Friday, February 16, 2024

It's been awhile. As if you cared. Neither do I but it for those of you whose lives are so starved that you have to wait for something like this blog to lighten up you life well, here it is. To tell you the truth I know how some of you lonelier types feel given that the highlight of my day is to read the various NANCY and FERD'NAND comics that pop up on various sites such as GoComics and "X". Sad true, but at least I'm reverting even more into my single digit days when life seemed a whole lot more worthy of living in.

'n really, there ain't that much "personal" to write about this time, nor anything else that might be rottin' away in that root cellar in my head. Politics is a bore right now other'n for the thrill of seeing bad things happen to people I hate (plus it is fun watching the ongoing mental deterioration of our Commander in Chief [the one I'm sure most of you people voted for] who makes past presidents like Gerald Ford look stoic in comparison...a real hoot in fact!), although I still follow da nooze somewhat rabidly if only through my frequent skeedaddles over to the Ron Unz site. Right at this very nanosecond it seems as if my extracurricular (non-musical) activities are pretty much focused on, besides trying to get some music listening time in, the boob tube what with me watching nothing but black and white westerns (with a few trips towards BONANZA) as well as an occasional peek-a-boo at the Boomerang net for some old Hanna-Barbera cartoons when the mood fits. It might not be as bright lights and big city as your very existence, but it'll do.

In between that well, I'm burrowing through a few dozen boxes of randomly dumped in Cee-Dees collected over thirtysome years still in search of my Hoodoo Rhythm Devils platters. H'aint found them yet but I have about a dozen other recordings I've been looking for during past hankerin's for certain breeds of sound which at least will help ease some strain, or undoubtedly add to it. At this rate expect me to find the Devils spinners around the time they're ready to tote me to the paupers field which is an ignoble way to go out, but I don't think I'll be complainin' one bit. 


There've been quite a few deaths since we last spake that I think I should mention here including Can frontman Damo Suzuki and MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, something which I guess makes Dennis Thompson the MC1. Mary Weiss from the Shangri Las too. And by the time this post hits the screen there will probably be many MANY more who I'll find out about a few months from now. Unfortunately there haint been any deaths that we can sure rah rah about, but I get the feeling that our reason to celebrate might be coming a lot sooner than the enemies of the Reich might think. Or at least we can hope and pray so.


Given my intense obsession with the Velvet Underground and their somewhat expansive saturation of the better moments of 60s/70s musical dynamism I was rather surprised by this particular entry into the myth, thanks to writer Peter Stanfield 'natch who seems to be my only go to source for truly critical appraisals these days. Never heard about filmmaker John Hofsess or his works, and although reading about his filmic efforts doesn't quite flibben my jib his use of the Velvet Underground (and the Who with "My Generation" and "The Ox"!!!) on the soundtrack to his BLACK ZERO split screen effort sure is something that fortunately adds to the canon of new and surprising things regarding the Velvets which was something I thought was mined out ages back. 

I'm even more curious about this act who also appears on the soundtrack called "The Gass Company" (one of many with that very name thus no concrete information's to be had) who surprisingly enough were one of the few acts influenced by the Velvets (at least according to Stanfield's descriptions) while Reed and Co. were still up and about! Heck I don't wanna see the movie at all...give me the soundtrack to Hofsess' BLACK ZERO and REDPATH 25 (or at least the pertinent portions) and I should be about as much of a happy camper as I can get to be these days.


Lotsa sounds to spurt about this time, some courtesy of Paul McGarry, others Robert Forward, and dagnabbit even more others courtesy of memeME! Had a nice time listening to and writing these things up here in the comfy confines of my fart encrusted bedroom, something which is fine by me since it sure beats doing something CONSTRUCTIVE like volunteering for Meals on Wheels. Speaking of being constructive, maybe its time for me do drag out my Creative Construction Company disque for yet another spin. I'll betcha that you've all noticed a rather AACM-ish direction that I've been taking these past few months. Maybe it has something to do with the long-lingering pangs I get thinkin' back to the days of the New Music Distribution Service looking through their catalog trying to figure out the best way to spend the pittance I usually had to spend on such frivolities as experimental jazz/classical albums and the grief I usually got for buyin' 'em as well! (Still remember my folk's puzzlement regarding me buying records by musical acts who weren't on tee-vee or being played on the radio and how they could even survive if nobody they knew heard about them and you couldn't even find their albums at the local record shop. Looking back, I don't think I did too good of a job explaining things either.) Anyway, dig in.

