Tuesday, January 16, 2018

CEE-DEE REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! WILLIE & THE WALKERS---NORMAN PETTY MASTERS! (Super Oldies Records)


The Norman Petty Studios in Clovis, New Mexico attracted not only many bands from the US Midwest and Rocky Mountain region, but also from Canada. Petty’s affordable by-the-song, not by-the-hour rates, his proven history of hits, his many contacts in the industry, his ingenuity in the studio, his approach which emphasized bringing out the band’s own sound rather than imposing his own heavy production hand, and his affable but business-like manner were no doubt all good reasons for his appeal among bands who both wanted a professional sound AND perhaps a touch of the magic that could potentially come from working in the studio and with the man responsible for so many classics from the likes of Buddy Holly, The Crickets, and The Fireballs.

The UK Ace label did a number of releases from Petty’s archive in past years, including a series of fairly comprehensive releases of the complete catalogue of the much-underrated Fireballs, featuring the distinctive guitar of George Tomsco and the distinctive vocals of Jimmy Gilmer. They also did a few various artists releases, including one called GET READY TO FLY, which featured mid-to-late 60’s bands. One of those bands was WILLIE & THE WALKERS, from Edmonton, Alberta.

In recent years, in close cooperation with the Norman Petty estate and tape archives, Shawn Nagy’s SUPER OLDIES label has been digging much deeper, putting out a regular run of albums, with new ones every month or two, of Petty archive material, including much which was unreleased, and all directly from the Petty master tapes. These have been fascinating and a goldmine for the Petty fan--because most of Petty’s productions were licensed to other labels, because the man never encouraged a cult of personality, because of his somewhat “square” persona, and because Clovis, New Mexico, is not New York or Chicago or Memphis, Norman Petty has not been given the attention that he deserves. His productions have a unique “sound,” and his massive body of work is quite impressive. With all the obscure Petty music coming out on Super Oldies, and with a DVD documentary on Petty and his studio in the pipeline, let’s hope things will change. Until then, there is a lot of great music to discover and enjoy, and this collection from WILLIE & THE WALKERS is a perfect example.

A quintet of musicians came down from Edmonton to Clovis to record on three different occasions in 1966 and 1967, resulting in a total of 15 tracks, from which came three singles on Capitol of Canada, the last of which Petty was also able to place with United Artists in the US. The first session, from July 1966, has a lean, moody, organ-based sound which will remind many of the great New England 60’s garage bands. This sound is developed more in a four-song May 1967 session, and it’s interesting to note that ALL the material from the first two sessions is original. It’s not until the third and final Petty session in October 1967 that any covers are recorded. This is the reverse of the method of most 60’s bands, who usually started off doing mostly covers until they developed their song-writing skills. Perhaps the expense of traveling to New Mexico encouraged the band to bring their A-Game to this session, instead of doing covers of, say, “Midnight Hour” or “Just Like Me” or whatever else they might have been doing in their live sets. The three covers are all first-rate. By this time the band had developed its own sound, and the songs taken from The Rascals, Verdelle Smith, and The Kinks truly sparkle--in fact, the cover of “Tired Of Waiting For You” could have been released as a single...it’s that confident and distinctive.

Willie & The Walkers were a simple quintet, two guitars, keyboards, bass, and drums, and they are not augmented by unnecessary studio musicians, but Petty could always get a full, rich sound out of a basic rock-and-roll band, and that’s the case here. So while no one would label most of this material “garage punk,” it IS all punchy and live-sounding. I think I hear a second keyboard on one track (maybe I’m dreaming), so perhaps Violet Petty or Norman himself added that, and two songs with unique guitar work evoke the sound of Fireballs guitarist George Tomsco, a man who was a constant presence in the Clovis studios during this period. If he’s not actually playing on those two tracks, one wonders if he at least advised the band how to get the distinctive tones heard. Or maybe I’m shortchanging the band’s own abilities. In any case, it’s a solid set of 15 songs, and had these three sessions come out as an album, it would be considered a classic by fans of 60’s regional rock and roll bands.

What do they sound like? Hmmm....how about the Cryan Shames without the Byrds fixation? Or The Lovin’ Spoonful without the jug band influence? Or maybe The Knickerbockers without the nightclub showband trappings? How about Gary Lewis and the Playboys as a self-contained quintet with no need for studio musicians and with their own strong songwriters?

It’s to their credit that while they do not have some off-the-wall, radical sound, they do not really sound like anyone else. Nowhere here can you point your finger and say “they are REALLY into The Beatles” or The Byrds or whoever. If you played me this album with no explanation of who or what it was, I’d guess they were from Connecticut or Ohio or something. Elements remind me of Boston bands, but there would probably be Boston accents and more emphasis on electric piano, and neither of those can be found here.

Overall, Willie & The Walkers were an impressive band with a solid body of work, and this late in the game it’s surprising to find 15 strong, well-produced tracks without the padding of demos or cover versions from the band’s live set. Another feather in the cap of the late great producer Norman Petty, who brought his Midas Touch to a group of young men from Western Canada and took what was strongest and most distinctive about the band and focused it and sharpened it and presented it in its best light, with a strong punchy sound. You can order the album here. However, be aware that these Norman Petty archive albums have been selling out in a few months, so order now....and also check out the rest of the Super Oldies website for further Petty collections. This is a surprisingly strong collection and should be a must-own for the fan of 60's regional rock and roll bands.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Oh well...another week another BLOG TO COMM post! Gotta admit that it ain't easy thinkin' these things up 'specially in the just post-Christmas holidaze days---I almost feels like I'm back in High Stool doin' some hideous book or science report on a Sad-turd-day PM which is probably why this post READS like one! Of course back in those not-so-carefree days the winter blahs could always be remedied by either a hot record or boffo tee-vee show but hey, once you hit the millionth solar rotation like I have sometimes the effect just ain't the same as it was when you were young, dumb and maybe even stupider than you are now. Call it age even if I do get all hot and bothered over Captain Beefheart platters these days as I did way back when.
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Anywah, how'd'ja like that wild weather we're having here in the tri-county area anyway? All that blowing ice and snow just piling up making an already cruel winter even more dangerous for drivers and little kids making that ten-mile trek home from those local prisons we know of as schools! It's sure fun for me to watch Mom Nature unveiling all of her power and energy, at least when I'm safe and sound sitting in my warm abode eyeballing the cars doing doughnuts from my window as they plowi over those obnoxious brats in the neighborhood. I get the exact same feeling during the summer months watching kids get struck by lightning knowing that in no way am I gonna be affected. Yes, carnage is great as long as you're watching it from a distance!
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I haven't been having any interesting rock 'n roll-related dreams as of late, but my cyst-er had one in which I was a featured player. In her dream I presented a young Frank Zappa (who was wearing this weird braid that was clipped to the back of his collar in order to make his hair look longer) a gift of a refinished antique book shelf with psychedelic decals. And you know what, he was gracious and liked it! More than I can say about some people I send gifts to who don't appreciate them and even make it a point to let me know about it! And you know who you is!
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Hope this edition of BLOG TO COMM suits your own personal sense of rockitude as it does mine. Actually, I don't give a fig what you think but to be honest I kinda like it even if I think my writing "qualities" have gone down more'n a few degrees this past week or so. Big heaps to P.D. Fadensonnen, Bill Shute, Paul McGarry and even Bob Forward-thinking for their contributions to the cause, and the rest of you can go pound a fire ant hill for all I care you ungrateful things you!



