Monday, May 31, 2004


Ugh! After fifteen years of gobbling up loads of old TV shows, 1940s B-movies, silents and other entertaining highmarks of civilization on videotape, items which certainly made me a more mentally and spiritually-developed man in a world of unwashed intellectuals (I mean, who's the real smart feller, some guy who who watches Bowery Boys films and NAKED CITY reruns, or one who spends his free time wallowing in Bravo and PBS-styled programming thinking he's naturally and inherently better than everyone else for his impeccable and cultured tastes?), along comes the DVD making one of my favorites forms of entertainment gobbling guess what...OBSOLETE!!! Yeah, the DVD is the new plaything for people who want their favorite programs, want them NOW, and certainly don't want them cluttered up with all of the extraneous stuff like cable network ID logos and upcoming programming come-ons mucking up their screens! Not to mention all of those boss scenes cut out so a few more ads can be thrown into the mix, and you can bet that as soon as I get the technology I'm gonna transfer all of my faverave VCR tapes onto DVD, starting with the ones I taped off distant, fuzzy stations complete with all of those wonderful bits of fly specs and dust hanging in the corners and film jumps and snaps and outta-sync dialogue that bring back hefty nostalgic memories of classic low-budgeted UHF programming! It's this sorta stuff that's gotta be preserved for future generations, not all of that high-minded art that highbrows think symbolizes this dank gulcher you and I live in!

Until then I got myself a whole buncha DVDs, certainly not as many DVDs as I have of videotapes, just the essentials mind you, but enough nonetheless. I wrote about getting the entire SUPERCAR and FIREBALL XL-5 series in the last BLACK TO COMM and if you think I haven't been enjoying those immensely you sure don't know who your humble blogger is! Since then I got a few more that I thought I'd clue you faithful fans in on, since I know you're the type of person who clings to my every word, anxiously awaiting news of my personal likes and dislikes so you can all go back to living...right?????

The DVDs in question today have nothing to do with the variety of old film and television programming that I had been incessantly flogging in the pages of my fanzine ten or so years, these shiny silver dollars more or less tilt towards the (ahem!) rockism mode of my cranial pleasure, and really, for a guy who back in the eighties never thought he'd ever see classic performances by the likes of the MC5, Velvet Underground and Von Lmo on video, it's sure an eye-opening experience eyeballing all of these groups and more on my video (and computer) screen in the here and now. Sure, the impact would have been better had I viewed this stuff when I was younger and even more rabid about the existence of high energy rock & roll than I am now (if that is a possibility!), but as the old sage said better late than never, and when I come down to it all I gotta say is I am a better man for possessing these wonderful DVDs which have enriched my life more than a leather-bound edition of THE CHRISTGAU CONSUMER GUIDE ever could!

The first two DVDs in question deal with a very important part of my listening makeup, mainly krautrock. Again, there was a time when I thought I'd never see any surviving footage of these once-obscure and extremely secretive groups, but thanks to the miracle of laser technology (and an audience finally big enough to support such ventures) we've got a number of fine product that, guess what, we can now enjoy in the privacy of our living more trekking to some rundown picture parlor in the big city to watch these rarities amidst a whole lotta pervos and other urban drek!

The CAN DVD set is what they used to call in the pre-pagan world a "godsend." This package consists of three disques, two of them being DVDs filled with rare and obscure Can material not only from old kraut TV programming but wonders never-before-seen by just about anyone's eyes, while the third is an audio CD filled with newer sounds and interview kadoodle for the really anal retentive amongst us. Both DVDs have a not-so-well-balanced mix of old and new material on 'em, but fortunately for us the old outweighs the new because I never really did cozy up to the post-Can bands which seemed too cerebral for my garage-bred tastes. It's the classic material from the proto-punk early seventies included here that lights my pitted butt!

Disc one has Peter Przygodda's "Can Free Concert" film, a nice though typically early-seventies jump around from scene to scene cinematic excursion that does capture the Can spirit despite the arty editing. It's great seeing Can romping through their TAGO MAGO/EGE BAMYASI material live and in a fashion making you wish that PBS would've aired this strangely fun film back in '75 when we certainly needed it rather'n that Pink Floyd Fillmore thing over and over. The other DVD has a Can documentary and although I usually hate documentaries because they more or less tell you what to think rather than let you make up your own mind, I like the melange of old footage (especially the one with Irmin Schmidt casually yet intensely lecturing the German establishment on the ways of the young while the entire band sits on a stairway!) that strikes a chord, and it's good for me to not only hear, but see the late-eighties reunion with Malcolm Mooney that wasn't quite as bad as naysayers led me to believe!

There are a lot of hidden treasures on these discs, like biographies, photo galleries and even this DVD Rom link where you can see a Brian Eno tribute, and if I were to explore the inner reaches of these DVDs it would probably take me months to dissect and enjoy it all. Worth the money you'll put into it even if you don't cozy up to the group's later work and would undoubtedly be bored silly by the third audio CD featuring a lotta current material that's, well, a fine substitute for Sominex.

Fellow krautrockers Amon Duul II score with their own DVD, which features a twenty-minute scratchy film of the band performing "Phallus Dei" a whole year (1968!) before they committed the thing to vinyl! Yet another treasure that was shown only at a few select European spots before making it to disque, AMON DUUL II PLAY PHALLUS DEI is more of that experimental film-making that was so in vogue at the time flashing between an opening of the sun rising, Warhol-esque static shots of Renate Knaup and Shrat moaning into microphones while a light show bleeps all over, German countryside footage that looks like the opening to a kraut version of GREEN ACRES back to more footage of the band, thankfully now with a wider shot where you can see 'em moving around and adjusting microphone stands, making goony sounds into the mike sorta like what Beaver and Gilbert used to do on LEAVE IT TO BEAVER, and other neat stuff. The resultant stew's even more primal than on the album version, at times getting artfully sophisticado like Frank Zappa while at others raging on a lot like the early-Velvet Underground during the height of the Exploding Plastic Inevitable. For the most part the band looks like the Jefferson Airplane with a Germanic attitude fortunately washing away the peace and love nausea that Grace and company could exude on many an occasion. You get the special extras too like a discography and all, but it's not that important.

Speaking of San Francisco, the Big Brother and the Holding Company ("With Janis Joplin" as you'd expect) ONE HUNDRED NIGHTS DVD is a major surprise. Big Brother were always the more troublesome group on the SF hippie scene, at odds with a lot of the ideals and directions that the rest of the local big names were banking their bucks on, and this surprisingly engrossing documentary (narrated by Rip Torn of all people!) goes on to prove to you why this was so. With band interviews, recollections from Lenny Kaye (yay!) and Ellen Willis (yuck!), and best of all loads of Big Brother footage not only from their 1967 KQED TV appearance but ancient interviews (with David Getz admitting to the interviewer that the main thrust of the Big Brother sound is primitivism!), ONE HUNDRED NIGHTS makes for a much better time encapsulating the best of what SF hadda offer without the peace and love hijinx of too many look backs. What's best about this DVD is that, unlike most rock & roll documentaries which show a quick, fleeting moment of greatness before the narrator barges in to explain to you all the wonderful things you were experiencing before switching to a totally different scene, you get large portions of performances with the original energy and verve intact, with Torn coming in well after you've gotten your peak pleasure out of the song and it doesn't bug ya at all.

One thing I like about this is how Janis, although the definite selling point for this disque, is NOT the star of the show. Janis is treated as just another member in the Big Brother history, someone who joined the band, was on equal footing with the others, and eventually took over the show leading to undoubtedly bigger things. Attention certainly is paid to the other Big Brothers, especialy guitarist James Gurley whose mighty talent is not only talked about, but shown in classic footage which affects you the same way listening to Lou Reed's similarly-styled guitar playing affects you even years after you first heard it!

And what's really surprising about this documentary is how I ended up feeling about Janis afterwards. Believe me, I never was a big fan of Janis and I still profess a strong dislike for her post-Big Brother recordings (which seemed to bring out even more of the hippie tendencies in her style complete with the bad horns and hokey takes on the San Francisco blues and folk roots), but after watching this I gotta admit that I've come away with a more sympathetic attitude towards the woman. Yeah, I know that she's still just a yammering one-dimensional dyke, but, I dunno, the whole story about her being some ugly duckling loathed by everybody she grew up with who went to the big city and made it humongous (hopefully embarrassing everybody who made her life miserable) struck a receptive chord within this oft jaded reviewer! I mean, I still think she dragged Big Brother down in many ways and was way over-hyped at the expense of her by-now "backing band," but that doesn't mean I have to hate her!

(Oh, and you also get the additional DVD attractions of varying interest here, the best being an audio-only take of their version of "The Hall of the Mountain King" which probably best reveals what the original avant garde-y pre-Janis Big Brother sounded like at those live ballroom shows. I would love to hear more of this version of the band especially when they were channeling their sound through a synthesizer not unlike what Eno would be doing with Roxy Music years later, and hopefully that will also see the light of day soon!)

So there you have it...three DVD packages guaranteed to give your tee-vee or computer more honest-to-Lmo action especially in these times where you have over 100 channels to chose from and the only thing on worthwhile is MR. ED at three o'clock inna morning! In the past only the rich and powerful could afford to have film collections brimming with rare necessities such as these, so thank your local capitalist for raising the standards of living so that we can all enjoy these once-obscure items at our beck and call in the here and now, just like the well-off did with rare silent film stock back in the forties!

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Oh yeah...and one more thing...

