Tuesday, December 31, 2013

BEST OF '13!

Well, I was right for once. Let's just say that my predictions regarding 2013 rang more than true, and that on the highway of hardships we call life this was one year I'm sure glad to see in the rear view mirror. What 2014 has in store I shudder to think, but somehow I get them hippie vibes sayin' that it's gonna be a whole lot less traumatic than the previous 365 had been for not only myself but for a whole load of people in my immediate surroundings. However, given my track record for lofty, sweetness and light-filled predictions and reality I KNOW it's gonna be a way worse one on all fronts than any of us could possibly imagine!

At least '13 had some pretty bright musical moments that helped get me through the harsh reality of "real life," and if it weren't for the records, tapes, Cee-Dees and all of those burns sent in by my many "fans" I'm sure the year would have been a much greater struggle for me to wiggle through. Anyhoo, as you already have surmised here are the highs and lows, ups and downs regarding the past year that should be noted by me if only to make sense of the giant mess that many of us had to live through, and somehow I get the feeling you're with me on this one 1000% even if, like I said, my personal feelings are usually off by a long mark.
ALBUM (VINYL DIVISION) OF THE YEAR!: Greg "Stackhouse" Prevost's MISSISSIPPI MURDERER, a wild rollicking roll through the blues filtered through one of the few people on this planet entitled to sing 'em! Take Robert Johnson and spangle him up a bit with a hefty dose of speed and perhaps a contract with Skydog and he mighta come up with this! Special Mention (even if it was originally released on Cee-Dee last year): Dark Sunny Land's EMANATIONS FOR A RETURNING.

ALBUM (CD DIVISION) OF THE YEAR!: Rudimentary Peni's CACOPHONY, which might only prove that this was a slow year, or that this was a particularly surprising release by these anarcho punks, or that I just don't know what I'm talking about especially since I think this one was recorded long ago and just got the reissue treatment now. But it's probably the fave of the batch this year and hey, it's just the thing to play for that Lovecraft-loving freak in your family!

SINGLE OF THE YEAR!: Hackamore Brick's "Oh Those Sweet Bananas" which ain't anything I'm gonna be spinnin' from here to New Year's 2015, but man does it sure sound downhome suburban in light of some of the music I have been inundated with as of late!

ARCHIVAL DIG OF THE YEAR!: Figures of Light's THE TV SMASHING CONCERT, a wild lo-fi-ride through an area of proto-punk rock that needs to be uncovered before it all wooshes down the memory drain. Works especially well in conjunction with early-mid-seventies fanzines and Lester Bangs-vintage CREEM magazines, which'll give you an idea of what I was reading whiles first spinning this.


BOOK OF THE YEAR (ROCK DIVISION)!: Kim Fowley's LORD OF GARBAGE even if it came out very late last year...a better soar through the sixties than anything those execrable dungholes at ROLLING STONE would dare say about their sainted decade.

BOOK OF THE YEAR (SECULAR DIVISION)!: ARCHIE; THE SWINGING SIXTIES VOLUME ONE as if any of you looked as good in swimwear as Betty and Veronica do in this collection of early-sixties daily strips!

BOOTLEG OF THE YEAR (VINYL DIVISION!: a toss-up between Can's  DAI DOKO E and CAN YOU, both of which present the infamous krautscapaders during their exciting early-seventies "better" (still reserve the best for the Malcolm Mooney era-group) period before the world music got to their brains. After that all they could muster up in the recording studio were watered down fusion jamz even Herbie Mann would up his nose at, but in the early-seventies maybe they were a serious threat to the Stooges throne as kings of the slag heap!.

BOOTLEG OF THE YEAR (CD DIVISION)!: Nico/Cale/Eno's BERLIN NATIONAL GALLERIE 5.10.1974, where you get to hear the birth of the New Reich right before your very ears, and risk getting taken away by the secret stasi in the very process.

THE "SURPRISE OUTTA NOWHERE" AWARD: Boris Sujdovic's DESPERATE GIRL. You weren't expecting a hard-edged, growly punk record that could stand with the best of the seventies to come outta anywhere let alone Australia now...were you? I sure as Sam smells wasn't!

POST OF THE YEAR!: definitely the interview with Greg Prevost, though the ones with Cole SpringerStephen Painter and Jonh Ingham weren't anything to sneeze at either! If I gotta pat myself on the back about anything good that I did on this blog in 2013, it was (at the very least) these informative, entertaining and (golly!) status-boosting entries!

POST OF THE YEAR (OTHER THAN MINE)!: Jonh Ingham's trek through the mid-sixties Amerigan rockism experience on his MY BACK PAGES blog. Sure it was written in 2011 for something called THE WORD, but danged if I just couldn't experience that whole SoCal sun 'n speed feeling via this one. Conjures a spell that I'm sure made Greg Shaw wanna break out the ol' printing press to crank out those early issues of BOMP which continue to read like missives from The Cool World that nobody seems to acknowledge even existed inna first place.

MOOM PITCHER OF THE YEAR!: ZARDOZ which is pushing 40 true, but its probably a whole lot better'n anything I'd care to see at the local concrete block had I a desire to go to a concrete block to see a moom pitcher inna first place! Actually anything after TILLIE'S PUNCTURED ROMANCE is a bit hard for me to endure, but this one well...sorta drove a spear through my brain.

REVIEW OF THE YEAR!: None other than a writeup of the recent Oprah Winfrey box office bonanza THE BUTLER courtesy the infamous John Derbyshire. I'm sure you remember Derb, a guy who got raked over the coals for writing (at times satirically, at others dead on) about modern day race relations even though pretty much what he said was agreed upon by people who wouldn't admit so in broad daylight. If you wanted a really good excuse not to see the movie, this review gives you more'n a few reasons to stay home and watch LITTLE RASCALS tapes instead.

BLOG OF THE YEAR!: Actually its the obscure (and dead as of 1/1/14) GROWING OLD WITH ROCK AND ROLL which, despite its occasional unevenness and lapses into areas I'm not exactly comfortable in, was one of the few blogs out there manned by a former seventies rock fanzine (TEENAGE RAMPAGE) maniac who drew his inspiration from many of the same sources I, and presumably you, have. Gonna miss the thing even if I was only an occasional popper onner.

DREAM OF THE YEAR!: The one where I "reminisce" about  Andy Warhol reuniting the Velvet Underground with Reed, Cale, Morrison and Tucker along with David Bowie (!) and Warhol himself "on rhythm guitar and rhythm guitar only." I'll fill you in on any future dream I might have about stumbling across a copy of the resultant album during a romp through the Hartville Flea Market a good decade or so later.

HERO OF THE YEAR!: A toughie. Edward Snowden? Bradlina or whatever it's now calling itself Manning? (Well, not anymore considering the sappy apology the enlisted one gave when being sentenced...Manning should have faced it like "a man" but I guess that's obviously not possible.) Hands down winner (in my own unbiased opinion) is Jim Goad, with Gavin McInnes and Andy Nowicki following a close second tied. They're just some of the few who even remotely reflect how I feel about life in general these sorry days where I feel like I've been dead for the past two or so decades only I just keep moving around due to reflex.

DEATH OF THE YEAR!: No doubt about it that of Frank Bank alias Lumpy Rutherford, the goony sidekick of Eddie and Wally who proved once and for all that you could be a stocky supporting player in a classy sixties sitcom and have three girls satisfying your earthly needs per day! (Haw, and you thought I was gonna give Lou Reed the honors now...well ya shoulda knowed better!) Also noteworthy of mention; Kevin AyersMick Farren and Reg Presley (and what about Dick Dodd???).
And with that I say adieu to '13 and hello to the mid-teens, the centennial of the beginning of the First World War (a special no prize to anyone who can explain to me why all of those horrid deaths and disfigurements were necessary) and best of all the tenth anniversary of this blog! As far as BLOG TO COMM goes don't expect anything special or outstanding once the new year rolls in, just more of the same old grisly writeups complete with my opinions regarding whatever's happening around the tri-state area and maybe a surprise review or "fanzine fanabla" to break up the monotony. And in today's topsy-turvy milieu, can you think of anything better for your shell-shocked system?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Betcha glad you're not gonna get one of my old rock 'n roll publication writeups this week now, aren't you? And if you think you're gonna be in for a change of pace well, you've guessed right,  for instead of starting off this week's rock wrapup with my impressions on some old issue of THE NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS or CREEM I'm gonna do something different, like mainly give you my impressions regarding a couple of old issues of Harvey Kurtzman's infamous HELP! magazine that I thankfully grabbed hold of a few weeks back! And hey, I know that this one'll be a refreshing switcheroo from my usual rants regarding Lester Bangs' ruminations as to what punk rock was on an early-seventies plateau now, right???

Gotta say that I was stuck on HELP! ever since I got hold of a copy back when I was fifteen, and given that my mid-teen years were a time that pretty much began my development into the specimen that I most truly am nowadays it's not surprising that this magazine made such a big indent on my MAD-mutated mind. The early/mid-sixties cool of it helped, not to mention Kurtzman's penchant for printing stuff that just might not have been comfy cozy in either MAD, TRUMP or HUMBUG...y'know, material which seemed almost as durty and chance-taking as that NATIONAL LAMPOON stuff I was taking a sneek peek at when perusing the magazine department of my local record shop even if it had an air of Kennedy sophisticado. It would figure that HELP! was once called a missing link between MAD and the 'POON, for it had a lotta the snazz of the former with the cutting and keen seventies snarl of the latter. And as far as hotcha satire with a pre-relevance sixties bent went, better this than some of the high-minded glop MAD would eventually be pushing at us which just reeked New York limousine liberal gush 'stead of sarcastic guffaw-inducing material that could put a smile on George Lincoln Rockwell's face as much as it could Nelson Rockefeller's.

