Saturday, January 31, 2009


Boy, how those words used to send me into spasms of shock (at least before I hit male menopause), but nowadays when I think about "that time of the month" I'm not pondering those big five days of crabbing but the end of that particular period in the year when we gotta flip over the calendars to the next month and start the whole rigmarole all over again! And really, one thing I will say about living through the first 1/12th of this year is that I am sure glad that I'm finally seeing January in my rear view mirror because these past 31 have just gotta've been one of the worst months for me in quite a long time, not only with the sub-freezing weather and the doldrums that go along with it but the general strain and stress this month has decided to dump all over me like a flying pterodactyl with the runs. January has usually been the time of year for me to have a general mental crack-up, and although I haven't gone that far down the road to looneyville yet I can only marvel that I haven't succumbed to the overall madness that this month has heaved upon my fragile soul! Not only that, but there haven't been that many goodies hitting the mailorder bizzes like I woulda hoped, and although there are a few tempting nibblers out there just begging for my hard-begged moolah the lack of something extra-special, like perhaps some more Velvet Underground from the Warhol archives, is really affecting my chemical balance. Maybe we'll see some hot goodies up there on the chopping block as the months progress, but for now the lack of anything really new and attention-grabbing is altering everything in my life from my own social intercourse to even my writing which I must say has gone sucky these past few weeks. Feh!

Well, at least I was able to scarf up a few interesting items of an aural as well as visual format as of late, and perhaps these precious few are keeping me from going totally over the brink where I suspect I'll be joining most of you readers any time now. Get over the hackneyed writing style and generally mediocre messages to be found therein and maybe you can extract something of worth from these writeups. Lord know I can't!

Sandy Bull-DEMOLITION DERBY LP (Vanguard)

Bull's last for Vanguard (or any reputable record company for that matter!) is an energetic, dare-I-say even rockism-laced album that I'm surprised never did garner up any real cult status behind it like many lesser ventures have. And for a last el-pee blowout Bull really knew how to let the sparklers fly with DEMOLITION DERBY, an offering that really does live up to its name with a fine array of musical styles chop shopped up and repackaged as a spanking new 1972 model that I know would have looked keen next to your FUNHOUSE and LOVE IT TO DEATH like you knew it would. Of course the familiar Bull mix and match of folk, mideastern, country and rock & roll pops up here, I mean what Bull album didn't have all that, but Bull had the smarts to add not only some new twists (Caribbean Island sounds including steel drums!) but even some vocals which I gotta admit will take getting used to but then again you hadda do that with Janis Joplin and everything worked out well in the end. Not only that, but Bull actually got avant gardester Denis Charles to play hand drums on a few tracks (I guess Billy Higgins wasn't available) which I guess would be one way to get you hardcore free jazzers to figure upon buying one of these up!

The choice of cover material, basically two country and western charttoppers ("Tennessee Waltz" and "Last Date") are good enough to send you back to any lunch counter CSA circa 1962 and you're all nervous because two burly guys are getting ready to beat you up because you're a nerk with eyeglasses on! And of course the original music is fine whether it's Bull on the oud and Charles on drums sounding like they're playin' at some tabouli joint or the Caribbean-influenced numbers which somehow recall "El Watusi" and perhaps coulda been a left-field hit like that one was! Even the opening electric rocker which has Bull yellin' "juicy" throughout and making cracks as if he were at some jiggle club is a total boppin' surprise for a label that made their fortune selling Joan Baez to ultra-serious college girls who cared enough for all of us! Why this has remained unissued in its entirety is one great mystery to me, and what else can I really say 'cept that DEMOLITION DERBY is a true winner that shoulda gotten more rockers and other sundry types all excited back in those early-seventies days of low-energy jamz! Heck, el-pee closer "Cheeseburger"'s the best two-second number recorded since the Red Krayola's "Listen to This" and a raucous punk rocker to boot! Need any excuses not to get it???
THE ROCKETS CD (Varese Saraband)

Sundazed's just got a vinyl reish of this out on the market, but people who claim to like the better aspects of late-sixties West Coast rock will want to get hold of the sole album by the guys who more or less became Neil Young's Crazy Horse in just about any configuration they can lay hands on. As for the reason """""I""""" finally latched onto this after years of curiosity...well, I'll have to admit that the fact that these guys, or at least three of 'em, were the reason Neil Young's EVERYONE KNOWS THIS IS NOWHERE was one of the better disques to make its way outta the whole ROLLING STONE and hippy haze Southern California scene at the time, plus a few people who I thought knew better (and maybe did) have made perhaps not-so-startling comparisons between the Rockets and the Velvet Underground due to the presence of violinist Bobby Notkoff, and dollars-to-doughnuts but those two excuses were good enough grounds for giving this one a try at least in my own addled way! Maybe I was just searching for the next musical thrill, but hey I finally got hold of this and yeah, I'll admit that the Rockets are no Velvet Underground (but then again, how many groups in 1967 were?) but THE ROCKETS is still a dandy bit of good 1967 just-post-garage El Lay rock that actually does good not only with the use of Notkoff's violin but the triple-guitar threat of Leon Whitsell, George Whitsell (brother?) and the legendary and eventually to deep-six Danny Whitten who seemed to remain a fallen hero to many a Neil Young fan I've known ever since I even knew who Neil Young was!

Although the Rockets were obviously born and bred of the once-admirable SoCal style while the Velvets were pure New York Warholia there are some brilliant, explosive uses of Notkoff's violin that at time mirror John Cale's viola explorations (and listen to Notkoff on the first few seconds of "It's a Mistake" which does sound like he's about to break into "Heroin"), plus the Rocket's use of the repeato-riff motif on "Let Me Go" and "Eraser" coupled with the violin soaring above it all does seem to recall the Velvets during their early days, so maybe their usage of patented early-Velvets trademarks was intentional? Even downright larcenous?

Who knows, and only unreconstructed/unrepentant Velvets freaks like myself would really care enough to dwell on it so much in a review, but better to hear it from a true believer like myself rather than some post-Stipe superficialist (a word I just made up which only proves my inherent brilliance) like J. Neo Marvin. And for what it is (yet another SoCal tossout via the White Whale label, one of the bigger ripoff labels of the sixties as Flo and Eddie could tell ya) THE ROCKETS is a better-than-average example of smart '67 rock that, although from the sunshine and happyhappy California clime, fortunately didn't succumb to the stale granola trappings that would overcome that scene within a few grisly years. In a way I guess it was a good thing that Neil Young disemboweled these guys for his own backup bunch lest they have fallen into the hippysimp countrytwaddle trap o' the times. I mean, wasn't one New Riders of the Purple Sage more than enough?

(And while we're on the subject of rock groups named the Rockets, when is someone like Japan's Captain Trip gonna release whatever surviving tapes there may be by Andy Colquhoun's mid-seventies punk band of the same name, a group that was touted as playing in the hard Detroit style long before the likes of Radio Birdman made that a popular route to go on the underground highway? Reports of these Rockets had 'em pegged as one mighty high energy outfit, plus the snap of 'em I saw in an issue of THE AYLESBURY ROXETTE looked almost as tasty with them in their imitation leather jackets looking as cool as the Stooges in theirs! If someone really wants to stimulate the economy all they really have to do is issue rarities such as this and watch the monies just keep piling into the ol' SEP!)

Doodles Weaver may be known as what some people would call an "acquired taste", but it seems as if this guy and his whacked-out cornball humor is one thing that really appeals to me the same way that such wholesome and totally mid-Amerigan things as cheeseburgers, Ernie Bushmiller-period NANCY comics and afternoon reruns of classic television series on old UHF stations do. Of course if you're an urban sophisticado who reads THE NEW YORKER and has a strange hankerin' for fine wine and acting patronizing towards people who don't have to go to tanning salons to get the correct shade you desire you wouldn't understand. But then again you wouldn't be reading this blog, so whaddaya know about real life anyway?

But really, who having the unmitigated intelligence to read this blog could deny just what a talent the man was, whether it be from his late-forties days in Spike Jones' City Slickers to his various film appearances not to mention a short-lived "recurring role" as the mailman on THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW as well as his bit part in that all-time drive-in wowzer MACON COUNTY LINE where he gets into a typically cornpone comedy routine with the sun-baked stereotypically idiotic garage mechanic about his bartering a newborn calf for a lube job! That scene really had nothing to do with the rest of the movie, but then again there was a lot stuck into MACON COUNTY LINE that really didn't have much to do with the basic storyline and if anything this "comedy relief" scene probably got a lotta horny kidz mad because it meant they hadda wait even longer for the flick to make its way to the infamous part where the boy and girl take a bath together in the water trough!

