Wednesday, November 28, 2012

BOOK REVIEW! EUROCK, EUROPEAN ROCK & THE SECOND CULTURE, BY ARCHIE PATTERSON, 2002, (Eurock Publications, PO Box 13718, Portland, OR 97213)

As in the case of the ALTER EGO collection reviewed two weeks back, this humongous sampling of work from the pages of Archie Patterson's 70s/80s fanzine entitled  EUROCK does lose something in the translation from mimeograph to typeset. As I often say, there's just something special about reading the opines of a person nobody in the industry or real life press would give a shit about (which is usually a sign of just how insightful and valuable their writing and abilities to discuss just what it is that makes the music at hand worthy of praise or dismissal), especially when it's presented in an home-produced and amateurish yet attuned to your own sense of musical values fashion that's easy on the eyes. And reading these almost-40-year-old articles in more or less their original setting's sure a whole lot easier on the mind than having it typeset (on something a little more technologically advanced than an IBM Selectric) and reprocessed complete with professionally screened pics and of course all of those updates and edits to fit into the more streamlined thought processes of 21st century Earth with all of the piousness and gut-wrenching tingles that may imply!

But (as usual) I'll take a good fanzine read any which way they choose it! And although this collection of choice morsels from EUROCK sure come off better in the original type and dimensions of a mag you can read on the toilet (pretty hard with this think edition) I gotta say that I love the entire dickens outta this compilation of the mag's finest moments. Yeah it's got more than its share of a progressive rock bent as well as information on acts that you'd swear you'd never wanna listen to no matter how dry the well of rockist inspiration has run, but there's more than a good share of hefty info regarding my (and perhaps even your) personal favorites that'll keep you running back to this book whenever the pangs of continental rock escapism (from the confines of groups who sing with English as their first tongue) just might hit you hard upside the head.

As I've said many a time once before, the likes of the upper-echelon krautrock groups as well as many of the acts wiggling around in various other European enclaves were just as much a part of the whole punk rock continuum as the Velvet Underground and Stooges were. And true, many of these musicians tended to come from classical backgrounds and were conservatory trained thus approaching rock from a post-Beatles intellectual standpoint, but the sounds emitted by everybody from Can, the Amon Duul's and even the Tangerine Dream of their debut album were just as much a part of what 1969 punk rock was all about as all of those compact organ crunchers such as It's All Meat and the rest of those guys who still couldn't make up their minds whether or not they wanted to be part of the Sky Saxon shopping plaza set or Jim Morrison-esque pseudo-intellectual college bops! The members of Can might have been well respected idealists who were not only pushing thirty but could probably peck out the Minute Waltz on their bass guitars if the spirit was willing, but you know they were more content to find sonic nurturing in the same batch of outta-the-way record shops with sawdust onna floor that the rest of punk rock Ameriga 1969 found their soul and inspiration with, and if you don't think that's something that counts in their favor you're obviously reading the wrong blog, you prog!

Although I will admit a hefty portion of EUROCK caters to the more esoteric breed of record collector (the kind who would eventually find solace in aerie faerie syntho gnu age candy coat) there's enough here to send the standard fan of o-mind deep fry into unbridled spasms of joy. Lester Bangs' liner notes for the Amerigan pressing of DANCE OF THE LEMMINGS (which for one strange reason or another were never included in that instant cutout) opens the book, and with the man's penchant for slipping hefty p-rock refs. in between the usual San Fran/Jefferson Airplane comparisons that naturally get dredged up how could any true blue son of Stoogemerica be disappointed! Of course there's more'n just this rare piece of subatomic mind spasm, since EUROCK during its early days was blessed with the presence of American gonz scribe Hot Scott Fischer, a man who other'n Bangs was perhaps the first to see the connection between various underground trends happening in Germany and elsewhere and bring up the point that not only were Can and Guru Guru (among others) Germany's answer to the Stooges, but in many ways their entire styles and grooves had taken the original no-chord thud and run off with it in ways that the likes of Iggy and crew could not imagine. A debatable point true, but a whole lot more interesting a subject to ponder than whether or not Paul was the Walrus!

Of course there is plenty here to get the average (if there is one) BLOG TO COMM reader headin' for the nearest ebay auction within his grasp, such as an extended piece on noted radicals Ton Steine Scherben, not to mention the usual proto-punkian rants regarding the once-ignored but now hipster Neu! Even a bit on Kraftwerk will raise some shaved eyebrows with the brief description of a 1972 vintage live show on page 76, one where writer Reinhard Kunert recalls seeing Ralf and Florian doing their standard electronic set only to be joined by two guitarists doing an extremely early version of "Autobahn" that sounded nothing like the hit of three years later! In fact, with the guitars doing blitzkrieg swoops and careens Kunert said that the song resembled "a cross between John Cage and The Stooges" which I know is something that makes me curious enough to kill more than a litter of kittens!  I know that if anybody knows of the existence of this particular show via bootleg tape or Compact Disque (or good ol' vinyl even) they'd definitely keep it to themselves, but maybe if somebody out there was kind and generous enough to... Naw, you know that would never happen especially with all of you cutthroats out there!

Even a good portion of the rest of this book might soothe the punkian spirit within us. The piece on Jukka Tolonen was interesting enough for me, but that's only because I've read Bangs' review of the Tasavallan Presidentti album in ROLLING STONE and remain curious even a good thirtysome years after the fact. Other pieces such as the ones on the "Rock In Opposition" groups of the late-seventies was educational enough even if I'm not as much of a Henry Cow fan as I know I should be. Even if the likes of Supersister and Catherine Ribiero and Alpes might have piqued my attention on and off over the past X years at least the pieces here remind me that there's still time left in my life to give 'em a try. But still, how can you ignore a fanzine that was chock fulla such goodies as these early appreciations of the krautrock groups as well as various non-Teutonic worthies such as Savage Rose (who also teetered between European Classicism and Amerigan basement rock mentalities), not to mention an interview with the once-elusive Malcolm Mooney which is something that I'm sure was being sought after by just about every stop-the-presses fan of the German rock movement ever since the man became legend.

This is also available on a Cee-Dee-Rom for your personal computer (complete with an Amon Duul II television appearance that's probably all over the web by now), and I'm sure that if you write Archie at the above address he'll fill you in on all the details as to how one could purchase a copy for his very own. In any format this'll make a smart addition to your home and even if you have the fanzine's entire 1973-1993 run it ain't like you're gonna hafta search through boxes of mags just to find that one elusive interview with Annisette that you've been hungerin' to read after a few spins of YOUR DAILY GIFT! (Like I do after pushing my books and 'zines the back of the pile thus having to spend a good two hours trying to retrieve the things!)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

I guess you made it through the Holiday Weekend OK for if not, you wouldn't be reading this.  I sure did (made it through OK, not read this), even though I hadda work not only Friday but Saturday which didn't leave me much time for Christmas shopping or stringing up those tiny lights that have replaced the glorious finger-burning tree lights of old where you hadda alternate the colors and if one of 'em went out they all went. Well, at least I got a couple more days of folding green in my wallet for my efforts, but if only there was something crucial to spend it on these days instead of the usual sundries like food, shelter and of course electricity would I be the happy camper! Maybe some of you readers out there have a good idea of where I can unload some of my extra loot in exchange for the plethora of recordings and reads that I've been sorely lacking in for the past umpteen years...if you do, be your usual selves and keep it all to yourself. I mean, why change your stuck up, arrogant, self-centered and loathesome behavior of a lifetime just for me?
I must be doing something wrong! After all, the latest issue of DAGGER (available via the link up on the left or send $3.00 to PO Box 22938, Denver CO 80222) is out, and I actually found a number of articles in it that I could understand and (gosh!) even relate to in my own addled way! The "Summer 2012" issue, which arrived on a cold November day, features interviews with Dave from Rat at Rat R (remember them?), Pooch and Hudley from the old fLIPSIDE (not quite a fave of mine since they were the MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL JUNIOR of eighties self-conscious spoiled suburban brats) and the best of the batch, a collection of thought-provoking pieces by "famous scene makers" talkin' 'bout their favorite record shops of yore! You know, the places where all of those underground idols, writers and even famous for being famous types picked up those platters that grew hair on their chests and made 'em proud to be teenage pimplefarm music creeps in a world of Supertramp picture discs! Gosh, this really unearths a load of memories from my clogged cranium and makes me pine for the days when you could trek down to your favorite local store and snatch up just about any record made whether it be new, cutout, out of print or made in Guam for all I care! Great personal sagas to be viewed here, though the real question that editor Tim Hinely should have posed to these people was how many records did they STEAL from their fave shops anyway! That's a question, when posed perfectly, should get more'n a few rabid answers that are not only being plunked down for posterity but proves to you once and for all what creeps these underground tastemakers may be. Get your copy today, but please don't get any ideas to "boost" it from your own favorite honest to gosh record outlet (that is, if any are still in existence!).
As you can tell from a few of the old/new/borrowed/blah! reviews below, I actually felt inspired enough to crank out a couple of reviews that were more than a paragraph padded with the Styrofoam of printed puff! At least congratulate me for that even though I seem to be at a loss for inspiration as the years progress and the fodder just doesn't seem as potent and life-reaffirming as it once was. Judging from the past few years of blogging, I've had about as much trouble reclaiming my glory days as the "Janitor of Rock Critics" as Ellen Willis had making it through a sentence without spewing out disdain for the goyim around her, but as usual I am not going to let that stop me from giving you yet another jam-packed, thought-provoking round of reviews that oughta get you headed for your nearest search engine in the hopes of wranglin' at least one or more of these tender items for your very own. Hope you have as much fun readin' 'em as I had writin' ' fact I hope you have MORE fun since I gotta admit that I was mighty gloomy while putting some of the thoughts I was having below to type!