Jerry Lewis appears on the cover of the third 'un. Don Fellman believes that the reason all of those early issues of HELP! had famous comedians posing for 'em not only on the covers but in the "fumetti" stories to be found therein was because none other than Miss MS. herself Gloria Steinem was working for 'em at the time, and since this was before her descent into Cousin Itt hairstyles and a rabid anti-man attitude she was willing to "lower herself" for the sake of the magazine by "coaxing" the various male stars to be photographed for the mag in her own feminine way! I dunno if this is actually true or not (though the fact that Steinem always moans about her abortion being one of the things that nudged her into feminist hagitude, I just wonder which one of these famous celebs impregnated her!), but given how all of the issues she was involved with had the likes of Tom Poston, Jonathan Winters, Mort Sahl and Jackie Gleason onna covers I just can't keep from conjurin' all kindsa strange juxtapositions in my head

Since ol' Jer's the one appearing on thus 'un we all know that he wouldn't do anything as foul or as indecent as engage in adultery to further the popularity of one of the best rising "new comic books" (as Les Daniels put it) on the stands now, would he? Well, at least he did pose foe this funny 'n timely Sputnik-oriented cover which helps make this ish a definite keeper, though if I were you Jerry I'd just stick with DC..

Unfortunately these early HELP!s weren't as boffo-y comic book-y as the later ones, what with all of the short story text that wasn't exactly aimed at the teenagers who wanted to look "cool" reading this and way too many comic reprints from old European magazines that just took on airs of snootiness. At least we got a half-page of Bill Elder, not to mention Jack Davis doing his "Civil War Vignettes" that were oddly enough way too similar to his syndicated War Between the States strip that came and went without a trace.

The fumetti mostly hit their target especially when Kurtzman was given a slew of classic old moom pitcher stills to work with (I wonder what the origin of the one on page 18 just happens to be), though this issue's original saga "On The Coney"  just doesn't hit it like I hoped it would. These posed stories were always touch and go for me, and although some like "Baby It's Occult Outside" with Tom Poston and Sylvia Miles were what we would have hoped the entire lot of 'em to have been like many just flopped all over the place without any of the humor or snicker that I go for in these "photo funnies". Maybe if Kurtzman himself wrote 'em they woulda been high-larious, but otherwise all I can say about 'em is that in order to enjoy the things you probably just hadda've been some New Yawk high rise dweller who drank martinis after work just like Uncle Bill did on FAMILY AFFAIR, at least before Buffy and Jody shamed him into not doing so, the hypocrites!

It looks as if Kurtzman got all of the bugs worked out by ish nine, since this 'un shows a marked improvement not only with less text and more comics, but with two pages of KRAZY KAT reprints that are always welcome around here!  The posed fumetti entitled "A Star is Born" featuring up 'n comer Jane Mason as the girl from Sioux City hoping to make it as a serious Broadway star pitted against legendary comedy talent Jack Carter as the casting couch-oriented producer was a fun one as well even if from all reports Carter was a pretty difficult figure to deal with. Jack Davis also pops in with his personal first-hand impressions of the then-hotcha Floyd Patterson/Ingemar Johanssen fight, while future MAD staffer Paul Coker proves that even back before his plunge into mega-stardom he really wasn't as hot of a talent as I thought he was...kinda pallid in fact.

A lot of this ish is boring filler true..."Smoke" is just some dull excerpt from an off-Broadway production while the Phil Interlandi-captioned etchings are about as funny as the tasteless yet rather unfunny bidet piece that unfortunately also appeared. But you can just see the roots of future funtime endeavors just popping up in this 'un, and all I gotta say is that given that I might have a good ten...fifteen if I hold off the lynch mob years left in me its gonna be fun snatching up the issues of HELP! that I don't have in order to spur me on in my existence. Hey, humor as it is presented in today's cyborg, socially constraining world just ain't funny no more. I mean when I hear the comedians of the present rattle off their routines I feel like I am being lectured for being such a renegade knuckle-dragger or somethin', that I ain't worthy of living because I just don't fit in with the New Order that's being shoved up everybody's orifices whether they have tight enough sphincters or not. At least when I read an old Kurtzman publication or the 'POON for that matter I can feel my old evil, discerning, discriminating self and I certainly am the better for it now, ain't I???
Well, here it is, the last full-fledged review-packed post of the year. Gotta say that I tried to go out with a big bang on this one, and although I have obviously failed in my quest at least I've presented some writeups that I will deem...satisfactory. Once again thanks to everybody who sent in burnt offerings for me to peruse...got so many of 'em right now that I'm probably all set for review fodder until spring, and although most of the stuff I have received isn't anything I'd particularly part with my money for in these ultra-discerning times at least I have something new and fresh that I can focus my critical mind on. After all, you don't want to read yet another review of the debut Seeds album from me now, do you? Well, maybe you do, but sometimes I do think that I am made of better stuff and once you really get down to the nitty gritty I am doing this blog for myself and myself only!!!

And so, the moment you've all been waiting for...
Paul Vanase in the World of Baby Bones LP (Bone Productions)

Gotta admit that I was curious about this one since I thought Baby Bones was the group mentioned in an article on the infamous JD King/Thurston Moore aggregation known as the Coachmen in which mentioned the time the 'men were billed at CBGB with a some guys who were not only dressed up Village People style and began their act by smashing transistor radios, but played what was called an extremely bad form of seventies heavy metal! Since I was in the mood for some bad seventies heavy metal whether or not it was performed by guys dressed Village People style I thought this woulda been yet another lost New York slice of metallic genius in the vein of FUTURE LANGUAGE or the long-forgotten band Cherry Hill High whose CBGB cybercast I would dearly love to experience once more. (And if anyone can retrieve it from the lost reaches of the internet well, there is a reward for you at least spiritually.)

Turns out that I was in for a surprise, since Paul Vanase and Baby Bones ain't metal in the least but rollicking piano-laden homo rock, the kind that used to get loads of attention from the seventies well into the oughts when people like Dean Johnson and his Velvet Mafia would play these special "homocorps" nights at CBGB kinda flittin' about as if 1981 and AIDS never did happen. Well, I gotta say that although Vanase and Co. were clearly of a three-dollar-bill status it wasn't like their songs were about buggering little boys or recycling your boypal's breakfast (if you know what I mean), though with a title like "Sissy" I kinda get the idea that their act wasn't exactly aimed at the same kinda clientele that used to read TRUE magazine.

Actually a huge hunkerin' part of this album is good for what it is, mainly rollicking barrel house drenched piano tunes that at times remind me of some of Paul Revere's earlier work, with a quasi-fey tenor doing a kinda/sorta cabaret-ish if humorous vocal above it all. A bit showbizzy true, but still something that woulda gotten a few huzzahs on the New York underground scene from the early-seventies on. Can't really dismiss it in the least even with the uneven compositions and downright campiness, and definitely worth a reissue for the newer generation of glam/glitter/homo rock enthusiasts who missed out on alla this decadence the first time around..
Yoko Ono-RARITIES CD-r burn (courtesy of P_D_Fadensonnen)

One of the beter packages I got this year was from Mr. Fadensonnen himself, who sent me a bevy of Cee-Dee-Are burns that I know I will have as much fun writing about as I will listening to them to be corny about it. Not only that, but each of 'em had nice hand-made covers mostly with the artists in question pictured on the front, back, and at times even inside! That's more than most of you people who burn these disques do for me, and frankly I believe you should all be ASHAMED of your pithy paper sleeves and gritty reduced xerox covers considering just how important a living, breathing specimen I am who most certainly deserves better! Well now, aren't you????

The first one of the batch I picked outta the batch was this one, a collection of rarities by Mrs. Lennon herself Yoko Ono. As you all know Ono is a fave of mine even if her career is extremely roller-coasty, but thankfully this slab collects her better early moments so's we don't have to put up with her doing the Carole King singer/songwriter schtick in a vain attempt to get people to like her. More of the Beatles Twinkenham Jams with her in and Harrison out appear along with this sing/songy ditty that's supposed to be "Martha My Dear" tinkling along as Ono moans "John" repeatedly, while John and Yoko sing a bit from the bed in (funny thing...only now did I get the word play regarding "hair peace" and "hairpiece"!). Yoko closes things out doing a rather un-together version of "Midsummer New York" with Elephant's Memory on DICK CAVETT plus a hot "Mind Train" live in Japan '74!

A better collection'n what I woulda expected given what is available, though if he really wanted to get in on my good side Fadensonnen shoulda stuck the soundtrack from that 1964 avant garde slice of animated eyesores AOS here. Now that woulda been a guaranteed room-clearer at the next family get-together I just don't want to get-together WITH!
Milford Graves-LIVE 1973 + SOUNDTRACK CD-r burn (courtesy of P_D Fadensonnen)

The second Fadensonnen spinner I got to listen to, this begins with a live broadcast of the Milford Graves Quartet in Sweden where the famed drummist is joined by Joe Rigby and Hugh Glover on saxophones and Art Williams on trumpet. Mighty fine rumble here not as good as the snatch I've heard of BABI MUSIC (one just beggin' for the reissue status!) but still free-splat seventies loft/avant/atonal in that beautiful way we'll probably never recapture. Following's the soundtrack from a French tee-vee show, a documentary about the time Graves was invited to some Japanese festival where he played drums while this crazy looking guy with Tiny Tim hair wearing pajamas danced around and made strange utterances! You'll get the entire impact of it if you'll only take a look at the thing which you can do yourself if you only click the proper buttons below!