Richard Meltzer-FRANKIE CD-r burn

A portion of a mid-eighties reading of the famed Meltzer/Tosches novella by the first of the two, making for a way better presentation of the story of the infamous wild wall of manhood than had Edward Herrmann's syntho voice made an audio book of it. Unlike anything related to humor since at least the turn of the nineties, this saga is wonderfully offensive and pretty high-larious at that, and for that matter way funnier'n most of the stuff that is supposed to pass for har-de-har-har these sad and sorry days. Lotsa neeto asides regarding everything from Joe Franklin to various local hotspots too. Kinda makes me wish this book was around during my high stool days because if it had been boy would my public speaking class've been a hoot!


Map of the World-HIROSHIMA GIRLS 12-inch 45 rpm EP; NATURAL DISASTERS 12-inch 33 rpm EP (both on Stigmata Records)

A recent back and forth about the heavy duty Arab population located in the state of Michigan had me thinking about this brother/sister team (Khalid and Sophia Hanifi respectively) and their group Map of the World who recorded what I thought a rather dudster record on Atlantic sometime in the late-eighties. Having destroyed that cheapo tape ages back I somehow got to ruminating whether or not this group with the rather unpretentious (really!) name, despite my original judgement, were in fact one of those straightforward local rock acts who lacked the snootiness and pomposity of a good portion of the amerindie/alt sounds I've had the displeasure of hearing these past few decades. Y'know, the kinda act that woulda appeared at your local high school gym in '69, '79, '89 and even beyond and still sound as downhome straightforward each time out! So that's why I parted with some hard-begged to get these records given that sometimes I just gotta play a hunch!

For once that hunch turned out to be right because these pre-Atlantic Map of the World recs show a young bunch of kids who have heads screwed in tight and a musical flair that recalls mid-seventies retro-freshness more than it does quick flash up-to-date doldrums. Sophia has a uniquely strong set o' pipes which really drives the Map oeuvre home even more while brother Khalid's no slouch either handling the singing and guitar on some rather powerful material both original and cover (Patsy Cline's "Crazy" done up pretty unpretentiously straightforward at that). The sound surely ain't REM jangle, closer to Byrds jangle maybe with an approach to the poppier side of rock that might have you conjuring up mid-seventies Flamin' Groovies (no kidding!), early Move (REALLY no kidding!), late-eighties Droogs (reallyreallyREALLY no kidding!) or even better the Disposable God Squad, this obscure-o late-eighties NYC powerpop act who had a nice kinetic drive to their own retropop approach which of course got 'em buried by a load of subpar sputum as did Map of the World for that matter.

Sheesh, I even hear some early pre-puke your entire guts out Jefferson Airplane (at least on "Hiroshima Girls" which actually appears on both platters it's that good) and if I could like a song that reflects those San Franciscan acidstoops it's gotta be good! The rot that seemed to overtake ALL musical genres had not set in with Map of the World and like, when I hear these two spinners I am reminded of the brighter side of local perhaps not-so-innovative but still way digestible rock that always seemed to get tossed to the wayside in favor of some rather dire music.

I think I gotta get hold of their Atlantic LP so's I can remember why I loathed the thing. These records are the exact kind of rock 'n roll that I was craving for back during the early days of my crudzine when I really hadda peck out and search for records that suited my own personal sense of musical aesthetics more often than not failing to find the one that hit the musical G-spot. And for being done up by young 'uns at a time when "rock" "music" was splintered into about ten different factions that all sucked well, I sure wish there was more of this and less of that goin' 'round, nomesame?


Eric Dolphy Septet with Donald Byrd-PARIS '64 CD-r burn (originally on Hi Hat Records, Cyprus)

I dunno if Dolphy ever recorded anything that wasn't worthy of one's ears, and this effort certainly ain't one to do any chain breaking. Donald Byrd (who covered a whole load of jazz territory before and after this, his best known work being that Blackbyrds fave "Walkin' in Rhythm") fits in swell even in a more avgarde setting and to be brief about it I can't find a thing on this that would prevent me from spinnin' it again. Worth anyone's while.