Is there really such an abstraction as "positive discrimination" in this world of ours??? I guess in today's doublespeak times the "post-communist" elites do believe there are many who deserve to be discriminated against, but then again, I'm sure that anyone who pays lip service to such doggeral also believes in "equality," only their constituents are just "a little more," no make that "a lot more" equal than everybody else. As if we were all "equal" to begin with. As I said long ago, midgets don't play on basketball teams and the amoral have no right to claim they are as moral as the good and decent folk that these "above us all" types love to lambaste in their literature, art and music. You know the breed I'm talking about, the same pointy-heads who will rattle off such inanities as "Oh, he's a moral person...he married her in the delivery room!" while coming down hard on every minor infraction real or imagined at the hands of middle-America as a sign of pure wickedness. Really, I didn't know that Natural Law was ever repealed, but after reading more and more of these self-anointed, know enough for ALL of us "libertarians" you'd sure think it was!

Saturday, May 29, 2004


Albert Ayler was one of the more, er, esoteric of the freedom jazz guys to permeate this writer's psyche during my "I wanna be avant garde too!" days in the late seventies. Esoteric enough that I never could find any of his albums, not that I was looking that hard, and when I finally heard him in the early-eighties (after returning to active avant garde status after a few years of punk dereliction of duty), I must admit that I was surprised. I mean, Coltrane was avant jazz popularized, Coleman was avant jazz scronked, Shepp was avant jazz politicized, Roscoe Mitchell and Joseph Jarman were avant jazz taken beyond its furthest reaches and running around wildly on the other side, but where did Ayler fit? Here's a guy who leaped back into the past and grasped the future taking all sorts of "Great Black Music" and fitting it all into his schizoid style that sounded like a deep, guttural moan from the deepest chasms of a diseased-if-brilliant mind. At times it even could be embarrassing, the same way that AN EVENING WITH WILD MAN FISHER made me cringe because it seemed like Zappa, although professing to be a "friend" (at least until the time Fisher broke his kids' toys giving Frank an excuse to drop him pronto!), more or less was exploiting Fisher's mental instability for his (and our) own voyeuristic pleasure. Almost as bad as if there was a TV show on where retarded people acted bizarre and we were supposed to laugh at it! Listening to Ayler was almost like listening to a mental breakdown, the music of a man about one step away from the sanitarium and even if I didn't know about his alledged schitzoid behavior I could tell he was suffering from SOMETHING. Just like I could tell that Coltrane was filled with the same Spirit as Bach, Coleman an earthy pulse, and Shepp the red brigade, Ayler was filled with angels and demons battling it out, and the demons were winning!

But then there were the moments of pure adrenal euphoria, when Ayler and his band would play on an entirely higher plane, what Wayne McGuire would call "yoga music," which resembled an entirely new genre of sound taking elements of baroque, marches, old Irish reels etc., going for the higher reaches into a free play that seemed to epitomize a never-before-heard spiritual music that would sooner or later envelop the jazz world. Of course it wouldn't (leave that to Chick Corea), but it stood for plenty as far as the direction the jazz avant garde would go in once the mad flash of the sixties would give way to the cacophany of the seventies AACM/BAG/loft scene (jazz gets sore!).

Anyway there's going to be a new nine-CD set put out by Revenant, the same label that gave us the Charley Patton box set a year back that was the "hippest" underground/chic totem of a "new culture" person's collection the same way the MUSIC OF BULGARIA album was on every cool cats' lips back in 1965, and this one looks like it's gonna be the proverbial doozy. Like I said, nine count 'em nine CDs, and they're gonna be crammed with previously-unreleased wonders spanning Ayler's free jazz career starting with the early sixties up until the final days before Ayler's fateful swim. One disc is going to consist of nothing but interviews with not only Ayler but Don Cherry, and besides that there'll be a hardcover 208-page book, rare photos, essays and who knows, maybe even one of his flying saucer tracts telling of third encounters of an Albert and Donald Ayler kind!

I got the promotional CD collecting some highlights from the set, or at least what SOUND like highlights since they're all wild, high-energy jazz tracks that one might think CAN'T get any better. Most is from Ayler's "classic" period which gave us those albums on Freedom and ESP, and there're other little nice thingies like a bit of a sermon (!) and interview extracts to give us an idea of what is in store (including a set with Cecil Taylor, none of which is on this CD!). Describing the music can get redundant...hey, don't you just know it's more of that fine Ayler playing, that totally freestyle beauty that seemed to make up the best of what the sixties had to offer us which made the backbone of the best of what the seventies stood for.

I dunno if I will be forking over the big bucks for the actual box set...after all, I can't have everything that my li'l ol' heart desires and besides, where am I gonna store all these box sets anyway, but if you're game for the cream of the sixties avant jazz scene this item just might be the ticket to an experience that'll probably be the highlight of this so-far lukewarm year. Release date is October 5th, so start your plasma sellin' now! or


Only once in a lifetime, or at least once in a cycle of promotional material does anything really eye-gougeingly great come my way, and thanks to the wonderful folk at Bomp! records (fine purveyors of the underground mode of listening pleasure since 1975!) I got two of their better and latest silver dollars for my dining and dancing pleasure. Wow, this package is so GREAT, so much everything that I thought Bomp! has stood for as far as high energy jamz have gone these past few centuries, that I would consider the release of The Black Lips' WE DID NOT KNOW THE FOREST SPIRIT MADE THE FLOWERS GROW and The Coffin Lids' ROCK 'N' ROLL the greatest thing since 1) Nancy, 2) the hamburger and 3) free promos from Norton, Slippytown and Bomp! come to think of it.

When I first saw The Black Lips cover I thought "Great, the Damned have a new recording out under yet another alias!" Well, these Lips do have the Damned look down along with an ear tilted towards some of the blare that was coming out of the 1977 U of K scene, but there's a lot more to the entire gist of it! Like the other ear tilted towards the sounds of American garage trash circa. 1966 filtered through 1985 "revival", and from this stereophonic slam comes a sound that, true, has been tread more than a few times ever since the Ramones got their chocolate stuck in the Standells' peanut butter, but the unholy mix of (what we used to call) "six-oh" past appeal lumped in with late-seventies punkism makes for a sound and style that settles well in my stomach even years after tons of similar-minded product jaded me to the point of lethargy. This is such a timewarp of a wonder that I'm trying to think if this group woulda been more in place blasting forth from the Podunk High gym sometime in '66, or getting gypped out of their pay at the Scum Club twelve-years later! I guess they're best suited for today, even if today isn't suited for them!

('n yeah, I must admit that between the 1966 garage moves and the 1977 sneer there are a couple weak moments like this harpsichord-y thing with a buncha dumb furriners singing along and the "hidden track" which was jazzy snoot, but that's nothing next to the good twist here. And there's also an enhanced video somewhere on this disque, but since even the CD cover admits that it's a "fad" I think I'll skip over it for now, at least until there's nothing better to do!)

When I got hold of the Coffin Lids' ROCK 'N' ROLL CD and looked at the cover, I thought great, another bunch of Misfits imitators amongst the living! Well, how wrong could a perfect soul as I be, because these Coffin Lids guys, despite having the big muscles 'n droopy hair one would associate with Danzigmania, also have a lotta the same love of 1966 filtered through the excrement-lensed seventies attitude of their Black Lips labelmates. Only tougher, and that's tougher enough that of this nice set of promos I'd have to say that the Coffin Lids are hands down the better of the two. Sure, it has the same look, sway and perhaps even feel as the Lips, but the Sonics crunch 'n burn permeates this pancake to the point where you think the CD is going to snap during play! Boss covers of "Pipeline" and the Rockin' Ramrods' "She Lied" are performed in such a hard and destructive nature that you kinda find it hard to believe these songs were written and recorded by the original artists over forty years ago, and even a person like myself who seems as "feh!" over this stuff as one could be years after the taproot of it all's gotta say that (after a lotta things trying to be there and falling way short)....mmmmm, it sure delivers!!!!

For a label that's been at it for over thirty years (starting with the Flamin' Groovies' "You Tore Me Down"/"Him or Me," a single which pretty much set the stage for subsequent releases and company direction), it's sure good seeing that Bomp! hasn't lost any steam all these years later. Kudos to whoever thought it was a good idea to sign these bands, and for Bomp! for having the courage to release 'em in the face of a post-rock world which seems to be dimming even as we speak!!!

(Bomp, PO Box 7112, Burbank, CA 91510 USA, or

Thursday, May 27, 2004


With all of the talk about "hypocrisy" going around (usually bantered by useless pipsqueaks in order to prove to themselves their own {a}moral superiority) one thing should be kept in mind, and that is being a "reactionary" is not being hypocritical. Edgar Breau once said that all true revolutions were, or perhaps are, reactionary, and the only real hypocrisy I see nowadays is from these high-minded individuals who see those trying to restore the best, most worthy aspects of past knowledge as beyond-redemption traitors to civilization while molly-coddling and/or implicitly supporting the lowest, stupidest, most evil traits making up this oft hyped "New Culture" I've heard championed so much over the years. Somewhere Bob Guccione Jr. smiles...Reading G. K. Chesterton's ORTHODOXY in bits and pieces while listening to THE MARBLE INDEX is about as thick an experience as reading Sartre while listening to the Swans, and about twenty times more beneficial...Best musical experience I've had the past year, any of Les Rallizes Denudes' ever-increasing volumes of illegitimate CDR's packaged in innumerable box sets. This group had it all, from the mad flash that encapsulated all of the better ballroom bands of 1967 San Francisco to the avant garde garage attitude and pulse of the early-Velvet Underground, presented sans the prefabricated superficiality that has plagued too many groups trying to tread upon such sacred ground these days. And sure, the uninitiated may think their songs all sound alike, but as a wiser person once said about the Stooges, their "monotony is a perfect manifestation of genius" while the competition (in the wiser person's opinion, none other than Creedance Clearwater Revival, but I will lump much of the music being played in "the tradition" {hah!} here) "is mere artlessness, to no important effect."

