Saturday, May 19, 2018

All excited over the royal wedding? Say "YO!" if yer as bored as me*. Otherwise, I've been trying to ignore the nuptuals and other sundries by doing things of a decidedly non-royal nature such as watching a whole lotta FETV (now showing TWO hours of PETER GUNN on Saturday and Sunday nights not to mention ROY ROGERS, THE LONE RANGER and----HAZEL??????? [hokay, that ain't a hot 'un by any stretch of the imagination but I sure wanna see their anti rock 'n roll episode!]), not to mention gabbing a whole lot on the telephone with my Close Personal Friend Don Fellman! Man, you haven't LIVED if you ain't heard Don do his impression of Howdy Doody singing not only John Lennon's "Mother" complete with the primal scream but (now get this!) Lennon's "God" with relevant to Doodyville lyrics ("I don't believe in Buffalo Bob---I don't believe in Clarabell---I don't believe in Chief Thunderthud---I don't believe in Dilly Dally---I don't believe in Princess Summerfall Winterspring---I don't believe in Wonder Bread''...). As Eddie Haskell would have said, that's really hilarious, mister!
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I like dreams that not only reflect my own rock et roll outlook on life, but ones which sorta churn up old feelygoods of the past that I haven't experienced in ages. Like take this one I had a week or so back where I am invited to what seems like a fambly-type get together at some old Eyetalian lady's place in Farrell PA, just south of here. For some reason I decide to take along some records including the Seeds' BAD PART OF TOWN collection on Eva to liven things up. Anyway, the party is being held in a nice little ranch house in a nice suburban slob section of the city and lo and behold, when I get into the basement the rec room there looks a whole lot like what my own fambly's did way back when, including the EXACT SAME STEREO SYSTEM (looking immaculate!) that we used to play those 99-cent cheapo Mary Poppins knockoffs on when I was a mere tot.

Anyhoo I put the Seeds platter on and waddaya know, but the music on it is not from the BAD PART OF TOWN album but "Up In Her Room" from WEB OF SOUND! I am grooving on the repeato riff wonder of that thing when I wonder where everyone is at...some young gals, one with long blond slightly wavy hair wearing a summer type dress is there, are talking but totally ambivalent to the music at hand. Oh well, it did seem like the perfect party song for the occasion.
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Another fun filled review section ya bet. Thanks to Bill Shute, P. D. Fadensonnen, Mental Experience and Paul McGarry for the freebees which as you know really do keep the costs way down and gives me more moolah in my pockets for those Vietnamese take outs from Mogobo that I sure desire! Hope you learn something from these writeups, but given how you still haven't picked up on Umela Hmota yet A sincerely doubt that you will.


A TALE OF TWO HITTIES

Now that I got one of those bad puns only I like outta the way I must admit that yes, I made a boo-boo like I never made a boo-boo before. After being entranced and aroused by the review of the Yardbirds' new and totally legitimate (re)issue of the live at the Anderson Theater album that popped up in the latest issue of UGLY THINGS, I finally decided to get off my pitted duff and purchase a copy for myself to hear the stark beauty and total eruption that was to have transpired between those grooves or whatever they're called on Cee-Dees. But sheeeee-ucks, what did appear in my mail box but yet another reissue of the old Epic Records LIVE YARDBIRDS (featuring Jimmy Page) effort, complete with the overdubs and phasing, that caused so much strife within the occult soul of Jimmy Page to the point where each and every reissue of this gig (some done with the blessings of the surviving 'birds as well as Keith Relf's very own widow) were unceremoniously shot down.

To rectify the situation I bought the legit "Jimmy Page Music" edition that was touted in UT and thought hey, why not do a side-by-side or at least up-on-down review of BOTH efforts and compare the things not only because it would justify my buying two editions of essentially the same album but hey, I gotta fill these posts up and with something other'n decidedly touchy subject matter that always gets you "more enlightened" readers all in a jumble.

So yeah, here be my opines regarding both the original (more or less) and the new and improved version, and frankly I couldn't think of a better task of writing these records up. Yeah, I am not quite whatcha'd call a Yardbirds enthusiast the way that Bill Shute is, but danged if I don't think that these guys could have evolved into a total eruption late-sixties punk rock entity if they had only stuck it out and recorded albums that reflected the new tone of bared wire intensity that was beginning to grasp at the nodes of teenage Ameriga (and elsewhere) around this time. The LITTLE GAMES platter didn't quite show it but a listen to a downright classic such as LAST RAVE UP IN LA will prove that the Yardbirds were definitely heading for a total energy-drenched style and vision that would have equaled the total eruption path that was beginning to sprout at the exact same time of the group's cave in. Only Woodstock Nation hadda come about and ruin everything.


The Epic platter (here in its "Lost Diamonds" entity) does have what I would call a rather tinny bootleg sound but it still fills whatever satiation the standard loud rock fan of the day needed in his musical diet. The performance is excellent (even Relf sounds relaxed and sincere with his between song raps) and the entire gig drives on with a passion that might have even frightened the MC5. The post-production funzies don't bug me and although the dubbed in audience cheers may be a tad overbearing they do add a cheap charm. I mean, if the Stooges weren't on Elektra and instead ended up on some more bargain basement label and released a live album in 1971 I sure would have expected additional audience sound "enhancement" much in the manner of THE SEEDS RAW AND ALIVE. And it would have worked just as swell!

Of course I can hear just why the Yardbirds nixed this for release and why Page put an end to its brief 1971 appearance. Well, at least it gave us a good 1976 bargain bin classic to contend with, and it sure did fill the bill for most under-the-counterculture types out there (those more of the DENIM DELINQUENT/FLASH/BACKDOOR MAN style of rock appreciation) who could get a buzz not only on the primitive sound and performance but Lenny Kaye's always welcome liner notes. What else could a penny-pinching depression-era wages kid want in his cut out rack anyway?

Well years later these same kids now have fairly good jobs and don't have to think twice about picking up items such as these, and since good things always come to those who wait what else has popped up but the new Jimmy Page version of this legendary set! Well, not quite thee set but close enough. Heavily edited but it sure sounds great as it approaches a typically late-sixties punk rock apex and comes off almost as AN ENTIRELY NEW ALBUM without the dubbed in roars and Relf's between song patter. But even in its crystalline state this show proceeds to perform miracles...after all it sure turned my cheap bedside boombox into an expensive stereo set! Straight ahead and to the point with the high class sound actually giving a different dimension to the familiar rumblings that are to be heard and if a stridently anti-clarity Luddite such as myself can be charmed by this, who knows what it could do to YOU!

True I really like the buzz of the original, but somehow this pristine version strikes me in a just as weird a rock time traipse as WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT or FUNHOUSE did, as a music that was saying goodbye to a well-worn previous sense of existence while charging straight into unexplored terrain. The additional disque featuring "studio sketches" adds to this undeniable mystique, with tracks such as "Avron Knows" and the future "Tangerine" ("Knowing That I'm Losing You") sounding so good that you wish they woulda popped up on that LITTLE GAMES album if only to beef it up a li'l.    