Spontaneous Music Ensemble w/Rashied Ali-DOUBLE TRIO 3/10/1968 CD-r burn

Given that I don't have as large a Spontaneous Music Ensemble collection as I sure wish I would a disque like this comes in handy. John Stevens' group is aided and abetted by Rashied Ali on this sesh which reminds me of FREE JAZZ only with a smaller group and an equally potent sound impact. Beautiful free play here featuring some of stalwarts of the European scene like Peter Kowald and Dave Holland all done up in that over-the-top-screaming-all-the-way fashion your mother warned you about but as usual you didn't listen. A true motivator...well at least to the point where I'm gonna have to dig up my ONE, TWO, ALBERT AYLER album for yet another dose of this better than you ever will be freedom aggregation.
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GENE CLARK WITH THE GOSDIN BROTHERS CD-r burn (originally on Columbia Records)

I'll bet there were a few rock 'n roll souls who were glad that Gene Clark left the Byrds way back '65 way...after all that meant there would be more albums in that folk-rocky style to give a listen to and who wouldn't mind that! Of course once David Crosby got kicked out I'm sure these same people were shudderin' once they got an ear of the CSNY sound but back in '66 who woulda known?

On this debut solo platter Clark got the country greats the Gosdin Brothers to back him vocally and a pretty sharp band (including some Byrds and the Wrecking Guys) to provide the music. Naturally (or something like that) the overall results are boffo! Might be kinda slick to some of you rock sophistacados out there but the combination of Clark's vocals with the contemporary folk rock and orchestra make for a good slab of bright and at times sullen sounds that not only would melt the heart of not only your typical iron-haired teenybopper of a sophomoric sophomore (and believe, I went to high school with a whole slew of 'em!) but even the more grizzled among the faculty.

The original album is driving enough true, but the additional twennysome tracks add a whole load to the experience what with the outtakes, acoustic demos and stereo mixes which don't mean a hoot to me, but it's sure nice to hear the earlier songs again without having to get up and adjust my cheapo boom box!

I dunno if you were the kind who cried while listening to the Byrds, but if your sensitive self is wont to get all enraptured in the strains of folk rock this one might just make you Crimea River!
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Various Artists-SOURCE RECORDS 1-6 1968-1971 3-CD set (Pogus Productions)

SOURCE was such a fine magazine (if you could call this oversized ring-bound publication a "magazine"), not only for the information given on a variety of "new music" composers and performers but for the added inserts and the ten-inch records which came with (I believe) ever issue. Reading about everyone from the likes of John Cage to Philip Glass to Anthony Braxton to even Harold Budd  was certainly eye-opening to a budding avant garde fanabla such as I, and I sure loved to pour through those bound volumes that it seems that NO ONE ELSE in the world knew about because hey, they were so pristine and mint-like to the myriad who didn't know just how expensive those issues had become o'er the years!

Lo after all these years the musical portion of the mag has finally been re-issued (or at least it was in 2008---had it all this time but it got lost inna shuffle). That's cool, because since SOURCE was part of the library's periodical department I couldn't take any issues out, and that included the records I was anxious to tape for my own listening pleasure! However I was told that if I could bring my own turntable and stereo into the library I could record them that way but like, no way in heck was that possible!

Pretty good stuff here too---that is, if you think that the idea of sound as pure atonal chance music sure beats the bejabbers outta yer typical I-Heart playlist. Some of it is mildly interesting (like the piece where Alvin Lucier tapes a phrase and generation by generation repeats it until it sounds like total ratsqueal---reminds me of some of the nth-generation tapes of various rock acts that were flyin' around in the early-eighties!) while others sound like just about every other art piece done up my some music major circa 1975 who thinks he's on his way to a flattering cover piece in  ART IN AMERICA.

But most if not all does have some degree of brilliance. Allan Bryant's "Pitch Out", done with various MEV members in their own studio, holds much promise what with the use of electric guitars almost coming off like a bizarre post-rock concept that might be twirling about nowadays. Speaking of twirling, Mark Riener's "Phlegathon" (a name that I'm sure could be used to describe various competing blogs) features these twirling mobile-like devices that create their own sounds that kinda remind me of those 4th of July rockets that whistle about as they blast off.

There's more some from familiar names on the avant garde set as well as those who are probably still stuck in the beret and stale doritos bracket, but whatever I'll betcha you can find a whole load of good and still engaging to the typical light aficionado concepts floating around on these platters. Too bad it took me almost forty years to hear 'em, but better now that I'm a less picky old turdburger than then when I was a starry eyed fanabla who probably woulda thought that Karlheinz Stockhausen's farts were legitimate forms of gastricular expression that Deutsche Grammophone better release just as fast as Stockhausen released his!
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Various Artists-RADIO CRAMPS---"THE PURPLE KNIF SHOW" CD-r burn (originally on Skydog Records, France)

Yeah you heard it all before, but you didn't hear it via a radio show hosted by Lux Interior doing a fairly good Mad Daddy impression! Great tracks, great announcing (even though I think he woulda been tossed outta Bus Eubanks' class) and if you gotta hear these tracks what better way'n to hear 'em in a gathering such as this! Two beefs...first is that the Swamp Rats' version of  "Louie Louie" is shallwesay "truncated" inna middle plus the entire Troggs Miller Beer commercial is nowhere to be found even if Mr. Interior did back-announce it! Sheesh Paul, you doin' this tryin' t' be funny 'r sumpthin'??? (Don' worry...I finally heard the ad on Youtube and of course it's a great tune done up by a band who could be both commercial and underground at the same time!)
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Perry Leopold-EXPERIMENTS IN METAPHYSICS CD-r burn (originally on Gear Fab, or Guess if you wanna go back to the original version, or Guerssen if you want a vinyl copy, Records)

Do I have to apologize if I think this 'un's nothing but a sappy introspective and downright precocious bit of early-seventies singer/songwriter folkpuke even if alla the hip names out there seem to like it? Couldn't wait to rip this acoustic neo-outsider offering off the laser launch pad what with Leopold's soft and whispering through the winds voice that could probably even knock James Taylor over (not that that ain't hard to do) with the acoustic guitar just plucking about in standard pacifist and patchouli fashion and...well, with a good portion of the so-called punks of the past showing their true peacenik colors these sorry days it's no wonder this has attained a cult following amongst the smart set. It only makes me wanna attend a FEMEN protest and yell things like "HUBBA HUBBA HUBBA" and "SHAKE THEM TITS" at a buncha gals who at that very moment will probably regret this particular form of free expression.
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MEN & VOLTS PLAY CAPTAIN BEEFHEART---A GIRAFFE IS LISTENING TO THE RADIO CD-r burn (originally on Feeding Tube Records---Forced Exposure has copies available here)

After the turdburger above it was sure time to CLEAR THE AIR. Which is what I did with this particular goodie done up by the infamous klunkalong group Men & Volts. Now I will admit that I thought some of the Volts's stuff was pretty snappy while other long-forgotten recordings just grated on me as if I were a hunka Romano cheese, but the idea of this band recording a Beefheart tribute album actually works! Well, it's sure a better idea'n those weak-kneed candyasses of the nineties paying "homage" to the Velvet Underground totally lacking the original's deep sense of dark nihilism. All your favorite Beefheartian moments worked up by the infamous M&V sounding just as good as the originals yet not irritating as if done solely for the sake of being self-consciously innovative, coy or cute. A must get 'n I dare you!
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Various Artists-SWINGIN' THE TRANSCRIPTIONS CD-r burn (originally on P-Vine Records, Japan)

Kinda surprised that I'm listening to this platter especially when I am NOT in whatcha'd call a forties jazzy/blues/pop mood. But these tracks taken from actual radio transcription discs do kinda bring back memories of early-seventies comic book collecting while Bus Eubanks would explain to us the whys and wherefores of the tracks we've just heard. In fact, this could have used some spoken introductions from Eubanks himself only he's been dead about thirty years. Appearances by many big names of the day (Ink Spots, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Mills Brothers...) are bound to make your typical centenagenarian wanna break out the zoot suit and not wash his hair ever again!
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Sonny Sharrock-LIVE IN BREMEN 10/29/1987 CD-r burn

