Saturday, April 13, 2024


I'm sure I can hear a whole lotta you regular readers out there thinking HAS IT REALLY COME TO THIS????? Is a "graphic novel" about Peter Laughner and the Cleveland "first wave" groups really necessary, can something like this really be represented honestly (and accurately) in comic book form?  And would the end results come off looking like some haughty artzy expression regarding past energies misinterpreted by a new generation of kids wallowing about in a nth generation faded version of the original thrust? 

Or has it come to the point where all of the OCD Velvet Underground fans and punk rock hunters and gatherers of the sixties and seventies have finally been vindicated after years of scorn and being misinterpreted by critics and downright dolts and ON PURPOSE at that? Maybe every suburban slob who stocked up on the high energy big beat and usually got grief for it can bask in the glory that this book has shown whose music really stood the test of time, not that standing the test of time is any testament to the ultimate worth and intensity of the sounds at hand as if anyone should even care, but after all of those years of rejection and loathing directed at folk like us maybe we can do some sneering back at our detractors and bask in some long-deserved revenge.

Hmmm, the visuals are very good, not quite underground comix-ish but extremely professional. Kinda reminds me of some newspaper sports "Believe it or Not"-styled page filler. Layouts are extremely eyeball catching and the detail and committal for exactness is also to be commended. The storytelling well --- I gotta find that I find it a whole load "splurge" for my own tastes what with author Aaron Lange gathering up all sortsa shards and storytelling that might give a good seedy background regarding the whole Northeast Ohio saga, but he does manage to work it out so that everything from Elliot Ness and Sam Sheppard to Kent State, DA Levy and Ghoulardi sorta ties in together and the results don't come off looking like some pseudointellectual garble worthy of a book report on gender fluid left-handed Hopi Indians.

The main thrust here is the Cleveland (and various surrounding environs) rock 'n roll underground of the seventies, its gestation and spawn as well. And with Peter Laughner, who you could say was the mad genius and true lover of music whose own case of "too much too soon" led to his own sad and no ways romantic demise. Lange did his homework and captured a whole load of the nerve breaking power and pure genius that came out of that time and place, keeping it all rather focused even when he knots together all sorts of loose strands to create an image of the time and aura that I will say was etapoint. Yeah, the guy leaves out quite a few large and I would think important chunks (like no mention of Brian Sands and his pioneering work with Moses/Mouse/Milk) plus his dismissal of the Raspberries will get your head scratchin', but on other points Lange sure knew what the score was regarding the massive amount of passion and devotion of the bared-wire intensity that got the Cleveland underground a world wide reputation that I know very few people in the area even knew (or cared for that matter) existed.

Thankfully those groups that were so vehemently ignored or even outright scorned during one of the more fertile time in garage band expression are once again given their fair dues. Mirrors appear briefly which I guess wouldn't please a good portion of the members given their disdain for Laughner and the whole Plaza Apartments art colony, but there's more'n you could bargain for when it comes to the Electric Eels and the truths and fabrications that even got 'em a brief if un-named mention in CREEM regarding the lawn mower incident at the Viking Saloon. Something which most likely never did transpire but well, we can pretend.

Of COURSE I love it to pieces when Lange shows up the Cleveland media and the lunkhead "rock" fans for the general dolts they were and I assume remain. Local FM giant WMMS is given its dues for their early innovation in the field of a truly free format where the new and trend breaking could get played next to the firmly entrenched, but Lange gets major kudos for telling us just how that all went down the tubes once the concept of AOR proved you can make a mint catering to a clientele that had somehow figured rock 'n roll to be an update of their parents' passion for the blander, cornier aspects of the big band era. There is an emphasis on just how bad things were for the high energy contingent in this supposed "rock city", a place where such one-dimensional "talents" as Michael Stanley and Pat Benetar were considered the epitome of musical entertainment while the real mavericks and movers hadda struggle to make the rent and pay the bills. I'm sure glad that Lange gave that entire time in rock history a nice swift kick in the balls because frankly, considering the "conspiracy of silence" that these groups suffered from, it sure needs one.

