AS THE UGLY DUCKLINGS ONCE SAID...
Just in case you've wondered why I haven't posted anything since last Sunday (and probably won't for another few days or so), frankly there's nothing exciting hitting the boards (or at least my panic button) right now worth my taking the effort to alert you fine readers about it. Nada, nicht, nyack---and not even the new promos that Bomp! and Rick Noll sent me look enticing enough to spin at this time (I can't stand most moderne rock anymore, no matter how tres retro it may aspire to be), so rather than wade my way through those offerings (or dig into the pile of CD-Rs Jon Behar tossed at me a few months back) I'm taking a short sabbatical from the instant-fame world of blogging until something that does grab my cajoobies comes around to spur me to heights of rockism reduction. Until I do get inna mood, or discover a disque of worth to write about, or get all hot under the collar because of what some blogging fool out there may have posted about me or one of my dear-to-heart save-the-world bands, all I ask of you is to give me a li'l break from the day-in/day-out grind of it all. However, while you're waiting for my grand re-entrance please give this fine article courtesy of Brian Doherty at REASON magazine a hopefully more than cursory read because not only is this particular piece a wowzer (which is no surprise since Doherty's a fantastic rock writer even [especially?] when he's scribbling about it within the confines of his libertarian/right oeuvre), but it sure-as-you-smell-bad says what I've been trying to say about all you rock lefties out there for ages and in a much more concise and entertaining way to boot. (Well, it does at least 99.999...% of the time...after all, when I lend ear to "Born in the USA" all I hear is some phlegm-lined vocal cords belonging to one of the main reasons I would've wanted to flee the USA for the safe confines of Antartica back in the eighties!) Sometimes even a professional scribe such as I has trouble finding the right words and the proper way to convey my abject hatred for what does transpire on the leftist rock scene (along with its toadies) these days, but Doherty (not only the former editor of the fabulous SURRENDER fanzine [now you know who posted those mysterioso comments on the Agony Shortninbread box awhile back!] but bassist with the Sawdust Caesars and head of the Cherry Smash label of fine records I've never heard) really lays it down on the proverbial line as far as detailing exactly what is inherently wrong (nay...evil) with all of you budding Marxist Minstrels out there. Sure you can laugh about it when such a comparatively effete scribe as I tell you lumpen Lenins to FACE FACTS, but if you don't think (know, realize?) that Doherty is holding Death's Mirror to your very sad existence then brother (sister), you don't know what being trampled is!
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
AS THE UGLY DUCKLINGS ONCE SAID...
Sunday, November 20, 2005
LINK WRAY, REST IN PEACE
I was going to write one of my typically self-indulgent "what I've been listening to" posts today but some bad news (that was broken to me by noted bad news breaker Lindsay Hutton this AM as I barely staggered out of the bed and onto my computer---talk about a rude awakening!) has changed all that. Yes, it does look like Link Wray, the king of the guitar, has died at the still-young-for-these-days age of 76, and while details are a bit sketchy at this time that won't stop me from at least writing a little bitta praise in his memory, or at least something that I hope will compliment the halfway-there article I wrote on him that originally appeared in BLACK TO COMM #18 which is hopeless out of print so let that be a lesson to you!
It's a shame that Wray never got to be as "well known" as many of his fellow fifties rockers who have been long-enshrined in the memories of greying "Golden Age of Rock" fogies who kinda remind me of those great, self-indulgent and anal-retentive model car builders who still seem to be 14-years-old fifty years later! Not to take anything away from those fifties rockers who HAVE been deified for ages and deserve every li'l bitta homage they have received for their efforts, but to the vast majority of people who claim total and undying allegiance to rock & roll Wray might as well be one of those never-hit-it types who used to appear on various late-fifties/early-sixties Dick Clark television programs making nary a dent! In fact, I must admit that the first time I (who has led a shelterd life!) recall coming in contact with the Wray name was back in the late-seventies crawling through the record bins and picking up the first Robert Gordon and Link Wray album thinking none other than...there's this guy Robert Gordon and he's being backed by some group called Link Wray...sorta like that CHRISTMAS AND THE BEADS OF SWEAT disc that Laura Nyro did with Labelle! Y'know. maybe Link Wray was some cool band in the early-seventies that I never heard about and now they're making a comeback with this Robert Gordon fellow! When you're a stupid kid you think up weird things like that.
