Tuesday, January 30, 2018


MR. RICCO was Dean Martin’s final starring role (he had only guest star roles after this) in a feature film, and it came and went very quickly. I remember it appearing out of the blue and seeing a newspaper ad for it, but by the time I was able to arrange seeing it, it had vanished from all screens in the Denver area, and I don’t remember it re-appearing later on the bottom of the bill at any local drive-ins. At most, it was out for a week in January 1975.

Of course, Dean Martin would not be the first name one would think of as the star of an urban crime film, which is essentially what this is, although Martin is an attorney, not a cop. You need a jittery, edgy presence, which is why Sinatra could do that kind of cop role well in his later years. Director Paul Bogart had previously directed CANCEL MY RESERVATION, the 1972 swan song of Bob Hope, which did get a theatrical release but seemed to be a network Movie Of The Week within months, so maybe some studio official thought he had a proven track record with past-their-prime household names. The big difference between that and Mr. Ricco is that in the Hope film, Bob was just doing the same old routine and running it into the ground. In Mr. Ricco, Martin is definitely playing against type--there’s no boozing or womanizing or double-entendre dialogue. Martin is playing a real character and not just a variation on his persona. The character is awkward, lonely, suffering from the health problems that come with age, and has a vulnerability that is moving. Of course, Martin had done diverse dramatic roles successfully a number of times before (THE YOUNG LIONS, for instance, with Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift) in the post-Martin and Lewis era, but with the success of his weekly TV variety show, where the Dino persona--with a drink in one hand and a scantily-clad blonde on the other arm--was branded permanently into the consciousness of the average American, it was hard to think of him as anything else. This film came after his variety show went off the air but before he took the same boozy persona and brought it to a long series of celebrity roast TV specials, which are still being played on cable TV and sold on DVD today. The 70’s was a Golden Age of urban crime films, and even John Wayne made two of them in the 1974-75 period, MC Q and BRANNIGAN. The makers of this film wisely did not make Martin a cop--he doesn’t seem to have the energy for that--instead, they put him into the world of police and criminals as an attorney, and a burned-out, second-string attorney.

MR. RICCO looks and plays a lot like a TV movie (in fact, Martin’s daughter Deana refers to it as a TV show “that did not last very long” in her book about her father, so even she had it confused with a TV movie!), though with a bit more violence and darker, moodier photography than one would find on TV. Much of the plot revolves around Black characters (with Martin as a kind of outsider to their world) and a Black militant played by Thalmus Rasulala (well-remembered from COOL BREEZE and BLACULA), and the cast also includes Denise Nicholas (from ROOM 222) and the young Philip Michael Thomas, pre-MIAMI VICE. In Nick Tosches’ book on Dean Martin, Rasulala is quoted as describing Martin as detached and somewhat out of it during the film’s shoot, keeping to himself and being polite but not really connecting with the cast. If you were not a Martin fan, you could say he was phoning it in. He was also in the midst of a painful divorce, but he was always the professional and he always made it look effortless. If you decide to watch the film a second time but forget about the “plot” and concentrate entirely on Martin’s performance and characterization, tuning everything else out, as I once did, you’ll probably rate the film much higher and find a lot to contemplate.

The plot introduces many different and interesting elements in its 98 minutes, never really going all the way with or developing any of them but dropping them here and there, which oddly works here since that’s probably how the average police investigation or the average week in someone’s life would seem while you were living it, but the “whodunit” climax is an outrageous cheat and makes me wonder if this project was just finished (maybe I should say “finished off”) because it was contracted and a job needed to be done. I can’t imagine anyone involved in the production thinking that a film with such a ludicrous resolution could ever get a good review. MGM/UA’s dumping of the film onto the market with little fanfare or promotion would also lead one to that conclusion--it was a product that had a contractual obligation to be released, and they released it....and quickly moved on.

San Francisco is always a good setting for a crime film, and the locations are fresh and unfamiliar. The supporting cast, those mentioned above plus Eugene Roche (for years known by all as the dishwasher character selling Ajax Dishwashing Detergent, but also a man with a long string of stage credits, and memorable appearances in everything from SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE to ALL IN THE FAMILY) as the burned-out cop that Martin’s Mr. Ricco tangles with, all do a great job (no doubt thinking it was a good break to get cast in an MGM film starring Dean Martin!). And Dean Martin, although looking tired and detached, creates an interesting character, and those qualities actually help make Ricco seem real. Martin plays him as if he’s not starring in a movie but maybe forced to do jury duty, and having to do it during a week when he’d hoped to be doing something else, yet somehow that approach fits.

Fans of Dean Martin or of lesser-known 70’s urban crime films will want to check this out, and except for the ending, you should find your 98 minutes to be well spent. It’s no classic, but just imagine it as a pilot for an entry in the NBC MYSTERY MOVIE anthology series, except with Dean Martin. I would have watched such a show religiously back in the day. Dean Martin certainly finished off his days of film stardom in a much more classy and successful way with MR. RICCO than Bob Hope did with CANCEL MY RESERVATION, although that’s not much of a compliment.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Nothin' much to report on this week, that is unless you want me to spew reams of intricate details regarding my typical winter sniffles or various underwear surprises. Which I suspect you don't, so let's just get on with the rekkid reviewz and leave the personalist aspects of this blog to future posts, hokay???

Pandit Pran Nath-SINGS RAGAS BHEEMPALASI & PURIYAA DHANAASHREE 2-LP set (Sri Moonshine Records)

If you thought that rock music (at its purest) was just one big drone and liked it just give this man a listen. Live recordings of historical significance guaranteed to snuggle into your subconscious while you're up to other things and like the best music ,whether it pretends to or not, it doesn't hinder and in fact accentuates your daily duties without obliterating it all to heck. This guy gave loads of lessons to the New York avant garde music makers of the early-sixties, so if you're keen on the kind of ramalama that Terry Riley, Lamonte Young and Henry Flynt were making at the time you're probably already in gear for Pandit Pran  Nath and like need I say any more???
The Fruit Eating Bears-THE LOST 1977 PUNK RECORDINGS CD-r burn

Lotsa REAL punks used to pee on these guys but I think they got more energy and grit to 'em than a thousand hippoids trying to fool every with their spiky attire. Led by former Slowload frontman Neville Crozier (they of "Big Boobs Boogie" fame) the Bears crash about with a primal, clanky fury that I gotta say rose about the usual poses that most enemies of the form seem to remember. Hotcha originals mingle with pertinent six-oh garage band classics proving that it really was all one continuum even if more'n a few nabobs were more'n willing to say otherwise.
Dirty Songs-PLAY DIRTY SONGS CD (Audio Records, England)

Wow, a concept album, all having something (extremely) vaguely to do with hidden obscenities in pop records or some other similar heady subject like that which probably matters only to executive producer Maxime Rossi and nobody else. The execution of the entire project might not quite convey what Rossi had intended to say (which I find difficult to digest in my single-digit IQ mind), but musically this succeeds thanks to the presence of a group that consists of some heavy players on the English avant garde like Steve Beresford, Evan Parker, Phil Minton and David Toop.

