Saturday, September 26, 2020

Hi. I'm typing this opening schpiel early in the week, a week which for the life of me I cannot wrap my prehensile mind around no matter how hard I try. Oh I can appreciate, dissect and spew out opines regarding music (see below for a whole slew of writeups of varying quality) but otherwise I feel kinda stunted, like all the grooves in my brain have suddenly smoothed out 'r somethin' and my whole cranial/nervous system has gone flabby to match my stomach. Now music still affects me, but in a numbed up novocained sorta way that I really cannot immerse myself into which in many ways equals some of the musical funks I would get into throughout the nineties, a good enough time conduit to getting into funks that is.

Not only that, but I was lookin' at the Gawandanaland comic collections that are available on Amazon thinkin' about buyin' a batch of good enough timewasters yet I couldn't find any that I surely would enjoy snuggling up with on a nice dark evening. I just feel like why bother even if the Miss Fury and Dr. Occult ones looked fine enough for at least a few go throughs. Its like something's stopping me from letting loose and spending an entire paycheck or two on some of those public domain Archie items even if they are in black and white and thus cheaper. I do hope it's just me getting more tightwad in my later years...after all I am gonna croak one of these days 'n more sooner 'n later at that and I don't want to see my comic collection end up at some flea market table going for a fraction of what I paid for 'em all throughout these past fiftysome years!

(Actually Brad Kohler can have the whole lot of my books 'n stuff when I do pass on to that great bedroom filled with goodies inna sky, but he's gonna hafta rent a dump truck to come 'n get it all!)

Still I will do my doody for you readers 'n crank out a post of exemplary worth. I mean, what else do you losers have to look forward to anyway?
Otherwise I surprisingly am able to come head to head with life and its goodzies as well as badzies. In many ways I consider myself lucky. Back when I was a single-digit stool kid I used to get bored all the time given the lack of a lotta stimulation plus the fact that there were times when nothing interesting was on tee-vee. Now with a lifetime of books, music and the kinda tee-vee I adore available at the tips of my cuticle-ridden fingers I don't have to go outta my mind reading and re-reading the same five PEANUTS paperbacks I owned and a kid over and over. Sheesh, I ain't gonna live long enough to re-read alla the wild books, fanzines and other ephemera I now possess nor will my viewing time be stunted by subpar sputum with the Dee-Vee-Dees (and VCR's which I hope have not disintegrated o'er the years) I've acquired for those slim times I thought would always be just around the corner.

That's not counting currently running reruns that inspire my soul and give me something worthwhile to do once the skies darken and it gets spooky outside. Thankfully I have enough music (but can always use more!) to the point where I could play my entire collection end-to-end and it I'd be long gone before its done! Sheesh, if there is anything that could be said about my life's accomplishments its that I don't hafta worry about nothing to do inna evenings if only because my 10-year-old goals in life have been accomplished and I have alla those old comic strip collections and old time comedy book histories I wanted so dearly back then but money 'n stingy parents 'n alla that sorta kept my inna lurch for a longer period than I hoped. An' if you don't think I'm downright proud about it well, I sure am in my own cornbally suburban slob kid sorta way.
Hope ya like them reviews. A few of 'em get a little long in the britches, some may say long-winded and rightfully so, but I have been keeping up with my (now canceled) ROCKSBACKPAGES collection of rare Charles Shaar Murray, Nick Kent etc. efforts and the "influence", no matter how dribbly, does tend to seep through. Of course muchas graciases go to Bill Shute and Paul McGarry for the freebees, and thanks to the likes of Murray, Kent, Ingham, Dadomo, Bangs, Meltzer and many more for the inspiration. If it weren't for you guys well, a whole lotta people out there would certainly feel happier that's for sure!

The Grateful Dead-FROM THE MARS HOTEL CD-r burn (Grateful Dead/WEA Records)

Paul McGarry is tryin' t' convert me to the Deadhead realm, but naturally I know better given how I've been around the GOOD STUFF for nigh on fortysome years awlready and can sniff out turds from miles away. Now he's even sendin' me disques featurin' these mid-seventies Dead platters that were legendary for alienating those who had been cheerleadin' 'em the past few years yet catapulted 'em into way more teenbo record collections with their patented post-psychedelic country bumpkin jive.

While listening to FROM THE MARS HOTEL  I kinda get the idea that the cult of the teenager, or at least the young pseudo-intellectual that blossomed a few decades earlier, was but a stench-y myth and that it was the new under-the-underdog breed of young duncitude that was attuned to the suburban rockscronk vibe (of which I was but one measly denizen) that really kept the high energy ball rolling. Don't mind braggin' about it, but WE were the real new breed of anarcho-frontline music aficionados set to inherit the entire globe with the definitely high energy musics that we cut against the grain with. The likes of the Dead more or less represented yet another portion of that youth culture that totally alienated a whole lot more people than the likes of Jan Wenner would have cared to admit, yet another sign of music having gone downstream to a place which seemed just as hostile and alien to me as the music (and sometimes, the"culture") that the folk kept tryin' to push on me at the expense of the rock 'n roll I most surely desired.

