Thursday, November 29, 2018


Sterrett's POLLY AND HER PALS sure was one of them comic strips I could really sink my soul into, and thankfully a number of collections featuring the likes of Sam Perkins (the real star of the show and ya better believe it!) and his fambly have come out over the years and are relatively easy to find. And although these IDW "Essentials" ain't quite my cup o' Dr. Pepper what with their awkward style and an air of "this is ART yer readin'---be APPRECIATIVE of it!" to the thing at least I'm gettin' the comics, and at this point in time that's all I want and like, why should I quibble?

Although its the Sunday full-page POLLYs that get the critical huzzas the dailies weren't anything to catapult snot at, and these '33 efforts show just what kinda bastion of FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY the funnies used to be well before things like social consciousness and female artists began permeating the page. Trtue these ain't got the catch you off guard gags like you used to find in NANCY, but their droll and witty nature, coupled with that old-styled yet wacky art make POLLY just as much a classic as all those other comics you wish your local paper would print, only they haven't been making cartoons like this for over eighty years!

Interesting storylines here kidding everything from yogis, fish tanks, wimmen in pantsuits, pet dogs and even an extended romp where the entire cast moves to a farm! And the year ends on this really strange yet well-done note where none other'n Santa the C himself turns everybody into toys so they can enjoy the holiday season in the proper frame of kiddie-addled fun! Great art, witty punchlines and if yer shocked to the core of your being by the maid and handyman (Liza and Cocoa respectively) then you probably hate Angelfood McSpade as well!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018


The Modern Lovers-"Dignified and Old"

If you don't think this song qualifies as punk rock you are reading the wrong blog. Jonathan Richman declaring his disgust with "Hippie Johnny" not long after the mud at Woodstock had finally dried is a real punk rock move, Jack.

The original Modern Lovers were as electric as a subway third rail, blending perpetual motion Velvet Underground thrust, funtime AM radio moves and the occasional cut-you-to-the-bone ballad that would make even a tough guy like you dry your eyes with your Exploited "Punk's Not Dead" t-shirt, you rube!

I hadn't actually heard this song in years. It's got a kind of skittering nervous energy and Richman at one point pleads "Hey you don't die now, some day we're gonna be dignified and old...together".

Yeah, that sentiment is about as far from the accepted "live fast die young" punk party line as possible, but now that I AM old I can look back on some wild times with friends listening to high energy music and be glad I realized you don't play "submarine commander" with your doody after you are caught doing it at the age of three, unlike GG Allin. And as reckless as I could sometimes get when youth felt like it came with a guarantee of immortality, I never did anything that would have caught Johnny Thunder's fancy.

As for being "dignified", if finally knowing what the term R.S.V.P. means and the fact that I should wear a clip-on tie to such an event is evident of such an appellation, then just call me Sebastian Cabot!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Wellwellwell, another week has come and gone faster'n you can say "a fana caga", and y'know, it was a pretty spiffy week at that. After all, I made it out alive which is more than I can say about other weeks where I end up feeling more rung out than your mother's monthly rag. Dunno it it's the upcoming holiday season that has me going (I doubt's come to the point where I feel like going into hibernation as soon as those irritating Christmas ads hit the tube), but I feel so gooood knowing that this is the time of year between doing yard work and shoveling snow that leads to more of those goof off hours that I most simply adore, sweetie!
As ya know, last Thursday was Thangsgiving Day, and unlike other years BOY DO I HAVE A LOT TO BE THANGFUL FOR!!!! Mainly the beauteous bevy of platters that I have received this week, some of them paid for with my own hard toil (and believe me, it is hard toil to beat a seven-year-old outta his lunch money!) and other totally free via the mail if you can believe that! In fact, I got so much hotcha items as of late that I'm definitely gonna hafta save some of the booty received for future posts that's how happily bogged down with music for reviewing purposes I am at this time! Sheesh, if only Stevie Wonder could see me now!

Nice selection too, sent from the kindness of Bill Shute's and Bob Forward's hearts not to mention Feeding Tube Records and Weasel Walter who just can't stop with the metallic jazz overdrive that he's been doing since who knows when. Special thanks goes to Alan "Snake" Globekar of Cleveland power pop fame who sent me a few of his recent releases, two of 'em which get the royal treatment this week. You may remember Alan as the guitarist in the final incarnation of Circus (see my last batch of singles review for my opines regarding the platter) as well as the Andy Gerome Band and Brian Sands' various projects, and hey Al if you are reading this I'm in the process of writing a letter to you shortly detailing the various things that I've been tossing at'cha. Anyway, thanks big for the platters which were a pleasant surprise considering how I thought you've been outta the music game for ages!
A SPECIAL NOTE TO A CERTAIN SOMEONE, OR SOMETHING, OUT THERE-can any of ya direct me to where I could find a recordings (legit or not) of the late-seventies Sydney-based groups Trans-Love Energies or Trans 262? Yeah, I thought so. Creeps!
And with that well, here we go!

THE RATTLE SNAKES CD (Electro Records)

This was Al Globekar's early 'teen's group of which I know NOTHING ELSE ABOUT. An' with a name like the Rattle Snakes I was hopin' these guys woulda emulated the infamous where-did-they-go group the Sidewinders who put out that great outta-nowhere album on RCA back in '72. Well, this ain't the Sidewinders, it's totally different but in a good, redeeming way.

Bobby Lamphier pretty much fronts the group, he on acoustic rhythm guitar and lead vocals. Globekar plays lead and produced, Mike Wey is on bass guitar and Rob Luoma (a name that sounds familiar) plays drums. And they do a good job putting out a platter that's part pop, part rock and even's gotta bit of country in it, perhaps left over from the time Globekar was putting that C/W act together with Brian Sands, some results now out there on Soundcloud.

Half covers, half originals and it all goes down rather smoothly. Maybe a bit too slick for some of you purists in the raw power groove, but I can enjoy the takes of Presley and Holly (as well as a laid back "Baby Please Don't Go") as much as I can Lanphier and Globekar's original material. And in no way could I ever say anything bad about Globekar's lead lines which sound beautiful as they careen in and out of not only the melodies but (eventually) your mind.

A nice one especially for people like me who have been following the exploits of Globekar for awhile and then alla sudden poof! Sheesh, could it have been THIRTY-EIGHT YEARS since I first heard Globekar's Andy Gerome Band broadcast on WMMS way back when? Of course...I'm nothing but an old turd these days as I'm sure most of you are!
Milford Graves-BABI 2-CD set (Corbett Vs. Dempsey, available here)

Finally after all this time (a good forty years since New Music Distribution Services ran outta it) the legendary Milford Graves BABI album is available, and as those of us who hadda rely on tapes or burnt Cee-Dees of it know already it's a killer. Graves plays his percussion and moans like a wildman while Arthur Doyle and Hugh Glover do their best to make Coltrane sound like Lucy Ricardo playing "Glow Worm"! They shred the air the same way all of those great early-seventies outta-nowhere greats did! Sure good seeing this 'un back in circulation!

Of course the best thing about this reissue is that the fine folk at Corbett Vs. Dempsey actually included a second disque, this one featuring the same lineup a good six or so years earlier doing the same overload in the sanctity of their rehearsal space and man is it a killer! More of the same only these four tracks last about a whole hour en toto, and the raw sound really does add to the intensity if I do say so myself! Turn this one up and if you don't hit levels of beyond-hope internal gut churn I dunno what's wrong with you!