Together, they as Dirty Songs kinda sound like what AMM woulda had they been into rock 'n roll. Given how the late-sixties English had a hungerin' for the likes of the Velvet Underground which occasionally manifested itself in various sound expressions, it's no mistake that some of these tracks have a not-so-strange Velvets cum Hawkwind drone that recalls what was goin' on over there right when it was all starting to "come together" as far as the avant garde and the rock world standing up and shaking hands. Other numbers with affected if buried vocals (such as the one where the lyrics to "Louie Louie" are slowed down to a growl) or total avant blast blares of the abstract persuasion may be too heady or even over-the-edge for your tastes. But overall this surprisingly has some great energetic rock moments on it which shows that there surprisingly is still fresh music being made in the "avant rock" realm other than the usual Fadensonnen and Kendra Steiner Editions release, which seems so strange especially here in the post-post-music days of 2018
Craig Bell-AKA DARWIN LAYNE CD-r burn (originally on Ever Never Records, available here)

Why it took so long to get I don't know (actually I do know...y'see I thought Bell himself was gonna send me a copy!) but now that I have it I can enjoy repeated spins of this Cleveland underground first-waver's brighter moments even if I'm confused as to the origins and whys and wherefores of it all. Great tracks old (like "Sea Chains" and a whole bunch that originated during Bell's Mirrors sojourn) and new (which in this case means Saucers onward) are perfect for those of you who've been in on that whole late-sixties sophisticado rock cum pop as the Universal Musical Language for the past fortysome years...and don't regret it one bit. Good straight-ahead sounds here even if it does lack the WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT meets FUNHOUSE atonality that Rocket From The Tombs were infamous for way back in those rather blurry memory days.
Various Artists-TOOTH AND NAIL CD-r burn (originally on Upsetter Records)

Yeah, I know that I'm supposed to hate this album on principal given how the guy who was responsible for it is one of those demigods who is worshiped by people I wouldn't pay to shovel the shit that you have to take from those who give it to you all day. But dang it I just don't if only for the punk purity of the thing, what with the Controllers easing into late-seventies attitude while still holding onto an early-seventies approach, the Flesh Eaters (and Germs) practically inventing El Lay hardcore even though the pupils eventually got it all wrong, U.X.A. doing yet another Amerigan take on X Ray Spex (and better if I do say so myself) and both Negative Trend and the Middle Class not fresh enough to really qualify as anything out of the original. But gosh darn if I still love 'em as much as I do the rest. I have the actual vinyl copy of this somewhere in this heap I call a home, but this burn (available via ebay) is handier even if it, like my original, lacks the lyric sheet (I wonder why???---at least regarding the one missing from my original, eh Brad?!?!).
The Good Rats-LIVE AT LAST CD-r burn (originally on Rat City Records)

Didn't think it coulda happened (well maybe I did), bu at one time the Good Rats actually put out a hot and pumping-on-all-cylinders live album that not only contains an over-the-speed limit performance but doesn't sound all slick and FM trebley! True at times these Rats might come off too professional for anyone's benefit, but they play hard and mean and can deliver on those high energy jamz about as much as any of the other hard-blare acts of the late seventies (the Dictators come to mind). Good slab of straight ahead rock and even some fusion jamz to make you do a double look and when you're done you too will wonder why these guys never really went anywhere.
Stefan Jaworzyn/Thursty Moore/Rudolph Grey-LIVE @ THE COOLER NYC 1996 CD-r burn

When you get three musical miscreants like this together you KNOW you're gonna be in for one mighty hunking roar of electronic sound. And that's exactly what turns up on this short but sweet live show featuring Skullflower/Ascension guitarist Jaworzyn teamed up with the infamous Thurston Moore and perhaps even more infamouster Rudolph Grey, each sounding like they're engaged in a wrestling cage match with their guitars winner-take-all! If you're still keen on those early just-post no wave mass of electric guitar wail sounds that came off sooooo exciting and liberating and all at the time (early/mid-eighties), an internet search just might come in handy.
The Dum Dum Boys-LET THERE BE NOISE CD-r burn

These New Zealand Iggyphiles were a whole lot better'n a load of their brethren on the snot circuit if only because THEY KNEW HOW TO STEAL FROM THEIR IDOLS WITH SUAVENESS AND VERVE! Nobody really could capture the whole late-sixties Amerigan ideal to crisp crackling perfection, but the Boys really can get into the whole gestalt of it all in a way that only Rocket From The Tombs and perhaps a smattering of others could succeed with. Especially dug the slowed down remash of "Sister Ray" on "Something to Say" which does reveal some grey matter activation. Sure sounds great, especially when played up against the kind of music that followed!
Various Artists-UNIQUE HORIZON WRITING SHARK CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Boy does this one start off  crapezoid what with three hippoid rock tracks that remind me of nothing but early-seventies feel sorry for me, I have long hair music. Fortunately things start cooking with the English big beat of the Baroques and (I think) Jack and the Beanstalks. From there on it's a roller coaster ride of cornball moom pitcher themes, teenage British Invasion imitations, sunshine-y pop and grownup lounge music that reminds me of family trips and frequent Holiday Inn stops. Some of the instrumentals that close this thing out have a nice snap to 'em. Unfortunately Bill hadda end it all with yet another 1971-vintage hippie rock thing complete with lyrics that just HAFTA BE fraught with deep introspective meaning and alla that comfy cozy hokum that was so big back then. As if the audience really cared...after all even Nick Tosches said in one of the best things he ever wrote that the folks who went to Madison Square Garden were only there to see George Harrison's nifty hair.
OOPSIES---I forgot to thank the fine folk who sent me material for this week's post, mainly Bill Shute, P.D. Fadensonnen and Bob Forward! Paul McGarry...sorry sport, but maybe next time!

Thursday, January 25, 2018


I thought that this strip would have been petering out into late-sixties "War on Crime" jingoism and duller-than-you storylines by now...after all, that's what the "experts" have been saying had happened to DICK TRACY once Chester Gould got on his moon trip and science fiction angle. But gosh if DICK TRACY just doesn't still seem to be cooking on all hotplates just like it had been a good twenty-to-thirty years earlier. The freaky villains, the scientific gadgets, the senseless violence...it's all here and let me tell you it must have looked just as good to the standard spread out onna parlor floor kiddoid suburban slob of 1967 as it did to the same species back during those World War II days when TRACY was even more popular than you ever will b, and I should know because I in fact was that suburban slob aficionado!

There are some great scenes to behold in this vol., like the one where Mr. Bribery and his cyster Ugly Christine (who really ain't ugly and is kinda sexy with that long black hair) kill a pair of renegade scientists by shooting one in the left eye and penetrating the other right through the skull with Christine's high heel! Then of course there's the panel which reveals just how "Haf-N-Haf" got the way he did (you think that Gould would have been aware of the extremely similar "Two-Face" character in BATMAN...maybe he was getting back at Bob Kane et. al. for swiping ideas from DICK TRACY lo these many years!) showing him lying unconscious while semi-submerged in a pool of acid! Grisly yet oh-so-appropriate for a strip such as this which never did shy away from the distasteful. Even weirder is the thread where Kora Steele, the now blind old lady who knew Haf as a child, is hiding the mummified remains of her husband in his bedroom and her bloodhound, after years of faithfully guarding the bedroom door, enters with the cops and licks the wrinkled and grinning face of his former master! YECH with a capital "Y" if you ask me, but somehow I find something that makes DICK TRACY all the more hard-hitting and (dare-I-say) REAL LIFE????? I mean, you should have seen some of the things my dog used to lick!

If the concerned mothers of Ameriga types were so up in arms about the violence in children's entertainment (not realizing that their hubbies were probably just as gung ho on this form of funzies as the kidz!) I'd like to see just what they'd think of these particular happenings that could easily be found in the pages of Anypaper USA! Funny how things have changed...I mean I can't think of anything more downhome wholesome than TRACY with all its violence and gore while the same kinda moms of the past have transformed into a new variation on the old "Reform League" types, only they're out there pushing such vague ideals as "equality of outcome" and "identity politics" rather than shuddering at the thought that Batman and Robin might be engaging in the love that won't shut up anymore. But they're still the same shrieking harpies they were back when D.W. Griffith was poking fun at 'em, and they're still about as welcome around here as a knife juggler would be in a nudist colony!