Anthony Braxton/Richard Teitelbaum-SILENCE/TIME ZONES CD (Black Lion Records, Germany)

Definite Cage influence on Leo Smith's "Silence" while Leroy Jenkins' "Off The Top Of My Head" continues on that late-sixties Braxton trio delve into the classical avgarde approach to the new jazz thing. Both tracks should be highly up there on your own personal free music hit parade, that is if you're the type who still has an abnormal hankerin' for this sort of sound swirl that might be old news now but does anyone with a mind really care? 

Braxton's once again teamed up with synth player and former MEV member Teitelbaum on the rest making for even more classical/jazz hybrid what with Braxton's reeds swinging around and sometimes even fighting Teitelbaum's blips and blurbs. The final track was recorded at Bearsville studios making for a connection even if it is so slight between Braxton and Todd Rundgren if you can fathom that.


Ed Sanders-SANDERS TRUCKSTOP CD-r burn (originally on Reprise Records)

Saw this 'un in plenty of used bins during the 70s/80s but shied away thinking that Sanders' backwoods radical bumpkin act would be as overpowering as it was on the Fugs' grand goodbye THE BELLE OF AVENUE A. Actually this is fair as far as for being a representation of a counterkultur icon paying tribute to the music he grew up with while putting down the redneck culture behind it, but there should have been a whole lot more Michael Hurley Americana and a whole lot less Arlo Guthrie Woodstock hippie on display. AFTERTHOUGHT: that LP closer was a fine cap on the album and almost makes up for the hippie hickdom of the rest.


HEAVY RAIN CD-r burn (originally on Guerssen Records, Spain)

Early seventies heavy rock lives on whether we want it to or not. And thankfully this particular entry into the annals of lunkdom is worth the exhumation given how it captures all of the worthy thud of the movement that evaporated once commercial music began to slicken up, heavy metal became a noun rather than a verb, and CREEM magazine was inundated with color glossy snaps of horrid hair groups who thought they were cutting edge tuffguys with their adolescent snarls. 

Like with the best of the movement, nervegrate takes precedence over fine playing (which is why the AOR FM-bred dolt kids of the late-seventies/eighties were the real descendents [no sic] of their hi-fi EZ-listening parents the way they preferred musicianship and quality over bared knuckle excitement like this), reminding me of just how bad things have slid never to return.


The Desperate Bicycles-COMPLETE ANTHOLOGY (1977-1980) CD-r burn (originally on their Refill label etc. and so forth)

DIY sure meant squat once we all realized that maybe the people who were doing it themselves weren't exactly up to the task of making music worthy of listening to. How this fits in with the Desperate Bicycles, a group who formed for the express purposes of releasing their own platters, well...

Early trackage has that basement quality punkitude that makes for a good listening experience, but that later stuff just reminds me of the loss of faith I had in a musical movement I thought would have known better than to fall into some of the stalest ruts these guys said they stood against only a few short years earlier. Remember that feeling you had about what had become of "new wave" once 1981 set in? Yeah, me too.

Anyway, if ya wannit, ya gottit!


Nervous Gender-HEPCATS FROM HELL 9/7/79 CD-r burn

Quality's definitely of the "Assembled in Mexico" variety but it only adds to the beautiful muffledness of it all. The same way that '74 cheapo press of WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT only made it sound the way it shoulda thus disturbing hi fi nuts even more than they were when the original came out. 

Does come somewhat close to various Suicidal electroterror efforts yet retains an El Lay feeling that still woulda sounded boff in the confines of seventies NYC. But it ain't NYC it's LA with all the good and bad that implied. Meltzer's interview with 'em gives some insight into the inner workings and I'm ALMOST sorry I passed on their legit platters when they came out oh so many years later. 

I'm sure it turned more'n just a few heads in the late-seventies but only a few measly years later did it matter in the least?


