Friday, March 17, 2023

Is it time for yet another BLOG TO COMM post already? Are you kidding me --- it's NEVER time for one of these posts given the abject scorn and hatred that is directed upon not only this blog but me just because I'm so --- gentle and pure! But blog on I must because hey, blogging about the things nearest and dearest to my heart (music, old tee-vee, things that upset the snoots) is my life and if it wasn't for my eternal quest to clue you all in on music and suburban slob culture you won't be reading about elsewhere where would I be? And, for that matter, where would YOU be? Reading the competition which might make you about as complete and as right minded a person as Dave Lang that's where!
A few people (OK, only one) told me that perhaps I should start up a BLOG TO COMM podcast where I sit around chatting about everything from my personal opinions regarding music to the socio-political climate while playing tracks that would, in some fashion, correlate to what I was blabbing about. At first I thought it would be a good idea ... after all I can play loads of funtime tuneage that I have acquired throughout the years, everything from rare Eclectic Eels tracks with not only Tim Wright on bass guitar but Adele Bertei on organ to x-tra long Can explorations and Ornette Coleman bootlegs, of course with a load of LEGITIMATE sounds thrown in between all the esoteric grooves. Something like an aural version of this very blog or perhaps a vain attempt to resurrect R. Meltzer's HEPCATS FROM HELL radio show without all the dirty words but maybe with a re-creation of his Hendrix feedback loop played for 90 minutes straight. 

I'm not too sorry to say that such an endeavor would be way beyond my capabilities. First off, I don't have the equipment to transfer tape or vinyl (let alone disques) to whatever medium is supposed to be used for a podcast, and secondly I don't have the technology to even produce a podcast! Thirdly I wouldn't even know HOW to produce a podcast and am probably too stupid to learn how to and while we're at it, FOURTHLY I really don't care to do one considering just how much hassle I would get from the usual sources if I would undergo such a project.  OK ---FIFTHLY --- who'd even care to listen to the thing given the zero respect and appreciation given not only to this blog but myself!

I'm TIRED of doing things which take up a good portion of my existence yet only get me troubles which is one reason why I quit putting out BLACK TO COMM when it became more work than pleasure (and more costly to put out). But eh, doin' a podcast sure looks like fun even if it would undoubtedly turn into one massive ball of frustration and regret that would wear me out more than I was after putting out BLACK TO COMM #25!
Hey! here's an interesting article on none other than Ultravox! that I found on...COUNTER-CURRENTS???
For those of you who were enraptured by the Czech Underground coverage found in the later-on issues of my crudzine...


And now, because you didn't ask for it... 


You've read plenty about these guys via a slew of knotty-pine basement-produced fanzines over the past fiftysome years, but have you ever read anything about 'em written by none other'n me? Of course you have but not in the form of an article, and I figure that if every other tinhorn with a keypad can crank out an appreciation of these guys and have hosannas of hallelujahs bestowed upon them why not me? After all, I have feelings too! 

I don't have to tell you that the Watchband were a big joke to the denizens of record buying land during the late-sixties, but that doesn't mean much given the plethora of braindead youth culture bigtime spenders who would rather plunk daddy's hard earned down on a Woodstock soundtrack triple-setter that a rip-roarin' high energy album any day! Sure there was nil coverage of them in the big mags with their sole appearance in ROLLING STONE being an ad for their second album (which I guess was more space given to 'em than those two guys from the Texas fanzine MOTHER gave to the 13th Floor Elevators and Red Crayola in their local scene rundown published in a '68 STONE), but the Watchband were surely registered in the minds of many a true rock 'n roller who I'm sure missed 'em as much as the Seeds once 1971 and James Taylormania crept into the mix. And even some not-so-hip types were clued in, or at least somewhat --- after all, it was none other'n noted rock stodge Greil Marcus who, when writing to Lester Bangs about the Stooges, compared Iggy and company to the Watchband!*  

NO WAY OUT seems like a fair enough start although a foreshadowing of all the problems their other platters would eventually dump into. The tracks with Don Bennett filling in for regular lead vocalist Dave Aguilar do stick out rather sore-thumbish, but even amidst the mess that coulda been NO WAY OUT comes off as the kinda spinner that should stick out swell in any tru blu punk's record collection. Heck, the appearance of the (said it before and will say it again) ultimo p-rock effort of all time otherwise known as "Are You Gonna Be There" makes this a must-have even if some of the attempts at psychedelic mindnab like "Expo 2000" and "Gossamer Wings" really don't register in my psychedelic grey room the way that "Up In Her Room" does. I should have somewhat of an aversion to this platter considering how I gave it my initial spin during one of the sadder parts of my existence, but then again when was I ever really happy other'n during my turdler years!

Get the Sundazed Cee-Dee reissue which tags on some extra goodies including their rendition of "Milk Cow Blues" later improved on via "Don't Need Your Loving" and an early (and more straightforward) version of the title track which goes by the name of "Psychedelic Trip" here.