Lester Bangs and the Delinquents-JOOK SAVAGES ON THE BRAZOS LP (Live Wire)

Yeah, I can't believe it either. But it's true...listening to this album after years of jamming it to the back of the bin was a revelation, a flashback, a reminiscence of days gone by that I sure wish were still around. Or at least still retained a purpose and meaning here in the cold and unemotional (or is it a-emotional?) 'teens. But at least JOOK SAVAGES ON THE BRAZOS does serve a purpose here in the cyborg days of now, if only because it stirred up a fire deep inside me, one that reminded me of the latter portion of the seventies when I first listened to such classics as TEENAGE HEAD and NUGGETS (and would you believe Mick Farren and the Deviants?) and felt that warm spark ignite into a blazing flame like a furnace on a sub zero night. And believe-you-moi, but I never thought I was gonna feel like this again no matter how many hotcha Norton records keeping the name of rock 'n roll alive would pass the sanctity of my earwax and head straight into my ever hungering psyche!

Back when I first heard that JOOK SAVAGES was being released I gotta admit that I was a tad skeptical. Oh yeah, I thought Lester Bangs was the bestest thing to speak for rock 'n roll next to R. Meltzer and in fact I believed that his writing had improved by the time 1980 rolled around (after dismissing him as an over-praised beatnik bum who had lost his mind through romilar abuse and too many readings of "The Playboy Philosophy" as an impressionable youth), but I had feared his musical abilities weren't exactly gonna be the thing that would make for a rough and tumble listening experience. After all, if the man sang like he wrote we were all in trouble, not because his writing was bad (it sure wasn't even though the consensus seemed to say that Bangs' VILLAGE VOICE output was sorely lacking where his CREEM days were just brimming full of that punkian zest for erotic knowledge), but because it wouldn't just cut the mustard when packaged and presented to an audience that had been in on the gonz for nigh on a decade. And after hearing that live CBGB tape that's made the rounds for all of these years (not to mention the once-elusive "Let It Blurt" single) it became obvious that the guy did sing like he wrote, for all the good and (especially) bad that would imply.

Not only that, but the idea of Bangs being backed by the Delinquents wasn't one I exactly cherished at the time. Not because I heard, digested and pooped 'em outta my system (heck, I hadn't even heard
'em before this!) but the hype goin' 'round had 'em pegged as being Austin Texas' answer to the B-52's, and given how I had purchased, enjoyed and eventually spewed their debut from my collection feeling cheated once again (this was right during the '79/'80 cusp when new wave had surely evolved into the "gnu" wave that seemed the exact opposite of what it originally had started out to be) it wasn't like I wanted to clog up any more brain cells with what I perceived as cheap sixties sentiments filtered through seventies deca-geekdom. Oddly enough I did have a few deals with Delinquents leader Brian Curley during the late-eighties when he was somehow involved backing up a guy who fancied himself a Buddhist priest, but my memory of the recording he did send is so faint though definitely worthy of a re-eval in a joyless and soul-less world such as the one we are living in right at this very moment.

And believe it or not, but JOOK SAVAGES just proves how joyless and soul-less America as well as the rest of the once-free world has become since those days. We didn't take notice because it crept up on us like a cover of darkness while we were too busy living our real lives, but who could deny that the miasma is here and it's stark and dull to the point where we have become the real robotic stooges that people warned us we'd become only we were too engrossed with our records and rock cults to believe them. But man, this record exudes the warmth and excitement that I remember rock 'n roll was supposed to have had throughout the seventies when we put so much hope into that same new wave or punk or proto-punk or whatever to help rescue us from the original creeping meatballism that was AM/FM radio and general kultur. It jumps and speaks to you as if it were still 196/7X and things like rock 'n roll weren't just one of those distant memories but relevant to you because it was happening now 'stead of a beaut of a past that we could only remember through family stories or afternoon reruns for that matter.

There's a country twang that can be heard amid the late-seventies (admittedly) wave-ish musicianship, but don't confuse it with any future alt. country or rootzy toots that might have come out afterwards. Naw, this 'un still cooks on hefty sixties/seventies innovation that still had a whole lotta moxie in the "underground" rock scene of the day, or it did at least until that all tumbled into a variety of warring factions that never could agree on much in the first place. It would be wise to stick your copy alongside the Stooges and Groovies 'stead of the Cowboy Junkies and various latterday attempts to capture ideas that were fleeting at best, especially when you consider how few groups of the eighties onward seemed to have a grasp of what that Big Beat was supposed to have entailed which is why were were being inundated with so few albums like this and so many X-Tals to the point where that bared-wire genesis of the style from the Velvets through the Stooges on and upward became meaningless...

JOOK SAVAGES is powerful even when Bangs is getting into his humanist emotional moosh, and with the music raving on in between neo-country, Velvet-punk, voidoid and downhome outhouse romps it stays steady and powerful unlike many of the sounds that were overtaking the new muzak scene thus rendering the entire genre useless. Lester really could sing (the atonal growl of his Peter Laughner CREEM jams had matured into a more soulful, tuneful baritone) and the Delinquents are so conduit to his style that I feel ashamed regarding all of those nasty thoughts I had about Curley and company being a Western bunch of Rock Lobstering giddoids!

The more familiar tracks (at least to those who've scarfed up the album Bangs did with his New York punkazoid act Birdland) like "I'm In Love With My Walls" and "Kill Him Again" will be surprised at the rewrites that are about as different as those numbers that got changed in the transition from Rocket From The Tombs to Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys, while the unique to this album trackage is sure to stimulate any true seventies rockist's back-brain. My personal faves just happen to be side two's "Nuclear War" (a powerful  punk snarl with lyrics that just seem custom-written for seventies lost teenage angst and anger) as well as the oft-praised cover of Dale Hawkins' "Grandma's House," a song that begins as a sentimental ode to backwoods Southern living (a world that had already been dead by the time Hawkins originally recorded this b-side) which turns into utter horror with two all new verses about a murdered sister and a gentleman of African heritage who gets burned to death in his house not unlike the fate that befell Bangs' own father, albeit this particular fire's most definitely a premeditated act of loathing on the part of who-knows. It sure gave me the spiritual creeps back when I first lent ears to this album during the dank eighties, and in these even danker teens it still sends nerve-shoots of fright up my already frazzled nerveline!

I'm sure you want a download for your already boffo collection whether or not you never heard it before or could use a shiny disque for driving about. Here's a link to the Mutant Sounds blog which will thusly link you up to a place where you can burn a copy of this National Treasure for yourself! Now don't go thinkin' Unca Chris doesn't do anything good for ya!
Black Sabbath-MASTER OF REALITY cassette (Vertigo Holland)

Actually, this writeup is not inspired by the Lester Bangs review above even though Bangs had raved cumbuckets over this album back during its '71 debut. (And, as you should remember, 1971 was the banner year of heavy metal and if you can't trust Metal Mike Saunders who can you trust?) But hey, forty-one years and a whole lotta bad heavy metal drowning out the good heavy metal in the interim later, what else can I say but THIS ALBUM REMAINS AS RELEVANT TO NOT ONLY THE 1971 OF LOVE IT TO DEATH, KILLER, ELECTRIC WARRIOR AND DUST, BUT TO THE MODERN DAY EVEN IF MUSIC AS GOOD AS THIS HASN'T BEEN MADE IN AT LEAST THIRTY-FIVE YEARS! Well, I'm not counting the reams of soul-wrenching heavy metal that has come out in the interim from MX-80 Sound and Von Lmo to Voi Vod and Anthrax, but considering what little value those kinda groups had in the wake of the HIT PARADER big metal putsch of the eighties the entire genre might as well have been buried under the weight of all of those pretty boy hair bands that were all the rage at the expense of the really gnarly stuff. And you know that had Sabbath come out with this platter in 1985 the same sissy repressed faggot audience that boosted the group to the higher echelons of atonal heaven would have upped noses at the bunch while traipsing over the bins that held all of the WASP and RATT platters without thinking twice!

Can't say a bad thing about MASTER OF REALITY even though I was a fellow who used to loathe this metallic sludge a good thirtysome years back. Now I find it great trash aesthetic and even love it, though maybe that's because the original hardcore era of Black Flag/Flipper decadence made early metallic drone tasty again no matter how much we associated it with late-seventies FM playlist doldrums. But whatever, this one's a charm even with two Tony Iommi solo guitar excursions that sound better here than Steve Howe's and Steve Hackett's did in the company of Yes and Genesis, while Ozzy Osbourne ain't quite into his phony satanic creeping nihilism yet and in fact even turns out a hefty Jesus rock song in "After Forever" (actually an Iommi composition with no input from Osbourne that I know of) that won't make you puke. And the song is clever enough even if Iommi snatched a bitta Moby Grape for the main theme which is better'n snatching Jefferson Airplane! And what kind of review would this be w/o mentioning that the sublime "Solitude" serves to cool you off in its own eerie way just like "Planet Caravan" on the equally stellar PARANOID did. Not a fault with the thing even with the standard hard-crunch heard it before riffs that didn't really sound all so up-to-date and teenage once 1976 rolled around unless you were a proud member of Box Boy pimples 'n pot stoner Ameriga I guess! Maybe that's why this sounds so good on 8-track!

Almost as inspiring as PARANOID and hey, even better than the debut or VOL. 4 (which was the group's last gasp before the sweet leaf and California cocaine got the best of 'em. Never thought SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH was that exciting even if it did inspire some jeeter's teenage suicide, and to be honest about it I haven't heard a note of anything they've done since given that the front line metallic squad had thought their wad was shot by this time and why should I doubt them by squandering any more money on recordings I really don't need! But for the prime hard-edged awe-inspiring Sabbath at their best it's REALITY and the other three originals of hard-edged genius, music which inspired a whole lot more futureshock gnarl that I'm sure even Osbourne feels pangs of guilt for encouraging this late in the rock evolutionary game.

