Sunday, January 21, 2018

So, how are you holding out against the January blahs anyway? Me, I've been around the block so many times that seasonal mood changes don't even matter anymore, but even if they did I'd be getting by swell enough what with my digging out of the usual grump-bustin' sounds and tee-vee viewing (via Dee-Vee-Dee natch...series like THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN and ABBOTT AND COSTELLO never wear thin with me no matter how many times throughout my life I see 'em) and of course the beauteous bevy of music that has been playin' the soundtrack to my life for longer than anyone other than my enemies can remember.  I'm survivin' the snow 'n all even if I am having a whole lotta trouble awaiting the release of albums that I don't think ever will come within my ears (no, I don't mean that!) as well as listening to more modern efforts trying to somehow tie 'em in even in the most tangential way that they have the same kind of meaning as those classics of yore. Of course spot readings of THE AESTHETICS OF ROCK does tend to sort out much of the internal chaos.
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The fanzine front (at least as far as finding any old faves or discovering new classics) hasn't been that snazzoid as of late, so I've been tryin' to find my self-publication thrills through other means. One way I have tried to sate my amateur press passions has been by printing out and pouring over some of the free "punk rock" fanzines that have been available for download via various sites (check blogroll on left for a link or two), but even the fanzines that are available for free aren't enough to get me all hot and bothered like a newly found issue of DENIM DELINQUENT might have oh-so long ago. As ya all (should) know, when it comes to fanzines there are more subjects than rock 'n roll to peruse, and given how my interest in such publications exceeds the usual rock 'n roll fodder I'm happy enough to have come across a site which has provided for us all each and every issue of Bruce Townley's OBLONG, a fanzine which has made for a rather interesting evening of settle back kick up yer feet reading that's for sure!

Some of you rock fanzine types might remember Townley from his days contributing to the should-be ever-popular HYPERION where not only did he contribute a column entitled "Almost Another" (dealing solely with Science Fiction fanzines) but earned the (friendly?) ire of editor Mark Jenkins for his love of the Firesign Theatre universe of albums, books etc. However, while HYPE went under during the early months of '75 and Jenkins found his fortune in the legitimate rockscreeding world, Townley kept true to his fanzine roots not only with his contributions (artwork or otherwise) to a range of Sci-Fi and Fantasy reads but a few titles of his own like PHIZ! and of course today's exercise in self-expression which, while reflective of the late slick professional-looking fanzine look that I don't particularly care for, still reeks of that wonderful self-ist way of laying down those personal inner-feelings and foibles for that matter which always made the best in fanzine writing Sci-Fi, rock 'n roll or otherwise.

As far as these personalist rags go, OBLONG probably couldn't get any more reflective of the Townley persona. There seems to be a lack of rock 'n roll related musings true, and considering what a turdburget general kultur has been since the early-eighties if not before something like rock woulda been a welcome addition to this mag. But Townley makes even the drabbest of drab look spiffy what with his general outlook and ability to make even the mundane look like its ready for STAND UP AND CHEER. Pieces on everything from film noir to Lynda Barry (?????-sheesh) to old POPULAR SCIENCE/MECHANICS and others in that mag bracket scope (including a bit from a 1965 SCIENCE AND MECHANICS entitled "Amazing Electronic Cures for Sexual Inadequacy" which is definitely one I've missed all these years) make these mags a must-download. Biggest surprise is that onetime BLACK TO COMM contributor Mike Huegen contributed some artwork...small world as they say in Lackawanna Township.