Personal to Mr. TE-REM always seemed to me like pure Velvet redux, not to mention their distilling of a variety of past accomplishment into a sound and package aimed at the usual pseudo-intellectual types who were probably best put to use as those ersatz beatniks you see in old movies. Their whole reason for being seemed like the ultimate end-point in the development and eventual fall of sixties/seventies underground rock history; mainly the better aspects of VU/Byrds/Roky/New York/Bomp! punkability and unique ideas combined, only stripped of all testosterone and molded into an image guaranteed to appeal to the weakest and laziest aspects of postmodern postyouth. But since you've paid much more attention than I would ever dare to I'll take your word for it...My vote for best artist of the twentieth century goes to Wyndham Lewis, who will be seen in the future as a true innovator and perhaps the conscious of the anti-left avant garde despite a few wrong turns here and there. It's a shame that this master is more or less ignored by progressive-looking tastemakers who waste their (and our) time extolling the virtues of relative mountebacks who have been blurring the border between art and shuck for years.

Chesterton once made a remark about the best thing about birth control being that the modernists would become extinct due to it, or something of that nature. All I can say is the best thing about it is that a good portion of the useless bloggers out there will also become extinct, although what they do doesn't even require birth control, if you know what I mean...I wrote a long review of the Birdland CD about three weeks ago but deleted it as the album was over ten years old and I didn't particularly care for how the writeup turned out. I will say that Birdland were probably one of the last of the British weekly-hyped fly-by-night acts that were worth their salt, complete with a look that reminded me of the Paley Brothers times two!

In my Consumer Guide to Rock Critics, Mike Saunders gets an A as do Tim Ellison and Lindsay Hutton. Tim Hinely gets a B, so do Charles Shaar Murray and Nick Kent. I'd love to grade Byron Coley but I haven't read a word of his in ages. As for those getting "C" or lower, you know who they are already!

Hey, want to have fun and put some excitement into this year's presidential election? Well all of you old time TV fans, look at it THIS way, who do you want for president, Jed Clampett or Herman Munster (a better description of the new JFK than Lurch!)??? Well, it was a better choice than in 2000 when we had to choose between Clampett and Himey the Robot!

Was going to write about some early Art Ensemble of Chicago CDs I had received but a coupla pukes beat me to it...As far as free jazz goes, the best place to hear it these days is on the CBGB.COM cybercast of their Sunday evening freestyle series taking place in their lounge. Really, I could care less about the reams of faceless hard rock/alternative/watered-down punk that is happening in the club proper anymore, and while the quieter, more singer/songwriter acts that appear at the CB's 313 Gallery actually seem to be of some interest to me (if only to see something unique and noteworthy like David Peel shouting "God Bless Amerika!" during a September 11 2003 benefit), most of the music there seems more or less new age Joni Mitchell. The free jazz series going on at the CBGB Lounge is no-doubt-about-it in gear not only with my own avant inclinations but with the spirit of the seventies loft jazz movement which yielded five LPs worth of the WILDFLOWERS set on Douglas and a variety of mind-blowing albums to come out of the late seventies jazz scene. In the coming weeks Joseph Jarman is to make a rare appearance (not as leader but that doesn't matter since I thought he gave up jazz for philosophy long ago!) as is Burton Greene. I already caught such great and now-historical appearances by the likes of Sunny Murray and Jackalope (with John Abercrombie), not to mention many of the current (and underappreciated) freedom players reviewed in the latest BLACK TO COMM. I know that the more people tuning into these shows lessens the chance of me even connecting, and many times the picture won't even come on or if it does stops and starts giving an effect similar to LE JETTY, but amidst these technicalities and audio gaffes one gets the same sense of wonder akin to listening to 78s via crystal set in 1920.

History may prove to us all that the post-World War II, pre-hippie era (1946-1967) was probably to our time what the renaissance was to fifteenth-century Italy, but considering the people who write history I pretty much doubt it...Back in the old days when the TV networks really wanted to annoy us, they'd air films of polluted lakes with dead, floating fish on their evening newscasts and gross out a lot of dinner-indulging viewers. Nowadays to get the same effect they run video of lesbian brides lip-locking! Complete with sob stories about how Fred and Marty can't adopt. With such brilliant programming like this who needs Atkins anyway???

Friday, May 21, 2004


When you think about the great independent underground rock & roll labels of the seventies, which ones come to mind? OK bright ones, let's limit it to the United States since there were a whole batch of wild and woolly companies over there in England as we all know...lessee, howzbout Bomp? Hearthan/Hearpen?? Back Door Man??? Dangerhouse???? Ram/Max's Kansas City????? There certainly were a number of small ones that were floating around on this side of the chasm and I'm sure I'll think about a couple dozen more after I post this blog, but (in cast you didn't know having missed the opening title schpiel) the one we're going to talk about today is none other than Gulcher, a label that gets my vote for being one of the better self-issued punk-oriented ones in this line, a company that had a vision and direction to go in, and guess what, they did just that as their fine (and vast) array of product will point out to you!

Gulcher sprang forth from the early seventies Bloomington Indiana hippie college scene with a slight difference than all of those other hippie college scenes of the day. Sure, there was a lotta natural-eating and spiritual rejuvenation going on at Indiana University in Bloomington during those days just like there was elsewhere across the fruity plain, but what set this college town apart from all the rest during those early-seventies post-protest times was that small germ that was brewing, that miniscule seed that most probably wouldn't notice at least until the end of the decade when this unmerciful monster sprung itself forth to shake the karmic klass outta its purple haze and wake them up to the harsh realities of rockism!

This "seed" was evident in a microscopic but thriving underground situated in Bloomington, an underground that, although nobody probably knew it at first, was one that would make the next immediate generation of college kiddies throw away their patchouli and pay attention to what Unca Lou was telling us all along about how you should spend your rock listening time. Or so we thought. Actually, the generation that should have taken the message to heart was just as head-burrowed-up-the-ass as their hippie brothers, only instead of Joni Mitchell wallowing it was the corpulent rock of Styx and REO Speedwagon that spoke for their bong-riddled existences. And when the generation finally discovered the big beat, it was no longer that big and psyche-twisting, watered down by years of REM-inspired mewlings and half-hearted and half-baked performances mixed in with a world-saving attitude that only made the great sounds of the originals seem less stoic in many ways, come to think of it.

Anyway, while the college kids were playing the introspective neurosis game, there was a fine, breathing scene brewin' up in Bloomington. Its health could be discerned by not only two fanzines,((Due to Circumstances) BEYOND OUR CONTROL and INITIAL SHOCK {COPIES NEEDED!!!}), but an independent label (Bar-B-Q) and at least two groups of some local notoriety...the Dead 'n Zappa-ish (but don't let that scare you totally off!) Screaming Gypsy Bandits and MX-80 Sound, a mad guitar/bass bedroom duo consisting of two sometimes-Bandits named Bruce Anderson and Dale Sophiea who would later be joined by not only some drummers but members of another local aggregation called Chinaboise, an ahead-of-their-time bunch that, although showing the same Zappa/John McLaughlin influences as MX-80 Sound, came close to what a lotta the just-post crackup new wave bands were doing in 1982, and eight years before the fact!

Anyway, BEYOND OUR CONTROL, despite some good reviews in the pages of Greg Shaw's BOMP!, wasn't exactly what you would call a totally gonzoid was more or less a "genzine" which covered a wide range of styles within its early-KICKS-ish pages, and those acts reviewed could include some that fit in more or less with what the thrust of this blog is all about. TRANSLATION: although John Denver was featured on the cover of issue #2, BEYOND OUR CONTROL editor Bob "Bear" Richert felt free to let the cream of the early-seventies proto-punk fanzine mafia (Kenne Highland, Eddie Flowers, Scott Duhamel etc.) more or less have some free reign within his pages, resulting in some pretty good rave-ups twixt the fringe jacket hippie and prog rock coverage giving us yet another reason to search out these early spazz writings especially in the present world where boring rote and low-energy puff has replaced the manic attack that could be found with ease during the "Golden Age of Rock Criticism (1969-1976----give or take)."

By 1975 BEYOND OUR CONTROL was out and GULCHER was in. GULCHER was punk rock personified, at least for the people who bought sixties garage band records and kept their ears open with regards to what was going on at CBGB during those transitional times. (These were the pre-Pistols days, of course.) The first issue of this tabloid was the punkiest of the lot with loads on the MC5 and Dictators plus writers the caliber of Lester Bangs and Richard Meltzer joined in on the fun, and although later ishes weren't as grabbing there was a lotta neat energy to be found (not to mention a New York Scene note from Thurston Moore complete with tough-punk cigarette in mouth photo-booth snap!). And frankly, I think the BEST thing to come out of all this mess was the Gulcher record label. Not only did Gulcher release all of the Gizmos recordings (even those later ones with no original members!) but reissued the MX-80 Sound debut EP originally released on Bar-B-Q, some early John Cougar demos (well, I'll pass on that!) and, as punk settled into new wave into gnu wave, a buncha things that I didn't really care about given that at the time (the early-eighties) it all seemed to go clunk down the toilet! (The Social Climbers LP with ex-Screaming Gypsy Mark Bingham was a noted exception.)