The Brats-ROCK CANDY LP (Rave Up)

Outta nowhere surprise from this long-running (and recently reunited) New York band best known for their metal pop anthem "First Rock Star on the Moon" (check your second Max's Kansas City album for more info). Not quite the Kiss-take I had expected, with a surprisingly power poppish style that borrows heavily from the Who, Sparks, and even fellow local boys the Fast at least when their guest synthesizer player's wailing away. They had it all going for them, from the teenybop good boy looks to the dangerous attitude and of course the dangling long locks...too bad they got buried under the weight of too much happening all at one time or else we might have heard this album in 1977 'stead of thirty-five years later.
The Tremeloes-WHAT A STATE I'M IN CD-R (originally on Sanctuary)

Gee, I guess "Silence is Golden" was a fluke after all! Tiresome pop without the craftiness of the Troggs at their most commercial or the Beatles at their sunshinest. Or the Who at their most violent or the Kinks at their most British. Or Bowie at his most sexually confused or... Well, I could go on since their review does need padded out, but I know you get the gist. Definite lower rung Britsters who give me the cringe the same way listening to Tintin's "Toast and Marmalade For Tea"  instantly sprouts abscesses all over the body.
Vapor Gourds-DAGGER MUSIC LP (Feeding Tube Records)

Haven't been keeping up on my Feeding Tube promo packages as of late, so in order to rectify my wanton lethargy I thought I'd pull this weirditie outta their at-times angular stack. Yet another transfer to vinyl from cassette just like Feeding Tube did with their latest Gary Wilson jazzstravaganza, Vapor Gourds is actually a sound collage experiment that chops, splices and dices recordings from a variety of sources creating a music (and I mean it!) that mesmerizes as much as it startles with its sharp edits and wondrous drone-on tape loop-like repeato-riffs. In the tradition of a whole lotta that bedroom experimentation that's been going on for nigh on forty years, and hopefully for another forty more and I ain't talkin' bout that geek with a flute-o-phone either. Reminds me of what little I have heard from the Christian Marclay catalog and if that sorta eighties-bred experimentalism does appeal to you, by all means go to it!
Thurston Moore/John Moloney-CAUGHT ON TAPE LP (Feeding Tube)

Hokay here's another one from Feeding Tube, a good enough one too featuring the ubiquitous Thurston Moore as well a drummer John Moloney, a man who is probably best known as being a former member of the group Shit Spangled Banner, and I shit you not about their name! Its one of those guitar/drums free improv type duo setting too, though I must admit that even at its most powerful CAUGHT ON TAPE doesn't quite have the same sound and fury of DAILY DANCE but then again what does? It's noisy and atonal enough, and perhaps closer to the various other Moore duos done with a variety of free drummers not to mention that obscurity by an English act called Ascension, definitely not the post-MC5 aggregation but still worth seeking out if your ears tend to lean toward this sort of thing.
15-60-75 (The Numbers Band)-LIVE AT THE AGORA 5/25/80 (originally broadcast on WMMS-FM's "Ohio Homegrown Program") cassette

While doin' some cassette diggin' last Wednesday I found this particular offering snuggled in between reams of Eugene Chadbourne tossouts and quite a number of tape-trade items that at one time seemed like hen's teeth but nowadays are so well-known among aficionados of the form that I coulda saved a bundle had I only waited a good thirty years for this stuff to come out legit-like. I must say that it is surprising to hear this legendary aggregate getting the royal WMMS treatment via a Sunday night broadcast...after all, anybody who's lived in the epicenter of Pantsiosville during those rather drudge-like days can tell you just how much of an aversion the entire Cleveland music mafia had to anything that was considered young, exciting, underground, Velvet-inspired and just plain ol' punky, and the mere thought of hearing something like 15-60-75 on a commercial FM station is definitely akin to finding out that Lindsay Hutton was made grand marshal of a Sons of Italy parade. Heck, the only "new wave" types who got to appear on the Cleveland "AOR" biggies back when this music was at its most potent were the likes of the Baloney Heads (who had business connections), the Adults and Insanity and the Killers (ditto, plus they were horrid enough to pass the FM taste test) not forgetting the Wild Giraffes and Styrene Money Band but that's only because Paul Marotta's recording and technical knowhow was needed in a pinch and well, Paul did have a bargaining chip handy now, didn't he?

I kinda wonder just how the Numbers wrangled this broadcast, but thank somebody they got an opportunity to perform to an audience potentially way larger than their regular following. It's funny listening to the announcer, who I guess didn't know the Kidney Brothers from a hole in the ground, explain the meaning of the group's name and generally treat 'em as some strange aberration, but that only adds to the whole "charm" of the proceedings. Vocalist Robert Kidney is in fine vocal and lyrical shape, reminding me more of Tim Buckley than the Jim Morrison most local writers had him pegged as, while the rest of the group jam-packs the heavy riff-rock sound with a drone straight outta the Velvets packed with perhaps thee best horn section even makes the classic Mothers of Invention lineup sound like sickly neo-bopsters trying to hitch their futures to some mustachioed freak who smelled really bad.

Even the group's latest single on Hearthan was performed, and I get the feeling that this particular action didn't make the folks at 'MMS too happy considering just how much animosity there was between 'em and the former Crocus Behemoth who was responsible for releasing the Numbers' only release twixt the essential JIMMY BELL'S STILL IN TOWN and their '83 followup. Who knows...hard feelings never die and I guess there's still a lotta vitriol between the people at that long-running FM station and the local underground, but at least I'm glad it at least let up for this particular faux pas on the part of Denny Sanders and the rest of the down home, whole wheat crew. Nice to know some things never change (or as we always say about our adversaries...once an asshole, always an asshole!).
Crawlspace-TO' UP cassette (Space One)

'member all of those old Eddie Flowers reviews in fanzines such as BEYOND OUR CONTROL, INITIAL SHOCK and of course that all-time killer GULCHER where the heftoid praise he would ladle out for Can would run into that for Yoko Ono and the Stooges with sidesteps into the Velvet Underground, Albert Ayler and Amon Duul II? Well, this cassette is sorta like the sum and substance of Eddie's 1972-1976 writings mooshed up into a nice ball and spewed out for the same audience that undoubtedly rushed to the nearest record shop after reading one of his missives. Maybe you were one of them. I sure wish I was!

I can't help but think of Can when listening to the a-side of this Crawlspace live lysergic ramble that came out a hefty twenty-one years back, a period in time when it looked as if Flowers' knack for self-promotion was succeeding somewhat on the Los Angeles underground scene. Dunno if Eddie would have made the short list for potential Can vocalists, but his presence sure would have brightened up those latterday albums of an iffy nature as he mutters and spews in the best Damo Suzuki trad while the band creeps and crawls through a mess that does sound about as much krautrock 1972 as it does El Lay ponk 1991. A nice shift through various themes and ideas that really do sound like the clashing of YOKO ONO PLASTIC ONO BAND up against TAGO MAGO (or was it MIRROR MAN?) with a healthy fix of the Stooges as they existed in the minds of such mental miscreants as Flowers back '72 way, all ending with the main theme from Ornette Coleman's SKIES OF AMERICA twisted to atonal delight. Definitely deserves to be heard by more than the few thousand who managed to get hold of this a good twenny-one years back.

Side "B" has Mr. Flowers working out not only with Todd Homer (ex-Angry Samoans) and Larry Robinson's Mooseheart Faith, but former Sanhedrin guitarist George Popel shows up and they all succeed in  making an exquisite electronic free splat for Flowers to spout his inspired gibberish. The music weaves in and out of the realm of normality with synths and squeaky toys being hard to differentiate from while psychedelic guitar lines echo back to the glory days of late-sixties El Lay, and if Eddie was within the grasps of his senses while this was being laid down he must have a sturdier constitutional than any of us would have gathered. You don't need the help of psychedelics to enjoy this trip, and come to think of it the use of the usual mind-expanding substances might bring the festivities down quite a bit.

Golly, I never remembered Crawlspace (an act I felt was superior to the drek most associated with the late-eighties underground flotsam) to be this exhilarating, this soul-cleansing and perhaps the only honest-to-goodness heir to Can's long-abdicated throne of maddening glory. Expect more Crawlspace reviews as the weeks progress, and let's just hope that those iffy CD-R's Eddie sent me ages back will play on my new if cheaper deck which doesn't seem to be as fussy about these home-pressed goodies as many of my Cee-Dee players of yore were.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

BOOKS REVIEW! FEARLESS FOSDICK and FEARLESS FOSDICK, THE HOLE STORY by AL CAPP (Kitchen Sink Press, 1990 and 1992 respectively)

I guess that all of the Al Capp sensory overload I've encountered these past few weeks was a tremendous enough shock to my psyche! Undoubtedly because of it, I dragged out these Kitchen Sink reprints of Capp's long-running "strip within a strip" FEARLESS FOSDICK if only to re-acquaint myself with the antics of "The World's Greatest Detective" who bore a strange resemblance to both DICK TRACY (physically) and DUDLEY DOORIGHT (mentally)!!! An' in no way could I say that re-reading these books was a tiresome task either...y'see, not only was the entire FOSDICK concept yet another true manifestation of Capp's satirical genius, but it was the first and best of the noted cartoonist's many comic strip spoofs to have appeared in ABNER, and besides that it was the only one which lasted within the confines of that strip from Fosdick's first appearance in 1942 until the strip's bitter demise a good thirty-five years later.

Not only that but the stories to be found within these pages sure bring back the comic strip memories many fold! Y'see, it was I while still in the single-digits mind you, who used to jump for joy when a brand-spanking-new FOSDICK adventure hit the funny pages, at first mystified at how close in proximity it came to TRACY (this being before I understood the concept of lampooning in my pre MAD days) before glancing over at DICK TRACY studying the similarities and exaggerations that Capp put into his rather clever take off. It might not seem like much to anybody these days, but back when I was eight it was pretty much ALL THE WORLD!!!

Ah, but those days are long gone, and come to think of it so are ABNER and FOSDICK, victims of killer time which catches up with everything no matter how hard we may try otherwise. But at least I have them memories to rely upon as well as these books, both of which not only reprint some of the better cases from the FOSDICK files but prove just what a comedic genius (and I ain't one to use that word lightly!) Capp was even if he sure made more than a few enemies throughout his career and got pretty much caught up in it all as a result.

These collections also prove just how adventurous and chance-taking not only ABNER, but the entire comic strip page in general used to be at least until the baby boomer generation that ironically was influenced by the likes of ABNER got hold of the reigns and began churning out strip after strip of such subpar sputum  that even those complaints people used to have about Chester Gould being such a lousy artist seem extremely unfair in the face of the one-dimensional drek that permeates the comics these days!

The first FOSDICK collection contains the earlier, and therefore better, FOSDICK strips back when Our Hero still wore a rather Tracy-esque fedora and was running up against villains sporting such grotesque monikers as Rat-Top and Carrot-Top, miscreants who naturally looked as strange as their names would imply. The sampling of stories in this 'un is also sure to startle, with Fosdick using his cunning wit to outfox some of his biggest adversaries from Anyface, the criminal who can make himself look like whoever he wants to the Atom Bum as well as the most baffling case of Sidney the Crooked Parrot, a feather-ruffling saga where Fosdick's own parrot turns to a life of crime in a revenge-filled campaign to see his former owner's downfall!