For pure cheapness as the ultimate bargain get hold of the original. Those yearning for an added dimension into a common mid-seventies bargain bin stuffer try YARDBIRDS '68. Of course us longtime old fogey fans and sixties rah-rah-ers for the more addled portion of that decade will just have to get BOTH so like, save that lunch money and remember that when you're ready to sell plasma, the plasma's ready for YOU, or something like that.
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The Pagans-WHAT'S THIS SHIT? 1977/1979 LP (Thermiotic Records)

Great package (a riff on the old Punk Vault series) and great music from the still dreaded this late in the rock 'n roll game Pagans. Side one's the band live at the Drome back during the Detroit Avenue days when that shop used to have in-store gigs in order to break up the afternoon monotony. Recorded by Paul Marotta and Jamie Klimek the quality is rough and tumble but fits the over-the-board performance just fine. (Hey Paul, have you found any of those Bernie and the Invisibles and Harlan and the Whips tapes that are supposedly wallowing around in your collection?) Flip it over and ya get THREE count 'em versions of the infamous "Six and Change" session, two outtakes and the one that eventually came out and went fast back '77 way. Sheesh what a top notch deal...kinda makes me wish that this got released around the time when I coulda gotten them joy thrills picking up a copy that I could not clearly afford at the Drome myself...
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The Dead Boys-STILL SNOTTY---YOUNG, LOUD AND SNOTTY AT 40 CD-r burn (originally on Plowboy Records)

I guess if Elliott Murphy could remake AQUASHOW all them years later the Dead Boys, or at least what's left of 'em, could do YOUNG, LOUD AND SNOTTY a good four decades after the fact. The Stiv replacement sounds Bators-ish enough and the playing is pretty much the same as the original (tho I haven't had the opportunity to do any side-by-side comparisons), but unfortunately it isn't the same real deal. However, as far as conjuring up old memories of a past I sure wish I would have lived instead of the one that I did, this does work swimmingly well.
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MOUVEMENTS CD (Mental Experience Records Spain, available via Guerssen Records)

This reissue of an extremely limited (150 copies) Swiss freak jazz platter should please many of you European music fans who like the way various Amerigan ideals in the realm of the new sounds were translated into Continental. At times this comes off like some bizarroid outtake from one of those Frank Zappa fusion effort albums, but at others it pretty much tramples over you in ways that only these spaced o-mind Euro types can do. Contains some pretty scronky  violin playing that reminds me of a cross twixt Leroy Jenkins and Sugar Cane Harris...here's one for whatever Mother People types may still be around since them days of Bizarre Records!
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TEMPLE LP (Mental Experience Records Spain, available via Guressen Records)

This thing starts off not unlike one of your typical mid-seventies import bin offerings what with the wash of Moog and Mellotron reminding me of that Omega album on Passport of all things (which would figure considering how this was also recorded at Dieter Dierks' studio), but unlike a good portion of the Euro proggy types the platter gets better as it progresses. By the end it even turns into a pretty ear-groping hard rock effort that recalls such classics as My Solid Ground. Although TEMPLE ain't as punk rock-y as that effort it does make a good enough try and might actually be worth parting with your precious pennies for, that is if you're the kind of guy who wants to listen to an album that starts off in a particularly progressive manner and ends up with some fairly decent Germanic hard rock.
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Razorlegs-DIAMOND DUST EP cassette (get it here)

Here be a good one to bust me outta my mid-spring ennui. Beautiful short bursts of atonal blunderbuss music with heavy tubbed up drumming accompanying beautiful non-melodic (at times, OK?) screech created not only by "Amphetamericanpsycho Guitar" but synth and stylophone! Andrew Hurst gets mucho BTC no-prizes for playing some of the best heavy thunk since a) Maureen Tucker b) Twink c) you washing machine on spin with an uneven load while P. D. Fadensonnen conjures up more fave under-the-underground moments than your mind can remember (really!). Free your ear canals and your psyche will follow.
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Laser Pace-GRANFALLOON LP (Feeding Tube Records)

Never knew that the serious folkdom freaks at Takoma Records issued anything outside of the usual Faheyisms we'd all expect, but lo and behold there was a platter of a definitely non-acoustic nature released by 'em. The group was Laser Pace, the title GRANFALLOON (and if they copped that one directly from the once-well known fanzine 'stead of Vonnegut I'll be stymied!) and the year was 1974, a particularly good time for these electronic fusion-y kinda things to come out inna first place. It's a halfway decent thing too, with these weird female vocals that sorta remind me of Anisette with a clogged up nose to some interesting synth squall neo-jazz that for once doesn't sound like Return to Forever filtered through John McLaughlin's bunghole. Might make a good flea market find for you in five or so years.
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MOLOCH CD-r burn (originally on Fallout Records)

Gotta admit that I was under the impression that Moloch were some sorta mid-South Stooges types drenched in backwater blooze, or at least that's what I thought after reading a few mentions of these guys here/there. As you'd guess my preconceived notions were off the mark. MOLOCH is mid-South backwater blooze for sure, but the primal surge of the Stooges are nowhere to be found on this effort which I kinda find interesting on one hand, though on the other it doesn't pop any proverbial cherries into realms of high energy screech more attuned to my own listening parameters. Might yours tho.
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Various Artists-WALNUT COME-ON HANGIN' ON CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

And in closing, here's a Bill Shute burn which strangely enough not only features a number of Billy Joe "Down in the Boondocks" Royal tracks but OMITS Jurica Feli's "Walnut Roots" which is strange because the title of this disque clearly mentions this particular track! Come to think of it Royal's "I've Got to be Somebody" ain't here either...guess Bill needed more room to put those old Domino's Pizza commercials on and SOMETHING needed to be axed! Still a good selection of funzies what with one of those cornballus but fine country twangers that went nowhere as well as a soul number from a Bonnie & Sheila entitled "You Keep Me Hangin' On" which surprises of surprises ain't the Supremes hit, and a Jimmy McGriff rendition of the old Al Green hit "Let's Stick Together". Nice cover too, but would you buy a used Rambler from that man???
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Once again, a gentle reminder to you readers that by-now ANCIENT issues of BLACK TO COMM, the fanzine which spawned all of this internet dribble which you are now reading, are still available and at prices which (at times) are way lower'n what you might have to pay whenever these things pop up on ebay. If you like, click on the above link and let your imagination feast upon what thrills will be awaiting you once you lay your hands on these legendary reads. If you like, ignore the whole thing...I mean, what else is new?

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*I don't give it much time tho, especially after she finds out he farts in bed.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

BOOK REVIEW! A HISTORY OF UNDERGROUND COMICS BY MARK JAMES ESTREN (Straight Arrow Books, 1974)

I gotta admit it and you gotta 'fess up to the fact as well...no bout a doubt it underground comix are way passe. Not that they weren't by the time this book was unleashed on the hipper-de-la-decadent youth of the mid-seventies, but you can't deny that the whole dad-blamed movement is more or less past its shelf life, and by a good fortysome years at that. No longer durty smut, these comix are most definitely HIGH ART what with original examples going for the usual extraterrestrial prices while the likes of Kim Deitch and Bill Griffith well ensconced in the legit everyday world (and have being do since the late-seventies at least) to the point where they're every bit as part of the Establishment of Today as Ernie Bushmiller was in his own respective time.

But then again what would you expect now that the new humor, once daring and always trying to push boundaries more and more until it became looser than Matthew Sheppard's sphincter, is these days nothing but pious preachiness that can even make the once loathed Al Capp look positively fresh in comparison? All of the aspects of what used to be cutting edge comedy have all but withered into nada now that the entire genre of what was supposed to make us all guffaw and chortle has turned into ONE BIG SCOLD.

And as far as being scolded like that mean principal goes, it sure is enough to make your manhood rush right back up into the ribcage. Let's face it, the enlightened ex-sixties radical humor has HAD IT...if I wanna read something tasteless yet edgy enough to make me laugh in a sick way these days its' either those (by now old I'll admit) A. Wyatt Mann cartoons that always seem to pop up in search engines even when I'm not looking for them, or better yet those Tyrone Rage ones I wrote up last fall featuring this black guy who gets into a variety of tacky and tasteless endeavors which reflect (usually for the worst) the inner city experience that most would not like to talk about. Y'know those memes that always end with Our Hero giving off a loud "sheeeeeee-it" as the ultimate punchline. They may not all be high-larious, but they do make me do a li'l chortling and I certainly do want to read more.