Can't complain a bit about anything (even Gould's frequent and weirdo proclamations about magnetism vs. rocketry!), and the upcoming volume looks even temptier what with the addition of these two young (and married) lookalike criminals, both former employees of Diet Smith Enterprises who were hired by a now-free Mr. Bribery (he having broke outta the hoosegow) to help him get hold of the hundred thou he accidentally left stranded in orbit. After retrieving the moolah in a large mesh trap strapped to the front of a space coupe they actually drop Bribery's drunken carcass back at the prison where the guy escaped---and he goes right through the roof! (These sorta endings always make me feel happy inside!) What's surprising about this particular arc is that the married badskis look conspicuously 2018 what with their flashy hairstyles, bizarroid earrings and both sporting stylish pointy beards. And considering how close alike they look they mighta even been twins...talk about adding a a daring incest angle to an otherwise every day kiddo comic strip! Wow, who woulda thought that Gould woulda predicted the who ambi/unisexual transgender sibling love hipster movement a good fifty years back??? Yes, his "The Nation That Controls Magnetism Controls The World!" canard turned out to be a big flop but when it came to the weirdos like we have now boy could Gould call 'em!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


TALES OF ROBIN HOOD was a collaboration between two budget-minded producers, Robert Lippert (best known for Lippert Pictures and later the B-unit at Fox--we reviewed his WILDFIRE here a while back) and Hal Roach Jr. Both had experimented with “streamlined” features running in the 40-55 minute range, and Roach was a pioneer of early television (which was essentially even more “streamlined” 25 minute B-movies), responsible for such classics as RACKET SQUAD, DUFFY’S TAVERN, MY LITTLE MARGIE, and THE STU ERWIN SHOW. Lippert had also experimented with hour-long films in two parts so they could be separated for easy television showings after a token theatrical run (he did three excellent features in this vein with Hugh Beaumont as detective Denny O’Brien in 1951). Therefore, the two were natural allies when it came to creating a Robin Hood TV pilot that might also have theatrical exhibition possibilities on the side (the opening credits read R&L PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS, meaning Roach and Lippert)...and one that could be made quickly and inexpensively.

Roach had access to sets from the 1948 film JOAN OF ARC (an RKO release, which starred Ingrid Bergman and Jose Ferrer), which are used A LOT in the film, so all that was needed was minimal outdoor shooting and some faux-outdoor sets (for instance, the fight between Little John and Robin Hood, when they first meet and do not know each other’s identity, where they both wind up falling into a small pond, was clearly shot at a studio pool, dressed with some brush around it). The end result is quite impressive visually, especially for a low-budget film. The many and varied scenes on large castle sets give the film a “big” feel and a convincing atmosphere.

It’s amazing how much of the Robin Hood backstory and legend are crammed into a one-hour film, but rarely does it seem that characters are mouthing exposition in their dialogue, and when it does, it still seems natural to the scene. You could be from Mars and never have heard of this Robin Hood fellow, and in an hour you’d know his personal history as Robin of Locksley, how he evolved into his role as doer-of-good and righter-of-wrong, how he assembled his group of Merry Men, how the major members of his group joined the band, how Maid Marian came into his life, etc. etc. And all of this is provided in addition to an exciting plot involving kidnapping, an archery contest, the quest to win Maid Marian’s hand away from the evil man to whom she’s been promised, and the quest to topple Sir Guy of Clement, who had Robin’s father killed and who has been abusing the locals.

Robert Clarke, who plays Robin, devoted a few pages to this film in his excellent autobiography TO “B” OR NOT TO “B”, and it seems the principal photography was done in FOUR DAYS! With that kind of schedule, the production needed professionals who could work quickly with no re-takes, and you’ve got a lot of them here. Clarke, who later became known for low budget sci-fi and horror films, had been a contract player at RKO and worked with many greats there, and he starred in two of the prestigious indie films directed by Ida Lupino a year or so before this film. He’s handsome, athletic, projects an upbeat vibe throughout the film, and his fencing does not seem to have required a double. In addition you’ve got the urbane Brit Paul Cavanagh, a man with 162 IMDB credits, as the evil Sir Guy; comedic movie gangster and BTC favorite Ben Welden (a man with a devoted following because of his 8 guest appearances on the 50’s Superman TV show) as Friar Tuck; and Whit Bissell (the doctor in I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF) as Will. Low budget filmmaking requires talented character actors who can command your attention, and either charm you or make you hate them, and these pros (among many in the cast) do that very well. Four days isn’t even a full work week, and the next week these folks would be in some other film or TV episode, and giving THAT the same efficient professionalism, probably at or near SAG/AFTRA scale.

Had I stumbled in to see this film at my local neighborhood or small-town theater in 1951 at the end of a long work week dealing with cranky customers and a cranky boss, I would have been totally entertained. Also, because the film was shot for TV exhibition, it has a lot of medium shots and close-ups (except for when they want to show of that gigantic Joan of Arc set, and then the camera pulls back, and yes, it IS impressive), so you really get to know the actors, as they are, literally, in your face a lot.

For me, characters like Robin Hood or Tarzan or Hercules (or ANY character from comics!) belong in “B” movies, not in bloated studio epics. There were no spoiled diva stars in this film....to get that many scenes done in four days, you had to be quick and professional, and that speed gives a kind of breathless feel to the film’s pace and performances, and if you think about it, Robin Hood had to be in a relatively breathless state to get done all the derring-do necessary to defeat the evil ruler, save Maid Marian, and re-claim his rightful place as Robin of Locksley....and especially to get it all done IN ONE HOUR. We should be giving an award to this cast and crew who could put together such an exciting and good-looking low-budget film....actually, a TV pilot that was not picked up....so efficiently. If you ever needed an example of old-fashioned American ingenuity using the modest materials at hand, TALES OF ROBIN HOOD is it. If I had a sword, I’d raise it in honor of Robin Hood and Robert Clarke....since I don’t, I’ll raise a tankard of ale instead!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

So, how are you holding out against the January blahs anyway? Me, I've been around the block so many times that seasonal mood changes don't even matter anymore, but even if they did I'd be getting by swell enough what with my digging out of the usual grump-bustin' sounds and tee-vee viewing (via Dee-Vee-Dee natch...series like THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN and ABBOTT AND COSTELLO never wear thin with me no matter how many times throughout my life I see 'em) and of course the beauteous bevy of music that has been playin' the soundtrack to my life for longer than anyone other than my enemies can remember.  I'm survivin' the snow 'n all even if I am having a whole lotta trouble awaiting the release of albums that I don't think ever will come within my ears (no, I don't mean that!) as well as listening to more modern efforts trying to somehow tie 'em in even in the most tangential way that they have the same kind of meaning as those classics of yore. Of course spot readings of THE AESTHETICS OF ROCK does tend to sort out much of the internal chaos.
The fanzine front (at least as far as finding any old faves or discovering new classics) hasn't been that snazzoid as of late, so I've been tryin' to find my self-publication thrills through other means. One way I have tried to sate my amateur press passions has been by printing out and pouring over some of the free "punk rock" fanzines that have been available for download via various sites (check blogroll on left for a link or two), but even the fanzines that are available for free aren't enough to get me all hot and bothered like a newly found issue of DENIM DELINQUENT might have oh-so long ago. As ya all (should) know, when it comes to fanzines there are more subjects than rock 'n roll to peruse, and given how my interest in such publications exceeds the usual rock 'n roll fodder I'm happy enough to have come across a site which has provided for us all each and every issue of Bruce Townley's OBLONG, a fanzine which has made for a rather interesting evening of settle back kick up yer feet reading that's for sure!

Some of you rock fanzine types might remember Townley from his days contributing to the should-be ever-popular HYPERION where not only did he contribute a column entitled "Almost Another" (dealing solely with Science Fiction fanzines) but earned the (friendly?) ire of editor Mark Jenkins for his love of the Firesign Theatre universe of albums, books etc. However, while HYPE went under during the early months of '75 and Jenkins found his fortune in the legitimate rockscreeding world, Townley kept true to his fanzine roots not only with his contributions (artwork or otherwise) to a range of Sci-Fi and Fantasy reads but a few titles of his own like PHIZ! and of course today's exercise in self-expression which, while reflective of the late slick professional-looking fanzine look that I don't particularly care for, still reeks of that wonderful self-ist way of laying down those personal inner-feelings and foibles for that matter which always made the best in fanzine writing Sci-Fi, rock 'n roll or otherwise.

