Saturday, April 28, 2018

Wow, it's time for yet another weekend posting? You betcher buttocks it's time but as Shemp Howard once said "HOW TIME FLIES---geddit???"! And, as usual, this one's yet another hotcha thrill-packed edition which I really do hope you'll stick around for.

Gotta admit that I have been busy these past seven days not only with the usual drudgery but with me trying to do some TOP SECRET (at this time) work on the internet which I do hope comes to positive fruition rather soon. Big heaping thanks to not only Bill Shute but my cyst-er (well, it's better than sis-TURD) for their help in trying to alleviate this quite sticky problem that has befallen me (special thanks to Bill for pointing out the issue in the first place). Dunno if our work will amount to anything in the long run (haven't heard back from the ne'er do wells at this time) but even if I deep six with this endeavor I am grateful to the two for their efforts in helping to reverse this GREAT WRONG that has transpired against me. But then again, when hasn't a GREAT WRONG not happened to me in this life o' mine??? Should be used to these things by now...

But otherwise I've spent the week coping with that demon called "reality" rather well. Of course my usual listening, reading and viewing patterns help out even if I am having to rely on old seventies-era fanzines which exude the freshness of rock 'n roll amid the ravages of hippie flapdoodle, not to mention nothing but ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE gracing my cathode connection. And of course the fine recordings featured below which I must admit rank as some of the better sounds heard in '18 so far. Gives me hope...hope for what I do not know but I believe that I do have a reason for sticking around at least for a few months. Must thank not only Feeding Tube and Indexical Records for their contributions to the cause but Bill Shute and Paul McGarry---maybe Bob Forward if I can only remember where I left his package...

International Harvester-REMAINS 5-LP box set (Silence Records Sweden, available via Forced Exposure)

For many people, the 1967-1976 era of rock 'n roll was one of great experimentation and discovery of the inner karmik wooziz of being High on Life and smiling on your brother. The usual Sunday School Peter Pauper Press stuff y'know. For others it was a stretch of horrid musicmaking with the good groups either being shuttered to the back of the bus or breaking up entirely with mud festivals, definitely low-energy hippie fashion and a pacifism that looked ridiculous only a few years later embroiling the minds of even the most wide-eyed first graders extant. And yet for others (meaning people like ourselves who may or may not have been of rockism conscious during those days but wha' th' hey?) they were a time of great sonic advancement what with the fine works of many an act (who were being deigned punk rockers until the 1977 brigades deemed them outta the scope, but they definitely were still punks in the same way Hitler deemed the Japanese "honorary Aryans" so why quibble?) that, while not getting the attention that the whole grain folkies or San Fran hacksters got were still tops in an underground of fanzines and guys who were "woke" enough to take the values of the snootier-than-thou Counterculture and chuck 'em to the wind.

And yes, International Harvester fit in here just fine and dandy.

Forget that these guys (and the commune they served) were part of the International Communist Conspiracy which as we found out had no sympathy for rock 'n roll of an experimental, high energy mode. While you're at it forget that these guys were spiritual hippies in many ways just like you forgot that Amon Duul and the MC5 had been pigeon-holed in the same manner. It only makes the music sound deadlier, more punk rock in that great early-seventies fanzine sorta way. And while yer at it, please do forget that International Harvester were intellectuals who were aware of the new minimalist sounds being inseminated by the likes of Terry Riley (perhaps their #1 primo influence) and other musical trailblazers although thankfully they never did get as pseudo-intellectual gunked up the way Grace Slick did when she'd drop Stockhausen's name and dribble such pearls of wisdom along that lines that ASCENSION was John Coltrane's "acid trip". Wow.

Try listening to 'em the way you listen to all of those other great late-sixties punk acts from...well, you know who they pure unbridled energy and enthusiasm, like those guys down the street who had their band and used to bast away rough and rugged chordage until the law finally came upon 'em and pretty soon that house was condemned with bandmembers scattered to the four reaches of your county ne'er to be heard or seen from again.

