Wednesday, May 29, 2013

BOOK REVIEW! PINK FLOYD; LEARNING TO FLY by Chris Welch (Castle Communications, 1994)

I dunno if you're in the market for a good history of Pink Floyd, but if you are this book just might fill the bill. But in all honesty it won't because PINK FLOYD; LEARNING TO FLY just ain't as jambus packtus with the newspaper clippings and tons of  ephemera as a book such as this should be. And besides, the entire fanabla reads as if stodgy prog rock promoting old turd author Chris Welch wrote it after gathering together all of his ancient MELODY MAKER Floyd articles before pasting them together chronologically end to end with little bridges and explanations added in order to keep the entire shebang from falling apart. THAT hack-y, ifyaknowaddamean. But if you have nothing else on hand and you want to read a book about Pink Floyd I guess it'll do.

And it certainly will do if you're looking for a light history of one of pop's most pungent progeny that doesn't probe too deep into the core of the being and just presents everything in a nice, easy to gulp fashion for the "Classic Rock" fan who doesn't want to be bothered by things like beneath the veneer meaning and intensity. And it has a whole lotta color photos too that you can tear outta the book and paste on your wall, just like you usedta do when you wuz a kid!

Yeah we all know what a douche Welch has been and shall remain until he hits that eternal deadline in the sky. As any MELODY MAKER reader could tell you, Welch was one scribe who was eternally stuck in a progressive rock mode throughout his entire career and his writings and opines have been a major embarrassment compared to his British Weekly compats from Alan Jones to Nick Kent/Charles Shaar Murray/Mick Farren and the rest of the NME brood. Not forgetting Jonh Ingham and Giovanni Dadomo and...well, I shant go on but you get the message. Total stuck up classic rock mudstick stodginess, written for the pasty face who still holds his copy of TARKUS close to ever-puffy nipple.

It's clear even from the text in this particular tome that Welch never had a taste for the rawer aspects of music (otherwise known as "rock & roll") and continues to harbor a grudge against not only pub and punk rock but the people who had encouraged it in the first place. Fine, that's his phobia, but when Welch's preconceived notions seep too deep into this history of the Floyd, a band that you kinda get the feeling Welch only loved after their climb into the realm of superstardom via DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, the book tells us way more about Welch than it does Floyd. And although that might be more'n OK if it's any of the above-mentioned English gonzoids or some choice US under-the counterculture scribe's doing the self-adulatory schtick, but Welch? Sheesh, the resultant spew is kinda like being told about rock music by your spinster Sunday School teacher.

At least Welch delivers on the early days of the group without too much pious pontificating. He captures, even in his own stodgy fashion, just what it was that made the original Pink Floyd such an enticing group that was talked about in hallowed tones long after leader Syd Barrett was unceremoniously jettisoned from their ranks thus setting the group's controls on a quite different trajectory than originally envisioned. But still you get the feeling that there's much about Floyd he doesn't cozy up to...classic albums like A SAUCERFULL OF SECRETS and MORE seem to be brushed away if mentioned at all, while even UMMAGUMMA, a set which one arguably could call one of the major watermarks of Pink Floyd's career, is rushed through as if only a footnote with nada being mentioned of the second disc where each of the band's members perform their out-there avant garde compositions! I know that for a good number of people Floyd petered out after Barrett left only to renew themselves after MOON hit, but you kinda get the impression that Welch thought this entire period was not worthy of much if any mention and that more precious space could be spent on Floyd during their seventies/eighties megastardom period which at least would give Castle Communications more opportunities to show off those bitchin' color live photos.

Ya get what ya pays for (at least sometimes), and I kinda get the idea that having Welch tackling the subject of Pink Floyd is definitely an entirely different hoo hah than say, the long-awaited Mick Farren book on Hawkwind which has yet to see the light of day and promises to top this churn out on all levels. LEARNING TO FLY's for the one-dimensional "rock" fan, written up by one of the more one-dimensional rock critics to ever get as far as he did if only because he managed to tap into the massive dud/classic rock audience out there and did mighty well doing so. Try to seek out the other Floyd books that were hitting the shopping mall book racks in the eighties before traipsing upon this, though if by chance you do come across this 'un be sure to read it with plenty of caution, and maybe a reminder that yeah, most of the people who claim an undying adherence to "rock music" are nothing but closet stereo freak hi-fi nuts who are the 197X equivalent of Dennis the Menace's father in sideburns and fancy hippie jeans. Only Dennis' dad had better taste in music, dontcha think?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Just gettin' off the bladder infection (urine's now a nice and bold gold color and smells its old unwashed school lavvy self) but managed to crank out a few reviews anyway here in the oddly cold last days of May. Yeah, can you people here in the Western Pee-YAY area believe this cold spell we're having which sure doesn't fit in with the barbeque and grill mindset usually associated with the Memorial Day weekend. Well, I hear it's gonna get warmer this upcoming week and in fact nice 'n toasty for that matter, but as for now it's still kinda chilly, like the weather you get around Easter with that glowing hope in your guts that SUMMER VACATION IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER even though it was always a good eight weeks off. And my mother used to tell me not to wish my life away like that...sheesh, with the kinda life I was leadin' back when I was eight wishin' it away was the best thing I could do in order to overcome all of the degradation and humiliation I was gettin' from all quarters!

Onto one more thing before we get into the reviews you've all been waiting for, and that is this article which had me laughing like nothing since SPUNKY AND TADPOLE (or was it BUNKY AND JAKE???) and only goes to show you that author Jim Goad is the new Ambrose Bierce if in fact this piece of his is indeed the new DEVIL'S DICTIONARY. Have a good laugh while learn something in the process, just like you used to do with both Lenny Bruce and HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHILDREN!
Frank Lowe-THE LOWESKI CD (ESP-Disk'), the Revolutionary Ensemble-THE PSYCHE CD (Mutable Music)

A coupla wonders recorded back during the days when this free jazz wielded a strange, almost hypno-doodle spell over loads of suburban pimplefarm types who only started listening to it because snooty rock types would drop free jazz names all over the place and sheesh, I'm sure even Big Ethel would want to be in the hot and bothered circle too now, wouldn't she? The Lowe release is a big surprise being made up of nothing but outtakes from the infamous BLACK BEINGS recordings...nothing that tops what already has shown up on that infamous album that Rudolph Grey said only a few people should ever be privy of hearing but a nice addendum anyway. Loads of free play complete with Lowe's high-squeal tenor competing against Joseph Jarman's alto as the group goes off for places unknown before ramming into aural brick walls taking us all with 'em. Biggest surprise of the set is a violin solo by "The Wizard" who begins strumming his instrument as if he were a mandolin-wielding Italian in dire need of Brioschi...that's before he's bowing the thing to the point where you think he's gonna cut right through it just like Morticia did on THE ADDAMS FAMILY. They really shoulda just reissued BLACK BEINGS and this together, but then again who said that the record companies, both big and little, cared about the hard-on-cash crowd like ourselves? They only care about milking as much moolah outta us squirts and the only mewling they do about our situations they leave to their folk singers!

