Wednesday, February 26, 2014


It was a real turdburger weekend here at BLOG TO COMM central sitting through these two snoozers, the first being Jayne Mansfield in her final and (if you really wanna believe Walter Winchell) finest performance as a grizzled old prostitute who is deeply admired by the typically loudmouth teenage wopadago gal who lives next door. Some snippets of spark and blood vessels do appear in this slow and agonizing film, but it ain't worth sitting through the spiritually soporific flashbacks and first-time performances to get to whatever fiber of meat there may be in this downright yawner.

Nineteen-seventy's CINDY AND DONNA at least has some snazz to it perhaps because every female inna moom 'cept the boozoid mother shows off her stuff and with ample camera time to boot. Despite that tasty come-on this drive-in romper more or less reminds me of what an episode of THE BRADY BUNCH would come off like if it were to be exposed to red kryptonite. Surprisingly risque for the times (even earning an "X" rating and some legal notoriety in Tennessee even though no actual carnal oompah or even genitalia/surrounding vicinities is shown), this tale of tawdry sex in the suburbs and a young girl's "cumming of age" is for the most part an early-seventies period piece with loads of boobs and butts for the raincoat crowd out there. Not only that, but it's also jam-packed with funny early-seventies-styled plots, dialogue and acting that coulda appeared in an episode of INSIDE/OUT or any of those educational PBS programs they used to show on afternoon tee-vee for many a year!

For what there is of it, this is yet one of those suburban decadence films with a theme straight out of an Elliot Murphy song. Set in El Lay, the (step) father's a horny mid-aged contractor hot on this underage stripper/prostitute with big dairies who dances it up at the local bar, while mom's a ditz who has this weird accent that sounds like Australian mutating into brain damage. Meanwhile the oldest daughter is getting more experience than Jimi ever did while young sis is wondering about it all, watching her half-sibling get banged by everyone from the boyfriend to stepfather himself! Of course she'll find out soon enough, even if Rodney's English Disco was a few years away from opening.

If teenage whackoffs are your thing you'd be up front with the plastic bag for this! Otherwise maybe you can find a more respectable way to relieve your frustrations, like an art book filled with classic oil paintings or better yet a craftily reconditioned Land O' Lakes box of butter. I mean gee...would you really wanna be caught dead watching a film like this let alone abusing yourself while it's playing whether in some rundown theatre or your own abode?

But if you do, just click here and, as they say, wankers aweigh!

Saturday, February 22, 2014


The following was to have appeared in a new Eddie Flowers-helmed magazine entitled MOUSE TRAP, but since that project (unfortunately) fell by the wayside due to circumstances beyond Mr. Flowers' control (mainly $$$$$) I felt it proper to print this interesting email gab with the extremely creative, talented, and hard-edged musical entity known as P. D. Fadensonnen here on my own turf.

As you may already know, Fadensonnen's a guy who has not only released a slew of self-produced disques but has created a style and sound which thankfully borrows the best from the past sixty years of addled noise and reshapes it for the same audience who once believed that Pere Ubu and Chrome were pointing the way towards the kind of future we all could get into! His various endeavors have thrilled the BLOG TO COMM offices for quite some time, and if you contact the guy via his blog (see link on left) he might just like you get in on some of the action as well!

So, without further fanfare...

BLOG TO COMM-Like most folk I know hardly a thing about ye. Can you give us some hearty background information regarding your musical background and any early music-related endeavors?

P. D. FADENSONNEN-I come from the southwest Chicago suburbs. My parents didn't play any instruments nor did they really listen to music in any manner outside of PBS specials on TV (think Yanni, Kitaro, and their ilk) or the rock oldies station on the car radio. So music wasn't a big priority in our household. I'm an oldest child, so without anyone to look up to, I kind of stayed in the dark about all the sounds around me.

By the time middle school rolled around, I was convinced to enter the school band and was given a trombone to learn. I never really took to the instrument although I must have spent 3 years trying to learn the infernal thing - for a kid coming into trying to learn to read music and buzz in the mouthpiece correctly, trying to understand that I was the bass for a band and played different notes than all the melodies I heard being played around me was just too much - a conceptual leap I didn't make yet. My rented trombone was sent back by the end of eighth grade. By high school I had set my sights on a guitar, and after a beleaguered family trip to see my uncle in Nashville, my cheap-o acoustic was acquired from a local guitar shop there. That particular acoustic was an abysmal beast, with action up high enough to be a flamenco guitar - just painful to play in any way - but it did give me callouses that I probably still have to this day. It broke after falling once on the floor, which opened the door to get my Peavy Raptor strat copy and set about some electric damage.

I had become infatuated with Nirvana after seeing Kurt on the news for blowing his head off, so I took about to learning their basic songwriting methods after buying their albums. I had also taken a part-time job at a grocery store and had some $$ finally to start investigating bands from interviews I had read. 

So as my listening palette expanded from that dud of a band, I finally started to find some marrow in the bones so to speak - Nirvana's terrible cover of Here She Comes Now lead me to purchasing WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT when I was 16 - and then my head split open. The first conceptual leaps of "music as sound" and actual "high-energy" were in place, although all my detours into Pavement, Weezer, Guided By Voices, Sleater-Kinney and other dreck were still clouding my perceptions - all of this being pre-internet/very beginning of it.

By the end of high school,  I wrote a bunch of grunge-y songs that I handed around to friends to try and get a band going of some sort, but it didn't really materialize to anything - probably because the songs were terrible.
As I left the suburbs of Chicago for the cornfields of Champaign-Urbana for college, I listened more to music than really played it - getting into crap-o-la like Radiohead, Sonic Youth, and Mogwai - but still thankfully listening to all the Velvets I could find (1969 Live being a big one) and finding other truths like Blue Cheer and the Modern Lovers. 

Around my junior year in college I tried to get a band going about for a year, but things fell apart after many membership debacles, fights,  and lackluster practices. The music was mediocre instrumental post rock (er, boring early 2000's crescendo rock) at best -  I can't honestly remember a tune from that debacle.  I had at least finally been exposed via band members to the MC5 and the Stooges between all the crap and was seeking out stuff like Can and Amon Duul II.

After college, I moved back to the suburbs and worked in downtown Chicago, saving up every cent that wasn't being used to explore all kinds of weird records at Reckless Records. I had been on a trip to NYC as a senior in college and knew immediately that is where I needed to be - I needed that energy.

A year later in 2005, I had moved to NYC with my girlfriend and had acquired her american Fender Strat - and armed with a real instrument for the first time - quickly developed over the next two years into being a guitar player with enough confidence to go about doing something sonically real. Being able to explore all the connections I had made the previous couple of years in my head (MC5 -> Archie Shepp -> Coltrane -> Ayler->Sun Ra->Pharoah-> Sharrock -> Mars - etc.) through the record stores and concerts that I was able to go to, I finally had a sonic PURPOSE to go along with the confidence.

In 2007, I met RD while working at a woodshop, and after mutual exposures of sonic information during the day at the shop cd player (Captain Beefheart, Dolphy, Arthur Doyle, High Rise, Mouthus, Haino) I finally worked up the confidence to ask to jam with his band King Crab at their rehearsal space and then just with him as two guitarists. Everything sonically speaking between us from then to now has been chronicled under Fadensonnen. 

Last year when I turned 30, I got a tenor sax which I am still learning, but will be put to use on future recordings - I like it much better than the trombone.