But yeah, weren't these original underground comix unique 'n original 'n whatever off the top of my shiny head superlatives even an old turd such as I could think up? Sons of the fifties satire splurge, these books were just as much a part of the whole laff parade zeitgeist as Ernie Kovacs or THE BULLWINKLE SHOW only revved up a few notches because hey, there weren't any teachers or parents looking over any shoulders giving out a little more editorial control than needed. Of course these were a reflection of the time what with all of the turmoil and unrest and all those things aging radicals continue to speak about in reverent tones, but best of all these comix were jammed with HOT FLASH THRILLS and OVERBEARING BAD TASTE!  That's the only reason one's gotta look into these comix and one good reason you should try to locate this hoary old tome on a subject which I guess might just fit in, however loosely, to the whole BLOG TO COMM ideal as much as the Pink Fairies and Can album of the same strata do, not to mention Tootsie Pop Drops.

Well, I gotta say that the writing here wasn't bad at all, especially since I was thinkin' the worst after reading a variety of reviews (most notably Ed Ward in CREEM) which lambasted this comix rundown for comin' off as little more'n the college dissertation beefed up for publication that well, it most certainly was. But the story is clear and concise, lacking a good hunk of the revolutionary right ons and stick it to the mans that had overcome a good portion of the underground press for the prior five or so years before this tome was released. Naturally given the entire, uh "subject matter" the whole off the pig revolutionary spirit can easily be discerned, but it sure as shit smells ain't wrapped up in that troubled sensitive teenage glop that made those Billy Jack movies the relevancy touchstone of the seventies! (Not that an occasional nerve-shredding moment of "moralistic" goo makes its presence known, but thankfully the feeling gets washed away with an appearance of some less culturally significant blood and s-x...hey, we ain't talkin' 'bout no WAR IS NOT GOOD FOR CHILDREN AND OTHER LIVING THINGS poster here!)

Actually this Estren guy did a pretty neat job detailing the history and development of the underground, beginning with the natural origins and working his way up to the then-present which might have been the best jumping off place for this book. Especially when you consider just how COMMERCIALIZED that the undergrounds had already become by this time what with legit paperback reprints and wide exposure in a variety of hipper-than-hip newsstand rags that most certainly weren't being sold under the counter at bars like in the old days! And if a beneath-the-underkid overweight pimplefarm of a suburban slob such as myself knew about these things, then man they were ANYTHING but "underground" and in fact shoulda been sold at the A&P right next to the tomatoes if you ask me!

But back to the story at hand...Estren should be commended 'stead of vilified not only with his dissection of the whole underground phenomenon but for detailing its whys and wherefores. As usual one's gotta disagree with various points and conclusions but so wha', 'long as you can get your fill of DEFINITELY UN-REDEEMING SOCIAL VALUE outta what pops up here.

And plenty does, not only regarding the big names inna biz but those guys who just happen to be my personal faves like Jay Kinney and Bill Griffith even despite their occasional lapses into whatcha'd call the standard New Youth Movement mindset. At least they, like the rest of the underground cache, knew enough to even ridicule the very same self-important, mirror-gazing, save the world people who bought these rags in the first place, and in my own opinion these aspects of underground comix are what makes 'em sooooo good in the first place!

Nice selection of reprints and examples here. The EC stuff looks horrid but given how hard these were to find back then I guess we hadda be happy with what we got, while the plethora of panels and such really gives one an idea that these things were a whole lot more'n just the usual head fodder. Bizarrely enough, there ain't any complete underground saga reprints here but you can get a pretty good whiff of just what the whole genre was about but what is shown. And to switch gears every so slightly, I'm sure glad that a good portion of what has been presented stands in contrast to the whole good vibe-y down on the farm vision one has of the youth kultur of the day (as if the likes of S. Clay Wilson or Spain---even ol' R. Crumb himself ever did represent the pacifist and downright chicken-out aspects of Woodstock Generation).

Yep, the "kind men like" comics, the early satire fanzines, MAD and EC, even KRAZY KAT all pop up in the mix and mooshed all together ya gotta admit that it all made sense like you thought it would. Not bad really...wonder why this got such a bad rap upon release anyway?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! THE LOVE-INS (1967) STARRING RICHARD TODD AND THE CHOCOLATE WATCHBAND!


If this film is known at all nowadays, it’s because of the brief appearance of The Chocolate Watchband (they also appeared in another Sam Katzman-produced psych-sploitation film from 1967, RIOT ON SUNSET STRIP, which would make the perfect double-feature partner with THE LOVE-INS), who certainly look and sound great here. I remember seeing this for the first-time in the middle of the night on some local TV station back in perhaps the early 80’s. I may have been coming in late from my job at a restaurant/bar in Stillwater, OK. They had a policy where employees could get two drinks after their shift (can you imagine anyone having a policy like that today!), and I always took a double-scotch with a splash of soda and a twist of lime on the rocks. I’d pound that down at maybe 1:30 or so (we closed at 1 on weeknights) and head home on foot walking through the sleepy college-town neighborhoods where most houses were darkened except for a few insomniacs whose living rooms were lit by the flickering artificial light of TV screens and a few weeknight-partiers from whose houses you could hear a subdued thumping of whatever music they were playing. If there was much cable TV back then, I certainly did not have it, so I relied on the old circular UHF antenna on my B&W portable TV to pull in the low-power UHF stations from Oklahoma City or Tulsa. There was always a bit of drift and snow to the picture, but it was what you could get back then and I was fine with it. I’d rather have quality vintage B-movies and European genre films at 2:30 a.m. with a snowy B&W picture than today’s crap in sparkling HD.

I knew that this film existed and that the Watchband were in it, but that was about it, and I also was not expecting the film. I had no idea what was being shown that night—I just turned on the TV at the time the late late movie came on and hoped for the best.

Sam Katzman’s roots as a producer go back to the early 1930’s (the 1933 John Wayne romantic comedy HIS PRIVATE SECRETARY, once a bargain-bin public domain staple in the early days of VHS, is the earliest Katzman project I can remember seeing), and beginning in the mid-1950s he cashed in on various rock and roll trends with two Bill Haley vehicles, then in the early 60’s two Chubby Checker vehicles, then a Hootenanny film in 1963, then a few Elvis films in the King’s waning days such as Kissin’ Cousins, and then two features cashing in on hippies and protest and psychedelia etc., RIOT ON SUNSET STRIP (released by AIP) and THE LOVE-INS (released by Columbia). We at BTC love him for his great film series such as The East Side Kids, the Bela Lugosi films at Monogram, and the Jungle Jim films with Johnny Weissmuller, as well as the lean crime programmers he made at Columbia in the late 40’s and early 50’s and the oddball serials he made at Columbia from the late 40’s through the end of the serial era (such as the outrageous 1948 Sir Galahad serial with George Reeves!). Someone like Katzman saw the mid-60’s music and culture trends as just another screwy fad that could be cashed in on by getting an exploitatively titled feature film in the theaters as quickly as possible.

When I stumbled across this film in snowy B&W in the Oklahoma of the early 80’s, what I got—no doubt helped by my fuzzed-out doublescotch-seared brain after working two jobs and going to two college classes between them that day—was something that played like a feature-length DRAGNET 1967 drug episode.

The film begins with the publishers of an “underground newspaper” called TOMORROW’S TIMES at what looks to be some kind of old-line private college in some affluent green-shrubbed suburb of Los Angeles, getting suspended from their college as they refuse to stop publishing their paper. These radicals are played by James MacArthur (later of HAWAII FIVE-O fame) and Susan Oliver (who’d worked for Katzman previously in the Hank Williams bio-pic YOUR CHEATIN’ HEART, where George Hamilton played Hank! Ms. Oliver played Hank’s wife Audrey—as Audrey herself is credited with being “technical adviser” on the film (the same credit Col. Parker got on many Elvis films!), one would assume the depiction of Audrey is somewhat sanitized), who look like they just stumbled out of an Up With People rally or a deodorant commercial. Their free-thinking English Lit professor, Dr. Barnett, played by British actor Richard Todd, is up in arms about their being expelled and decides to quit his job at the college in protest. He then becomes a hero to the students at the college and that acclaim seems to go to his head. His next step is to become an Alan Watts-style psychedelic prophet, advocating LSD, open relationships, and the like, and even wearing a white robe as he makes his pronouncements. What’s most interesting about the film—other than the Watchband, of course—is that Todd, a fine British actor who’d once played Robin Hood and who’d been in such prestige films as THE VIRGIN QUEEN with Bette Davis and Otto Preminger’s version of G.B. Shaw’s SAINT JOAN (with a screenplay by Graham Greene!), takes his role totally seriously, as if he’s playing Richard III or Hamlet. He probably read up on Alan Watts and Timothy Leary and maybe attended a Watts lecture as background research for the role (a serious actor like Todd does his research), which gives the film a kind of odd feel----it’s as if you had some classically trained stage actor shoe-horned into a DRAGNET drug episode, and not given the usual flat line-reading directions by Jack Webb, but allowed to SOAR….while everyone else is doing their TV-movie-level hippie portrayals. Susan Oliver had been in PEYTON PLACE earlier, and there is also a kind of soap opera-ish feel to these proceedings.