The absurdities and commentaries on real life, comic strip culture and generally the cult of the hero are so cutting at times I wonder why newspapers weren't dropping FOSDICK due to not only its violent nature, but the cutting critiques concerning everything from wanton violence to corrupt policemen! After all, if FEARLESS FOSDICK wasn't being presented as a humorous comic strip lampoon it very likely would have been banned (and I mean it!) due to the disturbing visuals that showed Fosdick killing hundreds of innocent people while trying to get to that elusive criminal (who more or less was walking on the grass) during the call to duty! Yeah, we all know that Capp was pulling our legs regarding violence and entertainment in a rather jovial if sick way, but with all of the Werthams out there who still are trying to make a better world you know these joke sometimes just doesn't come off the way they should!

A good example of the overuse of ultraviolence as cathartic humor in FOSDICK just has to be "The Case of the Poisoned Beans," a case where Fosdick, after learning that one can of Old Faithful Beans (the most popular brand in the unnamed city Fosdick lives in) has been tampered with, kills potential bean lovers citywide in order to "protect" them from eating the potentially lethal contents! Not that killing people wasn't part of the entire Fosdick credo...after all, the man's own dictum states that it is far better that thousands of innocent people go to the great beyond than one criminal should escape...but in order to "save" the city from coming across that one tainted can of beans Fosdick goes on a killing rampage mowing down not only the cans, but the people who are about to eat their contents! Since Fosdick's murderous rampage is all in the line of duty his superiors look the other way and proclaim him "harmless," at least until he "accidently croaked a cop" and is found, tried and convicted within the span of a half hour!  Really, someone should take a toll to see just how many people Fosdick killed throughout his run in ABNER, which might even be a more staggering one than the number of deaths at the hands of Lucas McCain on THE RIFLEMAN!

THE HOLE STORY, besides featuring a cover with actual bullet holes in Fosdick's body (which usually looks like Swiss Cheese when he takes his shirt off) features mostly strips from the fifties when Fosdick's appearance changed, he now looking more like a cheap house detective with his bowler hat and narrow shoulders rather than the bold plainclothesman in yellow raincoat oft seen in the forties. Maybe Capp wanted Fosdick to look as comical as his behavior warranted, but that wasn't the only change in now the strip began taking on some continuity it had previously lacked, with a regularly appearing mustachioed chief (who's naturally on the take even though Fosdick is too naive and innocent to realize it) and with Fosdick's long-suffering fiancee of seventeen years Prudence Pimpleton finally gaining a steady look---kinda foreboding in the face department but whoo...whatta typical sexy Al Capp female build! With a lotta these gals Capp delineated you may not have been too keen on their faces, but boy were they built like brick pizzerias!

These particular latterday sagas just don't pack the same punch the earlier FOSDICK psychocomedy/dramas do (perhaps because the former United Features Syndicate told Capp to tone down the violence, or was it because the earlier carnage just did not seem fit for the fifties?) but they still hold up extremely well with storylines dealing with Fosdick unknowingly turning into a revenge-seeking Mr. Hyde out to kill the judge who heavily fined him for parking illegally during a police shootout, a cheap criminal hiding a million dollar wristwatch inside Fosdick's head, a notorious hood fooling the police department into thinking Fosdick is 65 and due for retirement and my fave, Fosdick being replaced by a robot who can sniff out criminal activities and dole out justice thus knocking off half the police force! Loads of fun 'natch, and I gotta say much better'n spending a Saturday afternoon at the library pouring through microfilms while the librarian scowls at you since you told her you were doing a history report on Kruschev.

With my financial straits becoming even straiter as time rolls on it ain't like I'm going to be purchasing all of the ABNER reprints that I would love to have (monies being earmarked for the really biggies like DICK TRACY, ARCHIE and of course NANCY), but these old standbys do help out when I become misty-eyed for the days of yore when comic pages meant something in between the reruns and Dinky Toys. Perhaps a few ABNER collections which contain FOSDICK stories that don't pop up here might be something to save aluminum cans and plasma for, so if you see me scouring the highways for discarded Vienna Sausage tins some time please don't run me down! True you might be losing an ineffectual blogger, but you're also losing a midweek book review that'll brighten up your life more'n anything found on this sorry thing we call a web ever will!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

How have you been these past few days anyway? I personally can't complain, even with the current dry spell in general kultur taking its toll on my already battered and deep-fried psyche. Sheesh, at this point in time I can only dream about them days when music, and life as a whole was as potent and powerful and conduit to a lardbutt pustule-producing teenage mindset such as mine, and although those days were pockmarked with sorrow and general loathing from all fronts I do recall the easier times with a whole lot more kindness. Y'know, way back '75/'76 way, back when even a kid earning depression-era wages could make out like a bandit a a local flea market or even record shop (remember, those were the glory days of cut out bins!) with only $1.75 in his pocket and that included the Life Savers! But as the old song goes "them days are gone forever," and although I should shut up and acknowledge that my dreams of yore are long-gone and this is the twenty-first century blah blah snooze I believe it is my duty as an outta-time curmudgeon to at least stick up for the good parts of them bad ol' days. The fun I'd get pouring through stacks of records looking for that elusive album or single, or taking a peek at the latest NATIONAL LAMPOON when nobody was looking, or pondering a good place to hide that issue of ARCADE with the Frosty the Snowman story that I wanted to get so bad. Y'know, the crucial stuff that was way more important than studies or knowing what you wanted to be when you growed up! Of course that was before going home and watching the umpteenth rerun of GREEN ACRES before chowing down a dinner of weenies and beans! Ah memories...ah flatulence! It's even come to the point where I am heavily nostalgic for my 1975 Christmas vacation even with the horrid case of gastritis I experienced after eating at a Red Lobster for the very first time (this was the same day I not only saw a copy of CHELSEA GIRLS for sale but pondered buying a Tanned Leather album), and if you think I'd trade re-living that particular day for anything else in the world well...maybe I would only without my poor choice in selecting seafood as well as with passing up on albums I sure could have stood listening to!
The really big news of the week, at least for me, is hearing about the imminent demise of the Hostess corporation, makers of all of those great snicky snacks people like myself used to gobble down after school (Twinkies, Cupcakes, Ho-Hos, Ding Dongs, Fruit Pies, Sno Balls...) not forgetting that ever-popular Wonder Bread, the bread with a shelf life that outlasts Strontium 90! Gotta admit that Wonder Bread was never a staple at our house (mom being a full-bred Italian which means out bread was full Italian!) but Twinkies as well as the rest of the Hostess line of fine pastries were considered special treats by us kiddies who just couldn't gobble up enough of 'em! Of course later on when the purse strings just hadda be tightened it was the off brands for us. Not so many Twinkies anymore but locally baked pies from the Metz Bakery that just seemed more crust than filling, and as you could guess they just didn't fill the bill when it came to lunchbox treats.

The health scares regarding trans-fats came much later, but long before that Twinkies, which were about as much of a part of my growling up years memories as GILLIGAN'S ISLAND reruns and frequent whippings, suddenly became food non gratis in our abode. Dunno why, but my mother began to buy less and less of them and more and more store-baked items for our pastry which, while perhaps the most perfect thing to do budget-wise, just didn't suit me one bit! Of course I would occasionally buy boxes of Twinkies to gobble during my entire adult life, but that was done mostly for childhood reminiscence purposes the same way I would occasionally buy Fizzies (which I was not allowed to have because my mother would tell me I wouldn't want them anyway).

Not-so-strangely enough my tastes had shifted to Nickle's Banana Flips, a cake with a filling that surprisingly enough came close to the original Twinkies Banana creamy center which was interrupted by World War II's fruit shortage and unfortunately never re-instated. But deep in my heart I cherished the memory of Twinkies, which were as bold and as vivid to me as all of those funtime kid recollections which do their darndest to counterattack the horrid, nightmarish visions of growing up that still continue to haunt me years after the fact!

It was probably inevitable that Hostess has taken leave the way it has. After all, their food was custom made for the reams of 50s/60s/70s baby boomer kids who'd rush home from school, knock off their homework and settle down in front of the television to watch AMERICAN BANDSTAND or some long-gone rerun or horror picture (or later on cheapo syndicated cartoon and sixties sitcom leftover) with Twinkie in hand. In these austere, cyborg days where everything has been reduced to an ultra liberal guilt that would shock the old timey progressives of yore, needless self-conscious shame and  health-nut Nazism, in no way could I see a typical eight-year-old enjoying his after school snack (an unhealthy one at that!) while some boffo reflection of a pre-socially astute Ameriga runs repeatedly on the cathode connection. Naw, it's pure kulturkampf these days, and as you all know Twinkies and so-called mindless entertainment have been banished off to the unacceptable ends of herbal tea and whole grain Ameriga if only because such suburban slob items do not fit in with the mode of today's new strong armed enforcement! This really burns me up because it was those Baby Boomer brats who were the ones who gobbled up Twinkies like there was no tomorrow and bolstered rerun tee-vee to its glorious apex and now these same doofs are denying their children the joys of creme-filled goodness and endless fifties/sixties suburban slob television/comic book/Dinky Toy living! Just doesn't seem fair, and pass the bean sprouts while you're at it!

Well, I do hope that the rumors regarding the owner selling the rights to the pastry line to the highest bidder turns out to be true...if so maybe there is hope for the future of overweight pimple pudges nationwide. Until then I'm afraid it's gonna be Dolly Madison and Tasty Kakes all the way, and if I'm that hard up a Little Debbie or two.
ROBERT CHRISTGAU'S WILDEST DREAM HAS COME TRUE! No, Sinead O'Connor did not offer to "peg" him while the strains of Bruce Springsteen play ever so daintily in the air, but the self-proclaimed "Peen of Amerigan Rock Critics" is surely chortling over the fact that the warehouse which stocks the Norton Record catalog (home to all good rock 'n roll for you, the discerning listener) got flooded during the Hurricane Sandy Noreaster that hit the New York area a good two weeks back. Yes, although the personal digs of Mr. and Mrs. Norton themselves (Billy Miller and Miriam Linna) remained high and dry throughout the deluge the tons of recordings, books and whatnot that they offer us for sale has been ruined by the rain, floods and other muck that devastated the Eastern Seaboard. Thankfully some items were able to be salvaged, but a whole hunk of it is ruined and probably headed for the big dumpster in the parking lot which is a sight that obviously will have ol' Crico creaming reams of joy while he thinks up more obscure words unused in at least three centuries to describe his unbridled joy!