A definite keeper for a guy like me who spent a good portion of the eighties trying to catch up with everything he missed out in the seventies, and although I'll NEVER be able to fulfill my goal well, ya gotta admit that it's been fun enough at least givin' it the ol' go,  y'know???
State Champion-SEND FLOWERS LP (Feeding Tube Records, available here)

Not one of the better Feeding Tube releases but...well, you may like it. Slow neo-alt pop that at times (thanks to the slide guitar) might even borders a bit on new country what with its downer mode and twisted introspective lyrics that depress more'n anything. The better tracks do contain that Mirrors via Pink Floyd dreariness that actually uplifts a la "Slow Down" so I wouldn't call it a total wash out. Take yer choice.
Martin Escalante + Weasel Walter-LACERATE CD (ugEXPLODE Records)

Gonna be extra hard describing this ugEXPLODE release w/o copping too much from the other ones. That means NO AACM comparisons (including the droppings of such names as Joseph Jarman, Anthony Braxton or Roscoe Mitchell) nor slight appeals to free jazz heritage (Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman, Jimmy Guiffre etc.). Sheesh, and I would like to fill out the review to at least covers' length at the left of where you are now reading with something about Weasel Walter's percussion sans any paens to the inside/outside the beat purveyors as Sunny Murray or Ronald Shannon Jackson for that matter. Maybe a few...naw, not even that would suffice. Sheesh, I guess I really am at a loss of words as far as telling you just how much of an ajax this newer than new jazz as it was meant to be staked out platter is, eh?
Bill Dawg and the Dirt Road Rockers-HOWL AT THE MOON CD (Electro Records)

Here's another Globekar-related effort, he being the guitarist in this recent act featuring a man who calls himself Bill Dawg! Rob Luoma from the Rattle Snakes is also here while Rattle Snakes frontman Bobby Lamphier also makes an appearance, and like that effort this one seems torn between a country rock twang and fifties homage. And like the Rattle Snakes this one does come up with a few tasty pop moments you might appreciate. I could see these guys in the here and now playing to a few lost souls at one of those Northeastern Ohio bars that has a shooting in the parking lot at least once a week.
Ray Bryant-COLD TURKEY CD-r burn (originally on Sue Records)

Haw, for a moment I thought Bryant was gonna be covering John Lennon, but still this title does fit in swimmingly with the holidays. Snazzy piano trio jazz that's bright enough to get you well and happy even if some of the time you get the feeling you're watching MISTEROGERS.  It's nothing that I would call crucial in that it doesn't tear the mind up and make you feel like a preying animal like the best music should, but hey, I think you could milk some pleasure outta the gol' durn thing!
George Jones-LIVE AT DANCETOWN USA CD-r burn (originally on Ace Records, England)

It's not hard to see why Paul McGarry just loves the dickens outta these old George Jones recordings. After all, by the time this 'un was released in 1965 country music had earned a sort of respect with the general populace outside of the rural enclaves where it was birthed, and even though the sound was getting more and more honed and aimed at the same people buying other forms of pop messterpieces country still retained those fried roots that (at least at the time) separated itself from the mop top battalion. Of course nowadays it's ALL turned into a horrid watered down pop parody but back in the sixties country was a good antidote to various forms of lethargy that were sweeping the record dial.

Twenny-six rousers here, some in the standard C/W vein while others slip into Jones' early rock 'n roll mode that might have upset quite a few listeners only a few years earlier. Still a good slice of live entertainment with a few surprises like "Bony Maronie" and a generally more fun time'n had I decided to spin that Delaney and Bonnie platter Paul snuck in his latest package. Hey Paul, wassamatta with ya anyway?
Coyote-CAST OFF YOUR OLD TIRED ETHICS CD-r burn (originally on Old Dog Records)

Haw! I thought this album was gonna be done up by that prostitute union that got a whole lotta press in the mid-seventies (C.O.Y.O.T.E. worked for the betterment of slit sellers in these here United States to the point where they didn't even want their Johns opening doors for 'em!) but from the sounds of it... Well, this buncha Coyotes were an early-eighties hard rock group, male and all, that took all of the worst aspects of the AOR moosh of the day and sliced and diced 'em up in their own not-so-special way. I gotta admit Coyote did some hard moves better'n expected (such as the J. Geils-influenced "Riot in Cell Block #9" riff  "Final Notice") but for the most part they take the same tired hackdom and rehash it for even more sopored out kids. Y'know, the ones who were easily taken in by the most transparent hucksterisms that have ruined teenage culture for the past fiftysome years. I can see some old turdburger just poured into his jeans and leather jacket hanging out at the coffee shop having bought this one oh so long ago, and for some strange reason I suspect he might be you.
Various Artists-MUNICH SANTA HOMBRE WATER CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Wotta (typically) strange effort starting off with an obscure Jerome Cooper track from I dunno where (he being the percussive part of the old Revolutionary Ensemble with Leroy Jenkins and Sirone) and afterwards pummeling our senses with not only a whole lotta Spanish language versions of mid-sixties Amerigan hits but FIVE olde tymey Christmas ditties just in time for the holidays, including one vocalized by none other'n Ozzie and Harriet. Thanks Bill, I'm already sick of the Holidays and it's still November!

The more interesting tracks here were done up by up-and-coming jazz guitarist Mary Halvorson and saxophonist Joe McPhee (see last week's post), the resultant stew reminding me more of those old Derek Bailey efforts featuring pretty much the same setup. You might have heard the stuff she did with Weasel Walter and maybe even Anthony Braxton, and if you (like me) go for the ugEXPLODE style of sonic liberation you'll probably go for these tracks done up with another legendary newer-than-new thing performer who fortunately hasn't left the boards yet. I'm sure an internet search'll bring up more of these settings and if you weren't as lazy as I am you would have found out by now!
I keep pestering you to buy up these BLACK TO COMM back issues and as usual you keep ignoring me. What do you need to happen to you before you actually get off your bum and give me an order anyway...a stack of issues to fall flat on your head? Heaven knows that's happened to me a coupla times already...

Thursday, November 22, 2018


When it came to first run late-single-digits-era tee-vee viewing nothing could beat LOST IN SPACE! I really mean it too...back then STAR TREK was cool enough but kinda brainy with all that philosophy major garble that only MAD magazine readers could get, while stuff like THE NAME OF THE GAME seemed like the logical extension of those early-sixties cop dramas that I love like the dickens these days, only boring. And besides, when yer eight can you understand any of it? 

Thankfully LOST IN SPACE was geared to us lumpen suburban slob kids who were still mourning the cancellation of FIREBALL XL-5...lotsa action and explosions galore with all of those creepy kinda aliens that usedta scare us when we were watching THE OUTER LIMITS only now that we were seven well---we could man up and handle it and even get a kick inna process. Don't gimme that jazz about it being "camp"...back then real life was camp enough to the point where shows like this and BATMAN seemed just about every day normal!

I mean hey, LOST IN SPACE was perhaps one of the highlights of my young 'n growin' up days, a part of my week just like all of my other favorite shows and something to look forward to as much as reading the funny pages or Friday night pirogi dinners. Even later in my illustrious existence LOST IN SPACE remained a must-see for me...I can still vividly recall watching it, on a then-revolutionary large-screen projection tee-vee no less, at the Butler Pennsylvania Holiday Inn lounge while my folks were slaving away trying to sell goodies at the flea market being held in the banquet room on some Sunday afternoon. If only I could retain more funtime memories of things such as this and jettison all of the horrid degradation that has happened to me not only in my youth but my prime would I be a happier fanabla than I am and probably will remain.