One scene in the film which will wake up the dozing (who were watching this in the middle of the night on UHF TV as I was) is where the psychedelic guru Dr. Barnett appears on the JOE PYNE TV show. Pyne’s show was not carried in my area when I was growing up, so I only knew him second-hand during his 1960’s reign, but he was an originator of the bullying talk-show host style later popularized by Morton Downey Jr. and most recently by Bill O’Reilly, who would opine on the issues of the day with a pseudo-populist persona. He attempts to rip Dr. Barnett a new one on-air by baiting him with questions about free-love and free drug use, which Barnett gives sincere and thoughtful answers to, in the best tradition of the liberal Unitarian ministers of the 1960’s and 1970’s who sought to “understand” youth sub-cultures.

The Chocolate Watchband are first seen/heard in the film at the 9:30 point where a tour bus is taking gawking small-town tourists through some psychedelic neighborhood (presumably based on Haight-Ashbury) and the tour guide says “and now we take you to an authentic hippie love-in”….and we cut to the Watchband lip-syncing to their classic ARE YOU GONNA BE THERE (AT THE LOVE-IN) (EDITOR'S NOTE---the ultimate PUNK ROCK song if you ask me!). Some of you will know the facts about this better than I, but it seems as though this is a slightly different mix of the song, with Dave Aguilar’s vocal clearer and more up-front (the instruments are lower in the mix), but it would seem to be the same performance. In any event, it sounds GREAT. You see a lot more of Richard Todd’s reaction shots as he walks around the love-in and of the Hollywood-extra “hippies” in the audience than you see of the Watchband, but at least they are there pounding it out and giving SOME authenticity to this strange faux love-in. At around the 30 minute mark, we hear an instrumental version of “No Way Out” being performed during a street party, and then in a club scene at about the 34 minute mark we see/hear them doing an instrumental version of “Are You Gonna Be There,” which sounds hot. It’s satisfying to hear the trippy song while couples are making out with colored strobe lights projected onto them (reminding me of the “petting party” makeout sequences in 30’s drug and social disease exploitation films, but in psychedelic color!), and the psychedelic prophet Todd is wearing his white robe and sitting on what seems like a throne. Now THAT’S entertainment! Soon after that, we are treated to Susan Oliver’s “Alice In Wonderland” LSD freakout sequence, which is a classic as those 60’s kitsch freakout sequences go.

The rest of the film, to my knowledge, has no more Watchband music (please correct me if I’m wrong….I fast-forwarded through a DVD-R of the film to refresh my memory). The second half of the film follows Dr. Barnett’s rise to New Messiah levels of fame and also how his movement falls apart and how hypocrisy permeates everything (no surprise there!), and during the final climactic scene in a stadium where Barnett/Todd is giving a speech to a massive crowd, there is an outrageous melodramatic ending that ties up things VERY quickly.

THE LOVE-INS is not as over-the-top as WILD IN THE STREETS, and I can’t really recommend that you buy a copy, but if it’s on cable TV some time (I taped it off cable a few years back), it’s worth checking out if you enjoy 60’s psych-sploitation films. RIOT ON SUNSET STRIP is more entertaining overall as a film, but at least we’ve got Richard Todd (fresh off of starring in two back-to-back Harry Alan Towers-produced Edgar Wallace adventure films in 63-64, SANDERS and COAST OF SKELETONS, both of which I highly recommend) giving this his best, as if he’s NOT in a Sam Katzman film where serious acting was not priority one….and it’s great to hear the Chocolate Watchband anywhere….let’s hope that some people in the hinterlands who saw the film when it was at their local drive-in noted the name of the band and picked up their Tower LP NO WAY OUT. Then you could say that something truly good came out of this film.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

RETURN OF CASSETTE CAGA!

For a nice change of pace I thought I'd review for youyouYOU some cassettes that have been moiling away in my collection for quite a long period of time. Old stuff, newer stuff, stuff that can also be found in modes either less or more advanced. Just stuff I found in some box blocking the entrance to my room that I decided to spin if only to prove to you what lucky people you are tuning into this blog 'stead of the competition.


Your Mom Too-ENGLAND'S NEWEST HITMAKERS

The eighties "cassette culture" might have given us a whole load of cloistered bedroom brouhahas that didn't really translate well outside of the minds of the inhibited types who recorded 'em, but quite a few were good enough that had they come out on actual vinyl they might have sold a few copies---more than a few even! This one's definitely one of the better of the batch, a tape from that killer outfit "Your Mom Too" which not only featured the once-all over the place rock critic (a term I am using derisively---we weren't exactly friends y'know) Frank Kogan but some gal named Leslie Singer doing the underground trip a whole lot better'n I remember a whole buncha people doin' it back thirtysome years way.

The "Your Mom Too" side sure sounds like it was recorded in an Ashbury St. apartment on a hot humid day with the windows wide open and the sweat sticking to your...you know...whatevers. Most of it sounds like Singer screaming her neo-Lydia Lunch-ish vocals to someone-or-other (prob'ly Kogan) flailing away on an acoustic guitar.  Kogan gets to sing too, but not as much since it's Singer's game, and although I'd normally click this stuff off within the span of a minute or so there seems to be something quite redeeming to it all! It's as if maybe this ain't the art project these kinda people usually make it out to be and still has some connection (no matter how tangential it may be) to that seventies-era straight squonk that sounded so good then burned out so fast.

Flip it over and we now get to hear Singer singing to a blaring electric guitar before Kogan takes over first with a steady live rock 'n roller before going into some rather well-crafter country folk outings, including a halfway decent rendition of the Terry Hartman classic "The Alcohol of Fame". Surprisingly sturdy music for a bunch of boho nohos, and something that I maybe should give a spin more often than the ten or so years it usually takes me to get to this.
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Albert Ayler-MY NAME IS ALBERT AYLER/Steve Lacy and Michael Smith-SIDELINES cassette

In the days before Cee-Dee-Ares Bill sent me wares on cassettes, and surprisingly enough this one still plays after all theses years! The Ayler one's from his early days playing in Sweden where he did a whole buncha standards and the like in his own inimitable much imitated by both the good and the bad style while the Swedes backing him probably were wondering what was going on with this crazy guy! On the Lacy and Smith album, the former pays pretty good homage to Ayler albeit in Lacy's special angular fashion while Smith pounds chords that veer from classical to St. Bernard on the keys. Got cut off at the end tho, so I'll never find out how it ends up.
***
Dennis Carleton-RETRO (Green Light, PO Box 19154, Cleveland OH 44119)

Carleton's what I would call a Cleveland power pop rock LIVING LEGEND and although he is pretty much a celebrity with a rap sheet that extends all the way back to the mid-sixties you can bet he has to struggle to make ends meet while lesser talents get their extracurricular drugs and booze free. And so what if he has to toot his own horn because the guy DESERVES TO, and that's just what he did with this nineties-vintage cassette which more or less comes off as a "Greatest Hits" collection for a guy who couldn't get played on the radio if you payola'd the local stations for all the money in the bank.