OBLONG is anything but oblong/obtuse as far as fanzine thrills go. And hey Brice, if you are reading this would you be so KIND as to put some of those old issues of HYPERION that you said you have on-line for us rock fanzine freaks who really could use some high energy rockscribing these sad 'n sorry days???
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So like, what am I listening to for chock-fulla-vitamins pure life-reaffirming wholesomeness these past few days? To give it a specific category I would call it "LATE-SIXTIES/EARLY-SEVENTIES ICONOCLASTIC AND/OR APOCALYPTIC SOUND RE-ASSESSMENT" for wont of a better term. Blame the acquisition of THE MIRROR MAN SESSIONS (reviewed below) for starting it all but danged if most if not all of my favorite kick-up-your-feet-and-relax spins this week haven't been from the '67-'70 era of atonal and fug-it-all soundcrunch, the kind that had wanderlust hippoids rush back to the comfy coziness of their suburban squats it was that ear canal churning. On the list besides the aforementioned MM...the Velvet Underground's WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT (which isn't a repeato-play here like you might think it would be...it's too sacred for that!), Can's MONSTER MOVIE (which I guess ain't as sacred considering how often I spin it), Guru Guru's UFO, YOKO ONO PLASTIC ONO BAND, John Coltrane's ASCENSION (first take---a little outta the timescope but wha' th' hey), John Coltrane's ASCENSION (second take---ditto) and not much else! I dunno about you but music like this is quite exhilarating, sorta like giving my soul a startling cold shower to revive it after a day of everyday life grinding the dadburned thing right into the mud.
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As if I hadda tell ya, here's this week's batch of newies to grace my lobes, a few of which classify as total eruption classics that I think will last more than the one spin I tend to give recordings these sad 'n sorry days (mainly the Xterip album and don't say their name backwards or else you'll be sent to the dimension from whence you came!).


Xterip-THE FRISBEE SESSIONS CD-r (Kendra Steiner Editions, see link on left for more information)

And for the DO WAH CLASSIC OF THE YEAR AWARD, my ballot goes to Xterip for this particularly pungent slab of freefrom freakout that would make Mayo Thompson wanna join the Dominicans. It's hard to pin down exactly where this group is coming from (and no, I can't hear either LaMonte Young or the Seventh Sons in this) but the total freak jam vibe is something that is pretty much part and parcel to the whole Kendra Steiner sorta sound twistarama we at BLOG TO COMM have become accustomed to these past few years. If anything, this seems like to end line (at least for now) in the whole electronic/drone side of music that such luminaries as the Velvet Underground and AMM have dabbled in on and off for years, and I gotta say that it was a pretty invigorating experience making my way through these four tracks. And believe-you-me, I sure wish there were more.
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THE BEST OF THE CHOCOLATE WATCHBAND CD-r burn (originally on Rhino Records)

Maybe this one is too obvious to appear here and should have been placed in the usual year-end roundup of more "familiar" platters that I have yet to post for the 2017 season, but then again perhaps THE BEST OF THE CHOCOLATE WATCHBAND is just an outta-the-way "collection" that'll fit in just anywhere I put it! If you have the original albums and Moxie EP this is really nothing new, but for those who don't it makes for a pretty snazzy introduction to one of the many outta-the-loop bands of the late-sixties who shoulda made it bigger even if those later albums wouldn't have exactly been SNOWFLAKES FALLING ON THE INTERNATIONAL DATELINE ifyaknowaddamean. There seems to be a paucity of later-on Watchband tracks, but as far as the early and punkier songs go this is probably the only place where you can get the best of 'em all under one roof.
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John Cage-SONATAS AND INTERLUDES (Susan Svrcek, piano) CD (Centaur Records, available via Forced Exposure)

I seem to be slipping back into my late-teenbo days what with my purchasing and incessant spinning of not only various Captain Beefheart recordings but these John Cage and various other "avant garde classical" platters that were so elusive back during my depression-era wage youth! A nicety if I do say so myself, what with the prepared piano tunes and melodies wafting around in such an introspective way. Made for beautiful late-night backdrop while I was reading the usual comic strip collections although I get the feeling that this was probably not the intention Cage had while composing these pieces. Let's just say that whatever it can be used for, it can be adapted swell enough for your own personal comforts as if you've used airplane glue for its own intended purpose!
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Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band-THE MIRROR MAN SESSIONS CD (Buddha/BMG)

