Tuesday, July 30, 2019


This 1941 Swing-oriented musical comedy, made by the Stooges’ own studio, Columbia (not a loan-out as with Stooge features such as SWING PARADE OF 1946, made at Monogram, or GOLD RAIDERS, an independent film released by United Artists), is a pleasant surprise, which I stumbled across accidentally online. When I was first learning about the Stooges’ history, by reading about them in books in the library back in the 70’s and 80’s, a film like this would just be a title to me—what would be the likelihood of it ever playing on TV in my area? Not much, so I just filed it away in the back of my head….evidently, pretty far back, as I’d completely forgotten it. It’s not like today, where you can Google it and start watching it in fifteen seconds, for free.

Every studio churned out bottom-of-the-bill Swing musicals in the late 30’s and early 40’s, and the studios that made the best B-movies tended to make the most entertaining ones because they understood good pacing, alternated three or four clever subplots throughout the running time (which they kept brief), and had talented comic performers under contract (or available cheaply). The better films also had some hot swinging musical numbers and not just syrupy ballads by “boy singers” and “girl singers” as they were then known. Some band leaders, such as Ozzie Nelson (watch the 1942 STRICTLY IN THE GROOVE sometime, which pairs Nelson with Shemp Howard, Leon Errol, and Franklin Pangborn!), had a comic persona as part of their regular “act” that they could exploit, beyond just leading the band.

Before we get to the Stooges, the comedy front-line in the film is first-rate….longtime dim-witted comic flunky-to-gangsters ALLEN JENKINS, along with the dim-witted cop from the Boston Blackie films (made at Columbia) RICHARD LANE, and doing a great lampoon of his own stuffed-shirt Ivy League background, RUDY VALLEE (always good at comedy—watch him as the song-stealing “America’s Beloved Tunesmith, Alvin Weiner” in the mid-70’s ELLERY QUEEN TV show with Jim Hutton and see how the man was still a scene-stealing supporting actor nearly 50 years after his initial fame as a late 20’s crooner, in the pre-Bing Crosby age) run a low-rung talent agency looking for cheap acts to exploit. Their cynical and threadbare and hare-brained schemes are a riot, and I wish they’d later been given their own comedy shorts or movie series as they are so good in this.

One of the musical sequences is wild also. Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra, who made many pile-driving uptempo records in the early 30’s but were still a crack outfit in the early 40’s, do a novelty rhythm tune called “Boogie Woogie Man” that is shot in the dark with the musicians playing glow-in-the-dark instruments, a routine later used by Louis Jordan and band in the film SWING PARADE OF 1946 a few years later, which coincidentally also starred The Three Stooges.

The Stooges themselves get four featured sequences spread throughout the film and are also around at other times. They are unemployed actors trying to get bookings through the Jenkins-Lane-Vallee agency. I don’t want to give away what their scenes are—I did not know going into the film exactly what they would be doing, and I appreciated them suddenly appearing out of the blue a lot more than I would have if I knew what they would be doing. Let’s just say that one of their classic routines is premiered here before they even did it in one of their own shorts, they also revive an old routine from their early 30’s Ted Healy days, and they are even featured in the blow-out final musical number, with Curly “in character” doing an outrageous impression of a certain exotic songstress of the day.

Running a brisk 74 minutes, TIME OUT FOR RHYTHM is almost a textbook example of how the makers of these B-programmers knew how to pack so much into a brief, entertaining, and fast-moving package, giving you comedy, music, and romance….and most importantly, tying it all up before you are ever tempted to look at your watch. The first rule of entertainment and the arts should always be “leave them wanting more.” What a Golden Age this period was! And the crew that made this probably churned it out in 10 days, and then moved on to another project—they did not sit around whining about being misunderstood artistes!

Saturday, July 27, 2019

WHEW! Dunno about you but I'm still reeling if not rocking from the massive response to last week's Jay Dobis interview, something which really seemed to draw in the readers and responses like nothing since those early Dave Lang and Jay Hinman traipses into personal destruction a good fifteen years back. Of course credit must be given to the interviewee much more than it should be to the interviewer, or so sez humble me but anyway, it sure is good to know that there are still some readers out there who see rock 'n roll as a maddening obsession rather than backdrop to getting cooze! And if you think this week's post is gonna be a letdown in comparison well, you might just be right.

But still there have been a few goodies to grace mine ears during the past few weeks, and below are just a few of the wonders I thought I'd pass my opinions on to you because like, why else would you want to read BLOG TO COMM other'n because this just might be the ONLY place on this planet where at least some shard of neo-gonz rockscreeding mighta survived in a world of cut and paste rock critic hackdom (and really, do even these kind of sycophantic slobberers exist here at the dawn of a new decade in which we can finally see all that we loved and cherished buried with a brutal ardor?).

Even with the bevy of beauts I've reviewed below there are still a whole lot more platters that I have been spinning as of late. F'rexample the first two Savage Rose albums really do brighten up the ol' atmosphere 'round here especially with that triple keyboard lineup that gave those albums a nice solid whump! inside my brain! Funny how folk keep comparin' this act to the Jefferson Airplane which I personally can't see at all---these guys (and gals) were a solid straight-ahead rock 'n roll act that delivered intensity (no matter how sublime) in place of commercialized revolution dressed up in a rather commercial sound, and in more ways than one I could see them as the contemporaries (not in sound necessarily but suaveness) of the rest of the straight-ahead rock 'n roll acts of the day from Hackamore Brick to the Stooges and maybe even the good ol' Velvet Underground themselves! Yeah, I know any comparisons to those titans has become a rock critic cliche at least a good forty-five years back but this is BLOG TO COMM, not the COLLEGE MUSIC JOURNAL so cut me some slack! At least I have a better right to bring 'em up'n any of you do because like, I'm so pure and innocent in my still stuck in the seventies rockist ways!  Not only that but they get a whole lotta name droppings in the Marie et les Garcons review below so if Velvets slobbering is not your game may I suggest you skip this post entirely!
JUST FOUND OUT DEPARTMENT: our, well at least my, thoughts and prayers go out to Andrew Klimyk, younger brother to Jamie and veteran of a variety of acts from X-Blank-X, Tender Buttons, Red Dark Sweet and Death on a Stick who has suffered a series of strokes and is in what you'd call less than perfect condition as a result. Here's to your speedy recovery Andrew---we certainly need more people like you up and about in the music world and a whole less people like...well, I'm sure all of you have a fave musical figure of ire to insert here and it better not be me!
And with or without further ado (does it matter?), here are the reviews!

Marie et les Garcons-76/77 LP (Instant Records, France); 1977-1979 LP (Feedback Records, France); RE BOP ELECTRIQUE 12-inch EP (We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want To Records, Germany)

I recently chanced upon (whaddaya mean "chanced"---I've been lookin' for 'em nigh on six months!) some records that seemed tl slip into the cracks in my collection, perhaps ignored because they just happened to arrive at a time in my life in which maybe there were other more pressing things to do than settle back and enjoy music as that eternal form of inner turmoil expression that's kept me goin' for a pretty long time in my life. There were a few doozies in that batch I'll tell ya, and as the days/weeks/years go by you'll be readin' 'bout some of these catches that just might make your life the carefree suburban slob way to go as we fend off the hideous onslaught of Miley Cyrus.

But the dooziest of 'em all just hadda've been the Marie et les Garcons platters that were located after being shuffled from stack to stack before I was even able to give 'em a spin! And hey, let's just say that the discovery of these platters just HASTA be the biggest even that July has in store, for when it came to the kind of music that makes up the soundtrack for my wildest dreams its groups like Marie et al. that create it, for they had everything goin' for 'em in a world where most bands might have some, some might have none but hardly any have 'em all.

First they were French which is cool since the best rock 'n roll has always been of a Gallic groove even if the likes of Lou Reed would not admit it. Second, they were a huge part and parcel of a "scene" so to speak which holds the same musical desires (Velvets, Patti and all those group names I've been abusing ever since 1981) that helped make a full blooded man outta me when everything else was injecting musical estrogen into my veins. And third, they made some pretty hopping music that epitomizes everything that I love about the 1964-1981 era of sound as a teenage form of true avant garde expression, but if you were reading this blog inna first place I think you woulda known alla that by now. Just brushing up with the newbies, that's all.

These three were reissued (or maybe two were reissued---I think 76/66 just might be seein' the light o' day just now) a few years back and they might still be available via the usual internet sources Maybe some outernet ones as well but hey, if you consider yourself a fan and follower of the BIG BEAT you might want to get hold of these before you do anything else in your miserable life. For these Marie et les Garcons recs are pretty spiffy platters if I do say so myself and like, if you think that the post-post-POST under-the underground musical scene as it stands today has nil the effect and power that this music held during the glorious past well, Mariet et les Garcons are just more prove to back up your totally spot on theories!

The 76/77 album's a downright sonic reduction on all counts, not only because each side contains a 40-minute (or so it seems---grooves are really close together) rock rant recorded in glorious portable Panasonic lo-fi, but because the Garcons crams into that time some way-outta-kilter expressions of mid-seventies under-the-counterculture music that not only traverses some mighty familiar punk rock territory (and even Bowie!) but contains some brilliant vocals courtesy Patrick Vidal that sound totally attuned to the teenbo o-mind even if you don't understand a word of French! (Whew! Take that you anti-run on sentence Nazis!) At specific instances the guitar rave turns into an atonal neo-Mars-ish clash of frequencies (which might figure since they did share labels!) and you're there lapping it up just like you did back when the forces that spurted forth the creative juices which spawned such groups as Marie et les Garcons were way mightier'n the likes of Pantsios would ever admit. These basement-level performances are loose in that beautifully primitive way (Marie's drumming is stuck somewhere between Maureen Tucker's, Michael Weldon's and Miriam Linna's and she can even do a roll) and if somehow you FORGOT just what it was that made you save up lunch money for rare singles by the likes of Patti, Lou, Iggy et. al. the fury and drive behind these basement recordings will bring it all back home. Yes, it is "beautiful"...