I'll bet that the good mothers who were so happy to see their offspring watching A DAY WITH DOODLES on the local tee-vee kidshow would've been shocked, nay, aghast that such a nice man like Doodles would have consented to appear in such a low-budget raunchy and foul-language film as MACON COUNTY LINE. Mebbee so, but these selfsame mothers should be glad that at least Doodles had the good sense to keep his clothes on! And at least Mr. Weaver had the good sense not to ditch his old timey hokum schtick when he made these mid-sixties shorts (created especially for the ever-burgeoning local kiddie show market), and I gotta admit that these A DAY WITH DOODLES comedies remain pretty good slabs of slapstick that were tossed out at the young suburban squealers who wanted a break from whatever Warner Brothers cartoon package the local station was running into the ground.

Better than ART LINKLETTER AND THE KIDS or even KID STUFF, A DAY WITH DOODLES is more than just simpy kiddie fodder to fill up a few minutes before the evening news but an actual yuck-inducing five-minute film that showcases one of the forgotten comedy geniuses of the day in situations that will get the kids all hot and bothered, and I'm sure some of the adults tuning in found more than a little value in 'em as well!

In these five-minute fillers Doodles plays all the roles coming off strangely enough like a low-budget Snub Pollard (which would figure as these were filmed silent with organ music and narration on almost all of them) as he switches from himself more or less playing a shorty-pants kiddo type to various mustachioed bosses and old ladies getting the pie in the face or cracked eggs all over 'em (no, this show had nothing to do with Eric Burdon!). The execution is simple and the budget is almost non-existent, but Doodles makes these films worth watching with his natural pantomimic abilities which must prove that the guy spent more than a few hours checking out the silent comedians at the moom pitchers when he was a kid himself! Great pre-youth micromanagement fun that oddly enough reminds me of some of those short films they used to show on the old SESAME STREET (talking about kiddie micromanagement!), like the ones where the guy who used to play Mr. Bentley on THE JEFFERSONS wants to paint various numbers all over New York City.

As a bonus, an episode of Doodles' 1951 summer replacement show on NBC is slapped on at the end and that one gets by with even more corn than the Green Giant could stand! A good example of what television was like before most people could afford to own one, THE DOODLES WEAVER SHOW shows the hazards and pratfalls of the cathode connection especially during the musical number/citrus juice commercial where we see the actor playing the grocer mess up his lines. Strange at it may seem at the end of the program it is announced that this show wasn't even broadcast live but was filmed in advance which makes me wonder why they didn't have that guy do his part all over again! Maybe they filmed it in the afternoon and it was aired that evening, sorta like that infamous Gothic soap DARK SHADOWS which were also filled with enough bloopers to rival the Golden Age of Live Broadcasts!

The strangest thing (at least for me) regarding Doodles really cranking up the laff quotient on this DVD is knowing that the man eventually shot himself in the head, so while you're watching these expect the same creeps you got when you first sat in for SUPERMAN to stick with you, at least for a short while. You'll get over it, but you'll still wonder why such a guy who seemed like the ultimate funnyman ever would do such a thing...I mean, he always seemed so happy and easy-going, like an uncle when you were a kid or the next door neighbor. Oh well, I guess they thought Richard Cory was a real yuk-it-upper until he went home that fateful day, and given how sick this already disgusting world is I wouldn't be surprised to see that Mr. Moose offed himself as well! You just never know.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Here's a very limited item (100 only) that certainly caught me by surprise, a Cee-Dee-Are consisting of five rare Simply Saucer numbers that surprisingly enough haven't seen the light of day until now. Packaged in a plain white sleeve with a pasted on yellow information sheet, this one reminds me of the bootlegs of yore, PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED ARCHIVAL RECORDINGS is a definite must-have for any of you readers who consider yourselves up-and-front Simply Saucer fans or at least unrepentant followers of the massive underground squall that sorta caught me up in a whirlpool of intense compulsion, and what healthier form of expression could one hope to aspire to anyway?

Nice selection even if skimpy (the creator of this package could have at least nicked the two Third Kind tracks available via youtube to pad this out) with only one familiar tune ("Limitless Love") seeing the light of day in a new performance, and not only that but the sound quality is surprisingly good considering the recording techniques of the seventies which were more than adequate enough even if they weren't always reliable. As far as I can tell all of these tracks were recorded during the group's post-electronic days even if at least one song ("Baby Nova") dates back to the mid-seventies. And, as anyone who was smart enough to latch onto a copy of PHFUDD #10 (hopelessly out of print) could tell you, this music is whatcha's call vital not only to your private juices but to the whole sum and substance of just what was happening across the globe in the late-seventies when at least a substantial part of the ages 18-34 crowd FINALLY HAD THEIR HEADS ON STRAIGHT and knew enough to make the best of rackets "borrowing" from some of the finer groups on the planet rather than the most diseased, rotted reflection of youth gone flabby and lazy. Which is why it is always better to have a million groups copping ideas from the Velvets and Stooges rather than the Dead and Airplane, just as long as the groups in question know enough to look beyond the superficial aspects of the quest (which is why we have a million groups out there playing loud but signifying very little). And Saucer, along with a few thousand other aggregates of the day, knew enough to take from the best and make it their own.

This little collection ends not with a bang or a whimper, but a solo performance by none other than Edgar Breau on acoustic guitar singing the autobiographical more or less "Story of Simply Saucer", a number he was frequently performing during his solo folk club stomping days in the mid-eighties. If you have that aforementioned copy of ish #10 you've probably already read the lyrics to this one but they're clear enough and understandable here if you haven't. It's a nice ditty too done in a kinda heartfelt and perhaps even slightly bitter way (or at least I take it that way), though one thing about this song really bugs me and that when one hears Breau clearly breaking of the Second Commandment not once, but twice! I say "clearly" because this is nothing he can wiggle outta sorta like John Lennon tried to on "The Ballad of John and Yoko", and I am surprised, nay, shocked that a fine upstanding man like Mr. Breau would stoop to the usage of such language in an attempt to get gullible children who want to look "hip" to patronize him! I hope Mr. Breau has made amends for his obvious lapse in judgment, and if you don't want your impression of this man to be taken down a few notches I suggest for you to either not get hold of this disque (as if a 100-only press run's easy enough to buy at your corner drugstore), or if you do don't listen to the closing track which I will reiterate I am totally aghast at/about. I mean JD King, well we all know what a vulgarian he can be, but Edgar???>

Saturday, January 24, 2009

GAZUMBI, AFRICAN SIXTIES GARAGE VOL. 1 LP (Nosmokerecords, definitely of European origin)

In honor of our newly-inaugurated president I thought I'd "write up" this collection of music that originated from the continent of his ancestral digs or at least the digs of his father, and if you're one of those non-believer types who thinks that all Africa ever produced in the way of music was a bunch of chanting and log-beating like you saw in TRADER HORN back when you wuz a kid you'll be in for a big surprise when you slap this one smack dab on the turntable of your Victrola!!! Y'see, all of the numbers featured on GAZUMBI were recorded by black men in Africa who were imitating white men in England imitating black men in the first place, and dare-I-say-it but African garage band rock is one concept I couldn't have thought up even in my wildest rockism fantasies! If you thought Arthur Lee was an anomaly just lend your lobes to such whacked out acts from the Motherland with crazed names like Os Rocks, Os Kriptons and Gino Garrido e Os Psicodelicos and tell me that they just don't sound like those groups who used to play down the street from you in Anytown USA back when kids were smart enough to do things as play rock & roll in between watching LEAVE IT TO BEAVER reruns! Richard Pryor once said that "In Africa there are no n----rs", and if this album is any indication of just what Africans aspire to be then they all wanna be Mick Jagger, no ifs ands or buts!

Nice package...reminds me of alla them great sixties compilations that were flooding the Midnight catalogs back in the eighties for a good fifteen bucks a pop with a nice four-color cover and pic sleeve repros on the back as well as a neet insert that lays it all down on the line as to just what rock & roll in Africa meant back in the mid-to-late-sixties (obviously the same thing that it meant just about everywhere else!). The sound quality is good enough, at the worst perhaps coming off like one of those great old Moxie EP's that were also cluttering up a variety of Bomp! catalogs back in the day. Not only that but this 'un's jam-packed with loads of tracks to the point where it coulda been called GOLDEN HOUR OF AFRICAN ROCK and I don't think the Kinks would have any grounds to sue! In these ripoff cheap sackka you-know-what days it's sure good to get hold of a bargain like this!