BTC-Now let's see...refresh our memories and tell us about your first CD release.

PDF-From 2008 - 2010, RD and I recorded many times in just a duo guitar formation, improvising and working on motifs that would re-appear. The process proceeded in what I would call creative-collaborative-antagonism, something we found essential to make things interesting.

By the summer of 2010, I started to finally listen through the sessions to lay a foundation for an album (eventually WHITE NIGHT). A number of tracks which didnt meet the criteria for the conceptual framework of the album were constructed into easier to digest EP length works - EPs being a less daunting enterprise. RD had moved to England temporarily, so I decided to also take on the overdubbing responsibilities as well as percussion duties.

Our first release, the GREY EP, materialized six long months later - its tracks having a ghostly intensity not present in some of the other sessions.

EAST RIVER BLUES is a free for all to set a tone for the EP and clear the sonic air, RD's wah guitar howling at the moon. 

FUNERAL FOR MURDERED ORANGES was a kind of sonic ghost repeat-o riff that drifts in and out of sleep. Its titled in homage to John Cale.

CAMBRIDGE-UPON-MORNING is a big drone number from one of our more hazy sessions - RD adding some soulful leads as one drifts through the ostrich guitar atmosphere. 

BROOKLYN GAMELAN is a drone percussion guitar chant ending in a rolling wave of electricity.

GLACIER NIGHT is a cosmic blues, RD's guitar drift-picking its way through until the song implodes in percussive density.

BTC-How did this one do as far as sales go? Do you do much in the way of "promoting" your releases?

PDF-The GREY EP has sold about as much as our album WHITE NIGHT out of the back catalog, although everything is only measured in the dozens at Fadensonnen Records. We have somehow been able to reach people around the world just through our website, some radio play and generous reviews.
With the availability of production for everyone to self-release and the saturation of bands being incredibly dense, I dont think its possible to realistically expect a successful release to be past around a hundred copies in the sonic field that we happen to operate in.

I am still learning to promote the releases better with each passing one, picking up contacts that help out our label. I believe in that pre-internet idea of a trustworthy curated context providing the best tool to seek out new records - so fanzines and webzines that fit my own aesthetic criteria (i.e. things I would actually buy) are what we generally send our promotional records to.

I would hope that when we make opportunities for ourselves to play live in the future, our performances would be the best promotion for our releases.

Q-You mentioned radio play. Are you talking actual broadcast radio (perhaps some college outlet) or internet radio?

A-The kind folks at WFMU has been generous enough to play our tunes from time to time. 

We've sent out our releases to some other college outlets as well.

I don't think we'd be able to ever breach the land of Billy Joel.

BTC-Could you tell us more about some of those interesting amphetamine and feral wah lead guitars you play. Are they home creations you worked out in your basement electronic shop?

PDF-The amphetamine lead and feral wah lead guitars are more descriptive sounds than actual modified instruments - I remember buying Eno's HERE COME THE WARM JETS and being impressed with the descriptions he used in the credits (i.e. snake guitar, electric larynx, etc. ) so I've always thought that it was a more interesting way to list the sonic contributions - a way to color the music as sound.

An amphetamine lead is usually a form of out of control manic lead guitar playing I try to employ on solos, whereas RD usually uses a aggressively distorted wah sound when taking the lead.

Anvil rhythm guitars are usually lower bridge pickup frequencies, octave shaking guitars employ octave effects (either higher of lower), snake phase shifter guitars use panning phase shifters and ostrich guitars employ the famous Lou Reed tuning. 

A lot the weirder guitar sounds also have to do with obsessive filtering and echo effects used in production.

BTC-OK---I must say that I am impressed with the production on your releases which show a strong WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT influence.Can you fill us in on any non-trade secret information regarding the recording of your various releases?

PDF-WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT, MC5's original single version of LOOKING AT YOU, LES RALLIZES DENUDES recordings, PINK FAIRIES live recordings, BORBETOMAGUS records, Milford Graves' BABI MUSIC - these are the kind of sonic ideals in my book that should inform high energy music - the overpowering sound of ecstatic electricity. 

So its definitely an aesthetic choice to have that sound of an unbalanced overloaded recording. The kind of super-spacious high-fidelity with unlimited tracks that one could opt to use these days has zero appeal to me - I need that kind of earthy sonic mud quality to keep it from sounding like plastic.

I'm not an expert at engineering, so with a lot of the earlier recordings taking place on a cheap video camera, its a natural kind of overload we've employed of two guitars into one amp turned up all the way and then injected during the editing process to all the drums, voice and tape splicing overdubs we can fit. 

I tend to filter out some of the uglier frequencies when the tapes are being edited and with the basic guitar tracks being so blasted, I usually try to offer some contrast by recording the drums and vocals cleaner. In the end, hopefully it's that sonic ideal of an energetic unbalanced recording that will always come through.

We've blown up two separate amps due to this process - RD's amp blowing out at the end of recording GLACIER NIGHT on the GREY EP and my amp blowing out during the recording of ONU BA on WHITE NIGHT - ONU BA ending at the moment the amp cut out. 

BTC-What can you tell us about your collaborator "RD?"

PDF-RD is the real musician in our duo - a natural and trained talent on both guitar and drums - the rhythmic contrast to my arrhythmic nature.

He's been involved in the music scene for a much longer time than me - he's had actual bands growing up and had the musical duo King Crab with outsider filmmaker Zachery Lister-Katz for 6-7 years, in which he played drums and guitar. They had releases out on Abandon Ship Records and Little Fury Things Records.

His influences into our process come from a different thing - he brings a wider palette to the table - equally influenced by classical music, folk, jazz, blues, thrash and black metal. He's also the advocate for pushing things into weirder sonic territories.

He's from the east coast originally which thankfully squashes my midwestern-isms down when they become too much.

He finally moved back to the USA this year, so hopefully more will be revealed when we put together some live dates.

BTC-I've always liked your Les Rallizes Denudes blog where you review their myriad assortment of releases. You also seem to have more items in your collection than are generally available to us lowly peons. Tell us a little bit more about your devotion to this epochal Japanese group.

PDF-I wouldn't say that I have that big a collection of Rallizes recordings - there was a period when I was making a bit of money building cabinetry and had some disposable income to grab up certain items as they came out. There are roughly 20 multi-disc sets I happen to have - which is a lot of music - but for the amorphous unending world of the Rallizes canon thats not that many. In this day and age anyone can download even more stuff than I happen to have if they have the patience.

The blog started as a way for me to mentally wrap my head around the essence of what Mizutani laid down for 30 years. I have to be in the right head space to let his musings sink in - but inside that hermetic world of deep electricity he built is a kind of wonderful, screeching hall of mirrors of sound. No contemporary of the Velvets ever looked at their whole thing ( blasting noise and feedback, ballads, tight rockers, psychic energy ) and saw that whole template and image and took it to SUCH AN EXTREME.  And within that kind of understanding, Mizutani laid down his extreme statement of atonal yet beautiful energy guitar rock. 

He's a wonderful guitarist, songwriter (theres actually dozens of Rallizes songs) and spiritual leader, in the sense that electric guitars and feedback can be a religion.
The kind of secret world that he created and maintains by hiding up in the mountains of Japan is really such a fascinating story of the 20th century - there's no real other comparison in my book to a genius like Mizutani having such an odd trajectory of relaying his communication - yet when those of us somehow get to hear that communication, its such a life-affirming statement of truth  - no schuck or jive.