The Ze album (which got the reissue treatment from Feedback Records a few years back) might not have the same urgency as the above, but it still got that cheap young upstart seventies Velvet Underground heavy duty aura about it that once again says more about the true nature of rock 'n roll during that particular era in time than the collective prattling of ROLLING STONE's "Random Notes" ever did. An' the mofo sure holds up not only with the standard Garcons faves like "Re Bop" but with some hefty tributes to the acts that made the Garcons more'n just one of those acts that the big crits would sorta pat onna head before moving on to more lucrative endeavors. Especially enticing is a cover of the infamous "Roadrunner" which makes that Greg Kihn take the local FM station used to play to death all the more nauseating. At least you get the idea that these guys didn't discover the song after some wonk at Berserkley gave Kihn a pile of records and had him choose a hip sounding enough song to cover. 77/79 has the same sorta primitive appeal previously found in old scratchy singles and various 99-cent cutouts of the day that all GOOD rock 'n roll needs, and like all those other acts who took the best the sixties hadda offer us and molded 'em into a true vision for the seventies this works fine. I only wonder why this 'un got stuck with a cover showin' one of those shirts with a li'l alligator on it!

The twelve-inch RE BOP ELECTRIQUE ain't anything to get my underpants in an uproar but I guess those who liked the group's dabbling into disco forms will go for it more than they did all those other former punk groups who mighta still been punks in some form or another doin' the disco thing when the disco thing was somethin' to be doin' (but not for me it wasn't). Two extended electronic music versions of the groups (I guess) signature song really don't excite me much if at all, but Ze at least had the good sense to put the original on as well just so's it wouldn't be such a loss to all their old time fans. It ain't exactly anything I would want to be reminded of lest I soil my view re. the Garcons permanently, and if that cover Photo ain't a tipoff re. the chic decadent disco cum new wave crowd this is aimed at I dunno what is!

FINAL ASSESSMENT OF IT ALL- '76/77 a must-have for even the ones who like to dabble merely a toe in the ocean of mid-seventies post-VU jamz, 1977/1979 for those who heard the first one and need more after being saturated in the basement blare, and RE BOP ELECTRIQUE is for after all is said and done and you kinda come to the realization that yeah, all of the good 'uns started to peter out once the sappy eighties got into gear.
WEEPING BONG BAND II LP (Feeding Tube Records)

Another album from the group whose name conjures up the worst images of overall'd hippies on the front porch doin' those Marin County jams! Personally this stuff ain't whatcha'd call upper echelon BLOG TO COMM listening material but I find it rather interesting what with the twangs of stringed instruments coagulating with the juicy amorphous bloat. Side two kinda reminded me of those later-on Ash Ra Tempel ventures that bordered on the Gnu Age, but this was still a whole lot better'n what that genre could eventually poke out as the dreary eighties rambled on and on. I guess if you're the type of guy who thinks that reality is for people who can't face drugs you'll go for this big time!
SOUTHWIND CD (Big Pink Records, Japan)

Yeah, I always like to thumb through old rock mags of varying stripes to see if I missed out on class acts of the past that deserve a spin or a million for that matter, and as you know I highly cherish the opines of greats like Greg Shaw and Jymn Parrett when making that wise purchase that could have gone towards my doctor bills. Southwind did get a passing rave from Shaw in his ALLIGATOR WINE enclosure included in the premier FRANK'S APA, but frankly I thought their debut was a total wash out---neo-country rock without the verve and excitement to make it as noticeable or as appealing as various other late-sixties rock acts trying to survive in a world of hippie doodle. And if I only knew that future Elvis Costello cheapo knockoff Moon Martin was a member...sheeesh!
Various Artists-WORKING CLASS DEVILS---SUBVERSIVE BEAT, R 'N' B AND PSYCH FROM POLAND 1965-1970 CD-r burn (originally on Beat Road Records)

The Polish always have gotten a lotta hard knocks from comedians and such, but this record shows that there was what seems like an active beat scene there during the mid-to-late sixties. Yeah, judging from these tracks it might not have been anything that special, but some of these numbers do cut the mustard as far as delivering on cheapo psychedelic thrills they way local wonks from Anytown USA could. Dunno if any of these groups were approved by the government but if they were I gotta say that the heads of state o'er there were slightly hipper'n the ones we had o'er here! And you haven't lived until you've heard  the way Niebiesko-Czarni translate "Purple Haze" into Polish, kinda/sorta that is!

I guess that now dad's long gone 'n decayed I can say what I want about his daughter's recording career. And frankly I have nothing to fear from Pop even if he were alive because these crank 'em out and dress 'em up tracks from Nancy Sinatra ain't that bad in that late-sixties cheezo variety show gunch sorta way I thought it was gonna be. Early stuff has that patented Annette woola woola high stool spirit swing to 'em that recalls brain aneurysms received while sipping vanilla shakes through straws at McDonalds. The later on hits and sundries really recall single-digits me thinkin' that they better not have music like this when I reach teenbo age, but now it sounds a whole lot more human'n the cyborg entertainment being foisted upon us in the here and now. Her theme to the Allen and Rossi spy spoof THE LAST OF THE SECRET AGENTS does make me wanna catch that one sometime soon. Oh how I miss THE CBS FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE!
Various Artists-MOD SOCKS AND FOREVER FLARES I guess that now dad's dead I can sD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Hah! This 'un's a real surprise from the Royaltones doin' a "Tequila" swipe to some nice down-mood local single sides including a couple from Youngstown Ohio's Fortels who I'm surprised people around here aren't talking about in hushed and humbled tones. Even stranger is Jerry Van Dyke rendition of the MY MOTHER THE CAR theme with additional verses!

In between all that I get cheap-o attempts at the charts that were good but no cigars. These include a number of doo-woppers and twist cash-ins as well as a country popper about a Playboy bunny which reminds me of when I was a kid and although the whole Playboy Enterprise was up and about and more popular than even Shake-A-Puddin' the mere mention of such stuff to the folks was totally verboten! It wasn't until years later when the concept of tits 'n twats entered my mind that I knew why but sheesh...I kinda find it hard to get through my skull that something like PLAYBOY would be up and about during such a rather wholesome, clean-livin' era in my existence! I do feel creepy about it all...I mean, what about NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC?
Have you gotten your fill of BLACK TO COMM back issues yet? Well, if not why dontcha make a glutton outta yourself and feast upon these ageless morsels of rock 'n roll mania and rare photographs coupled with some hearty writing and maybe even some misinformation or two tossed in! Remember, a BLACK TO COMM literate Ameriga is a FREE Ameriga!

Thursday, July 25, 2019


Here's a DC character I don't think they're gonna be makin' any multi-billion dollar feature films about in the near future! Not only that but I get the impression that this serial was made on a budget consisting of a mere five grand max! And since it's probably way more jam-packed action-wise than any of those superhero features seen since the SUPERMAN one in 1977 I kinda get the feelin' that all of the dough used for special effects and star salaries was nothin' but POURIN' MONEY DOWN A RAT HOLE as my dad used to say about my record buying habits. Y'see, you can make a great film whether it be a feature, serial or tee-vee program with less and less money if you know how to USE IT RIGHT, and Sam Katzman obviously knew how to make hotcha and adventurous films with what little he had or else film snobs would be making fun of them EAST SIDE KIDS pitchers even this far down the line Oh wait---they still are.

But cheese Louise, how can anyone doubt the clear-minded results of an effort like this which stars none other than Ralph Byrd (yes, he being the DICK TRACY of serial, feature and tee-vee fame) sidestepping into this 2nd rank DC character role as a special agent type who's posing as singing cowboy star Gregg Sanders (not Kregg Sanders)! While filming on local bigwig Lyle Talbot's ranch (and even cracking a stolen car ring in between shots!), Sanders is caught up in one big whale of a case when a middle eastern potentate presents not only he but Talbot and Sanders' galpal and trick rider played by Ramsay Ames (no special good looker) with these all white Arabian horses which, according to a dying assistant of the Most Exalted One, contain a curse. (Naturally the bloke croaks before he can reveal what this curse is to the Vigilante's comic relief sidekick and fellow agent.) There's also something about a hundred tears of blood mentioned which kinda stymies everyone in on the case, and that just might be one reason why Talbot wants to get his hands on Our Hero's stallion to the point where things can get rather gnarly for the goodskis!

Won't spoil things too much for you because I just know yer all gonna rush down to your nearest zilch-level moom pitcher emporium to see THE VIGILANTE! Ya might be a bit let down when you find out that this hero, even if he was a big name at National Periodicals at the time, really doesn't wear a fancy costume and is basically a modern day low-rung take on the Lone Ranger what with a bandanna covering up most of his face. And this doesn't even take place in the Wild West and if you don't like horse operas you might not like this even if it ain't one by any long stretch of the imagination! But it sure has the thrill-packed cliff-hanging endings that I'll just betcha had kids holding their bladders in for weeks on end until all the pressure from wondering what happened is finally relieved, only for a new inescapable ending to pop up making whiz problems even worse! My advice...wear a catheter so's you don't have to worry about wrecking your bladder or kidneys and have a ball with this great low-fi serial that might not remind you of the Golden Age of action adventure films like this, but will bring up plenty of seventies-era nostalgia thrills that most kids at the time were inundated with whether or not they wanted to be! 

Saturday, July 20, 2019


(you don't know him, but you WILL!)

BLACK TO COMM-What can you tell us about growing up with Jonathan Richman. Like, what kind of a guy was he and (I assume) you were both heavily into music during your growing up days, right?