As far as these personalist rags go, OBLONG probably couldn't get any more reflective of the Townley persona. There seems to be a lack of rock 'n roll related musings true, and considering what a turdburget general kultur has been since the early-eighties if not before something like rock woulda been a welcome addition to this mag. But Townley makes even the drabbest of drab look spiffy what with his general outlook and ability to make even the mundane look like its ready for STAND UP AND CHEER. Pieces on everything from film noir to Lynda Barry (?????-sheesh) to old POPULAR SCIENCE/MECHANICS and others in that mag bracket scope (including a bit from a 1965 SCIENCE AND MECHANICS entitled "Amazing Electronic Cures for Sexual Inadequacy" which is definitely one I've missed all these years) make these mags a must-download. Biggest surprise is that onetime BLACK TO COMM contributor Mike Huegen contributed some artwork...small world as they say in Lackawanna Township.

OBLONG is anything but oblong/obtuse as far as fanzine thrills go. And hey Brice, if you are reading this would you be so KIND as to put some of those old issues of HYPERION that you said you have on-line for us rock fanzine freaks who really could use some high energy rockscribing these sad 'n sorry days???
So like, what am I listening to for chock-fulla-vitamins pure life-reaffirming wholesomeness these past few days? To give it a specific category I would call it "LATE-SIXTIES/EARLY-SEVENTIES ICONOCLASTIC AND/OR APOCALYPTIC SOUND RE-ASSESSMENT" for wont of a better term. Blame the acquisition of THE MIRROR MAN SESSIONS (reviewed below) for starting it all but danged if most if not all of my favorite kick-up-your-feet-and-relax spins this week haven't been from the '67-'70 era of atonal and fug-it-all soundcrunch, the kind that had wanderlust hippoids rush back to the comfy coziness of their suburban squats it was that ear canal churning. On the list besides the aforementioned MM...the Velvet Underground's WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT (which isn't a repeato-play here like you might think it would be...it's too sacred for that!), Can's MONSTER MOVIE (which I guess ain't as sacred considering how often I spin it), Guru Guru's UFO, YOKO ONO PLASTIC ONO BAND, John Coltrane's ASCENSION (first take---a little outta the timescope but wha' th' hey), John Coltrane's ASCENSION (second take---ditto) and not much else! I dunno about you but music like this is quite exhilarating, sorta like giving my soul a startling cold shower to revive it after a day of everyday life grinding the dadburned thing right into the mud.
As if I hadda tell ya, here's this week's batch of newies to grace my lobes, a few of which classify as total eruption classics that I think will last more than the one spin I tend to give recordings these sad 'n sorry days (mainly the Xterip album and don't say their name backwards or else you'll be sent to the dimension from whence you came!).

Xterip-THE FRISBEE SESSIONS CD-r (Kendra Steiner Editions, see link on left for more information)

And for the DO WAH CLASSIC OF THE YEAR AWARD, my ballot goes to Xterip for this particularly pungent slab of freefrom freakout that would make Mayo Thompson wanna join the Dominicans. It's hard to pin down exactly where this group is coming from (and no, I can't hear either LaMonte Young or the Seventh Sons in this) but the total freak jam vibe is something that is pretty much part and parcel to the whole Kendra Steiner sorta sound twistarama we at BLOG TO COMM have become accustomed to these past few years. If anything, this seems like to end line (at least for now) in the whole electronic/drone side of music that such luminaries as the Velvet Underground and AMM have dabbled in on and off for years, and I gotta say that it was a pretty invigorating experience making my way through these four tracks. And believe-you-me, I sure wish there were more.
THE BEST OF THE CHOCOLATE WATCHBAND CD-r burn (originally on Rhino Records)

Maybe this one is too obvious to appear here and should have been placed in the usual year-end roundup of more "familiar" platters that I have yet to post for the 2017 season, but then again perhaps THE BEST OF THE CHOCOLATE WATCHBAND is just an outta-the-way "collection" that'll fit in just anywhere I put it! If you have the original albums and Moxie EP this is really nothing new, but for those who don't it makes for a pretty snazzy introduction to one of the many outta-the-loop bands of the late-sixties who shoulda made it bigger even if those later albums wouldn't have exactly been SNOWFLAKES FALLING ON THE INTERNATIONAL DATELINE ifyaknowaddamean. There seems to be a paucity of later-on Watchband tracks, but as far as the early and punkier songs go this is probably the only place where you can get the best of 'em all under one roof.
John Cage-SONATAS AND INTERLUDES (Susan Svrcek, piano) CD (Centaur Records, available via Forced Exposure)

I seem to be slipping back into my late-teenbo days what with my purchasing and incessant spinning of not only various Captain Beefheart recordings but these John Cage and various other "avant garde classical" platters that were so elusive back during my depression-era wage youth! A nicety if I do say so myself, what with the prepared piano tunes and melodies wafting around in such an introspective way. Made for beautiful late-night backdrop while I was reading the usual comic strip collections although I get the feeling that this was probably not the intention Cage had while composing these pieces. Let's just say that whatever it can be used for, it can be adapted swell enough for your own personal comforts as if you've used airplane glue for its own intended purpose!
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band-THE MIRROR MAN SESSIONS CD (Buddha/BMG)

Wonder how this re-creation of the classic MIRROR MAN platter escaped my maws for the past few years! Yes, it's the same album we've known and loved for eons (released at the height of Beefheartmania by Buddha who didn't know a good thing until they lost it for good) only with MORE (but not all, you have to get the SAFE AS MILK reissue for those). An' y'know what, this just might be my fave of the pre-Straight Beefheart efforts the way the free drone play fits right into my brain the way the best repeato-riff rock of the era most certainly did. Saying any more about this 'un'll just be rehashing old Nick Tosches tales for people who probably couldn't stand to hear the same incessant praise over and over. Of course this edition costs way more'n the 99 pennies one could plunk down for it back '76 way but that's the price of progress, or so I'm told every time I dish out more moolah for yet another edition of an old fave o' mine!

Along with the above a perfect nerve-shredder even if it does fall outside the sixties/seventies rock 'n roll as pure atonality cusp. Melodies start up and fade out just when they're getting tantalizing and the whole electronic approach still appeals at this point. Done up by kids who spent the entire seventies gathering up their sixties-bred Velvets cum Stooges cum kraut cum over-the-top freakdom and reshaping it for a new era. Too bad this act, like way too many eighties leftovers, rotted on the vine when they could have been cooking high intensity but at least we still have this particular crank to appreciate.
S.Y.P.H.-AM RHEIN CD (Ata Tak Records Germany, available through Forced Exposure)

Bought this 'un along with the above in order to brush up a bit on some of those post-krauty offerings that passed me by because at the time they originally came out I wasn't gonna be that adventurous with my depression-era wages. Years later a group like this seemed like a good place to pick up and discover just what was going on over in Merkeland during those rather confused musical times. Why this particular group was chosen I don't know, but I did it and well...

Now I must admit that I originally thought S.Y.P.H. woulda been the kinda act who'd've been roaring about in a Can-styled drive into inner space regions as yet uncharted. Not quite, though at times they do have a rather gnarled approach to adequate distortion that appeals slightly. But howcum I am reminded of nothing but early/mid-eighties "new wave" triumph of the airwaves (and cable stations) when I give some of these more pop-oriented tracks a listening???
Lee Curtis and the All-Stars-IT'S LEE! CD-r burn (originally on Star-Club Records, Germany)

Sheesh, do you remember when the mere mention of "Liverpool" was enough to move product like anything since Bing Crosby? I mean, everything from Liverpool Ice Cream to Liverpool suppositories were flyin' off the shelf due to the merest of Beatle-relations and although it sure seems strange these days it sure meant a whole lot to teenage gals with too much moolah who probably didn't even know what suppositories were supposed to be used for!