Given how much I loved romping through the first season a good decade or so back, I decided to re-visit those shows and in a moment of weakness splurged on a Dee-Vee-Dee set of the second season. I just knew would bring back at least some fond memories of first and rerun appreciation and other discoveries of things everyone else on this earth seemed to take for granted.

As expected, this is straightforward good kiddoid Sci-Fi (a few notches up from various fifties efforts from CAPTAIN VIDEO and SPACE PATROL on down) that is crazed enough for the kids, "offensive" enough for the phony intellectuals you went to school with, and downright straightforward for alla them old uncles of yers who didn't watch anything but westerns and wouldn't notice the "put on" aspects even if it bit 'em onna roast. This season is in color, and although that usually doesn't mean a hill of beans to a staunch tee-vee fan such as I who felt something was lost after 1966 clocked out for good I gotta say that I kinda got that sorta "oooh" and "aaah" feeling watching those color dots at the opening kinda like Aunt Mabel did when she first got a color tee-vee and hadda show it to everyone. This year also finds the Space Family Robinsons on a new planet getting into the same predicaments with more aliens both silly and frightening enough as well as even more equipment failure than at a Hawkwind show. And of course, the same stock footage and props are used over and over again as if the doofs watching this would have remembered seeing those alien costumes and space ship blastoffs from a mere few episodes earlier.

The acting's boffo enough to the point where I can remember emulating Will Robinson because he seemed to know twice as much as the adults and thinking that Don West was a mean hothead the way he always wanted to bash Dr. Smith's skull in! The gurlz were ikky (that's before I got older and could appreciate the "finer aspects" of Judy Robinson) and John and Maureen Robinson were well...the kinda parents any ranch house UHF kid would have loved to have had in outer space! The robot was extremely boss too (and perhaps got the best lines in the whole thing to the point where I wondered why somebody didn't think of creating an ALL ROBOT program which woulda been cool since no actors woulda hadda been paid!) but Dr. Smith... He was definitely the major saving grace if you ask me, but all these years later I wonder why alla those tough cowboy loving guys who went for LOST IN SPACE didn't call him out for the homo he was!

Yeah, some of these episodes could be a bit downer like the one with Hans Conried as a bumbling Middle Ages-era knight, but even those can have their share of weird chills like in the one featuring none other than Wally Cox! An' hey, what normal straight-C average kid could resist all those explosions and tension-churning cliffhanging scenes that really made this 'un the bladder holder LOST IN SPACE remains at least for me (thank goodniz for pause buttons) a good half-century later!

I might dish out for the third 'n last season when I get my, er, "financial situation" under control, but at least the re-viewing of these '66/'67 episodes reminds me of what I'm sure a lotta us outta nowhere humanoids were "getting into" when we sure wanted to be out seeing rock 'n roll bands and getting wasted like our teenage brethren. And, come to think of it, maybe LOST IN SPACE was our booze 'n dope the same way that THE LITTLE RASCALS and GILLIGAN'S ISLAND were, only the one thing that woulda "busted" us woulda been the "smart" kids who found out we "liked" unspeakable trash like that.
Oh, and before I go, a happy fifty-fifth anniversary of that fateful date oh so long ago when Don Fellman missed out on watching RETURN OF THE FLY on the late movie. If you think he was having a bad time of it to some people he wasn't but 'eh, it was bad enough for him and don't say otherwise!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018


After a 22-year comic-book run at Fawcett, from 1958-1980, Dennis The Menace found a brief home at Marvel Comics, of all places. It was a run of 13 issues, monthly from November 1981 through November 1982. They also produced three “digests” which collected earlier work.

I remember seeing these for sale back in the day, but I was spending my money on records at that time and only bought cheap used comics and the occasional reissue volume of vintage comic strips. I would pick up used Dennis The Menace paperbacks when I’d see them for a dollar of less, but those tended to be reprints of newspaper strips, not original comic book material. Fortunately, decades after the fact, I recently scored seven of the thirteen Marvel issues inexpensively, I’ve read them, and here is my verdict.

Basically, these are solid Dennis comics and little has changed since the Fawcett years, at least in terms of the Dennis content. Of course, you just knew that there would be some kind of Dennis/Marvel crossover, and there was in the “Spider-Kid” issue (see pic). Each issue begins with a large STAN LEE PRESENTS…DENNIS THE MENACE on page one, and I assume that Lee was a longtime Dennis fan who could afford to bring him under the Marvel tent, if only for a season. He probably always wanted to put STAN LEE PRESENTS…DENNIS THE MENACE on a comic book, and now he could, the same way that Kim Fowley always wanted to have an album cover that said THE EXCITING ORGAN OF KIM FOWLEY, and so he recorded an album of Sandy Nelson-ish instros at Imperial Records with a lead organ (the BORN TO BE WILD album) just so he could actually use the phrase on an album cover and have his friends and devoted fans get a laugh while giving his ego a pat on the back.

Not sure how involved Hank Ketcham was with these comics….online sources credit him with some of the covers (though not others), but the general consensus seems to be that his assistant Ron Ferdinand did the majority of this work. I have no problem with that as Dennis was a brand, and the assistants were trained professionals who could do what needed to be done, especially with a comic book version of Dennis, which (in my humble opinion) did not need the precision and fine-tuned economy of line and detail that a B&W newspaper strip needed. This particular comic book contains only one story, a LONG story about Mother’s Day. Dennis hears out his window the pre-dawn man delivering newspapers from his car wish someone Happy Mother’s Day, so before his parents wake up, he decides that he will get a big Mother’s Day celebration together for his own Mom. Of course, this misfires in every imaginable way (you can see him throwing everything in the refrigerator and pantry into a blender in the cover drawing), managing to drag in neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Wilson (regulars with Dennis) and friend Margaret. As usual for a longer Dennis story, things fall apart gradually, and then with a kind of domino effect, those events make other things fall apart. Unlike the shorter stories or the newspaper strips, this issue-long story leads to a sentimental ending celebrating mothers and families in general, which would be too saccharin for a LEAVE IT TO BEAVER episode and would be more fitting for something like FATHER KNOWS BEST. Still, Marvel lets Dennis be Dennis for 7/8 of the story. Actually, I’m guessing that Ketcham’s studio probably delivered finished pages to Marvel which were inserted into the books. On the front page, the copyright statement lists the actual page numbers where the copyright is held by Ketcham’s representatives, Field Enterprises (the actual pages of the Dennis story), and then lists all the other pages as held by Marvel.

One thing I did not need in this comic, though, was the sight of Dennis’ bare ass as he is getting dressed in the early morning before his parents are up. A waist-up view would have been enough, thank you.