Mid-seventies Dead sure don't settle well with me like the mid-sixties version when Pigpen at least played that cheap organ straight outta ? and the Mysterians. Most all of FROM THE MARS HOTEL (and the bonus live 'n outtake tracks) sure remind me of way too many reviews not only then but now which ridiculed the entire Dead aura what with their jive funk cool and melodies which just don't break through like "lesser" acts from the Seeds to the Velvet Underground could do with a mere snap of the fingers. Sometimes it gels but mostly it sounds like something any bad bar band of the day coulda whipped up when it was time for 'em to do their token original number in between the Doobie Brothers covers.

Most of the time I just want to strangle Robert Hunter for comin' up with those inane lyrics that (don't let anybody fool ya!) nobody could decipher no matter how stoned they were. And after listening to Jerry Garcia singing "US Blues" I'm wond'rin' whether this is supposed to be a commentary on the state of Amerigan circa Watergate or more of that hippified flashback to the old tymey downhome turn of the century musical cornpone that used to get snuck in with the usual hippie dope 'n twat mysticism that sure smelled rancid even then.

(to be honest about it...) some interesting points do pop up including the live "Save the Flag" which reminded me of the early Moby Grape cum Lovin' Spoonful-influenced Flamin' Groovies tho it woulda come off way better if it were they who were performing it, not forgetting "Unbroken Chain", which actually noodles its way into some rather ear-pleasing intricate guitar trails that come off way more San Francisco during the '66 heyday than anything else the Dead were able to muster up for years. Not enough to make this 'un a "keepie" ('n besides the loco record shop does not take in Cee-Dee burns on trade or for money!) but a surprise considering how brain-damaged these old hippies were after years of chemical abuse to the point where talkin' 'bout the Dead back in them days pretty much became THE COMEDY HIT OF THE SEASON!
The Thirteenth Floor Elevators-YOU AND I AND ME 2 CD-r burn set (originally on Sunset Blvd. Records)

('n talk about chemical abuse...) The Roky Erickson/Thirteenth Floor Elevators rehashes just keep on comin' 'n comin', 'n although almost if not all of this has been passed around before whether it be via a variety of bootlegs or the infamous Collectables label well, it's sure great hearin' these tracks any way ya can.

Whoever it was that did gather these bits 'n pieces up sure did a good job in capturing the whole Elevators mystique. Y'know, the one that rivals similar group-to-fan interactions that could be found within the cults of the Velvet Underground to the Detroit acts in rock music as total eruption that seemed to come into full force around the time of the late-sixties. And if anything it is the mystique of the Elevators which has kept them in the under-the-underground hushed tone wonder and amazement which could still be sighted in rock mags even in the early-seventies when many would have thought the legend long dead and buried!

First disque features some oft-heard but still stirring tracks complete with that live version of "Levitation" where Roky forgets the lyrics and material originally on the debut album that for once doesn't have that demo quality to it which never did go over well with me (or was it Radar Records' usage of old vinyl with quite a drop in quality?). With the sequencing and spirited performance this really is "excitement personified".

The other'n focuses on a post-Elevators Roky with that brief radio snippet also on the EPITAPH FOR A LEGEND double set and those acoustic Dylan/Donovan tracks which sure are improved by Roky's natural abilities to take just about anything from "Hattie Carroll" to "Werewolves of London" and make it his own. And these songs are revealing for those of a punk rock mentality...for the first time in my life I noticed just how much "Lay Down Your Weary Tune" has such an early-Velvet Underground repeato-riff to it to the point where I sure wish Patti Smith woulda covered it somewhere in her storied career. John Cale's viola would have benefited this quite a bit. Or maybe not.

The concluding interview is naturally orbiting Pluto along with Roky's mind. I believe it was conducted by Gregg Turner (naturally I was not provided with any notes regarding this thing which would figure since it was for free and as we all know beggars cannot be choosers!) but I'm not sure. Sure sounds like Turner tho. Try to follow it at the risk of losing your own sanity.
Wire-10:20 CD-r burn (originally on Pink Flag Records)

They might ('cept for the new guy) look like ancient fanablas, but Wire has put out a platter that really captures their old tried and true style which sounded so in vogue to way too many back when it originally came out (tho I smelt a hype), but sounds even better NOW 'n you know why---y'see, it's 2020 and do you feel comfortable in a world that has eschewed rock 'n roll for a shallow imitation and has done so ever since you were a young chicken and didn't need Geritol to make your way through the next bowel movement?

