Being in a particularly NATIONAL LAMPOON-ish mode as of late I thought I'd use this classic '74/'75 cover to adorn my by-now "traditional" year-end summary of just what the year 2011 doth wrought for good and (especially) for bad. And given how this particular issue appeared on the stands right around the time I started to morph from a creepy kinda kid to a creepy kinda teenager, I felt that its inclusion on this blog would have been particularly fitting in a personalist sorta way though I sure would have loved (for the sake of accuracy) to have been able to change the dates on Father Time and what's left of The New Year's banners to reflect something more, er, up-to-date. But I think you get the message and besides, considering just how hotcha the mid-seventies were and not just in retrospect but even at the time (at least for UHF-watching, comic book-reading, perennially underachieving louts such as myself) I sure enjoyed seeing this cover if only to remind myself of just what a fun time I did have in those definitely non-sacrosant years, at least during the times when teachers and old people weren't pestering me and I was bound to find some thrill on tee-vee with only a few channels to choose from unless a tornado was drawing in the Cleveland and Akron stations. Now if I were only smart enough to go see Rocket From The Tombs like I sure wish I was able to even if I couldn't get a ride to the Viking Saloon if my life depended on it!
Nothing too hotcha happened this year, but that's par for the course considering how the past thirtysome years haven't been whatcha'd call prime with regards to high energy rock 'n roll. Not that there weren't or aren't any wowzer rock acts crawling about long after the Big Beat died an inglorious death (1982 AT THE LATEST...afterwards all we're doin' is pretendin'), but it ain't like they're gonna jump up and bitecha on the butt like they did way back when fanzines and moles in the mainstream (Lester Bangs, R. Meltzer) were more'n anxious to tip you off to the new and mighty acts you dare not miss. But I will say that 2011 did have its moments, even if they probably went by so fast you thought they were one of those "floaters" infesting your inner eyeballs that make it seem as if there are insects crawling all over the place!
So w/o any further ado, here's my choice for best of '11...nothing earth-shattering as usual, but when all's said and done this'll probably look better'n all of those VILLAGE VOICE polls and blogschpieler top choices seen throughout the web to abject shame!
ALBUM OF THE YEAR: hard choice really...I mean, which Fadensonnen Cee-Dee should I pick? Well, of the three I guess it's platter #1 that earns the highest honors for this year. Given the overtly squeaky-clean image that "rock music" had saddled on in since the eighties it's sure wonderful to hear something overdrive again.
SINGLE OF THE YEAR:...you mean they still make 'em? They sure do, but that don't mean that I buy 'em! Of course a few good spins have passed my ears these past twelve months, but the best of the seven-inchers to have affected me in a totally uninhibited, frank way just has to be the by-now aged Electric Eels' "Agitated"/"Refrigerator" single coupling two oft-spun faves onto one quick-fix platter. Not as good as the oft-repressed Rough Trade 45, but fine enough that it sure looks good snuggled in my collection next to various seventies underground goodies of the same musical strata! In fact this is so good that it kinda makes me wanna get some of the extreme rarities that are floating around in my tape collection and press them to vinyl thus creating some instant underground musical collectables (many of which I have been writing about for decades on end, and those Eclectic Eels recordings do deserve a proper dissemination amongst the rabid rock followers who have survived the years!) but...naturally I'm too nice a guy to want to venture out to do something even that devious.
EP OF THE YEAR: the Philip Cohran and the Artistic Heritage Ensemble ZULU 45 COLLECTION
box set of some of the most primal looking discs I've seen since the death of Moxie Records! Undoubtedly some of the best jazzy r 'n b made by this under-the-radar former mate of Sun Ra whose own fame enver did reach the heights of the interstellar one. It's really great to discover some of these long-forgotten musicians whether they be in the jazz, rock or whatever idiom, and getting these seventies-vintage self-released platters was just one of the few joys I've encountered these past 365 rotations. One can only hope that '12 delivers more funtime listens along these obscuro outta nowhere lines, but I'm not holding your breath.
BOOTLEG OF THE YEAR: Patti Smith's THE POETRY PROJECT 1971 CD, which not only contains a ne'er before heard by me poetry reading but those three no-wave-ish tracks taken from an old one-sided bootleg EP as well as a Max's Kansas City show from '74 you really have to crank up to enjoy. More please!