Overall, the seven Dennis Marvels I’ve read are all worthwhile and a solid continuation of the series. Alas, Marvel was the final comic book home for Dennis The Menace. Fawcett paperbacks reprinting newspaper strips continued to be issued for a few more years into the mid-80’s, but original comic book material ended with Marvel. Fortunately, Fantagraphics began in 2005 publishing beautiful hardcover archival collections of the original newspaper strips in two-year units, starting with the strip’s debut in 1951. That series worked its way up to the early 1960’s, but seems to be on hiatus for the last eight years or so. If you frequent used bookstores and thrift stores, a better (and cheaper) bet would be to score one of the dozens and dozens of Dennis paperbacks published by Fawcett, which contain daily strips. You can still get them for a dollar or two and carry them in your back pocket, ready for you to read when having to kill time at the laundromat or the tire store or the dentist’s office. Let Dennis work his magic and mayhem on YOU, wherever you may be!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Goober says hey! Hope you readers in the tri-county area are enjoying this early bit of winter weather we're having which I gotta say sure brings out the bah humbug in me! Sheesh, we didn't even get to have a fair autumn and now it's raining ice and snowing with those below-freezing temperatures that usually have me snuggled up in bed with my hot water bottle and teddy bear to keep me nice and toasty! But still, colder weather does mean more indoor fun 'n jamz which allows me to engage in my favorite pasttime, and that's something I sure could use during these rather busy if chilly times! And in case you've wondered, my current fave pastime just happens to be reading my DENIM DELINQUENT collection while listening to old Siouxsie and the Banshees and Lew Lewis-era Eddie and the Hot Rods tapes. Really works for me in a downhome spiritual way, and maybe it will for you too!
Kinda hefty number o' reviews this go 'round, undoubtedly because I decided to skip what I had in store last time for this 'un and it growed and growed to rather Holmesian dimensions if I do dare say. As you might have sussed out already, I didn't have the chance to do a proper post last week what with all of the outdoor yardwork I hadda get in in-between real life salt mine duties, but at least I made up for it not only with that bootleg piece I delivered on last time but this magnificent batch of beauts that'll have you sayin' "CHRIS IS THE NEW MELTZER!" (or something like that) in no time flat!

All kiddin' aside (like I could even aspire to being the new Joe Fernbacher), I think I put out a fairly good effort despite the usual barriers I have to contend with. Like the fact that I am a piss poor excuse for a writer even if I do like to deliver on my better'n anything you'll read these days opinions and have done so for a good thirty-seven years awlready. Not gonna let my stilted style stop me one bit, egotistical yet dutiful rock 'n roll fan I am and will most certainly remain! 
RIP STAN LEE, creator of such timeless comic book classics as HOMER THE HAPPY GHOST, PETER THE LITTLE PEST and GEORGIE which featured characters that will live on at least in the bottom reaches of my collection. Sorry, no Steve Ditko-length sendoff for you Stan, but that doesn't deter from...uh...somethingorother.
And so, here's this week's bunch and a hearty hi-ho slivver must go out to Feeding Tube Records, Bill Shute, Paul McGarry and NO ONE ELSE for the items which have been donated at their expense. Hope these wonderments keep you nice and happy throughout these rather slushy days...

Creative Healing-LOW EFFORT SOCIAL EVENTS LP (Feeding Tube Records, available here)

Hearing the sax/violin duel upon needle placement I was automatically thinking Plastic People of the Universe, or at least one of those seventies-era Czech "manicka" groups that were fans and followers of the band. Good enough assessment, but Creative Healing go even further what with their spurts of avant jazz ecstasy and total eruption reassessment of various late-sixties until early-eighties efforts like (as the hypesheet says) Men and Volts which does come pretty close to the core. But Creative Healing have an even broader approach to their handling of post-Beefheartian efforts filtered through just about every local nutjob drugcase holed up in Anywhere USA (and beyond) who thought they were the local Frank Zappa. Here I go thinking the entire world had gone cyborg, and up comes this left fielder!
The Velvet Underground-NEW YORK REHEARSAL 1966 CD (Sutra Records)

Figures that this "live FM broadcast" of Velvet Underground rehearsals would be the same Andy Warhol Museum tape that's been fluttering around for the past twenty years! Well, at least it's kinda/sorta legal and cheaper'n it used to be albeit it sounds pretty feh next to the other versions I've heard. If you don't have those, then have this!

But is re-re-repackaging old sounds for new ears a good excuse for the powers that be to withhold even more of those crucial unreleased Velvet Underground tapes from us?  An' you know who "us" undying fans who were in on the game a whole lot longer'n those giddy alternative music upstarts, diehard followers who DESERVE to hear those rarities and like right now! I mean, many of us were up and about during the days when you couldn't even FIND Velvets recs (especially the Cotillion releases) at the reg'lar shops and special ordering usually brought up goose-eggs as well! If you didn't hafta wait YEARS to find someone who could tape you a  copy of THE VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO you were a normal sort of maniacal fan now, weren't you, because I sure hadda wait and wait until I could find those efforts and then I didn't have the money to get 'em! C'mon you avid bootleggers---find those rehearsals and live gigs and press 'em up for a more'n anxious public and IMMEDIATE-LIKE, y'hear???

('n why did they hafta slap one of those overused live photos onna cover yet again because I for one am SICK of lookin' at it! Sheesh, when dingbat magazines use such snaps you know it's nothin' but HACKNEYED!)
Greg Malcolm and Stefan Neville-A NUANCE LP (Feeding Tube Records)

I never got to hear much of those eighties-era New Zealand groups other'n the Chills, but from what I have heard I found 'em to be pleasant enough popsterisms even if bathed in a twee sorta syrup. Nowadays I think the sweetness has gone for good if these two vets are any indication. This particular nuance consists of diestorted cheap guitar and not-so-hi-fi music that takes such classics as "The Beat Goes On" and "Telstar" as well as a slew of country and ethnic-styled tuneage and makes 'em sound as if you left the tuner set on "aux". The results are as mystical-sounding as anything that gnomes weaned on rock 'n roll could dare put out and like,  I do find the mix 'n match quite suck-you-in like anything Barrett ever did. Might be a good outta nowhere hit with you, but I dunno...
Joe McPhee-NATION TIME CD (Corbett  Vs. Dempsey Records, available here)

You kinda get the idea that this 'un's gonna be one of those all-out BYG-styled freeform wigouts upon hearing McPhee's opening call to arms, but NATION TIME has more to do with the new movements in post-bop expression a la Dolphy or Coltrane than they do with Archie Shepp's revolutionary expression. Swings from the Coltrane quartet to hotcha funk on "Shakey Dance" (dig the guitar lines of Dave Jones, ne'er to be heard from again as far as I can tell!) while getting your soul way deep into the glory of the bonus tracks including a faithful take on the Big C's "Naima". Good for at least a listen or two before it gets lost in that pile of  Cee-Dees in your fart encrusted bedroom.
Etron Fou Leloublan-LES POUMONS GONFLES CD (Gazul Records, France)

This early-eighties album portrays a more commercial Etron Fou than had been heard previously, but there's still enough RIO strangeness to make LES POUMONS GONFLES one recording that might appeal to not only the high brows who go for that European stuff but lighthearted aficionados who'll try anything just once, other'n rump wrangling that is. Thankfully these Frenchmen (and Frenchfemme) retain that weird sense of humor in their otherwise could end up pretty STODGY work, and if you went for all of those late-seventies Captain Beefheart-influenced acts that were popping up and about there's no reason why you shouldn't fall for this 'un as well!
Melodic Energy Commission-MOON PHASE COMPENDIUM CD (Vapor Records, Canada)