Now we don't want Christgau to gloat over the misfortunes of two of the swellest people whom I, and perhaps you, have come in contact with! I mean, I can't think of anything but nice things to say about Billy, Miriam, and their Norton enterprise which has benefited mankind for nigh on a whopping quarter century. And not only that but the pair always treated me nice even though I was never worthy of anything positive, being treated swell-like included, from their own exaulted perch as rock 'n roll tastesetters. They've also sent me tons of records both for spare change and gratis, and (to belabor a point) Billy Miller is such a cool rock 'n roll writer with great tastes and once Miriam gave me a phone call during a particularly dour time in my life and we had a nice chat about things which helped perk me up quite a bit! Don't know what you'd call that, but I call it DIVINE INTERVENTION!!!! I sure have to thank her for that (as well as for offering me a letter Lester Bangs wrote to her which I published in the final issue of my own fanzine), and as anybody who's come in contact with me knows I DO NOT FORGET MY FRIENDS!!!! (And if I have forgotten you, it's probably due the fact that you've fallen from grace in my eyes faster than Lucifer, and if so please do me a favor and examine your conscience...or do you even have one?)

Billy and Miriam are two fine folk who really do need a helping hand in this hour of tumult, and if you're not in the area to assist 'em in cleaning up their warehouse and scrubbin' off the records why not donate some moolah just so's they can get back on their feet and help to continue to make Norton Records the rolling success it's been for quite a long time! The two have done more than their share for the cause of rock 'n roll, and if anybody needs the uplift it's this fine pair so wipe that smile offa Christgau's face, click that highlighted "donate" above and, while you're at it, give to your heart's content like I did (and you all know what a good example I am). Billy and Miriam sure need it, and I'm positive they'll be forever grateful no matter how much you pestered them because they didn't like REM or the Stray Cats and all those eighties groups you thought were the cat's pajamas even though you now (obviously) know better!
Don Fellman once called me up to tell me he was worried about the state this nation was in, especially when basically innocent people could be incarcerated on seemingly flimsy evidence and thus have their lives and maybe even some below the waist parts of the body ruined beyond repair. Seems Don was watching an episode of THE 700 CLUB (which he tells me now exists as a news magazine-styled program with the religious aspects marginalized in order to lure in the lumpen agnostic types) and there was a segment about some guy who's now rotting in jail on what seems to be trumped up charge, yet the Big Boys ain't gonna let him out any day soon because they got the guns and clubs and law behind 'em and this guy sure didn't. It did get me to thinkin' about how, even in these enlightened days when gays can walk around nekkid in San Fran as long as they sit on napkins lest they leave skidmarks all over the place the law can run roughshod over you if somehow you're in their sights and the finger's just itchin' to PULL THE TRIGGER. Nothing that's really new since Paul Craig Roberts has been writing about this very subject for ages, but still this is something which is nonetheless frightening enough to make me fear authority especially since I'm the kind of guy who makes all sorts of slip ups (mostly unconsciously) and you know that the gendarmes like to pounce upon us neer-do-wells like piranhas on a menstruating cow.

Then I read this article on the TAKI'S MAGAZINE site (yeah yeah yeah, you all hate it because they're racist and homophobic and you're multicultural and sanction sex with newborns as long as they don't have a gag reflex) written by the ever-improving Gavin McInnes which really brought home the entire mindset of INCARCERATION USA to the point where Mr. Fellman's fears do not seem as paranoiac as some may think. As usual, the rights of Amerigans are being trampled on left and right (and by the left and right!), and as you would expect NOBODY (not even the bleeding heart types who always seem to make cases for the rights of the politically protected classes yet act nonchalant when tyranny can be used to their benefit) really does seem to care. It's sure nice to see that McInnes has finally gotten beyond his Scots-Irish superiority complex and Crass reminiscences to write about something that really affects us all, and it's ALWAYS refreshing reading about the cold hard truth regarding the fallacy of freedom and justice and all of those buzzwords that have been heard for ages yet seem to have about as much meaning and depth as a fourth grader's class report on watching animals fornicate at the zoo. As the old saying goes, read it and weep!
Anyhoo, here are the revooz for this week. Nothing special I'll grant ya, and given not only my financial straits (Christmas is a-comin', y'know) but the lack of hotcha music on all fronts you can expect more and more of these rehashes and reappraisals with a few meager new items tossed in for good measure. Yeah, it's obvious once again that we're going through one of them dry spells. a spell which certainly seems longer than any of the dry spells of yore we used to have like the one Greg Shaw said we were all in the middle of back 'round 1972 way! And that one didn't seem so bad next to the dry spells of 1983 or 1993 for that matter, and man those were dry... Heck I'll take '72 over today in a least the AM dial wasn't the embarrassment it was only a few years earlier, and a few years later for that matter! So settle back and let's sweat the musical deprivation we're all forced to go through together, and while we're at it let's thank Bill Shute for his nice li'l care packages which have saved me from many an evening with nothing to do but stare at a page from an old ARCHIE comic for hours on end, eyes totally focused on Betty's...well, forget that and just read on, OK?.

Iggy Pop-THE IDIOT CD (Virgin America)

This was supposed to have been the first entry in a post I had planned which was going to re-evaluate albums that I've heard way back when which didn't quite settle with me (or which I had outright hated) upon first listen, but frankly the thought of having to purchase (or download) and re-evaluate everything from LARK'S TONGUE IN ASPIC to BURL IVES SINGS FOLK SONGS FOR KIDS WHO WERE EXPECTING A BOB DYLAN ALBUM FOR CHRISTMAS is obviously about as pleasing a task as wiping with coarse sandpaper so out the window went that concept! But since I mentioned in an earlier missive that Iggy Pop's debut solo outing THE IDIOT was due for a reappraisal I figured why not do it today rather than pawn off the distasteful stuff for future fodder! Anyway this post is rather skimpy* and the more I pad it out with such inanity as this the better I say!

I first heard THE IDIOT back when it came out during the spring of '77 via a borrowed copy that I couldn't bear to listen to all the way through for fear of wasting a good thirtysome minutes of my life in aural purgatory. Dunno if it was the then-current Iggy hype that did me in or the mechano-drool of the music at large, but this 'un came off like a long droning exercise in cyborg aesthetics recorded by a coke-fogged mind who hadda be led around the studio like a pig with a ring through his snout. A dork who lacked the vision and soul to make an album just brimming with the power needed to create music that transcends the dimensions and heads straight for your mind and soul.  Nothing that I really cared about, although strangely enough I did not totally forsake the Iggy credo even at this stage because after I discovered that he and David Bowie were musical guests on Dinah Shore's morning chitchat show during the summer of '77 I was front and center in a vain attempt to catch this piece of classic tee-vee. Really excited in fact almost as much as when I'd tune into CREATURE FEATURE hoping the editor would forget to clip out a bitta bare titty or some nasty words! Never did get to see Iggy coyly deny he was a punk, but a few years later an audio tape did make its way to my ears and it showed that the guy still had some verge and vigor in him even at this point in time where Iggy's creative juices were certainly beginning to run dry.

Thirty-five years later THE IDIOT sounds a whole lot better than I (and I'm sure Lester Bangs) originally stated, and I don't even think that's because in the meanwhile rock music had degenerated into such a sad state of affairs that it's the 2012 equivalent of Dixieland Jazz being listened to by aging Europeans. Maybe its because we all have become cold and robotic to a certain extent, but the dark drones are particularly attuned to my current mental and nervous state and even Iggy's death gasp vocals sound like something that should be plastered all over the airwaves 'stead of the post-post-Madonna lighter than light pop that's infiltrated the music scene these past few decades.

Bowie doesn't get in the way like you and I thought he would, and even the cold Euro drive brings back all of that talk about how much Ralf and Florian of Kraftwerk idolized the Stooges 'stead of the Pink Floydian classicism everybody associated 'em with. Restrained and foreboding, and considering how Bowie was such a pilferer of underground style and swerve all I can say is that at least Iggy's product took his own credo and went for the new coldness which certainly topped Bowie's comparatively weak efforts manyfold. In fact, THE IDIOT comes way closer in construction and presentation to the seventies claim to the Velvet Underground throne than Bowie did on his oft-praised "Heroes" (and HEROES), and on sheer drive alone.

So it turns out that Lester Bangs was wrong and Phast Phreddie was right after all! Of course what does that make me, a pitted pimplefarm who thought this was the most awful brain-dead mewl to make its way to plastic during those disco doldrum days of the late-seventies? Probably your typical beneath the outkids jerk whose parents woulda been smarter to send to a psychiatric ward than trombone lessons, that's what! Sorry, but we all couldn't have been so tres decadent like you back then!