THE PSYCHE was the only album to come out on the Revolutionary Ensemble's own "RE:Records" label...this was in 1975 right before the trio of Leroy Jenkins, Sirone and Jerome Cooper were signed to A&M/Horizon and suddenly bestowed a whole lotta major label money as well as record shop space. And like with the rest of the Ensemble's small label output there's that special "urgency" apparent that suits the music just swell. Leroy Jenkins is at his usual tops on violin sounding oh-so kultured one moment then guttural the next, while Sirone shows why he was one of the top bassists on the new free scene ever since the sixties. And Cooper not only handles the percussion with that weird detached multiethnic style that makes you wonder where exactly he is copping his motif (and that's from all over, you moron!), but he even dabbles on the piano sounding like the best imitation of Cecil Taylor that I've heard since "Loose Lip Sync Ship." Good 'nuff that I'm not more'n curious to know whether or not any of the other RE albums other'n the ESP 'un 'n this have been reissued on disque...MANHATTAN CYCLES on India Navigation is one album just ripe for a relistening to here thirtysome years after the fact!
John Cale and Friends-LIVE AT THE OCEAN CLUB IN NEW YORK, JULY 23, 1976 LP (B 13, Russia)

Sure the tape of this infamous "all star" gig (Lou Reed, Patti Smith, David Byrne...) recorded live at Mickey Ruskin's post-Max's beer garden's been circulating for quite some time, but it's the first time I've dared lay ears on it even though the opportunity had arisen many times in the past. Not that I was missing that much, but it's still a hot enough encapsulation of mid/late-seventies New York underground aesthetic. The performance comes off more like a hootenanny 'n an actual group (lotsa acoustic guitars and NO DRUMS!) and the results for the most part are highly reminiscent of the early Fugs, the earlier Velvets themselves (during the Falling Spikes era) and that other Reed/Cale gathering with Nico at the Bataclan just a good four years earlier. So intimate that it sounds like you've been invited to a special party to which only the creme de la hip were invited. Patti Smith does some vocal duetting that'll please you about as much in the here and now as it would've back in 1976, and if you were one to read about it in ROCK SCENE and sure wished to heck you could be there well here's the next best thing so don't complain!
Chrome-LIVE AT ON BROADWAY 1981 CD-R burn (available on Helios Creed's website I believe)

Here's a disque sent me by none other'n PD Fadensonnen for who knows what reason or other (I mean, has St. Swithin's Day crept up on us again?) consisting of what is supposed to have been the actual first live appearance of none other than Chrome! Yes, that very same group which bombarded the rock fanzine world with wall-to-wall ads for their albums thus creating a big hubbub if only out of curiosity... Of course things like a feature in CLE #3-A as well as Stephen Braitman's review of HALF MACHINE LIP MOVES in the last issue of BOMP! helped, at least to the point where a few more of their records might've been chucked into the local landfill had the message not gotten out.

Surprisingly enough Chrome live sound different than Chrome on record. Still sharp with electronic blare, but a bit bass-heavy and not quite as nightmarish as those early recordings. Well, they were changing and the live act still utilized the krauty cum Stooges ideals of those olden platters, so if you're looking for a new oldie to liven up your rather dread existence you do know where to go now, don't you?
PARSON SOUND 2-CD-r set (sent by Robert Forward)

Forward's sending of the by-now embedded Parson Sound set at least got me into playin' it once every three years 'stead of once every four, and as I suspected Parson Sound remains a good example of  rock 'n roll at the cusp between being intelligent and chance-taking music that was to be treated seriously and rock 'n roll that's maddening enough to even drive those phony intellectuals who said they liked it all along out of the room. Good use of drone-theorem helps heighten the avant garde experience while the overall rock as art approach is out there enough to draw clear comparisons to not only Hapsash and the Coloured Coat but the Amon Duuls of both I and II variety. Kinda like krautrock '68-'71 in general, only with that devil-may-care Scandanavian attitude 'stead of the maddening German bloodthirst of Amon Duul II and Can. Just one of many late-sixties trailblazing, no-holds-barred kinda groups I hope we'll be hearing more from via archival digs in a few months let alone years.
Various Artists-BAMBOO SPACEWALK, close-outs from the Virtual Thrift Store CD-r burn (sent by Bill Shute)

Only had the opportunity to listen to one Bill burn this week, and this one's a fairly good selection starting off with some early-sixties instrumental rarities. The cheeziness goes on in a nice fashion until Bill suddenly goes country on us and this starts sounding like a deep south radio playlist circa 1955. (At least two versions of a toon called "Salt Your Pillow Down" played back to back was enough to pry me away from ARCHIE.) Things then return from the land o' cotton with some more prime Amerigan cheeze...this time Pittsburgh's own Terry Lee talking sap-like over "Sleepwalk" and a couple of weirdies callin' 'emselves the Weird Beard and the Crazy Cajun doin' their version of "The Night Before Christmas." The disque closes out on a rockabilly tone that I can sure enjoy, including an early cover version of Gene Vincent's famed "Woman Love" where singer Jimmy Johnson clearly sings "huggin'" 'stead of the word everybody thought Gene uttered which only goes to show you one thing, and that is that Jimmy Johnson is a GOOD BOY!
CELLULAR CHAOS CD-r burn (courtesy Weasel Walter)

Dunno exactly who what or why I got this, but I do know when, and that was a few days ago when Weasel Walter sent me a package with this just happening to be in it. Actually this is surprisingly smart hard-noise rock that seems influenced by Jack Ruby among others, with an "Admiral Grey," "Ceci Moss" and "Mark Edwards " (only name I know outta the batch, I think) joining Weasel Walter on vocals, bass guitar and drums respectively. Sound quality is typical cassette inna corner and the performance is what they used to call "punk rock" sometime in the '76/'77 cusp before the moneygrubbers got their mitts on it, and it all ends in a version of "Remake/Remodel" that probably made Rocket From The Tombs' version sound like  Mister Ed. Hmmmm, a surprisingly interesting recording from the here and now...will wonders ever cease?
Mose Allison - I Love the Life I Live Mose Allison-I LOVE THE LIFE I LIVE LP (Vinilissimo, Holland)

Gotta say that I was especially nonplussed by Allison's performance on an old episode of SOUNDSTAGE back '78 way, but Nick Kent's mention of former heartthrob Chrissie Hynde's NME article did something to me, and it wasn't make me churn up big bucks so's I could read the thing on ROCK'S BACK PAGES either! Hot '60 sesh here from one of the better white guys roughing it out on black turf. Allison's rather whiteguy kultured vocals come off ubercool in a way that would make you think this was the stuff Maynard G. Krebs'd been listening to 'stead of the Kingston Trio, while the playing is surprisingly jazzy w/o making overtures to the less-than-bopster around. Makes me wanna hear more (even some less 'n enthralling seventies sides)...any suggestions out there (regarding which platters to pick, not as to how far I can force my head up my nether regions!) would be appreciated.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Boy was I sick this week! I'm talking sicker'n shit sick too, and not just a mere case of the sniffles that plenty of hot lemonade would cure either! REALLY LOW!!! sick. And after the way I've been feeling these past few days I in fact wouldn't mind a good old fashioned mild malady kiddie day off from school sorta sick, the kind that had me watching movies like VISIT TO A SMALL PLANET and long defunct game shows as well as PBS instructional programming! Got a bladder infection, dunno how that happened since it mostly affects women and octogenarian guys (what's next, hot flashes and gout?) but it sure wiped me out liked you couldn't believe! Almost as bad as a typical winter flu complete with the nausea (though as far as my puking went only some bubbly phlegm 'n Cranberry Juice remnants dared major huge hunks of last night's dinner to be found mainly because I couldn't handle anything on my guts nohow!), and if you can believe it I was so out of time that I didn't even go on this computer thing for an entire day that's how zapped I was. Not only that but my pee looked like Cherry 7-Up with cloudy stuff floatin' about in it and the stuff smelled worse'n Aunt Mabel's last gynecological sample so you know how bad off I was. OK, you can all stop laughing!

But fortunately I am the kinda guy who can take a bad situation and make funzies outta it, just like alla those kids in Cambodia who saw alla those skulls and femurs lyin' 'round and thought they'd make swell drums 'n drumsticks. Just a few days before my unchained malady I dragged a few boxes of old paperbacks out from the basement to eyeball (on an economy kick, y 'know), and among the reams of PEANUTS books dating back to my kiddiehood and Archie Publication "Double Digests" I came across what else but multiple copies of the early Ballantine-era MAD collections that had really scrambled my brains during the early years of my once-unbridled comic book obsession ca. age 12.