Of course when you're a stupid ADULT you still think up weird things like that fifties rock & roll was all Sha Na Na/HAPPY DAYS fodder not worth your time with all the new sounds emanating from garages world-wide, and it was a long while until I decided to take on fifties rock in the same way I liked sixties garage aesthetics and seventies reshaping of past accomplishments. In fact, I don't really recall "getting into" (to be seventies about it) Wray until the early/mid-eighties, a time where I certainly was starving for something outside of the then-encroaching "alternative" music scene that was supposed to be a switch from the tiresome metal and boring pop caca that had permeated the 18-34 target area I was smack dab inna middle of! I dunno if it was the article in a 1980 ish of TWO-HEADED DOG (an interesting halfway-there crankout) or KICKS #3 from early '84 that totally tilted my head towards the pow'r of Link, but after grabbing hold of the then-available Line records reissue of some seventies Wray collection with all of the hits presented with a nice mid-fidelity I suddenly became an up-front-and-center maniacal fan of the man! There were other catalysts as well, such as the emergence of the Raunch Hands who had obvious Link-connections not to mention a number of sixties garage band compilations with Link or Link-involvement, but either way I thought that Link was thee guy to follow as far as fifties guitar spew is concerned, and given how the man had (unconsciously) led the way for everything from CREEM-sanctioned metallic forays (talkin' the Stooges, early Sabbath and speedthrash...forget the main thrust of weak eighties metal that was all the rage!) to late-sixties teenage head-dom maybe you upstarts better get hold of some Link before you dare traverse anywhere else in order to hone your musical parameters, y'hear?
A good place to start gathering up items for your own personal Link Wray collection would be via the Norton site where I heartily recommend that you buy EVERYTHING Link-related they have to offer. The four-volume MISSING LINKS series (see above graphic for neat-o free plug!) has all of the great indie single and side-project sides recorded throughout the original Wray "Golden Years," but for a really good start get hold of the two-CD collection of Swan-era (1963-1966) tracks which I believe show Link at his gnarliest best and then try latching onto yet another collection, this time the Sundazed set of numbahs laid down for Epic between the years '59 and '62 which prove that Link could be cool even when he was recording fluff like "Clare D'Lune"! Then I'd settle on the aforementioned MISSING LINKS which covers Link with and without his Raymen either as leader or backing up everyone from future country star and fellow Indian Marvin Rainwater to r&b screamer Bunker Hill! This four LP/CD series takes on Link at his obscurest all the way from the very beginning of his solo career ("I Sez Baby," a rough garage mauler that perhaps dates as early as 1954 [!]) to the tracks that made up side two of his '69 YESTERDAY AND TODAY album, a platter that not only was a paen to the new hard rock of the Stooges, MC5, Flamin' Groovies and the other new groups who were influenced by Wray but the last word with regards to the Original High-Energy Wray Era. The post-sixties Wray days ranging from his early-seventies and folky material for Polydor and Virgin to his late-seventies "punk era" albums with Gordon and beyond are pretty much hit-and-miss as far as I'm concerned (yet not without their worth)...if I were you and just starting things out I'd hold off on these until the classic fifties/sixties sides had sunk in quite a bit.