But it's the music that I really care about here, and GAZUMBI does more than its share to give a good cross-section of just what was going on in the garages of Africa back in those days of wild abandon! Some of this may be a bit "pedestrian" for the high energy freaks amongst us while others may seem a bit outside the garage band spectrum (as in Orquestre Veve's rehashing of Shocking Blue's "Venus"), but a good hunkin' portion of GAZUMBI should sate the standard BLOG TO COMM-inspired thirst for something new and different, yet in that tried and true ROCKISM tradition.

Thankfully no airport lounge acts to wow the rube tourists pop up here (even though a number entitled "Krakmen Twist" by the Congo's Les Krakmen does appear), and every bit of this is what I would call 100% garageoid performance and execution. The familiar (Conjunto de Oliviera Muge's Portuguese take of "I Had Too Much To Dream Tonight") mixes with the original music that owes plenty to the Stones/Animals/Beatles axis with a heaping dose of Amerigan re-writing of the form, and even a nifty folk rock track that owes a whole lot to the traditional music of the continent (H20's "Riens Des Mots") had enough charm and verve to sate even the more jaded amongst us old timers who thought they heard it all before and don't seem to want to hear it again.

Warning, there may be times when you feel like tuning out during the more time-tread numbers (maybe I never did have that much of an affection for some of these furriner instrumental surf stompers even if the surf was up in Mozambique!) but GAZUMBI is boss enough to be more than a mere rock geographical lesson and has enough pounce and smash to make it alongside all of the well-known garage crankers that have been embedded into our minds for longer than any of us oldtimers would care to imagine. And for you youngsters out there, with all of the current talk about "multikulturalism" and how all beliefs, creeds, ideas and sexual positions are equal just take a copy of GAZUMBI to school and tell your teacher that it's ALL bunk! Y'see, rock & roll is the ONLY international youth language, and if they can watusi and frug in Ameriga they sure enough can do it in Africa too! Really, it's the ONLY thing that truly binds us together, in a healthy, non-collective way!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Izzint this supposed to be one of those mooms that Liz 'n Dick would fly in from London to go see with all the rest of the chic set doing a little slumming in Bohotown? Well, it kinda looks as if it would be, or better yet maybe what some suburban Long Island teenagers woulda wanted to cop on their trip to En Why See just so's they could tell their friends what they did on their last wild exploits into the Big Turd other'n watch alla the freakos who got to go into Max's Kansas City while these poor children shivered out inna cold. Yeah, CHAFED ELBOWS is that tied into the whole mid-six-oh concept of hotcha underground gulcher art and films (and even earned a berth on Parker Tyler's list of top underground films), and given that I can easily enough be a sucker for some of the ginchiest slices of whateveritis passing for art back then I sure didn't pass up the opportunity to latch onto a Dee-Vee-Dee of this 'un courtesy of because...really, I haven't had that much of an opportunity to spend my Christmas money, and time's a' wastin'!

In a genre of bizarro filmmaking CHAFED ELBOWS is a strangie true, but not that much different from a whole buncha other weird films that were playing the hipster circuit back during those days when the underground seemed to be bubbling up into the mainstream at least to the point where the gathered readership of LIFE woulda been tuned into this as much as those of FILM CULTURE. And yeah, like most other avant garde underground films of the sixties (with the strange exception of the Kuchar brothers' works) CHAFED ELBOWS is very dated, with a load of gimmicks and techniques (not to mention now-obscure asides and LBJ pokes whenever the mood arises) that anyone who woulda tuned into NBC's EXPERIMENTS IN TELEVISION a few years later would have gotten their fair share of. In fact, next to the works of Warhol and the Kuchars CHAFED ELBOWS comes off rather commercial as in it could have been stuck on any arthouse bill along with the rest of those indecipherable foreign films that we're all supposed to like if we want to be part of the chattering class. To which I say cinematic art is a load of hooey and if I want to experience something that is closer to my own frame of suburban aesthetics there's always The Bowery Boys or better yet that weird home movie my mother shot of me and my cousin in front of the school running just so's there'd be some action in it!

But in my own weird way I kinda liked CHAFED ELBOWS maybe because of the En Why See locale (amidst the spoofing of spoof and fancy camera angles it's got that cool NAKED CITY/CAR 54 WHERE ARE YOU? feeling!) that sorta mutated into Retch City by the time the eighties rolled around but then again alla those faggots and VILLAGE VOICE types were asking for it anyway. The typical mid-sixties "avant garde" style of filmmaking isn't that much of a hindrance either, and ya gotta remember that back when this was made such things as the use of LA JETTEE-esque picture stills wasn't as hackneyed as it would be by the time such techniques were being used in grade school anti-drug film strips. And I guess that director Robert Downey Sr. really did have a good head on his shoulders because you can actually feel that an underground film of this caliber was just the right ticket into the legit bigtime movie making biz. And yeah, even with the entire flaky premise and execution I guess I can enjoy CHAFED ELBOWS the same way I like bad things, not to say that CHAFED ELBOWS is "so bad its good" but because its sour "social commentary" and chintzy gimmickry did kinda entertain me the same way those PBS low-budget afternoon classroom dramas did throughout the seventies and eighties.

The plot, more or less, has to do with some really Irish looking guy who falls in love with his haggy mother and gets into a whole slew of weird adventures across New York including delivering potato salad to a Bar Mitzvah and making it on the roof with some woman he found hiding under the table, recording a hit single dealing with sado masochism a good decade before that became hip twaddle, acting in an art film as a cop and getting his cousin pregnant (not in that order either!). And yeah, it comes off about as mawkish and as grey as I've described it, but then again being an arrested adolescent I guess that I am amused in the strangest ways possible. Maybe a twice-in-my-lifetime watch, which is more than I can say about a few other art flicks that never did light my pilot. Now can anyone bother to interest me in a little feature out there called HALLELUJAH THE HILLS?

Saturday, January 17, 2009


With all of that sub-sub-SUB-zero weather we've been having the past few days at least I now have a good excuse to stay indoors and hunker-down with what I would call some serious television viewing. However, with the television scene being as stinky as it has been for the past three decades I've found that it's prudent for one to have a good stock of DVD's and perhaps even some old VCR tapes that should be transferred to disque one of these days in order to preserve them, because who knows what kinda entertainment they're gonna be shovin' down our throats a good twenny years from now! And what a better time, now that my computer DVD drive seems to be more or less working again, to spin some of those shiny disques that I have received for Christmas! Yes, Santa has been kind to me not only with the Ed Wood Box Set he had sent my way (courtesy of one Mr. Lou Rone) but with a few other goodies that I was fortunate to find under the tree this past Holiday Seasoned. So without further ado (and to do yet another "change-of-pace" weekend post) here's what else I happened to get from old Mr. C, or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof, almost a good month back!

First on the itinerary are the pair of disques sent my way from none other than Bill Shute, who not only has a good enough gauge as to what my own tastes are but seems to have pretty good taste himself as these two picks of his'll prove. DVD #1's a beaut in that it contains not one, but two moom pitchers featuring none other than (hold onto your hats) The Three Stooges in roles that have probably not been seen by the vast majority of their fans twixt the seventies until the big Stooge putsch of the early-eighties when just about all of their rarities were beginning to hit the cathode tube either via broadcast or shoddy VHS releases. The biggest surprise about these two flicks (GOLD RAIDERS/MEET THE BARON on Warner Brothers Home Video) is that they were both fairly common enough fixtures on broadcast tee-vee back in the mid-fifties meaning that their original airing dates via syndicated movie packages predates the late-fifties Stoogemania that was created when their shorts hit the tube creating a wave of revived interest that lasted for a good umpteen years afterwards as I recall!

GOLD RAIDERS is one of those films I'm sure more than a stations ran on Saturday mornings back when that day and time was the bastion of old western films and cartoon reruns long before the early-sixties begat the Saturday Am kulture we've all known and loved for years. It would figure, because even if the Shemp Howard-era Stooges were absent from this hour-long b-grade it would still rank as a typical low budget western that would have seen a quick run in theatres only to be followed by years of syndication before getting tossed into the public domain videotape bins where it would rot for quite a long time. But GOLD RAIDERS is worth it for the Stooges as comic relief doing some of their great gags in a Wild West setting complete with a good enough cast, most notably George O'Brien as himself out to make sure the gold arrives safely, Fuzzy Knight as the weak do-nothing sheriff, and of course Lyle Talbot as the heavy in yet another role he didn't turn down. And it was directed by Edward Bernds who sure knew enough about the Stooges and low-budget cinema to crank out not only a good feature-length Stooge vehicle but a western thus hitting it big with the kids' two favorite types of entertainment in one fifty-five minute cheapie!