Considering what an unheralded talent Nesmith is, it's about time that more of his under-the-radar sixties material has been made available to the great unwashed even if most wouldn't recognize him outside of the wool cap and long sideburns he wore every week on his long-gone tee-vee show. A great selection it is with rough takes, early single sides, latterday First National Band rarities and even some Monkees trackage including two versions of "Tapioca Tundra," a song that not only enraged my sister but my mother after I kept spinning it incessantly as a pre-pubescent wizeacre. Admittedly some of the more country rock twangin' stuff did bore me silly, but overall its a fine tribute to a guy who never did get his just dues if only because of his "teenybopper" image which he tried so hard to shake off for nigh on thirty-seven years awlready!
Steve Lacy-DISPOSABILITY CD-R (originally on RCA Italiana)

I know that Bill Shute is a humongous fan of Lacy, but I never cozied up to the guy and his at-times feral soprano saxophone. Oh yeah, I swear by his BYG spinner and all, but I couldn't really cozy up to his work with Cecil Taylor (whereas I felt that Jimmy Lyons was born to be by his pianoside for all eternity) and at least one solo record I've heard was more irritating than engrossing the way say, Anthony Braxton's or Joseph Jarman's are. Putting all that on the back burner let me say that the man did play fine on this '65 trio setting with longtime jazzter Kent Carter and some local (this being recorded in Italy) bloke named Alberto Romano on percussion, not quite free but still avant garde enough where you can hear the echoes of the late-bop sliding in with the new change in direction with ease. It also has a strong Amerigan jazz guy in Europe lilt to it that'll have you spinning your entire expat collection with visions of cheated  musicians cursing all over the place dancing in your head.
Various Artists-FEMALE CHICAGO BLUES,1936-1947 CD-R (originally on Document Records, Austria)

Awww shee, Bill's once again trying to shame me into listening to the blues. Actually he doesn't have to do any shaming considering the previous reviews of various blues items which have appeared in these pages (such as those on the obscurer-than-thou Spivey label) over the past few years, and I don't mind a little bit of this once in awhile if only to chill out my beyond frazzled paranoia. Like most of these exhumations go, this collection of Chicago rarities adds a whole lot more to the legend with everybody from the Yas Yas Girl (Medene Johnson), Billie (Willie Mae) McKenzie, Clara Morris and Trixie Butler doin' some fine moaners that sure sound fine after years of listening to shady white guys with five o'clock shadows milking these sounds for all they were worth. Believe-you-me, these recordings are to today's version of the blues what the Kingsmen are to Lady Caga!
Mozart's People-THIS IS... CD-R burn (originally on Orange Records)

There are so many seventies rarities out there I haven't heard, and frankly I don't know where a serious soul such as I would be able to begin. Fortunately a few obscurities do manage to make it out either via the collector's scene or on the web, which is where this sole album from the short-lived New York-area group Mozart's People has miraculously popped up. An obscurity amongst obscurities, Mozart's People certainly weren't what you'd call visible on the New York scene of the day (with perhaps only one CBGB gig to their name...why else did you think I'd want to hear this in the first place?) nor were they typical of any local sound as personified by the more famous names on the bar circuit. Naw, these local boys played a pop rock that came closer to the likes of the Babys or Nick Gilder than anything roughly associated with the CBGB/Max's axis, and although their AM-inclinations probably turned off quite a few trendoid types I find Mozart's People's brand of commercial slop a whole lot more palatable than the budding corporate rock acts of the day not to mention the disco doldrums that permeated 1977 with a vengeance. Judging from Greg Prevost's article on glam rock in the latest UGLY THINGS, I get the impression that he'd like this 'un to the max. Released on the infamous Orange record label, let me warn you that this in no way sounds like David Peel, GG Allin or any of the other acts that Orange deemed important enough to spend their precious lucre promoting a good three-plus decades back.
Redd Kross-CLUB LINGERIE 1/18/85 cassette tape

Rather'n hold this back for one of my all-cassette tape specials, I thought It'd be nice to close out today's soiree with this live recording I got from none other than Eddie Flowers back during the dark ages of the mid-eighties. And in many ways I am surprised that I even plucked this one out from the cassette box considering how I never thought I would listen to Redd Kross again no matter how long I eked out an existence, and if you want to know just why I harbored this opinion towards the group I could sum it up in just two words...CHUCK EDDY!

"What we have here is a failure to communicate." I believe Strother Martin once said that and if a case can be made for the validity of that particular term it can be found within the, er, "communications" between me and that pinhead rock critic who somehow (and I think "on purpose") would misconstrue just about everything I would tell him regarding my own theories, ideas and beliefs in rock not only to show his own superiority in musical tastes but to irritate me to no end. Dunno how Chuck "behaves" now since I try avoiding anything with his byline like a lesbian avoids a penis, but back then Eddy was the biggest elitist snobbish ego that I have had the displeasure to come in contact with, and believe you me this rock world is just fulla 'em especially after the entire industry had devolved to the puerile gumflapping of a select few chosen ones who rewrite press releases and shill away without any shard of thought provoking or probing insight into...well into a music DEVOID of any thought or insight for that matter!

It was the subject of punk rock that really drove the ol' continental divide between us. Mr. Eddy somehow envisioned punk as a music which had long outlasted its shelf life and was, in many cases, never even that important as a form to ponder in the first place. Chuck's big hotcha crusade at the time was heavy metal, a form which had been showing some signs of life in between the hair and the snarl yet even its major practitioners like Metallica were beginning to sound more like Genesis or Yes than an explosion at a boiler factory. As for me punk was a term that comfortably fit into rock 'n roll as it began and would continue, a crazy burst of energy that began with late-fifties teenage combos cranking out tin-guitar cantatas growing with the overflow of mid-sixties maniacs and late-sixties innovators thus evolving into seventies hard-stompers and... Well, you know the rest, or at least should after reading about three-plus decades of my well-informed and potency-packed writings on the subject.

It seemed OBVIOUS to me that punk as a general musical form was certainly still relevant even in the cold confines of the mid-eighties, but as you might have guessed Eddy vehemently disagreed with my opines and felt it more than worthwhile to castigate me as yet another lumpen ignoramus for spouting views that I'm sure many rock aficionados would find extremely valid. Maybe too many television documentaries made by concerned parents and aging FM programmers finally did him in, but in no way could or would he even acknowledge that my opines as punk as a 1971 CREEM term was still relevant even after all of the high profile punkism that has gone on since, and though I continue to believe that my not-so-personal definition (and it application in the then-modern world) came pretty close if not spot on to punk as a musical reality Eddy wanted to have no part of it and spared no expletives to tell me how full of shit I was.

The then-latest Redd Kross album, NEUROTICA, was a strange bone of contention that might have been the back-breaking straw that clinched my eternal loathing (previously it was a strong disliking) I had for Eddy. I believed them to have been a primo example of where punk rock stood (as a still meaningful musical entity) in the mid/late-seventies and even brought this up, nicely yet, to Eddy but the guy just hadda trot out the line "No metal sluts or punk rock ruts for me" from "Play My Song" as living proof that the group was in no wayshapeform punk rock!!! Nice set of reasoning tools you got there, Chuck, which I guess means they're not metal sluts either, eh?

But that was so long ago and I frankly have not been listening to Redd Kross since those days undoubtedly because of this episode in my sorry life. And the fact that NEUROTICA just wasn't that boffo an album. That's probably why the Eddy memories just flowed forth while listening to this cassette, and after a good quarter-century later it's easy to see who was right all along and it sure ain't that bigtime rockscribe who unfortunately continues to pollute the web with his puerile pap lo these many years later!

If anything Redd Kross exude the punk rock credo, at least on this mid-eighties live tape which not only echoes the then-current punk rock stature at its garageoid best, but hearkens back to p-rock in its previous guises with a little bitta metal thrown in. Some six-oh stylings pop up as do later-on SoCal sunshine rock, while the overt approach comes closer to a BACK DOOR MAN sense of aesthetics than it would fact I could've seen a big spread on 'em in even DENIM DELINQUENT had that sainted mag lasted another decade or so! (It'd be too much to envision what a mid-eighties FLASH would have done!) At parts serious, at others high-larious (the piss-take on "Dazed and Confused" had me hoping for an extended bowed guitar solo!), and throughout it all who but the most humorless pretender to the throne of eternal put on "cool" (and considering what "cool" means today, flaming hot is what I'm after!) would deny that Redd Kross weren't in fact punk rock at its mid-eighties zenith, an amalgamation of the best moments of the previous thirty years of punkdom rolled into a neat teenage package that wanted oh so hard to be the Next Big Thing but those scuzzy grunge guys from Seattle beat 'em to it.

Who knows what the McDonald brothers from Redd Kross are up to these days. Somehow I still see 'em plugging away trying to keep the group alive in one form or another playing to an ever-fading fan base but loving it all the while. Then again, who knows what Chuck Eddy is up to (oh yeah I know he has his fans and throngs who think he's the bestest thing to have happened to CREEM since at least their early-eighties nadir, though any change in the mag since those dog-tired days would have looked like an improvement). And yeah, who bothers to know what I'm up to either but then again I've quit trying to suss you readers out long ago and am doin' this for my own happiness and pleasure...if you're in on the trip fine but otherwise I quit caring around the same time I saw my rock hopes and dreams get washed away thanks to the tide of ineffectuals the likes of the one called Chuck. Can't really stir myself up anymore, especially after the guy and his minions helped bury rock and made the whole thing about as vibrant as the strains of Lawrence Welk, a fellow who actually comes off exciting next to the music that Eddy and way too many others were championing throughout the eighties and nineties to the point where...why bother to listen. Why bother to write about it or care for that matter. And ultimately, why bother to live???

Screw those pseudointellectual nebbishes anyway. Maybe if I can divorce the thought of Redd Kross and Chuck Eddy totally I'll be able to dig into the rest of their records rotting away downstairs without those cringe-y pangs overtaking my nervous system. Now that would be a fine trip considering all of the potentially powerful music that would be in store. However, now if I can only divorce the thought of Redd Kross and FLIPSIDE...
*or at least it was until I began adding my own personal thoughts and opines regarding Twinkies and unjust incarcerations making the thing grow like the Dogpatch Ham!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

BOOK REVIEW! ALTER EGO, THE BEST OF THE LEGENDARY COMICS FANZINE, edited by Roy Thomas and Bill Schelly (Hamster Press, 1997)

Although a collection of writings, artwork and strips from the legendary comic fanzine ALTER EGO's original run (1961-1978) was something that any comic fandom cherub would adore, I had grave misgivings about this softcover issue by issue rundown courtesy comic fanzine historian (and editor/contributor) Bill Schelly and ALTER EGO creator and eventual industry bigwig Roy Thomas. I guess what really griped me when I first picked this up a good fifteen years back was that the articles were not reproduced, ditto layout and all, in the manner in which they originally appeared, something that made such fanzine collections as the ones done for SEARCH AND DESTROY as well as BOMP! so appealing and reflective of the time and place they were created. This seemingly small fact was enough to turn me off to the entire concept of a book devoted to perhaps the most influential comic fanzine ever, and as you would guess this book remained in a storage box ever since only to be unearthed this past Sunday because frankly, I am that hard up for some hotcha reading material!