And as for yet another COINCIDENCE CORNER, about three nights ago I was thinkin' about Link and considering pulling out the MISSING LINKS platters for some evening pajama-time musical backing but nixed on that because I had one of my typical Velvets-drone craving and settled for Les Rallizes Denudes, and only LAST NIGHT I was thinking about an article on Wray from an early-seventies issue of PHONOGRAPH RECORD MAGAZINE that mentioned a gig he did at Max's Kansas City with an un-named Egyptian folk singer opening things up for him! Because of this I headed directly for my fave search engine trying to find out some information on...the Egyptian folk singer! Naturally I had no luck (it seems that way when I'm searching for info on obscure acts who've performed at Max's, CBGB and other hip watering holes...you'd think EVERY flopster musical act who played these haunts would have their own websites up by now just so's they's get some satisfaction knowing that at least more'n a few close friends and relatives have access to the fact that they coulda been somebody!), but really, it's kinda scary when I think about some performing artist or public figure of some sort and then find out that the person in question has died! Once I was reading a book on THE LITTLE RASCALS and simulaneously heard on the late news that Spanky had died, and while watching GOMER PYLE USMC on the tube as a teenager my mother told me that she had just read in the papers that Frank Sutton had also hit the carbon cycle...I mean, do I have some weird, uncontrollable psychic ability that dooms people? I better stop thinking about people or the next victim could be YOU...
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 12:20 PM
Sunday, November 13, 2005
CLASSIC FANZINE REVIEW: RAW POWER #5 (Spring 1978)
One thing I will say about Los Angeles in the seventies is that although their underground/punk scene wasn't as all-encompassing (whatever good that may have been) and downright intense as New York City's, they sure had the East Coast beat as far as full-throttle fanzines go. After all, while all New York's underground rock press had going for it was THE NEW YORK ROCKER and PUNK magazine (not counting a bevy of small-run and totally obscure offerings that certainly didn't cover the vast array of styles and energies that New York became famous for), El Lay seemed to be brimming with power-packed bedroom-published reads that continue to please the amateur-hour rockscribe fan even this far down the pike. From biggies such as FLASH, BACK DOOR MAN and (for two issues) DENIM DELINQUENT to interesting asides like TB SHEETS, the Southern California fanzine scene was pretty on target with regards to not only detailing the underground movements of the day but giving you a reason as to why some of those "dinosaur" biggies like Aerosmith and Blue Oyster Cult were perhaps on the same rockism level as all of those "accepted" punque forebearers like the Dolls and Stooges. OK, maybe those magazines didn't make THAT STRONG OF A CASE (which is why I've yet to buy an Aerosmith album and find BOC's best moment to be their long-withheld Stalk-Forrest Group disque), but I'd rather read Phast Phreddie Patterson or Jymn Parrett writing about Kiss or Black Sabbath than some ex-Queen groupie of a punk who couldn't convince me to buy toilet paper blabbering on about the flavor-of-the-month underground treat that everybody seems to forget about once next week's flavor rolls by.
Anyway, after reading all the rest and thinking things out with regards to just what a rock publication above or underground should convey to you (the discriminating fan), all I gotta say is that RAW POWER fits the ideal of a classic seventies El Lay total eruption of an engrossing fanzine with perfection. A pub that has eluded my grasps for well on my two-plus decades of searching, I finally laid my hands on an ish (#5) and let me tell you that even jaded "I" must admit that this fanzine is MORE than I've bargained for even this far down the line! Yes, I knew I was in for a treat after reading the reviews in BOMP! (which ranged from Greg Shaw's praise to Gary Sperrazza's disdain) as well as SLASH (who didn't care one whit for the thing given the mag's penchant for more mainstream and metallic aggregates), and given that editor Quick Draw seemed like an affable fellow and all especially on this tape I have of the Dictators (and Meltzer) appearing on the Rodney Bingenheimer KROQ show which has said QD calling in not only to give kudos to Handsome Dick and crew but to ask Rodney when the Van Halen album was coming out, I had the feeling that RAW POWER wasn't going to be just your everyday runna-da-mill fanzoon TOSS OUT that's for sure!