Fast forward to the early oh-ohs...suddenly and without any warning, Gulcher records is BACK, only now it's Gulcher CDs (with an Italian label reissuing much of the material on good ol' vinyl) and besides putting out a lotta the original stuff that not only made the Gulcher experience so fun (like all of the Gizmos material, though no Social Climbers is in sight!), there's new stuff comin' out that one might think is way outside the Bloomington scope like heavy metalloids Thundertrain and basement legends the Screamin' Mee Mees, but that's cool by me since all that stuff has the seventies BLAST to it that made these groups so enticing to being with! And yeah, there's a lotta blare here that doesn't quite fit into MY scope like the wave-y Dancing Cigarettes, but we just won't talk about that!

Anyway, here are five recent Gulcher CDs you might want to know about. First one is from a batch I got a few days before Christmas which I thought was fitting, since amongst the CDs in that package was Gulcher's own offering to the yuletide season entitled HAVE A VERY GULCHER CHRISTMAS. Naturally I waited until May to play the thing, but in any case I found this CD a mix of great, good and feh stuff that makes the CD on the whole...actually OK. Good stuff includes tracks from the likes of Bloomington regulars Angel Corpus-Christi, Ted Neimiec (ex-Gizmo with the seventies power-pop underground sound down pat!), Rich Stim, Stalingrad Symphony as well as Crawlspace, who are Gulcherian only due to past relations. (Ex-Thundertrain singer Mach Bell does a great sixties-punk number with "His Elves," adding a cowbell clank to it in order to still show us he's heavy metal all the way!) Average stuff includes MX-80 (still in their mid-energy post-metal phase), Kenne Highland (coulda done better) and the Korps. Feh includes a good portion of the rest, especially this group called the Pansy Division who do a song called "Homo Christmas," but I better not mention it and incite the gay peril (and their straight lackeys!).

The Screamin' Mee-Mees clock in with two recent CDs, LIVE FROM THE BASEMENT 1975-1997 and GARBAGE COLLAGE. The former collects single, EP and sampler sides (including not only their tres-punky debut but the rare version of the Silver Apples' "Oscillations" complete with an oscillator!), while the latter's a selection of a whole slew of unreleased low-fi tracks too scraped for normal release consumption, or so one would think after giving these "outtakes" a listen. I guess the Mee-Mees making music for years on end in their basement is kinda like me writing for fanzines for years on end in my bedroom as well getting perhaps less respect inna process, but really, do you think we care what people think about our respective callings???

And finally, here are a coupla thingies from Angel Corpus-Christi that you just might like...when ACC appeared on the scene with her I LOVE NEW YORK tape in 1985 I was one person who was jumping up and down figuring that here was ONE lass who still remembered what the the seventies were all about (and I don't mean disco!), and the best thing about it was that she was doing it all right in the midst of the snoozerama eighties to boot! Subsequent releases varied, but even if I didn't cozy up to some of it I never totally wrote the woman and her band off, no matter how gnu wave-y they may have looked (not necessarily sounded!). (And I really must have a soft spot for her, because she played on the totally horrid X-tal album and I never blamed her for that atrocity!)

ACCORDION POP VOL. 1 (you mean there's gonna be another volume of this stuff coming out???) is just Angel and her squeezebox doing a buncha oldies and newies for a cassette-only release back in 1985 that I can't recall seeing mentioned anywhere! When Angel does the old stuff like "Sleepwalk" and "Love Me Tender" she sounds like some kid in Junior High playing at the school talent show in 1959 and coming in third place to a virtuoso violinist and the class jock pretending he's Ricky Nelson. On the new stuff she sounds like she's at some 1979 accordion recital playing the new hip sounds in order to be "with it." Either way, she works out fine.

On THE 80'S, Angel's best moments from that period in time are collected, and though I woulda preferred everything to have come out as it did those many years ago this makes for a nice "greatest hits" package. Some glaring omissions such as "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" (with Bruce Anderson's blaring lead guitar) do appear, or better yet NOT appear, but I find the selection and programming pretty snat and Angel weaves her way around seventies New York rock, a sixties revival (remember that?) tune off the ROIR GARAGE SALE cassette, as well as a tribute to film great John Cassavetes that fits in well after watching JOHNNY STACCATO reruns on TV!

There's more in the oven, from the Chinaboise one I reviewed in the latest BLACK TO COMM to the 1982 PLAYETTE tape now being reshaped for CD purposes, and there may be others, hopefully to include the C-Minus Humans, Poetraphonics (so obscure that a request for a tape back in 1987 rendered me NO copies!) and loads of surprises inside and outside the traditional Gulcher sphere (the Social Climbers PLEASE????). Whatever the case, don't pester me with your inquiries...write right to the source at for more information, and has 'em as well (sorry, blog STILL not printing up my link inserts!).

Friday, May 14, 2004


Hi, it's your fave rabid chihuahua again settlin' back to write about a whole lotta recorded gems I've come across since BLACK TO COMM #25 closed up shop late last year. And besides that, I'm even gonna act high falutin' and all by throwing a book review into this mess lest you forget that I'm a bonafide innerlectual, and all it's gonna cost you is the power to turn your computer on (plus the monthly AOL fees and local connection and...).

GREEN TAMBOURINE: THE BEST OF THE LEMON PIPERS CD (Buddah)-Long ago, I purchased a typically beat up used copy of the Pipers' JELLY JUNGLE album at a flea market thinking it was going to be some crazy and fine slab of NUGGETS garage rock that was probably going to sound like the Stooges before-the-fact, so you could imagine just how I felt when I got home, anxiously slapped the thing onto the turntable and heard a lotta what I thought was flaky pop that certainly didn't help satiate my garage cravings any! But then again, I still remember how I used to be disappointed upon hearing those then-recent garage band LP reissues that were being made available at exorbitant import prices thinking that every track on the thing was gonna sound like "You're Gonna Miss Me" or "Don't Look Back"!!!! (The exceptions to the "rule" were the Sonics discs, which I loved to listen to over and over thinking they were every bit as maddening as the Flesheaters, and when I heard Chris D and company's cover of "Cinderella" I knew I was right!) At that time, the last thing I wanted to hear was gooey sixties pop, and frankly the strings, harp and harmony vocals exiled JELLY JUNGLE to a worse than death fate wallowing in the fifty-cent bin at Record Revolution in Cleveland Heights where it must have remained for ages!

If I had only held out a year I would have been able to appreciate the album, but hey, you aren't the same person you were at 21 that you are at 22, so mistakes can be made. As for the present tense, I find the Lemon Pipers an excellent pop group that certainly expanded on their sound well beyond the oft-condemned "bubblegum" tag. (And no, I haven't read that Feral House bubblegum book yet probably because I don't exactly cozy up to osmosing the musings of bad rock writers, even if they're mixed in with good ones and I have to pay for the entire mess!)

The only truly "punk" track here is the hit, which does retain a garage sense of mid-American suburban PRIDE alongsides GILLIGAN'S ISLAND reruns and Shake-a-Puddin', but the rest ain't no slouch to coin a phrase. Most of the Lemon Pipers' heavily orchestrated tracks (including harp, an instrument that always reminded me of
LAWRENCE WELK schmooze as a kid!) actually have a smart-pop sense to them, like the better numbers on the second Left Banke album but maybe not Montage, and even when they hop on the trendy bandwagon like they do on "Love Beads and Meditation" (it's about what you know it's about!) they still sound better than the more intellectual bands on the scene singing about the same subject matter in a way garbled style. And dig that crazed instrumental passage at the end of "Catch Me Falling" which reminds me of Little Phil and the Nightshadows at their lysergic best!

Even when the Lemon Pipers do the "hard and heavy" '69 attack like on "Dead End Street/Half Light" they still retain a smooth pop sense that could have even made it to one of those mid-eighties garage band comps, at least by the time the upper-echelon stuff was used up. If you thought the Lemon Pipers were nth-stringers or still retain your prejudices of old (y'know, "that's stuff my teenybopper sister listened to!!!!"), this CD may change at least a few perspectives. Maybe not, but I find this sort of late-sixties pre-teen fun just as satisfying as the Detroit bands or Velvets, and way better'n much of the "intellectual" prattle that enveloped a good portion of the rock world at the time.

In closing, I gotta say that I find it kinda high-larious that Pipers guitarist Bill Bartlett later ended up in Ramjam, whose '77 hit "Black Betty" (yes, the Leadbelly song!) not only was one of the hokier FM hits to come out of the late-seventies bad metal scene but was a number that got my aunt all discombobulated because she thought the lyrics were no-bout-a-doubt-it OBSCENE! (Of course it didn't help having me supply her with all the words she thought she was hearing, and I was only doing PG-ish stuff just to rib her!)

Le Stelle Di Mario Schifano-DEDICADO A... CD (Akarma, Italy)-Given all of the avant garde publicity that the Velvet Underground and Nico got back in '66 you'd think there would have been more groups instantly absorbing their style and looks just like they did the Byrds, Love and the San Francisco Sound. Unfortunately only a scant few did (the majority of first-generation "Velvets-inspired groups" having formed or recorded just after John Cale's departure), and one of those scat few were Le Stelle Di Mario Schifano, a bunch that, like Cooger and Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show in Cincinnati, not only aped the early-Velvets sound in their own wopadago image but, like the Deviants, wrapped it in a fine pop-art package that adds plenty to the entire, er, drive of it all.