Had whatcha'd an interest in these Canadian crazies for quite some time (or at least since their MIGRATION OF THE SNAILS album was being hawked by Systematic), but only just now got up the guts to get this double duty compilation of both Melodic Energy Commission platters. Despite calls to the contrary, I found this weirdo Hawkwind spinoff to actually work wonders despite the various proggy effects and a generally hippoid attitude it might exert once in awhile. Gotta say that the mix of oscillating whirlygigs and clanging Fourth World percussion adds up to some mighty mystical jazz sounds, and even if parts do sound like Yes outtakes that were just too tame for Jon Anderson to stomach it ain't like you're gonna throw up your arms in disgust! Y'see, if you stick around some hard rock jamz just might be in store and I'm talkin' the kind that don't bore ya as well! Former Hawkwind/Pink Fairy/Deviant Paul Rudolph appears on one track which makes this effort all the more exciting (at least to early-seventies hard rock aficionados like myself).
Peter Holsapple vs. Alex Chilton-THE DEATH OF ROCK CD-r burn (originally on Omnivore Records)

Wow, whaddaya know but...RECENTLY DISCOVERED PETER HOLSAPPLE AND ALEX CHILTON RECORDINGS MADE AT SAM PHILLIP'S STUDIO IN 1978!!!! They sure sound it too...Holsapple does his best to bring back ALL of those early-seventies AM British Invasion revival sounds to the point where even a few notes of this could raise Greg Shaw from the dead, while Chilton is the crackpot self he was on LIKE FLIES ON SHERBET even doin' an instrumental version of "Heart and Soul" which makes me wanna laugh my head off the way he goofs through the thing switching keys at a second's notice 'n all. Sure brings back fond memories not only of the inspired "new wave" that was the underground rage at the time but the magazines like NEW YORK ROCKER and even KICKS (circa. their first issue) which championed these sounds. A total outta nowhere surprise that sure reminded me of why music like this sent vibrations of hope and success throughout my nervous system back in those best/worst of time (as they all are) days!
Bill Justis-RAUNCHY & OTHER GREAT INSTRUMENTALS CD-r burn (originally on Sun Records)

Yeah, you know just why I decided to review this 'un, eh? It's because of the gal onna cover, THAT'S why!!! But other'n that you jagoffs will find more than just a li'l funtime pleasure when you plunk the needle down or slip the disque in and getcherself some boffo late-fifties (mostly) instrumental offerings from the "Raunchy" guy himself. Hotcha mid-South rumblings that'll remind you of just why the first age of rock 'n roll had this deep, burning, underlying strain of intensity that never really transposed itself to the giddy early-seventies "nostalgia" craze that reduced it all to inanity.
Bobby & Laurie-HITCH HIKER CD-r burn (originally on Parlophone Records, England)

As Paul McGarry once said, you can't judge a record by looking at its cover and no truer words have ever been uttered. You might think these Bobby and Laurie guys to be some simpy singing duo like Simon and Garfunkel, but in actuality they were more like a kinetic Everly Brothers or atomic Chad and Jeremy playing the mid-sixties Big Beat sound without compromising their total eruption to please the li'l girls. Well, this sure ain't the MC5 I'll grant ya, but for a long-haired singing duo whose music wasn't swamped by strings and overproduction Bobby and Laurie sure don't come off like a pair of bobbysoxer boobs, y'know?
Del Shannon-SHOW ME ED CD-r burn (originally on Liberty Records, France)

Shannon might not-a-been hittin' the way he used to when this '66 EP came out, but he sure hits with me the way he romps his way through four Snuff Garrett-produced efforts that were culled from either THIS IS MY BAG or TOTAL COMMITMENT...not too sure which one. As is evident from these recordings Shannon was still in top notch form, but at this stage in the game that early-sixties style was slowly slipping by and like, just how could a guy like this compete with them mop tops anyway??? Still, a great sampling of some solid rockaroll done up by a first-generation legend and like, maybe you lumpen new muzak types out there oughta lissen to the guy an' pay some HOMAGE, y'hear?
The Animals-ANIMALISM CD-r burn (originally on MGM Records)

Hmmmmmm...mebbee this 'un should go into that year-end roundup of more familiar platters that I gave a play to throughout the year. Naw...I'll stick it here because not only is ANIMALISM a newie to me but because well, I did have this particular page up and I don't wanna spend time tryin' to find the one with the rest of the platters that might be a little too familiar for my every-week posts!

Still a goodie what with Mr. Scrambled himself Eric Burdon and crew working their way through a whole buncha covers including the hit single "Hey Gyp" and "Shake" not to mention a number of blooze that fit the group rather swimmingly if I do say so myself. Interesting tracks include Frank Zappa's "All Night Long" (from which I could only spot the riff from "No Matter What You Do" as far as any familiarity fact I thought this was gonna be that closing track from the Ruben and the Jets FOR REAL album!) and Muddy Waters' "Louisiana Blues" which I had previously known as  "Gone Behind the Sun" on the Zappa/Beefheart CONFIDENTIAL bootleg...just goes to show ya that even a well-educated and much respected rock "historian" like myself can learn something new once in awhile!
Various Artists-SPIRO LAGER BRITTLE FLUID CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

To say that this gaggle of groans might have just MADE MY WEEK would be an understatement, but gosharoonie if this "Bill Burn" didn't do just that! Lotsa hotcha flotsam here from a flexi disc for the NW Lads label outta Philadelphia which really showcased the teen sounds to Gene Marshall plugging the 1968 Republican ticket are but some of the can also get some cheap soul crankout from Alvin Cash and commercial neo-fusion jazz from Guizado which just goes to show you how cornballus seventies music could be (and how fantastico punk rock sounded in comparison). Not forgetting A WHOLE BUNCHA RADIO ADS THAT REALLY SWING!...ever hear Bob Segar plug the USAF or Jimmy Witherspoon Lucky Lager? Well now you can as well as osmose the slowed down hardcore of Public Disturbance (weird lead guitar in that one!) and the Raiders' promo record for Mattel's new "Swingy" doll!

For me the highlight of this set was the appearance of "Act 1" by the Fulminate Trio, a NYC "Downtown" aggregation that surprisingly enough is up and running 'stead of a memory long gone. These guys play avant garde free jazz neo-fusion if you can fathom that, and they do a spiffy job of it judging from this particular extended romparoo. If they were around in the early oh-oh's you woulda been you'd be seein' 'em on the CBGB cybercasts emanating from the Lounge portion of that club during Dee Pop's old Freestyle series of events...but you can still hear 'em via the Unseen Rain label and if I weren't so dad busted broke I'd be doin' what you undoubtedly are and spend a few shekels for their wares this very same minute! You missed out on the Hanuman Ensemble and Freedomland...don't miss out on these guys!
Hey, if you guys ain't gonna be buying up any copies of BLACK TO COMM that are still available I'm gonna stop posting these links taking you to a place where you'll never want to leave! Yeah, that's just what I'm gonna DO! OK, maybe not, but you better take advantage of my soft heart---click here and whatever you do, don't be stingy!

Thursday, November 15, 2018


If ya think I ain't exactly thrown for the ol' loop by this book then man, you've never immersed yourself into the sea foam of Ranch House Culture that I and so many other fanablas have sprung forth from! It's such a good read that it kinda reminds me of back in my serious comic strip/book collecting frenzy pre-pubesprout days when I'd rush home from school on some dank overcast and freezing Friday PM with a whole weekend to look forward to, and'd hole myself up with a comic collection such as this which I would SOAK IN until suppertime, totally immersed in the solid antics of the action at hand only stopping occasionally to give Sam a few bops in the nose when he would come by doing his usual sniffing.