And if you were one of those rock 'n roll groups from the burgh who played the Cavern Club and all well...welcome to a recording contract no matter how turdsville you guys mighta been! Lee and his All-Stars certainly fit the Liverpool cash-in mode with this effort featuring the guy in full phlegm voice doin' the hits of the day his way'n don't let anyone tell you different! Tell you what, I got a whole lot more thrills outta the Mustangs doin' the Beatles platter way back when I was but a mere fifteen than I could with this showoffy entertainer who just doesn't do his place of birth any sorta civic justice I'll tell ya!

OK, Little Gigi does it good tryin' to muscle in on the early-sixties Negro gal singer market with a track that coulda gone somewhere onna charts, but what's the deal with Sagram tryin' his best to capture the Ravi Chancre market and missing by a mile?!? Los Flecos do a good Spanish-language thumper that must've gotten a few dancefloors filled up way back when, while country singler Jim Fullen must certainly be waiting for puberty to come his way more sooner 'n later. Song Poesy from Gena Genova and Bill Joy sound rather up-to-date what with the synth-y sounds (well...maybe 1975 Ford-era "duh"-y ifyaknowaddamean), though the Tim Berne track "Sequel X" really surprises me because it is a solo acoustic guitar piece and I always thought Berne was a saxophonist! Dominic Lash and Nate Wooley are an improv bass/trumpet act (that wouldn't go anywhere at the Palace) but fans of the ol' AACM sound would like it while the Spanish take on the Beatles' "I Feel Fine" by Alex y Los Finders is faithful enough even without the cool feedback intro. Fats Domino's "Oh What a Price" is almost as good as Link Wray's and that "White House Party" by Hank Marr sounds more like a party at the Playboy Mansion if you ask me! And the Toys (of "A Lover's Concerto" fame) doing ? and the Mysterians (I know...don't write in) was a bigger gas'n a case of the farts! And closing it out the Lafayette Afro Rock Band do some hot seventies-ish jazzy r/b that actually doesn't dredge up bad radio memories one bit!

Yeah this writeup is kinda like a patch-together of brief impressions but considering that the disque is just that I figured why not? Besides, these days I'm beginning to feel like I've been patched together myself so why not go with the flow as the Governor of California said we should all do oh so long ago?

Friday, January 19, 2018

BOOK REVIEW! WINSOR McCAY EARLY WORKS (Checker Book Publishing Group, 2003)

Jes' because it's old doesn't necessarily mean it's good!  Like---I can give you many examples of old television programs from the "Golden Age" that fell flatter'n Olive Oyl's chest or old comic books that were kinda feh if not worse, and for a kid like myself who once thought that the year 1963 was the last really good 'un for real fun and jamz music, moom pitchers, tee-vee and general kultur I eventually found out that for all the promise it held old didn't always mean better! Take it from a kulchur vulchur like myself---when combing through the pre-hippydippy era of life there were many gems true, but we all must consider that some undeniably turdburger-ish entertainment and other funtime occupiers were up and about during the previous six or so decades of general suburban slob doofness.

Let's talk about those f'rawhile, like this one comic strip called BARON BEAN that Bill Shute sent me a collection of two Christmasses back and boy was it a snoozer! Sure it was done up by George Herriman of KRAZY KAT fame and all of the big names in kultural snobdom tell me that Herriman's the best, but while I can really slip into the "kat" I thought BEAN was a one-joke no-go effort that lacked any of the humor and warmth that KK continually oozed. I'll tell you I was bored silly reading the BEAN collection which I think ought to remain buried in the past along with all of that upper-class liberal snob envy and heaping self-shame that was part and parcel to those dreary days. Oh wait...I forgot.

Winsor McCay's another one of those cartoonists everyone who wants to be in the club is supposed to like, and although I find LITTLE NEMO IN SLUMBERLAND every bit as entertaining now as it must have been back at the turn of the previous century I (not so surprisingly) also like these other McCay works to smithereens. It's sure nice to see fine, delicate art gracing your eyes while an interesting story is being developed, much unlike the sort of comic being done these days mostly tossed out by females who seem to be suffering from a severe case of "ragitus terminallus".
You get four samples of McCay's non-NEMO work here, the first being a nice heaping collection of his infamous DREAMS OF A RAREBIT FIEND which has some of the best transmoporothographic cartooning seen in ages. The nightmares actually seem believable enough and even hilarious in their brutality what with decapitations and furnaces turning into monsters along with other crazy set ups that look so realistic in the hands of McCay. Y'know, things that bright minds like Ernie Bushmiller later milked to the bone for his various nightmare episodes of NANCY. Your eyes'll linger as a puppy turns into a monster nobody can kill or a woman saves her pet by ramming her head up against a train engine, complete with those familiar closing panels where the dreamer regrets the rarebit or fried cheese he had for dinner. And if you don't think these comics are particularly potent enough to affect you just listen to this TRUE TALE..a few nights after I began reading this book I had an extremely vivid dream about seeing THE HINDENBURG from my bedroom window. It was flying particularly low and I began to panic thinking there was going to crash. Closer and closer it came...next thing I knew the dadburned dirigible was parked right in front of me on the street...turns out they had an emergency and were only making a quick stop!

As for TALES OF THE JUNGLE IMPS well...I'm sure I would have a whole load of youthful nostalgic toasties for this had I grown up with this (like I do with say, THE TEENIE-WEENIES which is just as embedded into the turdler portion of my brain as SUPERCAR) but reading it in the here and now was tough not only with the small print but the definitely kiddie sagas that don't quite cling to me now that I'm older and doofier. Nice art though, and even if I can't see any modern-day pablum puker sitting still for this like they would PIPPA PIG'S SEX SECRETS it's nice to know that earlier generations were more appreciative.

Now LITTLE SAMMY SNEEZE, that's a fanabla of a strip I can get behind. True it's a one-joke offering and we all know what's gonna happen (mainly, the kid sneezes and it's a powerful 'un at that!) but it's what leads up to the big sneeze and the aftermath that we're all wanting to read. Unlike say, FOXY GRANDPA who always got the better of his gran'kids to the point where ya wished for once that the two brats'd really pull a big 'un over on him, LITTLE SAMMY SNEEZE begins with a somewhat precarious situation in store which all comes to a head when the kid splooshes his snot and ruins everything to the point where he usually gets a swift kick in the pants. However his sneeze might even help solve a potentially grave situation such as the time he stopped a rampaging carriage with a wealthy man's young daughter on it. Aww, ya just can't hate the kid even if he could be a nuisance...I mean, kids being kids is like dogs being dogs and why should we punish 'em just because they ain't grown up or human for that matter?

Especially relevant to my own sense of life and what is is 'stead of what I'd even remotely like it to be is A PILGRIM'S PROGRESS which, like RAREBIT, was aimed at the more sophisticado reader which is why McCay signed it with his "Silas" nom-de-whatever. Allegorical and philosophically mind-twiddling beyond anything else I can think of that came outta the early days of Amerigan newspaper comics, A PILGRIM'S PROGRESS features the tale of a Mr. Bunion who is stuck with an albatross of a valise labeled "DULL CARE", a metaphor for his luckless, success-barren life. He tries to lose it, switch it, somehow exchange it for a suitcase with a better outlook on it but like herpes or the famed bad penny he just can't get rid of it. Gotta say that it does drive me mad seeing Bunion think he's finally made that big transformation into the good life I'm sure we all could enjoy only to see him fail and begrudgingly accept his fate...even drives me madder'n when I thought the castaways would get off GILLIGAN'S ISLAND only Gilligan once again screwed something up at the last minute.