Hokay, elpee #2 THE INNER MYSTIQUE may have been the inspiration for the name of one of the better fanzines to have come out of the early-eighties miasma, but if you ask me (and why not since you're stupid enough to READ this inna first place!) it really doesn't do the Watchband credo that much good. Watchband/Standells guru Ed Cobb's the blame given that the group is shut out of their own platter even more here'n on their debut, but thankfully you can still ooze your daily requirement of suburban slob fortitude outta this like the bloody water after a goodly squeezed pimple. 

Side one really can't be called the Watchband proper what with the trackage (including the title track) coming off more like exploito tossout than psychedelic brilliance. INNER MYSTIQUE doesn't really kick in until the actual flesh and blood group gets into the grooves, commencing with the boff re-do of the Kinks' "I'm Not Like Everybody Else" that pounces with the same strength that any local bunch covering it woulda tossed into their local single version. 'n hey, Don Bennett even does swell doing the vocals on "Medication" and "Let's Go Let's Go Let's Go" but the question still remains as to why Cobb had Aguilar's vocals wiped off the originals (which may have been answered in one of the many articles on the group that have come out over the past twennysome years, as if I have access to any of 'em!).

But still THE INNER MYSTIQUE did have the potential to actually break forth into the ozone. Too bad the suits hadda fiddle with the formula which is why these guys were hampered almost as much as the 13th Floor Elevators!

Now for the album all Chocolate Watchband fans tend to hate...ONE STEP BEYOND whose best attribute has to be that the title of that one was lifted from a rather good television anthology series of the early-sixties. Actually this 'un isn't that bad even if the ghost of late-sixties hippoid can be discerned seeping into the mix and Aguilar was out only to be replaced by original lead vocalist Danny Phay. But don't pay attention to the snoots who hate this...after all, given some of the turdburgers that were beginning to make their way into the once wild work of rock 'n roll this does sound like a welcome relief. Kinda like one of the later Moby Grape albums which should be no surprise given that Grape guitarist Jerry Miller sessioned on "Devil's Motorcycle" --- well at least it wasn't Jerry Garcia as original reports had it.

High point (at least according to none other'n me) is the cover of Ashford and Simpson/Ray Charles' "I Don't Need No Doctor" and you'll best enjoy this keeping in mind that if you were stranded on a desert island with a record player and you only had this and the first Crosby Stills Nash and Young on hand that the latter would be best put to use cleaning out the deeper reaches of your rectum after a particularly sticky bowel movement. 

If you get the Sundazed Cee-Dee of THE INNER MYSTIQUE you'll wind up with a load of neat tracks including the non-album singles which could at one time only be found on collections like PEBBLES VOLUME SEVEN or a Moxie EP with a sound that improves the cheap record player idea of it all. If you're a cheapie like me and got the Big Beat reissue of LPs 2/3 you won't get 'em, but don't fret because those rarities (and other surprises) pop up on Big Beat's 44 which gathers the rarities and adds a few familiarities to pad it out. All of their RIOT ON SUNSET STRIP trackage appears along with the Uptown singles and of course the Hogs "side project" for Hanna Barbera which got a lotta notice by Zappa aficionados who thought he was in fact the mysterious producer of the session what with "The Phantom" giving us that weird fifties grease segment spoken in true Zappa fashion on "Loose Lip Sync Ship" ("Gossamer Wings" done right!). Years later we finally discovered that it was not FZ doing the production and general teen angst spoofing but that doesn't mean there wasn't a Watchband/Mothers connection even if was tenuous. Aguilar himself says that the two had crossed paths way back when and that "they were swell guys, but boy did they smell!" 

In conclusion, why not watch the moom pitcher that catapulted the group into many a household via Saturday afternoon broadcasts well into the seventies thus keeping the legend alive:

And after all that... Anyway, you all heard of fake news? Well here are some fake record reviews for y'all to cram into your already over-rocked craniums and remember, it could be wrestling or the nightly updates or even rock 'n roll, but no matter what IT AIN'T REAL... And I should know. Thanks to Paul McGarry and P.D. Fadensonnen for the freebees.

Various Artists-THE HISTORY OF SURF MUSIC VOL. 1 LP (Rhino Records)

Here's one I snatched up in 1982, right around the time that I was becoming disenchanted with some of what was being presented to us lumpen proles as "new music" (soon to be marketed as "alternative"), egged on by recent readings of BOMP! xeroxes of course. A pretty good slab of surf music is to be heard here from the familiar to the obscure --- put it all together and you get a pretty hotcha idea of what early-sixties pre-flake California was like given that an environment where John Birchers like Tony Hilder and teenage surf groups like these could exist hand-in-hand and nobody would even bat an eye!
Various Artists-BOULDERS VOLUME 8 LP (Dave Records)