Side one features Carleton in his sixties and seventies outfits from the Lost Souls and Choir through Moses and the Cleveland Cuties laying down the foundation for the Cleveland Sound and doin' a pretty good job of it. The songs are spry and commercial in that boss sixties way too and considering just how rare the Cuties single "Pregnant Molly"/"Could She Love Me" is (perhaps even rarer than the Don Young Productions one) where else are you going to hear this mid-seventies claim for the Raspberries/Circus market? And who could forget Carleton's re-make of the Milk via Pagans classic "Boy Can I Dance Good" which sounds even more like a sly putdown of seventies decadent rockstar worship than the Pagans take did!

The "B-side" has the newer, perhaps more modern Carleton at the helm and although the sound may be eighties (ie. cheap casiosynthetic at spots) the tunes are still boffo seventies-derived rock. It's as if all of the bad moments and movements of eighties rock (except for casiosynths) never happened what with the pop meter being cranked up to a level that just didn't fit in with them days. And good for him (and us) because this tape is a fine tribute to one of the forgotten men of Cleveland and if this stuff had only gotten out more maybe we wouldn't have had to suffer through Bon Jovi inna first place. Although I frankly doubt it.
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MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL RADIO SHOW 119

Imants Krumins used to send me tapes of this show and as far as presenting an interesting portion of what was happening in punk-unto-punque rock at the time well, it is an interesting "cross-section". Or maybe it's a good cross-section of a cross-section of a cross-section. Lotsa rarities on this particular program, some which are even of interest to me such as a few of the Australian offerings which might be going for beaucoup as we speak. Of course I hadda put up with the stoopid interviews and the annoying announcers whose self-righteousness just oozes from their mouths straight into my speakers but them's the breaks I guess. The price I gotta pay to give a listen to something different!
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Hawklords-25 YEARS ON (Charisma, England)

Basically a newer version of Hawkwind with Robert Calvert as leader, 25 YEARS ON roars on kinda like a more rock 'n roll-y version of QUARK STRANGENESS AND CHARM with a vision meant to fit in with the new breed of "cold wave" that was making itself known at the time. Going beyond the standard Hawkwind formula these 'lords not only swipe from themselves but from a number of electronic-minded mavens of the day thanks to Calvert's uh, more extraterrestrial than thou mind. Coulda used an early Pere Ubu sense of terror and tension but given Calvert's mental stability be glad we got this much!
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Sam Rivers-HUES/SIZZLE cassette tape

This is one that Brad Kohler sent me ages back and it sure comes in handy while the Cee-Dee boom box is acting up. '75's HUES is standard Rivers on a free bared wire groove typical of the Loft Era's post-Ayleristic approach while next year's SIZZLE has an almost commercial swing to it that still sounds pleasing even if you start thinking that Rivers is attempting some GRAMMY-READY MATERIAL when he gets into his flute flights. Kinda makes me nostalgic for the days when the New Thing was such hot gravy that even Anthony Braxton could get a major contract with college nerd kids swooning at his ever bleat just like it was Trad All Over!
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The Turn-Ups-COSMIC DEBRIS (We Say So Records)

These guys were Billy Synth's back-up group who did some things on their lonesome, this 1984 cassette being just one of 'em and it's a doozy. Nothing earth-shaking but still pretty hot early-eighties post-apocalypse (that being seventies underground spasms) rock that owes quite a bit to the rabid sixties of yore yet is still rooted in eighties technologies and rose-tinted rear view mirrors. All originals too which is neat enough considering that bands ought to be ORIGINAL (and in a good way too!). Side two was left blank but the first thirty minutes of this was enough to remind me of a whole lotta eighties talent that got wooshed under the tide of Madonna and that sorry ilk, which is one reason that I am about as nostalgic for those days as I am nostalgic for Castor Oil.
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Patti Smith Group-LA FORUM 9-11-96

That's on one side of the tape, the other has the Musickhaus in Hamburg 8/1/96 show and both of 'em are pretty snat if you ask me! I usually don't go for post RADIO ETHIOPIA Patti that much if at all, but I really liked the ambiance of these recordings...oddly enough, they sorta had a San Francisco ballroom feeling that reminded me of some obscure act that might have played there once before floating off into that Opium Den in the Sky. Old faves and new, and surprisingly exhilarating in spots if you can believe that.
***
Pere Ubu-REHEARSAL 9/75

It sure didn't tale long for the first wave of Cleveland underground rock to slip into the second, given that the corpse of Rocket From The Tombs was only a good month-plus old when these Pere Ubu rehearsals were getting into gear. Without the presence of synthesizer the spirit of Rocket shines through on the "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" takes and re-takes while "Heart of Darkness" sounds quite rabid in this embryonic form. Given what this musical movement was to sound like in a good five-plus year's time it sure does one good to give these songs a listen to and appreciate 'em for what they once meant to addled suburban slobs with asparagus disease who sure dreamed that one day they would get a glimpse of the outer universe.
***
MX-80 LIVE 4/10/92 (Quadruped Productions)

I believe I reviewed a CD-r burn of this a good seven years back. But since this is a "Cassette Caga" and not a "CD-r Burn Caga" why not give it another go to! Amierga's favorite under-the-counterculture hard rock jazz fusion whatever band live in some San Francisco dive in front of an audience of ten cooking as if they were playing the Fillmore with Bill Graham thinking up new cuss words to use as soon as they got off. Nice "feeling" to it all and a fantastic performance of then-old and now just plain older material. I dunno why Bruce Anderson never made it as a professional flash guitarist, but naturally I'm glad he didn't!
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Various Artists-ATTENDANCE REQUIRED (DISTANT PURPLE MAJESTY VOLUME II)

A Jim Clinefelter collection I reviewed in #17 of my rag, featuring tracks mostly well known but not quite scattered about on a 90-minute cassette. Total Cleveland and Akron area oriented complete with various first wave (Electric Eels, Paul Marotta) and afterwards material that chronicles the state of the area from dark insect doom to new wave glitz. Of course we've all heard these tracks before and heard them many a time, but who says we can't hear 'em even MORE now that time is drifting away and like, you ain't gonna be hearing this stuff when you're dead!
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THE HUMAN ARTS ENSEMBLE LIVE IN TRIO SETTINGS VOLS. I AND II  (originally on Circle Records, Germany)

The Circle recordings were whatcha'd call a pretty good documentation of a late-seventies Euro jazz festival, and finding the various albums in the series really ain't as hard a task as you might think. Fortunately I not only have the vinyl versions of these shows but both on a cassette which does make for handy listening. Two three-piece sets (with drummer Charlies Bobo Shaw the only constant), the first featuring whiz saxophonist Luther Thomas and bassist John Lundberg and the second guitarist James Emery and trombonist Joseph Bowie. Intimate approach yet total free splurt in front of a small but appreciative audience. Each set contains a version of "Concere Natashiah", perhaps this loose aggregation's theme song and a doozy of a theme song it most certainly is.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

BOOK REVIEW! CAPTAIN FUTURE by Norman Light (Gwandaland Comics #28)

I'm always game for discovering these outta-the-way comics that never did get their desserts, just or not, such as CAPTAIN FUTURE. Now this comic just ain't whatcha'd call a "household name" in households that had comic book collectin' kids who holed up with a wide variety of printed goods in the sanctity of their fart-encrusted bedrooms, and it's not like the world didn't need another Science Fiction comic to contend with. And the fact that CAPTAIN FUTURE is an English knockoff that I doubt made it to the United States at the time (I could be wrong) isn't exactly gonna help it gain alla those much needed goodie points to make it a classic, but it's here and it's available for your perusal so like, why fight it?

The artwork looks late-thirties early Golden Age which is a surprise since this 'un came out in the fifties. But for being a few steps behind the game I'm sure that CAPTAIN FUTURE, FLASH GORDON knockoff it is and all, must have sated a few souls who weren't exactly thrilled with the new, more sophisticated comic style that was rather prevalent at the time. Everything about this comic comes off early Golden Age, from the round panels reminiscent of those World War II-era Timely efforts to the to-the-point stories that fail to bring to mind some of the sicker aspects of comic book writing these past fortysome years. What most of all reflects the glory of comics past is the stiff figure art which definitely will upset those who mourn the loss of Steranko but remind me of a simpler, more fun-oriented time when the artiness didn't overpower the cheap Saturday Afternoon Barbershop Kid thrill of it all.