But hey, this book is mainly about Laughner, a guy who was perhaps THEE mover and shaker and town crier for the harder, more feral aspects of a music scene that got its due long after it was dead and gone. Lange must've had a whole wagonload of index cards telling everything about the man and his influence on not only the bubbling under music scene (from folkies to rockers as well as the mainstream if you can imagine), but on those he would come in contact with throughout his almost quarter century of existence. And with the ups and downs and Laughner's shedding of self-control along with his friends it does make for a harrowing read, and perhaps a warning that you know anyone who reads this will never ever heed. 

So eh, this is a good enough one to dish out the big bux for or at least beg someone to get it for you (the smart way). A graphic novel about Laughner and Cleveland might not be the epitome of some sort of much needed vindication for what happened a good half-century back but its a start and like, I for one am glad it all happened.

Thursday, April 04, 2024

So h'warya? Unless you are one of my many enemies doin' fine I hope, what with all of those siorees and lunchies with the big names that you've been invited to 'n all. Unlike most if not all of you swinging souls out there my life hasn't exactly been a-go-go 'r anything remotely exciting, mainly counting flowers on the wall, playing solitaire with a deck of 51, smoking cigarettes and watching CAPTAIN KANGAROO, but despite the lack of cotillions on my events calendar I am keeping myself happily occupied somewhat when time permits. 

But I must say there is one thing, and one thing ONLY, that keeps my spirits up these days, and that's being by myself on a nice day, y'know the kinda day yer mom said you should be outside playing 'stead of cooped up in your room, listening to music and reading old fanzines and articles pertaining to (or even pertaining not to) the music being blasted on the ol' Victrola. Really, there is nothing that gives me that old blissful feeling than to settle back with an issue of DENIM DELINQUENT (or the stacks of Nick Kent/Jonh Ingham/Giovanni Dadomo/Don Snowden/Howard Wuelfing... articles I copied offa Rock's Back Pages) while spinning an old Patti Smith bootleg or sixties punk rock sampler, osmosing all of those old feelings I had when I was much younger knowing that my purchase of a 99-cent Flamin' Groovies cutout was definitely the crowning achievement of the day if not week/month/year. 

I get a similar feeling in the evening watching old Hanna Barbera cartoons (and of course THE RIFLEMAN) thinking about the joy I had experiencing such viewing (even though I was too mindmushed to even know what was going on) back during those glorious pre-kindergarten days when life really was lived to the fullest! Yeah, once you get down to the plain ol' truth of it all I am the modern-day equivalent of that ancient relative of your youth with one foot in the grave who lived in his own world and his own past and spun 78s (or even wax cylinders for all I know!) while reminiscing about Alphonse and Gaston. 'n although you hipper 'n hip plastic jewelry and caked on makeup types might think differently, was there anything wrong with your (great-great-GREAT [and I do mean great!]) grandpa doing such things anyway considering just how out of time and out of circulation the old turd was? In some ways, I feel honored to be traipsing into their long-gone footsteps even if one of them feet is leading to the big ditch of eternity.

Okay, that's all older'n Methuselah news. I've told you all about my personal pleasures and peeves over and over ever since day uno and you're definitely bored silly about the me that nobody knows 'n all that. But I won't stop until everyone on this orb of ours knows the plain ol' truth, and not only that but joins me in my rather simple pleasures at that 'stead of acting all so high minded and moralistic (in the worst connotation of that term) like you always seem to do! Rock 'n roll, NANCY and black and white tee-vee versus anal sex and violent protests--- the choice is up to YOU!


The definite highlight of the past umpteen weeks has hadda've been the arrival of a 1974 vintage issue of CREEM not only into my abode, but into my heart as well (ooh!). Anyone who has read this blog knows just how sick and sorry most if not all writing about rock 'n roll (or even rock singular) has become these past fortysome years (well, it matches most if not all of the rock 'n roll music that has come out during that span of time), so me latching onto an old copy of this hallowed publication that I've never laid eyes upon certainly is a momentous occasion. An event good enough to wash away all of the horrid music "criticism" that has graced my eyeballs ever since the deep six of such good/evil icons as Lester Bangs and the arrival of the cut 'n paste that was nothing but some goon kid playing patty cake with the record labels in order to get in on the gravy train. And if you think I'm jealous that I never was successful with such a ruse're right.