BTC-So, what does the future hold in store for PD Fadensonnen?

PDF-In January 2014 the first Razorlegs recording should come out, a duo I play in with Andrew Hurst that explores different live-to-tape duo exchange configurations with a different palate of instruments. 

In Spring 2014, the second Fadensonnen album entitled Badlands will come out on Tom Gilmore's One Hand Records for the vinyl and on Fadensonnen Records for the cd/digital. Badlands is a scorching three track mostly instrumental album recorded this past fall and should satiate those seeking a high-energy fix in the coming months. 

After performing in NYC earlier this year, we are hoping to do a live date or two in 2014 in addition to recording more and releasing more recordings, hopefully with a few collaborations in the future with similarly un-balanced individuals.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! HALF SHOT AT SUNRISE starring Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey (1930)

The first in the Wheeler-Woolsey RKO Comedy Classics Collection,  HALF SHOT AT SUNRISE was actually the duo's second feature length film* for those of you who are sticklers about such things. But whatever it is, boy is it a doozy! Well, not quite---I mean, the musical numbers tend to bore while some of the scenes are bigger misfires than the time I started rattling off Adolf Hitler jokes at that B'nai B'rith banquet, but thankfully the humor of Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey saves this 'un from being another insomnia fighter that used to run on the late movie slot back when television mattered.

Set in France during World War I, the comedy team play a couple of AWOL soldiers who manage to stay one step ahead of not only a couple of thuggish MPs but their Colonel, a typically lifeless form who happens to be married to old time moom pitcher shrew Edna May Oliver. He's also the father to two ample ladies which just might prove that genetics might skip a generation or two when it comes to producing tasty-looking wenches. The younger of the two, Dorothy Lee, does a believable Helen Kane impersonation and gets to show off a lot of her legs as well as some panties even. Definitely one of the film's saving graces outside of the witty banter 'n repartee that W/W exude which was sure to get 'em the hurrahs at the Algonquin Round Table and maybe around less-intelligent life forms such as ourselves.

True the gags are uneven and some of the scenes just don't spark, but overall the movie is saved if only by Wheeler's cranky and whiny personality and Woolsey's neo-Groucho mannerisms and asides. HALF SHOT did make for a good Sunday afternoon of viewing even if it did induce that sad feeling inside of me that these kind of films, as well as the people who made 'em and those who watched, are pretty much long gone and have been replaced by a hideous megalomaniac monster I surely don't want to have anything to do with as long as I live!

*why their entire filmography couldn't've been slapped onto this box set I'll never know---I mean if Polydor could get the rights to the Atlantic Velvet Underground material for their collection why couldn't Warner Brothers wrangle in their Columbia feature? But then again, why didn't Warners stick what is available of the team's debut feature RIO RITA on here as well? Whatever, stay attuned for more Wheeler and Woolsey film reviews comin' your way.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

There are many mysteries in life, but one of the bigger one to have hit me these past few days is, how did I ever manage to wrangle this copy of ROCK SCENE, the July 1976 issue at that, and so cheaply at that considering that a member of Kiss is on the front cover! Usually something as important to the surviving stoner rock mentality as a magazine with Gene Simmons with or without extended tongue raises the price of a magazine tenfold, so I do consider myself pretty lucky that I got this one especially since ROCK SCENE, along with CREEM natch, were the better over-the-counter rock reads of the seventies at least until stadium rock and pallid tastes began to overtake Ameriga's youth to the point that their cubeoid parents were actually hipper'n 'em!

Thankfully ROCK SCENE wasn't for the inquiring sensitive introverted type who was looking for long articles detailing the when's, why's and wherefore's of Joni Mitchell's mental deterioration! For our benefit each and every page was packed to the portals with loads of fun information that seems custom made for the teenage pimplefarms we all might have been...y'know, the kind of fanabla who was searching out ranky two-for-two-dollars cutout cassettes trying to make his buck go about as far as it could while all of the other kids were burning up moolah like it was being cranked out of the basement!

Even if the dollar price tag might have been too much for our pocketbooks, at least think of all fun we had glomming the info discharged in each and every one of these while standing at the newsstands before being chased away by some overweight grumpy mid-aged guy who oddly enough looks the way we do now!

And hey, I actually remember reading this 'un at the stands! For some reason the section on Peter Gabriel being photographed around the time his first solo album was being recorded (perhaps because he didn't look like the partially-shaved head nut he was just a short while back), as well as Lou Reed playing with his pet dachshund (who I bet could say a whole lot if he could only speak!) bring back memories of hanging out at the National Record Mart at the Eastwood Mall entertaining myself between thumbing through the record racks. Somehow the significance of the Television, Tuff Darts, Heartbreakers and "More New Bands" section (featuring local Boston heroes as well as a pre-WASP Rik Fox in the Martian Rock Band, sorta like Kiss with an outer space motif) passed me by, but perhaps I latched onto 'em on a subliminal level that pointed towards future rockist endeavors on my part. But whatever, a mag like this 'un only goes to remind ya of just what a fun 'n promising time the sixties and seventies were before rock got washed away into video nonsense and became so irrelevant that even a vibrant, thriving underground couldn't manage to get its corpse back in gear!

Of course you get the expected shots of Lisa Robinson schmoozing up to the glitterati at some big Hollywood shindig not forgetting David Bowie appearing on Dinah Shore's morning gabfest and talking to all of the other big stars of the day. I always liked those pix just because they seemed to capture a fragment of the kind of existence I thought the entire rock world reveled in. Sorta like the family Christmas Party in the rumpus room only with Alice Cooper aboard. It's especially nice seeing my favorites talking to the biggies, like the shot of Ray Davies and Elliot Murphy sharing a few moments...and like I never even imagined that Davies knew who Murphy was in the first place.

Naturally the up 'n comers are what get my attention, like the snaps of Patti Smith posing with a bunch of nobodies from WMMS-FM and chatting it up with the one-eared great J. Paul Getty III, not to mention the bit on Television's Boston debut where Tom Verlaine gets to pose for a snap with Jonathan Richman and Andy Paley which just might be the biggest collection of seventies shoulda-beens gathered in one place. ROCK SCENE always made ya feel like you were right there with the bigguns, and although all of the musical acts and the energy these acts oozed are long dead 'n buried it kinda makes you feel glad it was alive at least some time in history. Kinda like the feeling you get reading HOLLYWOOD BABYLON knowing that Hollywood's Golden Years have been replaced by utter crap, but at one time it sure captured a whole lot that meant much to you as a tee-vee glomming, history minded turdburger!