Both "tracks" have that seventies splurge in jazz that I like (even though the second one's definitely eighties fare) and really, I can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon than to listen to Graves' multi-layered percussion playing and flayed gongs in just about any context. One of the few survivors you better not be ignoring now so like...don't ignore him!
King Crab-LEATHER CD-r (thanks be to P_D Fadensonnen)

The third Fadensonnen platter to makes its way to my laser launching pad, I just hadda give this one a spin because hey, this was the guy's old group and if I didn't review it first thing he'd probably think that I was ignoring him or something. Well good thing that I was being courteous because this '07 set's pretty snat in itself. Hard clang that reminds me of a whole slew of  past noisemengers from Chrome to (get this!) German Oak, with perhaps a bit of early DAF thrown in even though I don't think this one has that much to do with any "Neu Deutche Welle" extant. Surprise hit of the litter is"Aphids" which sounds like robotic insects boring their way straight through your very soul!
Last Exit-DEITSCHES JAZZFESTIVAL, FRANKFURT GERMANY 1986 CD-r burn (courtesy of P-D Fadensonnen)

To be honest about it this is just the soundtrack to that German television presentation that's been flying around on various trade lists for some time. However, that doesn't distract from the abject pow'r and might this legendary quartet putsched forth on this thirty-seven minute excursion into everything one with a brain woulda hoped fusion woulda been back inna seventies. Hardcore rock/jazz jollies courtesy the late Ronald Shannon Jackson and Sonny Sharrock as well as Bill Lasswell and the always welcome in my cranium Peter Brotzmann. So much has already been said so like, why bog things down even though I could with the least bit of effort?
CELLULAR CHAOS W/VON LMO CD-r (courtesy of P_D Fadensonnen)

That remarkable new group of the year, Cellular Chaos, is joined by none other'n the heavy metalloid master himself Von Lmo! Recorded live at the Bowery Electric on February 11th of this year in front of an audience of a mere fifteen people! Perhaps the best meeting of minds since John Lee Hooker hitched up with Canned Heat, the leader of the seventies no wave strut is in fine form while Cellular Chaos lays down a heavy atonal backdrop for Lmo's guitarscapading. In the tradition of Red Transistor and Teenage Jesus, this paen to sonic blare past lasts a good fifteen minutes, one might surmise because the instruments were probably destroyed by the end of it all.
Various Artists-FRESH MALT-LIQUOR RAGA FARM CD-r burn (thanks to Bill Shute)

Whew, after listening to Dr. Macnitt's hypnotist routine I almost wasn't able to review this! But wake from my trance I did, and I'm sure glad about it too! This one's got a bunch of downright absurdities such as a sitar-laden country and western tune (which makes me wonder why that instrument wasn't used in more c&w numbers since it has a most appropriate twang!) to the strange Buddy Boy Hawkins' "Voice Throwin' Blues" (which is basically the old "Hesitation Blues" of Holy Modal Rounders and Peter Laughner fame) to the theme from BEACH GIRLS AND THE MONSTER. Best track for me weren't the Bonzo Dog or Rutles Beatles rips, but Braz Gonzalves' "Raga Rock" which proves that even over-the-hill jazzbos could create a driving psychedelic jazz rock excursion that outdid most of the carbon copy crankouts! A surprise that should have something for everybody, even if I'm gonna be one of the few to ever hear it!
Desecrator-THE NIGHTMARE'S CALL cassette

If anything good did come out of the eighties it jsut hadda've been the even newer new wave of heavy metal---not that horrid giddy stuff that Andy Secher at HIT PARADER was pushing on the populace but the hard, gnarly and beyond tension blare that still rates a huge huzzah here at BLOG TO COMM central. I'm talking such definitely anti-Twisted Sister/Autograph/hair metal type of bands as Voi Vod and Metallica (at least before their more classically-minded muses got the best of 'em), Slayer, Possessed, Nasty Savage, movement-masterminds Motorhead as well as a whole bunch of groups like Wurm and Powertrip who sorta dangled between the HM and punk idioms in the best 1971 CREEM sorta way.

Desecrator were a New York variation on the movement, and this twenty-minute tape shows that the act did have a whole load of promise even if you get the feeling that most of the targeted metal audience woulda up-turned nose at this in favor of the latest prissy-preen bunch to make their way to shutterbug heaven.

Not quite speedmetal, in fact the pace is sometimes slowed down to that of a snail, but still sludge enough to qualify as intriguing and nerve-racking doom music. Could use a little more bop to the thing, but Desecrator still have enough of a dunce thud in their sound to satisfy those who believe that noise can make a better man of even the most sissified freaks out there.

And hey, you could say that this trio does lift more'n a few ideas from the big names in late-eighties metal trauma, but then again did you ever hate Dave Aguilar for singing like Jagger or the Seeds for swiping not only from the Stones, but themselves??? A nice slab from yet another one of a mill'yun aggregates of worth to crawl outta that toidy called "the eighties" but never did get outta their cocoons enough to really indulge in that raw power.
Remember to tune in Tuesday AM for the not-so-big this time End O' Year bash (perhaps in the literal sense!). Until then remember to drive recklessly---the life you don't save may be Patrick Amory's!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Sheesh. Back when I was an unrepentant adolescent turdfarm, comic books and Christmas went hand-in-hand or maybe even gland-in-hand if you were good in spotting those hidden pictures that Fred Wertham and Ham Fisher warned us about. But hey, if there was one thing that I liked to do during school break it was read comic books because I had the time to do it, and besides it sure beat hanging around with your relatives showing off all of their rare and expensive gadgets they got when all you had to show for your name was a brand new package of undies and of course those high brow improve your mind items like science games that, like any other attempt to mix funzies and learning, didn't teach you diddly squat!  Toss in a few TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST and MRS. WIGGS OF THE CABBAGE PATCH books for good measure, and you knew that Christmas certainly spelled T-R-O-U-B-L-E and it wasn't like you exactly wanted to wait until next year....

I gotta admit that I dug out this DC UNIVERSE CHRISTMAS book hoping to get into more of an old timey holiday spirit, but the stories presented therein certainly did not conjure memories of that New Year's Party where I spent the first few hours of 1972 reading the final installment of "the Kree-Skrull War" in THE AVENGERS. Naw, I spent the time it took to read this book in abject misery, and I was upset not only at the hackneyed sight if what had become of comic books since the mid-seventies when I pretty much gave up on 'em for price and content reasons, but at the lack of energy, power and general feeling these once engaging titles now oozed forth like syphilitic pus from Iggy's main vein.

I kinda felt like some guy that was held captive by the barbarians for fifty years who's just been rescued and has headed home to watch some boffo tee-vee only to find that BEN CASEY has been replaced by GREY'S ANATOMY! "Man, woman, birth, death, infinity, diarrhea..."

First off, gotta say that the artwork that permeates the newer entries is abysmal. It's the kinda stuff where every muscle bulge and sinew is exaggerated beyond belief looking like a reject from some Da Vinci notebook he had the good sense to dump into the old waste-a-basket. Gazing at the Golden Age sagas after looking at most if not all of the nineties-era quap certainly was good for the eyes especially since you don't get to see all of the abdominal bulges that Superman sports and Wonder Woman's nipples do not protrude from her chestplate as they would in some R. Crumb comic (not that hers ever did, or at least they never did when I was looking!).

Of course the stories are especially sappy which would figure given they deal with the holiday season. And yeah, DC had a flair for gooey melodramatics what with Dick Grayson shedding a tear when leaving Wayne Manor for college, and the soldiers of Company "C" actually enjoying the talents of a ventriloquist as if they were first graders at a school assembly. (My dad once told me that when he was in the army the guys would just hoot and holler in disapproval whenever sentimentality would permeate a moom pitcher they were watching...those hardened fighting men knew phonus balonus heart-string tugs when they saw it, and like me they LET IT BE KNOWN!!!!!!! ) If you can imagine all of the worst aspects of seventies DC emote condensed into a short piece of filler fluff magnified a few more times, believe you me you will be buying up more than the usual amount of Glucera next time you go to the market!

Not that this book is a total douse since the Golden Age stories, even the sappy Superman one guest-starring ol' St. Whatzizname, sure read better'n whatever else pops up in the book. (And hey, I gotta say that I never did care for the revamped Sandman that Joe Simon and Jack Kirby did...gimme the original with the gas mask and suit anyday!) I will take some of that back since the two-page filler where Kirby's Darkseid (a fave rave for me considering his rather Marvel-ish look and mean mofo demeanor) is given a lump o' coal was a nice if too brief diversion. But otherwise I get the feeling that the folks at DC really must hate the Winter Solstice as the pagan types like to call it if all they have to offer us are Bat Lash (why not Jonah Hex?)  and the Flash engaging in cheap heroics and fuzzy storylines?

Hey guys, you really woulda done us all good if ya left this one on the shelf. At least gimme an old Sheldon Mayer-drawn RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER which had more Christmas cheer and kiddoid jollies than this collection of uneven pap!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Feel fortunate that you aren't gonna be inundated with yet another one of my impressions regarding a by-now ancient NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS this week. No such luck on this blog, bub! Instead, I'm gonna ramble on about a recent acquisition of an ancient issue of CREEM that I have recently received, and if you can't dig my reality then you'll have the blues, as Nathan Beauregard almost said.

The fact that none other'n shaggoid early-seventies demi-country rocker Leon Russell's on the cover isn't anything that'll get your average BLOG TO COMM fan all hot and bothered true, but thankfully there's more to these issues than the front cover come ons that were designed to get the bobbysoxers to part with all of that money they mooched off dad under the pretext that it was going towards birth control. Even if future Iron Prostate singer (and fairly decent scribbler in his own right) J.R. Young wrote the thing I'm not planning to read about the tightrope guy because it'll just be a waste o' time, but I did expose myself to most of the rest of the mag and boy does it make me wanna wish I was living in 1972 again, screaming parents, teachers and peer torture included!