Wonder how this re-creation of the classic MIRROR MAN platter escaped my maws for the past few years! Yes, it's the same album we've known and loved for eons (released at the height of Beefheartmania by Buddha who didn't know a good thing until they lost it for good) only with MORE (but not all, you have to get the SAFE AS MILK reissue for those). An' y'know what, this just might be my fave of the pre-Straight Beefheart efforts the way the free drone play fits right into my brain the way the best repeato-riff rock of the era most certainly did. Saying any more about this 'un'll just be rehashing old Nick Tosches tales for people who probably couldn't stand to hear the same incessant praise over and over. Of course this edition costs way more'n the 99 pennies one could plunk down for it back '76 way but that's the price of progress, or so I'm told every time I dish out more moolah for yet another edition of an old fave o' mine!
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EIN PRODUKT DER DEUTSCH ANERIKANISCHEN FREUNDSHAFT CD (Bureau B Records, Germany)

Along with the above a perfect nerve-shredder even if it does fall outside the sixties/seventies rock 'n roll as pure atonality cusp. Melodies start up and fade out just when they're getting tantalizing and the whole electronic approach still appeals at this point. Done up by kids who spent the entire seventies gathering up their sixties-bred Velvets cum Stooges cum kraut cum over-the-top freakdom and reshaping it for a new era. Too bad this act, like way too many eighties leftovers, rotted on the vine when they could have been cooking high intensity but at least we still have this particular crank to appreciate.
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S.Y.P.H.-AM RHEIN CD (Ata Tak Records Germany, available through Forced Exposure)

Bought this 'un along with the above in order to brush up a bit on some of those post-krauty offerings that passed me by because at the time they originally came out I wasn't gonna be that adventurous with my depression-era wages. Years later a group like this seemed like a good place to pick up and discover just what was going on over in Merkeland during those rather confused musical times. Why this particular group was chosen I don't know, but I did it and well...

Now I must admit that I originally thought S.Y.P.H. woulda been the kinda act who'd've been roaring about in a Can-styled drive into inner space regions as yet uncharted. Not quite, though at times they do have a rather gnarled approach to adequate distortion that appeals slightly. But howcum I am reminded of nothing but early/mid-eighties "new wave" triumph of the airwaves (and cable stations) when I give some of these more pop-oriented tracks a listening???
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Lee Curtis and the All-Stars-IT'S LEE! CD-r burn (originally on Star-Club Records, Germany)

Sheesh, do you remember when the mere mention of "Liverpool" was enough to move product like anything since Bing Crosby? I mean, everything from Liverpool Ice Cream to Liverpool suppositories were flyin' off the shelf due to the merest of Beatle-relations and although it sure seems strange these days it sure meant a whole lot to teenage gals with too much moolah who probably didn't even know what suppositories were supposed to be used for!

And if you were one of those rock 'n roll groups from the burgh who played the Cavern Club and all well...welcome to a recording contract no matter how turdsville you guys mighta been! Lee and his All-Stars certainly fit the Liverpool cash-in mode with this effort featuring the guy in full phlegm voice doin' the hits of the day his way'n don't let anyone tell you different! Tell you what, I got a whole lot more thrills outta the Mustangs doin' the Beatles platter way back when I was but a mere fifteen than I could with this showoffy entertainer who just doesn't do his place of birth any sorta civic justice I'll tell ya!
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Various Artists-VOLUNTEERS AT THE VIRTUAL THRIFT STORE CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

OK, Little Gigi does it good tryin' to muscle in on the early-sixties Negro gal singer market with a track that coulda gone somewhere onna charts, but what's the deal with Sagram tryin' his best to capture the Ravi Chancre market and missing by a mile?!? Los Flecos do a good Spanish-language thumper that must've gotten a few dancefloors filled up way back when, while country singler Jim Fullen must certainly be waiting for puberty to come his way more sooner 'n later. Song Poesy from Gena Genova and Bill Joy sound rather up-to-date what with the synth-y sounds (well...maybe 1975 Ford-era "duh"-y ifyaknowaddamean), though the Tim Berne track "Sequel X" really surprises me because it is a solo acoustic guitar piece and I always thought Berne was a saxophonist! Dominic Lash and Nate Wooley are an improv bass/trumpet act (that wouldn't go anywhere at the Palace) but fans of the ol' AACM sound would like it while the Spanish take on the Beatles' "I Feel Fine" by Alex y Los Finders is faithful enough even without the cool feedback intro. Fats Domino's "Oh What a Price" is almost as good as Link Wray's and that "White House Party" by Hank Marr sounds more like a party at the Playboy Mansion if you ask me! And the Toys (of "A Lover's Concerto" fame) doing ? and the Mysterians (I know...don't write in) was a bigger gas'n a case of the farts! And closing it out the Lafayette Afro Rock Band do some hot seventies-ish jazzy r/b that actually doesn't dredge up bad radio memories one bit!