Top it off with the regular columns (Doc Rock telling a high school kid the ins and outs of opening your own record shop, Wayne County giving advice to some gal who's mad about Keith Moon as well as some fifteen year old who dresses like Patti Smith and wants to know where she buys her clothes!) and you got another top notch high energy issue of a mag that shouldn't've run outta gas inna early-eighties like it did. And with all of the hope that the youth who bought and read ROCK SCENE had for this nation of ours, I wonder exactly where everything went wrong. I mean, the kids who wrote into Wayne...where are they now? I hope they're not the bulbous lunchroom ladies at school or gaggin' it up at  bridge games like their parents and grandmammies have been doin' for ages, that's for sure! (Do people play bridge anymore???)
RIP SHIRLEY TEMPLE, a gal who was so big in Hollywood at one time that she could actually slug a guy in the balls and get away with it because you just can't spank stars, especially if they're underage precocious twats. Just ask Alfalfa. If only her ex-hubby John Agar were here to see this, especially considering the offhand treatment she gave him in her autobiography next to the comparatively conciliatory tone he had regarding her in his. But when all's said 'n done, I gotta laugh at the coverage she got via NBC NIGHTLY NEWS when the usually monochromatic Brian Williams lauded Temple for appearing with black actors during those racially insensitive thirties as if this were some grand redeeming trait in an otherwise humdrum (and non-politically correct) career!!!! Somewhere in the vast reaches of the afterlife Willie Best is smiling knowing that he's finally been vindicated after the smear job Bill Cosby laid on him in that Andy Rooney-penned CBS television special.

Also RIP Sid Caesar, though since his humor was more of a sophisticated upper-crust chattering classes sort of affair it ain't like I'm bothered about it.
Well here's another entry for you to chew. Managed to hear a few nice ones this week that actually broke me outta the mid-winter slump, and between working through the years of recorded booty I own and the stuff everyone from the likes of Bill Shute to P. D. Fadensonnen have sent me, I think I'll be pretty much set music-wise for quite some time. Thanks pod'ners! Here then is this week's musical melange...

Billy Bang & Dennis Charles-BANGCEPTION CD-r burn (originally on Hat Records, Switzerland)

Another great recording from seventies free jazz upstart Bang, this time doing the live thingie in Willisau with the equally departed drummer Dennis Charles. Bang plays his typical smooth yet angular self here while Charles is a more than capable backup playing above and beyond in the classic Sunny Murray way. Lotsa solos for both as well, and in no way can I (in my right mind) complain about the exquisite cover of Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman" nor "Know Your Enemy", a number which was written by saxophonist Bilal A. Rahman of whom I know very little other'n he has performed with Bang on occasion. I remember when Bang was being touted as the new hot thing in free jazz back around the time this was recorded, and naturally this 'un is a good enough document as to why heads were being turned in the first place.
Pip Proud-"Purple Boy Gang"/"A Million Years From Now" 45 rpm single (EM)

The usual underground hubbub regarding this late-sixties New Zealander who was being touted as another Syd Barrett got me a bit curious, and this single proved to be a nice li'l taste. A side's a spry rocker with Pip singing in full nasal regalia. The results come off not unlike one of the many self-produced records that were pouring out of Blighty in the very-late seventies. Kinda reminded me of the Pressler/Morgan "You're Gonna Watch Me" single in pace and execution. The flip has Proud twangin' acoustic to a repetitive riff as he talk-sings his plaintive poesy with equally stuffed up nostrils. Actually lives up to the usual "underground" hype, though I doubt I'd actually want to or be able to for that matter listen to an entire album of him like you probably would.
Iannis Xenakis-TERRETEKTORH/NOMOS GAMMA CD-r burn (originally on Candide)

Did I ever tell you about the time I was playing the Xenakis ELECTRO/ACOUSTIC MUSIC album when I was a teenbo and my dad came in the room yellin' his head off as if the sounds being emitted from the stereo speakers were symptomatic of some deep, sick trend in life that I should have nothing to do with? I remember arguing back, but naturally my responses met on deaf ears not only because my dad would have no part of what I was trying to say, but my debating tactics were (and remain) kinda weak. But then again, the only real rule of debate that I know of is the one which our own dear president once mentioned, that if the opponent brings a knife to the fight, you bring a gun! Can't argue with a logical idea like that, and I mean it!

Don't know what dad'd think of these sides with titles that read like Magma outtakes, but I don't think he'd be too sussed by 'em either. But I like 'em, what with their ideas that seem like the better moments of twentieth century new music crunched into a half hour of perfection. "Terretektorh" reminds me of Penderecki's "Threnody For the Dead Hiroshima Victims" with elements of Varese's "Ionization" tossed in, while "Nomos Gamma" almost comes off like one of those John Cage symphonies everybody used to boo at mixed with elements from a few of the mid-sixties Sun Ra ESP albums. There ain't a wrong note on this one, though I'm sure dad would disagree!
Esquivel and his Orchestra-OTHER WORLDS, OTHER SOUNDS LP (So Far Out, Germany)

With ears attuned to Esquivel's E-ZY LISTENING magic as soothing sounds for midclass workaday types ('stead of as "Incredibly Strange Music" sophisticado har-hars for fake anarchists), I found that his versions of classic melodies fit in beautifully with my readings of choice 1959-1963 TV GUIDEs. Real gone "Stereo 99" sounds that were used to peak perfection on those Ernie Kovacs specials that sure got a lot of tee-vee mileage since the late-seventies. Still it ain't the same in the here and now as it would have been had I been some World War II vet type sporting a snazzy pair of Bausch and Lombs living in my 1959 ranch house listening to this in my knotty pine rec room with my feet up and my headphones on during some late-Ike/Kennedy-era day. Well, it sure woulda beat the crap outta worrying about the bomb, y'know?
Sun Ra-JOURNEY STARS BEYOND CD-r burn (originally on Saturn)

You can get JOURNEY STARS BEYOND with some other release on an Art Yard Cee-Dee, but Bill sent me this on its lonesome and like, it ain't like I'm complainin'! Don't know much background info or sidemen or anything other'n it might have been recorded in 1980 and released a year later, but this live sesh features loads of classic Sun Ra organ/rocksichord/synth-ish sounds with only a trombone and drums helping out, and for those of you who love those extremely obscure Saturn albums that seemed to reach out further than Ra's non-Saturn output did you should, uh, like go for this. And if you were one of many who were ripped off after sending hard-begged moolah to Saturn and hearing nary a reply (as was wont their business "practices"), feel secure in the thought that you can now pick this one up for free via download  and you don't have to pay those cheats one thin dime!
Various Artists-THE APES OF SMOKING FIREWATER CD-r (via Bill Shute)

Another winner from the computer reaches of Bill. It's got a lotta goodies from a kraut horror cash-in to some weird Bert Kaempfert rip not to mention a cheezy version of Richie Valens' "Donna" that just mighta caught on with the crowd that was mourning over the loss of him and those other guys who died and killed off rock 'n roll until the Beatles came to save us all (or something like that Greil Marcus once said).

The biggest surprises here are two sides of this weird experimental recording from an act calling itself the Apes of God which feature nada but weird piano scales while some aloof whitebread voice recites segments from that seventies best seller HOW TO PICK UP GIRLS. Totally high-larious listening perhaps magnified by the blase recitation and the John Schaum Book Two workouts heard in the background.

Also worth the listen are a bunch of demos that were recorded and personally sent to Keith Richards by some guy with a strange kinda New Yawk accent calling himself Paul Super Apple who, after a spoken drooling introduction regarding some past meeting and how much he appreciates Richards, delivers a bunch of  cheap crank-out low-fi numbers that I sincerely doubt Richards would have given a listen to. But Super Apple trods on and really dishes on the schmaltz as he lavishes praise on his hero and wishes him a Merry Christmas with all of the sentimentality of Red Skelton. Actually the songs Super Apple lays down ain't bad at all, kinda like a cross between Daniel Johnston and David Roter, but this guy had about as much of a chance getting any real recognition in the biz as I would selling an article to THE ADVOCATE! As they say in showbiz, them's the breaks!
Hey, d'ya wan't me t' dispence with the usual reviews 'n do one of my "specialties" next week? Do you??? Hunh, hunh???