Believing the hype that it was in fact Andy Warhol who assembled his own group (the Velvet Underground) for his own nightclub (again, the Velvet Underground as we were led to believe by that British 2-LP collection from the seventies!), Italian pop artist Schifano did just that with this aggregate who performed in the clubs of Rome with a very EPI-esque light show naturally featuring Schifano's own artwork. In fact, if you take a gander into the massive booklet that comes with this disque (obtain the vinyl version for a bigger pop art thrill!) you'll see a great live snap that could easily be mistaken for one of the Velvets that ended up in such publications as EVERGREEN at the time...right down to the striped shirted Sterling Morrison lookalike! But besides the beaut of a pop art album cover there's the music, which also shows us just how much the Velvet Underground were doing for the benefit of rock sensibilities at the time...the side-long "Le Ultime Parole Di Brandimante, Dall'orlando Furioso, Ospite Peter Hartman e Fine (Da Ascoltarsi Con TV Accesa, Senza Volume)" (whew!) reminds me of what Amon Duul II's "Phallus Dei" would have sounded like two years earlier on the progressive rock timescope, while the flip's selection of avant-rock ranges from Rolling Stones thud (and Rolling Stones mush, as on the "As Tears Go By"-ish "Susan Song") to garage band clatter and three-ring psychosis that only the Velvets, Pink Floyd, the Deviants and a few others I hope to hear soon could mix and match with such utter abandon. It's really fresh hearing the Velvets interpreted like this way back in '67, fifteen years before all of these alternative necrophiles chomped down on the flesh but neglected the bone. When you're finished with this one you might want to check other early Velvet Underground studies ranging from Sweden's brilliant Parson Sound and their various offshoots, not to mention Japan's incredibly wonderful Les Rallizes Denudes, more or whom will be written about on the printed page.

HAPSASH AND THE COLOURED COAT FEATURING THE HUMAN HOST AND THE HEAVY METAL KIDS CD (Akarma Italy)-What I said about the above can also be said about this notorious disc. When I first heard it I wans't impressed, but nowadays Hapsash etc. remind me of the Velvet Underground and Nico transforming into Amon Duul I. Fits in well with the 1967 English psychedelic party you'll be wanting to throw for John Peel any day now!

England's Glory-LEGENDARY LOST ALBUM CD (Anagram England)-It's been out for ten years already but since I'm having trouble finding both of my vinyl copies in my behemoth collection I decided to get hold of this CD with the extra tracks they use to rope people who already have this stuff on plastic into buying it again! Peter Perrett remarked during his Only One days that England's Glory had more to do with the music happening in '77 than did his then-current band, though I can't quite follow that...England's Glory are firmly planted in the early-seventies British proto-punk era, back when very few English bands (on the national as well as local/bedroom level) seemed to draw not only from the standard US garage and mid-sixties beat influences but heavily on Syd Barrett and 1967 accomplishment, not to mention a bit of the best the West Coast was offering before that scene tumbled into the ocean. As good as solo Syd, better than Nick Drake, and if you could say there was anything American about this sound then maybe it would be in its similarities to the first Tom Verlaine album, and that was seven years later! One thing I dunno was ever brought up before, but I'll toss it out to you...was the song title "Peter and the Pets" a spoof on Elton John's "Benny and the Jets"?

THE SAVAGE BEST OF THE SCREAMING TRIBESMEN CD (Savage Beat, Australia. try faithful readers of BLACK TO COMM have known for the past umpteen years, the Australian underground rock scene of the eighties was something that kept the flame going as far as high energy rock went in an era increasingly being overrun by lame dance music and happyhappy gulcheral scrunch (which stood against all of the violence and noise that made the seventies so great). The eighties Australian scene was almost like a flashback to everything that made seventies underground rock (at least in the United States) so exciting...primitive performance, heavy metal pounce without the puton of the mainstream breed, sixties punk style and attitude, and believe me, there was a time in my life when I wanted to go down to Australia and get in on the action myself!

This collection (which I believe was culled from a variety of recordings made for the Citadel label, a company that acted for the Australian underground the same way International Artists acted for the Houston scene only about fifty times more prolific) shows that the Screamin' Tribesmen were a proud purveyor of the Australian sound with their manic mix of Detroit metal, sixties punk and the best the seventies dared to offer us, all done at a time when I know that nobody cared because I used to get all hot and excited and tell people about bands like the Tribesmen back in 1985 and all I got for my troubles were funny looks! Along with Savage Beat's DO THE POP sampler (reviewed in BLACK TO COMM #25, still available for $10 plus postage at 714 Shady Ave., Sharon PA 16146-3149 USA) this one gives us proof that yes, there was life in the rock & roll of the eighties after just had to know where to look for it! (Just like TODAY, mind ye.)

Kevin Ayers-JOY OF A TOY CD (EMI/Harvest England); SHOOTING AT THE MOON CD (BGO Germany)-I've been on a Kevin Ayers kick of sorts since late last year, buying not only these items but the 1975 Harvest Heritage twofa vinyl edition and a British Harvest import (believe it or not, but the USA version was on the old Soft Machine label ABC) of Ayers' 1977 YES WE HAVE NO MANANAS which I heard when it came out and shrugged off, but maybe a 27-year-later spin'll reflect a more mature listening attitude on my part??? SURE HOPE NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

JOY OF A TOY remains one of Ayers' best, maybe because it was recorded in '69 when the aftershock of British psychedelia was still in the damp London air. Whatever, this is a wonderful, eclectic bag (to coin another phrase) that, even with Ayers romping through Syd Barrett-esque whimsy, world music, early-Velvet Underground-inspired rock etc. still retains a style and vision that one could only call the Harvest Sound. The bonus tracks are especially needed as well, not only containing all the b-sides that later ended up on the stellar ODD DITTIES collection but a bevy of outtakes including the legendary (and oft misrepresented) version of "Singing a Song in the Morning" with special guest Syd Barrett not only adding a spazzy guitar line but vocals! I don't know how you older BLACK/BLOG TO COMM readers could've standed to wait so long for this stuff but here it is and we certainly are the better for it.

I got the old BGO version of Ayers' second solo platter (he now backed by "The Whole World," a group consisting not only of future TUBULAR BELLS millionaire Mike Oldfield but British avant garde jazzman and future Damned crony Lol Coxhill) so not only am I missing out on the bonus tracks and informative booklet but the chance to look at the neat Harvest logo! At least I got the sounds, which I'm sure a few people would think are perhaps even more crazed than on TOY. Of course there's the great pop ("May I") and some folk ("The Oyster and the Flying Fish" with guest vocals by British folksinger Bridget St. John), and the Velvet Underground ("Lunatic's Lament", which has the craziest, most punk guitar solo I've heard on an Ayers album courtesy of none other than Oldfield!) and the usual mix of Ayers genius, but what makes SHOOTING AT THE MOON really so freakingly special are the musique concrete and free rock segments that sound like (respectively) some late-fifties avant garde experiments made by a composer who didn't have the notoriety of a Cage or late-sixties addle made by someone who didn't have the budget of the Beatles. Too bad Ayers' later recordings didn't have the gunch of these early least he didn't OFFEND the way a good porton of bigtime rockers all over the globe did in the mid-seventies. From what I understand, Ayers' now living in retirement in the south of France not having done much in a long time, but even if he continued recording albums only the biggest of fans would dare buy I believe he's earned his place in the panthenon of rock & roll GREATNESS with these early discs which still stand the test of time. (Unlike the majority of Ayers' prog-mates, who now come off like some weird dream you had a long time ago!)

The Bizarros-CAN'T FIGHT YOUR WAY UP TOWN FROM HERE CD (Clone, or PO Box 6014, Akron Ohio 44312 USA)-It's kinda mind-boggling to not only see Tin Huey but this bunch reunited in the here and now which once again makes me wonder "what year is this anyway????" Yeah, I know I sorta shrugged alla those Akron groups off around 1982 when new wave had definitely devolved into gnu wave and even bands with past flash seemed to go the rock lobster giddy route to the point that I was way ashamed to have ever championed them in the first place, but here, twennysome years later, all is forgiven mainly because, considering some of the even worse atrocities committed against the name of rock & roll not only then but now, at least these bands were pretty good at one time in the underground timescope!

Anyway, it's like they never left. If you were one to love the Bizarros single sides (plus their split LP with the Rubber City Rebels) while thinking their Mercury LP iffy, you'll flip over this new CD where the reunited oldsters (who leave the new spawn in the dust!) continue on just as if they never broke up and it was still 1979 and music like this was making up the reason for your existence. It still does even this long after the fact, but what makes it even more impactual (like that word? I made it up just like Julius Sumner Miller used to do!) is that it seems as if the Bizarros are acting and breathing and performing as if it were still 1979 only its now 2004 and I guess it's OK to still be meaningful and intense in a world that on one hand discourages anything that's primitive and base and uncultured yet on the other doesn't care one way or another what you do. Kinda reminds me of the Troggs in 1979-80, who were riding high as underground punk/new wave icons with an album on the Max's Kansas City label and prestigeous club gigs across the United States, yet in many ways it seemed as if they were still living in 1968!

I'll probably be reviewing the entire Clone catalog one of these days, though that will have to wait until I get my turntable fixed. Until then, this (as well as the Akron underground rock documentary that ran on channel 45 last year...go to to see how you can order it) is something that will being back more of those great, dream-like memories of past rockism glories and if you're a young 'un it might teach you a two or thing!

MAD ABOUT THE COMICS book (Mad Books, 2003)-Believe me, I was overjoyed when I found out this softcover collection of MAD comic strip spoofs was out. Y'see, one of the things that drew me to MAD when I was still in the single digits were their strip burlseques and I don't mean women but the way they'd do takeoffs on a lotta my faves like "Nancy" and "Archie" which at age eight was a new and different concept that stymied me! All I gotta say is, it's a good thing I didn't discover Tijuana Bibles at the same time and fall for them for the exact same reason, or else this blog might have quite a different tone about it!