As far as feature #2 MEET THE BARON goes, this vehicle for vaudeville/radio personality Jack Pearl is benefited by an early appearance by the Ted Healy-manned trio, and even if you (like me) find Healy to have been way overbearing (perhaps due to the mainlining that made Shemp quit the trio in the first place?) and the Stooges mostly put to bad use at MGM (the worst studio for just about anything save a few Buster Keaton films, FREAKS and Tex Avery cartoons) you'll probably want to watch this to experience the genesis of the Stooge style you've come to know and love via years of bleary-eyed distant-signal UHF viewing. Of course the rest of the film is actually good enough even with the patented MGM gloss, with star Pearl doing his dialect act coming off like a less transparently phony Willie Howard and co-star Jimmy Durante making do as the second banana. The major storyline (with Pearl being mistaken for the legendary Baron Munchausen after being left for dead in Africa by the real one!) and the subplots (a love affair between Pearl and Zasu Pitts of all people!) are halfway-there early-thirties fare, but the Stooges in a variety of scenes really do save this from being yet another switchoff to the late news. However without the Stooges one could say that MEET THE BARON is so staid that even the "scandalous" shower scene at the all-girls college will make you celibate, but I'm sure that for most of you readers there will not be any major changes made in your standards of living.

WAIT!, there was one more disque to be found in the package that I got from Bill, and boy that addition to the set was a soo-prize indeed! I remember when WILL THE REAL JERRY LEWIS PLEASE SIT DOWN (available from "Classic Cartoons on DVD", c/o Ira's Candy Store) debuted on ABC's Saturday Morning schedule back in '70, and I should remember that because at the time I was one big Jerry Lewis fanatic who used to watch all of his movies whether they be his oldies with Dean Martin that were popular syndication fodder on Sunday afternoons at the time or his solo ones which were also popping up on local tee-vee but more than often were showing up on prime time. Whatever, I thought that Jerry Lewis was the coolest kinda guy imaginable...yeah, I didn't watch his NBC series (a episode of which I reviewed here) because at the time I thought it was too "grown up" and I have no recollection of his down-in-flames ABC show which is legendary if only for its failure, but hey if Lewis had his own show onna tube during my days of Lewis fanaticism I surely woulda been front and center for it! Of course it all went down when I heard the guy telling dirty jokes on the telethon about somebody dancing around like "Charo in heat" (I thought he was a nice guy, just like everyone told me!) but for awhile if there was anyone I wanted to be my dad it was Jerry Lewis! Well, at least think of all the pills I coulda scarfed up!

I dunno why, but even during this big massive Jerry Lewis "infatuation" I don't recall liking this animated series one stinking iota! In fact, I believe I tuned in to this 'un only once or twice at the most during those Saturday AM hours and then shrugged the whole thing off like I would such other kiddie bits of distaste like arts & crafts and enemas. These cartoons weren't anything like the movies I was hogging the set for (and had none of that fifties/early-sixties style and verve I appreciated more than the flower power gloop that was permeating everything at the time!), and the jokes just weren't as hotcha as the ones I heard Jerry do on a variety of programs. In fact, I gotta admit that I found the show instant dungeon, unfunny and kidstuff crap that didn't appeal to a guy who liked his kidstuff real pre-LBJ-like! Well, at least there were no references to "Charo in heat" to be heard, but I still found myself preferring to do outside peon work in the yard to watching this particular load of douse.

You'll probably think that time has softened this old turd just like Dulcolax with regards to my current opinions regarding WILL THE REAL JERRY LEWIS PLEASE SIT DOWN, and if you'd thunk that for once in your life you'd be right! Maybe it's that old Filmation Studios style that was so predominant on television at the time, coupled with that same cornball canned music that dredged up memories of my occasional viewings of ARCHIE, but danged if this series didn't have a good sorta zing to it that goes down a lot smoother here in 2009 than it did almost forty years back!

Not based on Lewis' long-running DC comics title (which was the last of their once-plentiful celebrity comic line, lasting well into 1971 and the just-post DC slug logo days when the character in question's picture would appear on the upper-left-hand corner of the cover in proud Golden Age fashion), WILL THE REAL JERRY LEWIS PLEASE SIT DOWN centers around a personification of the just-post Martin-era Lewis (voiced by future Squiggy David Lander) as the inept employee at an odd job firm who lives with his screwball scientist father (one of the many Lewisclones to be found in this series) and a kid daughter of indeterminable importance. Not being one to mess with the formula, WILL THE REAL JERRY LEWIS PLEASE SIT DOWN also's got the typically short-fused boss/foil and his secretary/Lewis' "love interest" more or less and a wide variety of characters based on various ones Lewis created for certain features including a stereotypical Snidely Whiplash/Simon Legree villain, a vainglorious muscleman, a gangster and a Chinese detective and his overweight son, all of them purporting to be relatives of some sort! And, if you're hankering to see these because you liked the Archie series that Filmation perhaps banked their overall success on there's even a Hot Dog clone not to mention an obvious Miss Grundy swipe as a librarian in the college episode, and I even caught a Jughead imitation stuck in a crowd scene! Well, you can't argue with success.

So what's the verdict? Well, what else could I say about a television series that had its own laugh track that was even used during the opening and closing credits! In fact, the laugh track seems to go on and off at regular intervals almost like it did on THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET, or at least that's what Bill "ZIPPY" Griffith claimed and you know he might be right. And yeah, even a born curmudgeon as I would admit that WILL THE REAL JERRY LEWIS PLEASE SIT DOWN was a fun enough seventies-era cartoon series that maybe should enjoy some sorta retrospective these days. True it's no TELECOMICS but I'll bet it sure woulda looked neat watching the ABC Sunday AM reruns of it a few years later 'stead of some fru-fru poets on CAMERA THREE or Rex Humbard fleecing the flock!
Finally on today's tour into the world of digital dorkitude's this weirdie sent me by Brad Kohler, who seems to have this persecution complex about himelf and the presents he gives me for Christmas. Listen Brad, it's the thought that counts, and if you could only THINK a little more about what you're giving your Benevolent Leader as a gift then maybe you wouldn't have these pangs of guilt tugging away at every sinew and bowel in your body! But Brad did think, and he sure thought up a good one in getting me OHM (Ellipsis Arts) which is a collection of various electronic music videos that are compiled and glopped together in order to present to you, the viewer, some visuals to the audio that you've been listening to for quite a few years already. And yeah, I'll bet that if you do a few namechecks on youtube every second of this DVD will pop up in some form and for FREE as well, but if you're the kind of person who's concerned about such trivialities as "quality" and "expediency" then you'll probably like OHM enough to have it moil in your DVD collection next to the performance art and radical manifestos. As for why Brad got this one for me I'd say that it was probably because he remembers the stories about the term paper on electronic music that I did for English class during the sophomore year of my high school existence, the one that Jillery typed up for me mis-spelling a good number of words in the process the most notable one being "Sien Ra" instead of "Sun Ra", a faux pas which burns me up even this late in the game and you can bet I never let her forget it!

If I only had a copy of OHM back then I would probably have turned in a better paper, but that would have been an impossibility considering not only that there were no DVD's in existence back when I was in high school but a good portion of these videos weren't even made at the time! But if they were, they would have been helpful to this kid because they do feature good bits of info and some surprising revelations, if you're willing to wade through a tonna muck that is!

A good portion of OHM seems to be taken from private home videos, like the conversation with theremin player Clara Rockmore and her performance accompanied by pianist, while other clips are definitely of a higher production value which doesn't mean they're any "better" than such clips as Leon Theremin giving electronic composer Paul Lansky a lesson on his creation. Frankly a heaping hunk of this does come off strictly PBS, with the better moments reminding me of seventies PBS at their most adventurous and the more clunkier/avant-pretentious ones coming off like that famed network during its eighties days. And they sure do dredge up the memories if only for that...watching the clips of Robert Moog and his kids with patented seventies long hair and wire rims making a synthesizer brings back fond bleary-eyed memories of the stuff I'd watch on PBS in the seventies while waiting for MONTY PYTHON to come on. However, watching a piece on robots with an admittedly good Steve Reich soundtrack but horrid computer graphics only reminds me of tuning into PBS in the eighties while waiting for the nightly rerun of BEST OF GROUCHO, only to find out that an episode of POV dealing with gay Spanish communist revolutionaries fighting "fascists" or people who might as well be because they're "different" is being shown...and if you're mad that you sat through all that drivel only to end up seeing a buncha commies then you'd have every right to be!

