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'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?


Anonymous said...

Check this out!

Head Company AB said...

Californians in montecito went with the flow recently, and now I hope that some of the California rock and rollers have a benefit concert to help them. They could name it "Mud-Aid"