ARCHIVAL DIG OF THE YEAR: No bout a doubt it the JACK RUBY Cee-Dee that ugEXPLODE felt worthy enough to spring on us unsuspecting peons this past October. A typically over-the-edge, wild-eyed treat that should only go to show most of them nouveau punques of the past thirtysome years that all they're doin' in but a pale copy of the original hard blare that perhaps died out before everybody (including myself) was astute enough to know.
REISSUE OF THE YEAR: DO WHAT THOU WILT, an album of extremely rare (if issued at all) sub-garage sides from early-seventies English thud rockers who perhaps listened to too much Hawkwind and snorted too much white powder, but despite their overall lack of success never did get the chance to get written up in the NME like they undoubtedly hoped they would have been. Call it a PEBBLES for the Possessed, if you so desire.
BEST QUICKIE CASH-IN COLLECTION OF THE YEAR: FRANK ZAPPA'S CLASSICAL COLLECTION which is nothing but an unauthorized usage of the famed freak's visage along with recordings of the classical tracks he most loved and swiped from in his own work. Kinda like those quickie garage band/heavy metal/New York Rock/CBGB collections seen for the past decade or so, only with Stravinsky and Varese tracks 'stead of Sonics and Motorhead.
BOOK OF THE YEAR (ROCK 'N ROLL DIVISION): none other'n C'EST LA GUERRE, that collection of the early writings of Byron Coley that's got an entire nation wondering...who's Byron Coley? Well, blame the sickoid "rock critic" mentality that's permeated the scribing business for that horrid mishap, but otherwise osmose to these great writings created during the final gasps of the Golden Age of Rock
BOOK OF THE YEAR (SECULAR DIVISION): the eleventh edition of the ongoing DICK TRACY series which seems to be hitting an even more fever pitch as the stories roll on. This one features the entire Coffyhead and Mumbles sequences as well as the Heels Beels/Acres O'Reilly saga which extrapolates on the already heavily-imbued derangement of the strip, and to new heights of ugh! I'm surprised they didn't cart Chester Gould away after he dreamed up this one!
MOOM PITCHER OF THE YEAR: strangely enough, I didn't even review this year's fave on the blog! In fact, I only saw the thing via youtube and in about nine ten-minute segments but despite that still thought that FAREWELL MY LOVELY (1975) was the best flick to grace my eyes these past 365. A grand meshing of Old Hollywood and the New here (captured at a time when there at least was some Old H-wood still around), FAREWELL features Robert Mitchum as Phillip Marlowe in a role he shoulda played thirty years earlier working on two strange cases that eventually intertwine into a pretty good hotcha climax. Supporting cast is pretty good from Charlotte Rampling (one of those actresses I'm not supposed to like because of the people who do like her, but I do anyway) to that guy who plays the typical-like dimwitted thug who hires Marlowe to look for his long-lost sweetie, plus then-perennials such as Joe Spinell, Sylvester Stallone and Sylvia Miles (who still excites Don Fellman in that HELP! fumetti she did with Tom Poston) show up. As does Harry Dean Stanton, a guy who Bill Shute waxes poetic over but I never saw his special appeal...well, he is good as the corrupt detective who eventually chickens out right before the climax. The youtube version has the nudity in the whorehouse scene matted out, though whose idea was it to let the expletives go undeleted as we used to say during the Watergate days? So even with the titties boxed out, prepare to blush is you are of the faint-hearted.
POST OF THE YEAR: Golly, I've been on such a roll pumping out enough sharp and witty screeds that should have earned me a Pulitzer in bullshitting, but amongst all of the snat 'n sassy writings I've managed to crank out these past 365 the bestest and personally fave-ravest just has to be that SOUNDTRACK FOR THE SEVENTIES collection of the toppest and boppest longplayers to come outta that decade which I whipped up for you a good month or so back. Subjective and biased perhaps, but I think it zones into the cheap-o flea market and bargain bin aesthetic that people like myself reveled in at the time rather accurate-like. And besides, I think my own record-scouring credo sure made a whole lot more sense'n those of most of my seventies compats who spent them years either drooling over their copies of DISCO FELCH VOL. 7 or tried their best copping their fashion sense from the covers of Melanie records. As for the women...