But even with such inanities as some computer animated goop dealing with a "dust bunny" and the bear who wants to obliterate him (mostly a high-tech BARNEY BEAR cartoon) and more dilettanteness than your system can stand there are more than a few items totally worth your viewing at least once, such as the one with Alvin Lucier making percussive clank with his alpha brain waves and Milton Babbitt talking about the Columbia University synthesizer which is cool especially since many in the chattering class of music think he's a dork so he must be doing something right. The clip dealing with synth trio Mother Mallard brought back a few long-forgotten memories since I was pondering buying up some of their records back in the late-seventies thinking they may have had some sorta krautitude in their electronic makeup. After watching this I guess that maybe I was wise to save my money since they come off less kraut-electronics and more hippydoodle, at least judging from the bit that looks like it was copped off a PBS documentary that didn't quite make it to any stations here. I guess whether or not you purchase OHM all depends on how much you like listening to the old pioneering electronic music, or for that matter whether or not you can tell a Sien Ra from a Sun Ra.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


OK, this is OLD NEWS and it's probably the last place you're gonna read about it ANYWHERE, but since I just got 'em into my mitts (bought 'em with some of the Christmas moolah that I was told to put in the bank but why should I waste good money that way?) why not write these hardback editions of THE SPIRIT up in a nifty midweek posting anyway? Who knows, maybe there are a few of you lumpen ignoramuses out there who aren't familiar with the Spirit and his creator Will Eisner, and yeah maybe mentioning this stuff in BLOG TO COMM does give it a certain air of legitimacy, dontcha think?

Like a good hunka ya more comically-inclined regulars, I discovered THE SPIRIT via Jules Feiffer's rather informative if you're a kid just discovering this stuff comic book history entitled THE GREAT COMIC BOOK HEROES (received Christmas 1971 in case you care), and yeah, at the time I thought it rather strange that such a thing as a "comic book section" of the Sunday papers where these SPIRIT sagas appeared ever existed in the first place! I mean,if ever a thing did exist I woulda thunk the comics enclosed must've been some dogs if the guy couldn't get a real life publisher to print his creations! Well, that's how kiddie minds think, and such barren thought processes are akin to the view I once had (and another guy held for his entire comic book life) that outside of DC there was nothing...Marvel doesn't count and forget Charlton and all that stuff and of course I wised up soon enough to give that Spirit saga a try...well, actually it wasn't until I read and re-read every other story in that dad-blamed book that I decided to read that 'un out of boredom more'n anything and hey whaddya know but that SPIRIT saga was actually a good 'un! Different in its own way of course and nothing like the slam-bang sagas at Timely nor the big-name brouhaha of DC...THE SPIRIT was unique enough to even make indents into my adolescent pea brain to the point where I wanted to know MORE about this character even if his name wasn't being bandied about as much as Superman's. Of course when I found out that THE SPIRIT also appeared in POLICE COMICS alongside perennial fave Plastic Man he suddenly had all of the credibility I needed to like him, in my own suburban slob comic collecting midclass way of course.

None of this may have any meaning to you if you're a lousy communist, but it sure dredges up great comic book memories of combing garage sales and flea markets for 15-cent-era comic books (the good old days) and maybe even an ARCHIE printed in 1963 or before, even then a cutoff date for a glorious era only a dolt would want to defile. And hey, these SPIRITs are just as much a zone-back to my comic book collecting days as any tattered MONSTERS ON THE PROWL that still survives in my collection because they have that great Golden Age bash and crash to 'em that seemed to get lost in the shuffle once World War II ended and comic books tended to go off on a different tangent that seemed rather fuzzy, at least until the advent of the horror and sci-fi trend in the early-fifties. I guess World War II messed up everyone's mind, and the comics were sure to suffer for that!

No need to go on about the Milton Caniff-influenced art and the interesting "camera" angles and unique layouts. You've probably read about all that years ago and besides I'm sure there's some guy on the 'net with an anus tighter than mine who can tell you all about it in case you missed it the first/second/third time around. However, I would like to talk to you about Ebony White, the oft-maligned sidekick of the Spirit who in many ways was Robin to the Spirit's Batman. It would figure since the similarities between Batman and the Spirit, or at least the early Spirit, were rather evident from both of them being "scientific"-minded crimefighters who more or less "worked" with the police while remaining fringe-type "outlaw" characters. Batman had the Batmobile while the Spirit had his combination automobile/airplane, and both had out-of-the-way hideouts with Batman's situated 'neath "stately Wayne Manor" and the Spirit's in Wildwood Cemetery. Of course the big diff twixt the two was that Robin was about as Caucasian as they come, while Ebony was what way too many people'd call a "stereotypical" forties-era black character which it seems too many wonks find oh-so "beneath-the-pale" (no vague pun intended) to the point where they'd sure love to toss every copy of THE SPIRIT (even the ones with post-Ebony episodes just to play it safe!) into the same abyss where they'd like to see all of these cartoon and movie images rot for all eternity! Of course the new stereotypes perpetrated by these same well-heeled arbiters of whadevva are perfectly OK, meaning that people of color can DO NO WRONG these days while Polish plumbers and white Southerners are to be subjected to every slur inna book because...well, they deserve it, I think?

But hey, why pick on Eisner?!?!? I mean yeah, Ebony is sure scared of ghosts just like Sunshine Sammy was in the EAST SIDE KIDS films, and he even turned white once while in a haunted house, but many other times this kid was manning the Spirit's auto-plane while the Spirit was in trouble as well as dealing it out to the badskis with a whole load of power and gunch! And true he spoke in that patented old timey black dialect complete with every "dem" "dese" and "dose" Eisner could cram into a word balloon, but would anyone in the comics world back in the day portray a cowpoke who spoke English like the Queen? When people criticize Eisner for the Ebony character all it reminds me of is the cop on the highway who sees everyone speeding and then tags the guy who's only going 66 mph instead of 86 and makes an example out of him! These people are nothing but a buncha Judy Hennslers who'd make up a list of all the kids who were talking in class while Miss Landers left the room, and they probably all expect gold stars on their foreheads for their good deeds as well! Well, if you're looking for some special pat-on-the-back because you find Ebony so offensive don't look for any accolades from ME! Ebony White was one great lovable character and he sure had a lot more taste and gumption in him than all of those "positive black role models" the media has been trying to push on us for a good three decades. And, as anyone who's sat through an episode of a PBS kids series of eighties vintage can tell you, they're all a buncha stoopid patsies anyway! Perhaps people who do "pick on" Ebony are really picking on the definitive good vs. evil, top-notch story lines and exemplary art of THE SPIRIT and maybe if they really wanted to help they'd all go to New Guinea and offer their own flesh to the cannibals. Now that would really be serving humanity!

Saturday, January 10, 2009


As of the past few decades there really hasn't been much good new music for us unrepentant/unreconstructed Velvet Underground fans to enjoy, or at least do so like in the seventies when the seams of the earth were just busting with bands who took various aspects of the Velvets' infinite magic and went off with it in similar and/or unique directions. Oh yeah, the eighties and nineties were also popping out with loads of Velvet Underground "wannabes" for wont of a better term (of course, each and every one of them seemed to go out of their ways to mention that they sounded "nothing" like the Velvets in a vain attempt to distance themselves from their amerindie brethren), but very few of them really captured that feral magic that the Velvets bestowed upon us, or at least they didn't capture it like a vast majority of the seventies bands with the Velvets "feel". Other than Sister Ray, Yo La Tengo and a few more latterday acts whose names will come back to me more later than sooner very little of these Velvets-"influenced" groups were able to relay that same sorta high-energy intensity of the inspiration resulting in not only a wide array of tiresome copycats, but a lame cult surrounding the Velvets that sorta helped to trash a good portion of their legacy to all heck. At least in the sixties we had the Stooges and Can and the seventies everyone from the Modern Lovers to about a thousand or so bands of equal stature and might, but afterward what was there in Velvetdom to to snap our synapese the way the Contortions or Third Rail could...X-Tal??? Please, I just ate!