Now I know that in the here and now the early MAD credo is pretty much ancient hoo-hah, but when I was a kiddoid the Ballantine-era MAD books (the ones featuring material from the title's early comic book days as well as Harvey Kurtzman-helmed magazine material) were pretty much heavily desired at least in my brain. At that time the only available books featuring any of these early treasures were Signet's THE MAD READER and SON OF MAD, fantastic collections in themselves but only enough to leave one hungerin' for more of these fifties-vintage goodies. So when the opportunity would arise, such as a chance spotting of one of those late-sixties Ballantine editions with the awful Peter Max ripoff covers that a local news agency my mother didn't want me going into because they sold durty magazines (I swear she was thinkin' about making me wear horseblinders the way she'd tell me to "look straight ahead, don't look at any of the magazine covers, go straight to the place where they sell the book, pick it up and take it immediately to the checkout!") you can bet that I'd be snatching it up faster'n you can say potrzebie!

You could guess that I was happier'n a diabetic locked in a candy store when Ballantine eventually reissued their MAD line in '72-'73, and with the original covers that looked so boffo next to the "updating" Ballantine had used for their most recent excursion. I remember buying MAD STRIKES BACK at the National Record Mart at the Eastwood Mall with an honest to fanabla guy in with long hair and a beard checking me out and boy did I feel all grown upsy! I even took up Ballantine's offer on the last page of the book and ordered the other available MAD paperback THE MAD READER via mail...sending my sixty cents in coin which is probably the reason why I'm still waiting for my order to come in forty years later. I eventually picked that and the rest of the Ballantine books up as soon as they hit the stands (for some reason memories of me reading UTTERLY MAD while taking a dump on Christmas morn 1973 are firmly etched in my mind) and if you don't think these books were some of the highlights of my seventies existence then brother you don't know what obsession is!

In fact the early MAD era along with the entire EC mystique became one big reason to keep on chugging during those days of pimplefarm angst. And with a little luck and plenty of lawn mower money, not only did I eventually own all of those Ballantine books (and even some of the horror and sci-fi ones that Ballantine issued in the sixties) but I'd pick up extra ones here and there at flea markets or (years after) in ebay bulk auctions. I even snatched up a whole bunch of the 2002 fiftieth anniversary facsimiles that I-Books published at this remaindered book store in Greensburg PA because I thought they'd be cool to give to friends. (But since I have no friends and they look cool enough I thought it best to keep 'em-----hee!). And, after prowling through the boxes of books I've accumulated over the past few decades I discovered I possessed some down-to-earth rarities, like an edition of MAD STRIKES BACK with a blue cover not forgetting an original printing of THE MAD READER with "What's My Shine," Kurtzman's satire on the Army/McCarthy hearings that people remember so fondly because well, they are such good progressives and all and need to remind themselves why once in a while....

Speaking of THE MAD READER, I gotta mention that, besides this book being the first time comic book material had ever been gathered in paperback form and Alfred E. Neuman was used as a highly visible image on MAD product, this is one of my fave of the batch. That's only because there are two of those keenly-delineated Will Elder spoofs in it, the first being the high-larious "Starchie" and the second "Gasoline Valley," drawn in a fine twenties-thin line style that evokes a whole lotta old-timey comic strip luvvin' as much as the real deal. The rest of it is snat (and substituting "The Face Upon the Floor" for "Shine" probably a better choice overall) and if you don't think that possessing this book is one of the prouder moments of my life don't know what a cloistered life I lead!

Biddy with a first aid kit I'm sure
readers wouldn't mind taking on their
next camping trip.
"Starchie" of course remains a fantastico spoof of the long-running comic characters with the usual Kurtzman milking and exaggerating of the obvious, not forgetting the inclusion of a few things that were just "too much" for the pre-pubesprout who were reading it all totally unaware of the sexual sneak-ins and blatant gags being used. Take the panel where Biddy is flying out at Starchie with what looks to be a warm loving embrace and you see a bottle of pills, a hypo and marijuana flying out of her purse...when I first laid eyes upon this saga I had no idea what the gag was and asked my sister, who said something about that purse being a FIRST AID KIT and that the "boo" flying outta it was actually smelling salts! Well I guess a kid as 'tardoid as myself would believe just about anything back then as long as it was told to me in a straightforward, non-mocking tone! Of course the scene where Starchie and Bottleneck strip Wedgie naked and march him into their car seemed kinda dirty to me as did a whole lotta the full read nudity that could be found in the early MADs, but thinkin' back when I was ten years old one rear end was just as evil as another and it didn't matter if it was Raquel Welch's or Dennis the Menace's or the girl in the Coppertone ad for that matter. As long as the gluteus was being shown it was just as bad as a PLAYBOY centerfold 'n only little infants on bear skin rugs could get away with it because they were too stoopid to know!

The rest of the book is snat as well even if "Superduperman" (the story that clinched it for MAD and got DC threatening legal rumblings) ain't as har-har as I supposed 1953 audiences thought it was and "Dragged Net" bore little resemblance to the late-sixties series that played the syndication circuit for a good twentysome years after. It's still a boffo collection which ends with one of the two "Lone Stranger" stories featuring Jack Davis at his earliest but thankfully not slap-dashiest.

Spiffy followup that MAD STRIKES BACK was, even if it had its share of near-misses and outright flounders that didn't make it intact into the sixties let alone now. The PRINCE VALIANT sendup was just as trite as the strip it was spoofing, and maybe if CAPTAIN VIDEO had gotten around after Dumont went under we'd be able to appreciate "Captain Tvideo" and the references to cheap props a whole lot more. And since I always thought that POGO was a tiresome and unfunny comic strip to begin with "Gopo Gossum" doesn't do anything for me. However there are bright spots like the KING KONG spoof ("Ping Pong") as well as two comic strip sendups, the first being the shoulda-been-infamous by now "Poopeye" and the second being "Manduck the Magician" 'n both of 'em really deliver on those fantastico adolescent satire pangs that I was craving at the time! Of course I gotta admit that  these just weren't as funny as NATIONAL LAMPOON getting all scatological and bad taste like they were in the seventies, though you could tell that the 'pooners got their ideas from these old MADs to begin with and so $#^@& what!

INSIDE MAD holds a lotta youthful nostalgic memories for me...y'see, when I spotted a copy of the book after having a hard time tracking any of these Ballantines down I wasn't allowed to read it! Well, I wasn't allowed to read it until the weekends because my grades were getting sooooo bad and I didn't want to be classified as having the IQ of a twenty-week embryo thus making me prime meat for a retroactive abortion. So I waited patiently throughout the entire week doing my homework and acting like the nice li'l blootch I was supposed to be until....voh-luh! it was Friday after school and, after changing into my old duds, I got the book and read the entire thing cover to cover with nobody but Sam to pester me thinking that this was the funniest item to pass mine eyes since HITLERJUNGE QUEX. Sheesh, I can still remember lounging on the couch wearing those ever-tightening courderoys holding that book (which I of course still have!) sideways (the way these were meant to be read!) while Sam would be sniffing and slobbering on me and I'd give him a good punch in the nose so's he'd go away. And you're probably waxing romantic about your first gang bang in a telephone booth 'r sum'thin!