Lester Bangs scores with a piece on Deep Purple, a fairly neat rundown yet nothing that I would call overtly high energy or up there with those Count Five or Godz pieces which helped cement his image as the intellectual punk of the seventies. Vince Aletti takes time outta his soul worship to blabber on about Bette Midler (again, I didn't read this one for obvious reasons) while the despicable Dave Marsh reviews Diana Ross doing the Billie Holliday thing in LADY SINGS THE BLUES (a writeup I actually did read if only because Richard Pryor was in the film). Of course its the reviews that tingle my tootsies and perk my imagination, with Bangs letting loose about Yes' CLOSE TO THE EDGE, not only reagarding the music ("linseed marinated drek") but the pomposity that was oozing from each and every member's pores when they would tout themselves as the greatest band in the world. (In some ways this review is kinda strange, because he gave Yes' debut a huge huzzah in the pages of ROLLING STONE. But times [and groups] do change and come to think of it so does the focus and reasoning functions of romilar-addled rock scribes.) Better still is Ben Edmonds, an underrated fellow who gets THREE whole pages to blab on about the NUGGETS collection of by-then forgotten teenage garage band and psychedelic pop glory which, in the eyes of  the typically jaded 1972 rock 'n roll fan, must have seemed like an eon ago. Other releases of the day from Tim Buckley's GREETINGS FROM LA to Ed Sanders' BEER CANS ON THE MOON get the rockscribe treatment as well, and the midgie "Rock-A-Rama" reviews are also worth your time and effort especially if you, like me, wanted to know that Tyrannosaurus Rex's A BEGINNING coupling of LP's #1 and 2 contained "latter day rocking"! I'll tell ya, that mere statement sure makes me glad that I was astute enough to have picked it up age fifteen and spun it endlessly in my room on summer Sunday evenings the same way then-current compats dribbled wild over their Jethro Tull 8-Tracks!

Loads of audiophile musings (great if you used to like peeking at the stereos after browsing the records) and gossip take up precious page space as well, though for me the most revealing portion of this particular ish was the letter section. Hot Scott Fischer (I'm gonna hafta find his rebuttal to the nasty things Lester Bangs said about him that were going to be printed in the "next" issue of a certain fanzine and publish it on-line) writes in with a great Budgie = the Stooges note that needs to be read in full:
I just figured it out! Budgie is Black Sabbath imitating the Stooges. Same producer in Rodger Bain. And the vocalist is Carole King singing through a megaphone choking on Iggy Pop's oil rag jock strap. They're just what we needed - an English group that could do the Iggy Pop bop!
Scott Fischer, Florissant, Missouri
(Yeah, but just wait 'til the Original himself comes roaring back from Merrie Olde...-Ed.)
Just that bit of Stoogian fan excess made this issue for me, but there was even more...later on in the lettercol, while answering a note from a disgruntled heavy rock hater Bangs made the following comment of extreme interest..."Atomic Rooster are certainly punk-rock from their name to their freakouts"!!! Anybody out there willing to do a little testifying before I decide to dish out some cash (what I had heard from the Rooster ages back sounded like warmed over early-seventies boog noise but hey, maybe they are a classic late-sixties/early-seventies punk rock group in the Stooges/Budgie/Can/It's All Meat vein!!!).

Another winner, even if  it is light on that overt grunginess which used to permeate the Lester Bangs-period issues. Gonna have to look for more of these to resensify myself, especially since the stuff I'm getting for free via blogs and such just seems like too many people unsure of whether they want to be Erma Bombeck or Rex Reed. Oh, for the offensive, politically incorrect, rude, gnarly punk rock days of the seventies...why did it all have to turn into college paper hack mush?
Well here it is, after all of the above space-wasting blab, the latest edition of BLOG TO COMM! As you can see, I kept busy this week listening to and detailing my feelings, impressions and objective (hah!) opinions regarding a number of platters that managed to make their way to my door. Had a fun time of it too which seems to be a change in these ever-deadening times when it seems as if I'm just walking around dead only nobody seems to have told me. And while I'm at it, let me just clue you in that in my never ending battle to return to the glory days of seventies record collecting and music appreciation (and while I'm at it howz'bout my lost youth back?), I must say that I think I did a more'n just adequate job trying to transfer the classic Golden Age of Rock Writing feeling to today which I most certainly hope counteracts the rock critic hackery so prevalent even this far down the line. If for some strange reason you believe that I have failed I'm not gonna apologize---just go sweat it out reading some of the abysmal garble you can find on many a blog out there and when you get your fill of all of that "getting high on music" and "sounds like flamingos flying in the air" prattle don't come crying to ME!

The Velvet Underground-WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT 45th ANNIVERSARY SUPER DELUXE EDITION 3-CD set encased in a hard-bound book you're gonna have trouble storing just about anywhere (Polydor)

Uh, like I wasn't exactly planning on picking this one up.

True, its kinda neat to see the Velvet Underground finally get the royal carpet treatment by the same company that didn't quite know what the heck they were peddling in the first place, and even if the same galoobs who woulda trampled over Velvets albums to get to Judy Collins are now soaking 'em up with gusto well...it just ain't the same as when the Velvets were some clandestine pleasure consistently being name-dropped by the more astute critics around (not to mention the more astute kids) at a time when trying to score one of their albums was a rather difficult task outside of combing the import bins or eyeballing one of those "greatest hits" collections that seemed to go out of print faster than you can say Paffgen. At least in Europe they knew, but over here in Suburban Slob USA (where us teenbos needed 'em the most!) it was like the Velvets were being purposefully censored from us...like they were just too evil and too free thinking to be allowed even near some young and impressionable waif who just might get THE WRONG IMPRESSION and go out and do naughty things like stay out after six in the evening (five on school nights) and take sneek peeks at pictures of nude statues in art books. To this day, I hold my by-now ancient $1.69 price sticker onna cover copy of ARCHETYPES (budget re-release of WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT) with a real ranch house pride beaming in my beanie, and if you think that I would part with this treasure for a cool bazillion bucks well...maybe.

I certainly do need the cash especially these days, but now that I have this triple disc collection maybe I can afford to part with that old fave. But really, it was a close call as to whether or not to pick this even newer  than all of those other new reissues up...after all, I already have a great hunk of this stuff in many formats gathered throughout the years in my pad and with money being such a scarcity and all perhaps it shoulda gone to some more worthy endeavor, like Chinese take-outs or more old NME's to peruse.

Bur I then got to thinkin' that hey, although I must have listened to WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT about twice in the past twenty years it still is one of my favorite albums...so important to me and all as well as a touchstone to many other hot and bothered rock excursions...that maybe I should dish out more moolah for it eve if Lou Reed obviously doesn't need it anymore.

First disque has the album as we all know and love it...the familiar stereo version that used to marvel cousin Clyde when he'd hear the music coming out of one speaker and John Cale's voice out the other. And hey, what else can anybody add to that beyond-classic slab of mutated sound that seemed to say more about the years 1978-1981 (at least to me) than Olivia Newton-John anyway? Nice hearing it again just as it is nice to hear those leftovers that got tossed into the various VU collections in the eighties all gathered in one place, not to mention a ne'er before released version of "Beginning to See the Light" that differs enough from the one that popped up on the third self-titled album. It's kinda clunky and sounds like it needed to be worked out a bit before being presented to the public, but why should I bicker over hearing yet another new Velvets recording to finally make it to our home entertainment systems!

Disque #2 is...well...the mono WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT and frankly I never was one of those people who was such an audiophile that I paid attention to different mixes and other subtle nuances probably because my ears are all shot anyway. But if you're one of those guys who goes for this HIGH FIDELITY/STEREO REVIEW chicanery well then, here's yet another one for the compost heap. The filler on this 'un leaves much to be desired tho---I can give a big hoo-hah about "mono single mixes" and releasing the spoken word and instrumental tracks on "The Gift" separately ain't that big a deal especially when you can do the task yourself by switching speakers on the original stereo version. I was hoping there would be some other goodies to slip on here that have fallen by the wayside lo these many years, but those'll probably have to wait for the fiftieth anniversary SUPER DUPER edition.

The third and final entry is none other'n that live Gymnasium tape that has been flying across the bootleg blogosphere these past five years, If you have it already you're probably thinking of passing on the entire kaboodle, but surprisingly enough there is one interesting addition that might wanna make you change your mind. Y'see, besides the tracks that we've already heard there's also a live version of "The Gift" and it sure ain't the "Booker T" which also appears and which was touted for years as being the instrumental backing for that famed tale of cranial crunch. So once again its been proven that history has lied to us all along, and although we should be enraged over it don't blame whomever was spreading the falsities since hey, thirty years back we didn't know any of this stuff ourselves either!

The book has some nice pictures, some never before printed, as well as text (courtesy David Fricke, who I understand is the only person legally permitted to write about the Velvet Underground for mainstream magazines) that really doesn't tell us anything that we didn't know already. A nice diversion but hey, maybe it coulda used some beef up...like why no "Sweet Sister Ray" which woulda filled up a huge portion of the final platter? I guess it was just cheaper for Polydor to have Fricke write about it rather than release it, or so it would seem in these vastly ripoff times!
Half Japanese-HALF GENTLEMEN/NOT BEASTS 3-CD-r burn set (originally on T.E.C. Tones)

Gotta admit that spinning this triple dipper on the afternoon and evening of the 15th of December 2013 really flashed me back a good 33 years, right to the Winter of '80 which was a time I was totally shoving my ever-pointy head straight up past the sphincter of underground crud into full blown punk rock colon-ization. Well, not just p-rock per se but anything that was hot 'n sharp on the under-the-counterculture scene from what was going about as "new wave" before even that got too ridiculous to defend, to the "Rough Trade" styled radical art rock groups not forgetting those old sixties garage bands who began the whole shebang and who, in the light of the very early-eighties, still seemed as young and as connected to what was going on in non-mainstream (feh!) music than anything else that might have stumbled onto the charts during those seemingly innocent yet rather devious times.

If I didn't tell you I wasn't tempted to buy this 'un back when it first hit the Systematic catalog way back when I'd be lying. But then again, it wasn't like I could afford to dish out $$$ for everything that passes my eyes like I sure wish I could, so items like this along with those Dome and Monochrome Set albums just got passed on. Nowadays I can buy out the candy store and give it to the poor just like Eddie Haskell, but for some reason those chocolate creams kinda make me sick to my stomach, ifyaknowaddamean...