During my latest archival dig I also came up with this gem from a series that has gotten a whole load of disdain and scorn tossed at it during the early days of garage band compilating. The flat sound doesn't bother me in the least and the selection is just as good as anything on the original PEBBLES entries, what with trackage like both sides of the post-Van Morrison Them single from back when the group was holed up in Texas as well as two versions of "Hey Joe" (the first by the Tangents and the second by Fever Tree) placed back to back! Say what you want about BOULDERS, but these records are just as much a part of my swan dive into the wild world of punk before punk as the PEBBLES/PSYCHEDELIC UNKNOWN platters were, not to mention all of the Greg Shaw rah-rah'd sides that thankfully were being made available to a buncha doofs like myself who missed out on it all the first time 'round. 
The Sonics-ORIGINAL NORTHWEST PUNK LP (First American Records)

This is the '80 reissue of the third Sonics album, originally released on Jerden after a kerfuffle between the Sonics and Wailers got the former doin' a little label shopping. A pretty solid platter at that, not as intense as BOOM! but still way up there in the pantheon of primal punkitude. The hits from their Etiquette days, "The Witch" and "Psycho" reappear for good measure, and not only that but the Sonics do the Lovin' Spoonful right with a driving cover of "On The Road Again" that'll remind you that maybe John Sebastian and Co. weren't as hippie as they tended to come off as at times. Numbers like "Maintaining My Cool" and "Going Home" continue with the Sonics style that thankfully also infested the minds of kids in Cleveland and Orlando thanks to the miracle of local markets in a pre-formulized radio formatted world, and even the slow schmoozer "Love Lights" sounds dreamy in an otherwise hard rock mix! Hey, do any of you have a copy of the Rascals' COLLECTIONS album where their "Turn On Your Love Light" (side two track one) was mistakenly credited as this particular number complete with Gerry Roslie receiving songwriting credits???
Payton MacDonald-EXPLORATIONS 31 

Marimbaist MacDonald teams up with Weasel Walter to create an effort that sure dredges up some of the happier memories of searching through the NMDS catalog while on the lookout for a sound that was bound to jar you out of the doldrums of everyday music. Reminds me of the Karl Berger/Ed Blackwell album where the former Quinlaned his vibraphone (unplugged it!) for a session that wandered into the same realm of percussive paranoia as this 'un. Actually a whole lot more surprising, engaging and musical than some wonks out there would lead you to believe. Big thanks to P.D. for pointing this one in my direction.
The Dream Syndicate-ULTRAVIOLET BATTLE HYMNS AND TRUE CONFESSIONS CD-r burn (originally on Fire Records)

I wasn't held that much under the sway of Wynn etc. when they were first making an underground shuffle back in the early eighties, and in fact grew to the point where I actually loathed them if only for what they represented. Nowadays well, I can take it or leave it and therefore feel rather ambivalent not only about the Syndicate but the musical realm in which they (and a whole slew of groups that ran on the gas fumes of sixties/seventies accomplishment) wallowed about in. Forty years later I see no reason why I should do any opinion changing, do you?
Nervous Eaters-MONSTERS + ANGELS CD-r burn (originally on Wicked Cool Records)

Not surprised that these guys are still around. Also not surprised that they're still playing the same punked up pop rock that they've been playing for longer than I can comprehend in my rather ape-like mind. Not bad, but it doesn't quite light my musical fart the way some of these guys' contemporaries turned my hind quarters into a human flame thrower.
Just a li'l reminder that there are many back issues of BLACK TO COMM still available for those of you who want to fill up the holes in your collection. Or any hole you may want to have this point in time I'll sell these to anyone...

*'n isn't it true that Bangs' first ever published review was a thingie on the Watchband in some high school newspaper which, as far as I know, has never been unearthed?


John Gacy said...

Sticky bowel movements?

Alvin Bishop said...

SMH, Chris!

As a card carrying Boomer (chuckle!), I can attest: The Chocolate Watchband were considered a joke back in the day. And still are in this Beantown abode! Nothing more than a moldy mimeograph of The Rolling Stones. For good rock of that era I direct your readers to: The Doors, Canned Heat, Procol Harum, Cream, Jefferson Airplane, BST, Chicago, Ten Years After and, hometown chauvinist here: Ultimate Spinach, Beacon Street Union.

You're welcome!


Anonymous said...

The podcast sounds like a great idea. Judging by the majority of podcasts I hear any idiot can do it

Christopher Stigliano said...

Sure any idiot could do a podcast, but what about a imbecile like me?

Brad said...

Dream syndicate days of wine and roses still a go to for me. When they played pittsburgh upon its release they did an extended cover of suzy q at a time when a lot of bands looked no further than tubeway army for past inspiration. Too bad their major label debut medicine show was so boring i never made it through the entire lp.

Robert Shitzgau said...

I agree with Brad on the Wine and Roses album, but though I haven't listened to it in ages my memory of Medicine Show is that the second side is much better than the first side.