But with the line up that INSIDE MAD presents (not forgetting the "backwards" from Stan Freberg) it's hard to see this book failing on any fronts. "Mickey Rodent" and "The Katchandhammer Kids" show Elder at the apex of his mimicking career, while even Davis' "Mark Trade" is a keen rip at the long-running nature strip MARK TRAIL even if it is done more in the style of Davis than it is Ed Dodd. But then again the SMILIN' JACK  burlesque  SMILIN' MELVIN also rates hefty hosannas even if this was drawn by Wallace Wood before he eventually became the chief comic strip imitator in MAD's pages. Other highlights include "Shemlock Shomes" (a goodie though not as good as "The Hound of the Basketballs") and all of those Bill Elder ad spoofs that look like the same things he would end up doing for HUMBUG a few years later. Low point of the book is "Bat Boy and Rubin" which just wasn't funny probably because it just had nothing in common with the rill dill!

Gotta say that UTTERLY MAD is prob'ly the least fave of the Ballantine MAD books, and the lack of Elder comic spoofs is clearly the reason why. Still it holds up at least for Christmas morn doody reading with such entries as John Severin's "Melvin of the Apes" and "Book! Movie!" which I thought was another rather off color entry to appear in a comic book even with all of the "good taste" censorship stamps all over the thing. In fact there seemed to be an outpouring of bad taste in this 'un especially in the "Frank N. Stein" spoof where a number of bare rears are clearly visible. John Severin's rendition of "Robin Hood" stunk, but at least one of those funny Phil Interlandi "Scenes We'd Like to See" cartoons from the magazine era was slipped in the back saving this from being a total wreck!

THE BROTHERS MAD was the final Ballantine paperback before Signet took 'em over, and the fact that it first came out in 1958 is kinda stymieing considering just how different the mag was from the material they were reprinting by that time. And sheesh, Ballantine was even keeping the old MAD logo on their covers for who knows what reason other than to signify that the stories in this book are of the "original" comic book/magazine done up back when it was under different management and what you're getting in these books differs from the stuff popping up at the news stand these days! Either that or Ballantine never got the memo, but it sure makes for an interesting theory considering the comic book vs. satire mag aspect of MAD, or even the whole Kurtzman vs. Feldstein controversy that I hear rages on between those who think MAD petered out when Kurtzman left, or stayed alive at least until '65, or just totally lost it when they decided to go for the gross out booger crowd sometime in the nineties.

But as far as going out on a good note THE BROTHERS MAD went out good on an entire symphony, not only with more classic comic book-era faves but even some early mag spoofage that certainly was scarce in them other editions. There's another "Scene's We'd Like to See" here, not to mention some top-notch early faves as "Woman Wonder," "Black and Blue Hawks" (which must have been so popular that the characters made a cameo appearance in Jack Davis' FLASH GORDON spoof via the pages of HUMBUG!) and even another "Melvin of the Apes"  and "Shemlock Shomes" (the aforementioned "Hound of the Basketballs") which only goes to show you that if you get an idea that pays off, milk it for all its worth! Most of it is good, if not pleasantly dated, the Dave Garroway and Shadow spoofs being among 'em. For me it's Elder's comic strip sendups, this time a FEARLESS FOSDICK "Crazyroot Cream Oil" ad and some early magazine entries that make this a total keeper, and just glancin' at the cover of this 'un immediately brings back memories of being a kid let loose in the local department store comin' across the wide array of comic-related booty in the book department just starin' at the covers with an awe-inspiring abandon. I guess that's what they had kids do before they invented ritalin.

And so there you have it, the early days of MAD set down in nifty pocketbook form that seem just as much a part of Baby Boomer growing up suburban slob living as fast foods and afternoon doses of ROCKY AND HIS FRIENDS. And y'know, sometimes when I'm driving about and I come across some really sleek looking 1950s ranch house somewhere, maybe one with a swimming pool with diving board and slide inna back,  I kinda envision what the family who lived there back '62 way might have been doing on some hotcha summer day back when kid-dom just hadda've been at its all time high. I always get this strong feeling that their kids were probably big on MAD and comic books and tee-vee and those things I never did get a complete diet of back when I was a kid which only makes me long for it even more in the here and now! Sometimes I think that maybe one of those kids is still living in that hotcha house and yeah, he's got his MADs all tucked away to be pulled out on rare occasion when the urge for past pleasures become too hard to hand in the cold cyborg days of the "teens."  And boy would I just love to drive up that drive 'n knock on the door and introduce myself, but who know's...the guy's probably at work or something and even if he's home he's probably reading those very same MAD paperbacks he's been cherishing for a half century and really, I don't wanna intrude on his free time.

So readers, if you want to read the roots of it all, from sarcastic stand up comics to stand up comics posing as social reformers to kiddie level fart and booger humor being presented to kiddies to the "Powers That Be" acting as the "Rage Against The Machine" look no further than these books..................................excuse me, I think I'm gonna go outside and burn 'em all right now!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

MX-80 (Sound) always were a hard to wrap yer finger around group. If you wanted to call 'em punk rock you could only if you were using your CREEM 1971 modus opporandi firmly in place especially when buffered with a few readings of Lester Bangs' Count Five article and maybe even a subscription to TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE on hand. Heavy metal also seemed as apt enough a term if you really wanted to peg where their oeuvre was coming from, but then again only if you  used a 1972 CREEM application of the term with hefty Mike Saunders influx attached. They certainly could not be called "new wave" even if their platters "seemed" to be aimed towards that particular demographics that were buying up Patti Smith and Talking Heads albums in 1978 and who knows what dross five years fact MX-80 singer Rich Stim even mentioned that his group was not new wave during a q&a sesh with some college radio host during a particularly potent live FM gig I have on tape somewhere, kinda shocking the radio host in the process! If anything, MX-80 (Sound) were, are and will remain for who knows how long "underground" rock at its best, performing a music that could best be described as feeding off a whole slew of influences thus creating a new style that, while confusing and confounding the listener at first, would eventually be thought of as the "real" fusion where the best moments of everything from sixties whiz to seventies experimentation  jazz and metallic overtures were crammed together pointing the way to a musical future we all thought was just around the corner. But naturally we were all wrong as 1982 eventually pointed out and things looked worse'n they did 'n even 1973.

The spate of MX-80 and related cassette tapes that were coming out during the mid-eighties were definitely the closest thing any of us'd get to manna during that age when the mid-seventies roar had been reduced to a mere whimper. Here it was 1984 and there wasn't anything 'cept hardcore which was petering out, post-new wave amerindie which was rather pallid and various other offshoots of the underground combustication (copyright Julius Sumner Miller) that took place just a few years earlier, and not only that but the groups who had provided such unbridled pangs of high energy approach just a few years earlier were either dead, in hiding or making some of the most abysmal ginchy-goodie sounds one could imagine. MX-80 fell into the middle category supposedly silenced by some legalese prohibiting them from performing (though the story about the rest of the act performing as "the C-Minus Humans" while Rich Stim was attending law school does have some credence considering how the same cassette label that put out the boffo PLAYETTE tape was also promising a C-Minus Humans one), so when a number of releases by MX-80 offshoots O-Type, Half Life and the Gizzards came out via the Quadruped label back '86 way you can sure bet that I was tossin' the confetti with the bright hopes that maybe it was coming back! Or at least coming back again since Greg Shaw said that it came back in '76 but somehow it slipped away and I was anticipating it's proud return, even starting up a crudzine to herald its proud return into the consciousness of many an 18-34-year-old on the search for something beyond Quiet Riot! And if I knew it wasn't comin' back I sure coulda saved a whole lotta money puttin' that monstrosity out!

Those tapes didn't seem to stay in print too long, but thankfully Quadruped has been selling CD-R copies for dolts like you who were too stupid to pick 'em up the first time 'round. And dolts like me who don't have the facilities to turn years of cassette tape into handy CD-R's that hopefully will not succumb to time and moisture. If you ask me Quadruped is doing us a public service reissuing these rarities by both MX-80 and offshoots because frankly, its these platters that really tell us the far-reaching talents that the members of these acts continue to ooze, and if you just can't appreciate the metallic opuses present within these "grooves" then well, you really can't call yourself a BLOG TO COMM fan 'n follower now, could ya?

