Sunday, December 08, 2019

Another week another BLOG TO COMM post. How time flies while you're having fun and other olde tymey cliches that I do hope never go out of style. Had a pretty good go of it this past week even if I didn't get to write up as many funtime platters as I would have liked, but then again this ain't no BIG CITY NEWSPAPER which gets inundated with album after Cee-Dee after promo package with alla the latest goodies smack dab from CBS/Sony or WEA! Come to think of it almost alla those newspaper rockcrit types have been tossed out on their ear a long time ago anyway due to the thankfully failing stature of the fishwrap press in this age of immediate information to which I say GOOD LUCK FINDING A JOB IN THE TRASH COLLECTING BUSINESS ANN POWERS! That would be a male-oriented job most suited to your talents.  But whaddeva, I had a nice time with the recordings that I had at my disposal, and as you all know I am not an ingrate regarding these types of wondrous items flowing my way. Keeps me out of the tee-vee room and outta trouble, to put a spin on yet another fun cliche of yore.
How did you spend Pearl Harbor Day (other'n celebrating the shooting that took place there a few days ago)? Personally I thought the sushi was pretty good, plus watching ULTRAMAN was a great way to top off things next to digging out my old toy Toyotas and Subarus to play with just like I did when I was but a mere turdler. And spinning nothing but the Sadistic Mika Band and Yoko Ono records with a little Kyu Sakamoto thrown in sure helped...what better way to remind us of just which side was justified in the long run, and I do believe it wasn't the USA because like, have you seen any of that corny propaganda that came out during the forties?!?!?!

Anyway, while waiting for the complaints to pour in (mostly from all of those World War II vets who just happened to be tuning into this blog) let me once again tell ya that although we have a small batch to talk about, as Ron Jeremy said have pity on those less fortunate than the rest of us. Actually got three wonderful freebees from ugEXPLODE, Ever Never and Feeding Tube to rant and rave about, plus a few more'n just "decent" burns from fans like Bill and Paul! That's enough to take me through my usual rock 'n roll fantasies for quite some time, and if you see me on the street with a smile on my face and a hop in my step well NOW YOU KNOW WHY!!!
Draw Don Fellman and win a scholarship to the Ernie Bushmiller Memorial School
of Cartooning! Just try to get the nose big enough, willya?

Jim Shepard-HEAVY ACTION 2-LP set (Ever Never Records)

Seems as if 2019 was a really good year for Ohio-bred under-the-underground rockers to get their posthumous honors. First came the Peter Laughner box set which has been occupying more'n a few BLOG TO COMM-readers' turntables o'er these past few months, and now this particularly pleasing collection featuring Columbus Ohio rock legend Jim Shepard has headed out our way. Ya gotta admit that the two of 'em being hailed and hosann'd long after their demises at about the same time is quite neato considering how both Laughner and Shepard were under-the-radar musical eclectics who just "might have" become somewhat popular on a larger than provincial plain (Laughner almost did if only because of his rock writing credentials, but not quite). Both also offed themselves by their own hand, although Laughner's "suicide" was slower, seventies sleaze decadent-like and perhaps not as intentional as people who knew him say it was (but I wasn't there so WHAT DO I KNOW!). Shepard was way more direct, and perhaps more surprising to those of us (myself included) who never would have guessed it in a millyun years.

I wasn't at Shepard's side either so (once again) WHAT DO I KNOW! And while I'm at it I've had what you would call bad relations with a number of people "connected" with this release but I will not let try to let this taint my opinion in the least. And even if Shepard does look like Justin Trudeau I will not slam HEAVY ACTIONS one bit for it is a fine, steady and downright exhilarating bunch of records that represent what the man was doing from the seventies until the nineties, and if this is his tombstone it sure looks a whole lot brighter and spiffier than any of you readers' are sure to.

Nice mix up, some live, some rehearsal, mostly low fidelity. For that reason  it works like magic what with Shepard's talents careening through what sounds like the same personalist late night acoustic passion spews that Laughner recorded on his lonesome, up through the avgarage Ohio feeling of everyone from Pere Ubu to By Products of America that was being laid down in an area that certainly had a higher creative rate than most other splotches on the globe. The results give us a firm, fine portrait of what this man was and perhaps what he could have aspired to had he not offed himself way back 1998 way.