The following two reviews are of groups dating from the seventies (one midway through, the other punk ass end) who had more than a few brainy rockcrit types looking for new terms to describe these bands' "Velvetosity" for wont of a better term. They were but two of thousands and unlike the newer crop of post-Velvet acts they seemed earnest enough in their trek to take the influence but not be a dimwit copycat. But whatever, I'm strapped for new sounds right now so these old ones should hopefully fill the bill until Volcanic Tongue comes up with some tasty vittles.

Marie et les Garcons-"Rien a Dire", "A Bout De Souffle"/"Mardi Soir" EP(Rebel, France)

After making out what little I could from ROCK NEWS' French lingo I get the sneaking suspicion that these guys (and gal) were pretty serious Velvet Underground fanatics, which is sure good enough to re-ignite my late-seventies pilot light, that's for sure. And Marie et les Garcons were certainly a fresh-enough group to have turned more than a few jaded Velvet-types' heads even with all of the Modern Lovers and Talking Heads press hype that was legendary at the time. After all, what more can you say about another clean-looking group in a sea of stadium rock dregdom complete with a female drummer and the distinction of being the first French band to play at CBGB way back in March of '77 anyway? And the band sure lived up to their hype with a number of boffo recordings, some which appeared courtesy of Skydog records as well as the equally Franco-lovin' Rebel label which also released the equally Velvetesque Mars debut single back when it all mattered most.

And this particular EP is a good 'un which reminds me of just what was right with the seventies as far as passing the post-Velvet torch went as well as the plethora of acts that didn't make me moan and cry over the death of the Velvets like I woulda had these bands NOT existed. "Rien a Dire" starts things off with a STICKY FINGERS-era Rolling Stones filtered through Velvets sense of urgency, while "A Bout de Souffle" seems to pay homage to the more up-to-date punkisms with a New York flair...a Ramones influence can be discerend especially with an obvious "Loudmouth" swipe thrown in. "Mardi Soir" also reminds me of various '77-isms that were getting more than ample fanzine space, it having a straighter Velvets in a seventies Boston fashion sound that only goes to show the anti-Velvet naysayers (such as Anastasia Pantsios, who once said that the Velvets were a lame bunch whose only influence in eighties rock was on whiny angst-filled singers*) just how all important and to the root of the high-energy matter the Velvets remained for more than a few years after their premature demise.

Marie et les Garcons did manage at least one more recording after this, a 12-incher on Ze which I don't think has been reissued in any form, just like this debut popper come to think of it. It's an OK one, showing a more slick, perhaps "new wave" production that marred many of these groups' recordings back during the day, not to mention ruined more than a few groups themselves as well. I don't have it, but someone decided to use it as the basis for one of those youtube patch-together videos that always present a load of must hear material usually with duff graphics...this is one for the group's '78 "Re-Bop Attitude"/"Rien a Diew Medley" and after giving it a play I think you'll know what I mean:

A bit fluffweight in comparison especially when they break into "Macho Man" on "Rien a Diew" but I'll take it over the sickening mewls of J. Neo Marvin and the rest of those Velvet Underground blasphemers you've heard for the past two decades anyday! And wouldn't you???
THE RAINCOATS CD (1993 DGO release)

I guess if there was any good in Kurt Cobain's existence it was due to his role in getting an Amerigan release for this classic slab a good fourteen years after it's original appearance back '80 way. And yeah, I know that you, me and a good hefty number of you reg'lar BLOG TO COMM readers have pretty much shied away from a good portion of the same early-eighties "Rough Trade"-styled underground rockism for quite some time, but despite the similarities with such acts as Au Pairs and Delta 5 THE RAINCOATS, and the Raincoats, are different. Imagine it as being the last days of the whole Velvets influx chain of influence that began in the late-sixties with everyone from Le Stelle Di Mario Schifano and Les Rallizes Denudes, and suddenly the whole scene gets ker-PLUNKED but good when the likes of REM and other eighties superficialists began getting the precious rock press space but here's an act that is continuing on the same nerve-bared path as the originals and they're acting as if dorko gnu wave and alternative music doesn't even exist! That's the Raincoats for you!

True, the Raincoats were of a decidedly feminist pose (translation: I'm sure a surprise armpit check would reveal mucho hair!) complete with the neo-Marxist drivel that goes along with your average working/slumming-class Englisher (just take a gander at their album cover below with the cute kerchiefed Chinese kids singing odes to the one called Mao...of course Ameriga is beyond the pale, y'know!), but their unabashed primitive scrawl and typical seventies-derived Velvet fandom helped to erase any traces of dangerous British Socialist moves in my book which only goes to show you that I might be willing to forsake my own proud beliefs if the music has a good swerve to it!

So what does this stuff have to say for you musically a good three decades after the fact? A whole heckuva lot from the intentionally off-key singing to the scratchy violin and updated take on classic mid-sixties folk rock. Thankfully the Raincoats ain't another one of them hotstuff feminist acts you've seen popping ever since the days of wimmen's lip singing odes to the wondrous smells to be found 'neath the waist. Even when they do sing about some rapist soldier in their own uniquely vague way (meaning you probably wouldn't know what "Off Duty Trip" was about unless you've read one of a thousand interviews the band did back in the day) they don't sound too much like the privileged middle-class scions that they most truly are. Of course all of that socio-political gab takes a back seat to the music which sounds surprisingly hard-up intense with punky snatches tossed in to make it all the more copasetic with what that eighties rock was supposed to be all about. And at least their Velvet Underground, especially on the particularly 1965/66-ish "In Love" sounds a whole lot better than most post-underground dingbats' variations on the form thereof!

Funny aside...I remember playing my favorite track from this 'un, namely "Life on the Line" for some budding airline stewardess (no foolin') back when THE RAINCOATS originally came out and she thought it was abysmal and told me so in a typically condescending "I must lower myself down to his level to explain that I hate his musical tastes" sorta way. Funny, I thought she was one of those types who would have been open-minded (as opposed to open-ended!) about such hot new rock & roll ideals, but I was wrong. I'll betcha she went for these gals whole hog a good twelve or so years later after Cobain gave this 'un his imprimatur of decadent hotcha! I wouldn't mind asking her if she did or not...all I remember about her is that her first name was I believe Kathy and her last either "Lenz" or perhaps "Renz" and she lived in a ritzy ranch house in Hermitage. Hey "Lenz/Renz", if you're reading this how about dropping a comment in the post box and telling me you changed your mind...about the album, that is.
IT'S ALL MEAT CD (Hallucinations, PO Box 506, Millville NJ 08392)

This one has very little if anything to do with the Velvets, but I thought I'd mention this Toronto group's Cee-Dee reissue because I've been waiting for so long to give it a spin. Click here for my review of an early-nineties vintage pirate copy, and not-so-surprisingly my opinions have not changed regarding this obscurity in the lapse of time since I wrote that. However I should note for you that the single side "Feel It" once again makes an appearance in fact starting off the disque, and the six additional pre-LP demo sides are a real boon too, with more of that classic Canadian slow intense-burn sound that seemed to permeate more than a few bands up there in the North Country, or at least the country north of here.