And if you reallyreallyREALLY wanna listen to them now's your chance for Silence, their long-running label over in Sweden, has just issued a five-LP box set which not only contains their debut album entitled SOV GOT ROSE MARIE (which translates into SLEEP TIGHT ROSE MARIE) but their second platter done as just plain Harvester entitled HEMET (or HARVEST). That leaves three additional records to contend with, and those are taken up by some pretty enticing live and rehearsal outtakes that only add to the entire International Harvester aura of them being yet another one of those uncompromising European aggregations which took the better moments of then-current English and Amerigan motifs and built on 'em using their own Swedish twentysomething mindset. I must admit that their appreciation of the classical avant garde filtered through various underground rock moves does give these recordings a certain intensity you just couldn't find in Anycommune USA during the same stretch of time.

A fantastic fact this is perhaps the best rock 'n roll box set since the Chrome one or the Yardbirds LAST RAVE UP IN LA or better yet the Velvet Underground boot from the early-eighties which seemed so esoteric at the time. All of the group's wares collected in one nice package complete with a poster, some liner notes (coulda used much more---Byron Coley's article found on the FORCED EXPOSURE website is way more compelling and in fact my downloaded copy now adorns my own box for added perfection), and considering the rareness of the material and (most of all) its overall IMPORTANCE this package has gotta rank as one of the true archival uproots of 2018 and perhaps the best reissue of heretofore unknown aural explosions since the Rotomagus album from a few years back.

If you really care, you can read my original review of  SOV GOTT ROSE-MARIE here, but in this company of records perhaps it's best to give this particular platter another round of huzzahs. When it comes to the concept of late-sixties punk rock with all of its avant garde (whether intentional or not) mysteries and efforts at expanding the realm of sound within a rock 'n roll context this album does live up to any promise you have for the entire form. The a-side consists of short numbers, some of pure addled guitar rock that could have come outta ANY garage in ANY nation on the face of this earth, some quite enveloping such as when a group of femmes who sound as if they're taking a break from working in the fields chant "Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh" in unison to a bizarroid drone, and between the "readymades" and the straightforward primitive rock 'n roll it is quite encapsulating. I find the flip even better what with the two extended tracks featuring repeato-riffage trance-inducing sounds that remind me of something the more-"competent" Amon Duul I circa PARADIESWARTS DUUL might have come up with. The spirit of Riley as well as the Fugs, Godz, Velvet Underground, the Churchmice and naturally those same guys from down your street can most certainly be discerned, and a lot more too once you get your mind wrapped around these soundscapades.

Like I said, the next album saw the name shortened to just "Harvester" and the title a cool and concise HEMET. which I almost typed out "hazmat" given my lack of knowledge of the Swedish language. This effort shows a toned down band still cranking out beautiful repeato-riff rock although the overall results do seem quite "restrained" next to the free form expression of SOV GOTT. There's even a strikingly Northern European-styled drinking song that makes you want to swill your ale in nicely decorated beer steins, not to mention perhaps the sickest ever version of the ever-lovin' "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" that you'd never know was that song unless you strain your ears to hear the buried vocals. Yes, this is another testimonial to the benefits of outer-worldly inspiration and its effect on the musical talents of the day, at least before James Taylor gave it all a bad reputation.

The third album in the package REMAINS I features material more/less recorded live in a variety of settings that show International Harvester returning to a more extended Parson Sound-styled drone-rave that is really enveloping. Wondrous trance music that again recalls those early Exploding Plastic Inevitable-era Velvet Underground workouts, and I know I am boring you and beating that dead horse until it could be sold as ground round at the supermarket but the legendary Family Dog New Year's Eve jam where Quicksilver Messenger Service, Big Brother and the Holding Company and the Oxford Circle got together to make an extended feedback WHOOP also comes to mind. It's all done so matter-of-factly as well making the listener feel like some turdler who wandered into the rehearsal space just totally MYSTIFIED by the effort making for a pretty durn fine introduction to that fine sound known to most as rock 'n roll. Really beautiful...if you were, unlike many staunch Stooge-o-philes, sucked into the dreamy drone of "We Will Fall" you might turn to jelly upon listening to these as well.

REMAINS II continues on the fine path of live free-form freakout music complete with the repeato-riff motif and buried in the back vocals. Some mighty impressive music here, including a song based on a Jew's harp twang that turns into a Hawkwind-styled space mantra as well as another that comes surprisingly close to Harmonia's "Watusi" thanks to the soprano saxophone squealing its way through. The music builds and intensifies as it approaches what one might imagine a musical nova as it all overtakes both the senses and your very psyche. Yet it remains as pure a rock 'n roll as anything grand that was coming out of the late-sixties. I for one am that International Harvester could get all esoteric and experimental and radical yet retain that unadulterated early mysticism-era Rolling Stones base.