The sound is so thick on "Boiling Boy". I wonder what Richard Williams would think of it, especially given his eternal allegiance to WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT and the "Sister Ray" motif which he expostulated upon in his boffo Suicide vs. David Bowie etc. use of the Velvetized repeato-riff article in MELODY MAKER many moons ago.

"German Shepherds" reminds me a bit of the early-eighties remnants of '77 accomplishment which hollowed out once things got uglier and fatter than me, but it still shimmers in a way that didn't make you regret picking up on some of those 1982-vintage NEW YORK ROCKER up and comers in the first place. Perhaps a bit too romantic for me but romantic in an old, not "new" way ifyagetmydrift...

For sheer intense maudlinisms "He Knows" has 'em all beat. Listening to this I wonder if the guys in Wire ever smile. The brittle beat and guitar strum has me recalling some past accomplishment deep in the barrel of my mind, tho for the life of me I can't remember which one.

Now for some return to the original Wire intent with a new version of "Underwater Experiences" which I'll put my head on the chopping block and say is every bit as good as that 'un we've heard on DOCUMENT AND EYEWITNESS lo these many years. Never knew old folk could get it on like this or sound as fresh as they did o'er four decades back.

"The Art of Persistence" and "Small Black Reptile"...back to the 154-era group which really doesn't offend me other'n when I think of all the sappy imitations that record doth wrought. They hold their own here in the bleakness of music 2020 but in some ways I can't help but ponder whether or not this period of Wire perhaps got the itty bitty snowball rollin' to the point where it became a huge ball of pretension.

At least "Wolf Collides" swerves slightly back into a more-recognizable kinda/sorta early Harvest Records mode. The synth lurking in the background does emit some sorta Mellotron-ish drone which does have me thinking 1973, though in other respects 1983 does tingle about in my mind. And despite all that, I gotta say I prefer this to the previous two tracks.

Closing the set's "Over Theirs" which once again hearkens back to past efforts with a slow, crunchy beat that recalls "Kashmir" a bit which only goes to show ya that the gnu punk thang and them dinosaurs were a lot closer than you'd care to believe. (Which we shoulda known all along given how MX-80 Sound's "Tidal Wave" borrowed freely from "Kashmir" as well and nobody was out callin' them old stodgies!). 'n not only that but the end drone's the best since either "Sister Ray", "Rip Off" or "John, John (Let's Hope For Peace)"!

Surprisingly good when you consider these were outtakes which only makes me wonder why they were outtaken inna first place! Some peoples' outtakes are better'n some's polished product which only goes to show you that Wire ain't the artzy old hasbeens you mighta been led to believe (by who, but not me!) an' maybe you can learn more from yer gran'pappy than you can your favorite rock 'n roll bloggers out there in self-consciousness land (also known as the internet)!
Slapp Happy/Henry Cow-DESPERATE STRAIGHTS CD (ReR Records)

Not having spun DESPERATE STRAIGHTS in over forty or so years (even tho it is still safely snuggled in the "imports" section of my record collection) I find it almost as if I were listening to an entirely fresh and previously-unheard effort.

The waltz-like title track and the overall European/Brechtian density I do recall, but where I originally found the more rocking songs not that hotcha in the face of Patti Lou etc they now sound pretty flash in their own cloistered way. Sure the woodwind-heavy sound reminds me of something that would have been stuck on some underground art film from the forties (the kind that got the gals all filled up with koochie koo emotion) and it doesn't exactly endear me to a more rock 'n rollin' high energy time, but they do have a certain artzy if appealin' feelin' to 'em that sorta makes me wish I was young and attending some classical concert in order to impress some cute femme to the FACT that I'm not exactly the boor she has been led to believe I was thanks to the cruel talk of classmates (and my own actions of course).

One could say that this did come off rather weak, simpy and lacking the hard drive usually associated with the better aspects of the form, but DESPERATE STRAIGHTS sure sounded grand next to the post-energy heavy metal and yacht rock overbloat that was all the rage as time foraged on. And, come to think of it, it continues to.
Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs-THE STORY OF BONNIE & CLYDE LP (Columbia Records)

I sure remember a whole lotta talk about Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow goin' on durin' my kiddoid days thanks to the rather popular moom pitcher that was created in their honor! And in between vivid memories of hearing a radio interview with Bonnie's own cyster who revealed some grisly details about the shooting (like Bonnie was eating a sandwich when she got shot, and the whole hand holding same sandwich was totally dismembered from the rest of what was left of her) and my own relatives talking about alla them people inna thirties who would do anything to get their names inna paper and robbin' banks was just one of 'em! I also remember Flatt & Scruggs' "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" gettin' a lotta airplay in between them bubblegum classics I liked not to mention the soul music, something I always thought was for the more mature listeners in the radio audience (sorta the halfway point between mop top music and Sinatra!).