Recorded right around the time Sharrock was starting to break out from the under-the-cultured jazz miasma into the BIG TIME, this German show's got hefty clarity and the virtuoso's guitar lines soaring in ways that seemed to herald a new lookout and vision amongst other corny descriptions. Hot play on themes old and new and the band backing him ain't duff either. I thought it was snat enough...now if only someone would find those early-eighties Material and solo gigs that took place at CBGB not to mention other under-the-underground hangouts long gone 'n boarded up.
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Various Artists-TIRED RED WINGS AND SAD YELLOW HANDS CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Here's yet another deep dive into the Bill Shute box (which is massive and keeps growing like the Dogpatch Ham) featuring all sortsa goodies that were only excelled by the fact that I was reading THE AESTHETICS OF ROCK while this 'un spun away. Yeah there are a coupla duds here but so what, because the hot stuff from the doo-woppers to the mid-sixties miracles (including Mr. Lucky and the Gamblers' "Take a Look at Me" which sounds better here than it did on BOULDERS) really make me wanna get up and pretend it's 1965 all over again! Even the less-drastic of the selections have a kick to 'em like Froggy Landers and the Cough Drops' "River Rock" not forgetting the Fox Chasers' "Yellow Hand" which is a nice Indian thumper right up their with Johnny Preston's "Running Bear". You even get a "Tequila" swipe from the "Scamps" entitled "Enchilada"! Not only that but the kiddie records were fun, especially that one that tells you how to bring up your cat right! Now if I get a cat I'll know what to do, other'n accidentally run over the thing while backing out of the driveway.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

DEE-VEE-DEE REVIEW! THE OUR GANG STORY---A HISTORY OF THE LITTLE RASCALS (Legend Films)

As a rule I hate documentaries, but when they ain't bein' preachy and trying to cram alien arguments into your beanie well----I gotta admit that I kinda like 'em. Of course only a very few of 'em make my own personal cut...f'rexample there was this pretty good documentary on Tex Avery that popped up back inna late eighties was good enough that it even had my dad cracking up, plus the Steve Allen-narrated Three Stooges 'un which used to run on PBS usually during pledge break time was boffo what with all of the expected public domain clips and ancient interviews not to mention the inclusion of various pseudo-rarities like the trailer for STOP, LOOK AND LAUGH which really dredged up a whole lotta memories I'll tell ya! That clip, if anything, reminds me of my 1974 Christmas break from school since channel 33 was airing the exact same trailer as a commercial all through the holiday season making any true fan of Stoogedom and general fun 'n jamz wanna watch the flicker if anything! The catch was that the dang thing was gonna be aired on their morning movie slot the exact same day school resumed, so like why the constant barrage of ads when none of the kids the film was aimed at were gonna be front and center to watch it?

THE OUR GANG STORY fits in more with the Three Stooges kinda documentary than it does with those uber-left soapboxers that I assume they still show on POV. That is, the thing is really fun to watch, informative, shows a whole lotta rarities that I haven't seen in ages and best of all IT SERVES TO REMIND YA OF JUST HOW MUCH FUN YOU HAD BACK WHEN YOU WERE A SUBURBAN SLOB TURDLER STUCK SMACK DAB IN FRONT OF YOUR TEE-VEE SET WATCHING THESE AND OTHER SHOWS THAT CONTINUE TO SPEAK TO YOUR SOUL LO THESE MANY YEARS LATER!!!!! I for one haven't forgotten the joys and thrills that such programming could bring and SPEAK to me and my mere existence, dunno about you.

And hey, this is everything that the longtime fan of the series would want in a Rascals documentary...I mean, the bastard's not only chock fulla stories and clips familiar or not galore, but it also gives us fairly accurate accounts regarding the major players of both the silent and talkie eras not to mention all of the black kids like Farina and Stymie who we always felt deep affection for even in those pre-civil rights days. Best of all we get to know about their real life existences not only while they were young 'n rascals but in their post-kid adult days and such, giving us updates and (most of all) that final curtain call for those talented young stars who made nonviable clumps of cells like myself want to join up with 'em and like pronto.

Of course that means yer gonna get a load of the obvious like that scene from IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE where Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer opens up the high school gym floor to reveal the swimming pool underneath but stuff more attuned to the BLOG TO COMM frame of derangement. I'm talkin' about things like that scene in the East Side Kids' SPOOKS RUN WILD where Sunshine Sammy as Scruno dusts about the portrait of a flesh and blood Bela Lugosi who utters that infamous "awwww---SHIT" which I guess got more'n a few kids out there wonderin' whether or not they heard right! It's stuff like that for which I live, and for that I dig these traipses back into a ranch house upbringing via a comedy series that was ancient history even then all the more.

You also get loads of oft-time neglected silent-era info and the dirt on the talkie and later-on post-Rascals MGM years as well, and best of all we even get a peek at those weird obscuro things that keep me coming back like early syndication opening clips and even some movie-theatre ad where Spanky's more or less endorsing some new bike that I doubt 99% of the people watching said ad could afford. There's even a clip of Roach and the Rascals meeting with Mussolini's son back when Benito was considered a Third Way kinda hero neither communist nor National Socialist, at least until he invaded Ethiopia and ruined everything.

But ill-fated dictators aside it's a good and easy watch, informative and memory jogging, even to the point where I could recall some sunny morning as a three-year-old watching Jackie Cooper push Wheezer and Petey down that steep road while they were hiding in a drainpipe thinking about how much fun that would be (taking the ride that is, not pushing the 'pipe!). And it sure brought back fine memories of a time in life where I didn't have to be bugged by anything more terrorizing than my cyst-er and everything from going to the supermarket to visiting the relatives was as big an adventure as anything those great moom pitcher kids were doin'. And believe you me, when I discovered that those comedies were made years earlier than I thought (after espying an outdoor scene with nothing but old cars---heck I thought those comedies were CONTEMPORARY!) I knew that my chances of being a Rascal were long gone. Oh well, in a few years I could always hope to be a castaway on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! ORDER TO ASSASSINATE STARRING HELMUT BERGER!


Atmosphere is essential in a crime film....you can forgive a number of flaws if you can feel and taste the atmosphere, and ORDER TO ASSASSINATE has atmosphere to burn. Released in Europe in 1974 and then issued in the US in 1975 under the name ORDER TO KILL (the VHS tape from which my DVD-R was copied has a cheesy video title of MISSION TO KILL...and the film is also known as HEAD OF THE SERPENT), ORDER TO ASSASSINATE was shot in the Dominican Republic, which gives it a fresh flavor and distinctive and atmospheric tropical locations. A number of Euro-crime films have used the general Caribbean area well, from VIOLENT CITY with Charles Bronson to MEAN TRICKS with Charles Napier (and let’s not forget some of the Terence Hill and/or Bud Spencer films which were shot in Florida or the islands).

In this one, Helmut Berger plays an American Army deserter who has become involved with a crime organization operating out of Santo Domingo (led by head mobster Kevin McCarthy! yes, of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS fame), and when he hesitates on a hit of a friend he’s ordered to do, he gets on McCarthy’s kill-list. At the same time, he’s being courted by US law enforcement heavy-hitter Jose Ferrer (I’m not sure what government agency he works for....as an FBI officer, he’d have no jurisdiction in the Dominican Republic--although he talks of “orders from the Embassy”--and he does not seem to be CIA as he’s more of a police sort than an intelligence sort, but hey....who asks questions like that for a film like this...settle back and enjoy the ride!), who is in this film A LOT and has the requisite gruff badass authority needed (and who dubs his own voice, fortunately, as does McCarthy).