Yeah this writeup is kinda like a patch-together of brief impressions but considering that the disque is just that I figured why not? Besides, these days I'm beginning to feel like I've been patched together myself so why not go with the flow as the Governor of California said we should all do oh so long ago?

Friday, January 19, 2018

BOOK REVIEW! WINSOR McCAY EARLY WORKS (Checker Book Publishing Group, 2003)

Jes' because it's old doesn't necessarily mean it's good!  Like---I can give you many examples of old television programs from the "Golden Age" that fell flatter'n Olive Oyl's chest or old comic books that were kinda feh if not worse, and for a kid like myself who thought that the year 1963 was the last really good 'un for real fun and jamz music, moom pitchers, tee-vee and general kultur I eventually found out that perhaps old didn't always mean better! Take it from a kulchur vulchur like myself---when combing through the pre-hippydippy era of life there were many gems true, but we all must consider that some undeniably turdburger-ish entertainment and other funtime occupiers were up and about during the previous six or so decades of general suburban slob doofness.

Let's talk about those f'rawhile, like this one comic strip called BARON BEAN that Bill Shute sent me a collection of two Christmasses back and boy was it a snoozer! Sure it was done up by George Herriman of KRAZY KAT fame and all of the big names in kultural snobdom tell me that Herriman's the best, but while I can really slip into the "kat" I thought BEAN was a one-joke no-go effort that lacked any of the humor and warmth of the big 'un outta the Herriman stable continually oozed. I'll tell you I was bored silly reading the BEAN collection which I think ought to remain buried in the past along with all of that upper-class liberal snob envy and heaping self-shame that was part and parcel to those dreary days. Oh wait...I forgot.

Winsor McCay's another one of those cartoonists everyone who wants to be in the club is supposed to like, but although I find LITTLE NEMO IN SLUMBERLAND every bit as entertaining now as it must have been back at the turn of the previous century I also like these other McCay works to smithereens. It's sure nice to see fine, delicate art gracing your eyes while an interesting story is being developed, much unlike the sort of comic being done these days mostly tossed out by females who seem to be suffering from a severe case of "ragitus terminallus".
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You get four samples of McCay's non-NEMO work here, the first being a nice heaping collection of his infamous DREAMS OF A RAREBIT FIEND which has some of the best transmoporothographic cartooning seen in ages. The nightmares actually seem believable enough and even hilarious in their brutality what with decapitations and furnaces turning into monsters along with other crazy set ups that look so realistic in the hands of McCay. Y'know, things that bright minds like Ernie Bushmiller later milked to the bone for his various nightmare episodes of NANCY. Your eyes'll linger as a puppy turns into a monster nobody can kill or a woman saves her pet by ramming her head up against a train engine, complete with those familiar closing panels where the dreamer regrets the rarebit or fried cheese he had for dinner. And if you don't think these comics are particularly potent enough to affect you just listen to this TRUE TALE..a few nights after I began reading this book I had an extremely vivid dream about seeing THE HINDENBURG from my front bedroom window. It was flying particularly low and I began to panic thinking there was going to crash. Closer and closer it came...next thing I knew the dadburned dirigible was parked right in front of me on the street...turns out they had an emergency and were only making a quick stop!