This January '74 ish is a winner too, one that's given me more'n a few excuses to head for the toilet and a better one than had I chug-a-lug'd a bottle of prune juice to get the ol' system rollin'. While ROLLING STONE was exploiting the worst aspects of Baby Doomer kultur make the world safe for James Taylor and his first family of rock consciousness, CREEM grabbed the beautiful consumerist/hedonistic side of Amerigan teenboisms by the spine eschewing alla that BLESS THE BEASTS AND CHILDREN offal that was so prevalent that even the teachers used to shove it down our throats! 'n yeah, although I've told you the exact same thing regarding the essence of "cool" (Iggy, early Alice, VU...) versus "stool" (James, Joan, Melanie...) throughout my entire "career" well, I won't stop until everyone reading this GETS THE MESSAGE just as to why I absolutely loathe the entire concept of that ball-less brotherhood I hadda endure during my shoulda been mis-spent youth! Judging from the doofs who leave comments or get in touch "personally", that will definitely be until my dying day.

Cover spot's got that old child pornography-lovin' has-been Pete Townsend doing one of those leaps I'll bet he can't' do no mo', complete with an article by none other'n Charles Shaar Murray which undoubtedly was some abridged NME piece but that's fine enough by me. And if you're a fan of the likes of Murray and the other seventies heavy duty ROCK 'N ROLL FANS MAKING THEIR PASSIONS FOR THE MUSIC KNOWN VIA THE PAGES OF VARIOUS PUBLICATIONS you should love this ish as well what with a great Tee-Vee column from R. Meltzer that'll get you laughing way more'n the time you watched that SALO/ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE SS double feature, to CREEM star Bangs more/less extrapolating on that hamburger chain rundown that he did for TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE! Of course it was all laid out for you with such a fervor that you could just see 'n hear alla them self-conscious world saving yammering Student Council type of kids you went to stool with all aghast and indignant that precious pulp was "wasted" on articles such as this while there were all those grape pickers, sharecroppers and homos to worry about, to which I say "GOODY FOR YOU!!!!!"  C'n you all act a li'l normal and leave me be for once and let me enjoy myself???

Bangs does put in more of his share what with some pretty good winners such as a double review of Hawkwind's SPACE RITUAL and Amon Duul II's LIVE IN LONDON (his writeup of Bowie's PIN UPS, which even he recognizes as England's answer to NUGGETS, or something along those line, is a winner as well). The guy even wrote a buncha book reviews including one of Duke Ellington's autobiography and blesses us with a piece on Savoy Brown (who never really flibbened my jib), and need I tell you that the aforementioned burger rundown actually had me running to the freezer to pull out at least a dozen White Castle "sliders" as they now call 'em? Rock history abounds here what with a piece on an up 'n coming Elliot Murphy not to mention the latest on the Iggy/Elton friendship complete with a snap that looks as if it was taken in the corner of the upstairs at Max's Kansas City.

And of course the usual CREEM names pop up like Billy Altman and Jaan Uhelzski, the latter with a review of Cher's HALF BREED which definitely ranks as one of the laff riots of the season (the review as well as the album I s'pose --- another obviously beyond belief joke but fitting for the hackneyed reputation of this blog).

Lemme tell ya --- after fifty years these old issues of CREEM sure do hold up swell, a whole lot more'n anything I've seen pro-wise either in print or in pixel for quite a long time. More proof to the plain ol' truth as to what I've said for ages, that we sure have devolved from being futuristic, level-headed and fun-lovin' people (the kind who were around when I was but a mere sprout) to high minded moralists (in the worst possible connotation of the term) who are nothing more than the dictatorship of the sexual pervo nutjobs who mighta seemed funny enough back then but nowadays make those 1930 communist shock troops look like a buncha boy scouts combing the streets looking for old pop bottles!


BLOG TO COMM DRINK OF THE POST! It's a milkshake, only the kind that they sell in New England or else it would be a frappe! Get some milk (I use skim because I don't want to pack on even more pounds than I already have on my living corpse), put it in a blender, add sweetener (sugar or sucralose which I use because ditto) and some vanilla (I use the imitation cheap stuff because it tastes better!). Maybe even something that's 100 proof if you want to make it of the Korova variety, then let it go! It'll turn out all foamy and frothy and alla that fun stuff, and it's a real joy lettin' it all go down the gullet! Kinda like an eggnog without the raw egg that we were once allowed to consume until the goody two shoe health nuts told us nay! Lotsa sweetener really adds to the overall tastebud explosion and like, if you like milkshakes and have no ice cream on hand now you know what to do! Any place can be a soda fountain now, and with Great Shakes long gone this will make for a fine substitute.