Nice selection these comics definitely are and I wouldn't be fibbin' ya when I say WINSOR McCAY EARLY WORKS is good enough to the point of frequent pre-beddy bye time reading it's that top notch. The art is so wonderful that you can let your eyes linger on it for more than the usual second or two it takes to read a panel, and surprisingly enough the humor and concepts are still ripe enough for a guy like myself even if these strips are well over a hundred years old! You may beg to differ thinking these only as items from an evil period in life that should be banished from the earth forever but frankly that only says more about you as opposed to me, and considering what some of your ilk have been up to these past hundred or so years like, what more really needs to be said?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


I kinda gave up tryin' to hard-sell these things awhile back but hey, I not only need to get rid of these fanzines (especially considering the treacherous turncoats who contributed to some of 'em which kinda bugs me to no end!) but right now I sure could use the money for things like necessities not to mention the more important frivolities. I know that hardly anyone will nibble at this bait but then again you can't blame a guy for tryin'! But honestly, if you like the kinda long-gone gonzoid, offensive to sissies and (best of all) TOTALLY ROCKIST writing you find on this blog then you should go nuts for these BLACK TO COMMs which were, and remain for that matter AMERIGA'S ONLY HIGH ENERGY ROCK 'N ROLL MAGAZINES which is no mere feat y'know.

If you want more detailed descriptions of both issues that are still available as well as those that are long-gone, please click here for my special THIRTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF BLACK TO COMM post. And hey, if there are any out-of-print issues that you would like copies of I just might be able to run off some copies for a not-so-nominal fee. But then again maybe not given I'm not sure where I've stashed some of those old masters.

Tell you what...you Amerigans will have to pay five buck for the mailing charges if you order one or one of each for that matter, while furriners will have to write in first for postage to their particular spot on the planet which might be exorbitant so don't be surprised at the sticker shock. Just remember that every penny I receive will be going to a good cause, mainly ME who needs the moolah much more than any of you ever will.

By mail, please make checks or Money Orders out to "Christopher Stigliano" and send said check/MO to 701 North Hermitage Road., Suite 23, Hermitage PA 16148. Paypal is available only you gotta get in touch with me first complete with your email address and I will send you the details. Since I don't like my email address being splattered across the internet just leave a "message" at the bottom of this post with your name and email address and I will respond to you WITHOUT printing the "comment". C'mon, it couldn't be any simpler now, could it???

PHFUDD! #11-Still have a VERY few copies of this once-gone and forgotten issue featuring Mirrors (complete with the usual rare photos and flyers and ads and junk like that), live VON LMO photos taken at Max's Kansas City with Lou Rone mugging it up for the camera (plus a Rudolph Grey chronology!), Sonny Sharrock, Jeff Dahl and Powertrip, a live Styrenes photo taken by ME (which accounts for its fuzziness!), Birdhouse (remember them?), the Standells and some live Rocket From the Tombs snaps with lyrics that should cause your heart to be racing by now. Also included is the enticing article entitled "Is There No End To Those Pesky Chuck Eddy Rumors?" which, as we know, is still as relevant today as it was in April/May 1988 when this issue originally came out. Since this is a rarity, I'm asking $15.00 each, and no frowning!
BLACK TO COMM #14-Early 1989. Featuring part one of the Ron Asheton interview, a nice though could be much better given all the information discovered since piece on the Deviants, an article on Peter Laughner's Cinderella Backstreet, the Seeds and Charlemagne Palestine. $8.00 and if that's too expensive just try getting hold of one on ebay!
BLACK TO COMM #16-From summer 1989. This one has the Rudolph Grey interview, some reprints of various Peter Laughner things I copped out of old issues of ZEPPELIN and elsewhere, more Electric Eels lyrics with a pic that's been reprinted all to heck, Laughing Hyenas and of course tributes to the recently departed Lucille Ball and Jim Backus. The first, cruddy version can be had for $5.00, the other for $6.00 or maybe I'll just send you whatever I come upon first!
BLACK TO COMM #17-Early '90. The first of the "big" issues has a cover story/interview with Scott Morgan and Gary Rasmussen from the old Scott Morgan band, also inside's an interview with Borbetomagus' Donald Miller as well as one with Maureen Tucker, not to mention pieces on Fish Karma (who I liked until hearing his overly-preachy kiss kiss moosh anti-gun song entitled "God Bless The NRA" which blew Fish's snot-nosed toss off attitude to sanctimonious heck), the Dogs (from Detroit, not the French ones or the Flamin' Groovies for that matter!), Rocket From the Tombs (with loads of old photos and the like, some never seen before or since!), the top 25 of heavy metal, METAL MACHINE MUSIC, a piece on the then-new proto-punk reissues and archival digs of the day and the usual reviews and news. $10.00.
BLACK TO COMM #19-Just found a few of these niceties with my Miriam Linna interview plus one done with Jeff Clayton of Antiseen, not to mention the Pink Fairies, Czech Underground Rock (Plastic People of the Universe, Umela Hmota...), Lester Bangs (unpublished photos too!), NUGGETS, the Shangs, a history of proto/early punk fanzines, lotsa old TV stuff and of course the regular departments. This is the first ish to really dig into a lotta the anti-youth fascism mentality so popular in rock circles these days, so sissies beware!!! Since this is getting rare you can have one of these soon-to-be collector's items for $10.00 each if you can believe it! A real steal deal!!!!
BLACK TO COMM #21-From November '94. A VON LMO cover story and interview grace this ish, as do interviews with Metal Mike Saunders, Brian McMahon (Electric Eels) and rockabilly star Ronnie Dawson, plus you can read much-desired items on the Trashmen, Velvet Underground and Hawkwind like I knew you would! Not to mention a piece on the infamous TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE fanzine! $10.00.
BLACK TO COMM #24- From spring 2001. This issue's cover feature's a nice interview with Doug Snyder of DAILY DANCE/Sick Dick and the Volkswagens fame, plus there are interviews with the Dogs (Detroit) and Greg Shaw, a piece on the old CAN'T BUY A THRILL fanzine and the usual feature-length reviews and the like. $9.00 because like, I don't think it was as big as the previous issues.
BLACK TO COMM #25-The latest (December 2003), 162 pages brimming with such goodies as a New York City Scene history (featuring interviews with Max's Kansas City's Peter Crowley and Ruby Lynn Reyner from Ruby and the Rednecks plus pieces on coverboys the New York Dolls and VARIETY scene-booster Fred Kirby), an interview with J. D. King (Coachmen, comix) plus one with guitarist Lou Rone, who would probably be best known to you as leader of the early CBGB-era band Cross as well as one-time guitarist for both Kongress and VON LMO, the Screamin' Mee-Mees, CRETINOUS CONTENTIONS, Simply Saucer rare photos, family tree and gigography, rare fanzines of the Golden Age (and more), tons of book and record reviews (which make up the bulk of this ish!), plus a CD with live Simply Saucer 1975, the Coachmen, The Battleship, Ethel with David Nelson Byers and Ruby and the Rednecks. $12.00
I still have some Cee-Dees that came with the now out of print issue #17 which I will give to you FREE if you order some mags (just request one, or I WON'T even bother slipping one in the package) and let me tell you there's some good stuff on it that's for sure!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


The Norman Petty Studios in Clovis, New Mexico attracted not only many bands from the US Midwest and Rocky Mountain region, but also from Canada. Petty’s affordable by-the-song, not by-the-hour rates, his proven history of hits, his many contacts in the industry, his ingenuity in the studio, his approach which emphasized bringing out the band’s own sound rather than imposing his own heavy production hand, and his affable but business-like manner were no doubt all good reasons for his appeal among bands who both wanted a professional sound AND perhaps a touch of the magic that could potentially come from working in the studio and with the man responsible for so many classics from the likes of Buddy Holly, The Crickets, and The Fireballs.

The UK Ace label did a number of releases from Petty’s archive in past years, including a series of fairly comprehensive releases of the complete catalogue of the much-underrated Fireballs, featuring the distinctive guitar of George Tomsco and the distinctive vocals of Jimmy Gilmer. They also did a few various artists releases, including one called GET READY TO FLY, which featured mid-to-late 60’s bands. One of those bands was WILLIE & THE WALKERS, from Edmonton, Alberta.