Helmut Berger has always been a one-of-a-kind film presence. Rocketing to stardom in Luchino Visconti’s THE DAMNED, he pretty much cornered the market in the field of bored, jaded, debauched, formerly aristocratic characters who had fallen from grace. Think of him as a willowy, upper-class Austrian version of Joe Dallesandro or a more desperate and dissolute Fabio Testi who hasn’t eaten for a few weeks. He has a magnetic presence in anything he’s in, and his long career has shown him to be a very versatile actor and a man who still has the same magnetic presence in his 70’s that he had in his 20’s. A non-traditional documentary was made about him a few years ago--HELMUT BERGER, ACTOR--which I need to see, and which was labeled by John Waters as best film of the year. Here, he’s just right as the man without a country, and even without a clear identity. Dressed in the light colors you’d expect in a tropical area, with his shirt always unbuttoned 2/3 of the way down, he’s not so much a typical tough guy but a man who has checked out of conventional life-as-it-is-lived (and both the cops and criminals are playing on opposite sides in the same game, a game which Berger has drifted beyond) and has nothing left to lose. He’s quite convincing and charismatic as the anti-hero here.

With the usual Italian 70’s crime-funk-jazz soundtrack, a gritty look and feel to both the photography and the locations and sets, a plot where pretty much everyone winds up dead (oh, pardon me....spoiler!), and the gravitas brought to the film by such heavyweights as Jose Ferrer and Kevin McCarthy and Renato Rossi (aka Howard Ross, aka Red Ross), ORDER TO ASSASSINATE delivers the goods. I’m surprised to see it get mediocre or negative reviews among the few writeups found for it (mostly by Eurocrime completists). Let me put it this way, anyone who would get excited about the prospect of seeing Helmut Berger circa 1974 as an existential hit-man in an Italian crime film shot in the Dominican Republic with Jose Ferrer as a burned-out cop and Kevin McCarthy as a gleeful mob boss....and I would assume we could count many BTC readers in that category....will get EXACTLY what you’d want from this film. Since I have two hands, I’ll give it two thumbs up.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

I can't believe it---here I made it through the first week of 2018 and nothing even remotely catastrophic has happened to me or to any of my precious possessions for that matter! Not that I'd expect anything particularly evil (remember that word?) to happen considering how I try to remain holed up in my once-fart-encrusted bedroom throughout the winter months (spent the autumn doing a major chipping expedition...by the way, you need any fuel for your coal furnace?), but here it is the weekend and I am sad-to-say to the detriment of my enemies relatively safe and sound! And hey, I'm not even dreading the frigid months at all not only given the great music that has been heading my way these past few days/weeks/months/years but due to the fine reading material whether it be old fanzines, new fanzines, comic strip and book collections to keep me well occupied (actually, whatever flotsam might be found lying about). Bill's Christmas gifts are gonna be put to good use as the weeks roll on, what with the stack o' books he sent not forgetting an entire season of a radio classic that I really can't wait to pour myself into once the cold weather doldrums really start rampagin' my typically delicate system.
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IN CASE YOU WANNA KNOW, here's what I've been listening to this week, not counting various items up for review in this or future posts! Can-MONSTER MOVIE, Creme Soda-TRICKY ZINGERS, Amon Duul-PARADIESWARTS DUUL, Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band-CLEAR SPOT,  the Electric Eels-THEIR ORGANIC MAJESTY'S REQUEST, Dick Hyman and Mary Mayo-MOON GAS and Syd Barrett-BARRETT. Choice reading material-Sandy Robertson's WHITE STUFF fanzine (the issue with the Henry Miller article) not to mention a spot skip reading of R. Meltzer's THE AESTHETICS OF ROCK (emphasis on the footnotes just like Eddie Flowers does!) which is perhaps the way it was meant to be read.

Records (and reading) like this remind me of those great days of record prowling, collecting and absorbing, when records, fanzines and choice magazine articles (mostly from CREEM but elsewhere as well) seemed less like collections of random soundspurts and more like neo-sacred texts or keys to temporary joy in otherwise drab lifestyles. Sheesh, I think I better stop glomming THE TEXTS OF FESTIVAL before I really go over the deep end what with all this rock as a secret code and pathway to being your own deca-neointellectual spirited self just like those doofs you've worshiped from afar!
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Nice-a buncha-a records we gotta here this week, kid. Heapin' hunka thanks go to Bill Shute, Paul McGarry and P.D. Fadensonnen for the freebees, and of course-a me for-a workin' atta livin' to buy-a da rest!


Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention-BACON FAT CD (Keyhole Records, England)

Remember that dream I had about thumbing through a stack of Frank Zappa and/or Mothers albums that I had come across in the basement, looking upon loads of platters that sure seemed familiar but which in fact I never laid eyes upon before or since for that matter? Well, judging from the freaky cover seen on the left I wouldn't doubt one bit that BACON FAT was part of that stack, for this live platter (taken from an FM broadcast courtesy the CBC) is a definitely hotcha recording that I sure wish I had hold of during my teenbo days of record collecting had it only been flyin' aroun' back then!

It's taken from an all-cylinders on pump night where not only is the band playing good but Zappa's not in one of his arrogant moods where he makes the audience feel like a bunch of retardos. Rare numbers (even rare for the bootleg crowd!) and exemplary performances are in store, and the shebang even ends with a hot cover of "All Night Long" that makes Ruben and the Jets' version sound kinda feh! I'm sure glad Keyhole Records are releasing these rarities for the massholes amongst us, and if they can keep the high quality stuff up I'll be sure that 2018 will end up as one hot year for rock 'n roll, even if it is rock 'n roll of a decidedly vintage nature!
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Tony Williams Lifetime-LIVE @ UNGANO'S, NYC 6/28/70

There's a new and legit (I think) Lifetime album featuring a classic live set from '69 comin' out shortly, so this particular set should prime me up for that in nothing flat. Sound quality (if you care) is audience cassette level, but the performance is crazed enough for any true believe to admire. Song selection is grand, made up of pastiches from familiar Lifetime album tracks with new arrangements and other aural trinkets tossed in making for something that would be unique to even those in on the game for a good fortysome years.

Actually this gig presented a better-than-average sampler of everything that fusion jazz was supposed to be all about until the likes of Return to Forever (I heard their debut on Polydor was hokay...was it???) started gaining the attention of the bowtie and tux jazz aficionados out there in schmooozeland. Enjoy this now, because in a good ten years it was all gonna be Stanley Clarke!
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THE DICE CD-r burn (originally on Polygram Records)

Here's a mid-eighties rock group that didn't flop about like so many others during those decidedly anti-rock times. Toronto's Dice aren't anything to toss the cornflakes over, but they do have an early-seventies punk sort of rave about 'em that reminds me of all those great flea market finds I was afraid to spend fifty-cents over (money being a rare commodity those days). Not bad...reminds me of Mott the Hoople in parts so if you liked them who knows?
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Henry Mancini-ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK LP FROM ORSON WELLES' TOUCH OF EVIL CD-r burn (originally on Challenge Records)

Eh, it's a soundtrack album of which you can find for a dime a dozen in any stack o' platters to be found at an antiques shop near you. It's nothing that really perks my pubes so-to-speak but I gotta admit that it sure sounds more boffo 'n whatever it is I hear passing for incidental sounds on whatever tee-vee program I might be trapped into watching these days. Did I ever tell you that my uncle from Aliquippa Pee-YAY grew up and about with Henry Mancini way back when? From what my departed uncle had told us lumpen kids, Mancini was a real sissy boy who used to carry his violin around in a case just like those Mama's Boys you used to see in THE LITTLE RASCALS. Haw, and that guy made more money in one day than my uncle saw in his entire life!
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Fever Tree-ANOTHER TIME, ANOTHER PLACE CD-r burn (originally on Uni Records)