As for TALES OF THE JUNGLE IMPS well...I'm sure I would have a whole load of youthful nostalgic toasties for this had I grown up with this (like I do with say, THE TEENIE-WEENIES which is just as embedded into the turdler portion of my brain as SUPERCAR) but reading it in the here and now was tough not only with the small print but the definitely kiddie sagas that don't quite cling to me now that I'm older and doofier. Nice art though, and even if I can't see any modern-day pablum puker sitting still for this like they would PIPPA PIG'S SEX SECRETS it's nice to know that earlier generations were more appreciative.

Now LITTLE SAMMY SNEEZE, that's a fanabla of a strip I can get behind. True it's a one-joke offering and we all know what's gonna happen (mainly, the kid sneezes and it's a powerful 'un at that!) but it's what leads up to the big sneeze and the aftermath that we're all wanting to read. Unlike say, FOXY GRANDPA who always got the better of his gran'kids to the point where ya wished for once that the two brats'd really pull a big 'un over on him LITTLE SAMMY SNEEZE begins with a somewhat precarious situation in store which all comes to a head when the kid sneezes and ruins everything to the point where he usually gets a swift kick in the pants, or perhaps helps out a grave situation such as the time he stopped a rampaging carriage with a wealthy man's young daughter on it. Aww, ya just can't hate the kid even if he could be a nuisance...I mean, kids being kids is like dogs being dogs and why should we punish 'em just because they ain't grown up or human for that matter?

Especially relevant to my own sense of life and what is is 'stead of what I'd even remotely like it to be is A PILGRIM'S PROGRESS which, like RAREBIT, was aimed at the more sophisticado reader which is why McCay signed it with his "Silas" nom-de-whatever. Allegorical and philosophically mind-twiddling beyond anything else I can think of that came outta the early days of Amerigan newspaper comics, A PILGRIM'S PROGRESS features the tale of a Mr. Bunion who is stuck with an albatross of a valise labeled "DULL CARE", a metaphor for his luckless, success-barren life. He tries to lose it, switch it, somehow exchange it for a suitcase with a better outlook on it but like herpes or the famed bad penny he just can't get rid of it. Gotta say that it does drive me mad seeing Bunion think he's finally made that big transformation into the good life I'm sure we all could enjoy only to see him fail and begrudgingly accept his fate...even drives me madder'n when I thought the castaways would get off GILLIGAN'S ISLAND only Gilligan once again screwed something up at the last minute.

Nice selection these comics definitely are and I wouldn't be fibbin' ya when I say WINSOR McCAY EARLY WORKS is good enough to the point of frequent pre-beddy bye time reading it's that top notch. The art is so wonderful that you can let your eyes linger on it for more than the usual second or two it takes to read a panel, and surprisingly enough the humor and concepts are still ripe enough for a guy like myself even if these strips are well over a hundred years old! You may beg to differ thinking these only as items from an evil period in life that should be banished from the earth forever but frankly that only says more about you as opposed to me and considering what some of your ilk have been up to these past hundred or so years like, what more really needs to be said?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

BLACK TO COMM BACK ISSUES FOR SALE!

I kinda gave up tryin' to hard-sell these things awhile back but hey, I not only need to get rid of these fanzines (especially considering the treacherous turncoats who contributed to some of 'em which kinda bugs me to no end!) but right now I sure could use the money for things like necessities not to mention the more important frivolities. I know that hardly anyone will nibble at this bait but then again you can't blame a guy for tryin'! But honestly, if you like the kinda long-gone gonzoid, offensive to sissies and (best of all) TOTALLY ROCKIST writing you find on this blog then you should go nuts for these BLACK TO COMMs which were, and remain for that matter AMERIGA'S ONLY HIGH ENERGY ROCK 'N ROLL MAGAZINES which is no mere feat y'know.

If you want more detailed descriptions of both issues that are still available as well as those that are long-gone, please click here for my special THIRTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF BLACK TO COMM post. And hey, if there are any out-of-print issues that you would like copies of I just might be able to run off some copies for a not-so-nominal fee. But then again maybe not given I'm not sure where I've stashed some of those old masters.