All kidding aside (after all, I know that your tastes span a wide ocean of styles some of which I never could fathom in a million years but its your ears and you can do what you want with 'em),  if you haven't heard these rarities you really don't know what you're missing. Nor could you call yourself a fan or follower of underground heavy metallic upheavals with a load of fanzine-oriented punkism tossed in for good measure. And if you're a long-honed fan or just wigglin' your toes inna wading pool these reissues are a good place to get some hefty resensification thrust into your precious nervous system.

My fave of the batch just happen to be the various O-Type platters that somehow got lost under the shuffle of not only the various MX-80 releases but the other O-Type disques that got heftier promotion than the tapes ever did. Their debut effort from '86 (titled what else but O-TYPE) is a downright winner with the team of Bruce Anderson and Dale Sophiea (using the aliases Bernard Forth and Werner Held) creating massive post-music sounds that remind me of everything good the seventies produced in the field of music distilled into what I thought the eighties was going to mean for us all. Complex yet totally-engrossing guitar lines merge with repeato-thumping bass guitar which intermingle with everything from pre-recorded tapes of Stravinsky and Alban Berg to ethnic music and (on a particularly down-home-y track) Truman Capote talking about the deep-South country cooking of his youth. (You may recognize the instrumental portion of this track also being used on MX-80's own "Dough Boy Joe"...more on that 'un later.) The "drums" by Niemand are actually artificially generated thus giving this the aura of many an underground drum-box offering that was coming outta alternativeland back then, only O-Type had the deep roots of sixties/seventies accomplishment behind it and thus weren't building their foundation on amerindie sand.

Followup DARLING presents a more focused variation of the group, something that I would have imagined the C-Minus Humans to have sounded like during their 1983 tour of various Amerigan outhouses. Latterday MX-80-ers Jim Hrabetin and Marc "Hoss" Weinstein join Anderson and Sophiea, and none other than longtime underground fixture Henry Kaiser (a guy who I never really appreciated that much other'n on a few items done in conjunction with Anderson!) produced. Something tells me this is what the hubbub I've heard about "post-metal" is all about, and considering how there are faint similarities between DARLING and what I've heard of, say, Isis (the recent band, not the all lez horn act of the seventies) it wouldn't be off base saying that O-Type might have been the honest-to-fanabla beginning of it all.

Anderson's playing is tops and as ferocious as it was on those Ralph albums while the rest of the group really show all of those HIT PARADER Andy Secher sycophants what heavy metal really is about. And for all of the sixties/seventies refurbishing they did even MX-80 was never as out-there as O-Type get on this jaunt which just hasta've been the most atonal slab of sound and shard of metal committed to tape at least before it burst into the all-out noise and cathartic revenge of Voi Vod (who I believe are aficionados of the MX-80 style as some yokel once told me) and various other eighties metallic forcefields. What's even cooler about 'em are Anderson's vocals...if you like the guy's singing on the single-only "White Night" side you'll undoubtedly enjoy his basso moano stylings on "People Got Rights" and the title track. Best of all is his narrative on "Stupido" which better not get around or old ladies with pitchforks are gonna be comin' for him like they did Frankenstein's monster because of him "making fun" of the retarded. (You know, like they did with Mort Walker for including Zero in his BEETLE BAILEY comic strip!)

Fans of the Ralph albums would do well by snatching up HALF-LIFE, a half-hour of instrumental tracks that come closer to the OUT OF THE TUNNEL/CROWD CONTROL brand of MX-80 high energy appeal. Some tracks in fact are re-dos of various Ralph-era monstrosities such as their take of John Carpenter's "Theme From HALLOWE'EN" and Bernard Herrmann's "Theme From SISTERS" (they undoubtedly being more movie-inclined that I) not to mention "Frankie Slash" which is merely "Frankie I'm Sorry" from TUNNEL double-timed. Listening to this 'un jetted me back a good three decades-plus when the original MX-80 albums were appearing in my mailbox (certainly not the local store!) and adding hours of pleasure to my life as well as a nice warm, tingling feeling inside that rock 'n roll was not only a music to be reckoned with but still being produced in the here and now and relevant to my daily life! Shows how deluded a fellow could be, eh?

Along with the original O-TYPE and HALF-LIFE cassettes came the Gizzards' UNICORK, an interesting variation on the standard MX-80 Sound sound I took as being Anderson and Sophiea's (excuse me...Frances Densmore and Lyle E. Riley's) take on the roots rock movement that was making ripples back in the mid-eighties. As far as it goes the pair succeed as much as one would expect, in fact mopping the competition with their heavy metallic take on a music that was comparatively fluffweight by comparison, and although it ain't like the pair were approaching everything from rockabilly to country rock from a pre-hippoid outlook themselves they sure did a snat job capturing the best that the pre-Beatles era hadda offer only with a mid-eighties underground outlook firmly planted up each and every one of their psyches.

Some repeats do pop up on these three disques (there are four but I neglected to buy the latest one) but I guess that's only because the group thought they could improve on 'em. Whether or not they did is open to debate, but whatever these tunes may be the Gizzards did 'em up nice and rather proper-like. Don't miss their cover of Link Wray's signature "Rumble" which is done up just as retro-whack yet homage-throbbed as Smegma's!

For your information, the discs I possess are, besides UNICORK, HUMDINGER and SGT. PEPPERSTEAK (forget the name of the one I don't own)  and all are most certainly worthy of your time 'n effort to pluck up. And that's even if you aren't whatcha'd call a fanabla and follower of rockabilly or white guy blues which is understanding considering some of the turds those genres had pooped out these past few decades. But these are way different...imagine a halfway route between the MC5 and Kama Sutra era Flamin' Groovies and you might get a smidgen of an idea.

Dunno why EXISTENTIAL LOVER never got a proper reish. After all it was the first MX-80 release since CROWD CONTROL and the legal hassles that prevented MX-80 from recording as such. Definitely an item that seventies underground missers like myself were more'n anxious to spill seed over. But here it is as a Cee-Dee-Are and yeah, it reminds me of just how good groups like MX-80 sounded in the company of all of that put-on precociousness that was passing as "alternative" music or "new" music or whatever it was being called in the pages of THE VILLAGE VOICE at the time. Not as noisy as past efforts or the Anderson/Sophiea tapes mentioned above but still crucial. Anderson's guitar remains unchained (the mid-section of "Dollar Bill" where Anderson's playing's the aural equiv. of watching a cat just hit by a car staggering around before making that final plop being just one showcase for his talents) and Rich Stim's singing is as nonchalant as ever. And yes it is heavy metal in the classic CREEM sense so don't let anybody tell you otherwise even if it is a little too innerlektual for most fans of the form (at least after the mid-seventies when heavy metal became a definitely copyrighted term)...I mean, what other metallic opus can you think of that would have been written about Orson Welles anyway?

For more post-Ralph MX-80 LIVE 4/10/92 whatcha'd call a proverbial wowzer. The sound's good but not as crystal clear as those half-mastered hi-fi jobs that were so popular in the late-seventies, while the performance is typical of the studio-recorded booty only with the right live edge to make the difference. Some oldies, a few newies and if I do say so this one is preferable to the "official" live CD ALWAYS LEAVE THEM WANTING LESS which might be easier to obtain and still worth your time and energy. Another one that really should have gotten around a whole lot more than it had, and maybe if more people had read my ravenous review of this back then it would have (haw, don't you feel ashamed???).