Creator Light had the good sense to whip up bad boys who you could hate and monsters that were kinda sickening. That always suited a guy like myself who sometimes hates the squeaky clean looks and attitude of the heroes to the point where I wanna root for the Germans and Japanese because like, they were nasty and cool! Things may get a little too close to various FLASH GORDONisms for comfort---after all Shorzon the scientist out to enslave the world comes a little too close to Ming for comfort what with his pointy little beard and garish costume, but who said Ming was that original in the first place? Also gotta chuckle at the Xanthi storyline where Captain Future helps the tiny inhabitants of the planet Krishna (!!!!!) fight off the evil Kalvor and crew who wish to make those Lilliputianesque baldies slaves for some strange reason or another as if they'd be able to do a lick of work! But hey, if logic doesn't mean a thing in real life anymore why should it in the pages of some cheap comic knockoff!

As usual these old reprint collections are a great way to spend some idle time between television programs you want to watch or a way to cool down after doing yardwork or any typical hard day of work. Oh I forget...none of you typical BLOG TO COMM readers are the kind that exert themselves in any productive fashion so hey, just goof off as usual and read CAPTAIN FUTURE when you should be making yourself into a more productive breed of human being.....PLEEEEEEEZZZZZEEEE????????

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

BOOK REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! THE COMPLETE JANE DRAKE: DETECTIVE (Gwandanaland Comics #1801)


One of the nice features of Gwandanaland Comics’ “character collections” is that characters who never had their own comic books and were only guest stories in a magazine not bearing their name (or in the case here, with Jane Drake’s name not even appearing in a list of contents on the cover!) are finally getting their day in the sun. It’s like those 50’s and 60’s rock and roll bands who put out a few singles back in the day but never made an album….then 30 or 40 years later, some specialist reissue label (often a European label!) will compile those singles, along with demos and perhaps singles recorded under other names, and finally there will be a full album available from that Yardbirds-inspired garage band from Fort Stockton, Texas, or that Elvis wannabe from Biloxi, Mississippi. It somehow validates them…but also gets their work into the hands of people today, and they can still work their magic decades into the future in ways they could never have anticipated.

Jane Drake had a brief comic life, five stories in the five consecutive issues of CRASH COMICS, all of which were published in 1940. At the end of the fifth and final story, we’re told that she’ll be back next month, so the folks at CRASH COMICS must not have known that the rug would be pulled out from under them and that #5 would be their last issue. There were a number of popular young female detectives in novels (Nancy Drew) and in films (Torchy Blane) in the 30’s, and both were at their height of popularity in late 1939, when this character was probably devised for 1940 publication (the 5 issues of CRASH COMICS appeared between May and November of 1940), so the concept must have seemed a natural, and also a way to build up female readership….although not even listing Jane Drake’s name on the cover would not have helped get young ladies to part with a dime at their local newsstand. They’d have to skim through the mag to even notice that it contained a lady detective!

The first three stories are five pages long and the final two are four pages. That’s not a heck of a lot for a crime to be developed and solved, so not only did Jane Drake have a short shelf life buried in a magazine where few would have noticed her, but in her brief number of appearances, she was whisked on and off-stage fairly quickly. How satisfying that she now has a book completely devoted to her.

Her backstory is quickly established in the first panel of the first story: “Jane Drake, daughter of Sheldon Drake, prominent attorney, whose ambition is to be a woman detective, is continually at odds with her father for interfering with his cases.” She is assisted in her exploits by her close friend and neighbor Jerry King, who is usually dragged in against his better judgement to keep his friend Jane out of trouble. That’s the set-up. The situations she stumbles into involve cases her attorney father has or had something to do with. There’s really infinite potential here, so it’s a shame the character was terminated before she had much of a chance to thrive. JANE DRAKE: DETECTIVE would also have been an excellent B-movie vehicle—however, Tem Publishing, run by Frank Z. Temerson, was unlikely to have had the contacts to make something like that happen, even with Monogram or PRC, and also many movie adaptations of comic material (either from comic strips or comic books) were made for commercial reasons because they were tapping into an existing pre-sold fan-base. There would not have been much of a fan base to turn out for a Jane Drake adaptation!

She doesn’t even have to seek out adventure in the first story, where she and Jerry are kidnapped by crooks angry at her father. The story is resolved in a quick, somewhat random way and seems to be over right when it’s getting into high gear, but that’s the problem with a five-page story that also has to introduce a brand-new character! In the second story, her father gets an anonymous threatening note, and she tracks down the culprit, of course related to one of Dad’s cases. In the third story, a gangster named Morelli is going to “sing” to the authorities, and his mob associates plan on paying his bail to get him released, and then kill him before he can talk. Jane steps in to keep that from happening (and Jerry poses as a naïve newsboy to get close to the crooks, but they catch on and kidnap him).

The final two stories are only four pages each, and frankly, that leaves no room for adequate development. In the fourth one, she overhears the police chief tell her Dad how much the city needs to crack down on a ring of car thieves, so she gets on the phone to Jerry (by this story, she’s got a reputation as a crime solver to maintain!), and before the end of the first page he stumbles across a piece of evidence in a way that would never happen, and by the end of page two, Jane and Jerry are again kidnapped and held by the crooks. This story is actually resolved by her Dad, who just happens to be at the crime scene getting gas (!!!) and who saves the day. The fifth and final story, another short one, also cuts to the chase (as they say) fairly quickly….Jerry is shooting the marquee lights out with a slingshot on an old abandoned theater (the juvenile delinquent!), and when Jane sees this, she points out that there is some escaped criminal on the loose and, by the way, did Jerry know he was probably hiding out at that theater….”why don’t we take a look”. The way this one is resolved is totally outrageous, involving Jerry’s earlier shooting out the marquee lights on the theater. He unintentionally shot out a few of the letters, and then the lights spell out a clue (oh, are the marquee lights still kept lit at night in an abandoned theater?) that alerts police. That was lucky, wasn’t it!

When I finished these five stories, I was really wanting more. Sure, they were hastily written and too short for what they needed to do, but they did have all the right elements: Jane and Jimmy are fun and attractive characters you’d love to see depicted in Monogram B-movie style (I can see the young Noel Neill in the role); the crooks act like comic book gangsters; the Dad is the well-meaning but bumbling stuffed shirt you’d expect him to be; the settings of the criminal activity are the kind of atmospheric dives you want in this kind of thing. The artwork is a bit crude and probably done quickly and for a low page rate, but if I want fine comic artwork with anatomical depictions worthy of Leonardo Da Vinci, I’ll dig out my beautiful volumes of Burne Hogarth’s TARZAN. What the Jane Drake artwork does have is vitality and a lot of telling detail, and that’s what you need to make a comic story work in your imagination.

It’s a shame Jane Drake did not get longer stories and more than five stories, but what she did get can still entertain today, some 78 (!!!!) years after its creation, and it was created as essentially a throwaway, which did not even rate being mentioned on the cover of the magazine. But, as it says in the Bible, “the last shall be first,” and now the forgotten lady of crime solving has her own comic book. Her great-grandchildren can be proud!