Tell you what...you Amerigans will have to pay five buck for the mailing charges if you order one or one of each for that matter, while furriners will have to write in first for postage to their particular spot on the planet which might be exorbitant so don't be surprised at the sticker shock. Just remember that every penny I receive will be going to a good cause, mainly ME who needs the moolah much more than any of you ever will.

By mail, please make checks or Money Orders out to "Christopher Stigliano" and send said check/MO to 701 North Hermitage Road., Suite 23, Hermitage PA 16148. Paypal is available only you gotta get in touch with me first complete with your email address and I will send you the details. Since I don't like my email address being splattered across the internet just leave a "message" at the bottom of this post with your name and email address and I will respond to you WITHOUT printing the "comment". C'mon, it couldn't be any simpler now, could it???


PHFUDD! #11-Still have a VERY few copies of this once-gone and forgotten issue featuring Mirrors (complete with the usual rare photos and flyers and ads and junk like that), live VON LMO photos taken at Max's Kansas City with Lou Rone mugging it up for the camera (plus a Rudolph Grey chronology!), Sonny Sharrock, Jeff Dahl and Powertrip, a live Styrenes photo taken by ME (which accounts for its fuzziness!), Birdhouse (remember them?), the Standells and some live Rocket From the Tombs snaps with lyrics that should cause your heart to be racing by now. Also included is the enticing article entitled "Is There No End To Those Pesky Chuck Eddy Rumors?" which, as we know, is still as relevant today as it was in April/May 1988 when this issue originally came out. Since this is a rarity, I'm asking $15.00 each, and no frowning!
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BLACK TO COMM #14-Early 1989. Featuring part one of the Ron Asheton interview, a nice though could be much better given all the information discovered since piece on the Deviants, an article on Peter Laughner's Cinderella Backstreet, the Seeds and Charlemagne Palestine. $8.00 and if that's too expensive just try getting hold of one on ebay!
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BLACK TO COMM #16-From summer 1989. This one has the Rudolph Grey interview, some reprints of various Peter Laughner things I copped out of old issues of ZEPPELIN and elsewhere, more Electric Eels lyrics with a pic that's been reprinted all to heck, Laughing Hyenas and of course tributes to the recently departed Lucille Ball and Jim Backus. The first, cruddy version can be had for $5.00, the other for $6.00 or maybe I'll just send you whatever I come upon first!
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BLACK TO COMM #17-Early '90. The first of the "big" issues has a cover story/interview with Scott Morgan and Gary Rasmussen from the old Scott Morgan band, also inside's an interview with Borbetomagus' Donald Miller as well as one with Maureen Tucker, not to mention pieces on Fish Karma (who I liked until hearing his overly-preachy kiss kiss moosh anti-gun song entitled "God Bless The NRA" which blew Fish's snot-nosed toss off attitude to sanctimonious heck), the Dogs (from Detroit, not the French ones or the Flamin' Groovies for that matter!), Rocket From the Tombs (with loads of old photos and the like, some never seen before or since!), the top 25 of heavy metal, METAL MACHINE MUSIC, a piece on the then-new proto-punk reissues and archival digs of the day and the usual reviews and news. $10.00.
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BLACK TO COMM #19-Just found a few of these niceties with my Miriam Linna interview plus one done with Jeff Clayton of Antiseen, not to mention the Pink Fairies, Czech Underground Rock (Plastic People of the Universe, Umela Hmota...), Lester Bangs (unpublished photos too!), NUGGETS, the Shangs, a history of proto/early punk fanzines, lotsa old TV stuff and of course the regular departments. This is the first ish to really dig into a lotta the anti-youth fascism mentality so popular in rock circles these days, so sissies beware!!! Since this is getting rare you can have one of these soon-to-be collector's items for $10.00 each if you can believe it! A real steal deal!!!!
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BLACK TO COMM #21-From November '94. A VON LMO cover story and interview grace this ish, as do interviews with Metal Mike Saunders, Brian McMahon (Electric Eels) and rockabilly star Ronnie Dawson, plus you can read much-desired items on the Trashmen, Velvet Underground and Hawkwind like I knew you would! Not to mention a piece on the infamous TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE fanzine! $10.00.
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BLACK TO COMM #24- From spring 2001. This issue's cover feature's a nice interview with Doug Snyder of DAILY DANCE/Sick Dick and the Volkswagens fame, plus there are interviews with the Dogs (Detroit) and Greg Shaw, a piece on the old CAN'T BUY A THRILL fanzine and the usual feature-length reviews and the like. $9.00 because like, I don't think it was as big as the previous issues.
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BLACK TO COMM #25-The latest (December 2003), 162 pages brimming with such goodies as a New York City Scene history (featuring interviews with Max's Kansas City's Peter Crowley and Ruby Lynn Reyner from Ruby and the Rednecks plus pieces on coverboys the New York Dolls and VARIETY scene-booster Fred Kirby), an interview with J. D. King (Coachmen, comix) plus one with guitarist Lou Rone, who would probably be best known to you as leader of the early CBGB-era band Cross as well as one-time guitarist for both Kongress and VON LMO, the Screamin' Mee-Mees, CRETINOUS CONTENTIONS, Simply Saucer rare photos, family tree and gigography, rare fanzines of the Golden Age (and more), tons of book and record reviews (which make up the bulk of this ish!), plus a CD with live Simply Saucer 1975, the Coachmen, The Battleship, Ethel with David Nelson Byers and Ruby and the Rednecks. $12.00
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I still have some Cee-Dees that came with the now out of print issue #17 which I will give to you FREE if you order some mags (just request one, or I WON'T even bother slipping one in the package) and let me tell you there's some good stuff on it that's for sure!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