And finally for today's discussion's this long-gone effort that's remained op for way too longer'n any of us could have imagined.  SUBTERRANEAN MODERN was a platter that really caught me by the fanablas when it came out back in '79 or '80 and not only because it introduced me to Chrome but because this was also some of the earliest MX-80 I've heard and boy did it make a lasting impression on me! The Residents and Tuxedomoon stuff sounds typical late-seventies experimental and if you like that stuff for me I find it engaging but nothing next to the Chrome/MX-80 pairing on side one with the former using already archaic electronic gear to create one of the most horrific Sci-Fi cum Horror situations since PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (thought I was gonna say ALIEN, hunh?) while MX-80 straddle between the humorous hard rocking of their debut album and OUT OF THE TUNNEL's barbaric metal approach, coming off like the rockism future we were all hoping for once 1980 clocked in only to get nada but new mush wrapped up in disco glitz. Particularly haunting, especially the beyond-intense "Possessed" which is what I think people who were listening to Blue Oyster Cult back inna early eighties thought they were listening to.

Now don't go neglectin' the "official" stuff 'r anything like that, but these rarities are definitely something that any tried and true MX-80 fan deserves to have stacked in their collection alongside all of those other essentials we've been slobbering over for years. And although I just hate to toot my own horn 'n tell you just how right I was all along let me just rub it in a bit and say that back when these recordings were first being unleashed it was more'n obvious that the group's output would stand the test of time and sound fresh and alive long into the future while the competition, from "FM Classic Rock" to "gnu wave," would just flounder about and sound sillier than they ever did as time rolled on.. And as usual, I was right all along, eh? C'mon jerks, gimme some much-needed credit for once!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

BOOK REVIEW! GOODMAN BEAVER by Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder (Kitchen Sink, 1984)

Last week I blabbed on about Harvey Kurtzman's 1959 paperback-only JUNGLE BOOK, so this go 'round why not upchuck this classic collection of early-sixties Kurtzman kraziness via the pages of HELP! I'm talkin' in this case 'bout the short-lived Goodman Beaver series, the very one featuring the same character who rose to the top of the publishing heap with starry-eyed aplomb and evil intent in JUNGLE BOOK's "Organization Man in the Grey Flannel Executive Suite" but a few years earlier! Only now he's been remade-remodeled for the hipster satire crowd that was eating mags like HELP! for breakfast and wiping up with MAD after dinner!

It would seem logical to build a series around this particular character no matter how innocent and nebbish-like he may have been. Mebbe Beaver is too goody good to be a character which any manly BLOG TO COMM reader with hair on his heart and a fire in his chest could comfy up to, but the stories are snat (think classic MAD with a more grown up, dare-I-say adult intent) and the enlarged artwork (most of the time one panel per page) is enough to keep your eyeballs on the lookout for alla that "chicken fat" that Bill Elder used to slip into his art during his days working with Kurtzman on these "new" comic books, as Les Daniels called 'em.

But I like 'em all even if Beaver does come off a little too nebbish for anyone to take in such large doses. Now I like nebbishness when it's done up right, but Kurtzman really knows how to take such a character and make him a reflection for our (OK, those old) times with these classic sagas which pretty much are a continuation of his old MAD and HUMBUG work right down to the rectangular printed word balloons and hoo hah gags. And if you, like me, spent your pre-pubehair days on the lookout for the original MAD reprints just for the pre-underground, snide, snat attitude of the Kurtzman-helmed stories you'll be more'n game for a book like this!

In these '61-'62 comics Beaver (a character who seems afloat in a world he did not make more'n Howard the Duck ever could be!) meets up with a variety of characters of both a tee-vee and comic strip/book variety, falling into adventures with them thus making for a perfect platform for Kurtzman to shoot off his mind regarding a variety of then up-and-comin' situations of both a political or social nature. And yeah these sagas might seem so ancient now, but back then were front and center on any thinking man's brain even more'n the cancellation of LEAVE IT TO BEAVER, and like why should you ignore the past just because it's all in black 'n white anyway?

For an example of the on-target satire and commentary found in this series, just take the debut Goodman Beaver story where  the guy meets up with none other'n Tarzan in a saga dealing with Soviet influence in Africa, where a Russian version of the Ape Man and Jane (Tarshov and Tanya) attempt to win over the chimpanzees from the control of the "decadent" Englishman! In the following story Beaver encounters Lloyd Bridges as Mike Nelson (SEA HUNT) in a saga that passes as a thinly-veiled spoof/homage to Don Quixote jousting at windmills, or at Soviet submarines in this case (as if I'd ever read anything as haughty as Don Quixote in the first place!). Beaver also dallies with a Superman who quits the superhero business because of a fickle, hero-hating public as well as learns first hand about the connection between handguns and "cool" when he joins the police force and must carry his pistol at all times thus becoming an unwitting sex symbol in the process!

One story you won't read here is "Goodman Goes Playboy," which is the one which got Kurtzman and HELP! into a huge stinking mess when it was originally published back '62 way! Y'see, this is the saga where Beaver meets up with the Archie Gang who, after falling under the spell of PLAYBOY magazine, were now into high-fidelity living and hyped up sexual prowess (with Jughead, whom I always assumed was a neuter, actually getting Betty knocked up!), and in typical Kurtzman fashion everything turns into a crazed mess when "Archer" perishes in an insane sex orgy and it is ultimately discovered that it was the Devil himself who took his soul in exchange for his good fortune. The story ends with a line of other cartoon characters queuing up to plunk their names on the dotted line with Beaver himself wondering whether or not it'd be worth the trouble to join up himself!

As anyone'd expect the entire shebang just didn't settle well with the Archie Comics people who after enduring one Archie satire after another from MAD for years finally decided to lower the ol' boom on Kurtzman and HELP! publisher James Warren. Well, one thing led to another and it all ended up with Archie Publications not only owning the original artwork but prohibiting the reprinting of the saga in this collection (other'n a few panels for decorative purposes!), a sore thumb which really upset both Kurtzman and Elder who believed "Goodman Goes Playboy" their finest hour. Really, the folk at Kitchen Sink, who were considering running the saga with the offending and copyrighted Archie characters faces blotted out, were rebuked under threat of losing every penny they had in their coffers and even non-ARCHIE characters from the story were prohibited from being shown on the front cover collage which only goes to show ya just how much Archie Comics meant business! But stories like this do sometimes have a happy ending...strangely enough the Archie people forgot to renew the copyright they had on this rather witty saga and now anyone can publish it if they like, so if there's gonna be another edition of this book (or better yet an entire HELP! collection) you might be able to finally read it without fear of reprisal. (As for me I have the original ish in my collection somewhere so I could care less since that's the kinda bum I am and shall remain!)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Gotta admit that Mother's Day never was one of my fave holidays, and it ain't because I'm not a mother unless you're talkin' in a common seventies sitcom usage of the term. It was just too fruity 'n feminine for me what with alla 'em flowers and cards, and what was worst about it was that there wasn't anything for us kids innit! Same thing goes for Father's Day (well, it wasn't feminine, but it was still too stodgy for me) w/o the flowers but with the cards and of course the obligatory tie. I guess the only reason I paid attention to it at all is because I was guilted into doing so by teachers and the like...y'know, "your mother does all these things for you so maybe you should show your appreciation by buying her a scarf or making her dinner and being extra nice this day..." Well, better to take her out rather'n subject her to any of my cooking and a box of chocolates is better'n a scarf, but what really got my gall about Mother's and Father's day was when I'd ask "why don't they have Kid's Day 'n my mom'd reply "EVERY day is Kid's Day"!!!! Yeah, tell me another one, willya??? Sheesh!