Unfortunately this collection of MAD comic satires ain't exactly the definitive one. In fact, it's far from perfect, with too many omissions (the fantastic "Nansy" spoof and a variety of early-sixties classics amongst them) and way too much new material which will just reinforce in old fans like me as to how much MAD continued to decay as the years rolled by and its influence (ranging from late-night comedy to underground comix etc.) outdid the source as far as biting satire and talent went. Not to mention that this once-hallowed rag is now just plain ol''s hard digesting stories which wallow in grossness, blasphemy and political piousness while lacking any sort of redeeming value as if there could be any this late in the game. After all, it's no big laugh having Dennis the Menace report Mr. Wilson to the police as a child was funny forty years back when Dennis ran into the house holding a skull yelling "Mom, look what I found inside Mr. Wilson's head!"

Next time...Gulcher records!

Sunday, May 09, 2004

It isn't everyday that your humble blogmeister and his BLACK TO COMM fanzine come under heavy attack from a variety of quarters, but hey, I know and you know that such things as "criticism" come with the proverbial territory. After all, like it or not, but I've been in the fanzine/underground rock limelight (more or less) for quite a long time, and taking arrows from the Indians is just one of the things a person like myself EXPECTS these days...heck, as any regular reader would know, I've flung more'n a few of those arrows myself, so WHADDYA EXPECT???? In all, when it comes to criticism whether it be an honest appraisal or crazed smear job, all I gotta say is a strong and! However, I am also a firm believer in the right to self-defense, sticking up for yourself in the face of everything from kangaroo courts to schoolyard bullies, and given the charges brought against me by not only the "" site run by Australian David Lang but Jay Hinman's "" (sorry, but I'm having tremendous trouble linking these sites up for you so I guess you'll have to do the typing yourself!), I figure that I better do some defending on my part and better do it FAST! I know that part of me says that I shouldn't bother, that these "critiques" are just a couple guys' opinions and regular blog-readers will take them for what they're worth (and besides, such hit-and-runs can often work to the victim's benefit, especially when the offending party's nothing but a bona fide JERK!), but that's exactly the kind of attitude that has led to centuries of misinformation about people, groups, beliefs etc. so it's probably best to stop the disease of slander and character assassination before it spreads to the point where irreparable damage to one's work and even reputation (as if mine's ever been top-notch!) has been done.

Today I'm going to concentrate on the first part of the defense which I don't think is going to lead to any acquittal of sorts (for going against the tide of youth-hipster chic elitism has ALWAYS resulted in a quick "trial" and painful execution!), but I thought I'd better go on record and STATE MY CASE rather'n let it slide and have people think I'm automatically guilty because I totally avoided the matter. And what better place to begin than with the case of David Lang who more or less STARTED the whole shebang! Now, I should tell you that Lang's a man whose tastes in music mirror those of the typical BLACK TO COMM reader at least in some respects, and when he first approached me to say what a wowzer he thought the mag was, I actually got the impression that I had another rabid, life-long supporter on my side. My initial assessment of Lang did change a tiny bit when, shortly after our "meeting," I got a scathing email from him which listed a litany of beyond-redemption crimes against humanity that I as well as Simply Saucer guitarist and occasional contributor Edgar Breau had committed! Y'know, not ONLY my own anti-gay, anti-woman etc. supposed screeds I have rattled off over the years, but Breau's opinions stated in an article entitled "The Homophobic Myth" not-so-surprising offended the man's sense of propriety...won't go into details but you can check out Lang's 5/4/2004 blog for at least an inkling of where his ire's coming from. (As for me, I actually laughed out loud reading his letter and I remember Don Fellman also cracking up when I told him about it, he begging for me to actually PRINT the thing which I thought was perhaps out of the question if only for the sake of taste!) Funny enough, it seemed that one of the things about BLACK TO COMM that REALLY got Lang all hot and bothered was my continual praise of CLASSIC TV SHOWS from the fifties and sixties! Like, he in no way could fathom how I could champion such beneath-contempt television fare, especially that along the lines of LEAVE IT TO BEAVER and GILLIGAN'S ISLAND, and to make matters even more hilarious Lang actually stated that the only reason I liked these programs was because "the liberals hate them." In Lang's mind, I was only making a typical knee-jerk reactionary comment in singing their praises because in NO WAY could he understand how ANYBODY could not only write about but actually sit down and ENJOY such "base" and anti-intellectual programming! (And I hate to say it, but here is where our hero takes on a critical position not anywhere near the likes of a Lester Bangs or Richard Meltzer, but something more akin to a Pauline Kael or Gene Shalit!) Lang did reveal to me that one of his favorite television shows is THE SIMPSONS, so I guess that maybe it IS all a matter of taste!

Anyway, things were all nice and sunshine-y between us after that...after all, why let a little bitta differences tear our rock & roll friendship apart anyway? Everything had been going along swimmingly enough afterwards (in fact, Lang even wanted to interview me for the PERFECT SOUND FOREVER web magazine although I declined, not only because I am such a poor interview subject as a few fifteen-year-old attempts have proven, but I'd like to keep a GOOD PORTION of my personal, private life just that, figuring that maybe the ultra-elusive Steve Ditko had the right idea letting his art, his stories and philosophy speak for him more than a simple interview ever could), and if I had been told by someone that there would ever be a storm brewing 'tween the two of us I woulda thought the bearer of such tidings your typical screwball. Hey, Lang's a guy who, true, wasn't exactly on the same wavelength as I, but did anything like that REALLY matter when it came to rockism?

In fact, I was at first happy, maybe even OVERJOYED when Lang told me he was going to review the latest issue of BLACK TO COMM on his own blog. I thought this was great, because although the most press this mag receives might not necessarily result in outright sales, it may still make a good impression on the hoi polloi which does help out in the long run. Of course I wasn't expecting a 100% gosharootie writeup given Lang's personal views, but I was more or less thinking Lang would whip up something along the lines of an even-handed review, like the kind I get from such talented and taste-oozing scribes as Eddie Flowers, who more or less wrote that "yeah, there's a lotta that cranky, half-baked rightwing yuck in here, but there's plenty of good rock & roll and so forth..." spending the other 99% of the piece on the music that undoubtedly settles well in said reviewer's stomach.

So imagine my surprise when I actually linked onto Lang's blog and found not a review similar to the one I just described, but something akin to a down and outright SMEAR! Yes, nothing at all from what I would expect from someone who I thought was a supportive fan of the 'zine, but a misleading, inflammatory twist on the facts that, once you get down to it, almost equals the extremely damaging "build up then knock down" ploy used by Gerard Cosloy and Patrick Amory on me and my mag in the late eighties! Lang, if this is, as you've said, a "mid-level slagging," I'd hate to see what you'd do on full-throttle!

There are too many things in not only Lang's 5/4 blog but his 5/7 clarification to comment on but I will give it the old college try. The factual errors are many...for one thing, in no way could you even consider J. D. King "a huge anti-liberal of the Stigliano/Ayn Rand variety"; sure, King isn't exactly a Democratic Party cheerleader, but in no way could you call him (in his words a strong Second Ammendment Traditionalist Catholic) a follower of the athiestic Rand. (However, King did tell me about the time he ran into Steve Ditko at the CRACKED magazine offices where he, Ditko and Mort Todd exchanged a few anti-communist remarks!) In fact, I find it downright hilarious that Lang would even lump ME in with Rand, since I'm a guy who, although I think Rand was more right than she was wrong, KNOWS that this was by a very slim margin. You certainly couldn't compare me to the members of Rand's inner circle that hung on their goddess' every wish and command, listening to the music SHE liked and dressing the way SHE thought men should! But then again, although Lang claims credence to maybe some of the Rand philosophy he did SHUDDER when I told him that one of the best things the woman ever did was testify in front of the HUAC in regards to the inaccuracy-filled pro-Soviet film SONG OF RUSSIA! The individualist Lang, when responding to my email, actually had the audacity to state that the so-called communist "witch hunts" of the 40s/50s were "a dark chapter" in American History! (I guess they get PBS programming in Australia along with the local stuff.) Some Randite, eh?

In his review, Lang calls me (in boldface even!) "a very hung up individual." It's his opinion and he can have it, though the picture he generally paints of me is that of some mama's boy shut-in without any social life who not only shuns going to live rock shows but spends all of his free time listening to all the "cool" records and comic books his poor li'l ol' wallet can stand to buy. I guess you could say that, if you want to distort things even worse than a funhouse mirror. Between bringing home the bacon and working out at the gym maybe I do lead a quiet existence mainly because I don't have the time (or dough) for a "varied" lifestyle and hey, I live in Sharon Pennsylvania, which never was a city known for any sorta hot nightlife at least in the past few decades. As for nearby Youngstown Ohio, I guess that's OK if you want to spend your evenings wallowing in clubs where you can hear local bands taking their watered-down cues from OTHER bands who were diluted to begin with! (My apologies to those bands who ARE original and vibrant, if there are any in Youngstown, that is!) I mean, I have BETTER things to do than to suffer through all of those lame "alternative" acts I unfortunately chanced upon during the eighties, and frankly I doubt that the local situation has gotten much better since those days! And as for "spending every spare cent on music and comic books," well, I do save as much as I can only to have it eaten up by the cost of putting out an issue of my mag, but it only SEEMS like I spend all my money on goodies because it does take a few years to release one of these behemoths, and hey, I can buy a lotta good stuff in that span of time (not forgetting the superfine promotional wonders from such stellar labels as Slippytown and Norton {plug, plug!})! Believe me, I DON'T spend my shekels on every shard of recorded splatter or comic excursion that I want to hear or read before I clock out of this life...I wish I had the moolah to do so, but in no way could I afford buying everything that my li'l old heart desires on the pittance I get!