But here we are at the dusk of underground rock as a death mirror to middle ameriga and hey, I finally get to hear this whopping triple LP set only now it's a triple Cee-Dee set and I actually got the thing free for FREE courtesy of Paul McGarry! Naturally me listening to this whilst in the throes of advanced age ain't gonna be the same had I heard it during the days of my spry v. early twenties, but even at this late stage inna game I can tell you that HALF GENTLEMEN/NOT BEASTS is everything I like about seventies/eighties underground cusp punkisms without the new wave pretension or no wave decadence or giddy fashion of whatever offshoot movements there may have been at the time.

Totally addled primitive rave up is one thing that made the underground rock of the day so appealing, and like many of the no wave acts as well as a few aggregates that were popping up in burghs all over the planet Half Japanese were ones to take their bedroom rock appreciation of the Velvet Underground/Stooges/NUGGETS/Beefheart/Yoko/Troggs/Godz... and translate it into their own anti-musical (and in some ways even anti-rock) approach. Thankfully they did it well without sounding like some of those horrid eighties college boy dorm room attempts at the same burrito. They also thankfully succeed (in a suburban slob teenage ranch house UHF TV sorta way) instead of sounding like a perfumed art project guaranteed to melt the hearts of stiff and rigid conceptualists nationwide. And believe-you-me, this group does sound as if they've spawned a whole slew of horrid imitations, and from the basis of these sides as well!

Since I'm feeling like an old-timey rockcrit tonight I'll close out with one of those name-dropping descriptive passages that used to be in vogue with even the smartest of us...Clevo non wave ca. 1979 meets Jon Richman ca. 1973 with a dose of VU ca. 1968, all rec'd by some of the strangest specimens to have survived experimental psychiatric treatment ca. 1929. Buy one for the lobotomy survivor in your family TODAY!
Various Artists-FAR-OUT RAIDERS SEARCHING FOR JONES CD-r burn (contributed by Bill Shute)

Another nice selection, this one including some definitely English psych obscurities ("Dr. Crippen's Waiting Room" and Angel Pavement's "Phantasmagoria"...I think!) as well as a few out of the usual scope items such as The Hip-Sound's "Far Out" (with electronics contributed by Pierre Henry, who does a better "crossover" job here'n on that album he did with Spooky Tooth!) and the Beach-Nik's "Last Night I Cried" (not as surf-y as I thought it would be, but a rather nice mid-sixties downer).  It's got latino dance grooves, soul and girl group moans on it as well. And to show what a renaissance man he is Bill even slipped a on dew-wop track called "Castle of Love" by one of the million acts going around back then called the Raiders. Do you know what dew-wop is? That's what you get when you keep Italians outside overnight!
Various Artists-ROBIN, THE PINBALL SOUL INVADER CD-r burn (courtesy Bill Shute)

Kinda starved for more blog fodder right now so here's another Shute sampler! This one starts off with what I presume is something lifted from an already available bootleg, in this case what remains of the infamous Burt Ward/Mothers of Invention sessions that yielded the "Boy Wonder I Love You" single. That's on here (twice!) along with some backing tracks and yet another full-flushed out number called "Teenagers Bill of Rights" that woulda sounded good stuck on one of those late-seventies Zappa bootlegs that never did make their way to my local under-the-counter record shop. Come to think of it some of the instrumental tracks here would have padded some of those now-ultra obscure albums out rather sweetly.

Also stuck on---a Lainie Kazan double dosage of "The Look of Love" and "How Can I Be Sure" that woulda been too rock 'n roll for the folks even if they were the target audience for this single, the Roy Mertwether Trio doing some spright enough club jazz (for jazz clubs where you have to wear bow ties and suits), the Coolies taking Simon and Garfunkel and injecting a whole lotta soul and reverb to 'em, and former Bonzo Roger Ruskin Spear doing his best to make his way into the Monty Python pantheon of whackoid British humor and flubbing it miserably. Well, at least we still had Vivian Stanshall to rely on.
Johnny Dowd-DO THE GARGON CD-r burn (originally on Mother Jinx)

This guy's sicksty-five years old and he plays guitar and sings with his own band! And what's even weirder about it is that he's only been doing this as a "serious" artist since the nineties! And strange enough the music he makes ain't anything like you'd expect your average senior citizen type to make (but then again me, with my mind still stuck in first grade comprehension, still thinks of the elderly in terms of World War I veterans who live in old box houses they bought in the twenties who grumble about all of those bobbysoxer kids doing the jitterbug!).

Dowd sounds kinda "underground" in that classic 1979 way, and he plays in a Texas hard boogie rock style that reminds me of a cross between Roky Erickson and that MX-80 offshoot group the Gizzards. Sorta like down-home zombie cookin' here, and it's all done up in that marvelous primitive way that used to get AOR types all tangled up inna guts at least until a few years later when they all claimed to like it all along like the nice little blootches they most certainly are. Dowd plays his guitar pretty good and almost to the point of heavy metal raw, but it ain't got any of the pretension and self-importance that most rock music had branded into it for the past thirtysome years .Really, this is as exciting a platter as anything you woulda found in a Bomp! catalog back 1980 way!

Guaranteed hit of the batch---"Girl in a Suitcase," a slow popster evoking the Buddy Holly-bred Texas rockers of the early-sixties mixed in with the instrumental tit squeezers of the same era.
Lol Coxhill-DIGSWELL DUETS CD-r burn (originally on Random Radar, reissued on Emanem)

Just in under the wire's this late-seventies slice of beyond the ken of Leonard Feather jazz featuring the omnipresent English soprano sax avant gardist Lol Coxhill. Coxhill's playing always seemed to be in a category of its own---he wasn't exactly born and bred of the black Amerigan experience like Ayler or Coltrane, yet he didn't really figure in with the more studious Third Stream people who teetered 'twixt the MJQ and Leonard Bernstein. If anything, Coxhill shared much of the free improv spirit of fellow English experimentalists AMM, even though Coxhill was working in the jass tradition and AMM were probably tacking up John Cage posters in their rehearsal room and shuddered over founding member Cornelius Cardew's "Stockhausen Serves Imperialism" tract hoping that a hit and run wasn't in their future.

First part's the classic el-pee version which had Coxhill literally doing the duet thing with himself live, with some guy named Stuart Emmerson adding some electronic effect to make it possible for Coxhill to actually do double time with his own playing. The results are kinda freaky and even though the technology behind it is by-now dated it's still a marvel to listen to and sounds a whole lot "fleshier"'n some of the modern computer behind-the-scenes whizbang used these sorry times. Abstract as all get out, and in some ways sounding like the end all in improvised experimental music even though the form did continue in sometimes dreadful fashion.

The rest of the new Cee-Dee version was recorded shortly after the above, this time with Coxhill performing with a Veryan Weston who plucks out various  early-twentieth-century styled piano notes and chords as Coxhill plays around, above and beyond the rather formal English stylings of his pod'ner. Makes for good chamber jazz listening (the Jimmy Giuffre 3 ca. 1961 might be a good comparison) and I find it, along with the original recordings, one of those things I sure wish I coulda heard back when it came out and it wasn't like you could run down to the local record shop (or local record shoplifter offering his picks at a greatly reduced rate) to give any of it a listen to! A surprisingly good one from a man whose career spanned dixieland to experimental and from Kevin Ayers to the Damned!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! KID STUFF aka CONVOY BUDDIES starring Michael Coby and Paul L. Smith (1976)

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery let's just say that PLANET PATROL really must have pleased Gerry Anderson to no end. Or something like that. Anyway if you're a sucker for cheap imitations of things that were imitations to begin with you'll really like this piece of cinematic whatziz.

Considering just how boffo the Terrence Hill and Bud Spencer mooms were doing at the time it would figure that someone over in Italy would have come up with a cheap knockoff, this time with local talent Michael Coby being teamed up with Amerigan expat (and soon to return to the US to play Bluto in Altman's POPEYE) Paul L. Smith playing the Hill and Spencer roles respectively. And as you'd guess the people in front of and behind the cameras really got the original schtick down pat, for this one really comes off as much a carbon of the original what with the outlandish plots, Hope and Crosby teamwork, Europeon scenery, car crashes and (best of all) fist fights just when you want a li'l action! Had I seen these films when I was five I sure woulda been confusing my Cobys, Smiths, Hills and Spencers the same way I used to get Peter and Gordon and Chad and Jeremy all mixed up in some weird wind tunnel of mop tops and horn rimmed glasses.

In this 'un Coby and Smith play some Eyetalian neer-do-wells who get a job trucking a load of insecticide to France, only they're actually smuggling in guns. After some mobsters high-lariously fail to hijack the shipment they make their way to Marseilles and get to meet up with the craftoid brains behind the operation. Of course in between there are a whole lotta funtime violence bound to keep your attention span chugging along nicely as the plot and tension build then release with that proper does of comedy relief.

Can't complain one bit, since the story, acting and general development play like a good seventies zilch-rater...y'know, the kinda films that everybody thought were so bad that even the dorks who wrote capsule reviews for the local papers couldn't help but comment how artless they were. Fodder for Siskel and Ebert to snicker over at the end of their show while praising the latest big-time hype that used to get all of the iron-haired gals sniffling hankies fulla snot. And yeah, probably me 'n Bill Shute (the guy who pony expressed this one my way) are the only fellows on the face of this earth who'd nowadays admit to liking supposedly slop cinema like this, but I sure get the idea that this 'un holds up way better'n any of those major moolah extravaganzas of them days ever will. I mean, KID STUFF versus BARRY LYNDON...the choice is up to you (never let a good cliche go to waste I always say!).