Echoes of all your fave name-checked influences and personal bedroom rocker faves can be found, and as with Laughner (or Kenne Highland or Mike Saunders) they come out filtered through Shepard's special frame of mind that says more about what he was and what he did than all the ink spilled about him ever since day one (and the sixth issue of my own crudzine...can't say that I've been totally comatose all these bleedin' years).

For cheapo categorization purposes you cold call this punk rock in that mid-seventies pre-spiky hair fashion. Maybe even "progressive" since everything that sounds as if the Boston Pops could have had anything remotely to do with it seemed to be getting tagged with that insult against the name of rock 'n roll anymore. But this ain't no ELP-fest we're talkin' but some mighty roars from the capitol, the same place where the Electric Eels once roamed and one of the better record shops that I never got to visit stands which kinda makes me wanna hop into the car and spend a few thou just like I woulda loved to have done back when my bank book was barely headin' into three digits.

If I hadda do any complainin' I'd spew on about the concentration of acoustic numbers at the expense of, say, tracks from SLIT AND PRE-SLIT or some of the Old Age cassettes that were makin' the under-the-underground rounds back in the eighties. But as far as giving us a slice of who Shepard as a musician and as a Columbus-area legend was, this effort does give us a pretty good insight into one of at last a few thou unrequited rock 'n roll SAVIORS who never did get their just dues whether they wanted 'em or not. Believe it or not, rock 'n roll in its bared wire, stripped of the varnish form has been loathed and hated by the people who always seem to rally to its more superficial forms and its been that way at least since the teenbos of this world tossed out their Trashmen records and picked up James Taylor at a time when nod out seemed to be the norm.

If you don't get enough Shepard on those two spinners there's actually a third enclosed, a rather interesting affair as it plays 45 rpm and features tributes to Shepard by his friends, mostly musical along with one spoken word to add some additional depth and hotcha class. Familiar names like Don Howland and Robert Pollard give their guts to these efforts and it all seems fine and well, but just to let you know who's the real star the platter ends with Shepard, like ya know it really shoulda!
Mandy Zone & Ozone-LIVE AT MAX'S KANSAS CITY 1981 CD (ugEXPLODE Records)

Sheesh, who woulda thought that live @ Max's Kansas City albums would still be comin' out this late in the history of musical devolvement? But then again who woulda thought that such a thing as MUSIC would still exist here in 2019?

This one sure dredges up memories of the days when I thought that I was FINALLY living in an era where there were people who actually got off on the same sense of sonic pow'r that I had and that maybe I wasn't the only person within a hundred-mile radius who thrived on pure sound (presented in the proper atypically teenage way) as that fuel that gave you hope that there would be a next year!

If you've heard the Fast and thought they were pretty good if a little too fey for your tastes (hey, Lester Bangs hated the whole batch of 'em, but then again he hated the Cramps) you might prefer this offshoot act. Mandy Zone leads the band (which also included ex-Fast Tommy Moonie) into some terra previously tread by the Fast, his synth and a definite lurch into the import singles bin just being a part of the journey. However Ozone were a way harder bunch to deal with. Their approach was closer to heavy metal in the old CREEM sense (or the mid-seventies variation before promoters grew enough courage between their legs to utter the non-pejorative "punk") to the point where one could find a happy common ground between a whole slew of styles and not be embarrassed about it in the least. Echoes of new-unto-gnu wave can be heard in the cover of the Shirelles/Beatles fave "Baby It's You" as well as in a few other moments, but otherwise this could very well be the flagship for the new heavy metal revival that eventually took hold a good three or so years on. No wonder these guys were paired on bills with Von Lmo!