The final disc (REMAINS III in case you weren't paying attention) begins with this chamber-jazz-styled horn interplay that's slow and dolorous enough to eke some long-hidden emotions in you, followed by even more live repeato-riffage that once again conjures up all of your favorite comparisons that have been over-used these past fortysome years but WHAT DO WE CARE! The Jew's harp even makes a re-appearance before the album ends on yet another slow and introspective note putting a close on what I'd call a pretty together and (best of all) statement for an avant punk modus opporandi approach to the better moments of late-sixties sound exploration.

Should be a good contender for some year-end award. Check back in a few months and find out for yourself, if you live so long.
The Remains-LIVE 1969 CD (Sundazed Records)

I mean, who wouldn't have thought that a one-off Remains reunion being performed at thee hip-de-la-cool Boston Tea Party a good three or so years after their demise wouldn't go off in any way other'n SPECTACULAR? Sound quality ain't as hotcha as I would have hoped, but the energy that the foursome put out is just as manic as it was on that live-in-the-studio demo that was being touted about as "legendary" for quite a few years before Eva Records eventually put the thing out 'round '82 way. Unfortunately no faves like "Don't Look Back" appear but the show is still worth it as Barry Tashian and crew bludgeon their way through a bunch of crowd pleasers and some interesting takes on longtime faves such as "La Bamba". Even beats the Epic album which I still think coulda used a little beef up here/there (I originally thought that one was a downer but give it time and it'll grow like chancres on you too!).
Bridge of Flowers-LIVE/DEMOS LP (Feeding Tube Records)

Well whaddaya know! Here's a up and running rock 'n roll group that takes the best ideas/moments of various late-sixties/seventies rock moves and does 'em up (even swell-like!) for the late-teens! The best thing about Bridge of Flowers is that they play their repeato-riff rock really nice and sloppy on this half live/half demo effort that sounds like it was recorded straight into a 1974 Panasonic portable and pressed directly to disc. The lack of editing and other efforts of "improving" only add to the bared-wire intensity of it all giving you the same feeling you got during the great tape trading frenzy of the eighties listening to your fave groups in the raw w/o any major label tinkering. It will be interesting to hear what Bridge of Flowers will be up to in the future but then again maybe not...after all, they did everything PERFECTLY in its own imperfect way here.
Sun Ensemble-WE WHO WALK AGAIN LP (Indexical Records)

Although "new music" may be as old as the hills these days the Ghost Ensemble do a pretty admirable job of resurrecting it for whatever new brigade there is that still listens to this style of surge. Three compositions, two by members of the group and one by famed John Cage contemporary Pauline Oliveros, roar and overtake you just like many of those similar works for "small orchestras" that you used to pick up via the NMDS with ease. Best of all it all sounds quite fresh. I'm sure a few of you wags'll be put off sayin' that it's nothin' new and that maybe we should all move on, but personally there's a spark here that seems to have been missing from some of the experimental music I've had the at times (dis)pleasure of hearing. It does take me back to age five when I was first discovering things like this thanks to CAMERA THREE, and frankly what's wrong with that???
Papa Lord God-THE SHEIK OF DOWNFALL CREEK LP (Feeding Tube, available via Forced Exposure)

This one didn't quite grab me by the cajoobies but it's still interesting. A 45 rpm album, Papa Lord God plays a variety of instruments on this outing in ways you never really would have guessed, from soothing church organ to scronky banjo and dobro all done up so it will probably remind you not only of a funeral parlor but of past efforts like those guitar albums with Fred Frith and Derek Bailey that popped up in import bins during the mid-seventies. I personally found it not as improv-y wild as I would have hoped it to be, but this guy does it good enough and like, maybe he should get mucho brownie points for doing in without the pretension and dilettante-ish manners often found today (or so I'm told...).
Andre Williams-I WANT TO GO BACK TO DETROIT CD-r burn (originally on Bloodshot Records)