FULL MOON  CD-r burn (originally on Douglas Records)

I thought this was gonna be a hard-edged fusion/jazz rock effort not only due to free jazz drummer Philip Wilson's presence but because this popped up on the Douglas label, the same one that issued John McLaughlin's pre-flirty flirt albums as well as the essential WILDFLOWERS 5-LP collection of crucial beyond belief Studio Rivbea loft jazz (where Wilson not-so-surprisingly also appears). However this is a way more commercial than I would have expected outing, not without its moments but still slicked up in an El Lay cocaine and sluts all over the place fashion that tends to irritate more than inspire. For a better representation of this genre of music I'd stick with the Good God album or heck, even some of those early-seventies Zappa things that turned off fans of the original Mothers but somehow sound better'n what the guy would come up with a few measly years later.


Mark "Moogy" Klingman-MOOGY CD-r burn (originally on Capitol Records) 

Before and after his tenure with Todd Rundgren's Utopia Moogy Klingman was leading his own acts such as Moogy and the Rhythm Kings appearing at various NYC bistros trying to get a foothold into the industry. Heck, I even reviewed a Max's Kansas City appearance by his Revue featuring Andy Kauffman here even if for all practical purposes it's more of a historical artifact due to Kauffman and not Moogy. This album doesn't do Klingman much better, being in that early-seventies singer/songwriter mode that sounds even lamer today than it must have then. Sorta like Carole King if she transitioned into Billy Joel. Well, at least it reminds me of the theme to some seventies sitcom I probably got a big kick outta way back when.


Yugi Oniki-SHONEN BLUE CD-r burn (originally on Big Art Records)

I usually shy away from these newer than new (which for me is anything recorded after 1982) "updated" takes on various past accomplishments but decided to give this one a try because 1) Yugi Oniki is Japanese and they do tend to have a touch when it comes to various neo-VU sonic moves and 2) Oniki did provide the soundtrack for some Warhol mooms being shown at the University of Michigan 'r some other local school of learning which might not amount to much but the thought is nice.

Unfortunately this SHONEN BLUE effort from back '88 way takes more of its cue from Michael Stipe than it does Jamie Klimek and (as you would expect) tends to seep deep into that wall of gelatin that has effected more than just a few purveyors of the sound without the fury. Oniki should have had his head shackled to that guitar-less feedback screeching amp of Les Rallize Denudes until he learned what Velvets-infected PASSION really meant.


Don't blame me if you couldn't get hold of any of these magazines the first time around. As Lou Costello would have said, "they were there for ya!" (or did I use that 'un already? Too lazy to find out myself). But you could blame the hoity toity distributors who felt that these mags were beneath their high levels of sartorial (at least on a fanzine plateau) elegance, or you can blame it on these rags (and their editor) being so behind the times that it actually was ahead of them (only I was the only one who realized it). Then again while we're playing the blame game maybe I should also dump a load of it on all those distributors who so gladly offered to help out yet stiffed me (Nicholas from Chicago and that guy in Canada highly recommended by Bruce Mowat whose name escapes me come to mind) as well as the ones who gladly flipped me off regarding distribution over the phone in a display of snootful better-than-thouism. Then AGAIN, there were the ones who DID distribute the mag and shortchanged me (including the head of a nefarious record label who at the time was treated as a Brahmin on the "scene" even if he had to employ bodyguards when attending clubs) leading to even more heavy financial loss. So that's why you couldn't find these mags as readily as you should have and if you think I'm bitter about it all here in my advanced age well, naw not really... Still, if you think that these prices are inflated well, I gotta get back at least SOME of the moolah that I lost, right? It's either this or try gettin' 'em from your mother!

Friday, February 09, 2024


For a fellow who still prides himself on delving into cassettes at a time when 8-tracks were the prevailing form of tapeage (so proud that my very first cassette player, inoperable since 1979, sits a good one foot from where I am typing this very schpiel) a book like HIGH BIAS comes off more like a vindication of my perseverance against the raging stoner box boy mindset that surely wasn't exactly the high point of seventies teenbo culture. 

This Masters guy (who also wrote that higher than highly recommended no wave book a couple decades back) actually spent the time and exerted the energy detailing the who what when wheres etc. of the cassette, spinning yarns regarding some pretty interesting things about the impact of those little things on a whole load of musical trends, some good and others of which we couldn't care one whit about. But he did it and he did a good job at it and it's all here and it does thankfully end up as a rather hallowed tribute to a once-overlooked innovation that, even sixty years after its debut, still seems to have about as much of an impact on a whole load of things as it did 'round '80 when these things finally surpassed the 8-track as the prominent tapemode most recommended to capture the music one would want to hear on the go. Or, when combined with pharmaceuticals, that music which was blasted in public places for people who were probably more attuned to the strains of Jan Garber.