My fave of these demos has gotta be the closer "If Jesus Were Alive Today" and I must admit that despite the subject matter I really like this song and not just because it has one of those updated fifties rock melodies that everyone from the Velvets to Flamin' Groovies were dabblin' in at the time. I like it because It's All Meat handle the subject matter of this song surprisingly well considering how they coulda mucked it up real bad. Y'see, I really do not cozy up to these "What if Jesus were in the here and now" sagas because every time its done the author of said story/song/play etc. does nothing but project his own socio-political beliefs into that of his fictional Son of Man as if to say that "Jesus" would have been every bit as hip-cause socially-conscious as """""I""""" am, wotta guy! In a way It's All Meat do this as well, but instead of having their Jesus variation stomp the grounds for Proposition 8 or act as an escort in an abortion clinic, they have him singing in a rock & roll band sticking it to the authorities! Personally, I find that a whole lot more digestible than anything Terrance McNally or Tony Kushner would put into one of their asinine plays, not to mention a whole load better'n the Jesus Freak music that was coming out during the early/mid-seventies. Next time you're around the campfire and someone wants to sing "Kumbaya" just slap this 'un on the box and watch years of sanctimonious sludge get washed away for good!
BEFORE I LEAVE YOU, I thought I'd share thiis little bit of information I got via a letter from Brad Kohler which, whether true or not, certainly is food for thought:
My pal Bruce said that once Obama got in all examples of what is now considered unforgivable stereotyping, like the mammy character in TOM & JERRY cartoons or the porter in THE THREE STOOGES shorts turning white with fright etc. would be excised from existing prints and anyone caught with original copies would be sent to re-education camps! Hope no one spied on me watching Mantan Moreland in a public domain poverty row horror farce last Saturday!
Frankly my money's on this being one big farce that's going around akin to the rumor that Bill Cosby bought up all of the rights to THE LITTLE RASCALS so they wouldn't be shown on television anymore (and since they were taken off, have race relations improved!), but I certainly hope not since I just received the first three volumes of DC's SPIRIT reprints last Monday and they've been taking up much of my free time and in fact have been keeping me up late spellbound by the fantastic art and unique stories to be found therein. Naturally the modern day taste police are not too keen on the Spirit's black sidekick, Ebony White, who originally appeared as a full grown cabbie who drove our Masked Avenger around town in a few episodes but quickly transmorphed into a child, and I remember the heaping hunks of controversy directed towards SPIRIT creator Will Eisner for including this particular character in his stories raging on at least since the Warren SPIRIT reprints in the mid-seventies. More on Ebony and his "boss" in a future post, but sheesh, if the above rumor just happens to be true or at least contains a grain of credibility, both me and Brad might be sharing a cell at Camp Sontag learning to be oh so queasy over our pitiable white existences! I'll let you know what happens, like maybe write a letter home along with some arts and crafts maybe.
*And yes, I did read that on-line article she did on the one-off Mirrors reunion last summer, which only goes to prove that the "rock" press is more than apt to deify such "cannon fodder" as Mirrors, as long as it ain't a threat to their FM-minded bonghead mentalities or anything else that might seem "counter-revolutionary" to the "cause".

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

RON ASHETON 1948-2009

Hokay you probably heard all about it from another blog by now, but maybe it's time you heard it straight from the keypad of a fan rather than some creep...yes, Mr. Delasabitsch was right when he mentioned in the comment section(see last post) that Ron Asheton, "legendary guitarist from the Stooges" as Jane Scott might have put it, has died this very morning. Ten o'clock Eastern Time which makes his corpse a good five hours and forty-seven minutes old from the time I am typing this post (TACKED ON MUCH LATER NOTE: reports say that he may have been dead for a few days when police found his body this AM). And true, although I never knew the guy, never got to see him live and never even gabbed with him on the telephone I can sure feel a great sense of loss upon hearing of his passing (like I'm sure people like Tim Stegall who has met Asheton on a number of occasions are doing right now manyfold!). Really, I know it and you know it and anyone with a brain knows it, but Asheton was one of the topnotch great guitarists in rock history so what else can I do other than forgo my planned mid-week posting and devote it instead to the guy even though he probably wouldn't've given one whit about it either way. Being the selfish type and all, it sure would make me feel a lot better if I do note his passing rather than just fluff it over as if "ho hum, just anudder sixties casualty croaking forty years after the fact" 'r something as equally assholish, not that I can (unwittingly) fall into such strange chasms myself once in awhile.

So what else can I say about a guy who I guess is so important to the entire BLACK/BLOG TO COMM chemical makeup that he was interviewed in the pages of my very own publishing disaster two times, the only other person to share that same distinction being Mick Farren who probably also didn't realize that he was sitting down for a gab session for the same rundown rinkydink fanzine twice within a few short years. Of course I am proud of this simple fact because Asheton man, he sure was a big influence on a whole passel of things beholden to my late-teens/early-twenties musical makeup. For one thing Mr. A sure looked cool especially in an age of hippie doody and although I was a guy who would have preferred to've looked like Lenny Kaye (who I thought looked coolest of the cool) Ron Asheton did come in a close second. And not only that, but his entire guitar playing style was some of the best one-note crankadoodle heard between the Golden Age of Crankadoodle (1964-1967) and the return to primal aesthetics in 1976! And I do mean it not only in its garage band primitivism but in the way it would really upset the more, er, accomplished practitioners of the form. Just pick up any copy of CREEM to read the venting outrage of the rock & roll habituates of said issue when asked by Lester Bangs and Jaan Uhelzski their opinions of the Stooges...Deep Purple (a band who certainly knew their Detroit groups considering how Bangs and Metal Mike Saunders were more than anxious to label them the British MC5 on many an occasion) flew into a rage upon the mere mention of their name, and fellow Detroiter Ted Nugent would go apopleptic when asked about them, especially regarding Asheton's guitar playing abilities and how he was going to shoot Asheton with a crossbow if the Stooges ever set foot in his neck of the forest again! Back in the day asking Nugent about Ron Asheton would have been akin to asking me about Dave Lang...nothing but hostility baby, and you know I ain't lyin'the way Nugent would curse out anyone who would sing the praises of the Asheton guitar virtuosity in his presence! But really, that is a good sign at least as far as making a music that can shake you up and move you, and the only music that really could succeed like that with me is the music that goes beyond the form and plays beyond the normal realms of respectability and "taste". IN OTHER WORDS the music of the Stooges!

All of Asheton's groups, not only the Stooges, were fine distillations of everything from post-Velvet Underground homage to Midwestern thud existence, and anyone who would deny the high energy and raw power of a New Order, Destroy All Monsters, or Dark Carnival has gotta have his head up a rather un-wiped orifice if you ask me. Heck I'm sure even some of those later groups of his that I passed on out of apathy more than anything else might have had their own special brand of excitement and charm. And hey, if only more kids in the seventies and eighties would have learned guitar by listening to him we wouldn't have had to put up with the reams of dire sounds that the past few decades have produced! Then again we probably wouldn't've had Nirvana, but we can't have everything our way.

Well, at least I'm sure of one thing, and that is with Asheton's death the vaults will probably open up some, so maybe we'll get to hear more Destroy All Monsters live (funny story...while spinning a Destroy All Monsters live tape back in '84 Jillery dismissed Asheton's playing as "acid rock"!) or perhaps even some early Stooges recordings that haven't seen the light of day for four decades already! The ghouls are always anxious to cash in, so I'm sure a whole slew of Asheton-related goodies will be making their way to our abodes more sooner than later. But man, what circumstances these may be! And what else can I do by ending this post with a hearty so long Ron, we're gonna miss you you were the greatest boo hoo sniffle, and when all is said and done all I gotta say is it should have been Ted!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Various Artists-GODS OF HEAVY; WEST COAST FOG and LOST HOLY GRAILS CD-R's (Full Seeing Eye, available through Eclipse)

After that New Year's Eve year-end blowout post I did I'm feeling more run down than one of Tura Satana's bras, so rather than peck out one of those long-drawn out posts where I dribble on about the last ten "important" recordings to have graced my ears I thought I'd take it easy and just dish out a few briefies to satisfy your soul. And to start off today's soiree here are three CE-R's of what I definitely would call bootlegged material, with all three having in common the unadulterated fact that they've been "released" by the same "label" (Full Seeing Eye) and contain "themed" material scraped together from a variety of sources that have been cluttering up the tape/CD-R-trading markets for quite some time. These CD-R's sorta remind me of those old "California"-based albums (with titles like THE CALIFORNIA CHRISTMAS ALBUM, THE CALIFORNIA EASTER ALBUM and THE CALIFORNIA WALPURGISNACHT ALBUM) from the early-eighties which gathered various West Coast acts and packaged them for what I would have assumed was the serious fan of the late-sixties West Coast ound. At the time (1983) I coulda cared less about the late-sixties Californicate sound...nowadays I wish I forked over the money for these albums because if anything, Gene Sculatti and Mick Farren where right about this stuff, or at least most of it, all along!

But still, despite the use of material probably easily enough available of the artists in question's own bootleg disques, these three collections come in handy for the mere dabbler, or just plain folk like myself who need to fill in a few musical gaps here/there. GODS OF HEAVY gathers up a number of late-sixties/early-seventies hard rock acts (pretty much pre-heavy metal but still HM enough that they all coulda been tossed into one of those mid-eighties issues of CREEM METAL ROCK & ROLL) making for a good cross-section of exactly what was being played on free-form FM radio circa 1970 in between the folk singers and budding progressives. A lotta this is pretty much outside the realm of what usually gets covered in BLOG TO COMM but that doesn't mean it's complete trash-toss. Highlights include the Edgar Broughton Band (taken off German tee-vee!), Budgie doing their anti-haircut anthem "Rape of the Locks", the MC5 on their final legs live in Sweden (handy in case you don't have the entire show...and a rare pic of the "MC4" onstage is printed on the inside flap!) and the post-Five Ascension doing the Temptations classic "Get Ready" in that great high energy style. Slade are here too sounding merely "OK" as are Silver Metre, May Blitz, Out of Darkness and Slowbone, so if you spent more than a normal amount of time browsing through import bins in the seventies this Cee-Dee might just be for you!