JAY DOBIS-We grew up in a quiet suburb of Boston, which was about 20 miles away, in a lower middle class/middle class town. We met at Bennett-Hemingway Elementary School in first grade and became friends right away, probably because of our senses of humor and love of baseball. He was easy to get along with. We were both smart and quick witted; he was the extrovert, and I was an introvert… I was captain of my third grade softball team. I wanted my best friend on the team, so I regularly went over to his house to teach him how to play. He learned quickly and became very good. John Felice would peep over the fence occasionally to see what we were doing. Later, we played on baseball teams together and went to the same summer camps… At some point, he decided to become a painter. He was very good... As far as ‘heavily into music,’ it seemed everybody was: It seemed ‘normal.’ Local radio played great songs. We could watch “Shindig” and “Hullabaloo,” and there were many syndicated rock shows, particularly “Upbeat,” and even a rock show with local bands somewhere in New England. He liked the Beatles; I didn’t, but loved most of the rest of the British invasion bands. I can remember being 15 and listening to kids in high school arguing about which was the better band: The Beatles or The BeeGees. I sided with the latter view. Jonathan was a big fan of The Four Seasons and The Lovin’ Spoonful… After he started listening to The Velvet Underground, he changed from wanting to be a painter to becoming a successful musician. Jonathan saw The Velvet Underground many times and became known as “the kid who saw The Velvet Underground more than 100 times.” Though I doubt anyone in Natick (except me) knew that or the fact that (probably in junior and/or senior year) he would fly to NYC every weekend and hang out at Andy Warhol’s Factory. He was very upset when Andy was shot… Perhaps the most remarkable thing about our friendship of 60+ years is that in all that time two guys that (each in their own way) were considered (by some) as ‘difficult people’ have never had a major argument or following out or even a hissy fit. Never. The only arguments that we have ever had were aesthetic. For example, in 2004, when Jonathan visited me in Istanbul, one afternoon we were in the offices of the promoters of his shows in Istanbul and Ankara, and for some probably ridiculous reason, the subject of Stevie Wonder came up. To the amusement of the other 7 or 8 people in the office, we had an aesthetic argument concerning the value of Stevie Wonder’s music with me saying it was all down hill after “Fingertips pt. 2” and Jonathan saying he had written beautiful love songs, which I totally disagreed with… About ’89 or ’90, I took my girlfriend of the time to see Jonathan play at the Middle East in Central Square Cambridge. After the show, I drove him to where he was staying, and for 30 minutes, we sat in the car and hilarity ensued. We laughed so much that my girlfriend said: “You must’ve driven your teachers crazy in school,” (which wasn’t in fact true). So I started telling her about the time when we were 15 that Jonathan and I decided to form a comedy duo. One day I went to his house for a rehearsal, which amounted to Jonathan and I improvising and throwing lines at each other for about 10 minutes until his mother -- wondering what was going on because we were laughing so much – came into the room with a mock serious look on her face and said: “What are you two boys getting up to?” This ended the rehearsal. Then Jonathan and I talked about the rehearsal and came to two conclusions: 1. We knew we were funny, but didn’t think other 15-year-olds would understand and 2. Adults wouldn’t listen to a pair of 15-year-olds doing comedy. So, we’re sitting in the car and I’m telling my girlfriend this story, and I notice Jonathan is in the backseat looking down and shaking his head. So I ask: “What’s up Jonathan?”

He says: “I don’t remember.”

“No. Not at all. I’m not saying it didn’t happen. I just don’t remember.”

“Jonathan, I can even describe every moment. This is etched in my memory!”

“I don’t remember.”

A random thought: In the early ‘80s, I was reading one of the weekly Boston area papers (either the Boston Phoenix or the Real Paper), and it had an article about America’s number one gay porn star: Al Parker Jr. It said he was from Natick, and he was our age. I wondered: Did Jonathan and I graduate with this guy? I knew there was no Al Parker at Natick High, but the article didn’t mention his real name. About 35 years later, via IMDB, I found out his real name. The article had been wrong: He was a year younger and graduated a year after us. I never knew him and didn’t recognize his photo. BTW: Both the name ‘Al Parker Jr.’ and his real name have since been expunged from IMDB.

Another random thought: Two months ago, I asked Jonathan if he had ever known (let’s call him) ‘X.’ He hadn’t. Maybe you or your readers can guess or find out the answer to the question: “Who was the most successful songwriter to graduate from Natick High School?” One hint: His band was included on a famous compilation that I’m sure is beloved by everyone who read your zine or reads your blog. And he was involved in writing some major rock songs that all of you are familiar with.

BTC-Is that graduate of Natick High Barry Tashian, or Willie Alexander?

JD-NO. Neither was from Natick. And I meant HUGELY successful.

BTC-You got me stymied with that one...who is it?

JD-You should let your vast readership do the research.

Just telling is far too easy.

BTC-I'll have to think about that (any of you readers know who this is?) Wha, if anything, can you tell me about Jonathan, Jon Kriedl and VIBRATIONS?

JD-I can’t tell you very much. It was an excellent Boston-based music magazine that I would read whenever I could find a copy. I have no idea whether it had national distribution, but it should have. I can’t remember if I ever met Kriedel, but Jonathan was a friend of his, and as I said in the Vulture article, one issue included a 4-page, newsprint insert written, designed, and illustrated by Jonathan. I think VIBRATIONS may have lasted 7-11 issues, but I’m not really sure.

BTC-Let's get back to yourself, what can you tell us about your Boston-area days as a budding music aficionado?

JD-In Natick, I listened to the radio a lot, particularly WBZ, and late at night there was a very strong station out of Buffalo, NY. One school night, about 3AM, this station debuted a song for the first time. It was The Beatles, and I actually loved it. It was amazing cause I hated The Beatles. The song ended, and the DJ said: “That’s the new hit song by the Knickerbockers –‘Lies’.” Oh well. I saw The Mothers of Invention in ’67 at the Psychedelic Supermarket, which was probably my first real concert. I was suppose to see Kaleidoscope the same year at Club 47 in Cambridge (with Jonathan I think), but I didn’t go… BTW: An older friend of mine had also managed a local garage band in the ‘60s, The Renegades or Richie and The Renegades, for a while. Erik Lindgren would probably know… I wasn’t much of a record collector until I entered Boston University as a freshman in September 1969. I lived in a dorm in Kenmore Square. One of my roommates had had a top 30 hit in Baltimore in ’65 or ’66. There were 2 record stores nearby. One of them was Strawberries, where I picked up Don Cherry & Okay Temiz live in Ankara (I was already collecting ethnic records and rock records influenced by Middle Eastern and Indian music. One day, at Strawberries, the manager tried to convince me not to buy the 1st Blue Oyster Cult album I bought it; unfortunately, they never were as good again. The closest record store to my dorm was New England Music City, and it was managed by Jeep Holland, who I had been told had come from Detroit and released the first single by The MC5. But a year or so ago I saw a photo of the Jeep Holland that released that single and had also moved to the Boston area, and now I’m just not sure who is who. Music City had a buyer named Jim who was into Krautrock, and had lots of cool albums, so I probably picked up CAN’s Monster Movie in ’69 or ’70: The first of many Krautrock albums. Jim had a short-lived nationally syndicated radio about Krautrock. Then I started picking up Amon Düül albums, Embryo, Passport (the one that sounded like Soft Machine, a band that I loved and had seen in a tent in Framingham, MA in ’68 opening for Jimi Hendrix. I liked the Softs more. The friend that I was with went on to manage a few local bands later be a roadie for Link Wray. In the same tent I later saw The Mothers again and 10 Years After). I loved bands like Family and The Move (but could never really get into their early pop hits). A 7 minute walk from my dorm was the 2nd manifestation of The Boston Tea Party and I saw lots of cool bands there, such as Pink Floyd, The Byrds, The Everly Brothers, The Kinks (the first of 5 times I saw them), Sha Na Na (actually great in their 1st incarnation with Henry Gross and their original lead singer), Quill, Doug Kershaw, Lee Michael (with Frosty, perhaps the worst drummer I’ve ever seen – what a dreadful night), and many more… I had an agreement with one of my roommates: When I was there, he wouldn’t play ELP, and when he was there, I wouldn’t play CAN.

Saw New York Rock Ensemble at B.U., and they were incredible. Also saw Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. Had albums by Stretch (1st two are great blues rock) and Headstone (two great albums). I loved bands like East of Eden, Faust. I almost forgot: While in high school, late at night I would listen to UNCLE T AND THE FREEDOM MACHINE, which was broadcast on 3 local college radio stations, but most importantly the radio station at Boston University. Uncle T played great music. I still remember listening to him playing Yaphet Kotto’s single “ Have You Ever Seen the Blues” many times. Uncle T later moved to WBCN (so-called underground radio), but you could tell it was too structured…

There were many concerts on the Boston Commons where I saw the Beach Boys, The Strawbs, Deep Purple (when they were reputed to be the loudest band in the world [hard to believe]), Stone the Crows, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Rod Stewart and Faces. At Boston Garden, I saw Cactus and Badfinger (who were incredibly powerful live and a thousand times better than their records) open up for Rod Stewart and Faces (I was in the cheap seats watching while others threw firecrackers down on those in the expensive seats). Saw lots of cool shows at The Orpheum: David Bowie and The Spiders from Mars (almost ¾ full), Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies tour (that some unnamed fanzine editor raved about for their excellence when in fact they weren’t very impressive. I ran into Jonathan there. We both thought it was kind of juvenile. Alice’s best days were already way in the past), Ramatan (with according to David Robinson who I ran into at the gig, the female lead guitarist used to be a he, and the drummer who had been so great with Hendrix in ’68 was but a shadow of himself) opened for Procol Harum, who were great, particularly the drummer. I saw Suzi Quatro, Climax Blues Band, and Chet Baker at a short-lived club in Harvard SQ. And I saw The Modern Lovers many, many times. The only other local band that I enjoyed was the Sidewinders with Andy Paley… I started subscribing to New Musical Express (for 10 years) in ’72 and also read Melody Maker on occasion. I was always seeking new, interesting bands outside the main stream… Studied archaeology in Israel in the summer of ’73. In ’77, I lived in London on and off for 6 months. When not in London, I was visiting 27 countries. In London, I would go to punk gigs every night. I saw Phil Rambow, who was very good, and 999, who were terrible. I was shocked to find out that in Boston that they were a big deal. I saw Wire at a small club, and they were great fun, also Hawkwind, Caravan, a band (can’t remember the name) that could play songs off of “Who’s Next” better than the Who, The Yachts (great fun), at The Roundhouse saw The Dictators, who pissed me off because they were pandering to the Hell’s Angels in the audience, took my girlfriend to The Marquee (about the size of The Rat) and saw gobbing for the first and only time and enjoyed watching people spit on Billy Idol non stop for 45 minutes (that girlfriend went on to marry the lead singer of SPK a few years later). I also saw Jonathan’s first two shows ever in London at the Hammersmith Odeon, and the first night was (at the time) the best show I had ever seen. Backstage, Jonathan asked me about some acts that his label owner (Mathew King Kaufman) had mentioned, particularly The Sean Tyler Gang. I told him: “I saw them. Just a mediocre bar band.” I saw Marc Bolan walking around Earl’s Court two weeks before his traffic accident and saw Robert Wyatt at the London Film Festival. Despite interesting songs on a badly produced first album (courtesy of the overrated Brian Eno), I never expected Ultravox to be such a powerful, fantastic live band (at The Roundhouse). I saw many other bands… Got back to Boston in time to go to The Rat every night of the recording of “Live at the Rat.” And spent many nights at the Rat over the next 18 or 19 years...