First off this fanzine doesn't even look like a fanzine which might add up to strictly dullsville "vibes" for some but at least given the total wowzer fanzine-level ENERGY makes me wanna slap the entire staff's backs for being able to grow from their xeroxed roots so fast. I mean RAW POWER's got a color cover and SEVENTY-TWO action-packed pages, and not only that but they were able to drag in some honest-to-goodniz advertising (for water beds and Greenpeace!) as well! Ted Nugent adorns the cover in typical late-seventies El Lay fanzine style, and not only do they got an interview with him inside but they also managed to track down talks with the likes of Debbie Harry and Tommy Shaw of STYX fercryinoutloud but don't let that fool you into thinking that RAW POWER's another late-seventies teenybop read with Shawn Cassidy (sorry Imants!) posters and Peter Frampton's top ten positions because it's still got that punk snat even if they ain't always writing about p-rock per se...
One thing's for sure, and that's RAW POWER is the music that these FANS write about PERSONIFIED...I mean, just one look at the high school pix of the mag's staff on page one (with editor Quick Draw still in shoulder-length hair and Crocus Behemoth-esque beard and the rest of the batch with typical THAT SEVENTIES SHOW 'do's 'n a moustache in the bunch as well!) oughta prove to you that the staff and management ain't Boris Badenovs on a subversive mission but REAL LIFE ROCK & ROLL MANIACS!!! The editorials on page four also prove to you that, like BACK DOOR MAN and Greg Prevost's FUTURE and perhaps UNLIKE SLASH (which I think was a fine paper even when their underground fashion plate sense was in full mode), these guys had their heads straight on and weren't about to be moved by prevailing undercurrents...Quick Draw on the punks' anti-sixties stance:
"The 60's were a booming time for rock 'n roll. It was the glory years of rock 'n roll. You could hear the Stones' "19th Nervous Breakdown" and see the Quick Draw McGraw Show daily. What more could you want?? Also, those of you who hate hippies are wrong, too. The hippie movement improved a lot of things you take for granted today. I hear everyone now yelling, "No rules, I wanna do what I wanna do and I won't listen to you." Well, I heard the same in the 60's. You people who want to put down the 60's are putting down yourselves, so laugh hard."
Well, the hippie ref does leave me cold (after all, it was them very same hippies [and I don't mean hippie punks like the MC5, Big Brother and the Holding Company or even Roky!] who were ultimately responsible for all those wonderful social engineering ploys we've hadda put up with for the past umpteen years!), but otherwise I get the drift. Hey, I'd like to hear "19th Nervous Breakdown" on the radio daily and watch Hanna Barbera cartoons (not nec. Quick Draw McGraw...never liked him!) without having to pay premium cable rates as well!
Besides pages of letters (including one from an "Al" of Whittier who sez that the fanzine concentrates too much on the mainstream which should be ditched pronto and thinks Bowie ruined Iggy for good, both points being counteracted with gusto by Quick Draw himself...and methinks this "Al" may be THE Al who had by this time started up his own mag namely FLIPSIDE!) you get the articles and interviews on the vast array of RAW POWER faves, and although acts such as UFO (post-Bolton), Starz and Ted Nugent ain't exactly BLACK/BLOG TO COMM rah-rah's I still find myself reading 'em because the way these amateurs/fans conduct 'em (and their ability to bring out the everyday down-homeness in their subjects) does make for more intriguing reading than you get from the last twenty years of pious and pretentious rock critiquing, that's for sure!
And amidst the pages of interview and record reviews of the latest rock/metal/punk offerings there are a few surprises, such as a piece on page 49 entitled "Who Put The Punk" regarding "Germany's Possible Influence On Punk" (Floh De Cologne, Franz K., Ton Steine Scherben and Neu!) which really does predate the krautrock revival of the nineties so we gotta give RAW POWER some credit for that! And as far as those record reviews go the brilliance shines through even the tenth-grade level English class-style of the contributors (and a "C+" at that!), with THREE reviews of NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS nestled between writeups of Queen and AC/DC...and I LOVE IT!!!!! I mean, it may be "uncouth" to the standard punk elite (not that there's anything wrong with that, at least on a few levels!) to see Quick Draw giving a page long appraisal of METALLIC KO and the Ramones right after heaping praise upon the standard FM twaddle being produced during the industry's absolute worst nadir (at least before the nadirs of the eighties, nineties...), but like I said, I kinda find it neat myself.