In recent years, in close cooperation with the Norman Petty estate and tape archives, Shawn Nagy’s SUPER OLDIES label has been digging much deeper, putting out a regular run of albums, with new ones every month or two, of Petty archive material, including much which was unreleased, and all directly from the Petty master tapes. These have been fascinating and a goldmine for the Petty fan--because most of Petty’s productions were licensed to other labels, because the man never encouraged a cult of personality, because of his somewhat “square” persona, and because Clovis, New Mexico, is not New York or Chicago or Memphis, Norman Petty has not been given the attention that he deserves. His productions have a unique “sound,” and his massive body of work is quite impressive. With all the obscure Petty music coming out on Super Oldies, and with a DVD documentary on Petty and his studio in the pipeline, let’s hope things will change. Until then, there is a lot of great music to discover and enjoy, and this collection from WILLIE & THE WALKERS is a perfect example.

A quintet of musicians came down from Edmonton to Clovis to record on three different occasions in 1966 and 1967, resulting in a total of 15 tracks, from which came three singles on Capitol of Canada, the last of which Petty was also able to place with United Artists in the US. The first session, from July 1966, has a lean, moody, organ-based sound which will remind many of the great New England 60’s garage bands. This sound is developed more in a four-song May 1967 session, and it’s interesting to note that ALL the material from the first two sessions is original. It’s not until the third and final Petty session in October 1967 that any covers are recorded. This is the reverse of the method of most 60’s bands, who usually started off doing mostly covers until they developed their song-writing skills. Perhaps the expense of traveling to New Mexico encouraged the band to bring their A-Game to this session, instead of doing covers of, say, “Midnight Hour” or “Just Like Me” or whatever else they might have been doing in their live sets. The three covers are all first-rate. By this time the band had developed its own sound, and the songs taken from The Rascals, Verdelle Smith, and The Kinks truly sparkle--in fact, the cover of “Tired Of Waiting For You” could have been released as a single...it’s that confident and distinctive.

Willie & The Walkers were a simple quintet, two guitars, keyboards, bass, and drums, and they are not augmented by unnecessary studio musicians, but Petty could always get a full, rich sound out of a basic rock-and-roll band, and that’s the case here. So while no one would label most of this material “garage punk,” it IS all punchy and live-sounding. I think I hear a second keyboard on one track (maybe I’m dreaming), so perhaps Violet Petty or Norman himself added that, and two songs with unique guitar work evoke the sound of Fireballs guitarist George Tomsco, a man who was a constant presence in the Clovis studios during this period. If he’s not actually playing on those two tracks, one wonders if he at least advised the band how to get the distinctive tones heard. Or maybe I’m shortchanging the band’s own abilities. In any case, it’s a solid set of 15 songs, and had these three sessions come out as an album, it would be considered a classic by fans of 60’s regional rock and roll bands.

What do they sound like? Hmmm....how about the Cryan Shames without the Byrds fixation? Or The Lovin’ Spoonful without the jug band influence? Or maybe The Knickerbockers without the nightclub showband trappings? How about Gary Lewis and the Playboys as a self-contained quintet with no need for studio musicians and with their own strong songwriters?

It’s to their credit that while they do not have some off-the-wall, radical sound, they do not really sound like anyone else. Nowhere here can you point your finger and say “they are REALLY into The Beatles” or The Byrds or whoever. If you played me this album with no explanation of who or what it was, I’d guess they were from Connecticut or Ohio or something. Elements remind me of Boston bands, but there would probably be Boston accents and more emphasis on electric piano, and neither of those can be found here.

Overall, Willie & The Walkers were an impressive band with a solid body of work, and this late in the game it’s surprising to find 15 strong, well-produced tracks without the padding of demos or cover versions from the band’s live set. Another feather in the cap of the late great producer Norman Petty, who brought his Midas Touch to a group of young men from Western Canada and took what was strongest and most distinctive about the band and focused it and sharpened it and presented it in its best light, with a strong punchy sound. You can order the album here. However, be aware that these Norman Petty archive albums have been selling out in a few months, so order now....and also check out the rest of the Super Oldies website for further Petty collections. This is a surprisingly strong collection and should be a must-own for the fan of 60's regional rock and roll bands.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Oh well...another week another BLOG TO COMM post! Gotta admit that it ain't easy thinkin' these things up 'specially in the just post-Christmas holidaze days---I almost feels like I'm back in High Stool doin' some hideous book or science report on a Sad-turd-day PM which is probably why this post READS like one! Of course back in those not-so-carefree days the winter blahs could always be remedied by either a hot record or boffo tee-vee show but hey, once you hit the millionth solar rotation like I have sometimes the effect just ain't the same as it was when you were young, dumb and maybe even stupider than you are now. Call it age even if I do get all hot and bothered over Captain Beefheart platters these days as I did way back when.
Anywah, how'd'ja like that wild weather we're having here in the tri-county area anyway? All that blowing ice and snow just piling up making an already cruel winter even more dangerous for drivers and little kids making that ten-mile trek home from those local prisons we know of as schools! It's sure fun for me to watch Mom Nature unveiling all of her power and energy, at least when I'm safe and sound sitting in my warm abode eyeballing the cars doing doughnuts from my window as they plowi over those obnoxious brats in the neighborhood. I get the exact same feeling during the summer months watching kids get struck by lightning knowing that in no way am I gonna be affected. Yes, carnage is great as long as you're watching it from a distance!
I haven't been having any interesting rock 'n roll-related dreams as of late, but my cyst-er had one in which I was a featured player. In her dream I presented a young Frank Zappa (who was wearing this weird braid that was clipped to the back of his collar in order to make his hair look longer) a gift of a refinished antique book shelf with psychedelic decals. And you know what, he was gracious and liked it! More than I can say about some people I send gifts to who don't appreciate them and even make it a point to let me know about it! And you know who you is!
Hope this edition of BLOG TO COMM suits your own personal sense of rockitude as it does mine. Actually, I don't give a fig what you think but to be honest I kinda like it even if I think my writing "qualities" have gone down more'n a few degrees this past week or so. Big heaps to P.D. Fadensonnen, Bill Shute, Paul McGarry and even Bob Forward-thinking for their contributions to the cause, and the rest of you can go pound a fire ant hill for all I care you ungrateful things you!

Spontaneous Music Ensemble w/Rashied Ali-DOUBLE TRIO 3/10/1968 CD-r burn

Given that I don't have as large a Spontaneous Music Ensemble collection as I sure wish I would a disque like this comes in handy. John Stevens' group is aided and abetted by Rashied Ali on this sesh which reminds me of FREE JAZZ only with a smaller group and an equally potent sound impact. Beautiful free play here featuring some of stalwarts of the European scene like Peter Kowald and Dave Holland all done up in that over-the-top-screaming-all-the-way fashion your mother warned you about but as usual you didn't listen. A true motivator...well at least to the point where I'm gonna have to dig up my ONE, TWO, ALBERT AYLER album for yet another dose of this better than you ever will be freedom aggregation.
GENE CLARK WITH THE GOSDIN BROTHERS CD-r burn (originally on Columbia Records)

I'll bet there were a few rock 'n roll souls who were glad that Gene Clark left the Byrds way back '65 way...after all that meant there would be more albums in that folk-rocky style to give a listen to and who wouldn't mind that! Of course once David Crosby got kicked out I'm sure these same people were shudderin' once they got an ear of the CSNY sound but back in '66 who woulda known?

On this debut solo platter Clark got the country greats the Gosdin Brothers to back him vocally and a pretty sharp band (including some Byrds and the Wrecking Guys) to provide the music. Naturally (or something like that) the overall results are boffo! Might be kinda slick to some of you rock sophistacados out there but the combination of Clark's vocals with the contemporary folk rock and orchestra make for a good slab of bright and at times sullen sounds that not only would melt the heart of not only your typical iron-haired teenybopper of a sophomoric sophomore (and believe, I went to high school with a whole slew of 'em!) but even the more grizzled among the faculty.