On Oct.2, 1973, at Cirkus Khrone in Munich, I saw CAN, and they were magnificent. And don't believe that mediocre, mistake-filled "all gates open:" Damo's final tour with the band was not that October. He had left the band a few weeks earlier, but he was there, sitting in the audience watching, as fans flocked to his seat to talk to him. The opening band was Amon Düül II. Twenty-eight years later, I would be in a restaurant in Taxim sitting next to Chris Karrer, who was touring with Embryo on oud. He was telling me cool stories of his time in Amon Düül II, while I was telling him about Turkish psychedelic music of the '60s and '70s, particularly Erkin Koray. Christian Burchad and the other members of Embryo were there too, along with Okay Temiz.

BTC-What more can you tell us about the time Zappa asked you to join him on stage?

JD-Zappa didn't ask me to join him on stage. I was 16, and the first one in the Psychedelic Supermarket. He just asked me if I could help him set up the chairs.

BTC-What kind of guy was Zappa that night?

JD-That night, Zappa was just an ordinary guy. He was setting up chairs in the club for the audience. He was just affable. At that time in my life, I was too introverted and shy to talk to him. I remember that I enjoyed the show, but don't remember anything else.

BTC-Back to CAN, I find it amazing that you were aware of them and krautrock so early on. How did you learn about these groups long before everyone else in the USA did?

JD-New England Music City was just down the street from my dorm, and I would go in 3 or 4 times a week to check out records, particularly starting in January ’70, as I came back after Christmas Break with a $99 sound system. I would always look in the import bins. CAN’s “Monster Movie” caught my eye – the cover – and I kept looking at it day after day, and then I finally bought it, brought it to my room and was just blown away by the music. Throughout my life, I was frequently an intuitive buyer of records: buying records that I knew nothing about: where I hadn’t heard of the artist or heard the music. And I rarely made a mistake, rarely bought a lousy record. Usually, when I bought something that I didn’t like, it was because I’d read a good review or someone had told me how great something was, and frequently they were wrong. I’d never heard of, knew nothing about nor had heard any music by Pink Floyd when I bought “Piper at the Gates of Dawn in ’67,” and the same goes for Captain Beefheart’s “Safe as Milk” that same year… And the same held true when I searched the import bins in ’70 and later; somehow, I intuitively knew which albums to buy and which to avoid. I was reading the usual magazines at the time: Creem, Fusion, Crawdaddy, Who Put the Bomp and others, but I don’t remember any of them discussing Krautrock. In ’72, I started subscribing to New Musical Express and occasionally buying ZigZag. Slowly but surely, I started learning more from a variety of sources and picking up great discs: Amon Düül, Faust, and more. I’m sure that Jim at Music City made some recommendations. And there was another Music City in Harvard Square with different managers and buyers.

And soon it wasn’t just Krautrock; I was picking up albums by bands from Scandinavia (Burning Red Ivanhoe, Archimedes Badkar, and others I can no longer remember how to spell), Holland (Q65, Supersister), France (Heldon, Pôle, Urban Sax). After studying archaeology in summer ’73, as I traveled westward thru Europe, whenever I met someone from other European countries, I’d ask them about bands that I liked. Invariably, they’d have no idea what I was talking about. Except for one German guy, Klaus, I met in Greece who was very knowledgeable about Krautrock and told me lots of stuff about CAN, Faust, and others – stuff that didn’t surface until years later. By this time, I’d already picked up a lot from NME and MM.

Others over the years led me astray. I think if someone recommends a “legendary” album – run for the hills (Ant Trip Ceremony anyone?). Over the years, I’d read about the “legendary” Vashti Bunyon album. Finally, it was released on CD. I bought it. My initial reaction: “Buy this woman some NEW FUCKIN’ TEETH!” I hated it! Her pronunciation was so bad it made Trump sound articulate. But I digress…

BTC-How about Mahogany Brain, Dagon, Red Noise, International Harvester and the more intense mainland groups?

JD-Not familiar with Mahogany Brain, Dagon, Red Noise. I always liked International Harvester and its various offshoots. There were many, many bands on the continent that I liked very much. In Finland, Denmark, Sweden, etc. CouldN't remember (or spell) all of them. I think the first ALGARNAS TRADGARD album is the absolute best psychedelic album.

BTC-ALGARNAS TRADGARD...never heard of them before! Any additional information on 'em?

JD-In 1972, ALGARNAS TRADGARD released "Framtiden är ett svävande skepp, förankrat i forntiden." It is the most psychedelic, haunting folk-psych album you'll ever hear. Archival recordings from '74 were released about 12 years ago, but not up to the same level.

From prog archives:

"ÄLGARNAS TRÄDGÅRD's music never lapses into drugged-out silliness or aimless noodling. It ranges from earnest, to Medieval, to completely creepy - a sort of 'RIO meets folk'. They concoct some earthly (and unearthly) sounds using a combination of traditional, modern rock instruments and ethnic/archaic ones, the result being a spectacular blend of slow-smoking psychedelia with a strong vernacular Swedish folk bent. Their guitar-based, trance-like music is reminiscent of ASH RA TEMPEL; it also shares GONG's organic mayhem and the hypnotic qualities of early TANGERINE DREAM. If you can imagine a Nordic version of AMON DÜÜL II or ASH RA TEMPEL, you'll have a pretty good idea of what they sound like. The 2001 cd "Delayed", which makes heavier use of drums and guitars, is yet another marvellously atmospheric and creative mixture of prog and psychedelia."

The group's name translates to "garden of the elks," while the album title translates to "Two Hours Over Two Blue Mountains With A Cuckoo On Each Side"

some live '70s tracks on youtube

BTC-While we're on the subject...any thoughts about Savage Rose?

JD-I like them somewhat, but don't listen a lot. the singer's voice can be a bit too much.

BTC-What can you tell us about the seventies Boston scene, the Rat and groups like Fox Pass, the Yarbles, Mong, Hot Rain, the Third Rail...

JD-I have no memory of the Yarbles, Mong, Hot Rain. I think I saw Fox Pass open for Roxy Music, and probably saw them another time or two. They were a decent pop band. Third Rail was okay and the leader was a part time mortician. Most of the bands at the time were nothing special: The Boys, Dawgs, The Infliktors, Rings, Someone and the Somebodies. The best were The Real Kids, DMZ (and later its two offshoots: The Lyres and Bad Habits/The Odds, which was as good as The Lyres, but they played most of their gigs 50 miles from Boston in Worcester), The Nervous Eaters, and at the end of the ‘70s MISSION OF BURMA – a fantastic band that I probably saw more times than any other until I moved to Istanbul. There are probably more bands – both good and bad – that I just can’t remember at the moment. One just occurred to me: The Classic Ruins: I know a lot of people really liked them, but I was lukewarm about them. The Girls were very good, but I only saw them once or twice. I liked The Neighborhoods too.

There were lots of other cool clubs too. The Underground, Cantones, Space, Inn Square Men's Bar, The Club, The channel, and more.

BTC-As far as the Modern Lovers went, were they as popular in the area as I've believed for years? Seems strange considering the era they were up and about.

JD-NO. Not at all. A long-term acquaintance who I use to see at lots of Modern Lovers and I were just amazed that they were one of the best bands in the world, and their gigs were not at all well attended. At he Stone Phoenix where I saw them many times, there would be 15-25 people. They were not particularly popular in the area at the time. There was no real local rock scene. The Modern Lovers and The Sıdewinders were the only game in town, and it was a very small game.

BTC-Talking about another under-appreciated Boston band...any personal insights into the Sidewinders?

JD-Not really. Sorry no personal insights. I saw the band a couple of times. They were very good, but not nearly as good as The Modern Lovers.The only member of the band I even remember is the singer: Andy Paley. These were the only two decent bands in town at the time.

BTC-What can you tell us about Turkey and the music scene there? What you have written sounds extremely exciting, as if the music was yet another Velvet Underground rebirth.

JD-About 35 years ago, I made a 90-minute tape for Jonathan Richman called “Songs the Velvets Taught Us, which was a compilation of saz players, mostly from small villages all over Turkey, as though they had been influenced by The Velvet Underground, though they obviously hadn’t. The sound of their saz playing and the sounds on the White Light/White Heat album was uncannily similar, particularly that of Lou Reed’s guitar. Jonathan gave his copy to a friend, I lost mine in a move, but I may have sent a copy to David Lindley of Kaleidoscope. I know that some people in Turkey were aware of The Velvet Underground because a friend of mine was in a private high school in the U.S. in 1970, and he had a Turkish roommate (from Istanbul) whose favorite band was the Velvets, particularly the White Light/White Heat album.

The rock scene in Turkey in the ‘60s and ‘70s was phenomenal, particularly picking up steam starting in ’68 when bands started using amplified traditional instruments. The sounds of many of these bands was as unique as the Velvets but in a very Turkish way. I can’t say that the music was another Velvet Underground rebirth, but it was as distinctive.

When I put together HAVA NARGHILE in 2001, it was to let the rest of the world know what had been achieved by Turkish bands and the hope that current bands would emulate what their predecessors had achieved.