Somebody get me a copy of this for my birthday. Or just get me a copy even if it ain't my b-day, I don't care!


I'm surprised at myself for actually buying the first two albums up for review only a measly three or four weeks ago. Trying to keep my purse strings tight sure is difficult when something of interest (let alone worth) does hit the boards, and although I actually think I could have done without the Harrison and Raiders albums reviewed below low sales resistance me just couldn't pass 'em up. Talk about a linguine spine! Anyway the other items under scrutiny (and man, are there a TON of 'em!) were burned for me by Robert Forward (special thanks for the Laughner one!) and Paul McGarry, two people who I get the feeling like this blog for some strange reason (Lord knows why). And I do feel bad for them...I mean, to be associated with me even in the slightest has been utter poison for years!

George Harrison-WONDERWALL MUSIC LP (Apple Records)

Prior to snatching this 'un up I've only heard that "alternative" version of WONDERWALL, the review of which can be found here. I kinda like the idea that I finally have this platter in my possession because well, I used to see this in the bins as a kid and it (like the Lennon/Ono effort LIFE WITH THE LIONS) looked so interesting. Nowhere as fun as ELECTRONIC SOUND but worth at least a wee bit of scrutiny. Funny, I said that the alternative take wasn't enough to get me to wanna dish out the beaucoup for a flesh-and-blood copy but here I go doing just that at least as far as this album went!


Paul Revere and the Raiders-IN THE BEGINNING LP (Jerden Records)

Haw! This is the Raiders' Sande LP that got reissued with an updated cover (which, given the presence of Phil Volk's Vox bass guitar, hints at the then-current chart-topping lineup!) in order to capitalize on the group's newly found fame. Not only that but it was reissued by the same label that gave us the final Sonics LP which gives the thing some added coolness in my book! I think this is supposed to be a live 'un and it does have that roller rink-y sound but anyway, IN THE BEGINNING really captures the spirit of the pre-Beatles local group ethos what with the rather kinetic performance as well as the emphasis on trashy GOLDEN GOODIES VOLUME 13-styled instrumental workouts. All covers (I think) too. If you didn't get the Sande reissue that came out in the early eighties this just might be somewhat easier to get your mitts on. Check your local specialty record shop, and don't balk at the price even tho I got mine relatively cheap.



Dunno if "7/12/67" means July 12th or December 7th like they do it in Europe. But whatever the date this aired here's yet another John Peel aircheck from the days when he was doing the kind of freeform Pirate Radio that a whole load of broadcasters shoulda taken their cues from but eschewed in favor of album oriented prim and properness.

Peel's program is undoubtedly very similar to just what most if not all of the early freeform FM programming cornucopia was most definitely like. Lotsa good music that was up and coming during the late-sixties is played and you ('stead of some asshole radio programmer) were the judge. And with the likes of the Velvet Underground, Beatles (semi-yeesh!), Donovan (yeesh!), Jefferson Airplane (yeesh as well) and Jeff Beck (no yeesh, maybe) 'mongst others to choose from you get a way more exciting slice of what a truly wide open radio format focusing on a wide spectrum of brilliant and doofsville music shoulda been!

Really surprising's the ad for Vitalis which sounds so strange for being a late-fifties styled commercial airing on a hip late-sixties radio show! Really, do you think anybody listening to this station had a need for it? Given the proliferation of aged baldies like myself I doubt there's even a market for it anymore!


Can-LIVE IN PARIS 1973 2 CD-r burn (get it here)

Fresh off the web's this nifty download featuring those krautrock greats during one of the many highs in their career of ups, ups, even more ups then a jump off the cliff low they ended their long run on. This particular show ain't exactly one of the group's better live recordings but the thing sure does bop on the EGE BAMYASI grooves that were causing somewhat of a ruckus at least in hipper'n here Europe. Nice enough rendition of "One More Saturday Night" which ain't as good as the LP but better'n nada. Fantastic sound quality, if you're the kind of Hi-Fi nut who goes for such things even at the cost of the the feral nature at hand. Good job in all, but when is someone gonna release some Malcolm Mooney-era screech for our begging ears?