And what would a fanzine be without the local band/personality coverage anyway? The tipoff that Quick Draw would be a fan of and call up Rodney's radio show should forewarn you that there's a Kim Fowley interview here that was in part conducted by Bingenheimer himself. And not only that, but there are brief yet substantial bits on such local RAW POWER faves as the Dogs and Germs (names that I seem to recall having heard somewhere before...) as well as Sister, which it turns out was formerly known as the Killer Kane Band featuring none other than Blackie Lawless as frontman long before he spearheaded the worst aspects of eighties metal making that decade (between the faux metal, gnu wave and new age) one of the worst for music fans ever! (Or at least until what eventually transpired!)
Some of my less-astute readers (and there are many) may think that after all of the dross that RAW POWER championed I would fling my copy into the nearest incinerator but not really...like I said, I like the rockism mindset of Quick Draw, Bobbalouie and gang, and even with the weak attempts at humor and coverage of groups I could care less about I give RAW POWER one of the highest accolades I could (and you can buy a cup of coffee with that!), mainly by placing it in my box of mid-seventies issues of CREEM that languishes underneath the very desk I'm typing this post on. And could you think of a more fitting tribute than that? (And while you're at it, could you imagine what RAW POWER would have come off like had it lasted into the dreaded eighties and nineties [or oh-oh's]??? I kinda shudder at that to tell you the truth because I somehow see the mag mutating into either a boring metal mouthpiece or tiresome new wave fashion plate publication. But then again, I could be wrong. Whatever happened to you anyway Quick Draw????)
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 12:20 PM
Saturday, November 12, 2005
The Spike-Drivers-FOLKROCKING PSYCHEDELIC INNOVATION FROM THE MOTOR CITY IN THE MID-SIXTIES CD (RD, Switzerland)
When I first saw the Spike-Drivers listed on one of those psychedelic Gary Grimshaw posters nestled next to the likes of the MC5 and Seventh Seal way back when, I had them figured as being yet another one of those high-powered heavy metal bands that permeated the Detroit Scene between the years 1967 and '71 or so...y'know, one-a those loud and RAMBUNCTIOUS groups that people like I still get all obsessed over even a good four decades down the line! Naturally my rather infantile preconceptions changed when yet another one of my fair-weathered friends made me a cassette of various sixties garage band rarities gathered straight from his own 45 rpm collection sometime in the early-eighties (long before the rash of post-NUGGETS/PEBBLES/BOULDERS samplers glutted the collector's market making these home made jobs obsolete). I didn't hear anything especially hard or "high-energy" regarding the 'Drivers' nationally-distributed Reprise-label single and thusly went along thinking that this particular buncha Michigan rockers were totally outta step with what was really happening in the Motor City at the time. Well, time as usual has honed my opinions regarding this bunch, and nowadays I'd consider the Spike-Drivers a pretty good folk-rocking group on par with the pre-hippie San Francisco aggregates along the lines of the Mojo Men and Vejtables, or maybe even Detroit's answer to the early Fairport Convention's answer to what the Jefferson Airplane were doing, obviously GAINING something in the translation.
Yeah, this Cee-Dee may be a bit too good-timey in spots for the average BLOG TO COMM reader, but I must admit to being swayed not only by the fine Eastern modalities therein (which they actually taught to the Butterfield Blues Band prior to that group's groundbreaking EAST/WEST) but the fine medieval male/female harmonies reminiscent of San Fran long before that piece of real estate devolved into boring hackdom and was still struggling in the transition from garage band aesthetics to psychedelic head-dom. And for those of you who still may be bummed out over the group's alleged betrayal of their Michigan roots don't despair because it's obvious that the 'Drivers learned SOMETHING from their associations with the Five ("...we got very hot and sweaty")...just give a listen to "Everybody's Got That Feeling" with its burst of pure MC5-derived avant rock if you want some downright PROOF!