CEE-DEE REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! WILLIE & THE WALKERS---NORMAN PETTY MASTERS! (Super Oldies Records)


The Norman Petty Studios in Clovis, New Mexico attracted not only many bands from the US Midwest and Rocky Mountain region, but also from Canada. Petty’s affordable by-the-song, not by-the-hour rates, his proven history of hits, his many contacts in the industry, his ingenuity in the studio, his approach which emphasized bringing out the band’s own sound rather than imposing his own heavy production hand, and his affable but business-like manner were no doubt all good reasons for his appeal among bands who both wanted a professional sound AND perhaps a touch of the magic that could potentially come from working in the studio and with the man responsible for so many classics from the likes of Buddy Holly, The Crickets, and The Fireballs.

The UK Ace label did a number of releases from Petty’s archive in past years, including a series of fairly comprehensive releases of the complete catalogue of the much-underrated Fireballs, featuring the distinctive guitar of George Tomsco and the distinctive vocals of Jimmy Gilmer. They also did a few various artists releases, including one called GET READY TO FLY, which featured mid-to-late 60’s bands. One of those bands was WILLIE & THE WALKERS, from Edmonton, Alberta.

In recent years, in close cooperation with the Norman Petty estate and tape archives, Shawn Nagy’s SUPER OLDIES label has been digging much deeper, putting out a regular run of albums, with new ones every month or two, of Petty archive material, including much which was unreleased, and all directly from the Petty master tapes. These have been fascinating and a goldmine for the Petty fan--because most of Petty’s productions were licensed to other labels, because the man never encouraged a cult of personality, because of his somewhat “square” persona, and because Clovis, New Mexico, is not New York or Chicago or Memphis, Norman Petty has not been given the attention that he deserves. His productions have a unique “sound,” and his massive body of work is quite impressive. With all the obscure Petty music coming out on Super Oldies, and with a DVD documentary on Petty and his studio in the pipeline, let’s hope things will change. Until then, there is a lot of great music to discover and enjoy, and this collection from WILLIE & THE WALKERS is a perfect example.