Dr. Feelgood/Downliners Sect-PEEL SESSIONS CD-r burn

I think the Feelgood tracks were already released back when alla those Peel 12-inchers were comin' out a good fortysome years back but whaddeva, it's good having 'em collected in one place without hearing those snips of Peel intros intrudin' on the thing. It's Feelgood and you already know what it sounds like so for the sake of space I'll refrain. Highlights include a bloozed up version of the Strangeloves punker "Night Time" which, as you'd guess, makes George Thorogood's missing on all points version sound like the theme to CHILDREN'S TEA PARTY TIME.

It's nice that the Downliners Sect were bestowed with a slot on Peel as well considering just what a lousy rap these guys got for years on end. By '77 it seemed that the world finally caught up with them and these tracks have all of the same sorta pounce and energy as the Feelgoods and the rest of those blue wave outfits that made the white English r/b of the past refreshing once again. Not only that, but these guys are still at it after over sixty years which I gotta say is a big feather in their deerstalker caps, don'tcha agree???!!!


Glenn Branca-PRIMAVERA SOUND 2011 WFMU CD-r burn

Mixed feeling regarding these classically-inclined people who used rock 'n roll as a foothold into the world of beret and stale doritos aht-ziness. I mean, once you think about all of those art rock types who seemed so dead set on giving us the big beat yet ended up well ensconced in the definitely anti-rock world of chic cosmo upnosieness you do get the feeling that you've been HAD. Still these Branca recordings got that hard-edged repeato-riff drive that even lunkheads like myself can appreciate on a non snoot level. Grating sheets of sound coming off like one of those subsets of heavy metal that developed o'er the years --- y'know, the kind of metallic K.O. that had them hair band lunkheads of the eighties running home to their mamas crying once they lent ear to that maddening sound. Just don't take it too seriously lest you go searching for a cigarette holder to brandish about.


MARY JANE/THE HELLCATS original soundtracks slapped onto one disque by Robert Forward (MARY JANE originally on Tower Records, THE HELLCATS originally on Capitol/Sidewalk Records)

I do appreciate Mr. Forward sending a burn of this my way. Y'see, I never did get the chance to see MARY JANE when it was on tee-vee. T'was being aired locally on (I believe) a Sunday evening during the summer of (again, I believe) 1976 and that very day the entire fambly had to partake in an outdoor flea market/antiques show, the kind where you get up at five in the morning and are on the go until you get home fourteen hours later. Well, I sure wanted to see MARY JANE and remember telling everyone to hurry up so's we could get home in time (just like I did one Saturday afternoon when RIOT ON SUNSET STRIP was on!)...well, despite my pleas of asking dad to break the speed limit we got back about halfway through the film. Too bad we hadda unload the station wagon and all before I could settle down to watch the thing, which I couldn't due to all of the work that was still in store lugging boxes and whatnot down to the basement. I had the tee-vee on while scooting things about, but all I remember catching of the film was the line where someone mentions about the hashish making some soaked soul feel warmer! Sad to say I never got another chance to see MARY JANE so I am grateful to Mr. F for at least airmailing the soundtrack to these parts.

Never got to lay eyes upon THE HELLCATS either but then again it ain't like it was on tee-vee on a day I had to be at a flea market. The soundtrack with them typically American International pop sounds was probably better than the actual film, but then again what the people on IMDB said about THE HELLCATS I'm sure that the home movies rotting away in your attic were better viewing fare.