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

UGLY THINGS #36 (need I say more?)

Gotta can the planned moom pitcher review I had lined up for today (George Cooney, Mickey Rooney, Sonny Bono, Yoko Ono and Splash the Wonder Carp in THE WRIGHT BROTHERS FAIL TO GET IT UP) in order to bring you this important bulletin...the latest issue of UGLY THINGS is finally out! Actually it's been out for a few months already but I just happened to get it, and all I gotta say is that I'm glad I got it now rather than later because like, these things are important to the health and well being of just about every supreme being to turns to this blog for something more'n the usual quap. And besides, if I got it later I might be too blind to read it!.

Gotta say that I only breezed through this one not only because I wanted to spread the news faster'n I want the information herein to absorb into my sponge-like consciousness, but because I wanted to see if my name was dropped anywhere (and it was---twice!). But what I have read's got enough power-packed info and heretofore unknown facts in 'em to make me an awe-inspired admirer of this rag 'n everyone who writes for the this oft-unheralded effort And each and every article, sentence, phrase, word and period to be found in here has an all-important and powerful worth to it...take the cover story on the elusive Andrew Loog Oldham (y'know, I actually fell for R. Meltzer's line that slop-popper Andrew Gold was actually Andrew LooG OLDham back in a 1975 CREEM!) which deserved to be the main selling come on for this issue considering the guy's all-importance in the history of the Rolling Stones. Not only that, but the snaps of him and Mick with the ever-popular Nico (singer with "the Underground Movement") are worth the price of admission alone!

To be honest about it, some of the pieces don't jibe with me like the one on the Radiators From Space (who weren't exactly my idea of a top notch British Isles p-rock aggregate in the first place) which makes these Irish guys come off too self-consciously sensitive as is wont the new generation of paddys over there, but most of this ish does have that standard UGLY THINGS sorta flair that I like. The Haunted saga part two was interesting if not exactly spine-tingling as was that piece on Craig Smith/Matreiya Kali even though I ain't goin' anywhere back to that rather dismal platter again at least in this lifetime! I was especially bowled over by the history of the Dutch rockers who called themselves the Motions, not because of any musical revelations that might have been found therein but because they endorsed Chukka Boots! Y'see, when I was a little boy my mother always bought those for me and I thought I was a cubeoid for wearing them, but since seeing the Motions' ad endorsing 'em I now feel like I was miles ahead of the rest of the kids who thought saddle shoes were the tops in high fashion!

Records reviews are helpful even if there's very little reviewed I'd actually want to fork over money for (depression-era wages, y'know), and of course the books and DVD sections are filled with the usual minutiae that'll take me at least a year to absorb. And hey, if you didn't think that Cyril Jordan's continuing commentary on growing up in sixties San Fran wasn't my favorite part of the mag you'd be wrong as usual. Right now he's up to right before the Summer of Love, and as you might not expect he's really taking it all in telling us about his experiences with LSD (which actually raised his grades from C's and D's to A's and B's!) and life/music as it was right when the whole thing was about to reach its peak and then come tumbling down into hippie visions of the Old West. But Cyril, I always thought you were a punk!

Ask me in a few weeks and I'll probably give you an entirely different, detailed to the gills review of this 'un. But as it stands here inna middle reaches of February UGLY THINGS is a top bedtime read which goes well with anything on the bedside boom box, and I'd rather it be this fodder to flow my way into slumberland than doing my taxes. At least if I stay awake all night it'll be because of the excitement found therein, not the fact that I owe Unca Sam a ton of bread!

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Y'know, I ain't gonna be "celebratin'" the fiftieth anniversary of the Beatles' appearance on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW like I might've back when I was in my early twenties and weirdo rituals such as spinning "Sister Ray" New Year's Eve/Morn meant a whole lot to me. No I am not gonna play Beatle records endlessly all day, nor am I gonna watch my VCR tape of that fateful show as the clock strikes eight. I ain't even gonna try to dig up the episodes of LASSIE, MY FAVORITE MARTIAN and MR. ED that preceded it. Heck, I ain't even gonna try to find the episodes of THE TRAVELS OF JAMIE McPHEETERS or WALT DISNEY that were runnin' up against it on the other networks just to find out what I was missing. However, I just might go and grab myself a bowl of CAP'N CRUNCH.or one of their crafty imitators in homage of this being the Golden Anniversary of my first indulging in the tasty and long-running breakfast cereal which, as I learned that very evening, is delicious whether it be for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

I gotta say that my own opines regarding the Beatles are about as 180 as those that Lou Reed used to spew, he at one time slobbering on about how great they were and oh how sad it was they broke up because "they had so much more to offer us," only to do a complete turnabout later on about their utter uselessness depending on whatever drug might have been in his system at the time. Maybe I'm not that negative about the Beatles as Lou could get, but there still is something inside of me that makes me cringe whenever I am reminded of some of their latterday hippie trips. I still remember back I was in grade school and I would hear some kid sing "All Together Now" which he copped from the Muppets anyway and all that came to mind was an irritating jolt through my digestive system. Back then long hair and tinkling bells were the "cool" thing for most of the just-popping into the double-digits kids, but in no way could I relate to the love and peace tee-vee culture they were plugging as much as they could relate to the Elvis and Ricky Nelson one I was tossing back at 'em! Needless to say I was an outkid even among the outkids!

Y'know, frankly I would have loved it if the Beatles had been just another flash-in-the-teenbo-pan like Dick Clark and I'm sure many other Amerigan rock moguls were hopin'. Not that the Beatles and their mop top brethren didn't help invigorate the stereo situation for the next few years, but their legacy if anything just reflected the flabby nature of the baby boomers who were offered all of the benefits, fun and entertainment that their depression-era folk never had only to become even more crotchety and corrupt than "the establishment" they claimed they wanted to destroy ever were.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of a current day Beatles Fan is some wire-rimmed and well off WASP-oid with long hair combed immaculately wearing a slightly mod-ish suit who follows all of the trendy belief systems he read about in ROLLING STONE or DOONESBURY with humble reverence. Y'know, the kinda guy who didn't know about punk rock until Greil Marcus told him about it and now suddenly he was head over heels about the Fabulous Poodles.

The perfect example of the Beatle fan just might be the guy who was giving me the evil eye when I was called up for jury duty and tried to get out of it by bringing along and reading an issue of David Horowitz's old HETERODOXY newspaper with the bold headline FRY MUMIA NOW! He mighta been the brightest eyed and bushiest tailed Saturday afternoon barbershop kid back '64 way, but in the meanwhile he had turned into an overwrought ball of cause and activism flowing out of his nerve-endings like lightning bolts. Given this all happened a good twenty years ago who knows how blue his pen has gotten writing letters of indignation to whatever publication or on-line outlet that would dare expose his angst to the world!

But still I gotta look on the bright side of it all, and that is that the Beatles helped push rock 'n roll into the Second Generation with relative ease. Not that 1963 top forty wasn't anything to sneeze at---in fact the early sixties were a whole load better'n self-appointed pundits with their college paper columns led us to believe, but the Beatles' appearances on these shores took the promise that the Trashmen, Kingsmen and all of those boffo surf and girl groups had and pushed it into even further reaches I'm sure nobody in 1960 would have dreamed ever could happen. And yeah, that meant that now even the geekiest Dilton Doiley in the school could now 'appreciate" rock the way he did calculus, but then again there was more rock to appreciate and, at least for a few years, it was rather invigorating stuff you couldn't get enough of!