BLOG OF THE YEAR: Some ups, some downs. THE HOUND BLOG (which just happens to be a personal top tenner) hasn't been the same since Jim Marshall began posting sporadically, while Lindsay Hutton over at THE NEXT BIG THING just ain't cranking out the reviews, news and what-you-chooze with the vim, vigor and verve that you kinda thunk he would. As for my no doubt about it fave blog this year, IT'S ALL THE STREETS YOU'VE CROSSED NOT SO LONG AGO (see link on left, stoopid!) is the hands down winner. Esp. since they've been printing those old gig listings swiped from none other'n THE VILLAGE VOICE which not only helps me with whatever research on New York nth string acts that I need to do, but saves me the time from trekking over to Youngstown to check on the microfilms at the library! I only hope they get to make it to 1981 just so's I can remember the name of that "country and western heavy metal group" from Austin Texas that played both CBGB and Max's on two consecutive nights.
DEATH OF THE YEAR: no question about it...IMANTS KRUMINS. I still can't believe it, and it tops all the others, even the likes of Sean Bonniwell's, Sam Rivers, and who could forget Cheetah!
THE "WELCOME BACK" AWARD: Flamingo Road
PREDICTIONS FOR 2012!
Once again it's time to slip on my Criswell fiberglass wig'n do some predictin' as to what the following
THE NUMBER OF ARCHIVAL UNDERGROUND RELEASES WILL DWINDLE TO NADA! Yes, if you think my boast about releasing an Eclectic Eels bootleg would ever come true...ferget it!!! 2012 is gonna be the first of many years where private tapes made by once promising underground aggregations remain locked away in dresser drawers and closets worldwide. No more rare surprises, and don't even expect Feeding Tube or ugEXPLODE to release any no wave rarities while yer at it. If you want your seventies thrills to linger on, it's gonna be PUREPOP all the way!
THE ONLY ITEM RESEMBLING THE FANZINES OF YORE TO MAKE THEIR APPEARANCE THIS YEAR IS GONNA BE UGLY THINGS! Gotta admit that SHINDIG and the rest of the new mags I've seen don't exactly thrill me the same way that an old UGLY THINGS or DENIM DELINQUENT do. Not that I read that many new rock mags considering that if I wanna read something that insults my intelligence I can always go on-line and dial up a number of totally disturbing blogs and sites of note out there in pixel-land. I will say that UGLY THINGS at least continues to sate my rockist being, and receiving a bi-yearly issue is akin to the good ol' days when I'd get a huge packet of long o.p. Marvel comics in the mail and just bliss out in their majestic energy for a good afternoon and even part of an evening t'boot! Which I guess does make Mike Stax the new Stan Lee (but does that make Johan Kugelberg the new Jack Kirby?).
SOME TROLL IS GONNA WRITE SOMETHING EXTREMELY STUPID IN THE COMMENTS SECTION, TOTALLY MISSING THE POINT OF WHAT I HAVE WRITTEN WHILE EXPOSING HIS LACK OF GENERAL COMPREHENSION FOR ALL TO SEE! It's happened many times before and it will occur at least once within the next five months.
I'LL PROBABLY REFERENCE THE VELVET UNDERGROUND WITH REGARDS TO SOME SIXTIES/SEVENTIES PLATTER AN AVERAGE OF AT LEAST ONCE EVERY OTHER POST. A bad habit I am trying to break.
SOMEBODY WHOM I'VE PUT SOME TRUST IN WILL DOUBLE CROSS ME IN THE MOST UNKIND WAY POSSIBLE. It's happened before and it will happen again!
I MIGHT ACTUALLY GET TO HEAR ROCKET FROM THE TOMBS' VERSION OF "SONIC REDUCER" IN ITS ENTIRETY! But I would say the odds are at least 500/1.
AND IN CLOSING, MAY I WISH YOU A NEW YEAR THAT YOU MIGHT ACTUALLY MAKE YOUR WAY THROUGH W/O ANY OF THE INDIGNITIES, HASSLES, WORRIES AND GENERAL DEGRADATIONS THAT I UNDOUBTELY WILL HAVE TO ENDURE!!! AND SO BE IT!