Not much else to blab about this week. Things're rather creepy-crawl 'round here, with loads of work and an ever-dwindling amt. of free time to just goof off in time-honored LEAVE IT TO BEAVER fashion. Managed to uncover a few boxes of old comic-related paperbacks from my youth (and beyond) that'll probably provide fodder for a few mid-week postings not to mention some old fanzines that I totally forgot I had (ditto). Also dug out my old photocopied NEXT BIG THINGs which really have provided me with hours (OK...minutes) of funtime reading pleasure. Sure wish that Lindsay Hutton would write like he did then in the here and now...I mean nowadays he comes off all nice 'n pleasant but back then he could get nasty which is the way things should be (unless that nastiness is directed against me, natch!). C'mon Lindsay, I know you still have it in you to tear a few extra assholes into people!

Following are reviews of some items I've lent ear to this week, a few items courtesy Bill Shute, one thanks to Paul McGarry, another thanks to Feeding Tube Records and yet another one thanks to none other'n Bob Forward which was rather nice of him. The rest I actually bought myself which is saying somethin' in these days when money seems to be rarer'n gay people at an Anita Bryant record signing (you can see I'm really digging deep into the joke book for these gems!), so let's just say that as far as fresh music to mine lobes go I'm doin' kinda hokay! And maybe if you read on you'll actually learn something, like just how pale and one-dimensional most rock "criticism" comes off next to the fannish and from-the-head (not "heart") rantings that I've been pleasuring you with for a longer time'n any of us could imagine...

Iggy and the Stooges-READY TO DIE CD-R burn (originally on Fat Possum)

Yeah I still kinda cozy up to the idea of an Iggy 'n the Stooges in the here and now (sheesh, it's one of the few connections with the boffo past we still have), and I also thought the original reunion platter THE WEIRDNESS was better'n most wonks out there sputtering with abject indignation believed it to be. But eh, if this 'un doesn't sound about as half-there as any Iggy solo platter that got unleashed during the eighties no matter how hard we listened to 'em and deluded to ourselves that he still had it before even that became too embarrassing to do. I don't think that even a dozen or so re-listens to this'll get me to change my mind...if it's new Stooges you want stick with those poppin'-on-all-cylinders Skydog releases from quite a few years back 'n listen to this only if you're that hard up. Which I hope you ain't.
International Harvester-SOV GOTT ROSE-MARIE CD-R burn (originally on Love Records, Finland then Silence Records Sweden, or something along those lines)

Bob Forward forwarded me this 'un as well as a burn of the pre IH Parson Sound double CD set, obviously unaware of the rave review I gave that 'un in the latest issue of my very own crudzine. (Don't worry, I'll undoubtedly give it a re-appraisal in an upcoming post!) Gotta say that I wasn't exactly cozying up to listening to this considering just how much those Trad Gras Och Stenar platters I reviewed back '05 way just sounded like hippies on the farm guzzling Boone's Farm but this '68 effort is quite the excitable one. On one hand SOV GOTT ROSE-MARIE comes off like the perfect eurock group we've all been waiting for (with the proper balance of art and rock with neither side overpowering each other) and on the other just as late-sixties mid-Amerigan punk rock as both Can and Amon Duul (I & II) did at their addled best. One of the better distillations of European classicism and straightforward smart rock almost on par with early Savage Rose, and I won't even mention the spiritual presence of that ever-droning group that seems to permeate these continental aggregates with about as much of a vengeance as they did with various late-seventies local yokels. Not that I'm doing you a favor'r anything, unless you're sick and tired of me tying in everything good that happened in rock 1967-1980 to this particular act no matter how true my opines may be.
Various Artists-CHIPMUNK BOOTHEELS A-WANDERIN' CD-R burn (compiled by Bill Shute)

This one might be the secret code to us all that Bill Shute is a-flounderin'. Starts off good enough with the "Mexican Hat Dance" as sung by Sherry Sue (fits in fine since I'm listenin' to this on the Cinco de Mayo!) as well as a rare Johnny and the Hurricanes single side, but then we get to hear such weirdities as the Chipmunks doing "Mr. Tambourine Man" (well, their version is better'n William Shatner's) and some of those "Celebrities at their worst" outtakes, this time courtesy Colonel Sanders, Jack Palance and of course Martin and Lewis with those infamous outtakes from THE CADDY commercial ("It'll make ya shit!"). Then it starts getting back into musical gear with the Meters and a mambo'd up version of "The James Bond Theme" before...whaz' zis, Frank Sinatra Jr. doing GUMBY, Julie London "Louie Louie" and Mel Torme "Send in the Clowns"??? Well, these weird mish moshes and oldsters trying to keep up with the new trends were always good for a few laffs!

The whole mess ends up kinda mish-moshy with Joe Piscopo floundering around doing that Sinatra impression somebody out there thought was great but just reminds me of what a dunce he was in the early-eighties trying to keep the SNL boat afloat. At least the Geezinslaw Brothers had a li'l country corn fun in their spoof of Kenny Rogers and the Redd Foxx tracks were dirty enough but not him as his dirtiest. And it all closes up with Flip Wilson trying to be hip 'n funny at the same time while broadening his appeal to a white clientele, or at least that's the impression I got!

Don't let the Raymond Pettibon cover fool you---this ain't exactly some SST discard that cluttered up the amerindie record collections of the late-eighties! Dissipated Face, although they could have made it as a fringe signing to that infamous label, are a tad different'n the reams of collegeboy experimental bleats that were getting a whole lotta hosannas from cloistered clods like myself. As if you actually knew, Dissipated Face were a hot trio that was romping through the post-fun era of NYC rock back when they laid these sides down at CBGB on July 31st of 1986, and their mix of everything from free jazz and late-seventies avant-prog to punk rock made for some of the wildest mergings of the form since Red Transistor. Nothing as out-there as that group, but better'n many a similar-minded excursion into freedom aesthetics. What's best is that none other'n noted avant saxist himself Daniel Carter sat in giving a particularly Albert Ayler-ish air to these excursions, so if you were a fan of this guy's various endeavors on the stage of the CBGB Lounge during the final days of Hilly you'll be glad to know that he was in on the punk jazz game for a longer time'n you could've dreamed!
Various Artists-EVERYTHING'S FIRE, EXCEPT WHAT ISN'T CD-R burn (compiled by you-know-who!)

Another bastoid collection here which starts off superfine enough (with the Raves, the Downliners Sect and even an early Barry White number recorded back when he could actually see his dick) before gettin' a li'l corballus with the gospel'n all before riveting back into gear with Lightnin' Slim and a McDonalds commercial jingle (?!?!?!). It even ends with one of those Archie cutout records you used to get on the backs of cereal boxes, which only goes to show you that Bill was eating a well-balanced breakfast before any of us fanablas even thought of it!
Fat Creeps/Zebu! split 12-inch 45 rpm EP (Feeding Tube)

This week's pick from the Feeding Tube pile of ever-growing promos comes this interesting foot-long extended play reminiscent of indie produce of the past. Fat Creeps are also reminiscent of past self-produced product, two gals and a guy making rather typical mid-eighties pop-wave for a good quarter-century later. Sprite and up-to-it, Fat Creeps could have earned a good page or two in any self-respecting amerindie fanzine of the eighties and that's no lie! On the other hand Zebu! might have rated at least two whole pages, as these guys (a duo utilizing a whole lotta help) seem to take the same eighties pop aesthetic only they add a lotta atonal avant garde stylings here and there making for a rather cacophonous if artistic statement. Not bad in teeny-weeny doses.
Androids of Mu-BLOOD ROBOTS LP (Water Wing, available through Forced Exposure)

Like the Mob and the Astronauts, the Androids of Mu were one of those anarchopunk groups comin' outta England who I gotta say sounded too good for the movement they pledged their allegiances to. Not that they didn't have the anarchist credo firmly emblazoned on all of their innermost organs, but their music sounded like something from an earlier and perhaps even freer era, the times which born and bred such decidedly punkoid aggregations as the Deviants, Pink Fairies and Hawkwind 'stead of the late-seventies local scene which had seemingly been rudderless ever since the Sex Pistols splattered out in a blaze of somethingorother, 'n it sure wasn't glory.