You might think that things along the lines of eighties tape trading or the whole "cassette culture" mode that seemed to make up a good portion of OP/SOUND CHOICE's reason for existence nothing but a bad eighties memory but I don't. For me the cassette meant easily obtainable rare recordings, a cheap way for an act to release their music and (best of all) a nice eff-few to the bigname record labels who were beginning to look like even bigger downright evil frauds than any of us would have believed in the first place. If the cassette had never been invented boy, the access and distribution of music to folk in the boondocks like myself would have been quite stifling different.

Yeah, I coulda used some more juicy turdbits regarding this definite step up in the evolution of man. It woulda been nice to see some snaps of those early pre-recorded musical cassettes that were up and about a good four or so years before the advent of mass tape marketing, or for that matter the evolution of blank tape packaging with all of the strange and breakable contraptions these things came in. Shucks, if I were the guy pecking out this paen to home taping I woulda devoted an entire chapter to those cheap beyond belief "assembled in Mexico" three-packs that tended to fall apart after a good two plays. Eh, you can't have everything and I should be grateful that Masters slapped the tasty morsels regarding home taping that he did into this recollection of a not-so-distant past that was the best/worst of times in ways Dickens could never have fathomed.

The enclosed tape serves as somewhat of a soundtrack for the printed page although it seems (at least to me) somewhat of an arbitrary selection of current cassette label offerings. Sure looks nice and the musical selection rather tasty at that, but I couldn't tell you what was on it. Y'see, the thing jammed.

Thursday, February 01, 2024

BOOK REVIEW! THE COMPLETE MIGHTY MITE (Gwandanaland Comics, 2019) 

The Golden Age of Comics might have unleashed a whole passel of memorable costumed crimefighters that I'm sure even the youngest comic book fans know and love eightysome years after the fact. Howevah, who out there wouldn't admit that there were quite a few turdburgers mixed in with the wowzers as even a quick perusal through many of these titles woulda let on to even the doofiest of comic fans extant. Even a dabbler in comics such as I can think of many superhero losers who shoulda been exiled to Earth XXXXX ages back given some of the "mistakes" I made at various newsstands and flea markets over the years. And with these PD reprints courtesy Gwandanaland boy are we up front and center for some real losers who mercifully have been forgotten as the years rolled on, only to be dug up and exhibited like those dead nuns that the communists in Spain oh so proudly put on display way back in the thirties.

I dunno if you'd call Mighty Mite a superhero in the strictest form, but this half-humorous (and I'm being generous!) feature made for some of the hardest comic book reading I've had to endure in ages! Lemme tell you, I've had to suffer through many a lousy comic in my rather long span of existence but this one was like the printed page version of a King Kong-sized anal probe!

Mickey Mite, while dressed as a caped crimefighter at a costume party, quite by accident stops a holdup committed by your typical forties hood types which, come to think of it, is pretty much the same origin story of Don Martin's Captain Klutz a good twentysome years later. Thus is born Mighty Mite, a hero who I don't think is gonna be up for membership in the Avengers even if he was a Marvel-Age character, which he wasn't much to Marvel's credit. Later on Mite gets some actual powers thanks to a magic ring, one that turns him into Master Mite, the character that I assume Mickey was dressed up as at the party. Even later (in perhaps in yet another origin saga) a fairy princess bestows upon Mickey the ring (talk about a twisted continuity!), only this time the brat conjures up Gazooka, a guy who looks just like Mighty Mite grown up and with a five o'clock shadow. Gazooka comes off comparatively uncouth and irritated by his lot in superherodom, and given the stories he's in its not hard to wonder why.

Add in the usual one-dimensional galpal (who changes appearances drastically throughout the "hero's" thankfully short run) and some rather doofus storylines (like the one where Mite and girlfriend fly through the air in what looks like an inflatable wading pool with two kiddie balloons attached) and you got one reason to ditch your comics and do your homework like you're supposed to! There have been many a flub and misfire when it came to comic books and the characters that some detached publisher hoped woulda captured the public's imagination, and who other'n the creators' mothers would admit that this fart on the printed page's just but one of 'em.