Many Turkish musicians and others have thanked me over the years for helping them remember what the great bands of the ‘60s and ‘70s had achieved. However, no bands here – as far as I know – were inspired to come together to play Anadolu Psych, although Replikas, an excellent band, did record an album of ‘60s and ‘70s covers of Turkish rock that was released in Turkey and the U.S.

However, the situation is different in Western Europe: At least two very good bands play Anadolu Psych:

1. Derya Yıldırım & Grup Şimşek

2. Altin Gün

And both have albums out and numerous videos on Youtube.

Derya Yıldırım & Grup Şimşek video:

And check out this cool video by the band I managed in the ‘90s.

ZeN – Derdimi Anla:

For the original Anadolu Psych of the ‘60s and ‘70s, check out: Üç Hürel, Moğollar, Grup Bunalim, Selda Barcan (currently touring with the Israeli group Boom Pam (named after the big hit by Aris San), Baris Manço Kaygızızlar or Kurtalan Ekspress (his tracks with Kaygızızlar are harder to track down but I prefer them. And get his album “Ben Billirim”), Erkin Koray (particularly “Elektronik Türkoler), Ersen, Edip Akbayram.

For more recent great Turkish rock, check out:

REPLIKAS’ albums – Köledoyuran, Dadaruhi, Avaz (a psychedelic masterpiece), and Biz Burada Yok İken (covers of ‘60s and ‘70s Anadolu Rock classics and released in Turkey and the U.S.). These four albums are absolutely essential!

ZeN – a great live band. Only one album really captures their sound at its best: Bakırköy Akıl Hastanesi’de, which was recorded live at Bakırköy Mental Hospital.

One summer night in ’96, I was in their rehearsal space, but only 3 members showed up. That night, Merih Öztaylan (co leader who sang and played bendir) played a ‘70s analogue synth), Murat Ertal (co leader) played electric saz, and Emre Onel played darbuka. I had tried to convince the band to record all their rehearsals to no avail. This particular night was a perfect example of what was lost. What they played that night could only be described as Anadolu Space Music. It was absolutely amazing. I have never heard anything else like it in my life. I was the audience. Incredible. If only they had been recording.

AYYUKA is another of the great Turkish bands of the 21st century. Their first album came out on vinyl and collects their older tracks. They have since released 3 albums that are phenomenal: Kiracı Odaları, Baba, and Sömestr. Have a listen.

One night, I went to one of their rehearsals, but only the drummer (Alican Tezer) and the bass (and occasional e. mandolin) player (Altan Sebuktekin) showed up, along with a cousin of one of the members of Replikas. The cousin played bass, and Altan moved to lead guitar, and he played perhaps the greatest wah wah psychedelic guitar solo for 25 minutes that I’ve ever heard. Incredible!

About 16 years ago, I picked up a demo in an Istanbul shop by Ankara-based HAYVANLAR ALEMİ. I was immediately impressed and wondered if they’d been influenced by the Sun City Girls, but they’d never heard of that band, but then checked them out and understood my question. They now have had a number of albums released (one released in the U.S. on sublime frequencies), some for free, and plenty of tracks on Youtube. The members now live in various countries but tour at least once a year in Europe.

Here’s an interview with the band.

And here’s an article (a bit old now).

I can also recommend Gaye Su Akyol (3 albums), Birbinasek, and (if you’re into Rembetiko) rising world music star Çiğden Aslan (2 albums).

I forgot to mention The Ringo Jets, an excellent punk/garage band.

They cover some very interesting songs, such as “Children of the Revolution” and “Heart Full of Soul,” and their own are excellent.

Check their song about the Gezi Protests in Turkey in 2013, which is called “Spring of War:”

BTC-What brought you to Turkey in the first place?

JD-That’s a long story… When I was 10, I was friends with 2 brothers – one my age, the other 5 years older. In the older one’s social studies class, the teacher had given all the students a list of countries and their information offices in the U.S. (all in Washington D.C. or NYC). So my friends were getting mail all the time. I wasn’t. So I borrowed the list and wrote to 2 info offices: Mexico and Turkey. I don’t remember what Mexico sent, but Turkey sent me a comic book about Istanbul, and it looked fascinating. Over the years, whenever I saw something about Turkey or Istanbul in a newspaper or on TV I would pay close attention, and I started reading books about the Ottoman Empire and Atatürk, the father of modern Turkey. But most importantly, thru my interest in rock music and record collecting, I expanded my interest into what was then called “ethnic music.” And I found that my favorite type of ethnic music was Middle Eastern music, and favorite type of Middle Eastern music was Turkish. I would pick up many interesting records at the Harvard Coop in their ethnic music section. But I remember picking up the first Kaleidoscope album and seeing my first saz and finding its sound very interesting. By this time, I knew that I wanted to visit Istanbul, but thought I’d never have the chance and never thought I would make it there. When I studied archaeology in the summer of ’73 in Israel, one of my friends on the dig was from Guatemala. His father was born and raised in Istanbul, and he wanted to see it for himself, as his father had told him many stories. And he asked me if I’d like to go there, and I jumped at the chance. It was a very different time then. There were no tourists in Istanbul, and no one spoke English, and I may very well have heard Moğollar live (but I couldn’t see the band). We got by on his Spanish and French. We spent 8 days in Turkey, and I loved it and thought I’d never make it back. But 4 years later, I decided to quit my job, and see the world. I found a type of travel that I doubt exists anymore. I was going to do a 9-week trip to 24 countries in Europe, including Turkey. We’d sleep in tents in campsites in these countries, and the cost for traveling, 2 meals a day, and some entrance fees was $900. In Istanbul, I walked into a music shop and bought 50 cassettes. Some were nothing, some were interesting, and one had these incredible sounds – like the greatest psychedelic garage band that you’ve ever heard. It was truly an amazing tape, but it had no info, and as I’d later find out, the song titles were in the wrong order. About 5 years later, while working at Boston University, the tape had stopped working, but I had a friend, a violinist and klezmer musician, who told me he could fix the tape. He did, and he told me that the musical instrument was a saz (and unbelievably, it was acoustic) and a percussionist. A few years later in ‘85, a friend of his called me and said he had heard I was looking for a saz to buy, and I bought it. It took me 9 months, but I found a saz teacher in East Boston (he was a musician, an instrument maker, a master of ebru (paper marbling). And then in ’88, I made it back to Istanbul where I bought an electric saz and a cumbuş (basically a cheap oud with a wooden composite neck and a tin body). I went again, in ’91 to try answer 2 questions: 1. Was there any such thing as Turkish horror films and 2. Was there such a thing as Turkish rock ‘n roll. The answer to #1 was no, but in the ‘70s they’d had these incredible fantastic films, such as “Dunya’ya Kurtaran Adam” (The Man Who Saves the World) and “Üç Dev Adam,” in which Captain America and Santo battle an evil Spiderman. For #2, I lucked out and found an expert on Anadolu Rock/Psych who invited me to his apartment and played one amazing record after another. This was the music I’d been searching for for almost 30 years. I also met the leaders of ZeN at his apartment. I asked them how their music was received, and they said: “We tend to get thrown out of bars.” I said: “That’s an excellent sign.” They gave me some tapes of their music, and it was fantastic. I went to Istanbul again in ’95 and taped one of their concerts. When I got back I gave a copy of the live concert tape to Byron Coley who shared it with Thurston Moore, and they decided they wanted to release an album by the band, making ZeN the first Turkish band to have an album released in the U.S. What I didn’t know is that while I was in Istanbul, all my colleagues at the publishing company where I worked were told that the 2 divisions in Cambridge, MA were going to be closed, and all of the jobs sent to Dublin. After getting back, I spent months like my colleagues wondering what I was going to do. My boss asked if I’d thought of relocating to NYC or San Francisco, and I thought about it, but then realized: I’ve always wanted to live in Istanbul; if I don’t do it now, it will never happen. My job dragged on for 7 months, giving me enough time to pay off my credit cars, then I took a 1-month course in how to teach English as a 2nd language, and moved to Istanbul for what I expected to be 1-3 years. However, I spent 17 years in Istanbul, but 6 years ago, I moved to a small beach town on a mountainous peninsula in southwestern Turkey and work remotely as a copy editor for a daily newspaper, which I’d done for my last 3 years in Istanbul, too. I’m now married, and we adopted a street dog about 4 years ago.

In 2013, REPLIKAS released a box set that included remastered versions of their first two albums "Köledoyuran" (2002) and "Dadaruhi" 2002) and "EP No: 1" (2013). This box set is great! It's available from Amazon and sources in Turkey and shipping shouldn't be expensive. With this box, their 3rd album "Avaz" and their album of '60s and '70s Turkish covers, you'll have some great music from what was once one of the best bands in the world (now deceased).

And I've been listening a lot to the live album by ZeN - "Bakırköy Akıl Hastanesi'nde." I was at the concert. It was amazing. The audience consisted of the members of ZeN, friends, doctors and nurses, and mostly patients. Watching patients sing along to the improvised lyrics as though they had heard the songs a thousand times before. After the concert, I asked (co-leader) Murat Ertel what he thought about the concert. He said: "That was the most difficult concert we've ever played." I asked why. He said: "We didn't want to over excite the patients. But I think it was great."

In addition to leading his current band BaBa ZuLa, Murat is now also a member of Dirtmusic,
which recorded the album "Bu Bir Ruya" in Istanbul. You probably know more about Dirtmusic than I do. (Ed. note---no I don't!)

About 15 years ago, I met Jaki Liebezeit at a party in Istanbul, and he agreed to be interviewed by me. At the time, Jaki had a band that consisted of some musicians
from Western Europe and 2 friends of mine from ZeN/BaBa ZuLa: Murat Ertel (electric saz) and Levent Akman (percussion). ZeN were an incredible improvisational band, while BaBa ZuLa was heavily into Anadolu Psych. The band was called K34 and were recording an album in Istanbul where K34 also gave a fantastic concert, which was kind of like a cross between ZeN and CAN. During the interview, Jaki discussed at length how much he liked Turkish music and how important it had always been to him as a drummer and how impressed he was by Turkish musicians, such as Murat and Levent. K34 was great!