I gotta admit that I was under the impression that by now Mr. Williams woulda been sleepwalking through the rest of his recording life because well...he sure did a whole lot in the sixty-plus years he spent in it and why tax yerself so late in the game, y'know? Well, thankfully Mr. Williams does present a pretty straight-ahead if kinda canned platter here sing/talking and coming up with some really bright numbers I sure wouldn't have expected outta your typical octogenarian rocker! There's still a spark of humor here and there ("Mississippi Sue") and some heart-felt paens to Detroit that seem sincere enough, but what really got me up and pumping was Williams' cutting (and totally meaningful) sneer at THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME (INC.) on the "talking blues" (I think!) track entitled what else but "Hall of Fame". After all you MUST admit that this organization has always viewed the concept of rock music through those ROLLING STONE/WMMS-FM turquoise eyeglasses firmly in place! You know what I'm talkin' about---phony rebel "music" that has more to do with Dr. Teeth from THE MUPPETS SHOW than with the Electric Eels---safe, controlled glitz as opposed to the hard-edged GROWL that I assume still gives these spiritual reform league types the jitters. The darker, primitive, gnarled side, the line from Screamin' Jay Hawkins to the Stones to the Stooges to Suicide that always seemed to interfere with the rather myopic opinions to be found in most rock journals and radio playlists then and now! Good call Andre, and I'm a fan for LIFE!
Jandek-DUBLIN FRIDAY CD-r burn (originally on Corwood Records)

Not having played any of this guy's recordings these last few years it was sure pleasurable to have been "reintroduced" to Jandek via this live spinner. An immediate trance-inducing show this was too, as the man strummed away freely on his guitar while spouting some of the better pearls of alienation and distress (or so I gathered!) heard in a long while. And what's best is that the audience seems to have been appreciative of his outside-the-outsider talents which is more than you probably could have said about Jandek's neighbors! Like the best, Jandek transports you to his frame of mind and his inner turmoil, and somehow we don't regret being there one iota!
The Jay Five-MUSIC TO WATCH GIRLS BY CD-r burn (originally on SR International Records, Germany)

Yeah they might look hip enuff, but these Germans play nothing but instrumental horn-based covers of the schmooze hits of the day (in this case 1968) just right for any Holiday Inn restaurant, the kind we used to eat at while on one of our fambly vacations way back when. And when I hear these guys roar through the likes of "Days of Wine and Roses" as well as "Goin' Out Of My Head" boy do I get the cravings! Cravings for some chicken croquettes with gravy but man I can't find any around here for some stupid reason! Hey Bill, maybe you can find some Chinese music to send me next time...plenny of those kinda restaurants y'know!
Various Artists-LILAC THUNDERSTORM MILITIA CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Yet another one of those "surprise packages" sans any track listing, this does work swell at least with the bevy of old radio ads that were stuck on here. This starts off with some definitely post-WW II-era jingles, the kind I can recall still hearing well into the early-seventies before everything went down the ol' fallopians. One track sounded like an "avant garde" take on early-seventies pop---perhaps it was an honest attempt to mix the new sounds with the top 40, who knows? Also heard were what sounds like some angry feminist reading a short story in the other room, a car engine turning on, some weird live late-seventies-era pop music and the soundtrack to a Fanny Brice coming attraction. Total messed up sounds here. I like it.
Before I go let me leave a gentle reminder that there are plenty of BLACK TO COMM back issues still available directly from me myself and yo that you can pick up for rather depression-era prices at that! If you like the dribble that appears on this blog then you will most certainly like BLACK TO COMM! If not well, can you think of a better way to line yer bird cage???


Head Company AB said...

You know how they had the tower record store in new York and they put in a record store right across the street and called it other music, well why don't you put up your own hall of fame, you are right by there and know all the local rock stars. I think the other music store out lasted tower record, so you are certainly able to make it work. P.s. I read about how you have been printing out old magazines if you include some reprints of these other zines I promise to buy your book, I want the one that comes with a c.d.

Christopher Stigliano said...

Click on the link and go from there...sheesh, do I have to walk you readers through EVERYTHING?

Head Company AB said...

Ok I just picked out four of them they better be good I could have took that money to the record fair

Christopher Stigliano said...

Send me your e-mail address (I will not publish it) and I'll tell you the rest.