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Gee, another week's gone...aren't you glad??? Well, it wasn't that bad a week considerin' alla the goodies I got to listen to this go 'round, and given that nothing catastrophic has happened (much to your dismay I would surmise) let me just say that this was perhaps one of the better weeks I've had in quite awhile. Yes, the musical scene seems to be improving a bit at least as far as finding interesting records to give a listen to (I gave up on the ACTUAL musical scene as in currently made innovative and soul-encapsulating sounds ages back), and given the wealth of reissues and even a few new avant garde gropers to grasp your mind coming out (usually via Kendra Steiner Editions, ugEXPLODE and a few other outlets) things are perking up quite a bit. Anyway, settle back for a nice bevy of beauteous writeups that I hope have you heading for the nearest internet site so you can enrich YOUR life as be just as much of a fulfilled and total human being as I am!
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I KNOW YOU HATE IT, BUT ONCE AGAIN IT IS TIME FOR ME TO GET ONTO MY SOAP BOX AND LAY A LITTLE TRUTH ON YOU (BE FOREWARNED)!!!---as time rolls on into what seems like a pretty dark abyss of humorless scolding I gotta shed a tear over all of the things that I once held dear being either left to wither on the vine or "updated" to be meaningful and "relevant" (remember that early-seventies catch-word?) only to look as foolish as an adventure of YOGI'S GANG did once 1973 rolled around. With comic strips like NANCY now deader'n Zeppo things may be bad enough (even tho that strip pretty much caved in along with creator Ernie Bushmiller), it's sad to see the comic book heroes and good guys of the past reduced to politically pious kulcherkampf enforcers who have all the testosterone of the infamous pajama boy of yore.

And of you thought that Superman lecturing the Teen Titans about racism in some by-now ancient issue of WORLD'S FINEST way back in '72 was bad enough and that comics would NEVER AGAIN stoop to such self-proclaiming and downright pushy preaching ever again, you should see what has been done to THE PHANTOM, the first ever costumed (super)hero who hasn't been consigned to the dumpster as of yet but after hearing what I gotta say maybe you'll wish he had.

Now this ain't in the Amerigan edition of the strip/comic book but the Swedish one, which considering just how down the slope that nation has always been does figure. The mere cover says it all where one can see our by now Socially Conscious "hero" bashing in a moralistic and (while I'm at it) nationalistic Pole with a (what else but a) rainbow flag which I guess does say more about what's inside that I would dare to find out for myself.

From what I can make out via the link above, the eternal hero for some strange reason is in Warsaw and for some even stranger reason is present at a gay parade (gee I didn't know---guess this Phantom is the last of a 300 year reign!) which is about to be trounced upon by ugly locals who look like they just popped outta some SPLC wet dream! You know, just another day in one of those close-minded, European Identity-riddled nations we hear about every so often. Naturally the Phantom has to put a stop to the impending bloodshed in the name of (yawn!) tolerance, which has I have found out is a word that only had meaning for "thee" but not for ME! given some of the asinine opinions from readers like you I've had to put up with in quite awhile. As if I care about such handy catchwords anymore.

Yeah the story was written by some English homo living in Poland who of course has to twist and turn his views of the nationalistic tide there (and don't forget Hungary under the leadership of the much to be admired Viktor Orban) and tie it all in with those fabled brownshirts who always have to be brought up time to time lest we run out of neat bogeymen to shoot down. And of course such a saga is bound (perhaps said author is unaware of the consequences of his very nature?) to play down the very disturbing trends in gay culture, open borders and all forms of social engineering that have turned many a place into human garbage dumps filled with "No Go Zones" that you used to find only in the U.S. of A.!

Maybe the Swedes are too enlightened and don't mind the surge in refugees enriching their culture right into the ground and gay propaganda disguised as "being nice" tossed at their kids, but maybe there are some places left which had enough heavy handed government intervention into every aspect of life in that quest to create "The New Man" that just couldn't stand any more of it. You know, places like Poland and Hungary which had a good thirtysome years of social engineering to the point of nausea and just don't want any part of an ideal that led their nations to disaster. And in this day and age that sure is nice to know that there are these types of nationalistic and traditionalists left even if their presence is only a brief blip in that skid into yet another government by and for the smart elite who like to nosh finger foods all day.

Sure the entire comic strip industry have always taken those chances to be "hip" and "up to date" from the days of World War II to the space age and beyond. That's good enough only if the hipness and up to date-ness reflects a vision that doesn't cater to man's baser instincts. And for the most part this reflection just might be why the industry has taken such a tumble these past few decades what with the likes of DC, Archie and Marvel making their moolah in the film and TV mediums 'stead of via the comic racks. But dang if it just digs into my suburban slob soul seeing an eighty-plus-year-old character like the Phantom now a cheerleader for the "open minded" and "classier than thou" rainbow brigade who always did seem rather shit-smeared to me, in the process turning said character into a soul-less ideological automaton for the advancement of that global society that praises equality but always seems to shaft those who just don't fit in. But then again what could one expect from those who hold the likes of Karl Marx and Mao Tse Tung in esteem (and kid, I ain't exaggeratin'!) while continuing to berate Augusto Pinochet and Francisco Franco whose policies didn't run their countries into the ground?

Dunno about you, but I can remember when heroes weren't such clayfoot cause-riddled leftoids who reflected the worst aspects of the human condition but rather images of MAN AT HIS BEST! Something which I guess has become a controversial enough subject and I sure don't want to rankle the ire of you cowboy-comic hating, self-flagellating upper class white readers now, do I?

I expect the Phantom (or even his Swedish doppelganger Fantomen) to keep on in the comic page and in those outta-nowhere comic books that you see piled up at flea markets all over the place, but hey in no way can I see anyone who'd swing a gay flag at a man who is concerned about his future and his country a hero. He's nothing but a tool who thinks he's fighting the system while never realizing that he IS the system he so rails against. Let's face it, if you want a hero that is one, it's MR. A. and nobody else, y'hear?
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And now that I got that outta my system like a concrete turd lodged in my rectum, here are the reviews!


The Who-BBC SESSIONS CD-r burn (originally on MCA Records)

Sure good to have these tracks all in one place and sounding so good. The Who back before they traded their punk rock genius for rock opera schmalz and such clever and stand the test of time tracks like "Squeeze Box". These tracks are perhaps better than the actual numbers because they were recorded without any behind-the-boards production and come off straight and clear. Contains all the goodies (including two "My Generation"s) as well as a couple of neat jingles, although the "Happy Jack had some fun here on Radio One" one is sadly missing (or maybe I walked outta the room to take a tinkie at the time).
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Various Artists-MAX'S KANSAS CITY - 1976 AND BEYOND 2-CD set (Jungle Records, E. U.)

How many times am I gonna buy the same record dressed up in a different package you ask! Well, I'm gonna buy it as long as there are new and unique items added to said package that makes these things worth parting with the lucre to get! Here's the infamous 1976 Max's collection (sans Pere Ubu, who are probably still mad about some past indiscretion twixt they and Max) along with a bevy of beauts from not only the second (and less loved) Max's collection but various singles and other rarities that didn't get the royal treatment back then. There are even some items that didn't pop up on the recent two-record Max's set here and if you think it's all a waste of time well, I'll tell ya that I spun this last Sunday PM while reading old rock mags and I felt like some sixteen-year-old suburban slob in the mid-seventies getting a hefty dose of power-packed rock 'n roll music while filling my eyeballs with some of the greatest paens to the music extant! And if you don't get the exact same feeling may I call you...Jay Hinman???
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Delphine Dora and Sophie Cooper-DIVINE EKSTASYS LP (Feeding Tube Records, available via
Forced Exposure)

It's amazing how the Feeding Tube label can find these up and cummin' musical acts that, in many ways, defy a whole load of descriptions that we usually tag onto music that may be outside the realm of teenage doper comprehension. Take this interesting creation courtesy of the team of Delphine Dora and Sophie Cooper which sounds like a combination of "serious" avant garde classical and THE MARBLE INDEX which was a piece of serious avant garde if you trust Lester Bangs' infamous comments regarding said platter. The numbers present consist mostly of beautiful drones accompanied by equally wavering vocals, with splashes of vibraphone and other cacophony makers that'll conjure up memories of your favorite late-twentieth century composers. And best of all, it's all OUTSIDER stuff meaning that Dora and Cooper probably never spent a second inside a music conservatory and are about as outta the "professional" loop as you or I! Another outta nowhere surprise that I can get behind 100 (if not more) per-cent!
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The Soul Survivors-WHEN THE WHISTLE BLOWS ANYTHING GOES CD-r burn (originally on Crimson Records)