I hope this isn’t too late, but I had two more things to say.

One is another quiz: one of the top female comedians of the ‘60s and ‘70s, who appeared in the top TV shows of the era, such as Ed Sullivan, Laugh-In, The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, the Merv Griffin Show, and many more, used to live down the street from Jonathan Richman and John Felice and, most importantly, she used to play mah jong with my mother. Who is she?

And here’s another story, I just remembered: sometime in the ‘80s, I was driving around with Michael Guardabascio, who was or had been a drummer for Jonathan Richman. He told me a story about when he was on tour in Europe with Jonathan (just the two of them I think), and they were playing somewhere in northern Finland north of the Arctic Circle. It was very cold, and everyone was dressed in animal skins (and I don’t mean leather jackets), and no one spoke English. Guardabascio said that it was an absolutely incredible show and that despite the language barrier Jonathan mesmerized the crowd and that he had never seen anything like it.

(Here are some more nice li'l anecdotes Jay relayed to me post-interview!):

I met up with Jonathan, and we visited his (younger) brother Steve. We were walking around the town where Steve lived, and I asked Jonathan if he remembered Jan Slickman from our childhood. He said: “Of course.” I asked him if he’d heard about that movie “A Civil Action?” He said: “Yes, but I haven’t seen it.” So I tell him: “The star of the film, John Travolta, is playing Jan.” Jonathan: “It can’t be the same guy!” I tell him: “It definitely is, but he’s changed the spelling of his last name a bit.” Jonathan: “It’s hard to believe that anyone would make a film about the Jan we knew as kids.” Me: “Yup. Nonetheless, it’s true. And you know what makes it even more bizarre. He was a lawyer representing families negatively affected by the dumping of pollutants in Woburn [Massachusetts]. And I know one of the families. In the book that the film is based on, the writer only dislikes one member of those families. He’s my [now former] brother-in-law.” Jonathan: “Damn!”

In the early ‘80s, Jonathan wrote a song about me that was supposed to appear on an album. The song was called: “I See My Father and I See What’s Underneath.” It was about his mother, his father, his brother, and me. I was at The Channel in Boston for one of his shows. His first two songs I’d heard many times before. The third song was new to me. It sounded very cool. He was singing about his mother, his father, his brother, and then I realized he was also singing about me. It was very touching. When he finished the song, Jonathan pointed at me and said: “I see you Jay.” After the show, he ran up to me and asked: “Did you recognize yourself.” I said that I had and that it was amazing. While recording his new album, in the studio Jonathan decided to play saxophone. If you’ve ever heard him play saxophone, you’ll understand why the song didn’t make it onto the album.

I mentioned my Aussie girlfriend in London in ’77 before who a few years later would go on to marry the lead singer of Australia’s most notorious industrial band, SPK, and death (are double suicides still considered romantic?), but what I failed to mention was that she had a much older brother back in Sydney who was a very good friend of RICHARD NEVILLE, who wrote the excellent rock books “Play Power” and “Hippy, Hippy Shake” and also a book about Charles Sobraj who isn’t very well known in America, but is famous among Aussies and Kiwis for being a serial killer in Southeast Asia on the hippie trail in the ‘70s. Neville made a splash in Australia and the United Kingdom in the 1960s as the co-founder of counterculture magazine Oz, which was known for its use of satire and pop art alongside serious journalism. Oz got busted for obscenity in both countries. Oz specialized in dissent and was known for pushing boundaries, and John Lennon and Yoko Ono marched in rallies to protest their guilty verdict.

(Final note...still trying to figure out who the Natick High School fellow who made it big is.  Anyone out there smart enough to let us all know???)

Friday, July 19, 2019


Flutes are nice.

So soothing and pastoral…but they can turn on you! You know those late night TV psychological thrillers? Think of the parts that scared you: you knew something was up when the flute notes went ragged.

Byron Coley hates flutes. I think it has something to do with being traumatized by Jethro Tull in his teens. I’d think he’d like Daona, though: they wear animal masks and hang out in the forest just north of North London. Coley wears animal masks and hangs out in the forests of western Massachusetts. David Solomons & Fiona McAlister make up the core duo and for all I know could still be in the forest. England is still pretty good for Wi Fi reception, you know. The duo play everything on the CD you hear, except for the guest spots & drums. There is no traditional rock drum kit on this album..no Mama Heartbeat for YOU! Also, they only use flutes when appropriate, meaning not all that much. This speaks well of them & we’ll talk about those guest spots later.

In this heady mix, late-night suspense soundtracks, latter-day 20th/21st century composers & their electrical technical support staff, thumbprints of Canterbury prog-rock caterwauling , ceremonial aspects of Nico’s The Marble Index , and other less discernible input material combine for a fine evening listening experience. No wait, one more thing: Fiona McAlister may have never, ever performed at the local Maypole dances, but she has an uncanny olde English folk vocal vibe sometimes. They even do a version of the traditional Reynardine. Thing is, they would probably get kicked off the local Pole Dance committee toot sweet if they ever bothered to show up for the fa la la la choruses. It’s all still teddibly English, so adjust your fog machine settings appropriately.

All the material on the disc is written and performed by the duo, with the exception of the aforementioned Reynardine & the standard Lush Life. To the duo’s credit, the relatively straight delivery of the latter is scientifically filtered to create a just off-kilter perception that may have already been there to begin with.

There are a couple of really cool collaborations done presumably through the magic of Internet drop boxes. One is Angel, which features UK free jazz Evan Parker saxophonist doing his thang, and the Third Part of the Night, featuring Edgar Breau doing his. Both of those cats wail swell in their own respective contexts. Bully!

Overall, you get over an hour of listening so I would have to rate this 8 out of 10 black capes.

Thursday, July 18, 2019


Sheesh, if it weren't for moom pitchers like THE LION OF ST. MARK your local tee-vee stations woulda been forced to air nothing but LEARN TO DRAW WITH JON GNAGY reruns Sunday afternoons! Films like this 'un were cheap, imported (an important factor in  local television movie broadcasting until 1961 showed up) and best of all entertaining for the standard suburban slob kid who shoulda been out playin' with the other kids but we knew our priorities whether it was a sunny day or not, and our priorities were television, comic books, records and Cheetos (the fried to a crackly crunch type!).

Onetime Tarzan Scott does better'n Roger Ebert would ever admit as the lead, a prototype Zorro/Scarlet Pimple type fighting off pirates who were plaguing the City State of Venice during the earlier part of the 17th century. One of them pirates just happens to be a kinda good looking gal (tho since she is Eyetalian just how good looking can she be?) who, like females in general, is so fickle you don't know whether she is working for our hero or her pirate bad boys switching sides when things seem to be going the wrong way. In between there are the usual slow scenes building up on the power struggles as well as the cool action sequences that the boys all went nuts for. In between the two you get a moom that will keep your attention at least most of the time since there really aren't that many slobberin' scenes, and right when you think the party sequence is gettin' a li'l too technical for your IQ 80 brain the pirates come in to add a little whomp! to boost you outta your doldrums.

Should be an easy enough find online---perhaps the whole thing is available via Youtube which is a place it seems these kinda films end up. Would make for a good experience if you can dial the thing up and watch it while layin' on yer belly with a snack handy, and don't forget to scatter a few Tootsietoys 'round the room so's you have something to push back 'n forth when the grownups are talkin' alla that extraneous stuff that seems like its there for the grownups 'n no one else!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019


Some silent films survive only in their trailers (such as the silent version of THE GREAT GATSBY). Others survive only in a shortened form—there are two films where Rudolph Valentino had a supporting role prior to his stardom, and the films were re-released after his fame cut down to two or three reels, highlighting his role and making him more of a featured player than he’d actually been in them. The original films do not survive—the cut-down re-release versions do. There were also some five-reel indie westerns that were cut down to two-reels to provide cheap silent product in the waning days of the medium, circa early 1930, when only the most isolated small town theaters were not wired for sound. Some of these survive where the originals do not.

From this late 1929/early 1930 period there was a curious form that existed briefly—the silent version of a sound film. Since silent film is a totally different art-form than sound films, these tended to be weak, because they were not shot as silent….they were sound films with the dialogue cut out and awkward title cards inserted. I remember seeing a murder mystery from this period, which seemed to be VERY talky in its sound version, but I saw the silent version----not only did I not get most of the dialogue, but what I did get was far too much for title cards, which should be brief….AND the film was not acted as a silent would be acted. People just stood there moving their mouths.

TROOPERS THREE was issued by Tiffany in 1930 as a sound film at feature length (IMDB lists it at 80 minutes!)--my copy is a truncated silent edit that runs about 25 minutes. The first impression I had when first viewing this silent version a number of years ago was that it had few close-ups, mostly medium and long shots. I'm guessing that the dialogue close-ups were edited out, and in a way I'm glad they were. Nothing is more boring than the silent versions of early sound films with endless dialogue cards and static photography. This shortened silent version of TROOPERS THREE has a lot of action (in medium and long shots, although there are some good low-angle close-ups of the cavalry in action as well as Lease’s comic reaction shots to various events) and some comedy sequences with the boys and their failure to adapt to military life (of the two directors credited, one presumes Breezy Eason handled the action, and Norman Taurog, later director of a number of Elvis films in the 60’s, the comedy). Basically, after a show of the REAL U.S. cavalry in action (with quite impressive trick riding, but rooted in military and parade tradition, not rodeo tradition), three young men (Rex Lease, Slim Summerville, and Roscoe Karns) decide to enlist, and there are some comic hi-jinks in the recruiting office. They go through basic cavalry training and become horse soldiers. Rex Lease pretends to be injured as a ruse to meet Dorothy Gulliver, he saves someone from a fire, there are a few other scenes, and it's over. This silent edit was probably put together quickly and cheaply for the few backwater theaters that still booked silent product in mid-1930 (and 1930 was the year when the last remaining silent theaters went under or went sound). Any sense of pacing or any plot development or complexity is lost in this version, but it's nice to have it extant since the sound version is lost. The cast is excellent, and Slim Summerville gets in a few good comic scenes (I always thought of him as primarily verbal comic, though here I can see his excellent physical comedy skills and rubber-faced mannerisms), but with the editing and the lack of close-ups, no one--not even star Rex Lease--can be credited with much of a performance in the edited silent version. And since this was made with the intention of being a sound film, it was not photographed or acted in a silent film manner. Still, Rex Lease completists (and I'm one of them!) will want to see this, as will students of the early-sound/late-silent transitional period.