Various Artists-MUSIC FROM THE SOUNDTRACK EASY RIDER CD-r burn (originally on ABC/Dunhill Records)

Speaking of sixties youth market soundtrack albums, I've heard that this was perhaps the best of 'em to have ever wiggled its way into your bell bottoms and roach clip big brother's record collection. Dunno if that's true since I also heard the same thing about CANDY but still, if you liked the moom pitcher you might just like this 'un. Given that I only saw EASY RIDER onna late show and thought it was merely okay (at least that ending with those two guys in the pickup was a great piece of cinematic flash) maybe this mix of countrified youth kultur mewls and psychedelic leftovers doesn't quite gel. The good stuff (Steppenwolf, Holy Modal Rounders...) you've heard elsewhere, while the hippie druggo sounds just go right through my system into the toilet bowl of my psyche. Still wanna hear the Fraternity of Man platter though if only for their version of the Mothers' "Oh No" (in case ya didn't know but Elliot Ingber, the guitarist on FREAK OUT who Zappa fired for being a better player, was in the group a few years before his stint with the Captain, Beefheart that is).


Gordon Jackson-LOOKING BACK CD-r burn (originally on Sunbeam Records)

Never having been a Traffic fan the fact that this album is practically saturated with that group's signature style or whatever it's called had little if any appeal. Thus the overt progginess of LOOKING BACK doesn't exactly endear itself to anything in my musical makeup that I'd care to dwell upon. I was expecting a Tim Buckley-esque smart folky singer-songwriter bent but I guess that's out of the question with this slicked up chick backup vocalist and cleencut sound that just seemed like another forty-plus minutes of my life taken up with air ne'er to return.


Mandra Gora Lightshow Society-BEYOND THE MUSHROAM (sic?) GATE CD-r burn (originally on Liquid Sound Records)

I know, haven't we had enough English psychedelic upheaval groups these last fortysome years? Well, one more won't hurt and these Mandra Gora guys do a pretty fair job recreating the sixties mystique for people who probably couldn't care less about it. It has some of the Hawkwind style with loads of late-sixties Pink Floyd (there's a horrible cover of "Point Me at the Sky" ----eh!) and Doors organ mixed in with what sounds like a more sophisticated 1967 UFO/Middle Earth-styled elven bop. Might be somewhat proggo and/or boring in spots for you and I do understand.


NATIONAL STEAM CD-r burn (originally on Eternity's Feet Records)

Electronic music from the late-nineties that reminds me a whole lot of the Stardrive (featuring Robert Mason) albums. That is, seventies-styled syntho quasi-rock (with some sidesteps into white funk) that actually sounds good to me if only because it reminds me of all the fun I had watching mid-seventies television what with all that synthomusic being used to push everything from Drano to the late movie. Some krauty ambience effects a la Cluster add to an entertaining get down that'll remind you of some of the more innovative moments of seventies experimentation. Then again the more, er, overwrought moments might just make you grab the syrup of swill and thus I wouldn't trade my entire booty of PEBBLES and BOULDERS albums for it. And neither would you.



Don't look for this anywhere but here. Gendron once again provides us with some of the oozy laid back folk strums that made the other two or three (lost count) efforts of hers a surprise spin for even a guy who hates them creeps with their protest signs and peace cymbals 'n all. Intelligent enough acoustic odes to a strange dampered (just made that word up, neet eh?) world that I don't think woulda gotten this gal any guest spot on HOOTENANNY had she been 'round a good sixty years back. Even Judy Collins during a "heavy" Midol day couldn't compete with the dark yet dainty paens of Gendron!


Troposphere 7-TO KEYI TOKO ZONGA LP (Feeding Tube Records)

Last minute addition's this new effort from the always keeps you on your toes Feeding Tube record label. And like most of the others, this is one that's bound to surprise you/make you reconsider your past musical prejudices/send waves of revulsion down your inner being (if you're a cube that is) given the sheer beyond the realm of your consciousness sonics encountered therein. It starts off sounding something like kinetic Afro/electronic world music before heading into new age a-go-go territory before some repeato riff sounds charge in backing ancient tribal rituals. Even borders late-seventies krautrock unto early-eighties electronic dance territory if that's your swing of things. Nothing that I would call nerve-end fraying or life-reaffirming for that matter, but a good enough effort that'll sate those of you few smart types reading this looking for an even newer aural excursion.


When I conceived BLACK TO COMM I envisioned a magazine that one would be proud to read on the toilet. Many years later I feel that it not only lived up to my expectations but it perhaps even exceeded my initial goals --- yes, BLACK TO COMM  is a mag you would be proud to read even at a public urinal, especially a trough one! Get yourself a copy or ten and, shall I say. be sure your hand is firm and your aim is steady!