The original album is driving enough true, but the additional twennysome tracks add a whole load to the experience what with the outtakes, acoustic demos and stereo mixes which don't mean a hoot to me, but it's sure nice to hear the earlier songs again without having to get up and adjust my cheapo boom box!

I dunno if you were the kind who cried while listening to the Byrds, but if your sensitive self is wont to get all enraptured in the strains of folk rock this one might just make you Crimea River!
Various Artists-SOURCE RECORDS 1-6 1968-1971 3-CD set (Pogus Productions)

SOURCE was such a fine magazine (if you could call this oversized ring-bound publication a "magazine"), not only for the information given on a variety of "new music" composers and performers but for the added inserts and the ten-inch records which came with (I believe) ever issue. Reading about everyone from the likes of John Cage to Philip Glass to Anthony Braxton to even Harold Budd  was certainly eye-opening to a budding avant garde fanabla such as I, and I sure loved to pour through those bound volumes that it seems that NO ONE ELSE in the world knew about because hey, they were so pristine and mint-like to the myriad who didn't know just how expensive those issues had become o'er the years!

Lo after all these years the musical portion of the mag has finally been re-issued (or at least it was in 2008---had it all this time but it got lost inna shuffle). That's cool, because since SOURCE was part of the library's periodical department I couldn't take any issues out, and that included the records I was anxious to tape for my own listening pleasure! However I was told that if I could bring my own turntable and stereo into the library I could record them that way but like, no way in heck was that possible!

Pretty good stuff here too---that is, if you think that the idea of sound as pure atonal chance music sure beats the bejabbers outta yer typical I-Heart playlist. Some of it is mildly interesting (like the piece where Alvin Lucier tapes a phrase and generation by generation repeats it until it sounds like total ratsqueal---reminds me of some of the nth-generation tapes of various rock acts that were flyin' around in the early-eighties!) while others sound like just about every other art piece done up my some music major circa 1975 who thinks he's on his way to a flattering cover piece in  ART IN AMERICA.

But most if not all does have some degree of brilliance. Allan Bryant's "Pitch Out", done with various MEV members in their own studio, holds much promise what with the use of electric guitars almost coming off like a bizarre post-rock concept that might be twirling about nowadays. Speaking of twirling, Mark Riener's "Phlegathon" (a name that I'm sure could be used to describe various competing blogs) features these twirling mobile-like devices that create their own sounds that kinda remind me of those 4th of July rockets that whistle about as they blast off.

There's more some from familiar names on the avant garde set as well as those who are probably still stuck in the beret and stale doritos bracket, but whatever I'll betcha you can find a whole load of good and still engaging to the typical light aficionado concepts floating around on these platters. Too bad it took me almost forty years to hear 'em, but better now that I'm a less picky old turdburger than then when I was a starry eyed fanabla who probably woulda thought that Karlheinz Stockhausen's farts were legitimate forms of gastricular expression that Deutsche Grammophone better release just as fast as Stockhausen released his!
Various Artists-RADIO CRAMPS---"THE PURPLE KNIF SHOW" CD-r burn (originally on Skydog Records, France)

Yeah you heard it all before, but you didn't hear it via a radio show hosted by Lux Interior doing a fairly good Mad Daddy impression! Great tracks, great announcing (even though I think he woulda been tossed outta Bus Eubanks' class) and if you gotta hear these tracks what better way'n to hear 'em in a gathering such as this! Two beefs...first is that the Swamp Rats' version of  "Louie Louie" is shallwesay "truncated" inna middle plus the entire Troggs Miller Beer commercial is nowhere to be found even if Mr. Interior did back-announce it! Sheesh Paul, you doin' this tryin' t' be funny 'r sumpthin'??? (Don' worry...I finally heard the ad on Youtube and of course it's a great tune done up by a band who could be both commercial and underground at the same time!)
Perry Leopold-EXPERIMENTS IN METAPHYSICS CD-r burn (originally on Gear Fab, or Guess if you wanna go back to the original version, or Guerssen if you want a vinyl copy, Records)

Do I have to apologize if I think this 'un's nothing but a sappy introspective and downright precocious bit of early-seventies singer/songwriter folkpuke even if alla the hip names out there seem to like it? Couldn't wait to rip this acoustic neo-outsider offering off the laser launch pad what with Leopold's soft and whispering through the winds voice that could probably even knock James Taylor over (not that that ain't hard to do) with the acoustic guitar just plucking about in standard pacifist and patchouli fashion and...well, with a good portion of the so-called punks of the past showing their true peacenik colors these sorry days it's no wonder this has attained a cult following amongst the smart set. It only makes me wanna attend a FEMEN protest and yell things like "HUBBA HUBBA HUBBA" and "SHAKE THEM TITS" at a buncha gals who at that very moment will probably regret this particular form of free expression.
MEN & VOLTS PLAY CAPTAIN BEEFHEART---A GIRAFFE IS LISTENING TO THE RADIO CD-r burn (originally on Feeding Tube Records---Forced Exposure has copies available here)

After the turdburger above it was sure time to CLEAR THE AIR. Which is what I did with this particular goodie done up by the infamous klunkalong group Men & Volts. Now I will admit that I thought some of the Volts's stuff was pretty snappy while other long-forgotten recordings just grated on me as if I were a hunka Romano cheese, but the idea of this band recording a Beefheart tribute album actually works! Well, it's sure a better idea'n those weak-kneed candyasses of the nineties paying "homage" to the Velvet Underground totally lacking the original's deep sense of dark nihilism. All your favorite Beefheartian moments worked up by the infamous M&V sounding just as good as the originals yet not irritating as if done solely for the sake of being self-consciously innovative, coy or cute. A must get 'n I dare you!
Various Artists-SWINGIN' THE TRANSCRIPTIONS CD-r burn (originally on P-Vine Records, Japan)

Kinda surprised that I'm listening to this platter especially when I am NOT in whatcha'd call a forties jazzy/blues/pop mood. But these tracks taken from actual radio transcription discs do kinda bring back memories of early-seventies comic book collecting while Bus Eubanks would explain to us the whys and wherefores of the tracks we've just heard. In fact, this could have used some spoken introductions from Eubanks himself only he's been dead about thirty years. Appearances by many big names of the day (Ink Spots, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Mills Brothers...) are bound to make your typical centenagenarian wanna break out the zoot suit and not wash his hair ever again!
Sonny Sharrock-LIVE IN BREMEN 10/29/1987 CD-r burn

Recorded right around the time Sharrock was starting to break out from the under-the-cultured jazz miasma into the BIG TIME, this German show's got hefty clarity and the virtuoso's guitar lines soaring in ways that seemed to herald a new lookout and vision amongst other corny descriptions. Hot play on themes old and new and the band backing him ain't duff either. I thought it was snat enough...now if only someone would find those early-eighties Material and solo gigs that took place at CBGB not to mention other under-the-underground hangouts long gone 'n boarded up.
Various Artists-TIRED RED WINGS AND SAD YELLOW HANDS CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Here's yet another deep dive into the Bill Shute box (which is massive and keeps growing like the Dogpatch Ham) featuring all sortsa goodies that were only excelled by the fact that I was reading THE AESTHETICS OF ROCK while this 'un spun away. Yeah there are a coupla duds here but so what, because the hot stuff from the doo-woppers to the mid-sixties miracles (including Mr. Lucky and the Gamblers' "Take a Look at Me" which sounds better here than it did on BOULDERS) really make me wanna get up and pretend it's 1965 all over again! Even the less-drastic of the selections have a kick to 'em like Froggy Landers and the Cough Drops' "River Rock" not forgetting the Fox Chasers' "Yellow Hand" which is a nice Indian thumper right up their with Johnny Preston's "Running Bear". You even get a "Tequila" swipe from the "Scamps" entitled "Enchilada"! Not only that but the kiddie records were fun, especially that one that tells you how to bring up your cat right! Now if I get a cat I'll know what to do, other'n accidentally run over the thing while backing out of the driveway.