The ending clip hypes the followup Coby/Smith feature entitled THE DIAMOND PEDDLERS, a true blue Hill and Spencer swipe that I just might blab about in a future post. Stay attuned.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The secret special I had planned for this week didn't quite pan out---if you must know I didn't even begin the project---so its more of the same old blab 'n reviews as usual this time around. And, as kismet would have it, it's also time for part three (and the FINAL installment...aren't you glad?) of my running impressions of old issues of THE NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS that I have recently obtained thanks to the miracle of ebay. And true, these papers certainly would have done me much better had I gotten hold of 'em back when they came out 'stead of a good four decades later ('n they might as well have been four centuries), but who could deny that just one reading of these classic papers is enough to remind you of just how energetic and downright inspirational just about everything connected with rock 'n roll (as opposed to that fiendish cousin "rock") was, if you only knew where to look for it and needed a little guidance in order to figure out that maybe Sky Saxon was a better spokesman for your teenage situation than Terry Jacks ever could be!

The cover sporting a pic of Vietnamese culture aficionado Gary Glitter couldn't have been a better tipoff as to the entire mood and situation the rock world of the day was in. Nick Kent's piece on the then-current teenybop upstart's one of the better I've read from this trio of 'papers since it not only contains a concise appreciation of Glitter's entire crass appeal (which I will admit ranked with the New York Dolls for seventies by-the-numbers decadence aimed at mid-teen pimplefarms) but it dwells into the more perverse aspects of Glitter's---uh---fans! Like nobody knew about the object in question even then although we all sorta believed him to be a family man not unlike you or your neighbor??? But whatever, Kent's appreciation of Glitter and the phenomenon surrounding his way above average recordings and mystique is perhaps the only thing I've read IN MY LIFE that really captures that short-lived mania that had me tuning into the AM dial back when "Rock 'n Roll Part Two" was rousing ire in more'n a few suburban slob homes with a radio.

Kent's review of Van Morrison's TB SHEETS album is also encompassing???, enveloping????? in that seventies Golden Ages of the Rock Press days sorta fashion. I like it even if I do think Morrison is and will remain a mental midgie smudge who never shoulda made it outta Bang Records alive. Wish I could say the same about Charles Shaar Murray though...the guy strikes a big zero this time not only with a feature on Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show but a live review of Return to Forever that actually has the audacity to laud Chick Corea and company for their slickwhiz flyspeck-less techno music that recalls tossing pebbles in a canal on a Saturday afternoon or some other such hippie dribble that might have seemed perfect then but looked oh so retardoid just a good year or so later. Sheesh, aren't you sick of alla these rock critics who are so universal in their tastes that they can spout off punk rock palpitations one minute then rah-rah over the worst proggo hippie doodle the next? Whatever happened to writers (other'n me) who knew that hippie crap was crap and certainly unworthy of anybody's ears let alone some writer for an English Weekly who can actually find much of worth in a fusion group that didn't know whether it wanted to be Emerson Lake and Palmer, Miles Davis or L. Ron Hubbard noodling around on his Mellotron!

Of course you know I'm (half) kidding. After all, even some of my favorite writers have sickening musical asides that are definitely of an anti-rock/punk/garage/crud bent, and it ain't like I hate Murray for some weird sidesteps into "mature" and "respectable" musical matters like I do say---C***k E**y. (Actually, I don't hate E@@y for his musical tastes at all no matter how skewered they may be---that would be totally puerile on my part---but for his totally arrogant personality which was something that makes me want to obliterate him and anything he touches with a roaring passion!) Back to Murray---in retrospect (and after a good solid minute of thought), I must admit I did enjoy his double-header album reviews of...now get this...the New Seekers and Commander Cody, so maybe that "big zero" I mentioned earlier as quite off the mark. I'll give him a 50% this time and hope he lays off the fusion and hippiedoodle from now on even if we all know of his love for those early Jethro Tull singles (to which I will say...just how early???).
Finally made it through another week, barely intact if you must know. I guess I should congratulate myself on being able to survive another week without enduring yet another crisis in somethingorother. I even managed to make it through the past seven despite the task of reviewing the following disques for your educational benefit. And I do hope you are appreciative...after all, would you want to go and download (onto some expensive Cee-Dee-Are you paid $15 for a pack of 100) an item you believed was hotcha before finding out from me whether or not it was worthy of your ears??? So read on, and take caution with the vast array of old and new items received that I get the feeling you'll probably want to pass on in favor of a Sun O)))) disque, but why should I pry into YOUR personal perverted affairs anyway???

Miller, Miller, Miller and Sloan-"Funky Family"/"Key To Your Heart" 45 rpm single (Meaningful Productions)

Disco-y yet spry single from these teenage funksters who managed to carve out a niche as one of those early-eighties CBGB acts that everybody seems to have heard of yet nobody had actually heard. Despite the white-kid funk approach, this is a refreshing spin not only in light of similar efforts being made around the same nanosecond but with regards to much of the self-produced "amerindie" recordings that were being pumped out throughout the eighties. You might find this hard to believe, but I wouldn't mind hearing an entire album, live tape or even retrospective compact disc from these guys even if I wouldn't want to exist on a steady diet of it. I get that way sometimes.
Jim Sauter/Kid Millions-BOANERGES CD-r burn (originally on Doubtmusic, Japan)

Borbetmagus guitarist Sauter pairs up with the fresh talent on the avant improv scene Kid Millions and produces a pleasantly hot guitar/drums session that just might boomerang you back to the glory days of New York experimental gunch. It is overpowering and soul-reaffirming enough, but will it replace DAILY DANCE as far as guitar/drums free splat free jazz cum rock offerings go? If you ask me (and why not?) the answer is never, but that doesn't mean you can't ooze as much pleasure out of it as you most humanly can.
Various Artists-WIGGLE WOBBLE CLAM KING COLE CD-r (via Bill Shute)

As usual, Bill keeps my ears on their toes with his surprising yet creative selections culled from the web. The Nat King Cole kiddie tracks were interesting enough not only for their musical content but for the plain fact that way more adults 'n kids woulda cared to listen to this inna first place. The spate of fifties rockers were necessary if only because they seemed to capture the true essence of the 1958-1963 seasons 'stead of the imitations that were usually passed on to us during the big "nostalgia" craze of the seventies (I've been particularly partial to Les Cooper's "Wiggle Wobble" ever since first hearing it on the infamous INSTRUMENTAL GOLDEN GOODIES album way back when) while Bill just hadda slip more of his sainted country 'n western numbers in and I don't mind. Made great Sunday afternoon paranoid introspective listening.
GR AND FULL BLOWN EXPANSION CD-r burn (originally on World in Sound, Germany)

Full blown is right...hard and heavy drones coming on like Dave Allen being swept into a jet intake engine. Extremely engrossing once you get suckered into the thing even after you realize it's all fairly recent (2009) and not some strange blast from the Golden Age of Underground Rock. In case you're interested the guy responsible for it is named Gregory Raimo  ("GR") and he played all of the instruments himself just like Todd Rundgren used to do after somebody told him he was a genius. For a change from the usual, this might be a worthy enough one you can easily download with the flick of a wrist.

Black Oak Arkansas-BACK THAR N' OVER YONDER CD-r burn (originally on Atlantic)

I never was one to call Black Oak Arkansas the best three-lead guitar group since Moby Grape or the new MC5 or a Southern psychedelic extravaganza in a 13th Floor Elevators vein or even the closest thing on vinyl to the Velvet Underground. However, time has proven that BOA were a top ranking on-the-verge hard-edged hard rock group with definite high energy leanings, and really who am I to disagree with such enlightened fans of the band as Byron Coley or Eddie Flowers anyway? This collection features recordings both old and from the group's recent reunion, and it's all (as long time fans would have guessed) attention-grabbing dixoid heavy rock that doesn't let up even when Jim Dandy Mangrum soulfully croons in that life-reaffirming gravelly way of his. So good that even the new material with a touch of synthdoodle doesn't tend to offend. It's certainly a stellar must have effort for all fans of seventies slop, but man could I have used a new version of "Feet On Earth, Head In Sky"!
Cheap Time-EXIT SMILES CD-r burn (originally on In The Red)

More of that buzzy nuevo punk drone rock that, surprisingly enough, still seems to be in vogue somewhere and somewhat.  I wouldn't call it essential music, but the feeling and approach seem to echo various mid/late-seventies under-the-underground efforts that sure meant a whole lot back in them times. Too bad there are way too many more modern tipoffs that date this which doesn't really do my prejudiced musical tastes any good but then again, who cares what I think or say anymore? You certainly don't and I'm still wondering why you're even tuning in to read what I have to say anymore!
The Nomads-SHOWDOWN 2-CD-r burn set (originally on Sympathy For The Record Industry)

The early material is fine. I sure remember when Imants Krumins was hipping us all to these guys via the pages of THE MOLE back inna mid-eighties callin' 'em a fantastico cross between the Sonics, Link Wray and some other tippy top acts whose names escape me. That's when I rushed out to buy WHERE THE WOLFBANE BLOOMS as well as some other fun rarities that I never was able to latch onto unless you count a limited edition cassette collection that was flying around at the time. Back then the Nomads seemed like the perfect prescription for the eighties lull in music,,,hard antagonizing rock that really resensified your brain and made you feel like a prime mammal once more. But those days were short if sweet.

The later Nomads records, like many other eighties high hopes and promises who just managed to ruin everything they once stood for within the span of a few measly singles, just didn't cut it, sounding too well produced and smooth for the tastes of a music-starved craver such as myself. I eventually dumped these guys from my must have list feeling even more hurt because...well they all shoulda knowed better what with being fans of the great sixties Northwest groups and Dictators and all of those other long-forgotten faves who were so needed in the middle of the rock 'n roll dry spell! But hey, at least I still had the rush of sixties garage band samplers to keep me well and good, and there was always something old, or even new, to discover that helped make the mid-eighties every bit as bubbling under energetic as the mid-seventies were!