But then again, by the late-sixties the form mutated perhaps beyond recognition, what with the advent of hippie jams (some of which weren't too bad I will admit) followed by hippie folk-strumming (which was!) and then an AM radio teetering between high energy quality and soft sap pap (with FM being a total dungeon despite what progressive prancers would like you to think). All of the energy and innovation that the seventies and beyond produced was swept under the rug in favor of the "classic rock" we all know and loathe, and despite the best efforts of the "underground" (which had been pretty much "overground" in the mid-sixties) all we were left with by the time it was our generation's turn was lame Bruce Springsteen belch and a much that lacked the danger, bravery and pure energy that the likes of the Beatles once exerted oh so long ago.

So, in many ways the Beatles were the beginning of the next generation with all of the promise and power that exuded, but in some ways (perhaps unconsciously) they were responsible for the end of rock as a viable International Youth Language.  Wasn't their fault though...maybe it just hadda be.

(Oh yeah, if you wanna know about Don Fellman's Beatles on Sullivan recollections lemme tell you---he has none! I asked him to contribute a few memories of that day and he says that he knew nothing about them or their importance and only knew something big happened the next day when classmates started talking about the show in typically teenage huzzuh terms! Thought I had a good one to relay to you similar to his JFK ruminations, but not this time!)

Just so's I won't be milking the fiftieth anniversary bandwagon for all it's worth I'm going to do just one Beatle writeup in celebration of the great event. Of course it's gonna be of the first platter of theirs I come across within the vast reaches of my Cee-Dee-brimming melon crate, some which would be fitting considering my rather unpredictable aleatory-riddled thought processes o'er the years.

The Beatles-ULTRA RARE TRAX VOL. 6 CD (Swingin' Pig boot, Luxembourg)

Dunno if any of this has been legitimately issued on one of those much-touted "Anthology" collections that came out awhile back, but this volume of the long-running bootleg series does collect some of the better Beatles outtakes in one nice li'l lump setting. Not only that, but while listening to this I actually got that old time rock 'n roll buzz that made me realize just why Second Generation rock was so important to people other'n mid-class turdburgers such as ourselves, and important people who wouldn't even dare to glance upon our sullen figures at that!

The demo version of "Come and Get It" (which the liners said was constructed within a mere hour) is so good 'n classic Beatles I kinda wonder why they gave it to Badfinger. If they hadn't I'm sure old fans would have felt it a return to past form back when the Beatles were playing rock 'n roll 'stead of music hall or simpy ballads. The version of "Hold Me Tight" is a bit wobbly though...reminds me of my mid-teen cassette of the first Capitol album right before it jammed in the gears as cheap tapes were wont to do back then. "I'll Be On My Way"'s a kinda placid post-Holly track from the BBC 'n I can see why it would be all but forgotten, while the take of "Strawberry Fields Forever" actually sounds much better stripped of the psychedelic lush gush.

"It's All Too Much" this the song that Sterling Morrison said was a swipe of the Velvet Underground? If so they sure did a nice enough job just like all of those other acts who did the same thing though never would admit it until liking the Velvets became "cool" years later. Speaking of Velvets, the "12 Bar Original" has that mid-sixties white kid trying to be a tough black kid sound that comes closer to the VU doing those "Green Onion" riff rips at the Factory...real boss. And while I'm on a mid-Amerigan rock streak, "I Hate To See" sounds, if it had only been fleshed out, like it coulda been a Flamin' Groovies outtake from the FLAMINGO sessions making me wonder...where did the Beatles go wrong?

Back to the early days with "take seven" of "She's a Woman," the song that had casual listeners actually thinking that Paul's voice was going shot! And if people thought Paul's voice was going kablooey then I wonder what they woulda thought of John's mind, what with his '68 eccentricities as well as yet another take of "What's The New Mary Jane." This one, as most all of the versions I've heard, ends in a long trail of aural afterbirth with Yoko not quite up to moaning away like we would have expected her to but I find it top notch anyway.

Closing out the set's a take of "Dig It" which I gotta say I always thought was a rather hotcha thingie built on a classic "Louie Louie" riff.. In fact, this entire collection hits the lofty BLOG TO COMM standards of just what rock 'n roll (as a suburban slob mode of entertainment and perhaps even expression) is supposed to be. It's too bad that the vast majority of Beatles/rock fans took to the more flower power happy goodtimey lovenpeace variety of late-sixties sociopolitical hoohah with the Beatles at the helm, and come to think of it too bad the Beatles did as well. After all, all you didn't need was love...maybe some high energy rock would have suited the beasts among us as well!

Perhaps if the Beatles had "matured" in quite a different direction the late-sixties music scene wouldn't have become as much of a dump as it was for a buncha brats who were buying Seeds records only a good two years earlier, but at least we got these rockers which I hope upset the starry eyed hippydippy iron-haired and headbanded gals I used to see to no end.
15-60-75 (the Numbers Band)-JIMMY BELL'S STILL IN TOWN, EXPANDED VERSION CD-r burn (originally on Exit Stencil)

It's sure grand to see this classic album (which has gotta rank as one of the ten best live rockism albums of all time) get yet another reissue. Sure it ain't like the "new" generation of kiddies are gonna be buyin' it up like they used to absorb every nuance of old tee-vee sitcoms and LITTLE RASCALS, but maybe old turd me has the same spark of hope that my dad's generation had when younger kids took a break from that horrid rock music 'n started to dabble in forties/fifties forms, even if it was via the Manhattan Transfer and Linda Ronstadt singing "Blue Bayou"! Some people let their freak flags fly, I let my suburban slob one flap mightily in the wind.

Of course it sounds dated---that is, if high energy jamz and flailing saxes are a potent example of musical carbon dating. Really, I'd sure hate to hear this 'un if it sounded contemporary! You know that hard driving rock and blues (no matter black or white) haven't been performed properly in ages, and giving a listen to these '75 recordings'll make you wonder why rock (as that maddening sound that typified Youth going out of control to the point where death seemed like a welcome punchline) had become just another commodity w/o the all-encompassing impact and verve that drove us to it in the first place.

The original portion of the album sure holds up and really drives that spike through what's left of my late-teenage years quest for total energy via various past punk attacks filtered through then-present underground accomplishment. The Numbers rock out like you would have expected any late-sixties punk band to have done, even with the horns which punctuate Robert Kidney's driving poetry talk-speak like nothing since John Cale's organ to Lou Reed's "Sister Ray" recitation. I still get the quivers (and am not ashamed to say so!) whenever I hear "Thief",  a little ditty which is based on a true encounter on the streets of Chicago which I could say is more potent'n what Lou Reed had been offering us with his various gutter visions of the seventies such as "Street Hassle".

The new material fits in swell what with a down homey take of "Who Do You Love" not to mention a rave up on the all time classic (whether the original or Sonics/Groovies cover) "Keep-a-Knockin'" that retains a dark, intense approach that'll probably frighten the fanabla outta you! A great addition to what already was one of the better platters to make its way outta the Akron/Kent area, and if you don't latch onto ths 'un any way you can you can't be my palzy-walzy thaz fer sure!
Hackamore Brick-FROM THERE TO ALMOST HERE CD (soon to be available via CD Baby)

Dunno if you can call this an actual Hackamore Brick album considering these 70s/80s tracks were mostly laid down by a variety of post Tommy Moonlight/Chick Newman groups such as Stars or perhaps even Blue Yonder, but it's about as close to a retrospective as we're gonna get so I wouldn't pick nits too much.