But (as you know) man does not live by atonal blare alone, and even a rockism-bred person such as I can settle back and enjoy tracks like the string-laden "Portland Town" (with Marycarol Brown's sweet femme folk rock pipes billowing one of the better antiwar odes in those pre-radical days putting obvious contenders like Joan Baez to shame!). And the rest obviously ain't no slouch either, from the mid-sixties garage-punk (good stuff for a buncha folksters who only discoverd rock after the Beatles made it hip for all) to even the Spoonful-y goof takes (like "Grocery Store," and catch the sly foul-word slippage which they actually snuck into their afternoon television appearance in Lima Ohio of all places resulting in every kid in town being grounded just so's they couldn't attend their show that very evening...the MC5 weren't the only Detroit band to create such controversy!) I dunno about you, but I find it all kinda exhilarating myself!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 1:36 PM
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND AT THE FACTORY: WARHOL TAPES CD (Nothing Sounds Limited, bootleg)
With all of the classic proto-punky upheavals and reissues going on this year, wouldn't you just know it that this wonder hadda've been unleashed in order to make my choice for "Best Classic Dig of 2005" an even HARDER one than it had been with all those Chinaboise, Magic Tramps and George Brigmans to choose from! Yes, some schmuck out there had the brains to somehow get hold of the ORIGINAL real-life Velvet Underground CD that was playing at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and press up a whole slew of 'em which is a whole lot better'n listening to those tapes somebody made by holding up a cheap-o portable cassette recorder near the speakers (something Brad Kohler tried doing, though he quit after awhile because some Japanese tourists actually thought he was part of the exhibit!). And whoever that schmuck may be let me be the first to congratulate you, because with the current legal holdup on all legit Velvet Underground unreleased material its you illegal bootleggers that we must rely on in order to satiate our lifelong Velvets cravings! And as I always said, rather some shifty bootlegger than some bigtime exec get the moolah, that's for sure (y'see, there's this question of quality one must keep in mind).
Not only is the sound on this new silver-disque much better'n that standing waved-out CD-R of yore, but the missing material pops up making for even more thrill-chills for all you longtime Velvets obsessives. "Walk Alone" (so far the only Pickwick-period track to have made it into the Velvets rep) is a good enough mid-sixties folk rocker perhaps a bit more "folk" 'n "rock" but considering the '64 origins I gotta commend Reed/Cale/Vance/Phillips even more, while the take of "Venus In Furs" is more or less a classic fifties "Crackin' Up"/"Love is Strange" riff with Lou speaking a few lyrics which doesn't quite qualify it as the actual song but adds up to good mythmaking. And if you think it ain't grand hearing "Miss Joanie Lee" a whole lot more, er, tuned in than before then you'd be wrong as usual (although the natural distortion of the original made for a more exhilarating experience especially if you were under the influence of Ny Quil!). And I for one am glad to finally hear a clear version of the early-'66 take of "Heroin" with that interesting (and soon deleted) guitar line that reminds me of an old out-of-tune upright piano!
From the instrumentals (which show the group laying back and kicking up their footsies while working out their inspirations) to Nico trying to sing "There She Goes Again" not forgetting the manic live tracks (including "European Son" and Dylan's "gift" to Nico "I'll Keep It With Mine") it's sure great hearing a high quality Velvets recording (bootleg or not) that doesn't rehash the old product for rock generation after generation ad infinitum.
Not that this one won't be rehashed as time goes by...y'see, I have the sneaking suspicion that these WARHOL TAPES will be amongst the hard-to-get disques for all good hipsters to have within a few months or so, but given the quality and urgency of the thing there's no doubt someone will be re-booting and re-re-booting it as time goes on. And while the cult of the Velvets has grown from the enclaves of the avant-gardest of the avant-garde to the dweebest of the dweebs within the span of a good four decades it's always great to come back to the source if only to resensify yourself after way too much damning with faint riffage that has gone on due to all of those nth-generation bores of the past few decades who "claim" to have an undying allegiance to the Velvets and their drone but still come off like they worship at the altar of Hootie and the Blowfish for all I know.