Lease, from West Virginia, came up in the late silent period with a kind of frat-boy persona but also with excellent physical comedy skills, subtle facial gestures communicating a kind of knowing wink to the audience, and when sound came around, a voice that worked in both dramas (especially westerns) and comedy. He starred in a few serials (he played the journalist Walter Jamison, assistant to “scientific detective” Craig Kennedy—played by BTC fave Jack Mulhall—in the outrageous 1936 serial THE CLUTCHING HAND), played second banana to canine stars in a few films, and starred in a handful of his own westerns. By 1938 he’d become a supporting actor, and his distinctive face (a bit heavier, perhaps) could be seen and his distinctive voice heard in hundreds of B-movies, especially at Republic. He also co-authored a cookbook (!!!) and played Santa at the local elementary school during his supporting actor days. He appeared in some 220 sound films (many unbilled, the true sign of the hard-working old-school actor, the type Ed Wood championed in his book HOLLYWOOD RAT RACE), including four MA & PA KETTLE films as the sheriff.

For its brief 25 minute running time (it seems even less), the abridged silent version of TROOPERS THREE is fairly entertaining. Just imagine you are in VERY small town storefront theater in the hot summer of 1930, one that still shows silent films, and this is what you have to keep you entertained during your Friday night trip to the county seat—mixed with a another western short and maybe a comedy short or two, I certainly would feel I’d gotten my money’s worth. After all, what would be the competition? TROOPERS THREE is in the public domain and can be found online the next time you have 25 minutes to spare….

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Pretty hefty batch of readin' we got here this week, even though I get the feelin' that you might just not snuggle up to it the way I sure wish you would! But man, I did have fun crankin' out this stream of unconsciousness which I'll hafta admit that I re-read and re re-read more'n usual (yeah---really!) in order to excise some of the more, uh, wordier passages that really woulda gotten my high stool English teacher runnin' outta red ink! Personally I think it coulda used some more tweekin' (not twerkin' you sicko you!) and perhaps a total scrapping for that matter but gee willikers, I only have a week to produce these things and I don't want any of you devout readers to have to go without eyeballing my superior than your average former newspaper rock critic now shining shoes for a living's personal opinions now! Let's face it, me at my blowhardiest is much more preferable'n whatever is left of the once promo-grubbing rockcrit field now reduced to finding new synonyms for "brave" and "daring" while relaying whatever positive attributes they find in Miley Cyrus' paens to modern slutdom.

It was a good week too what with the bevy of beauties that I found myself actually ENJOYING in a total, envelop yourself for the rest of your days sorta way. There may even be a classic or two in the batch---after all I find myself spinning the La Femme platter on a nightly basis and this 'un just might reach the same heights of BLOG TO COMM glory as all those other wonders that have thrilled me throughout the ages. The Shangs' latest effort is one that also tingles the nerve nodes, all of which makes me glad that I didn't chuck rock 'n roll fandom in after the final BLACK TO COMM print issue creaked off the presses back 2003 way like I originally planned. An' I get the strange sneakin' suspicion that there are more goodies comin' our way so whatever you do, don't forget making an appointment with the ear specialist in order to stave off deafness, even though he keeps yellin' at'cha for shovin' sharp pencils down your canal.
I know, I know, I KNOW...y'all wanna read my personal take and rheumy reminiscences regarding the recent passing of MAD magazine! Y'know, my impressions of this now virtually dead but once an up 'n bubblin' publication, now relegated to merely reprinting past glories (or something like that) packaged in brand-spanking new covers just like those early-seventies Marvel monster reprints that had Brad Kohler all hot set on what he thought was gonna be a fresh treat created in the then-current Marvel style (I ain't lettin' ya ferget that 'un, Brad!). Well gee, since I've pretty much grew up with MAD and at one time thought it was the bee's knees as far as funtime humor goes well, gosh, I am sure flattered that you'd ask me, of all people, to type out my feelings regarding the more or less death of this all-Amerigan "iconic" (as the snoots say) publication. And if you want my unvarnished, bared-wire intensity on what I think about the mag doin' a flopside like this I ain't gonna disappoint nohow!

Didja know that when I was still in the single digits I had the strange idea that MAD was some sorta comic strip that certainly was not appearing in my local paper? Chalk that 'un up to kiddie logic..y'see, many a time I would peruse the humor section of the local department stores' paperback section and espy the wide range of books that reprinted the antics of a variety of comic strip characters from PEANUTS and ANDY CAPP to DENNIS THE MENACE and if lucky BLONDIE and THE KATZENJAMMER KIDS. After awhile I saw these thicker paperbacks with these rather attractive painted covers featuring this weird-looking guy who looked like he would be a fun sorta fanabla to be with. I'd peek inside and see things like ad spoofs, funny pictures, articles etc...and since these things had comics in them and were in a paperback form and since PEANUTS and ANDY CAPP were comic strips that appeared in paperback form as well then gee, MAD just hadda've been a comic strip! It all logically worked out, at least in the mind of an seven-year-old suburban slob who was repeatedly being told that he wasn't working up to his full potential but was straining his brain seriously!

The strangest thing at the time was that I didn't understand the nature of the book's titles! To me "mad" meant "angry" and I had no idea that this world could also mean "insane", which was the (as I soon found out) obvious meaning of the title as in "tales calculated to drive you..."!  Who sez comics ain't educational!

I believe I was about nine when I happened by a newsstand and saw a magazine with the title MAD and that funny looking guy onna cover and, naturally, I just hadda peek in like I would with a NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC featuring shots of Tahiti, gals included. I dunno if this was the one with the "Odd Squad" cover story or not, but I remember seeing an ad for the then-current MAD SPECIAL of one of those giant-sized reprint anthologies with an ad where the same guy was selling "dirty" postcards that were enclosed with said issue...sheesh, this MAD thing wasn't a comic strip or a comic book in the trad sense for that matter, but a naughty subversive thingie meaning I JUST HADDA HAVE A COPY OR TWO!!!!

Later on in that equally dirty year of 1969 I was home sick and my mother, in order to help ease the pain of my clogged beyond belief sinus system, bought a few books for me to read while I was recovering from what later would be termed "Overt School Pressure Taking Its Toll On Innocent Stoops Like Me Disease". And well, whaddaya know but one of the paperbacks that she bought for me was THE MAD ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN KLUTZ, a totally unexpected move on mom's part but a good 'un in my behalf because, from that day forward, I became a pretty good fan of not only Don Martin's whacked out style and means of storytelling but the MAD empire itself, buying up then-affordable to me (fifty cents if you found the older editions) books that are still a major part of the BLOG TO COMM library because I knew better'n to sell these off at some flea market they were that fun to have.

My MAD mania spread as the years went on, perhaps even bolstered by the amount of space not only EC but MAD originator Harvey Kurtzman got in the classic Les Daniels COMIX history book which came and went damaged beyond repair at the local library. I got to read the thingie before it was totally destroyed and thankfully I learned more'n enough in my obsessive/compulsive comics quest to have craved issues of HELP! and HUMBUG for years on end given how that old MAD style had lived on in those rags. And with me snatching old issues from various garage sale stacks and picking 'em up fresh at the newsstand, let's just say that my pennies were put to a much better use 'n had I sent them over to help the starving kids in Coraopolis 'r sumpin' like that.

As I passed through the portals of maybe not-so-higher learning my taste for MAD began to draw to a close, not that I didn't sneak a peek when they would come up with a surprise like their collection of old comic strip spoofs (which is one thing that, in my thirties/forties/fifties obsessive for the old stuff mind, drew me to the mag inna first place). Otherwise it wasn't as snide or as funny as it might have been even a few years earlier. Spy Vs. Spy seemed to be falling into a rut, and Don Martin, once the master of gag, wasn't able to crank out the laffs the way he did with "National Gorilla Suit Day" and other by-now legendary cartoons that still resonate in my teenbo brain matter. The switch from satire to kid gross out might have kept the lunch money flowin' in, but for all intent purpose the sorta-glory days (the original glory days being the Kurtzman years as the hardcore fans kept tellin' us year after year) were coming to an end.

Most of my eyeballing of the mag throughout the eighties and nineties (dunno about beyond) proved that either I outgrew MAD or that MAD outgrew the market it was originally aimed at. Gone were those stories written by guys who grew up in the thirties and forties making fun of teenage culture in a way that perhaps reflected the foibles of it more'n the kid themselves ever could (remember that personal fave of mine, none other than HULLABADIG A GO GO???) only to be replaced by cheaper than usual shots and an upsurge in the preachy liberal homilies and sexual references that were not kept as much in check as they would have been back when Paul Krassner couldn't get his Olive Oyl tit jokes into the mag. Oh, I've been told that there might have been a spark here and there (Bill Shute mentioned one interesting article featuring pages from Mary Ann of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND's tell-all book!) but it wasn't anything that would have made me dish out the moolah the way I would for some of those nice EC horror and sci-fi reprints that were starting to make the rounds.

Well, it was fun while it was up and roarin' on all cylinders, but ya gotta admit that MAD died the same way that Elvis did when he joined the army or (tit for tat!) John Lennon did when he met Yoko Ono as that Gertz guy who put out that UGLY TRUTH mini-zine said a long time back. That is, it died when fifties satire was rendered meaningless and hadda be replaced by things that weren't really funny but filled with the same homilies the righteous have been preaching for ages plus the catch you off guard disgusting that never was as good as it was in NATIONAL LAMPOON! And by "disgusting" I mean you coulda thought up a better bad taste pun 'n that while telling dirty jokes in the boy's room!