Like some of you readers undoubtedly have, I was wary about tackling this album by the Survivors if only because I thought it would be jambus packtus with soggy covers and unimaginative originals which make the "Expressway To Your Heart" blockbuster sound pallid in their company. SURPRISE! WHEN THE WHISTLE BLOWS ANYTHING GOES is a very punch-packed effort from these blue-eyed (I think...they look a little too Mediterranean for that) soul stirrers not only with their smasheroo hit but with the boffo covers ("Please Please Please", "Hey Gyp"...), the psychedelic effects and Gamble/Huff production giving it all that perfect 1967 sound without coming out looking silly. If you like the other white soul/rock acts of the day such as the Box Tops this will have you jumping up and down in no time flat.
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Marshall McLuhan-THE MEDIUM IS THE MASSAGE CD-r burn (originally on Columbia Records)

You may think that McLuhan was some brilliant analyzer of the mid-twentieth century electronic revolution or just another crank of the age, but if you're not sure just give this 1967 platter a spin and judge for yourself. The suitable for radio announcing voice of McLuhan can be heard reading passages from his book of the same name while various strange musical and vocal cut-ins give a quite late-sixties "hip" aura that was put to great commercial use on LAUGH IN. The results can be both interesting and annoying, at times taking on the aura of one of those John Cage VARIATIONS albums or even some radical EXPERIMENTS IN TELEVISION/NET-unto-PBS hipper than hip special I always came across while on the lookout for MISTER ROGERS NEIGHBORHOOD. So incomprehensible and deep that you know that just about every phony intellectual of the day just hadda have a copy!
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Various Artists-HAPPY TO BE A PART OF THE INDUSTRY OF HUMAN HAPPINESS CD-r burn (originally on Immediate Records)

Not being in whatcha'd call a late-sixties English rock mood maybe this selection didn't quite grab onto my inner spirit or whatever the hippoids call it like it shoulda. Still, this collection of various big names from the Immediate label roster does make for a good "taste" for those of you looking into the English blues boom of the day not to mention those who want to know what Keith Emerson was up to before forming ELP. Personal fave of the batch is album closer "Lazy Sunday" by the Small Faces, a track I've only known via the cover Jet did a good seven or so years afterwards (you can tell I am not a huge Small Faces fan...I mean, there's sooo much music out there and sooo little moolah!).
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FIVE MINUTE MYSTERIES, SHOWS #3-#12 CD-r burn

Although I prefer Ellery Queen's Minute Mysteries because they only take one-fifth of the time to solve, these five minute ones are alright. Of course I still cringe over the fact that people can be arrested and perhaps even executed over some rather flimsy evidence, but it's sure fun listening to some detective slap the bracelets on some caretaker or victim's relative just because they didn't know that Florida does not have front bumper license plates or that there was no "r" in the month that the deceased supposedly ate those oysters (the first one is from these radio programs, the second from an old EC crime comic!). Sure it might seem so corny to all of you sophisticated New York VANITY FAIR types out there but I'll tell ya one thing...it sure beats sudoku!
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Various Artists-STRINGBEAN FEVER CROCODILE APRIL CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

This time Bill sends us all to the smoky night clubs of yore, the kinda clubs you used to see on tee-vee as a kid and think boy, do those adults got it made! Still, I never heard anything as cool on those old detective shows that I heard on this 'un, with some pretty neat offerings from the likes of Jimmy McGriff and Willis Jackson .OK, some of this was kinda snoozeroonie, but as far as a "theme" disque goes Bill couldn't have done better and like, I kinda feel like slippin' on a suit and hat and headin' down to one of those outta-the-way haunts where you get to see a whole lotta smoke and maybe some hotcha cleavage as well. Better not, I'd probably end up with a big konk on the head and end up in some alley with nothing but my undies on!
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In closing let me once again remind you that back issues of BLACK TO COMM are still available if you need to fill up those gaps you have in your collection. Just read the post and follow the directions and everything should go smoother than the top of my head. If yer interested in any out of print issues, I may be able to swing a deal with you as well so don't be shy.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

COMIC BOOK REVIEW! LI'L TOMBOY #101 (Charlton Comics, October 1958 issue, available via GOLDEN AGE REPRINTS)

I'm sure most of you erstwhile BLOG TO COMM readers have saved your shekels and splurged on your very own copy of LI'L RASCAL TWINS after I gave Golden Age Reprints' slicko edition a neat writeup quite awhile back. Well, being enthralled, entranced and perhaps even other goodie things by this particular comic I decided to see what else was available in Charlton's cheap DENNIS THE MENACE-"inspired" line of kiddie comics, and lo and behold this particular wonder was up and about for my perusal and y'know what? It's a pretty decent kidsploitation funtime comic read as well featuring half of that "twin" team, none other than Li'l Tomboy herself!

Li' Genius, Charlton's toned down Dennis is nowhere to be seen other'n in a PSA promoting the idea of dads getting together with their sons to have fun and stuff together (yeah right---like yer dad after a 12-hour shift at the salt mines is gonna wanna play pal to ya when he'd rather be boozin' it up with the boys!), and that is kinda a shame because the chemistry between Genius and Tomboy in the LI'L RASCAL TWINS comic was pretty tight. But Li'l Tomboy does good on her own in these sagas which capture the fifties kid comic mileau about as good as the material that was being offered by other publishers during those crazy baby boom fun times. Frank Johnson's style fits perfectly with the suburban slob-ness here just as it did in the TWINS title, while the stories (which do accentuate the "tomboy"-ish part of the character's makeup without turning her into LI'L DYKE) do reflect that entire ranch house credo that I just won't eject from my system even though my "betters" have been telling me to do just that for longer than I can remember. Maybe it's time we make Johnson a bonafeed comic artist IDOL in the same manner that Carl Barks, Jack Kirby and many others (some who may even be deserving of their hails and hosannas!) with maybe a fan club or site to help boost his stature amongst the former kiddie comic-clinging fans/current day total comic book SNOB SET!

In these GENIUS-less sagas Tomboy is mostly seen at home interacting with her mother who wishes she was more ladylike and a father who's nonchalant about the whole affair. Again there doesn't seem to be anything particularly "un"-girl-like about her since most gals I grew up with could get into a scrap or play sports with the guys (though they never did cozy up to my "shirts"/"skins" basketball team up suggestions---best outta a thousand). In most of these she just gets into the usual kid-like adventures such as the one where she has to retrieve her uncle's toupee which she originally mistakes for a huge wad of lint, or the time she shows some snobbish old bag photos she took of her folks while they weren't looking, an idea that would have been put to more tasteless use had this been done within the past twenty years.

The sole saga which deals with her mother's concern over her boyishness will actually throw ya for a loop, what with Tomboy acting girlish for once after receiving a doll, making a red dress for it and requesting the use of mom's perfume much to mom's delight, only for her to find out that Tomboy's going tuna fishing and is using the toy for bait! Funny, I always thought that the big-time fishermen used live kittens to get the big ones, but maybe that woulda been too much for even this anarchic kids comic!

LI'L PARDNER also appears here, and no he ain't a compat of any of the othe Li'l's mentioned. This is a cowboy kid comic signed by someone names "Jersey" I believe and it doesn't quite fit into the sort of mood that the rest of the comic delivers. More rural than suburban and geared towards the western sorta kid who lived on a ranch or farm, the story presented is nice but comes off awkward in the company of the rest. Cowpoke comics lover Bill Shute might disagree, but I woulda rather read another LI'L TOMBOY or LI'L GENIUS instead.

If you're still pondering whether to purchase this 'un even after my masterful revelations, just click here for a sample story and make up your own mind for once! Of course if you don't share my crazed comic book values and all you probably won't get it, but then again I have the feeling most of you don't get GILLIGAN'S ISLAND either and like, what else is new?