But with alla that old time gangster talk goin' 'round who would have ever thunk that inna middle of it all Flatt & Scruggs woulda released a golly ned CONCEPT ALBUM that equals such classics as JAN AND DEAN MEET BATMAN and METAL MACHINE MUSIC!

Loads of classic bluegrass blarin' goin' on here with a buncha vocals giving us various sides to the whole Bonnie and Clyde mystique that was goin' on at the time. Naturally there ain't no higher spiritual meaning or artzy pretensions to put up with here like you mighta got with similar efforts of the same stratum, but it's all done in good spirits and y'know what? Next to a good hunk of the pacifist and puerile folk mewlings that were all the rage this sure has a whole lotta TESTOSTERONE tacked onto it! A surprise flea market find you might get a kick outta for a small sum.
The Retros-INNER CITY ROCKERS CD-r burn (originally on BDR Records)

If you were listening to this music in 1979 you get bonus points for flying in the face of decrepit FM album-oriented rock. If you were listening to this in 1989 you probably weren't able to find your old Suicide and Pere Ubu albums. If you were listening to Suicide and Pere Ubu in 1989 it better had been their seventies efforts rather than the quite different music they eventually began to perform once the eighties really got into gear. If you still listen to the Retros, Suicide and Pere Ubu in 2020 you thankfully are to smart to realize that time has passed you by but considering what "time" amounts to these days consider yourself lucky. Funny how "time" can change a whole lotta things for the better and/or worse, eh?
Various Artists-TOM-TOM FROM MAGGIE'S BAIT FARM CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Starts off pretty snat what with the fun doof local rock of the Swingin' Stingrays and La Familia Inc. doin' some hotcha Latino music that I'll bet woulda even got Che Guevara to do some toe tappin' in between him bashin' skulls in with a shovel. The pre-Monkees Mickey Dolenz track was a pretty nice mid-sixties sleazer that I'm surprised didn't get pushed harder by whatever podunk label had the rights to it during the man's heyday, while the Davy Jones 'un from 1965 is just as girly pop as that post-Monkees stuff he ended up doing.

Lotsa other noogies here that woulda served your ears swell had they popped up on your sixties transistor. Like Dick 'n Dee Dee's ear-screechin' rendition of "Not Fade Away" not to mention Jerry Lee's cyster Linda Gayle putting more punch into Dylan than Joanie Phonie every could. Of course Jay White's "Autumn in Rome" has about as much energy as Karen Quinlan's life support system must have these days, but the rest is pretty good as far as unique bopsterisms go.
Do you miss the days when you anxiously waited by the mailbox for the latest issue of some fanzine of worth that really inspired you to spend all your pop bottle money on some record that most of the time lived up to the expectations said fanzine led you to believe it would? Well, if so I'll bet you were one of the many who I expected to get but missed out on BLACK TO COMM and all of the hip 'n with it music that was touted in its massive pages. It's not too late for you to correct the errors of your youth, though  considering some of the responses I get on this blog I doubt that any of you really have the mental acumen to do such a thing. Well, I did give it the ol' college try, eh?
Late update on my current mental stasis---actually broke down and got a few comic book/strip reprints so thankfully my vital juices still are flowin'. And I sure hope I live into the triple digits so I can enjoy these books over and over again for a loooooong time without worrying whose grubby hands are gonna get hold of 'em to either ruin, dump into some landfill or something certainly not worthy of a boffo book collection! But just wait, tomorrow I'll feel just as blah as usual.


debs said...


top_cat_james said...

I'm currently perusing Gawandanaland's collection of the first seven issues of DENNIS THE MENACE, and for those of you only familiar with the current toothless version, this is quite the revelation. Here we have the "household hurricane" in all his destructive, smart-mouthed, bratty glory. Even I was slightly taken aback at how over-the-top these early formative comics were before Hank and his ghost-artists watered down the whole shebang before that decade's end. If the real-life Dennis was only one-forth the terror depicted here, no wonder his ass was plunked into a boarding school while dear ol' Dad hightailed it overseas with his secretary-cum-wifey.

As a postscript I'll add that if you can't find something you like from Gawandanaland, you're just too hard to please!

Alvin Bishop said...

Keep 'em comin', Chris!


GL said...

Great stuff as ever. Cheered me right up.

New York 'Dolf said...

Somebody from Phish got busted at a Dead show for pedo stuff.

Hippy being a hippy.

Everytime a hippy is murdered, an angel gets its wings.