit now living in Ithica New York, odds are that he is not making fun of the downhome cornpone types in typical Upper Crust patronizing urban terms which gets my goat just as much as these same El Lay/New England types laughing their heads off over ethnic blue collar workers for keeping their pants up 'stead of sprayin' it all over. Of course if Dowd is poking fun at his own that would make him one of the biggest traitors to the Southern cause since Mary Kay Place, and we all know what happened to her (mainly, her career fizzled out faster'n you can say Debralee Scott!).
The Fred Bison Five-BEAT ROOTS (Woznorov)

Basically the old Bevis Frond group doin' some off the cuff sixties rock as a free magazine giveaway. Too bad somebody didn't convince the Rolling Stones to do the same thing with JAMMING WITH EDWARD 'stead of charging $1.97 for those off-time blooze run throughs. Gotta admit that it wasn't too bad a spin for the "throwaway" that it was, but if I didn't tell you that I couldn't wait until some of the psychedelic swirling would just stop (esp. when it seemed to be more self-indulgent than satisfying) I'd most certainly be lying to you. And you wouldn't want me to do that now, would you???

The Yardbirds-CUMULAR LIMIT Cee-Dee-Are

It's kinda funny how the Yardbirds, who during their final months were a quite potent quartet that could have equaled the underground roar of the Deviants or Pink Fairies, hadda evolve into the "New" Yardbirds and ultimately Led Zeppelin who are best known for being the soundtrack to a whole load of bad seventies jive that sucks about as much as the stoner generation that took their music at face value. Oh yeah, even I will admit that ol' Zep were purty good on occasion even to the point of metallic breakthrough, but that's only when I'm trying to listen to 'em analytically and objectively, thus leaving a whole load of my personal trash aesthetics outta the mix. At that point I can find many relevant and pertinent things to say about the group, but when I just wanna listen to something that tears at my soul and rips through my inner being it ain't gonna be Zep or any of those seventies bigtime washouts that does it. Leave that to the Stooges and Velvets and Five and all of those acts that didn't fit in with the entire seventies game plan yet cut a swath that most Pantsiosites out there still pretend never did exist (or if it did it was but a mere aberration the less spoken about the better).

Yeah, the Yardbirds just might have reached the same heights as the Stooges and Pink Fairies (who were to have shared the stage at the Roundhouse in '71 with a reformed Yardbirds that never did materialize) but on these '67/'68 recordings they sure come close. Taken from various sources live, studio and television, CUMULAR LIMIT presents the group during their transition from mid-sixties English bloozemeisters to an underground proto-metallic force that undoubtedly had the energy and power that most of you reg'lar readers crave. If you're game for the LITTLE GAMES album and were one of the many who snatched up the Anderson Theater album when it went cutout in '76 you'll really appreciate this 'un. As for me, it sure is making me think twice about seriously considering buying the new BBC sessions box set now that my Della Quercia BROKEN WINGS bootleg is kinda valuable these days...


Anonymous said...

I'm lucky to own Shrapnel's lone mini lp on Elektra,which is great metallic rock n roll with a dash of keyboards,anthemic spirit and politically oriented-something rare for New York bands.Perhaps a bit polished,but these first musical efforts of Dave Wyndorf are really interesting.If i could find also their first 45-considered rare and expensive...

Anonymous said...

Shrapnel did indeed wear military garb at some point, but I thought that it was Legs McNeil's band that got the P.C. police/Christgau (or was it Bangs?) up in arms. Cheers, Phil