I could go on about this extraneous stuff...the YOUR FLESH/FORCED EXPOSURE comment etc., but that's not the point of this rebuttal. The main meat of it is that Dave Lang painted a broad, unflattering picture of me and my fanzine (though he seems to deny it and still wants to be pals, but with friends like Lang who needs enemies?) and, as I said, I want to SPEAK OUT ON MY BEHALF rather than have the world think I'm AGREEING with Lang's assessments by keeping my mouth shut. Of course the biggest slams against me and the magazine are the triple-threat bastions of offensiveness these days...RACISM, SEXISM and HOMOPHOBIA! Readers of Lang's 5/7 blog will note that he did back down from the racism charge of which I am glad, because that was the most damning of all three counts, but even then he has to once again bring up my alleged wrong-doings perhaps in order to tell his lumpen blog audience that "I'M SORRY, BUT YOU SEE, I HAD A GOOD REASON TO SAY WHAT I DID!!!" (Really, I haven't seen this much knife twisting since I graduated from high school!). So in order to clarify myself---first off, I'm a man who thinks that "affirmative action" is not only racist in itself (to minorities, that is) but totally condescending. After all, giving a member of a minority preferential treatment whether it be in regards to college admissions or the workplace just reeks of that sick-white-liberal mentality that actually believes everything will be hunky dory if we make things look nice and inclusive and hand-in-hand by changing the color makeup and smashing the "good old boy" system of old as if creating an illusion that the machine is well-oiled and running takes precedence over the machine actually being in working order! I mean, I'm all for giving people chances in life, but not major passes just for who they are! After all, maybe a black guy deserves a job because he's a good worker and not so's the workplace will look more diversified (as if that really means anything concrete!). It's a snooty attitude at best, usually put forward by those same enlightened types who will be at a party, see a black man and walk up to him uttering the utmost inanities such as "That James Earl Jones is such a great actor!" or "I feel for you people!" while everyone else in the room shudders! (I will make one correction on a statement of mine that appeared in I believe issue the course of a Dave Marsh book review I yammered something along the lines about how frustrated I was that I couldn't get the kind of employment I desired because of affirmative action. I do rue having ever said that, beause once I get down to it, what really has been my problem was not AA but my own limitations and drawbacks so taking my anger out on something that probably had nothing to do with my situation was indeed out of line.)

And as far as my slag on "black power," my objection to it is that the main perpetrators of the sixties and seventies black movements (and many of their present heirs) were/are notorious conmen who ultimately proved themselves detremental to their various causes (and the people who were supposed to benefit from all this) with their combination Marxist politics and mafia-styled shakedowns. If you want, try searching out some of David Horowitz's pieces on the subject for some really eye-opening revelations about things happening not only then but now, but nobody can deny that a crook, no matter what his intentions may be or who is constituents are, is still a crook.

And one final thing on the racism racists listen to free jazz? Or Funkadelic? Or Malcolm Mooney? Like H. L. Mencken once said, people who laughed at AMOS 'N' ANDY weren't racists (we're talking we know more blacks than the NAACP would dare admit laughed as well), it was the ones who scorned the show and its subject matter who were the true bigots. "We do not hate people we laugh at and with, " as he said, and for the most part a rabid racist would hate the music of what he considers a lesser race (there are exceptions to the case, but that's for another day and time).

As far as "sexism" goes, I guess that all depends on how you describe the term. Most modern-day feminists seem to have a broad, cover-all definition which not only would include views held by me but many hallowed institutions and philosophies which have done more good than harm these past two millenia, and if so, I guess that's my tough luck! I'm not a guy who thinks that women shouldn't work, and I'm positive that many families out there in the real world need that extra income, but then again I know that families are more stable and brimming with mentally-healthier kids when mom stays home with 'em. (If this was the case in your family and you turned out angry and bitter, you have my condolences!) I also know that men are men and women are women, and the continual blurring of the two and mind-napping of children extolling them to BELIEVE that there are no differences has done way more damage to life in general than had the Visigoths ransacked the entire world! Give a boy a toy doll and he'll play with it like a tommy gun! (Or in my case play barber with my sister's Chatty Baby doll!) Give a girl a toy truck and she'll probably stick it in a crib! A few decades of social engineering isn't going to change eons of sexual roles, and I doubt it ever will despite all of the angry women yammering about on TV!

And as for "homophobia"...the way that not only Lang but Hinman describe the mag would lead the uninitiated to believe that BLACK TO COMM #25 is a 162-page anti-gay tract written by some steaming swastika-touting loonybin who's probably a closet fag himself!!! 's funny, because other than a buncha comments sprinkled here and there, the only real soapboxing against the current pro-gay situation that appears in the current BTC is just a SMALL segment of the opening schpiel where I rant on about "the fagification of America" (no apologies to Revilo Oliver!), and that was a rather mild, in fact partly tongue-in-cheek (no, not THAT!) editorial that said that yeah, there are gays and SO WHAT, but what's really griping me is that it seems that nowadays gays (and similar hanger on types) want you to march in unquestioning lockstep and accept their views and needs and submit to their whims and desires even if your own values tell you otherwise. Really, I wrote some WAY STRONGER things about gays in past issues, mostly as an admittedly kneejerk reaction to the violent and disgraceful actions of many in the activist gay world (remember ACT UP and QUEER NATION, whose questionable activities ultimately left both organizations in total disarray?), and yeah those days are strictly nineties news, but the way you see gaydom being mainstreamed all over the place and the massive gay stampede trampling the entire landscape (usually brought upon by high court rulings and, oh, I guess the rest of us just have to live with it!) and in light of a media attitude that basically says GAYS CAN DO NO WRONG, what exactly is so offensive about a little ribbing here and there? It's certainly milder than the wanton attacks on traditionalism that are so in vogue these days! (Lang, if you still read the mag, tell me...what is the ratio of gay remarks to anything else appearing in my pages...0.1% or less???) And you know what, I'm sure there are a lotta gays out there who agree with me!

Anyway, I think I pretty much defended myself against Lang. You, dear reader, shall be the judge and even jury! And Dave, don't fret about me ragging on you in the magazine because, frankly, you aren't worth it. You're not a stick in the mud big city hack like Anastasia Pantsios (who just happened to be a sore spot of old that I over-mentioned this issue because of something on the internet that dredged up old memories!), nor are you as beneath-contempt as Gerard Cosloy and Patrick Amory who crafted their evil drag-him-down plot at a time when I was just beginning to go places with my, er, writing career. You're not even this shall-remain-nameless guitarist of reknown who used to swear allegiance to the BLACK TO COMM credo, call me up to gab about music for hours on end and contribute some fine pieces that lent to the quality of the magazine, only to drop me like a hot potato when some fame arrived and eventually slag both me and my magazine in an on-line interview. To be frank about it, you're just a guy who has your opinions and they cost about as much as it takes to dial up your blog to have a looksee. Nothing special here. I'll admit that I was frothing at the mouth especially at your charge of racism, and your more or less backing down from that (while sticking in those aforementined derogatory comments, natch!) did rectify things at least 33%, and hey, one good thing that came out of this mess is that I finally got the impetus to start up this blog in order to save any shard of "respectability" I may have had so maybe I even have you to thank for it! But still, it ain't gonna be like things used to be. If anything, what I've learned from all this is that you really can't tell who your "friends" are, and that, once again, I'm gonna hafta be more aware the next time somebody shakes my hand...while aiming a dagger at my back!

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Hi-Got some time to waste so I better waste it in a GOOD way, and what better way to twiddle away the hours than to write about a couple of recent acquisitions you might want to know about (but probably don't unless you're the kind of person who lives vicariously through my writings and if so you have my sympathies!). As for my defense against a couple of scurrilous attacks recently made on myself and my BLACK TO COMM fanzine (at the hands of some other bloggers who you probably know and doubt everybody who's reading THIS blog knows what the hoopla's all about), that will be more or less forthcoming within a day or two. Before committing anything concrete down to paper, er, byte, I want to gather all of the evidence and organize my thoughts as to the best way to combat the charges brought against me rather than fight them off like a holed-up suspect surrounded by cops which is sadly what MOST people who are charged and deemed guilty before trial have to do these days. So the harpooning will have to wait, but stay tuned...

Today I'd like to step right on up to the keyboard and blog on about two items of interest (my own personal views natch, you might not care one way or the other!) that I've happened upon within the past week or so. Regular readers of BLACK TO COMM already know that my review sections (whether we're talking recordings, books, etc.) are filled with a mix of old and new items which may seem unique and perhaps even gosh-it-all clever on some level, but this wasn't what I had originally intended with the mag. it's just that I really never got all of the hot, fresh-off-the-press and GRATIS items I was hoping I would under the now faulty pretext that being the editor of a magazine ENTITLED me to unlimited free wares (greedy and pushy type I am...just ASK a thousand promo departments about the way I used to pester them for free booty!) So, in order to fill my pages up with SOMETHING for you readers to peruse, I had little choice but to review a whole buncha older items that I was "catching up on" along with whatever current sounds I could get into my grubby mitts! (I was rather naive about these things during my younger writing days, actually believing that being a PUBLISHED author and underground press magnate would automatically get me any precious item my dear heart desired!!! Whatta stoopid doopid kid, as Richard Meltzer once said!) And by the time I started getting items sent to me on a highly-regular basis a whole lotta the underground THRUST that initially drew me to this music had the wind knocked outta its sails which only goes to show you what kinda luck I've had in a twenty-plus year career of writing about music on an incurably obsessive/compulsive basis!