This double disc set captures the Nomads at both stages of their career, first as a powerful punk rock (in the best seventies obscure rock critic sorta way) band and later on as a slowly burning out bunch who seemed to be resting on their previous image more'n anything else that can be humanly explained. I know it's hard to keep up the power and the pressure especially after an initial success but the later material just sounds more FM radio "Classic Rock" than high-spirited garage band boom boom, and you don't even have to be Nostradamus to see that the band was slowly if surely enough "maturing" in a direction that I sure wouldn't want to go in no matter how starved for a rock album I might be. And you can hear it all here in between the stunning cover versions of "Cinderella" and "Showdown" as the band slogs through numbers that might have even put a smile on John Cougar's face!.

Sheesh, it ain't like I'm not in favor of groups learning how to play their gear and displaying an evolution in sound and approach from year to year and record to record, but why did they always have to end up sounding closer to MTV gush or FM blubber anyway? At least the Sonics and Wailers knew enough to break up once their records started to sound like the antithesis of everything they stood for the past ten years...somebody shoulda given the Nomads the message a whole lot earlier and who knows, maybe I can even listen to their early great outings without doing a little bit of a wince.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


I'm still making my way through the Crown International BIG SCREEN BOMBSHELLS set where these two wonders appear, but the first of these features just doesn't upchuck the kind of funzies I was sure hoping for on a lost afternoon. PICK UP's the story of these two hippie chicks who are...what else but...picked up inna middle of nowhere (in this case the wilds of Florida) by some equally free spirited guy who's supposed to be delivering a recreational vehicle (which looks more like a cheaply converted city bus) to a client in Tallahassee. Soon a hurricane sets in (the radio announcer who's giving weather info sounds oddly enough like Howard Cosell thus dating this one even better'n a carbon test could!) and the three end up lost in the everglades of all places as a result. There they experience flashbacks, get nekkid, walk around experiencing nature and have to endure being filmed in boring surrealistic situations that only go to prove that maybe someone should have shot Fellini before all of that arthouse symbolism got way out of hand!

Yeah I know, what do artzy open-ended scenes have to do with a clientele whose legs are probably up in the sky more than the 101st Airborne's anyway. I mean, do you think that the drive in crowd was actually watching this 'un 'stead of the interiors of their partners' underclothes? For a girly flick aimed at the horny teenage populace the folks at Crown sure looked like they were putting a little too much effort into trying to win some award at Cannes, though I will confess that the weird, tarot reading gal who loves to listen to Bach had a good sorta Morticia Addams with boobs creepiness to her. Especially in that weird altar scene where the spirit of Apollo actually sticks it to her and sticks it good!

I much preferred flick #2, HUSTLER SQUAD which is a strange World War II thriller that actually works as a fun  sit down and get engrossed in the durn thing flick. Originally titled THE DIRTY HALF DOZEN, this 'un's a crafty ripoff set in the South Pacific where some maverick "never by the books" officer is recruited to lead a mission of four down on their luck gals behind enemy lines in order to murder a number of high ranking Japanese officers having a summit meeting at a Filipino cathouse. The standard lay 'em and slay 'em line, with a crew that thankfully ain't one of those straight outta central casting clichesville films (y'know, the kid from Brooklyn who never had a chance, though we do get the innocent wench with a few months to live). In fact, the closest one outta anything from the original DIRTY DOZEN just happens to be this horny gal who was sent to prison because she slit her John's throat, which I guess would be the Telly Savalas role only with hair onna head and a functioning finger!

Acting's just right (even with some of the sleepwalking minor roles such as that of the bald, bespectacled Colonel) and I can get over some of the obv. modern toss ins given they didn't have the budget to get some of those classic 1943 urinals to use for the men's room scene.  The action does build with thankfully the right amount of humor added if only to lighten things up a bit (which gives this film a sorta M*A*S*H appeal I reckon---I mean, why argue with success?), and although HUSTLER SQUAD is actually a little bare in the tit department (you know what I mean) it still manages to tingle your excitement meter with a boffo look and ne'er a hint of downtime (and you'll be holding it in until the end I'll betcha!). BEST OF ALL, there's none of that sentimentally mawkish and self-important goo you find in those modern World War II "Greatest Generation" kinda flicks that might have the big budget and realistic gore but come off just as sanctimonious and cornball as those old 'n sentimental at times b-flicks my dad sez had his army unit hollering in ridicule and disbelief...just fun, energy and gals here w/o the sappiness. So pod'ner which will it be...HUSTLER SQUAD or SAVING PRIVATE RYAN??? The choice is up to you!

Sunday, December 08, 2013

As you can obviously tell, I'm really hungerin' for the rough and tumble days of seventies rockscreed (so sorrily missing in an era which has raised the college paper hack to in excelsis douchebag status). In fact, I'm hot for that gonzoid trot so much that I actually bought yet another crumbling issue of THE NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS to absorb, and after that one yet ANOTHER (which has yet to arrive) as well as a 1972 vintage CREEM that I only just recently realized I have never read before (as if anyone could blame me what with Leon Russell on the cover). So yeah, you can say that the next few weeks here at BLOG TO COMM central are gonna be pretty fun-filled, information-packed and deeply rockist satisfying for this particular human, and if you do happen to read this opening schpiel instead of jump to the review portion like you're most likely to please...if you must call me do so before seven inna evening because, let's just say, I now have BETTER things to do with my ever-dwindling free time that blab on about your latest ebay acquisitions!

March 9, 1974...a pretty good time for rockism if you ask me even if there was still a whole lotta crap out there inna music world to wade through in that quest for the real squeal. And as you'd expect, NME was still on a roll after the acquisition of both Nick Kent and Charles Shaar Murray with the former contributing not only a particularly wired Lou Reed interview (the one which was probably the reason Lou wanted to lock himself in a room with Kent and beat the heck outta him!) but a gigundo review of the latest Todd Rundgren platter (TODD) that reads really swell even though I doubt I'd want to pick that album up even if you bit me. Not only that but there's yet another interview Kent conducted appearing in these pages, this one with none other than Dr. John who's obviously a fellow who had a hard time staying awake if Kent's comments are to be believed! Let's just say that its the little things in life like these pieces that make it easier to endure all of the harsh realities like work, arguments, constipation...

Charles Shaar Murray's submissions can't be denied either, even if he gets to do his 1000th Led Zeppelin piece which probably doesn't differ (that much) from the other 999 but I'll read just about anything the guy wrote 'cept maybe his article in the OZ "Schoolkids" issue. Murray also gets to review pub rock legends Chilli Willi live at the Marquee and not much else which is too bad since it seems as if it was his and Kent's scribblings which were keeping the paper afloat even if the rest of the coverage via the likes of Roy Carr and Tony Stewart wasn't anything to sneeze at. But hey, are you really that interested in reading yet another Jimmy Savile profile especially after all of the bad news that came out about him after his own 86-ing a few years back (and he seemed like such a nice guy too!)??? Me neither, but it does serve its purpose well...I think.

Biggest surprises---none other than Mick Farren's very first piece for the paper, a fannish yet concise feature on none other than STAR TREK which at the time was just beginning to leap outta syndicated rerun limbo and into that stellar universe of spinoff movies, television series and flea markets fulla broken toy gadgets. Also heavily noteworthy are the contribs of none other'n Chrissie Hynd (still sans "e") who gets to review the rising up the charts Alvin Stardust album as well as a live performance by none other than Magma (!!!) where she gets to prove to us lumpen dolts that she knew who Coltrane and Elvin Jones were long before we did! Like I said the lady shoulda stayed with the NME 'stead of trotting off for the greener pastures of rock stardom because hey, her musical career certainly didn't produce any startling gems of brilliance the way Farren's, Lester Bangs', Lenny Kaye's or a few dozen more scribes turned tunesmiths' most certainly had!

If only I could keep the thrill I got reading this 'un going full-tilt then maybe I wouldn't need ibogaine injections. Whatever, it does put to rest the notion that the early/mid-seventies were such a dungheap that we hadda rely on Donny Osmond singles to lift us out of our decidedly anti-rock doldrums!
OK now, back to the present. Although I often scoff at the dribble that passes for rock critiquing or fandom or what-have-ya these days, I will say that there are still a number of good rock scribes engaging in what I would call intelligent and cohesive writing. Other than me, there are the denizens of certain blogs who still crank it out with an attitude that comes off as if it were still 1979 and it's a case of you vs. the rest of the world, and of course there are the few remaining fanzines (and their creators) that one woulda thought had keeled over for good once the eighties/nineties-era of these self-produced rants eventually petered out in the age of internet.

DAGGER is but one of those surviving fanzines that, remarkably enough, is not only still pumping it out on all cylinders but doing a pretty durn good job of it as well. The latest issue (#46) ain't as big as previous all-outs and editor Tim Hinely has returned to a layout similar to his mag's earlier endeavors, but the writing's just as etapoint as ever and even an eighties-hater such as myself can slip in real smoothly to such features as Tim's interview with former Death of Samantha leader John Petkovic and a piece on the Go-Betweens' Grant McLennan, something which might have registered some deeply held rockist stirrings in my soul had I only heard the group in the first place!

Only two pages of reviews (in fact, only TEN pages of mag!) but hey, ten pages of high energy rock writing like this sure beats a whole internet fulla the sons and daughters of the Christgau-bred dorks who still think they are making a concise and important statement detailing for you the various larval stages of Courtney Love's crab lice. Check the link on the left for a copy, that is if you're one reader who would so dare venture out from the safe confines of this sainted yet "horse-blindered" blog to read something with a different shall we say..."perspective".
Wellwellwell...the past week sure went by fast now, didn't it? Time for another rundown of what I have been listening to and what I think about it put into language you just might be able to understand. As you can see, there's not much in the way of writeups again but it ain't for lack of trying. Actually I have been listening to a load a goodies when the opportunity arises, only a lotta of the things I am spinning are old favorites which I've noticed go down a whole lot smoother at beddy bye time than a new offering which often stimulates and agitates my back brain to the point where I'm up until three in the morning trying to think up new synonyms for dungheap. I've got at least one interesting change o' pace planned that I just might unleash on you the week after if not next week, but until then you'll just have to suffer through the goodies I have lined up for you THIS time...