So now it's time for a reappraisal, and although I know that my opinions and the way I look at life and music and art mutate if ever so slightly all I gotta say is...the thing sure ain't as blandoid dull as I remember it to have been! Hokay, the usual incestuousness (same writers, same correspondents, everybody knowing each other) might have made those new to the 'zine feel slightly alienated, and the original comic book-styled stories (such as Roy Thomas' "Bestest League of America" spoofs) either read like sophomoric takes on the Harvey Kurtzman MAD comics or just ain't as engrossing as the original inspiration (Biljo White's "Captain Ego" even though the man was a fantastic artist when imitating the C. C. Beck style). Even the work of Ronn Foss, the gigundo in the world of comic fandom, didn't quite engage me the way some of his early-seventies contributions to the world of fanzines did which probably speaks more about me than him but hey, I'm just giving you my humble opinion. And (to put the dogplop on the lawn) a tad bit of "political correctness" (also known as surrendering to the barbarians) pops up when the early-sixties text just has to be altered if ever so slightly, since it is more than obvious that such a word as "humankind" did not exist until some whiny bitch invented it years later.

But still who could doubt that ALTER EGO was a massive project that helped solidify comic fandom and inspired throngs of emulators and imitators the same way homebound publications such as BACK DOOR MAN and DENIM DELINQUENT spawned plenty of rock 'n roll-oriented rags that helped make the seventies a better place for loads of kids who thought it was all over and done with. In other words, it was everything a fanzine should have been during a time when most aficionados of the form were lucky to have a spirit duplicator at their disposal, and maybe I should not quibble about things as much as I do considering that this 'un really does present to us ALTER EGO as a fanzine that helped spearhead the Silver Age of Comics, or at least gave it a voice if not a soul.

True, most of the information gathered is old hat which can be found with the flick of a key these days, but considering the snail paced information flow of the early-sixties what the comic world needed was for someone to gather up the information, present it in a spiffy, readable and pleasing to the eye way, and send it out to throngs of fans who probably thought they were the only ones in their isolated burghs who still cared about long-gone comic titles or comic books as a whole for that matter. ALTER EGO was a clarion call to hundreds of kids who were probably berated and looked down upon for reading such "trash" they were told had no redeeming social, moral or even entertainment value, making them all realize that they were really part of a vanguard that was every bit as artistic and worthy of gulcheral greatness as jazz or modern art no matter how much the Miss Grundys of this world doth protested.

Anyway it's all here 'cept for the great ditto printing (eventually offset), with original art, letters from the big guys at DC and Marvel expressing their graciousness and loads more. And yeah, you might want to skip over the old news or even the material which gives out information that's since been proven non-factual (remember, back then fanzine people such as myself had to rely on what we eventually found out were downright lies passed off as gospel truth), but it's always nice to espy things along the line of an original Steve Ditko letter-cum-cartoon or a Roy Thomas-penned article on the Mexican comic scene (as it relates to the United States) which mentioned a strange fact that I never knew before, that a BLACKHAWK comic strip vaguely similar to the DC original was actually running South of the Border! Wonder how the lawyers at National let that one slip by... But whatever, a fine study of not only the fanzine and fandom process, but that of creativity and execution. Besides, with original copies going for well over $200 a pop this 'un can save you a lotta pocket change, ifyaknowaddamean...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Well, I went to the polling place Wednesday and nobody was there!!! Guess I got the day wrong, but before you call me a stoop at least give me credit for calling Prez Obama the winner in the presidential election as well as predicting that he would retain the office by a narrow popular vote and perhaps even a substantial one in the electoral college*. Also slap me five for predicting that the congressional numbers won't change enough to make up much of a difference, meaning we're gonna be headed for even more gridlock at least for the next two years! Frankly that makes me happy to no end (things will not get worse!) unless the loyal opposition loses its testosterone and caves in like it most probably will. If you must know, I can't and in fact won't say that I'm sad to see Mitt Romney take a tailspin the way he did considering his own wishy washy political nature (not to mention the abysmal way he and the rest of his party hacks gave the Ron Paul delegates such a hard time at that showpiece they called a convention), but then again I'm not quite so sure that I want to see the US of Whoa going the way of Greece even if I think we'd be headed in the same direction no matter who's finger's gonna be pressin' the button! Let's just say that it's gonna be a wild second term for Obama and really, I don't care who's callin' the shots but whoever it is I WANT TO SEE HIM FAIL MISERABLY!!! (Unless it is a politician of substance and worth who's going to do the most noble thing possible and dismantle the government to the point where it would be totally irrelevant to all of us, but at least we can dream!)

Looking out the window I can see it's overcast in that sublime way that can only spell late autumn, and the lack of leaves on the trees certainly does give it a rather stark, perhaps even foreboding look that can only mean winter's on its way (as you can see, it pays to save your old sixth-grade essays!).  I gotta admit that I'm soaking it all in if only because the dark grey skies and barren landscape can't help but conjure up memories of my youth, or at least a time when the change from warm to cold weather didn't irritate me unless spring was taking its good ol' time to arrive and I was sick of sitting around doin' nothin', and I saw it as a natural change in the cycle of life just like the television seasons or your first blackheads for that matter. I guess only a hopeless romantic such as I could really find anything positive or beneficial in reminiscing about dark skies and how the change back to Standard Time meant that the evening hours were going to be pitch black but sheesh, when I look out the window and see those low-hanging clouds about to sputter snow I just can't help flashing back to an adolescence that was being pumped by AM radio at its '71-'73 best, or a massive comic book obsession that only got shook up 'round '73 when the stories began to suck, or how great is was to have two days off in a row where you can do all of the comic book reading and tee-vee watching you wanted in between all of the mandatory household doodies just about every ten-year-old was subjugated to. Heck, even during the early winter days when the sky is clear and the evening sun begins to go down I can't help but reflect about how I loved to look at the purple sky in the east and  how that royal color would reflect on the snow looking almost as dream-like as a full moon shining on the same snow making my bedroom bright in this strange mystical way.

Enough of the milk-curdling sentimentality...let's just say that these gloomy days of Autumn are pretty much conduit to me grabbing a buncha old comic books/strip collections and holing up in my room while various early-seventies standbys (ELECTRIC WARRIOR works wonders) spin on a technology that wasn't even around when I was enjoying these musical and visual masterpieces for the first time ever. Dunno if any of you readers can even remotely feel the way I do, but as for me let's just say that I actually am looking forward to the upcoming cold weather and dreary days (hope there's lotsa slush!) if only because that means there's more time for me to cuddle up in my comfy chair and dig into old funnies (and of course my collection of classic CREEMs before Bangs 1506 Nix Nix'd the place) with the long dark and hopefully frigid nights awaiting us here in the Western Pennsylvania area.

Considering just how slo mo this week has been as far as rockist kultur goes I thought I'd rerun the concept I presented for you last week and briefly detail the various recordings that I've lent ear to since these past seven rotations. Mostly oldies true, but some things that didn't make either the blog or the fanzine do pop up thanks to a combing of the collection brought on by a Sunday afternoon of boredom. Like I always say it's sure nice revisiting these old friends every so often, and considering some of the "humans" I've been in contact with throughout my life these sounds surely are true friends that never turn their back on you and treat you like the hideous scum you most truly are! Like last week's selection these are pretty much reviewed in the order in which I listened to them beginning last Sunday PM and ending this Sunday AM, and if you're stymied at the dearth of recordings (or live under the delusion that I spin at least 1000 hot recordings within the span of a day) all I gotta ask you is...don't you think I need to come up for air at least once in awhile???


Interesting enuff limited edition (twenty each!) burns of avant garde rock sound Eddie Flowers was giving away free to those willing to buy a few tidbits from his Slippytown mailorder enterprise a good ten years back. Considering how by this time Crawlspace were more or less a concept in the Plastic Ono Band tradition ("You are Crawlspace!") there's very little of the early Crawlspace straight-ahead underground rock style here...this is more or less free sound ranging from industrial slosh to what sounds like a dryer with a bunch of thumb pianos tossed in, interspersed with cheapo guitar repeato riff chords and other aural stimulators vaguely resembling fractured rock structures. If anything these disques come closer to the Smegma/LAFMS concept of music than that of the Gulcher/fanzine mafia, but considering how Flowers was champing at the bit to sing the praises of everyone from Yoko Ono to Can to Coltrane as being of the same music listening caliber as Iggy and Aerosmith maybe you could conjure up in your mind these disques being the "middle ground" 'tween what many would consider two strikingly opposite poles (but we know better now, do we?).

Rashied Ali and Le Roy Jenkins Duo-SWIFT ARE THE WINDS OF LIFE; Rashied Ali and Frank Lowe-DUO EXCHANGE CDs (Survival/Knitting Factory)

Considering just how rare the originals were it was sure a blasting in disguise that the Knitting Factory label re-released the various Rashied Ali/Survival albums for modern day enjoyment. Legendary for their all-out high energy sounds, Survival featured the former John Coltrane drummer not only with his own groupings but alongside various free jazz legends in duo settings which in many ways were reminiscent of the classic INTERSTELLAR SPACE duos the man did with Coltrane right before the latter freedomed his way to the other side. Not quite sure of which other Survival releases feature Ali in duo settings (too lazy to google so early in the morn) but these recordings have just enough jam-packed energy to keep any of you rock 'n roll fans dabbling in the jazz realm fine and dandy! Frankly, this type of music was just as important to the whole sixties/seventies hard-blare as all of that hard-crunch under-the-underground music you've spent your life listening to, and if you're ignoring jazz because all you can think of when you hear the word is horrid bowtie supper club schmooze man you will have another think comin' when you hear these!

Jenkins was always a rather angular, nerve-wracking stylist (which of course worked to his advantage considering his tool was not a horn) and on SWIFT ARE THE WINDS OF LIFE he plays with all of the style and verve that he did in the Revolutionary Ensemble as well as with Anthony Braxton/the Creative Construction Company and a variety of other other words, the guy totally wrecks. And with the lack of AACM "small instruments" or African throwbacks he gets to concentrate on his playing which is upfront and strained enough to knock the unsuspecting listener outta his comfy bean bag chair. Ali is, as usual, a particularly powerful percussionist and his free splatter compliments Jenkins' violin to the fullest extent as it weaves in and out of a beat like a light onna feet boxer trying to dodge the slugs. Being a fan of both for quite some time I gotta say that this was perhaps one of the better team ups I've encountered since Jack Kirby's pencils were being inked by Dick Ayers during the early days of Marvel!