Not that those old feelings don't still thicken on occasion...like on a cold winter's Saturday night when I flash back to seeing that copy of LIKE MAD with the great Kelly Freas painting of Alfred E. as a beatnik onna cover thinkin' about that time on some equally cold evening when I was about eight lookin' through it at the old Treasure Island (now a crafts store) while really cozying up to that wild "Nansy" spoof thinkin' it was the most ridiculous and funniest thing I've seen in ages. Then I wish I had my copy too look at only to remember that its stuffed in a box stashed at my cyster's place and like well, at least I had that funtime memory of a maybe not-so-fun youth to think back upon for once. A time when maybe there was some true purpose and something to look forward to in a world that always seemed to bite your back when it was turned. Not that I mourn the passing of MAD, but I kinda mourn those old time happenings when even going to a department store and looking at MAD paperbacks was such an exhilarating experience.

Oh, 'n one closing thing. I always (or at least ever since first eyeballing the guy) thought that Alfred E. Neuman's voice would be kinda akin to that of Ringo Starr's, only with an Amerigan accent! Kinga flubbin' his speech in a mumble whilst talking in a near Marlon Brando mumble.
Not that much in the way of quantity, but I think the quality is there. Read up.

GOLDEN HITS OF THE SHANGS CD (Judi Gee Records, Canada)

Gawrsh, like who woulda expected that the ultimate bedroom band the Shangs'd actually release a new album here at the end of the 'teens anyway? It's been ages since these guys were written up in the pages of the old BLACK TO COMM and even then the Shangs seemed as if they were some final word on everything that was wonderful about the music scene 1964-1968...the brightness of sunshine pop with the dreariness of suicidal teen gal vocalese with a few Nuggets to chew on in-between. And like that even-then long gone 'n decayed era of pleasure I thought the Shangs were an effort that would never be permitted to show its true feelings in a musical scene that had ceased having any meaning at least forty years back, or whenever FM radio became the enemy and we hadda search harder for them kicks because it wasn't exactly as if they were being presented on a silver platter like they used to!

And yes, GOLDEN HITS OF THE SHANGS still delivers on the promise we were anxiously awaiting throughout all those other rock 'n roll resurrections o'er the years. The music continues to play upon the best efforts of boss pre-hippoid relevance that makes mel recall hot summer afternoons where I would look upon sunbathing gals playin' the top forty on their portable radios. David Nelson Byers still sounds like a teenage singing idol as he remakes/remodels a good portion of the Association/Turtles' beautifully stylized glop pop with a devious angle that might have even appealed to the stoned out Viet soldiers of the time who I hear weren't as all-Amerigan as my folks let on. Sound slush oozes over you like one of those lava lamps you kinda feel trapped in as the mood ebbs and flows about more'n even Julie London ever did.

It might sound so under-the-counterculture deviant at one point yet beggin' for inclusion on NUGGETS VOLUME TWO BILLION. The perfect pop you sure wish you coulda heard back then, yet perfect for that 1971 loudmouthed pseudo-intellectual gal who thought she was so special because she copped her dad's aviation shades so she could look like Gloria Steinem.

Sometimes it is good to settle back after giving Beefheart and Iggy much of your turntable time and this one does the job sans ricocheting across the inner reaches of the skull failing to settle at that perfect pleasure point. And the best thing about it is that the core Shangs duo of Byers and Ed O'Neill are joined by ex- and current Simply Saucer members Paul Colilli, Kevin Christoff and group leader Edgar Breau (on "prepared guitar"!) which almost makes this a lost Simply Saucer album! Do ya need any heartier recommendation than that???
The Taxidermists-TAX LP (Feeding Tube Records)

Coulda sworn I reviewed this one quite awhile back (too lazy to find out if I actually did), but since I just got a copy sent my way I figure that maybe this platter is new to my aural system and that I'm just confusing the Taxidermists with a few thou other free records that I have received o'er the past four decades. Whatever, if I did hear this before it's sure nice to get to hear the thing again, for TAX ain't that bad an effort, kinda reminding me of some of the late-eighties under-the-underground home-produced efforts that were comin' out faster'n you can say "fanabla". Neo-Beefheartian rhythms and temps sway in and out of that eighties-styled "emote" fashion that was popular at the time,  and when you're not expecting it something special drops into the mid, like an authentic mid-1960s garage band chord change that really put the thing all together! Even if I did hear this before well, it's still a snat effort!
La Femme-MYSTERE CD (Born Bad Records)

I've been wary re. a lotta these (to put it mildly) up 'n outta nowhere music "hypes" ever since my bank account pretty much plummeted during that search for the new Velvet Underground way back inna eighties. Not that there weren't a few acts that could live up to the total eruption of the seventies VU homages vying for your attention back then, but after awhile I could sure smell skunks as well as hyperbole to the point where I pretty much chucked the entire idea of anything re-capturing the gritty underbelly of 1964-1981 under-the-counterculture rock 'n roll the way it did back when iron-haired gals in their bedrooms would actually cry over things like Iggy.

But this La Femme band, suspiciously glowing reports 'n all, actually attempts to raise the spirits of that maddening drive that had me searching out the local shops and flea markets for anything that could take the sound destruction quotient of the originals and present it for a time and place that really couldn't care one whit. And considering that these guys (and gal) are up and alive here at the beginning of a new decade, they join a few sainted souls such as Fadensonnen and whatever ol' Stephen Painter is up to these days in the art of turning sound into something more than just backdrop. Not that La Femme is as atonally blessed as those two deep souls are, but they should be commended for keeping the TRUE BLUE nature of the music alive in a world that really doesn't deserve anything other'n "Mairzy Doats", which come to think of it in an age of Lady Caga (is she still around?) really might be way over the top 'r somethin' like that for most music aficionados of the newer form of goop.

And their sound actually might be easy enough to explain with mere words, but I doubt it. Imagine a mix of various mid-seventies electro/synth rock classics from COUNTRY LIFE to QUARK STRANGENESS AND CHARM with maybe a few sidesteps into Can all done up in a pre-feh punk-unto-punque way packaged as the new bright light hope to thousands of up-and-roarin' fans across the globe. Also, toss in some acoustic guitar French folk sounds that'll recall a whole load of chanteuses you've come across in your musical travels, only with a certain decadent flavor to it. Mighta been a 1980 Rough Trade contender the way the Metal Boys were with the same kinda continentalism that kinda made you wanna dress up like Alain Pacadis it's that European. Male/female vocals either on their lonesome or in interplay give even more dimension to the slick yet still driving enough treated rock instrumentation, and even when the sounds start conjurin' up musical images of bad eighties-era "gnu" wave the dance gunk-y feeling really doesn't last that long. Of course I dunno if La Femme will continue sounding this good before they begin to disappoint the way most of our seventies heroes did but hey, I might be sticking around to find out what does become of 'em because...why not?

Ignore the ugly hidden vulva cover which reminds me of that old MOM'S APPLE PIE platter and latch onto this deca-wonder. The front of their debut is also a gagger, but considerin' how most of the newer sounds passing for rock 'n roll have made me gag for years I'll pass these obvious faux passes up for once. And as far as "new" Velvet Undergrounds go, do we really need any considerin' just how ugly music has been since the death of the driving primal rock 'n roll spirit? Maybe not, but La Femme seem like a halfway decent contender and for that maybe we should give 'em a no prize or two.
Various Artists-THE VERY BEST OF SWINGIN' JIVE TRANSCRIPTIONS CD-r burn (originally on P-Vine Records, Japan)

(Here's another one I might have reviewed here before, but given just what an enjoyable spin it is do you think I'm gonna fre over such an obvious fox piss? no way sis-turd!)

These radio transcriptions might not really fit in with my current tastes in post-Velvet Underground sound-as-concrete aesthetics which I repeatedly find in a number of current faves, but as far as breezy music to make the summer afternoon hours go by smoothly well, they work their wonders. Sometimes I think that the only reason those highbrow music aficionado critic types (see opening paragraph) like this sort of music is to assuage their liberal guilt, but NORMAL PEOPLE LIKE US can enjoy these the way our pops and even great-great-maybe not-so-great grandpops did back when these toonz were broadcast in the thirties of forties. They're good on their own even without the pity heaped on 'em!

Some biggies here from Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, Slim Gaillard and the Mills Brothers to the Ink Spots (who as a grade stooler I thought was some shuck 'n jive act because of their name!) and you can betcha it never does let down. Not only that but there's plenty of hotcha listening here from Timmie Rogers singing about getting drafted to the Mills Brothers' take on "Lulu's Back In Town" that won't remind you of the Muppets! And did you know that Gaillard's "Flat Foot Floogie" was the inspiration for the name of the Chinese boy who used to appear in the old NANCY comic strip, mainly "Floy Floy"?

Best of all you don't mind it one bit even if you do fear that dad'll walk into the room and start razzin' ya for likin' the kinda music he did 'n not that offal rock 'n roll you made your meat and potatoes all these years!
Various Artists-UNCOLA EXECUTION HAMHOCK CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

As you would expect, Bill courts the brilliant and the good with a few sidesteps into wha'? on this virtual somethingorother floor sweepings or whatever these internet rarities are now called. Much of it does affect me on contact such as this acoustic repeato riff track by a David Thomas Broughton who doesn't seem to recall any other handy musical points I can refer to offhand. The George Russell one was tingling enough in that quaint Lydian third stream sorta cultured way, while I can even get into the doo-wop of the Universals without thinking of that joke about Eyetalians kept outside all night long. The ads really hit the ol' O-Mind as well, and the rest, from the song poems to the James Brown imitation are...well good enough that you won't leave the room like I get the impression your dog would.
Are you upset that your collection of rock mags is jammed with articles that are little more than glorified hypesheets written by ineffectual hacks who know little or perhaps even nothing about the sounds and expression that they are supposed to relay to you as some sort of communication as to just how and what this music is to mean in your otherwise tired existence? If so then why not stock up on some back issues of BLACK TO COMM...then you'll really have something to complain about!