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 7:41 PM
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Todd Tamanend Clark-NOVA PSYCHEDELIA 2-CD set (Anopheles)
Todd Tamanend Clark (known to us who bought his classic mid-eighties self-released album INTO THE VISION as just plain old Todd Clark) is one person who really might be able to be classified as a bona-fide enigma. Well, at least he sure seemed that way when that aforementioned platter got unleashed onto an unsuspecting underground music loving clique back in the middle of one of the more boring decades ever at least until the nineties and oh-ohs...after all, here was a guy coming atcha in the midst of all this geeky post-wave and slick pop and light metal, and with an electronic barrage that hadda be heard to be believed! And not only that but he was getting such bigname (at least in my book) talent as Cheetah Chrome, Alan Ravenstine and William Burroughs to appear on his disc which at the time seemed like a big feather in his cap and his feather certainly made for my obsessive/compulsive-about-such-things pleasure, that's for sure! OK, the Burroughs recitation on the title track was taken straight offa CALL ME BURROUGHS (Clark may be good but he ain't no Dashiel Hedayat!) but the nova synthroid energy was still there and considering how this guy came off like all the best the seventies hadda offer wrapped up for mid-eighties sound gobble, who could (especially in 1985) ask for anything more? Back then I had Clark pegged as being a healthy mix of early-seventies Eno and even-earlier-seventies Alice Cooper, and twenty years down the line I gotta commend myself for being astute about such things even then!
Still, there seemed to be a lack of somethingorother that kept Clark from being a classic (or better yet accepted) underground persona that I didn't catch, but others might've. Not quite too sure what it was, but it reminds me of a story of little importance I'll tell ya...y'see, Clark lives in Butler PA (also home to the Congo Eels of yore as well as a lotta factories including the plant which used to make the Austin here inna USA) and perhaps due to the relative closeness in locale (twixt Sharon and Butler, that is), I happened to obtain a copy of Suicide's "Dream Baby Dream" 12-inch single that was once owned by Clark! How do I know this? Well, Clark actually wrote his name on the lower left corner of the front cover which I think is cool, because a lotta people liked to write their names on record covers so's nobody would swipe 'em or for some other reason (like vanity?), and better a personality like Clark's name on a sleeve than some schmuck like Joe Fafoofnik's! However, it seems that a person who owned this very record afterwards (a BLACK TO COMM contributor whose name I won't mention in order to protect the innocent...mainly me because I don't wanna get hit!) had the unmitigated audacity to print the words "is an asshole" directly beneath Todd's very name! Naturally shocked, I asked this contributor-in-question as to why he would do such an uncouth, bestial thing as that. I forget his response other'n either he met or he knew someone who knew Todd and obviously they didn't hit it off too swimmingly or something like that, but sheesh...around the time INTO THE VISION came out I talked with Todd on the phone a few times and he came off like the nicest, aw shucks kinda guy I ever met who also had a good knowledge of electronics (I told him that I liked his album because I thought the synths of yore he used sounded so much earthier than the then-current Sweet Polly Purebred electronics seen all over the place, and he gave me a neat discourse of the differences between analog and digital devices that did make quite an impression in my oft-vacated beanie). Heck, the man even asked me if I happened to be "musically inclined" and when I told him I joked around on various noisemakers and even recorded some of the rather unmusical results, he then pondered whether or not I was a non-musician type like Eno! I felt kinda flattered although my musical level is about that of ol' Brian as an embryo, but the buzz I got was pleasant anyway. Even after this admission Todd invited me to his abode to do some jamming, and though I naturally declined for fear of being humililated on a musical level I understand that he also asked Sister Ray's Mark Hanley as well, and I recall that Mark was actually thinking of taking Todd up on his offer!