As I said many-a-time, I find it quite stymieing that not only did the Powers That Be not have a PEANUTS comic book up and about during that strip's late-sixties megahyper heyday but also didn't feel worthy of reprinting these late-fifties/early-sixties Dell comic book stories at a time when PEANUTS books were permeating the store shelves and grade school desks of this land o' ours. Well, fifty years after the hoopla might be whatcha'd call a li'l too long a wait, but finally these rarities have been collected in hardcover and like, it's fourth grade for me all over again only without the BAD stuff like homework, teachers, classmates and horrible cafeteria lunches to contend with.*

These stories ain't too bad and that even includes the later ones which Schulz had no involvement whatsoever. The artwork, mostly by Schulz assistant Jim Sasseville and later on Dale Hale (though the erstwhile PEANUTS creator did contribute a scant few), is true enough to the original to the point where you have to look very carefully to find any slight deviation from the's that close from the lettering and backgrounds to the correct angular slope of Schroeder's head and even better'n what Wally Wood was comin' up with in those MAD spoofs around the same time. The sagas stay close to the strip format as well, only fleshed out into as many as eight pages with interesting turns and gags that could never be done within the span of even a Sunday slot. So close to the strip's entire reason for existence that I sure can't see all those giddy gals I grew up with who loved the antics of Charlie Brown upping their pockmarked cheeks at this 'un, and they lifted their cultured kiddie noses at everything else other'n James Taylor and Peter Max back then!

There are a few deviations from the usual down pat story style here and there, like the one where a robot that is controlled via remote by Charlie Brown causes havoc in the neighborhood grinding up Linus' blanket and destroying Schroeder's piano amongst other strangeties you never would have seen in the actual strip. Kinda like PEANUTS meets ROBOT REX if you get the drift. However, even these fit into the whole gist of where PEANUTS stood during the years when it went from being that cult strip all the hipsters went for into the licensing giant it eventually became. If you don't have the originals this 'un'll certainly help satiate these long cold nights just like they woulda for me had this 'un made it out like it shoulda back during my switchover into the double digits oh-so-long ago.


*I dunno, but thinking back to them dayze of addled kiddietude reminded me of one time in the third or so grade...kinda hazy here...when us kids hadda do book reports and some cocky guy actually submitted one on a PEANUTS paperback! Boy did he get holy fanabla for that even though I remember that he was rather defiant over his choice in reading matter because it was a "book" and he had to do a report, and like man he did just that so what's the big deal! And once you get down to the nitty gritty what was all the fuss about anyway---sure beats writin' about Dick and Jane that's for sure! Years later I must admit that I woulda liked to have eyeballed the thing...betcha he took every strip and summarized the thing in typical eight-year-old speak going on and on! Well, it sure woulda read better'n some of the writeups I've been cranking out as of late that's fer sure!!!!!

Saturday, November 10, 2018


I decided to slip this 'un into the mix because frankly, I have been rather busy/lazy this week and didn't have time to prepare a PROPER run-down of recs and such that I have been listening to coupled with my opinions regarding various musical/social/political/bowel movement-related wonderments. What I did peck out was spotty, comparatively blase (at least next to what you usually will find here!) and definitely needs a tune-up of sorts. However, I had these reviews of relatively old (and some new) vinyl boots on hand and like better you read these writeups than suffer through a half assed summary of just how great I feel with all of this beyond words music being pumped into my system and how beautiful it is living in a world filled with old records, comics, fanzines and other expressions of total suburban slob wonderment that you just can't find anymore. You know that rap already even though I just love throwing it in your faces every time I have the opportunity.

So just settle back and recall those halcyon days when these bootleg albums were nothing but softly-whispered rumors floating about the high school gym when you shoulda been doin' those fart-inducing leg squats. Think back to those catalogs emanating from various mid-South enclaves and those weirdo record shops that seemed to have more than their share of those white sleeves with insert covered platters that seemed kinda chance-y, but for the most part you seemed to do well with what you purchased to the point where even fortysome-plus years late these records still stand as a proud testimonial to your youthful buying prowess as they collect dust in what remains of your vinyl collection!

Sheesh, it would figure that right at the time of my massive Zappa/Beefheart/Mothers mania inna mid-seventies most of their bootleg offerings would either have been long out of print or a good five or so years away from being pressed up. Sure didn't help me out any at the time, although the Zappa/Beefheart CONFIDENTIAL album on Wizardo and the NO COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL twofa did show up in the local bins and were thusly snatched up by guess who! Dunno exactly when TMOQ slapped this double consisting of two early-seventies vintage Zappa boots together, but from the labels I would gather that it was the early-eighties and although my Zappa pressure was certainly tamed by that period in time (Terry Bozzio can do that to you) I think that if I were to have picked this 'un up at some flea market at the time it woulda made for one of those nice late-night spins when the music seems to take on a different sort of somber tone than it does in daylight, which I gotta say does certainly fits in with my bean brain of mine.

AT THE OLYMPIC purports to be the first appearance of what the insert calls "the Hot Rats band". Dunno if you could really say that about this CHUNGA'S REVENGE-period show, but the sound is great for an audience tape and the performance is pretty tasty especially for the post original Mothers of Invention era which many rock wags tend to poo poo. Flo and Eddie are on here somewhere but are washed out while for the most part Zappa plays his guitar and does a lotta old themes re-mashed with Ian Underwood holding up a good portion of the recording with those multi-instrumental talents that kinda made me wish he had a Bizarre/Reprise release of his own!

The highlight for me is the presence of Sugarcane Harris who really puts a lotta oomph into the proceedings with his violin, and thankfully he performs that all-time classic "Directly From My Heart To You" which really stymied me when I first heard it on WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH. I mean, the idea of Zappa recording a Little Richard song seemed so alien to me back when I first picked that platter up, naive kid I was and most certainly shall remain! Of course as the years rolled by and my mind firmed up it seemed a natural thing for him to have done, but when yer fifteen man, was that the weirdest!

The 200 MOTELS album is not the soundtrack to the feature and frankly why Zappa cared to title this performance with the El Lay Philharmonic under the direction of Zubin Mehta such is confusing (he does mutter something at the beginning of the piece which is hardly audible though might explain the sitchy-ashion a tad bit). Still if you like those Zappa orchestral faves and various Mothers themes of yore you'll diggidy-dig this one which sounds just like the closing theme from THE WORLD'S GREATEST SINNER at one point then gets into such faves as "Oh No" and a few UNCLE MEAT variations which might bring back some late-sixties memories for you old time fans.