Besides the Max's gig there are also some live trax recorded who-knows-where plus what purports to be everything Ozone recorded in the studio including the now-rare single which somehow escaped ALL of out radarscopes when it was originally released. In all a fun time was had and after looking at the cool cover snap from Max's and thinking about all of the promise rock music had at the time all I can say is---boy have we descended or what!
Joseph Allred-TRAVELER LP (Feeding Tube Records)

Yet another way-above-par effort from Allred, a guy who proves that the era of the steel-stringed acoustic guitar visionary didn't fizzle out with the passing of John Fahey. Faheyites will surely marvel at Allred's mastery of the guitar swinging from mid-Eastern spells to downhome Amerigan front porch deep South jamz. Allred even throws in a coupla vocals and he really does capture the backwoodsy essense with his weird nasal whine. This is so good that it kinda makes me wish that I had a copy of this back in 1967 or so and was in a college dorm room all alone with some more than eager co-ed and well, I'm sure you know where all this is gonna lead to, hunh?
CYRIL JORDAN & THE SNEETCHES CD-r burn (originally on some kinda label)

I guess George Alexander doesn't appear on this or else it woulda been a Flamin' Groovies album. But If you are a big fan of the "epochal" SHAKE SOME ACTION album you'll probably love it, what with Jordan and band (with mid-period Groovie Chris Wilson---I THINK) re-doing the classic mid-seventies sound that hailed back to the mid-sixties thus making the Groovies the punk rock icons that they always strived to be.

For those of you who preferred the early-Groovies re-condition of the late-fifties rock 'n roll era original lead singer Roy Loney joins the group on the closing track which will at least remind me of why the Flamin' Groovies were the best fun one could buy for ninety-nine cents via any discount bin back during the record buying glory days of the seventies!
Various Artists-GILDED STRAWBERRY DETERMINATION CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Bill might think that I'm so DENSE that I never heard Love's "A House is Not a Motel" but I have. Thanks again anyway. I never heard Del  Shannon's "Move It On Over" so thanks for that as well. Heard the Godz's "Whippenpoof Song" a long time back but it's still nice to listen to when I do get into one of those Lester Bangs off-kilter moods. Unfortunately the track listings and what's actually on here get outta whack so I gotta guess that that really is Herman's Hermits I'm listening to (a probably post-Noone one cuz I can't make out his adolescent wail at all!). Howevah the Joe Tex track is what's listed here and Cher is nowhere to be found which is something I don't mind! Somebody goofed up, and for once IT WAS NOT ME!!!!
Anyone interested in reading more of the above kinda inanity might do well by buying a whole slew of BLACK TO COMM back issues which are available for a song, and maybe a dance thrown in. So put on those tap shoes and show us what'cha will do for some of these rare fanzine obscurities, wont'cha you Bojangles you!


MoeLarryAndJesus said...

Slit & Pre-Slit has been released in its entirety, so no need to put any of it on this release.

Another Shepard item is now available on CD from Bandcamp - Motorcyle Movie. It's also available for pre-order as an LP coming out in February. I'm hoping this is just the beginning of a flood of reissues of those cassettes you mentioned, but who knows.

You also mentioned Don Howland. His 2002 "The Land Beyond The Mountains" can be found super cheap and is a hot treble blaring monster that should be famous. An LP version is harder to find but came out in 2004. It was dedicated to Shepard and I can't praise it enough but you never reviewed it, you slacker. Find it and do so if you're not too busy cleaning up after Krampusnacht.

Anonymous said...


MoeLarryAndJesus said...

And for his next trick, Anonymous will suck his own dick in front of a police station.

Charles Hodgson said...

...And ML&J will finish him off round the back.
Squid's verse of "Son Of Sam Donaldson" is a masterpiece.
An update from the land of haggis hunting and Nessie mooching for another "tree-fitty"; after Thursday it looks like Brexit WILL funally happen & Scotland may be on the brink of Catalonia style civil disturbance if Boris Johnson denies a second Indy Ref. SNP took 48 out of 59 constituencies but apparently that does NOT constitute a legitimate mandate.
"You will never deny our FREEDOM!" - Mel Gibson Wallace, my second favourite anti-semite.

Christopher Stigliano said...

I hate to think who the first favourite would be.