I must admit that I had earned some respect for Fever Tree after reading that they swiped their arrangement of "Hey Joe" from the Red Crayola (something which I probably mentioned in every other Fever Tree review of mine---why stop now?), but I was wary of just what the rest of their output sounded like! Judging from this platter not that bad really...yeah the slick big label production is in full force and what might have been straightforward late-period first generation psychedelic songs are testosteroned up, but I'll take these guys over the Jefferson Airplane any day. And hey, the Airplane never could work up the freaky quotient the way they could on a track like "Grand Candy Young Sweet" no matter how much Nick Tosches might doth protest! Best of all, this can get jazzy and classically tinged as all get-out, yet it doesn't make ya wanna puke even with the strains of "We Shall Overcome" opening the LP closer "Death is the Dancer". A nice surprise from a group that coulda made it bigger with a little push from the label, but then again what else is new?
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JOSHUA CD-r burn (originally on Rockadelic Records)

For being one of those early-seventies peace 'n love platters, JOSHUA ain't that bad. Yeah you have to sit through the group's whole 1971 pacifist ploy which looks even sillier now than it did then (all that comes to mind is this old political cartoon I remembered where some guy in a chicken suit is holding a protest sign that reads "WAR IS IMMORAL") but some of the track do rock out and contain good melodies that hold my attention. It's nothing that makes me feel great like most of the first psychedelic era offerings extant can (this is more or less second generation psychedelic petering out into BLESS THE BEASTS AND CHILDREN sensitivity) but it holds up if only slightly. And thank your lucky stars that they didn't have a horn section or else this woulda come off even worse'n Mom's Apple Pie!
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AFRTS CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

I'm still tryin' t' figure out the title of this one. Could it be a really simple "Jumble" of which the solution is "farts"??? Whatever it means, it just could be an obscure Cambodian term that loosely translates into "boy does this Cee-Dee make me wanna go to sleep!"

Actually the disque starts off fine if 'tard-y what with this radio quiz show entitled ARE YOU A GENIUS which I guess was broadcast to bolster the lower IQ'd World War II soldier's ego what with the rather simple questions that were being popped out to you the listener (though I shouldn't brag...I actually missed the one about how many pounds of milk goes into a pound of butter 'n the answer is "twenty-one" in case you're as doofus as me!).

INVITATION TO LEARNING is even more boring, a panel discussion group program dealing with philosophy the kind that Linus of PEANUTS fame used to watch when these things popped up on tee-vee. This kind of programming might have been good 'nuff for that egghead but please leave me outta it!

Closing it out are a buncha PSA and related made for the armed forces in Vietnam and with cornballus radio like this no wonder all those hopheads were deserting! The anti-drug ones sure had me nostalgic...for the days when all those hippies were droppin' like flies and I sure didn't feel sorry for 'em even though my teachers said we should because they're victims or something like that! I mean, if you gotta feel sorry for someone why not let it be for yourself!

Thursday, January 04, 2018

FUN-TIME MAGAZINE REVIEW! UGLY THINGS #46 (available via Forced Exposure)

I must say that I rang the old year out right with this particular piece of rock "journalism" pretty much in the same way I rang 1971 out reading the final installment of "The Kree/Skrull War" series in THE AVENGERS. In other words, this particular issue of UGLY THINGS really is gritty after all! It got me all hot and bothered with juices flowin' in the same manner as when I was a kid approaching the toy shop counter wond'rin which Matchbox car my fifty pennies were headed for, or thinking that maybe I could afford that copy of JAMMING WITH EDWARD that was being sold for $1.99 at the local department store. Or getting the latest catalog from Renaissance/Systematic/Bomp and being stymied by the vast array of not available in stores in the tri-county area kinda offerings that were made available for a bozo who wanted to be subhuman scum since all of the higher forms of life were waxing eloquent over Pat Benetar. It really is that crucial to me.

Hokay the Equals never were my favorite late-sixties rock 'n roll saviors even if "Baby Come Back" was a monster thudder, but the epic-length interview with singer Derv Gordon had be glued to my seat even more'n when my sweaty nude body would sit firmly upon a Naugahyde reclining chair during a heat wave. The Goldbriars history probably never would have popped up in this mag if it weren't for the Music Machine connection but somehow I was attracted to the thing like flies toward Dave Lang's body aroma. And frankly I wasn't that interested in either the Total Crudd or Simon Stokes pieces even with the Dictators and Spats connections firmly in place. But I read 'em and liked the pieces even if I don't know what the latter especially rated such a big story in a magazine that used to avoid the anti-second wave of psychedelic rock 'n roll with a feral passion, ifyaknowaddamean...

Here's WHAT got  rip-roarin' over this latest ish of UT...first off the unexpurgated interview with ultimo rock 'n roll legend Captain Beefheart done up by Greg Prevost, originally produced for the third issue of his long-gone and sorely missed fanzine FUTURE but presented en toto complete with gaffes and flubs galore (Greg didn't know about the animosity Van Vliet had for Wild Man Fischer that's for sure!) complete with rare photos and Greg's own personal background regarding that fateful night he approached the man.

Also hotcha was the piece on the tracks that were slated for but ultimately left off the holier-than-anything-you-could-pick-up-in-the-budget-racks NUGGETS compilation of first-era psychedelic and thud rock classics. True, a few of the rejects would have fit in snuggingly (Blue Cheer's "Summertime Blues" comes to mind) but others like Dr. Feelgood and the Interns' "Mr. Moonlight" (from 1962---you'd think that if Lenny Kaye were to stretch the time boundaries the way he stretched the term "psychedelic" the likes of the Kingsmen and Trashmen would have appeared!) and Pearls Before Swine's "Drop Out" seem rather odd. Really, if Kaye were to dip from the ESP font you'd think that "Frenzy" by the Fugs or something from the second Godz album woulda been a better representation of the spirit of rock 'n roll as that mad mid-sixties driving force. Even the Holy Modal Rounders woulda been swell though they were on Elektra so like maybe they, like Love, were disqualified on that count alone!

And the other articles on everything from the Balloon Farm to Dylan to Geoff K/Crozier were fine and reminiscent of that whole era (roughly 1964-1981---the latter twelve of those on a strictly under-the-counterculture level) also held my brain in blissful rockist check, not to mention the reviews galore (even if I don't think I'd part with any of the filthy lucre this time) and the better than anything you'll find in the "real life" mainstream press contributors. My faves this time were Bill Shute (for obvious reasons) and Tim Stegall who seems to be developing into one of the better fanzine-bred writers I've seen in ages. He sure put all of those a$$holes who used to razz him mercilessly in their place that's for sure, and I hope to read more of his scribings not only in these pages but elsewhere, wherever that may be!

So what UGLY THINGS #46 worth the time to purchase, pour through and digest? What the fanabla do ya think, pud?

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! THE AMAZING DR. G STARRING FRANCO AND CICCIO!



The Italian (actually, Sicilian) comedy duo of Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia were a huge presence in Europe in the 1960’s, churning out 10 films a year and doing parodies of various successful film genres of the day. They are best known to North American audiences, if they are known at all, for two films they made with American stars which were released in the US dubbed in English: PRIMITIVE LOVE with Jayne Mansfield, and WAR ITALIAN STYLE with Buster Keaton. They are often described as “two Jerry Lewises,” and there IS some truth in that, but it’s a bit more complex. Franco (the shorter and more manic one) is like Jerry Lewis after five energy drinks, but beyond that general shtick he also plays upon the Italian stereotypes of Sicilians and he is the one who usually initiates the duo’s interactions with others. He has a rubbery face and is a wild physical comedian, going well beyond Lewis or Lou Costello. Ciccio (the taller and less manic one) is to some extent filling the role of a Bud Abbott or an Oliver Hardy, in that he thinks he is the smart one of the pair and to some extent he bullies his partner, but when put under pressure he seems to be even more out-of-it than Franco.