First item up on the chopping block...Charles Shaar Murray's SHOTS FROM THE HIP (Penguin, 1991), a collection of scribings from one of the masters of English rock critiquing (the other major ones, at least within my limited scope on this subject matter, being Mick Farren and Nick Kent...I believe Richard Williams might fall into the cesspool somewhere). I had never been a fan of this brand of UK rockism probably because I wasn't born and bred on it like I assume many of you readers were, but this late-in-my-life epiphany (brought upon not only by a recent eyeballing of Nick Kent's THE DARK STUFF collection reviewed in BLACK TO COMM #25 {see previous blog for details} but a variety of choice photocopies sent by an overanxious Londoner!) is a welcome addition to a underground rock passion that has enveloped me for quite a longer time than I could ever imagine!

Murray does not have the manic splat of a Bangs or Meltzer nor the intellectual sarcasm of Wayne McGuire, but his swing and sway (like Lenny Kaye!) is engrossing enough that you might actually enjoy reading from this two-decade anthology even when Murray's objects of desire aren't worth the effort (Madonna, Robert Cray...). And sure, some of Murray's off-the-cuff comments will probably make the average BLACK TO COMM reader do a few double-takes worthy of Shemp Howard (like where he reveals his admiration for early-seventies Jethro Tull singles, but then again I believe famed Gizmo guy Kenne Highland gave an approving thumbs up to AQUALUNG so why should I quibble about a guy who's at least 3/4ths of the way THERE), plus some of his abrupt dismissals (example: "Yes: THE YES ALBUM-Yes? Maybe.") remind me of Robert Christgau or even ME during some of my less lucid moments in the eighties, but I can forgive the guy because his smooth, to-the-heart-of-it-all style makes up for occasional lapses into those questionable tastes which we all seem to have. (And I didn't even mention that his Youth Culture hippie political trip pieces expostulating on everything from The Longford Report to heroin read like John Sinclair GUITAR ARMY rejects!)

High points (or at least those BLACK TO COMM fans would wanna cozy up to on a cold winter night with hot toddy in hand) include actual honest-to-goodness wowzers on the likes of Alice Cooper and T. Rex (which could've proudly adorned ANY issue of the classic early-seventies CREEM), not to mention heartfelt raves on personal Murray faves like Alex Harvey, Patti Smith and even Frank Zappa. And there are some little surprises here and there as well, like in a piece on the early CBGB '75 scene which features a special guest appearance by none other than perennial BTC fave Miriam Linna, who flew into En Why See with sister Helen to catch the Heartbreakers!

Though in all honesty I find a good portion of Murray's punk-era writing a bit flat, but that may be because I've pretty much found a lot of the soundscapading that came out of the British scene downright DOUSE, much preferring the sonic crank of groups along the lines of Cabaret Voltaire or the post-Barrett introspective moody-pop of the Only Ones to the Pistols and many of their brethren. (One of his better British punk pieces was a review of some now undoubtedly legendary '76 Sex Pistols/Clash/Buzzcocks gig...this being the infamous article {that Murray'll NEVER live down!} where he referred to the Clash as a garage band that should have stayed in the garage with the engine running!) Of course, this might be a "phase" (a quarter-century long one at that!) that I might eventually snap out of, and who knows, I may be "coming back" to that stuff in a few year's time given some sort of push or "impetus" in my musical makeup! (Though I kinda doubt it...bought a number of British punk CD reissues from Eddie Flowers, specifically those by V2 and the Drones, and I found very little listening satisfaction in them. Even the Drones' 1975 take on "Search and Destroy" sounded weak next to Rocket From the Tombs' interpretation from the same year!)

In all, SHOTS FROM THE DARK is a time-worthy, even occasionally engrossing read especially for true rock & roll FANS (and, I presume, who reading this ain't?), not to mention the usual overly-obsessed fact categorizers of seventies underground trends and movements, of which I'm probably the only specimen extant!

And now for DONOVAN!!! As you regular hangers on probably know, I never was a Donovan fan or even admirer (though I remember having liked his 1972 comeback single, which I can't recall the name of or what it sounds like!), and in fact I spent a good portion of my poseur hipster days cursing his name out, so why'm I giving this platter mention on my precious blogspace? Because of the gent mentioned in the previous his SHOTS FROM THE HIP 1975 New York punk piece w/special guest star Miriam Linna, CSM blabbed on about the music emanating from the CBGB jukebox which included such obscurities as the Animals' "Club A-Go-Go" and the Donovan/Jeff Beck Group collaboration (as opposed to Beck just "sessioning") "Barabajagal," which Murray gave a hefty rave to! Looking for hunches the way Brad Kohler looks for special mystical signs and interesting coincidences while picking the ponies, I decided to give "Barabajagal" (the LP, er, CD, as well as the song) a try thinking that since things are so dry now maybe I should look for rockist tendencies in strange places. And y'know, Murray is right, at least in part, though don't go expecting me to search out any Jethro Tull singles any day soon! (Next week, maybe!)

The Donovan/Jeff Beck Group merger works well on "Barabajagal," a strange folk rock cum funk-groove style combination that Beck pretty much carries himself, at least along with femme singers Lesley and Madeline. A nice mid-tempo burner, though you KNOW that the star of the show (such an ineffectual wuss!) is only coasting through the tune, resting on the undeniable talents of Beck et. al. ("Trudi," the other Donovan/JBG tune on the CD, doesn't reach to the same heights of the almost-garage "Barabajagal.") As for the rest, it teeters between actual ear-catching halfway-there tunes (most notably "Superlungs My Supergirl") and a patented UK twee-folkiedom, though even a cursory listen will tell you that once you get down to the square root of it, all you're getting is mere Donovan slop for late-sixties overanxious world-savers and leftover early-sixties hootenanny survivors that falls WAY outside of the BTC scope of music appreciation. (The hit "Atlantis" is here, and re-listening to it only make me wonder how this leaden mush could have made ANY impact on the still-rabid AM charts of the day.) Still, I gotta thank Murray for tipping me off to "Barabajagal" and I'm gonna hafta keep reading him and the rest of the "Golden Age of Rock Critics" for more interesting leads and suggestions as to where I can find more rock & roll in the strangest places you can imagine!

As you can see, I'm still working out the bugs and feeling my way around the entire blog idiom, which strangely enough seems so alien and downright confusing. (As I said, I would like to not only print in bold and italics but link up sites, set up an email especially for this blog and even be able to offer you readers a place to air your gripes and make comments so you can look ridiculous too!) Next time...some more reviews and a deep and dark look into a blog without shame!

Friday, May 07, 2004

welcome to the first installment BLOG TO COMM, the internet wing of BLACK TO COMM magazine (or to be more precise, fanzine), a rag that has been infesting the usually staid and dry world of rock writing/critiquing etc. since 1985. A bit of introduction for the uninitiated...BLACK TO COMM (which originally wallowed along in a variety of titles before settling on its current moniker in 1989) is a not-so-periodical that has to date twenty-five issues under its belt, ranging from the early Xeroxed 12/24 page tossouts to larger, less frequent offerings that could run anywhere from 74 to 162 pages. The content of BLACK TO COMM (and BLOG TO COMM) is pretty much up to what I (and those within my very close circle) deem good or important enough to be printed in its pages, which usually seem to be dissertations on underground rock, usually that of a Velvet Underground and/or various applications of their sound thereof variety (avoiding post-eighties atrocities natch!), not to mention varying aspects of rock & roll (as opposed to "rock") gulcher, usually with aesthetics firmly rooted in the selfsame vague underground "rubric" previously mentioned. Naturally, there will be many sidesteps into areas I and presumably you the reader will want to dwell on...books, movies (usually of the old variety albeit I am not the moom pitcher watcher I was even a decade back!), food and other things important (at least to my horse-blinder mentality range of tastes). This will also be a place where I can defend myself against various incursions upon the realm, which over the past decades has been more or less akin to the circling wagon train fending off Indian attacks! Enough of that anyway...expect in the coming weeks (don't expect any daily blogs here...I'm still trying to get the hang of this newfangled blogform in a manner similar to a toddler playin' with one of those Fisher-Price plastic playpen attachments with the dials, door with mirror and sliding bars! As you can see I'm having trouble getting the bold and italics type to work!) a number of pertinent things, including reviews of not only Charles Shaar Murray's SHOTS FROM THE HIP collection but Donovan's BARBAJAGAL album, not forgetting some rebuttals to a couple anti-BLACK TO COMM blogs that have appeared over the last week!

If you're interested in obtaining a copy of BLACK TO COMM, the latest is now available from me, featuring 162 info packed pages on the New York scene of the seventies, an interview with cartoonist J. D. King, gonzo rock critic Hot Scott Fischer on his involvement with garage band legends the Screamin' Mee-Mees, Simply Saucer pics, gig guide and family tree not to mention the tons of reviews (as usual) plus a bonus CD featuring unreleased live Simply Saucer tracks recorded in 1975 and Ruby and the Rednecks amongst others. Ten smackers plus two for postage in the USA (more elsewhere--write first!) will get you a copy. Send it ALL to Chris Stigliano, 714 Shady Ave., Sharon, PA 16146-3149 and when you're making out payment, make it to me and not the mag, OK?