Naw, I take that back because the Ali/Frank Lowe offering is just as brutal a spin as the above. Lowe was never the kinda guy who held back with his own sax stylings (at least until he read that review of BLACK BEINGS which accused him of "overblowing") and here he sticks true to early form as he delivers his lines like somebody was grinding his 'nads up for McDonalds burgers. The interplay between the two is so powerful, intense and bowl you over like a rabid dog going for a six-year-old girl's buttocks that it even makes the glorious INTERSTELLAR SPACE sound like George Shearing outtakes! Naturally, a must have along with THE FLAM not forgetting the rest of the early Lowe catalog which better stay in print lest we lose an entire generation of jazz listeners to the horrid strains of that stuff I always hear on the "lite jazz" channel! A natural must-have for the true blue BLOG TO COMM reader, and I'm sure Paul McGarry is searching the web for a free download right this very moment unless there's an ALL IN THE FAMILY rerun popping up on the tube that is! Sheesh, what a meathead!

Philip Glass-MUSIC WITH CHANGING PARTS CD (Elektra Nonesuch)

Can't really complain considering how this 'un was originally recorded and released way back '71 way before Glass became the chic artzy drool over person to listen to during the eighties, and I must admit that I find his early Ensemble recordings just as entertaining on those lonely weekday nights as I do a side by Can or the Art Ensemble of Chicago for that matter. Nice droning rhythm shifts and drive, not that different than what a good portion of the krautscapaders were up to around the same time, and who knows but perhaps the sainted Velvet Underground themselves would have come up with something like this had John Cale not been given the heave-ho during that fateful day in 1968. (But I doubt it.) Added bonus points if you have the original 2-LP set on Chatham Square. Even more if you bought your copy directly from New Music Distribution Service way back in 1975 before the Glass name became synonymous with dead-eyed beret wearing artistes roaming the lofts of New York in search of a piece of artwork they can relate to and a stale dorito for nourishment.

Les Rallizes Denudes-LIVE & STUDIO 1975-1978, Up-Tight-LIVE 2003, SWEET SISTER 1994-2003 CD-R's

Three shining examples of Japanese underground rock courtesy some enterprising soul who was out and about releasing these and many other slim-case platters a good decade or so back. Though these are probably now available in "legit" form it's sure nice having these platters in my collection not only because I got to hear 'em a good decade or so before anyone else, but I sure as shootin' ain't gonna pay to listen to this stuff again even if it's available on "real" Cee-Dees complete with informative liner notes and recently discovered snaps to boot.

The Raillizes one's pretty hotcha capturing the group at perhaps their peak of perfection, romping through the old chestnuts in between delivering on some great improvisation just laden in guitar feedback. Sound quality is OK, though with a recording like this I kinda wonder if you really need ears. After all, the vibrations would be enough to kill even a Helen Keller with their arrhythmic atonality that (thankfully) never did show any mercy in a world that's just brimming full of it to the point of nausea.

Up-Tight are more or less a Les Rallizes Denudes Jr., or "acolytes" as some prefer to call them. This by now decade old live collection goes to show that if any group should have laid claim to continuing in the fine tradition of the Rallizes guys its these young(er) upstarts, even if their later recordings were quite pale compared with the drone-blare they created during their first ten or so years of existence. They have it all down pat from the feedback guitar lines to the slow, dirge-like ballads that come so close to the Rallizes original that I kinda wonder why Rallizes leader Mizutani didn't sue!

Anyhoo, the LIVE 2003 collection's packed with a stellar selection of various live trackage from '03 recorded across the Aoki/Ogata/Shirahata area (which I guess in Japan is akin to the Mercer/Lawrence/Crawford County axis) in excellent sound featuring old standbys and tuneage I've forgotten about, all topped off with a version of "Sweet Sister" (approximately the band's traditional closer in the same manner that Rallizes ended their shows with "The Last One")  which I sometimes wonder was performed to help clear the concert halls of an audience the same way vaudeville shows would round out their bills with some doof playing a musical saw after the big draw did their thing!

Their SWEET SISTER disque also shines brightly with some even wilder live numbers that must have cooked more than a few amplifiers before ending with the title track, a version which is even more feral than the take one can hear on the legendary NIGHT GALLERY set. According to the insert, this 'un is "dedicated to Duck & Sally, Miss Rayon and Cecil"...somehow I am not surprised. Definitely one of the better groups to have come out of the post-Rallizes Japanese underground even though I still find their later releases to be lacking in the warmth and soul that only a group devoted to heavy duty distortion and a lack of sweetness and light can have.

Guru Guru-LIVE 1972/Uli Trepte-CONNY PLANK'S SESSIONS 1974 CD (Spalax France)

Yeah, I know that these Guru Guru live sets can start runnin' into each other and sounding the same once you get to listenin' to a whole buncha 'em at once, but I still think these two extended live tracks (originally issued on the United Dairies label) are total pounders that really come off as much of a late-sixties punk rock extravaganza the same way that Can and even Amon Duul I circa PARDIESWARTS DUUL do. Kinda sounds like the only local group in a hundred mile radius who listened to the Stooges and had a guitarist who fancied himself the white Jimi Hendrix (hah!). The solo Trepte demos from a good two years later are hardly as experimental, or entertaining, as the Guru tracks which I guess is why the compilers stuck 'em at the end of the platter.

The Moonlighters-DREAMLAND (c/o the Moonlighters, 51 MacDougall St., Suite #116, New York, New York 10012)

With a cover like that you'd probably think the Moonlighters were one of those oochy woochy alternative bands who've been cutesying up the music scene for a longer time than anyone can usual, you couldn't be further from the truth. Although the Moonlighters were a mixed-sex young'n upcoming fashionable looking act that frequently played such amerindie-friendly places as the CBGB 313 Gallery, they were not an act of the light pop/"twee" variety but a ukelele/steel guitar bunch that incorporated a whole lotta classioid Tin Can Alley numbers in their repertoire  Not to mention their originals that really did ape the classic style I might add. The strangest thing about 'em is that in their ranks was none other than Henry Bogdan, a chap whose previous claim to fame was as a member of Prong, a group that in many ways could not be further from the aesthetics and practices of the Moonlighters! Their pleasant, Hawaiian-styled music really does help ease you outta the jangled nerves and into beddy bye time, and the only thing that I don't like about it is that the sound's too clear! That flat, 78 rpm quality really woulda lent this 'un some class you just can't find on disque anymore, and if there's any way you can do some eq-ing to get rid of the highs and lows (plus add some crackles and hiss) you really got yourself some kinda rekkid here!!!

The Velvet Underground-LIVE AT MAX'S KANSAS CITY 2-CD set (Atlantic/Rhino)

An old favorite here that sounds a whole lot better once the gloss and slick technowhiz has been slopped on giving it a more than "official bootleg" sound. The additional numbers help to more than pad the thing out; I especially liked the extended take of "Some Kinda Love" that got into some nice in-and-out weaving improv stuff you just didn't associate with the group during their final days. Often ignored, frequently dismissed, but as fine a live document as all of those bootleg tracks of yore that are gonna get the red carpet treatment one of these days.

The Troggs-PREHISTORIC SOUNDS CD (Tendolar bootleg, country of origin unknown)

What the world needs is a good Troggs bootleg, and since this is the only Troggs bootleg I know of why should anyone complain. The early BBC sessions (taken from some Troggs radio special complete with a Reg Presley interview) for once don't sound like distant waves from Belgium and it's always great hearin' things like "Wild Thing" performed with an acoustic guitar, not to mention a "Love Is All Around" with a different if annoying chord progression. It's also a kick giving a listen to Presley wrap his vocal cords around "Little Green Apples" which kinda makes me wonder if he was aping his namesake during the Vegas years perhaps a little too much! The rare b-sides are mostly throwaways which I guess is why they never did get the legit reissue treatment, but don't let that discourage you because closing out the platter are some pretty hot live at Max's tracks that come off particularly power-packed even  with some of the technical goof ups. As far as bootlegs go this is a topper, but what potentially great Troggs boot would've been complete without some of their commercial material stuck on! I haven't had the opportunity to give a listen to their take on the Miller's High Life theme and hey, I've been waiting three whole decades to hear Presley croon the infamous words "When it's time to relax..."

Ton Steine Scherben-WARUM GEHT ES MIR SO DRECKIG? CD (David Volksmund Produktion, Germany)

First and best of these krautsters' long line of agitprop proto punk platters that might have seemed rather hippoid over there in Bratwurstland but sound rather refreshing these ways. True, parts do sound rather 1970 commercial rock as in AM Top Forty pop funk bell bottoms and headbands, but the overall effect is kinda like Kama Sutra/Richard Robinson-produced Flamin' Groovies/Hackamore Brick album that went straight from the "new releases" section to the 99-cent bin. And if the axis won World War II you can bet this (along with the Zuno Keisatsu album reviewed last week) would be proudly displayed in the cutout stack at your local bund!

BEFORE I GO, I was wondering if any of you readers have been following the BBC Jimmy Savile underage gal (and boy) sex scandal that's been plaguing the long-running British network for the past few months or so? Nothing there that would really be of interest to the regular BLOG TO COMM reader true, but considering that now longtime BBC disc jockey John Peel's corpse has been dragged into the fray maybe some of you will now feign interest. Perhaps you've read about the revelations of his romance and knocking up of a fourteen-year-old (OK, maybe she was fifteen!) child suddenly coming to light, which just goes to show you how sick in the head some of our "heroes" could be! I guess that's one reason I always say that you should "SEPARATE THE MUSIC FROM THE RECORDING ARTIST!", or in this case separate the public entertainment figure from his private persona and personal "tastes" which you might have agreed upon at some time in your life even if the guy was as sick and as wanton as one could imagine. Well, another thing I will say before shutting my trap for the next few days is that the term "John Peel Session" will certainly have a new and extremely different meaning from now on, and if you have any equally witty one-liners regarding the current controversy please do send them in!

*not my exact prediction but close enough, sunshine!