WEST COAST FOG naturally takes a different course, mainly that of the San Francisco Sound mostly around the time when few knew exactly what the whole shebang getting hyped in the "rock press" of the day was going to lead to. Hey, back in 1966 I doubt that anybody would have believed that the morass that rock music was to have fallen into only a few years later would have occurred, and true you could say that Jerry Garcia's mind was always orbiting Jupiter but at least he knew enough to listen to Love back in '66, not too long before the acid (and press agent releases) really got to his head! Jerry and the rest ain't on WEST COAST FOG (perhaps because they were lost in the West Coast Fog?), but you do get some 1966 Jefferson Airplane long before Gracie slicked up their sound even more (and they actually sound mid-sixties fresh here even if Marty Balin shoulda been whopped by bikers a lot sooner than he was at Altamont!), Moby Grape, the early (and best) Quicksilver and even the relatively obscure Final Solution, a bunch who not only had that great 1966 Preying Mantis look down pat but even managed to get ex-Great Society drummer Jerry Slick into their ranks, he joining up perhaps in a last ditch effort to separate himself from his shrieking ex! The Big Brother and the Holding Company take of "The Hall of the Mountain King" was taken from the Big Brother DVD but in case you don't got it there you can have it here.

LOST HOLY GRAILS is definitely my fave of the batch featuring an array of groups that seem to snuggle well into the whole BLOG TO COMM reason for being thus making for a nice hour-plus of background (or foreground for that matter) music to read old comic books and fanzines by. Again, a load of this stuff can easily enough be found on other bootlegs but somehow the choice of material (Moby Grape, Yardbirds, Stooges, Pink Floyd's "One in a Million", the Velvet Underground's "Nothing Song"...) works well in this setting...even the pre-Sabs Mythology appear here and though they sound more typical late-sixties British rock w/o the particular dunce-feel of the early BS they do seem to harbor a pretty good sense of things that are about to happen, if you catch my drift. Heck, in case you weren't able to download that Can bootleg with the Tim Hardin audition track that appears here too! If someone were to have told me that HOLY GRAILS was compiled by the guys who used to do PENETRATION fanzine I'd believe 'em!

Betcha thought I was gonna up and leave you with this mere review eh? Well, don't say that I come cheap, for here's another Cee-Dee review you might want to read in order to edjamacate yourself a little more as to the nature of pure, unadulterated sound. Anyhow, let me begin...I dunno if any of you know who David Solomonoff is, but you should since he did have a "role" in a budding late-seventies underground Cleveland avant garage scene that should have been documented just as much as the New York or Boston ones from roughly the same time. A musician and writer, I first knew of Solomonoff through his writings for the CLEVELAND EXPRESS, a free paper that was more or less vying to be a small (hopefully) monthly variation on THE VILLAGE VOICE without being as overwrought as the original. His writings appeared sporadically (well, at least I was able to pick up the paper sporadically so he might have been writing for them a lot more than I realize) amidst the likes of Cindy Barber's and Charlotte Pressler's documentation of a Cleveland underground twisting and turning in the wind, and although I couldn't possible remember everything I've read by the man one article stuck out in my mind like a sore lobe, mainly one about the under-the-underground scene that was transpiring in the city that was so unknown that even CLE magazine didn't cover it, though that might have been due to personal reasons rather than sheer ignorance.

The groups mentioned as being part of this movement were Harlan and the Whips, Willie and the Criminal Mystics (or "the Criminal Secrets" as they were called in another edition of the EXPRESS) and Bernie and the Invisibles. If I remember correctly through a haze of a much longer time than I could ever imagine, Solomonoff made these groups out to be roughly the equivalent of what was happening in the New York no wave underground, bands playing without the usual professionalism or "talent" but with a lot of interesting ideas and a shaping of the best the sixties had to offer in a seventies "frame", one that hopefully would point towards a music of the eighties. Harlan and the Whips supposedly had that early-Velvets hard-drive and played through a sound system that used to be a living room hi-fi. Willie and the Criminal Mystics/Secrets reportedly sounded like a cross twixt the Velvets and Mothers of Invention during their more musique-concrete days with leader Willie singing/ranting above it all, the results sounding like "listening to Hegel in a steel mill" or something to that effect. As for Bernie and the Invisibles, they were also bestowed with a Velvets comparison with some John Cage thrown in, and if you think I wasn't impressed with what was presented/promised in this piece then brother you don't know the meaning of obsessive/compulsive!

Unfortunately whereas a New York rock scene was open to the extreme no wave stylings of Lydia, James and Lmo, the staid Cleveland atmosphere shunned this new innovation with a voracity unknown in ages. It wouldn't have mattered anyway, since the only group in the batch to ever strike out and play in public was Bernie and the Invisibles, who not only were able to obtain high profile gigs (or what passed for them in Cleveland) but even got to jam with the one-off group the Fusionists, who performed at the legendary "Nazi/Zionist Love-In" set up by local poet Simon Emler. Reports say that both Harlan and the Whips and Willie and the Criminal Mystics did perform at private parties and the like, but to this day I've heard very little else about them and unfortunately no recordings have surfaces adding even more to the mystery surrounding these acts. Hopefully this will be corrected more sooner than later, but until then I'd say waiting for a release of these groups both legal and not would be akin to waiting for a legitimate Velvet Underground exhumation to make its way to the local shops, or the release of those avant garde Lenny Kaye/Robert Palmer tapes that I've been wanting to hear for quite some time as well.

A rumor has it that Solomonoff was involved with both Harlan and the Whips and Willie and the Criminal Mystics, and another even speculated that both of these groups were in fact totally the fabrication of Solomonoff's mind but I wasn't buying that...well, not totally. However, I did notice Solomonoff's name in an early-eighties issue of THE NEW YORK ROCKER in the course of a live review of a George Jones show (done in a conversation style originally made famous by CREEM) as well as via the existence of a cassette featuring music he recorded with a Carola Von Hoffmannstahl. Naturally I snatched up the tape as soon as I read about it in whatever new issue of OP was out there, and despite my best efforts I've yet to locate the tape in my collection even though I do recall the electronic squirms and squeals therein as well as a track called "The Nun and the Whore" which had two gals hissy fit catfighting about somethingorother to some crunchy industrial tuneage...good enough, but I really would have preferred the Harlan material, if it had existed of course!

After all these years and a chance mention of Solomonoff in an earlier post whaddya know, the man gets back in touch with me (as if selling me a cassette was ever being in touch in the first place) and sends me a CD-R of THE SIMPLE WAY, the latest effort from the Solomonoff/Von Hoffmannstahl collaborative that hearkens back to the glory days of not only the "cassette culture" but the Cleveland underground from whence Solomonoff and a few other bright ideas gone unnoticed evolved. It's short, but it still packs enough avant garage energy and excitement into it to turn at least this grizzled old head a total 360 a la THE EXORCIST or long before that Sherwood the City Slicker. Musically it's a quickie mixed bag featuring more interesting musical readymades such as the title track (a tape loop of a jazz riff with Von Hoffmannstahl's vocalese...perhaps reminiscent of various R. Meltzer ad-infinitum loop experiments of the mid/late-sixties done under the names Applejack and/or the Stump) or better yet "Miss Taznif Goes to Town (Riding on a Pony)" which has this great Velvets repeato-riff that kinda reminds me of the bass-line from "Father Cannot Yell" with Von Hoffmannstahl's voice sped up and slowed down whilst doing these epiglottal exercises before what else appears but...a player piano rendition of "Yankee Doodle"! There's even a snatch of no wave-ish guitar crank on the forty-two second-long "40 Seconds Over Albany" as well as some other quickie tracks that remind me of something that would end out a side on an old Hawkwind album. Of course I don't think this stuff'll ever touch whatever promise that Harlan and the Whips or Willie and his Secrets have in store, but it's a tasty tidbit of what might be. If you're interested in this (or wanna prod the guy into releasing his old wares) how about writing Solomonoff himself at for more information!