I would not claim to be an expert on their dozens and dozens of films....I’ve seen probably 7 or 8 of them....but as with comedy teams from The Three Stooges to Abbott and Costello, you can pretty much put these guys into ANY setting and just let them do their thing....think of Bud and Lou on the high seas, in the army, in the West, in the Revolutionary War, you name it! THE AMAZING DR. G. is Franco & Ciccio’s parody of James Bond-style spy films (and they did more than one of those). Of course, many Eurospy films WERE parodies themselves, and many that weren’t outright parodies were played somewhat tongue-in-cheek, so the “plot” here is no more ridiculous than in the typical Eurospy film. It has a superb musical score by Piero Umiliani which has the wordless female vocalizing and the Latin trumpet solos one expects of the spy soundtrack but also supports the comedy well. And the cast is excellent--the great Spaniard Fernando Rey (see pic), best known to Americans for THE FRENCH CONNECTION, but one of the busiest and most versatile actors in Europe, plays the criminal mastermind GOLDGINGER; a young George Hilton (before his big spaghetti western fame) appears briefly as 007; the Peruvian strongman Dakar, well-known to sword and sandal film fans, plays Molok, a mostly-silent (except for the occasional grunt) enforcer character not unlike Harold “Odd Job” Sakata did; and Rosalba Neri graces the film with her presence.

If you’d like one detail from the film to give you a taste of what it’s like, Franco carries around a seductive female mannequin leg with a bit of sexy dress attached to its top, keeps it in a cello case, and uses it for hitch-hiking and to entrap others to stop and check it out. The film is played out on THAT level.
This was picked up by American International TV for one of its US television packages, dubbed in English and retitled as THE AMAZING DR. G. (the original title was DUE MAFIOSI CONTRO GOLDGINGER (see posters). Those who watch a number of 60s European dubbed films know the pool of voice actors who dub the majority of these films, and it’s enjoyable to hear voices you know from Italian westerns or sword and sandal films playing various spy parts and also doing exaggerated comedy.

Lowbrow comedy never really gets the praise it is due. The Bowery Boys or Larry The Cable Guy or Jim Varney will never get any industry awards. In a way, the Terence Hill and Bud Spencer duo films picked up the baton from Franco and Ciccio in Italian cinema, and carried it through the 70’s and 80’s , and other than here at BTC and among their legions of fans, you don’t see THEIR films getting much acclaim either. And the comedy of one culture does not often translate well into another culture which is not familiar with the regional and cultural subtleties which are being lampooned. However, for me the comedy of Franco and Ciccio does still entertain because their ridiculous personas and the extreme physical comedy transcends culture and foreign dubbing. If you like Jerry Lewis at his most extreme or Huntz Hall at his most wired (as he was in the films after Leo Gorcey left the Bowery Boys and was no longer there to keep him in check), then you’d probably also love this film. And if you are a Eurospy film fan on top of that, THE AMAZING DR. G. may well be a dream come true for you the way it is for me.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Well, there goes another year that I'm glad I managed to sweat through relatively intact! As if there were any good years these past few decades that graced my being but man, this one was worse than most, leaving me a mass of balled nerves and shattered tendons on the brink of total breakdown! Unfortunately for you I made it through relatively intact and even sane for that matter which means we just MIGHT have another year of BLOG TO COMM for all of you to shudder and toss epithets at...aren't you glad???

Well at least I did manage to get more'n my share of fun in having read about as many comic books during the past 365 as I did twixt 1975/2016, not to mention my getting into some more crucial (meaning more'n just weather bulletins) television viewing thanks to the appearance of programming that' WORTH tuning into (THE JACK BENNY PROGRAM, ROY ROGERSSOUPY SALES, PERRY MASON, TWILIGHT ZONE...). And there were many good rock fanzines (both old and new) and rock books to occupy my precious time, and best of all there have been many good records made by exemplary musical acts released in 2017 which helped keep me further and further away from the noose, or in my case a Ny-Quil overdose! And hey, knowing that the Droogs are still up and active after all these years does give me hope for the future I'll tell ya.

But if I hadda do it over again I would prefer doing it 1958 style, and I wasn't even ALIVE then! Dunno how 2018'll fare but frankly, I ain't bettin' for much in a positive direction. I mean, we all gotta decay sometime.

And with that well, here are the bests of the year which I gotta say I am going out on feeling slightly chipper about despite a gloomy outlook for the following rotation. Match your list with this one and see that mine is much better, smoother, easier on the touch...


CEE-DEE ALBUM OF THE YEAR!-The Droogs' YOUNG GUN (Plug 'n Socket)-Welcome back guys, we missed you!
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VINYL ALBUM OF THE YEAR!-The Lords of Thyme's THE FUTURE OF THINGS PAST, brought to you by the team of Byron Coley and Nigel Cross, and when two great saints meet it sure is a humbling experience!
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LIVE ALBUM OF THE YEAR!-Gary Wilson and the Blind Dates' LIVE AT CBGB, one reason why I think the creative surge of the mid/late seventies in rock 'n roll (or in this case jazz rock) was even more important than the magic mid-sixties, albeit on an underground, more offensive level!
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SINGLE OF THE YEAR!-I don't think I've even heard a new single this year so I'll have to rely on an old one that spun my heels like mad! Namely Treatment's "Stamp Out Mutants"/"Dontcha Know" which came out like 1981 way but really captures the seventies space rock mantra as well as any of those leftover psychedelic warlords did!
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JAZZ (OR JAZZ-ROCK, OR CLASSICAL JAZZ-ROCK, OR AVANT GARDE  CLASSICAL JAZZ-ROCK, OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT) ALBUM OF THE YEAR-Weasel Walter's A POUND OF FLESH Four-CD set (ugEXPLODE)-STILL tryin' to figure it out, and am goin' crazy in the process!
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REISSUE OF THE YEAR!-Jacques Thollot's INTRAMUSIQUE (Alga Marghen Records)
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GUITAR AND STRINGS CEE-DEE OF THE YEAR!-Tom Crean's 3 HEADS TAME (Kendra Steiner Editions)
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CASSETTE OF THE YEAR!-RAZORLEGS
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FANZINE (IN THE GRITTIEST SEVENTIES SENSE MORE OR LESS) OF THE YEAR!-VULCHER, what else (other'n UGLY THINGS which isn't gritty anymore and might just have made that transition into being a serious mag after all these years!)? OK, maybe this one.
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BOOK OF THE YEAR (ROCK 'N ROLL DIVISION)!-even if if came out last year just has to be TOTAL CHAOS, the history of Iggy and the Stooges the way we like it, up front and raw. Lotsa neat illios of items and stories that'll curl your insides, plus even more insight into one of the better concepts in rock 'n roll from the late-sixties/early-seventies cusp. Runner Up---the John "Inzane" Olson LIFE IS A RIPOFF collection I reviewed in (I think) VULCHER...it's been soooooo long ago...
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BOOK OF THE YEAR (SECULAR DIVISION)!-BEHAVING MADLY, which only goes to show you that imitation is the sincerest form of trying to make a quick buck and failing miserably at the newsstands!
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MOOM PITCHER OF THE YEAR!-WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH HELEN? which came out in 1972 but it was my fave popcorn popper into the mouth sitdown and enjoy yourself of this year!
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DEATH OF THE YEAR!-No bout a doubt it...CHARLES MANSON, the true spokesman (notice I said spokesman and not the neutered anti-male choice of the day spokesperson!) for a generation who was way more revealing of the true state of late-sixties/seventies youth than all of those other spokesmen ever could be!
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BLOG POST OF THE YEAR!-this HIGH SIX tickles my fancy, for obvious reasons.
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ANTI-HERO OF THE YEAR!-Tyrone Rage
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BLOG OF THE YEAR (OTHER'N MINE)-BoP-PiLLS, which is all in French but has the same spirit of those French fans of the seventies who helped put the likes of Patti Smith and Buddy Holly on the fandom radar. Plus they linked up my review of the classic French fanzine SNEAKERS which somehow egged 'em on to locate the editors of this one-shot wonder, and for that I somehow feel warm and toasty inside!
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PUBLIC ANIMAL OF THE YEAR!-John "Inzane" Olson!

Had enough? Howzbout some reviews (items courtesy Bill, Paul, P.D. and myself for that matter)...