But that was long ago, and though much has happened within the BLACK TO COMM sphere in those years (mainly much degradation and obscurity!) it looked to me as if not much has been going on as far as Mr. Clark has been concerned. Another single entitled "Flame Over Philadelphia" managed to get popped out within a year or so, but after that it seems as if I (and maybe a lotta other people) lost contact with Todd. I guess that Todd actually was musically active after all (considering the backlog of CDs of his that are available through CD Baby), but at least it's neat that Karl Ikola at Anopheles had the brains to release a two-CD set of classic seventies/eighties Todd tracks because, even in this already boss retro-seventies underground-saturated year which has seen reissues and archival upheavals I never thought would see the light of day, we can always use more of these old-timey offerings in order to remind ourselves of just how exciting the whole fanzine/CREEM-bred high energy DIY scene was before a lotta geeks hadda turn garage aesthetics into "amerindie" disposables.
My Eno/Alice comparisons seem to shine through on these platters, from the single recorded with Todd's early aggregate Stars September '75 entitled "Flame Over Africa"/"Two-Thousand Light Years From Home" (both sides weirdo slow-down creepy crawls) to the all-out glam/metal stomper "We're Not Safe" that sounds like it coulda been some early Cooper outtake ca. EASY ACTION with a lotta synths added for extra-spook effect. And, in the best seventies-punk "we remember the sixties" fashion, there're also covers of Paul Revere's "Hungry" and the Electric Prunes' "I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night" that seem to suit these thudsters and their six-oh template just fine. In between there's a lotta fine electronic non-mummery excitement with wailing theremins and mini-moog blotches that sound like Eric Lindgren's studio just went ka-plooey!...lemme tell you, I don't care what Contributor "X" may think, but I know that Todd's mix of early-seventies hard-rock and style ('n take a look at that pic [on page 17 of the enclosed booklet] of a shirtless Todd live and onstage...somebody please feed this guy!!!) with now-outmoded electronics is one of the better underground trips I've heard in quite some time, or at least since Chrome stopped being of interest to me.
(And by the way, can anyone out there like Karl f'rinstance find out whether or not it was Todd's "Stars" or another band with the same handle who performed at the now-fabled CBGB Christmas Festival sometime during the closing days of 1975? Yeah, I get the feeling that there must've been a hunnerd groups calling themselves Stars between then and now [including the famed Syd Barrett/Twink attempt] but considering that the Fest featured a lotta outta town talent made up of suburban garage band wannabes who read about the club in ROLLING STONE, who knows? Perhaps these Stars were those Stars, and finding out the plain truth would be nice one of these days if only to clear up these nagging details that've been cluttering up my mind for years.)
Oh, and the entire INTO THE VISION album plus the "Flame Over Philadelphia" single are included as well (though I gotta admit that I don't quite cozy up to Todd's dedication of this song to Mumia Abu-Jamal especially after reading more and more about the case which has clearly put me on the "Fry Mumia" side of the issue---and I ain't even that much of a pro-death penalty cheerleader these days either!) and yeah I know that it's redundant and even futile to rehash the ol' arguments in favor of high-energy rock such as this that you've heard from the word processors of folks like me for ages but between you, me and the laser I'd take advantage of the one-month only sales price ($17.99) that Karl is offering because especially in these money-shortage times you can't afford to pass up bargains such as this!
Oh, and I didn't tell you about the time Todd went to the Allen Theater in Cleveland to see the Slade/Stooges show early '74 and sat in the third row next to one Crocus Behemoth and left during the Slade set because he thought they were boring and talked with Iggy in the vestibule who came off like a nice and friendly chap for being a rock star and all! (That Stooges show must've been impressive as well, since his "Secret Sinema" on disque two comes off more like Iggy ca. KILL CITY as opposed to Jim Morrison, Todd's intended influence!)
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 6:33 PM