It can even be moving then all of a sudden a tad kitschy, so once again Zappa keeps you guessing as to what just might be coming next if you dare to go there. Surprised these haven't been repressed or Cee-Dee-ified since because even with the audience quality this would sound great on your pop's old 1959 stereo player! That is, if he'll ever let you back into his den after what you did to the speakers after playing Blue Cheer on it back 1968 way!
And from Zappa why not head out towards that Zappa "acolyte" so-to-speak (perhaps thee only Zappa "'acolyte' so-to-speak"!) who made it even bigger than ol' stinkeroo himself---none other'n Alice Cooper! And what a boffo package this one is what with the full-color cover and the pink and pale green discs that turn up inside---quality all around! Not only that but BACK IN THE USA (with a title like that I'm sure the bootleggers had a good sense of where Alice was comin' from what with the massive influence of the Detroit rockers from the MC5 on down on their entire makeup!) is a hi-quality recording taken mostly from the 1971 KILLER tour which, along with a buncha hot MUSCLE OF LOVE outtakes and a fair quality though rockin' live version of "A Hard Day's Night" with Flo and Eddie, make this one of those bootlegs that really got starved rock 'n roll fans like myself all hot and bothered during the dullsville eighties. Can't lose with a set like this which you must admit topped even what the majors of the time (mid-late eighties) were able to toss out at an audience that surely wanted more than the usual gruel. When compared to, say, those mid-eighties Velvet Underground collections on Verve something like BACK IN THE USA only goes to show you that when it comes to exhumations and proper packaging the bootleg labels beat the legit ones all hollow! Imagine what any eighties-era bootleg label coulda done with those Velvets recordings...certainly not stick 'em in those ugly sleeves and get David Fricke to write the liner notes (not that he doesn't spout pearls o' wisdom once in awhile but that guy is so omnipresent I wish someone else'd get a chance to pop off once in awhile) that's for sure!
Speaking of the VU, I had passed on these Velvet Underground LEGENDARY GUITAR AMP TAPES releases on the "Tummy Tapes" label considering how this 3/15/69 recording with Lou Reed's amp placed WAY UP FRONT was (deservedly) circulating in various forms o'er the years and like, I must have had at least three different versions of 'em on tape or disque already! However this third volume capturing Reed's eruptive playing on "Heroin" and "Sister Ray" was just too tasty to pass up on vinyl even for a guy like me who coulda plunked down the money it took to pay for this on some other item of value. But dedicated fan that I am I just couldn't resist this particular slice of late-sixties apocalyptic pleasure and y'know what???

It's every big as adventurous/avant garde/exhilarating and all of the best thesaurus words you can dare find even a good thirtysome years after this 'un escaped onto the tape trading market. The sound on "Heroin" is mighty fine in itself but when the band segues into "Sister Ray" it all comes home, with Reed's guitar playing showing its Metal Machine Glory proving once and for all that slick lines and fast playing don't necessarily make a rock group good. It's NOISE all the way which is why a band that could play (like the Velvets) or "couldn't" (like say, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks) ran rings around all those high-falutin' "artists" you heard on the radio who could play scales up and down the neck of their guitars but could never ooze an ounce of down and dirty grit from their entire existence. I can get into that churning crank that Reed lets go with towards the end forever...if I ever make it "up there" I hope I get to hear this for all eternity. If I make it down there you know it's gonna be nothing but J. Neo Marvin.
Here's a strangitie that I like if only for the effort that went into making this. It's a (now get this!) live performance of David Bowie's LOW album titled what else but LOW LIVE, and it's got a really pro color cover mimicking the original and this opaque greyish vinyl to give it that real up-grade quality that bootleg fans really went for.  I would rate the effort as being a well-crafted package given the big-time job that went into producing the thang but unfortunately this 2002 performance was taken from an audience recording and the sound is surprisingly bad considering how by the early 'OO's technology had made your average clandestine recording sound almost professional. Too much audience woo-wooings going on here and you have to strain to hear some of the instruments especially during the "avant garde" second side. Fortunately I managed to get a few high stool-era fun feelings outta it so perhaps the exorbitant amt. of moolah I put into buying this wasn't TOTALLY lost after all.
One thing I've discovered throughout this life o' mine is that a whole lotta these records bearing the name Jimi Hendrix on 'em, especially those that were released after his deep sixing, are sure chance-y affairs to put it mildly. Sheesh, I wonder how many bedroom jams of his were recorded by the neighbor next door only to get pressed up and touted as being some "unique" and "innovative" effort that was obviously dug up to capitalize on the guitarist's unexpected gagathon!

Well, this double set of-so-craftily credited to "James Marshall" as if that was gonna throw the authorities off the trail is sorta like that, and not. Mostly just outtakes, these tracks range from fairly good to boring but you might like 'em even if you, like me, tended to think of Jimi as being one of those older kids kinda musical acts that seemed a little too hippoid in light of other acts that spoke to your suburban slob mentality a whole lot more.

The recordings with John McLaughlin and Larry Young aren't as passionate as I would have liked 'em to be, but some of the guitar attacks do bring out a few latent hard rock growls that appeal more to my Detroit underground rock side than they do the whole mudfest felchathon scene so in vogue at the time. Sound quality is about what's to be expected, but thankfully it only exacerbates the proper way rock 'n roll and perhaps all music should be heard---in a primal and feral fashion that needs no visuals or extra stimuli for you to appreciate in your own untamed, mammal sort of way.

I could say that LADYLAND IN FLAMES was one of them boots meant for the Hendrix completest and Hendrix completest only, but for once in my life I'd be wrong. Even the more casual Hendrix lover can get more'n a few things outta this double-set and if you are one, this might be worth the effort to search out here on the "you can get anything ya heart desires" internet an' I do mean it!
I believe this one, or at least some of it, has been issued legitimately but fergit that jive because if you can get it on a bootleg record it's all the better for everyone involved! And what a bootleg it is!!!! Here are none other than Australian pride AC/DC recorded live at the beginning of their long 'n sainted career, and judging from the tracks on this set (taken from a New Year's Eve gig on the last day of '74 as well as a few tracks from the following year fillin' the thing out) these guys were cooking even HOTTER than they were once they finally hit the big time playing in front of an arena fulla teenagers puking reds all over each other. The sound is good, and packaging fantastic in that eighties bootleg we gotta fool people into thinking this is legitimate sorta way, and best of all these guys don't come off as heavy metal imbeciles one bit and prove just what kind of high energy purveyors they could be once they got their nuts down to it.

This really is punk rock in the old CREEM/DENIM DELINQUENT fashion long before that term seemed to get co-opted outta existence, and as far as all out performances go this 'un proves that maybe AC/DC, had they never gotten the big break oh so needed with outta nowhere rock groups, would be remembered fondly in the same underground rock way that Coloured Balls and Radio Birdman are lo these many years later. Next trip to the record shop (wherever one may be) try to snatch this one up, or at least get hold of 74 BREAKOUT and DIRTY DEEDS DONE DIRT CHEAP and get an earfulla what hard rock used to mean before the eighties and rock videos negated everything good the seventies stood for.
An' that's it for least until I can find another cache of these once-forbidden items to write about in my usual triumphalist way. Until then, be sure to scour your local outta-the-way record shop for more of these wild wonders and most of all---DON'T BLAB TO THE COPS WHERE THE PLACE IS, AT LEAST UNTIL I CLEAR THE BINS OUT AT WHICH POINT WHO CARES!!!!

Thursday, November 08, 2018

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! EYES OF THE UNDERWORLD (1942) starring Richard Dix and Lon Chaney Jr.

Onetime leading hunk Richard Dix plays the much loved chief of police in a mid-sized town he had pretty much rid of bad boys, well 'cept for the stolen auto and tire rackets that have sprung up since the advent of World War II rationing and all that needless hooey that was created to stir up the patriotic sacrifice in us rubes. Turns out that, behind the strong yet sensitive exterior which has made him one of the most loved men in town, Dix was once a convict serving time for pilfering pennies from the bank he was working at! Of course in no way would he want the town nor his goony young son to know about his less 'n exemplary past 'n why should they since this guy, for all practical purposes, IS Dick Tracy and Superman all rolled up into one!