Derek Bailey/Anthony Braxton-ROYAL 2-LP set (Honest Jon's Records England, available via Forced Exposure)

I'm sure most of you olde tyme BLOG TO COMM readers remember the days when Anthony Braxton was considered one of the hotcha up-and-coming stars in jazz? It sure seemed a miracle considering just how outta-the-bowtie and tux loop Braxton was, but at least his brief time in the spotlight allowed for many small labels to capitalize on his notoriety and release old sessions with him either as leader or sideman...a capitalist ploy even Archie Shepp would like. Some of these records even made their way into the local record shops especially if they were on small domestic labels like Muse or Inner City, and considering just how blahsville a trip to the record shop became a good five years later it's amazing that the karmic alignment was all whooziz to the point where things like Anthony Braxton albums could be sold in record bins at the same time groups like the Flamin' Groovies and Stooges were being hawked! As the old song goes, "Them days are gone for-ever!!!"

This session with noted avant garde guitarist Derek Bailey was recorded during Braxton's ascent into major label territory and shows the reedsman in relatively fine form going through all those contrabass bleats and post-Ayler squeals as Bailey gets even more expressionist than usual on his instrument. It might seem too aht-ty to some but I find it perfectly in that pre-pretentious seventies experimental mode that didn't reek so much once things got too experimental to the point where Braxton would eventually end up performing with a comedian (!---even concertos for 100 tubas seems sane in comparison). This is a driving sound that comes off like the soundtrack to my mental breakdown, not overbearing but forceful and (best of all) nerve shattering.

I still have an affinity for these sixties/seventies jazz trailblazers who were taking the music into areas many deemed unimaginable, and if you still harbor some thrills for the days when music had become more of an adventure than mere backdrop I get the feeling you might have a hankerin' for this as well.
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Son House-THE ORIGINAL DELTA BLUES CD-r burn

Sounds like one of those guys who spent a good portion of their upbringin' hangin' 'round the Southern States until some whiteguy Northerner (read: modern day carpetbagger) who was coppin' a whole lotta blues in his music went down 'n got the guy rediscovered 'n all making a FORTUNE in the process. Not that bad an encapsulation of the early pre-electric guitar slide sound that sounds drivin' enough even without the electricity or a full band behind it. Loads of drive and passion in this music and even a guy who is cool to the blues like myself can appreciate it for what is was and the whole barrel o' jamz this music ultimately led to!
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Martin Escalante-DESTROYED ON EVERY LEVEL CD-r burn (originally on Sploosh Records)

Leave it to Fadensonnen to brighten up my holidayze with a wild off-the-wall platter such as this. And I wondered where the new generation of nose splicers was coming from...outta nowhere Escalante (on "modified alto sax") comes upon us to present some of the most uncompromising, distorted and thus PURELY ENERGETIC jazz to be heard in some time...reminds me of this one Lester Bowie track I heard on WKSU-FM one night back '83 way, or maybe even Frank Lowe before he read that review about his "over-blowing" and changed his style for perhaps the worse.  Whatever, this is one of those little pit stops in life that prove to you that maybe all in music isn't quite lost...yet.
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The Feelies w/Richard Lloyd-LIVE @ MAX'S KANSAS CITY 1/19/78 CD-r burn

As you all know I never cared for the Feelies who, like a number of the under-the-covers New York acts of the late-seventies, just didn't translate into high-energy driving rock 'n roll the kind of which makes up my sustenance or something like that. However, these live recordings with soon-to-be ex-Television guitarist Richard Lloyd sound pretty good even if they're nothin' but jammin' the night away. Hot riffage based on everything from "Baby Come Back" to "Sister Ray" is utilized as the group goes in and out of the usual (and not-so) lines making for something that probably was not only fun to play, but definitely is fun to listen to! A dowload look-see on your part is something shouldn't be out of the question.
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Normil Hawaiians-MORE WEALTH THAN MONEY 2-CD set (Upset the Rhythm Records England, available via Forced Exposure)

Like a lotta these early-eighties English avant garde thingies, the brilliant is at times washed out not only by the effete, silly and repetitive. But as you would have expected the synthesized strings washing everything out. Still in between the casiotones and the maudlin vocals one can discern snatches of Syd and the usual variety of interesting tidbits that were tossed into many a project such as this during those rather confused times. An interesting peek into the workings of the young English rock mind but be warned...exciting and perhaps even downright exhilarating passages will lead to tracks of total boredom and if discretion needs to be advised for anything it is an effort like this.
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Les Rallizes Denudes-5-13-87 MEGUMA ROCUMEIKAN CD-r burn

After a spell of nada it's sure good hearing Mizutani and company (whoever they may be this time!) again. Great performance including the same faves they've been performing for years, great sound and even the jazz drummer sitting in doesn't get in the way. What more can I say but...deep dark droning psychedelic rock that, unlike the San Fran brethren, continued its dark mission long after the hippoid affectations wore thin and all that came out was pure hackery.
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UFO w/Larry Wallis-MARQUEE CLUB 1/3/72 CD-r burn

I believe some of this came out on that UFO boot I reviewed a year or two back (don't have the hard info in front of me because y'see, I'm typing this while I should be working 'stead of at home on my own time) but it's still a MUST HAVE for those of you who still stand by the early-seventies Third Generation era of hard scrunch before it became so simpy that even your pudgoid ten-year-old cousin could like it. AGAIN, if you like the first three UFO albums and shudder at those later ones that seemed to speak for everything BAD about what heavy metal had become whilst we all were looking, look no further than a burn such as this.
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Various Artists-RED HOT SCHLITZ HOLIDAY TWIST CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Boy does this thing start out pretty inner city ifyaknowaddamean what with the great hunking blob of downright r&b/soul selections from the likes of the Moroccos and Bill Doggett to some Rudy Ray Moore tracks just custom made for the Holiday Season. Hey Bill, thanks for the warning now that EVERYBODY inna fambly got an earfulla his "Night Before Christmas" while I left the room! For a minute I thought this burn was gonna come with an invitation to join the Urban League! Then allava sudden the thing gets real backwoods country twang making for a shift in storm fronts that woulda caused a tornado in real life! Then it's back to the dirty stuff (the Couplings) before I get hauled off to bed with no supper...you really know how to spring them surprises on me Bill!!!
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And with that, piss on earth, good will toward none!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! POINT BLANK STARRING LEE MARVIN, ANGIE DICKINSON, JOHN VERNON AND CARROLL O'CONNOR, DIRECTED BY JOHN BOORMAN (1967)

Only once in a blue moom does a film affect me in a gut-churning, high adrenaline sorta way, and since the previous picture I saw that did such to me was FLOPPY BUNNY IN THE FUNNY FOREST let's just say there ain't that many flickers out there I can relate to in a hard-edged, get involved way. But man does this particular pelicula make up for years of "recent" (and for me recent can be anything from American Mutoscope and Biograph's PRESIDENT McKINLEY TAKES A STROLL WITH HIS SECRETARY on) footage that just doesn't soothe my inner maniac or reinforce my life energy forces in any way suitable. Now I must admit that although the sixties and seventies were filled with these bruised knuckle bared-wire intensity flicks I haven't had the opportunity to see many of these so-called "neo-noir" films but if POINT BLANK is any indication of what else is in store then get me a wheelchair, remove half my jaw and call me Roger Ebert!

One time he-man ideel Lee Marvin goes on a heist at Alcatraz with longtime character nasty John Vernon, who proceeds to not only shoot and leave his "best friend" for dead because there just wasn't enough moolah in the package to pay off a huge debt to "The Organization", but skedaddles with his unfaithful wife as well! Miraculously (and unbelievably!), Marvin manages to survive the two bullet holes, swims from Alcatraz to safety and boy does he want his 98 thou portion of the deal and like now!