When a dribble of info regarding the new generation of Japanese psychedelic rock began hitting our shores in the late-eighties, High Rise were among the first acts to get the hi-ho hosannas in the pages of all the hipper than you'll ever be fanzines and "alternative weeklies" out there in Notice Me land. I remember, because I was a guy who was always on the lookout for a new group or musical movement to sink my claws into, and the hype popping up about the group made 'em out to be the biggest hard growl heard since the likes of Motorhead! Only this wasn't some sorta new wave of heavy metal shuck that didn't seem that much different from the lame metal groups permeating the late-seventies, but a psychedelic rock group that took that over-used term and injected a good hunkerin' load of freshness into it. And hey, maybe what we all needed back the was a fresh dose of lysergic music to save us from all of that antiseptic quap that the eighties were well known for!

From all respectable reports High Rise were beyond heavy metal, a total assault on the senses unheard of since Blue Cheer just happened to kill some stray dog that wandered into the Avalon by the sheer force of their volume. Of course that's something which always seems to affect dogs more than humans considering all of those brain-churning frequencies they're subjected to, but from what I've heard there were many humans who were adversely affected by the overload as well.

Still can't find that early High Rise album which remains lodged somewhere in my collection, but I did decide to latch onto these still available PSF releases which I was at least hoping would have recreated the entire Japanese psychorock experience that was extant on that now elusive platter. And, as usual, I was right for both of these disques splatter the listener with the massive concrete wall of sound that groups like Les Rallizes Denudes first aped before an entire generation of Japanese kiddoes picked up on the hard ramalama and drove it into areas that kinda frighten me, especially after dark.

PSYCHOBOMB's a live album that was recorded during the group's 2000 US tour, and it's the High Rise I remember most from that early album as well as a variety of bootleg 10-CD sets that were cluttering up the ebay listings a good eight or so years back. The sound's great, the audience's fever pitched, and the performance is all-out sonic drive that once again makes terms such as acid rock and heavy metal obsolete especially in the light of the commercial fluff that music had become thanks to Andy Secher and the rest of the HIT PARADER flacks. Total pounce upon the senses attack here which is ultra-driving and perhaps even maddening, and if you were one to come into hard rock via its late-sixties birth and grew up with it as it came to age in the early-seventies, this just might be the last stop on the trip before you totally lose you mind to your old Voi Vod albums.

DISPERSION's a studio affair which, surprisingly enough, shows High Rise moving to and fro with not only the expected hard-driving numbers but slower efforts that work on you like an earwig slowly boring its way through your psyche. With an almost early-seventies-ish sense of drive, the trio weave in and out of various psychmodes playing both hot and cold at times with a particularly downer groove that comes about as close to WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT than anything else I've heard recently. In fact if I were one of those early-seventies rock critics who were trying to find some sense of sanity as the sixties were slowly sliding into something that perhaps wasn't as thrilling as we thought it would be, I would be heavily tacking the ol' Velvet Underground influence pockmark of quality onto this 'un (had it been around) the same way many of these now-forgotten crits were doing the same thing to everyone from the Magic Tramps, Sidewinders, Patti Smith and Link Wray!

These two may be old hat to you by now, but given the dearth of recent (and for me recent means the past three decades!) rockist items that affect me in a base, driving way both of these High Rise offerings sound mighty pleasing. Definitely ones that'll worm their way into your heart, among other things I'm sure.
Various Artists-SOPHISTICATED HARD-UP SUNDAY GOSSIP CD-r (sent in by Bill Shute)

A different 'n usual collection here as it has not one or two but THREE quick-o sitar cash-ins that came out just after George Harrison boosted sitar stock 1000% when he coulda been extolling the musical joys of the flute-o-phone. Chim Kothari does an exemplary job introducing your folks to the charms of the instrument viz his rendition of the theme from THE SOUND OF MUSIC, while V. Balsara and his Singing Sitar handle the old wop classic "A Man Without Love" well enough to get him plenty of tips at an Eyetalian restaurant when the guy with the bandanna and violin is too sick to show up for work. And Assie Tsahar and Tatsuya Nakatani----wait, they give us some weirdo free sounding neo-avant sorta jazz, but with a name like Tsahar I woulda sworn it was more of that southern asian music created to heighten the vindaloo experience at Paul McGarry's favorite Indian eatery!

The rest of this varies between Bill's c&w-fixated twangdom to hard enough for me bop (Cooper-Moore's "Part 4 blues for Jaki Byard") as well as some Japanese sixties rock romps from the Spiders and Roosters. One big surprise: the appearance of that Rockin' Horse single on Greg Shaw's Voxx label that I, and presumably you, missed out on the first time around in the early-eighties. Not that I missed much, but it's a good one to hear at least once and you know, I'm glad I did.
Charles Gayle Trio-LOOK UP CD (ESP-disk)

Got a tip-off about this recent (2012) platter on the reactivated ESP label and yeah, it is a wowzer in the proverbial sense! I remember when the hubbub about Charles Gayle began fermentulating in the early-nineties---y'know, that he was the last in a generation of free jazz players to be discovered and that he was the spiritual successor to Coltrane, Coleman and the rest of the batch---and like I'm sure a good many of you readers were I wasn't too sure myself as to whether or not this was just fresh hype or the actual fanabla. Well as time has shown and the man has proved, Gayle definitely is as much a top notch hotcha player as his mentors, and the stack of recordings he's left us over the past few decades are evidence as just how much powerful avant garde jazz has been unleashed on us these past few decades. Only we never did have enough moolah to buy out the entire New Music Distribution Service catalog like we always wanted to do, and even a good quarter-century later we're still kicking ourselves for not latching on to the things we coulda picked up for a mere $6.98 way back when!

Great free playing here courtesy our star, who besides blowing his brains out on tenor sax also tries his hand at bass clarinet with rather Dolphy-esque precision. (Gayle has always been a fairly competent master at handling various non-woodwind instruments as his solo piano and violin, not forgetting his drum work with the Blue Humans has shown.) Some unknown named Michael Bisio plays bass, while Michael Wimberly (a name that should be familiar to people who used to hang out at the old CBGB Lounge during the Dee Pop-curated free music nights) is perhaps the best up-and-coming drummer in a sphere which really doesn't have as many adherents as it most certainly deserves.

The performance is fierce (not quite Ayler filtered through a perhaps even angrier Shepp), free and at times you really do have to strain your ears to hear the quiet parts but watch out when the free play starts up lest you be blasted outta your easy chair!

Best of all, Gayle even devotes some time to doing some of his street preaching here, and since this is the part of the man's oeuvre that upsets most of his "progressive" fans you can bet that many of 'em'll be thinking up unique excuses for liking the man despite his admonitions against breaking up fecal matter lodged in the Hershey highway using Mister Salami and other things enlightened people like to do. You might want to think up a few for yourselves as well...I mean, you really must look your very on-top-of-it-all best when you post YOUR two cents on whatever on-line forums there may be where people of your ilk discuss just how superior you all are to the past few millennium of civilization now, don't you!

For those of you who just couldn't care one white either way, a top notch release from the re-activated ESP, and one you'll probably be spinning a whole lot more'n Bill Horwitz that's for sure!
Soft Machine-THE EARLIEST RECORDINGS; LIVE 1967-1969 (both of these are on the B13 label originating from [perhaps] the former Soviet Union)

Coming in just under the wire are these two items that the people at the mysterioso B13 label  thought you'd just might like to hear, even if some of you probably have heard 'em before. Both of these platters were recorded by the infamous Soft Machine, but instead of those oft-repro'd BYG demos that have been roaming budget bins for ages here are some real interesting niceties that you might want to splurge a little bitta cash on, if you're a fan of the group that is.

I passed on the early pre-Soft Machine recordings when they hit the CD circuit about two decades back, but now that they're pressed up on vinyl 'n all I thought maybe I should snatch this 'un up before it was too late. And y'know what, this one's  good enough (even better'n the Wildeflowers collection!) that I wish I bought the thing way back when! Culled from various rehearsal tapes as well as a live "Daevid Allen Trio" gig at the Marquee, the proto-Softs surprisingly beat everybody else to the punch with their mix of rock 'n roll. r 'n b and avant garde jazz at a time when the competition were still trying to figure out the chords to "FBI"! You could say that a good portion of this platter was just amateurish crank out, but for a buncha English sissies trying to act all boho and all this is surprisingly sturdy with little pretension or put on which usually makes these basement recordings so hard to sit through.

At times the music is free enough and even more out there than what the likes of Coltrane and Coleman were up to at the same time (1962-1963!)...not only that but there is quite an AACM-ish groove to the free-splat energy play which is surprising to hear considering just where the minds of most youth (in England and the rest of the sphere) were at that very same nanosecond. It's almost inconceivable...I mean even Frank Zappa was still doing fifties schtick and Varese swipes at this time, little of which could match the boho drive that these future Soft Machiners were coming up with! That trip to Paris really must have made an impression on 'em considering their rather appropriate understanding of the "new thing" happening around them!

LIVE 1967-1969 isn't really "live" but the group's earliest John Peel sessions, the first side being the '67 one when Kevin Ayers was holding down the guitar and bass chores while Mike Ratledge played organ and flute and Robert Wyatt drummed (as well as played 'cello and a few other instruments if Lillian Roxon can be trusted). It's really interesting to hear this not only because it is the Soft Machine at the beginning of their album-oriented career, but because Kevin Ayers had yet to affect that basso profundo vox he was very well known and remembered for. Not only that but the early versions of material later to end up on Ayers' albums show a remarkable primitiveness and approach that almost make them entirely different numbers! Fans of the ABC albums would do well to pick this one up if only for the a-side, while those who like the group's more "fusion"-y material will definitely enjoy the flip to hear the '69 version of the group crank through a medley of tracks from THIRD before Wyatt performs the very same "Moon In June" that later appeared on the TRIPLE ECHO box set. And if you thought that was a chore to listen to let me tell you things haven't changed.