In order to keep their chop shop biz roarin' without any needless hassles from the law, the gangsters decide to have one of their guys (played by Marc Lawrence, who o'er the years sure got a lot of tough guy roles like this!) get busted, ask to talk to Dix alone in his office and trick him into going along with a planned break out in exchange for Lawrence blabbin' about havin' known him inna Big House. Dix doesn't go along with it, but thanks to the actual break out which does occur as well as a secretly recorded and edited recording of the conversation the bloke comes off lookin' as if he is indeed was in cahoots and well, you can guess who was tossed into the hoosegow faster'n you can say pass the Vaseline!

There's a lot goin' for this Universal quickie that makes EYES OF THE UNDERWORLD a hefty slice of early-forties theatrical enjoyment, that is unless that zoot suiter who hasn't washed his hair in months decides to sit right next to you. One of 'em is Lon Chaney Jr. as Benny, Dix's chauffeur who isn't beneath doin' a li'l TORTURIN' in order to extract information outta some grimy underling. Pretty good considering how I thought he was gonna somehow slip into his Lenny mode halfway through the pic!

Heck, I even liked future perennial Tee-Vee type Don Porter as this investigator who comes off as a slick bad guy but he's supposed to be good even though you still kinda hate him even when his wholesomeness is revealed because hey, it is one of those twisto plot-addling devices that work well in these crankers. And hey, Wendy Barrie as the ever-faithful secretary who sticks by her boss probably because she has a hotcha thing for older men works. She's totally un-woman-like true, but ya gotta admit that her take on the female gender sure beats who's goin' 'round these days!

Tuesday, November 06, 2018


Anyone who frequents junk stores or the so-called antique malls and peruses the printed matter for sale knows that the Harvey Comics line is not particularly in-demand. Oh, there may be SOMEONE out there who is willing to pay big bucks for a mint copy of the RICHIE RICH MEETS LEON TROTSKY “Giant” issue of Harvey Hits, but for the most part, there are so many variations on so few characters (Richie Rich, Sad Sack, Casper The Friendly Ghost, etc.) that if you find a comics dealer willing to deal, you can get a stack of Harveys for next to nothing.

Case in point: recently I got a stack (literally--about 25) of coverless comic books from the late 60’s and early 70’s for about 20-25 cents each, and most of them (the Harveys especially, though there were also Charlton westerns and some other items) had clearly never been read....or even thumbed through. The spines were tight and just waiting for some ten year old--or ten year old at heart, like me--to kill some time in the upbeat wonder-world of Harvey Comics (and yes, that K. Gordon Murray reference was intended). The covers had been ripped off and returned to the distributor for credit when the book’s initial selling period ended, maybe a month after its release, and instead of throwing the coverless books out, as the retailers were supposed to do, or letting the employees or good customers have them for free (or selling them at a steep discount under the counter, as the Convenient Food Mart on Bridge Street used to do for me as a kid), someone decided to save these books in a box somewhere, and who knows how many times that box got moved over the 51 years between this comic being discarded and my picking it up for a quarter. Yet, in 51 years, no one read it....until I did.

Fortunately, as with an obscure silent comedy short from the 1920’s or a lesser-known Bowery Boys film you’ve somehow missed, there is something timeless and pure and charming about this coverless Little Sad Sack comic book. Of course, it’s well known that the Harvey Comics incarnation of Sad Sack was nothing like the original, created during World War II by soldier George Baker for a military audience and reflecting, with a kind of black humor, the problems facing soldiers, addressed from one soldier to another. Harvey reinvented Sad Sack as a kind of kindler, gentler, more kid-friendly version of Beetle Bailey, but without most of the pointed workplace humor that adults appreciated so much in Beetle (and still do). A lot of the credit for the appeal of the newly re-invented Harvey Sad Sack goes to artist Fred Rhoads, who boiled the character down to its essence and favored an open, minimal art style that would pull the reader in. He also gave the comics a kind of wide-eyed brightness not unlike Disney comic books, but not as saccharin. As much as the character evolved when adapted by Harvey, according to online sources, creator George Baker continued to oversee the series and do the covers, and I vividly remember seeing those unique covers with the weekly comic offerings at the local newsstand or drug store as a child.

Harvey being all about spin-offs of the core “brands,” Sad Sack comics offered other lines focusing on Sarge, Sack’s dog Muttsy (!!!), Gabby Gob (the Navy version of Sack), and the comic under review today, LITTLE SAD SACK. This is basically Sad Sack as an elementary school-aged child. With a face only a mother could love, the child version of Sack looks like Leon Errol playing weather-beaten Knobby Walsh in the Joe Palooka movies, but put into a ten year old’s body (and if you’re not familiar with Errol/Walsh, think of Jimmy Durante, big schnoz and all, as a child....looking exactly like the adult Durante, but with softer facial contours!). The basic concept of this is so ridiculous that just looking at a page of LITTLE SAD SACK comics puts a smile on my face. It’s almost like the “adult baby” persona of Harry Langdon (see pic) if he had stumbled into the world of PEANUTS, had PEANUTS been created by Mort Walker of BEETLE BAILEY fame. Little Sad Sack’s adventures are not unlike those of Dennis The Menace, but toned down and gentler.

What I like most about this orphan comic book, abandoned and unread for decades, is the purity of its comedy, something not really seen today....or for the last 30+ years. It’s the same feeling seen when Stan Laurel or Oliver Hardy will get a piece of paper stuck to their shoe, or get a fly annoying them, and spend a good 5 minutes developing and extending the situation. Time stands still and the world outside no longer matters. Jerry Lewis tried that kind of thing in his second “comeback” film, SMORGASBORD (aka CRACKING UP), the film he made after HARDLY WORKING, and it could not even get a US theatrical release as it was so out-of-step with the culture of that day, 1983 (it did well overseas and wound up on cable and late-night TV here). And to have that kind of simple and pure comedy served up by a character who looks like a grizzled old character actor, but in a ten year old’s body, makes the packaging even more appealing to me. He’s almost like an elementary school version of Shemp Howard, and who could not get excited by that prospect. It’s interesting that artist Fred Rhoads had worked as an assistant on Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, as Little Sad Sack has a kind of Snuffy Smith vibe to him. And like Snuffy Smith or Harry Langdon, Little Sad Sack does not have to DO anything to be funny. His face and his attitude say it all in a universal language a four-year-old could understand.

Just like the character of Sad Sack, the line of Harvey’s Sad Sack comics (and its endless variations) does not get any respect today. When I looked on some comic book history websites to get my facts straight for this review, I saw one of those listings (as you see for records on Discogs) where it states how many collectors have this comic and how many want it, and for this LITTLE SAD SACK comic, under the “wants” section, instead of a number, it sarcastically stated “who would admit to wanting this!” Hey, I want it! And thankfully, I’ve got it. The super-hero fanboys (and most are boys, whatever their age) who make up most of the comics-nerd world will never “get” Harvey Comics or Sad Sack, let alone Little Sad Sack, which is about as welcome in their world as a second-tier Columbia comedy short featuring, say, Monte Collins or the team of Eddie Quillan and Wally Vernon would be welcome at the Sundance Film Festival.

This comic book is certainly not what the popular historians would have you believe was happening in 1967. Reading this coverless orphan comic book today is like getting a breath of pure oxygen----oxygen that’s been waiting 51 years to be used by someone----after spending a day working outside in some polluted urban area. It’s exactly what I need after a day in the fetid and toxic and self-important world of contemporary society and popular culture.