But if you were one fellow in the mood for a collection of Hackamore Brick rarities thanks be that one is finally on the way. And even though I do have more'n a few issues with it I gotta say that it is essential for fans of this group that is finally getting their long-due respect, even if it is from a bunch of people who undoubtedly woulda trampled over 'em to get to their James Taylor albums back 1971 way.

Now I must admit that the eighties material that doth appears does little for this humble blogschpieler. These tracks sound just too well-produced, recorded and generally squeaky-clean eighties, very much like some of the then-rampant AM pop that was fertilizing the radio waves back during one of the more barren times in rock music history. Dragging in eighties-vintage Rick Springfield may be a little too overboard, but in some ways might be quite accurate. Thankfully some pop sparks tend to ignite such as on Moonlight's '84 entry "Don't You Wanna Go," but for the most part these tracks are ballads that need some heavy duty rock 'n roll to intermingle with just like they did on that now-classic slice of Kama-Sutra.

The early-seventies tracks fare better, although they remind me less of ONE KISS LEADS TO ANOTHER and more of Big Star which just settles fine in my cranium! These numbers have that proper mix of 1972 top-40 pop pounce in the T. Rex/Badfinger/Hollies vein even if they aren't as flash as any of 'em, yet they still epitomize the days of rock as teenybop fun back when it was even OK for boys to read 16 (even if I wasn't allowed to!). But then again there are too many soft rockers here with nary a hard-edged proto-Patti Smith-esque "Zip Gun Woman" or "And I Wonder" Doors-cum-Zombies rave to jolt your nerve-endings. If the rockin' side of Hackamore Brick is one that had you scouring the cutout bins of 1976 you might be taken aback somewhat.

One that's sure to age nicely (even with the newer pop-oriented soft rockers), though next time how about more of that oomph?
Egg, Eggs-OFF YELLOW SOFT PILLOW CD-r (Kendra Steiner Editions, see link on left for ordering information)

Sheesh, I was still recovering from the first Egg, Eggs release and that was two years ago! Here's the latest via Kendra Steiner Editions, a nice little platter which kinda sounds like an aural version of one of those old Cal Schenkel collages that used to adorn the covers of Mothers albums. A total free play melange with found sound and that same nutty guy talking all over it comin' off like an escapee from a feminist genital clampdown workshop mumbling about the torture he's been through. If I were one of the members of Smegma I'd be having sleepless nights worrying over the competition that's about to take over on the total bizarro musico-art front.

I dunno about you, but for me Steve Allen was just another one of those fifties hip types who were eventually outdone by their emulators to the point where by the late-sixties they seemed just as cube as Lawrence Welk with the cast of Johnny Mann's STAND UP AND CHEER tossed in for good measure. I might have thought he was boffo at one time, but eventually I came to see Allen as a guy who didn't know whether ot not he wanted to be Mr. Freethinker or the guardian of Ameriga's Saintly Values (see his campaign against none other than Howard Stern, a guy who in many ways was Allen's fifties persona flash forwarded into the disgusto nineties...sour grapes anyone???). A total snooze eve if he was a huge part of that cool post-World War II/pre-hippie era I miss sooooo much!

Given that, I will admit that I found myself tapping toe and putting on a li'l smile while listening to this '64 LP of various Steve Allen numbers taken from his early/mid-sixties tee-vee program. I assume this version of THE STEVE ALLEN SHOW was a flop (channel 33 carried it here starting in the autumn of '63, though by the spring of '64 it had been replaced by HAWAIIAN EYE reruns), but then again did Group W have any hits outside of Mike Douglas? Getting back on subject, these numbuhs are very much boss pre-hippie hipster spoof featuring that smart yet not sophisticado Allen humor. Crack up over "I've Left My Nose in San Diego" and "How's Your Sister" (where Allen's classic "schmaa! schmaa!" catchphrase is once again trotted out). Even the instrumentals have a boss cool to 'em that remind me of my turdler years traveling with my dad in the '62 Pontiac as the kind of instrumental music he liked intermingled with the mop top slop making for a gulcheral battle that would be played out for years. And to think I was actually alive when hot flash like this was part and parcel to the suburban slob way of life!
Various Artists-BEWARE OF THE TWO-STEP SPARROW CD-r (via Bill Shute)

Bill balances the cornballus with the cool on this one. The c&w from Johnny Bush does about as much for me as PLAYBOY AFTER DARK did for the local head of the Clean Minds Committee, while Teen Jones' "I'll Never Change" comes closer to the idea Aunt Flabby had as to what teenage music should sound like rather'n ours. However, some familiar trackage from the Lincoln Street Exit and Screamin' Jay Hawkins (courtesy the ITTY BITTY PRETTY ONE album) help set things in proper perspective. Emitt Rhodes contributes some of his late-sixties sunshine pop which is always a nice change of pace, while the surprise of the batch just has to be "Seasons in the Sun"'s Terry Jack's double-entendre turdster "Put The Bone In" which I know woulda had the kids chortlin' in the "My Girl Bill" vein had this made it to the charts! And if that ain't enough for you there's always the theme from THE THIRD MAN done by what sounds like some midwest ethno types who work in the restaurant business as well as a high-larious cover of the Stones' "Lady Jane" sung incredibly off-key!
RAZORLEGS CD (available via Andrew Hurst)

With a name like Razorlegs I thought this was gonna be some sorta ad for the Nair people...y'know, why have hairy legs that give away your ethnicity? Turns out this is some hot collaboration between noisemen proud Andrew Hurst and P. D. Fadensonnen, and it's the same hot stuff you would have expected dished out with an even more vital fervor. Heavy electronic sounds done up in that warm drone way we all love, with the appearance of a stylophone that's bound to give Rolf Harris let alone David Bowie nightmares. Some of the more free jazz sax/percussion/blare tracks remind me of Alan Sondheim outtakes. Yet another surprise that nobody's gonna hear because...who reads this blog anyway???
LATE BEATLE-DAY UPDATE!...just before going to press (and approximately fifty years to the minute I tasted the original concoction),  I downed a huge bowl of a Cap'n Crunch with Crunchberries knockoff, an inexpensive alternative that is being pushed by the Malt-O-Meal folk which I will still admit is a pretty tasty suppertime treat if I do say so myself. Other'n that this is gonna be about as far as I go paying homage to a day that probably did more for my kiddie kulinary tastes than it did for my musical growth, and for some maybe not-so-strange reason I feel like I've paid homage to my roots in the right and proper manner. And it is nice to know that in fifty years my father's opinions regarding the Beatles have not changed one iota---glad to see some vestiges of mid-twentieth century tastes and values still exist even in these particularly glum times!