An all-gal aggregate, the Androids of Mu didn't flaunt their good looks nor did they ugly themselves up to "prove a point" and, like the aforementioned  anarchobands, they certainly weren't peppering their repertoire with blabbermouth assaults against the powers that be complete with obscene attacks spewed to bolster their rad cred with da masses. Naw, they were nice 'n sublime about it to the point where even their drudgery of marriage track wasn't an Eve Libertine pukeout nor a Deadly Nightshade "woe is me" MS. mag mutual ruboff.

Of course, the best thing about the Androids of Mu is that their music came straight outta the sorta-punk stratum where acts like the Daevid Allen-era Gong and brother band Here and Now were floating about, only with a cheaper guitar, synthesizer and choppier musical abilities. Makes for a pretty good time, and in fact the combination of late-sixties sensibilities merged with a smarter late-seventies punk appeal and an appreciation of subtle political discourse makes for a pretty hotcha effort that I sure wish had gotten out a whole lot more back then.

More stuff is out there just beggin' to be heard (at least by me). The elusive TRIBUTE TO BERT WEEDON tape with the Mob is one must-have as are any of the zillion cassette-only comps 'n whatever these lasses most surely appeared on. And of course any input from you would be appreciated (as if I would ever get any from you snobs, not that I would particularly want any from some stuck up self-proclaimed anarchist who's probably mad that the govt. has cut off his Social Security checks!).
Brain Sound-AN ATTEMPT TO RECORD COINCIDENCE LP (Not On Label, available via Forced Exposure)

And to close out this weekend's parade of pusillanimous platters we've got this strange affair, the reissue of an Austrian accapella group recorded live in Newport Beach California in 1972 making some of the strangest mewls and howls I've heard since the infamous salmonella outbreak in the school cafeteria back when I was eight. Some guy trying to push this platter attempted to make a krautrock connection (even though they're Austrians, and thus kraut by association) while another said Penderecki, but the first thing that came to mind when I heard this was the Scratch Orchestra so if you're game for some long-forgotten avant garde soundage and the local library is closed this might be your best bet. Nothing earth-shaking here, but strange enough to get your electronic music hating pop to throw a fit about the state of this world if he ever got an earfulla it!
And so, as the old saying goes sayonara until next time, and if you can stand it don't forget to check up on some of the recommended blogs that I've linked up on the left. You may be bored silly readin' some, but at least it'll keep you away from DEMOCRATIC UNDERGROUND.

Thursday, May 09, 2013


While rifling through a box of paperbacks I've long thought lost to time I discovered this particular gem, none other'n the original printing of MAD/TRUMP/HELP! creator Harvey Kurtzman's very own JUNGLE BOOK! Released in that ever-boffo year of 1959, this solo excursion into the realm of satire came and went with but nary a whimper and only one printing, but despite its rather short shelf-life the legend behind the book seemed to live on for quite some time. And hey, if I didn't mention that I was one fanabla who wanted to scoop this 'un up after discovering its existence well, this just wouldn't be a BLOG TO COMM post now, would it?

So with typical anal retentive bravado I decided to pluck this paperback out from the reams of old MAD and HUMBUG offerings moiling in that cardboard box and give it another go, even though I do possess the more recent reprinting in larger and easier to read dimensions. After all, in this case I don't have to torture myself by reading Art Spiegelman's introduction which I guess is there not only for his boffo name credo but to tell us what we're about to receive, and hasn't he inundated us with his at-times tres-obvious and politically pompous opines for a longer time'n any of us coulda imagined?

Fans of Kurtzman's magazine work might be a li'l distracted over the more sophisticado approach here, as it's clear he isn't quite aiming for the kiddie audience with this particular 'un. But then again this ain't one of them MAD LOOKS AT OLD MOVIES THEY HAVEN'T SHOWN ON TEE-VEE IN TWENNY-FIVE YEARS knockoffs which, while fuh-nee to the max, were pretty much LCD crankouts capitalizing on that mag's over-the-top success. Naw, yer gonna hafta use a li'l brainpower to make your way through this collection of etapoint late-fifties spoofs dealing with a wide array of subjects that might have been considered the perfect counterpoint to alla that hypocritical/sexist/racist/bigoted/repressive/(put your favorite uptight and socially-conscious adjective in here) culture that's long dead 'n gone, which on the other hand reminds us of just why those days were oh-so superior to anything that's happened since. At least back then we knew what to do with rabble-rousers who actually spout off about funtime culture being hypocritical/sexist/racist...

"Thelonius Violence, Like, Private Eye" is a fairly good spoof of all of those late-fifties hip PI and cop shows they used to run like PETER GUNNRICHARD DIAMOND, M-SQUAD and JOHNNY STACCATO...y'know, the ones which glamorized undercover detective work whether on or off the force as being fraught with hotcha ladies and big oafs who want you to "get off the case!" driving the message home with a few hard whacks to the hero's skull. In many ways this is merely an update of the old "Kane Keene" story Kurtzman wrote for MAD a good five or so years earlier, only brainier. Since Kurtzman was now writing for an older, mature audience instead of some suburban pimplefarm kid who didn't know whether to buy a comic book or an interest in Stinky Wilson's dead cat with his last dime I guess he could afford to smarten up the thing.

"The Organization Man in the Red Flannel Executive Suite" features the debut of the Goodman Beaver character, someone we'll be hearing about on this blog in the near future. I never understood the fascination there was with advertising executives, the magazine industry and the entire Madison Avenue buzz of the fifties and sixties, but considering all of the takeoffs of the genre that were popping up in the satire rags of the day it must've been big dinner table conversation material. Beaver's fresh from executive school and ready to do his best to make his mark for the same people who give us such wholesome publications as KILL and WHOOBOY, but will the industry eat him up and spit his bones out like some mad monster, eager to take on yet another fresh upstart and repeat the entire sordid process? Well if you think I'm gonna tell ya then you've got another think comin'!

Another creation of the fifties was the "adult" western, a term which by the late-sixties would have conjured up thoughts of cowgals and injun ladies showin' off their bare juggins! Well, maybe that was the case considerin' some of the westerns that would be comin' out once 1970 clocked in, but here we're talkin' 'bout somethin' that was a tad more "grown up" 'n not just another crankout cowpuncher tale with a grinnin' hero who gets crucial advice from his horse. "Compulsion on the Range" is a thinly-veiled laff at the expense of this genre featuring obvious swipes of Marshal Dillon and Chester and the psychological hoo-hah behind why these cowboys just hadda be the fastest draw in the west! And it ain't as phallic as you think!

Closing out the book is "Decadence Degenerated," one of those Deep South sagas of lust 'n lynchings that really must've resonated with alla 'em beatnik types who stormed down to Selma because Joan Baez told 'em to. All yer favorite stereotypes are trotted out in this tale about the shy and reclusive Si Mednick who cozies up to the tit-ilating Honey Lu, and the local yokels who lynch Mednick when Honey Lu turns up head-bashed and ditch-ditched. And it sure reads a fanabla of a lot better'n anything Tennessee Irving wrote!

So there you has it, a downright Harvey Kurtzman masterpiece that is bound to make fans of his from MAD to LITTLE ORPHAN BOSOM hip hip hooray from here to West Middlesex and back w/o stopping for traffic signals. Try finding a copy (I guess ebay is as good a place as any, or maybe even Amazon) original may be nice but even the nineties reissue would work fine...I mean it ain't like you have to read Spiegelman's intro!