A year later who does Marvin (who goes by the name "Walker" only) meet up with but a guy (Keenan Wynn) who wants to take over The Organization and occasionally appears on the scene to give him some handy names and other tips in a mutual effort for Marvin to get the dough and Wynn to get to the top.

Of course getting the money leads to person after person to the point of utter frustration (at least on my part).At times POINT BLANK kinda reminds me of a certain story in an Archie comic book where Betty, as "Superteen" (this being done during Archie Publication's cash in on the whole Batman camp craze) has to find the "Big Boss" of the crime ring, only to discover that there's an even Bigger Boss to contend with on and on and on. It can get to you, but there are some pretty hotcha scenes of revenge and pure unadulterated violence to keep you going from the one where Marvin wrecks that car while trying to extract info from a stooge to the wild nightclub fight and the one where Angie Dickinson as the cyster of Marvin's now dead wife just keeps hitting and slapping him as he merely stands there unflinchingly until she collapses in exhaustion. These scenes really are good enough for you to forget the artzy shots and angles that occasionally pepper up the screen, not to mention an ending that I believe the standard viewer would deem
"ambiguous".

This moom does pop up inna middle of the night on cable but maybe you can score parts if not all on youtube. However you snatch it, POINT BLANK's a fantastico way to get your own ya ya's out especially after being constipated by decades of flaccid fudge being presented to you as top notch just what the average sorta Joe out there wants entertainment and I kid ye not!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! DESERT NIGHTS (1929) STARRING JOHN GILBERT!!!


Among the many male stars of 1920’s silent films (not including here the stars of comedy shorts or action films, but of major studio productions), JOHN GILBERT has aged better than most. He did not have a florid or stagy or over-stated style, and his under-stated charm and his self-deprecating quality and his mastery of the subtleties of purely visual acting have kept his work fresh over the decades. He was the man that women wanted to be with and men wanted to be. Unfortunately, the untrue claim that his voice was not “right for sound” stuck on him for decades. From my perspective, the truth is that at the coming of sound, Gilbert had the misfortune of starring in two mis-fires (one was so bad that the studio was not going to release it) where the lousy dialogue would have sounded bad coming out of ANYONE’s mouth, and as new careers were being built with the coming of sound and old careers were declining, Gilbert was kind of left at the gate, and by the time he was able to prove himself as a fine sound actor (which he did--watch him opposite his old friend and romantic partner Greta Garbo in QUEEN CHRISTINA, or as the sleazy chauffeur in DOWNSTAIRS (which was based on a story he wrote), or as the master of disguise in THE PHANTOM OF PARIS (a property originally intended for Lon Chaney Sr. but given to Gilbert after Chaney’s death) or in his final performance, as a drunken novelist in the outrageous THE CAPTAIN HATES THE SEA), his career had slipped, his health deteriorated (not helped by his drinking), and he passed away at the age of 36 in 1936.

Gilbert’s silent-film style and persona were taken up and adapted for sound by such actors as Clark Gable and Errol Flynn, and because of their influence, many later male stars were channeling Gilbert second-hand without even knowing it.

DESERT NIGHTS was Gilbert’s final silent film. He’d wanted it to be a sound film, but the MGM brass would not authorize the money. Oh, let me correct myself....this WAS a sound film to some extent. No, not one of those proto-sound films like THE JAZZ SINGER or LONESOME which have three or four minutes of awkwardly recorded dialogue scenes awkwardly shoe-horned into a silent narrative. DESERT NIGHTS was one of those “synchronized sound” films which had an original music score that went out with the film and matched the action plus an occasional sound effect. This was an odd hybrid seen mostly in 1928 films, but also in late 1927 and throughout 1929. Laurel and Hardy made a number of comedy shorts done in this way. I recently saw the 1928 Marion Davies vehicle SHOW PEOPLE, and that also was a “synchronized sound” film with its original score still intact. The original 1929 score really helps DESERT NIGHTS to create mood and it echoes the sounds the audience imagines based on the action they see up on the screen.

DESERT NIGHTS is a lean film, running only 62 minutes (I have not been able to determine whether it was cut or if this is the original running length--reviews from the time cite a 62 minute length), but that keeps things moving quickly and keeps the audience on their toes. The director, William Nigh, is another one of those people (like, say, Phil Rosen) who directed “A” pictures in the silent era but moved into “B” programmers in the sound era. Both Rosen and Nigh worked extensively at Monogram in the 40’s, directing many excellent crime and detective films. They no doubt worked quickly and efficiently and knew how to pace a film, which is why Monogram used them, and the roots of that can be seen here, even though this was an MGM production.

It’s essentially a three-character piece. Gilbert is the manager of a diamond mine in southern Africa, on the edge of the Kalahari Desert. It’s announced to him that “Lord and Lady Stonehill,” two British aristocrats, are coming to visit the operation, Gilbert prepares for them, and when they later arrive at the mine he takes them on a tour, shows them the inner workings of things, and shows them many large uncut stones. He then gets a message from the home office that the Lord and Lady were detained and will arrive a week later....so WHO are these people who are posing as them? Crooks, of course, and they take Gilbert prisoner and escape into the desert with their ill-gotten gain. The phony Lord is played by Ernest Torrance, a Scottish actor who had a successful career playing villains (and also Buster Keaton’s father in STEAMBOAT BILL JR.), and pulls out all the stops here, poisoning water-holes in the desert and being brutal (although in the early scenes, he shows his comic skills when posing as the eccentric and bumbling Lord!). The phony “Lady” is played by Mary Nolan, who’d been in the Ziegfeld Follies and made a number of films in Germany under another name in the 1925-1927 period. Of course, a romance has to happen between her and Gilbert, and it does.

The proposed title for this film was THIRST, and I wonder if that was tapping into the residual memory of the film GREED, which remained the classic of bleak films with desperate people clawing at and destroying each other in the desert. Presumably filmed in the Mohave Desert, the film (which was shot by legendary cinematographer James Wong Howe) is intense even by today’s standards, as the three stagger on, near death and without water, trying to kill each other. Gilbert retains his unique charm even when he’s injured and filthy and near-death in the desert, and the combination of his star-power and the melodramatic plot--and the austere and beautiful desert vistas--keeps the viewer’s attention throughout. This must have looked amazing on the big screen back in the day. The resolution comes quickly and is a bit contrived, but with a major heart-throb like Gilbert, you know he’s not going to get killed and you know he’s going to get the girl, even when the girl’s been literally trying to “get” him for the entire film. Well, evidently she was just under the spell of her svengali partner the whole time, don’t you know, and she now is capable of reform.

DESERT NIGHTS was well-reviewed in its day, but it was lost among the sizzle and flash of all the fully-sound films that were coming out in 1929, and frankly, it had little shelf life left after its initial release as few theaters outside the hinterlands were still showing silent films by mid-1930. John Gilbert’s career hit a roadblock with the coming of sound, and DESERT NIGHTS was quickly forgotten. However, it’s a great star vehicle for Gilbert, it’s great looking with the wide and bleak desert setting, it’s got non-stop back-stabbing excitement as Gilbert and Torrance try to kill each other, and Nolan keeps switching sides--or does she? John Gilbert closed out his silent career with style and class.

As this is an MGM film, it pops up every year or two on TCM (watch for it around John Gilbert’s birthday, January 9), and it’s also available from the Warner Archive. It might be a good choice to show someone who’s never actually sat through an entire silent feature film. Dialogue is not really needed here, and I’d doubt most people not used to watching silent films would even notice it was missing. Of course, we love silent films here at BTC (there was a period in the late 1980’s when I watched mostly silent films, and my children grew up with silent films always in their mix of what we watched together), and we’re happy to see that silent cinema is getting more attention now than at any other time in the last 40 years. D. W. Griffith’s INTOLERANCE may be over 100 years old now, but it’s never too late to experience the purity and the power of the silent cinema....and DESERT NIGHTS might be a good place to start.