Thursday, February 06, 2014

BOOK REVIEW! RAY AND JOE, THE STORY OF A MAN AND HIS DEAD FRIEND by Charles Rodrigues (Fantagraphics, 2013)

I've often said that there's nothing funny being said or done anymore, and for the most part I am right! Oh yeah, I can have a good hearty chuckle over the corpse of some jerkoff who did me wrong in school, or maybe even do a li'l chortlin' when I see some little kid slip on the ice and break his neck (and if you can't laugh at paraplegics who can you laugh at?), but other'n that all I gotta say is that the twenty-first century has turned out to be about as har-de-har-har as a weekend in the county lock up sharing a cell with a guy named Le'Angelo. I blame it all on the likes of Lenny Bruce and Dick Gregory, "comedians" who were just unfunny comics who did nothing but blab and yell about how everything but their own sad and sordid selves was responsible for the so-called woes of the world. If you think the likes of Bill Maher and Sarah Silverman are pathetic non-guffaw-inducing self-important shills for the New Regime just take a whiff of Bruce's corpse for the disgusto root of it all.

This disturbing fact is undoubtedly why when I do come across something funny these days it's either over thirty years old or so socially scathing (some may call it "racist" even if there isn't a race angle to it---words like that usually do have them button-pushing results with your standard bleedheart types who see Klansmen under the bed) that one would wonder if such humor would ever be allowed to be published in these culturally stilted times. Not surprisingly, much of the scathing humor that I do come in contact with can be up to fifty years old, if not older which does say something about just how much humor has devolved to the point where an entire industry can malign the sensibilities of your average ethnic blue collar taxpayer, but if you even dare point out the hypocrisy of the entire gay rights movement...thar HE blows!.

For example, some of the items in a satire mag like HELP! may have passed the muster in the early sixties, though nowadays a photo of a dead First Nations type o' guy with an old cavalry soldier remarking "Well, at least he's a good Indian" comes off so offensive to prickly types I can't help but laugh even harder than I would have way back when. Ditto another HELP! "fumetti" showing a panic stricken scene at a beach with a cartoon bubble reading "A Negro just went in the water" that's something that would have gotten both the phony intellectual college students and the black-loathing populace laughing their heads off, each somehow thinking that the folks at HELP! were actually on "their side" given the humorous ambiguity of it all!!!!

In the seventies the NATIONAL LAMPOONs were just flying off the shelves being offensive to patrons of all socio/politico/ethno persuasions, something that would be corroborated by the fact that many of the contributors to the rag weren't as politically pious as we might have been originally led to believe. I really do find it hard to fathom that such a magazine would be allowed to exist these days at least in its seventies form, or at least with them poking fun at the Brahmans of modern leftitude the way comedy figures continually snarl at the more traditional, hard working aspects of our current society while giving their own pathetic selves a pass.

Cartoonist Charles Rodrigues was one of the mainstays at the 'POON throughout the mag's entire run, and the man's penchant for tasteless, gross and at times downright offensive (to the kinda people I like to see squirm) submissions really knew no bounds. Whereas other "new" cartoonists skipped and flirted around their subject matter to the point where people wondered what the point was, Rodrigues attacked almost everything with a total frothing disgust! The "right" things were not sacred to the man, and in today's precious petunia clime Rodrigues' objects of scorn from coma victims, cripples and fartsters to fags and ethnic minorities would certainly earn him a place of particular cartoonist-non-gratis among the current purveyors of taste and get-along.

Needless to say, I'm kinda surprised this book was even allowed to exist in the first place, and RAY AND JOE, THE STORY OF A MAN AND HIS DEAD FRIEND is sure a grand thing to have at least until the government begins burning old copies of the 'POON just because of their abilities to bruise the sensibilities of your average fifteen-year-old mixed-race homosexual amputee victim. I kinda get the idea's on the back burner once the new kulturkampf gets into high gear sometime inna twenties, so until then enjoy, and I do hope that you are offended.

RAY AND JOE ain't a complete Rodrigues can find two early non-'POON paperbacks featuring work for various titmags and STEREO REVIEW easily enough via ebay,  but it's by far the best. Incomplete true (the scathing "Hire the Handicapped" and "Goddamn Faggots!" are conspicuously missing), but it's got a choice enough selection of Rodrigues' 'POON work gathered making for a fine one-place to sit down and read his tasteless but tasty work without having to scamper through old issues. And of course I love it what with the no-holds-barred humor that actually makes me laugh ("in there"---pointing to throat) rather than wince. Even when I do wince it's a good wince, the kind that makes me kinda glad that I at least lived through the seventies when snide humor was at its offensive height and we didn't have to feel sorry for the man who was beating us senseless while robbing us blind, and that our privilege was something that was earned 'stead of handed out like food in a breadline.

The entire "Ray and Joe" series naturally appears and it's a pretty good 'un, especially since Rodrigues was able to get a whole lotta comics outta the premise of a guy who keeps his dead friend around (this being a friendship that lasts beyond death itself). It might not seem so funny to you, and in fact the entire premise is probably withering away right before your eyes, but Rodrigues knew how to make a seemingly lame gag go a long way, perhaps even longer than other bad-taste mongers like the MONTY PYTHON folk could have done with a similar theme. Everything from embalming to carting dead Joe around the place is brought up, and dang it but Rodrigues really had a knack for taking a disgusting situation and making it his own! And speaking of sick-sick-sick, one of the series' highlights includes the discovery of a tapeworm in Joe which really does make Ray happy, as if somehow, part of Joe was still alive!

Of course "Ray and Joe" ain't the only continuing comics to appear in this collection...there's also the sad tale of Deidre Callahan, the world's ugliest girl who becomes even uglier after a plastic surgery botch up, the Aesop Brothers (conjoined twins in a variety of high-larious adventures), Sam DeGroot ("the free world's BEST private detective in an iron lung machine," later on "one of 36 private detectives in the free world in a coma") and a variety of one-offs and other sundries, "The Man Without a County" being one of my personal favorites. 

Rodrigues' methods of cartooning were a whole lot freer'n anyone else on the legit scene that I've seen, and if the guy didn't quite like where his story was going he would either stop it mid-page and come up with an all-new title, or at one point appear himself in the strip and shoot everybody! Pretty neat hunh?, even though the same tactics would just emit a yawn from me if some current practitioner of the form were to try the same tactics in some "free weekly" outlet or web page jagoff. The cartoon directly above is just one good example of what Rodrigues would come up with when the story ideas just weren't flowing or perhaps he just had a fuggit attitude towards the particular comic, or maybe even a fuggit attitude towards you the reader! 'n all I gotta say is that the resultant spew is what I would call pure comic genius perhaps a few steps in the tasteless direction from one of those old NANCY comics where Ernie Bushmiller would be so lazy he'd present solid black and white panels featuring his characters either in a dark room or a snowstorm.

And as far as shaggy dog sagas go, Rodrigues was the master leading you up to a story-changing conclusion only to find out that the mystery person at the door who was about to change the course of the Aesop Brothers' destiny was in reality some old lady from upstairs returning a borrowed saucepan.

One more important thing I will say about Rodrigues' keen appraisal of post-Cool Life Amerigan living is that he really knew his subject matter well! Or at least he was able to capture a certain segment of mid-Amerigan living that might seem a whole lot closer to the truth than the dystopian mirage of today's socially astute seers. Take the following cartoon which seems to mirror the existence of more'n a few regular BLOG TO COMM readers (although certain wags would have it as me being the pampered pooch of a son!) who probably wouldn't be ashamed of admitting they live this way! (Though the final panel is reminiscent of the time when I was four and THE BARNEY BEAN SHOW was coming on the air and I hadda go number two as well, so mom left the bathroom door open, tilted the tee-vee and cranked up the volume disgusting my sister to no end!)