A quintet of musicians came down from Edmonton to Clovis to record on three different occasions in 1966 and 1967, resulting in a total of 15 tracks, from which came three singles on Capitol of Canada, the last of which Petty was also able to place with United Artists in the US. The first session, from July 1966, has a lean, moody, organ-based sound which will remind many of the great New England 60’s garage bands. This sound is developed more in a four-song May 1967 session, and it’s interesting to note that ALL the material from the first two sessions is original. It’s not until the third and final Petty session in October 1967 that any covers are recorded. This is the reverse of the method of most 60’s bands, who usually started off doing mostly covers until they developed their song-writing skills. Perhaps the expense of traveling to New Mexico encouraged the band to bring their A-Game to this session, instead of doing covers of, say, “Midnight Hour” or “Just Like Me” or whatever else they might have been doing in their live sets. The three covers are all first-rate. By this time the band had developed its own sound, and the songs taken from The Rascals, Verdelle Smith, and The Kinks truly sparkle--in fact, the cover of “Tired Of Waiting For You” could have been released as a single...it’s that confident and distinctive.

Willie & The Walkers were a simple quintet, two guitars, keyboards, bass, and drums, and they are not augmented by unnecessary studio musicians, but Petty could always get a full, rich sound out of a basic rock-and-roll band, and that’s the case here. So while no one would label most of this material “garage punk,” it IS all punchy and live-sounding. I think I hear a second keyboard on one track (maybe I’m dreaming), so perhaps Violet Petty or Norman himself added that, and two songs with unique guitar work evoke the sound of Fireballs guitarist George Tomsco, a man who was a constant presence in the Clovis studios during this period. If he’s not actually playing on those two tracks, one wonders if he at least advised the band how to get the distinctive tones heard. Or maybe I’m shortchanging the band’s own abilities. In any case, it’s a solid set of 15 songs, and had these three sessions come out as an album, it would be considered a classic by fans of 60’s regional rock and roll bands.

What do they sound like? Hmmm....how about the Cryan Shames without the Byrds fixation? Or The Lovin’ Spoonful without the jug band influence? Or maybe The Knickerbockers without the nightclub showband trappings? How about Gary Lewis and the Playboys as a self-contained quintet with no need for studio musicians and with their own strong songwriters?

It’s to their credit that while they do not have some off-the-wall, radical sound, they do not really sound like anyone else. Nowhere here can you point your finger and say “they are REALLY into The Beatles” or The Byrds or whoever. If you played me this album with no explanation of who or what it was, I’d guess they were from Connecticut or Ohio or something. Elements remind me of Boston bands, but there would probably be Boston accents and more emphasis on electric piano, and neither of those can be found here.

Overall, Willie & The Walkers were an impressive band with a solid body of work, and this late in the game it’s surprising to find 15 strong, well-produced tracks without the padding of demos or cover versions from the band’s live set. Another feather in the cap of the late great producer Norman Petty, who brought his Midas Touch to a group of young men from Western Canada and took what was strongest and most distinctive about the band and focused it and sharpened it and presented it in its best light, with a strong punchy sound. You can order the album here. However, be aware that these Norman Petty archive albums have been selling out in a few months, so order now....and also check out the rest of the Super Oldies website for further Petty collections. This is a surprisingly strong collection and should be a must-own for the fan of 60's regional rock and roll bands.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Oh well...another week another BLOG TO COMM post! Gotta admit that it ain't easy thinkin' these things up 'specially in the just post-Christmas holidaze days---I almost feels like I'm back in High Stool doin' some hideous book or science report on a Sad-turd-day PM which is probably why this post READS like one! Of course back in those not-so-carefree days the winter blahs could always be remedied by either a hot record or boffo tee-vee show but hey, once you hit the millionth solar rotation like I have sometimes the effect just ain't the same as it was when you were young, dumb and maybe even stupider than you are now. Call it age even if I do get all hot and bothered over Captain Beefheart platters these days as I did way back when.
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Anywah, how'd'ja like that wild weather we're having here in the tri-county area anyway? All that blowing ice and snow just piling up making an already cruel winter even more dangerous for drivers and little kids making that ten-mile trek home from those local prisons we know of as schools! It's sure fun for me to watch Mom Nature unveiling all of her power and energy, at least when I'm safe and sound sitting in my warm abode eyeballing the cars doing doughnuts from my window as they plowi over those obnoxious brats in the neighborhood. I get the exact same feeling during the summer months watching kids get struck by lightning knowing that in no way am I gonna be affected. Yes, carnage is great as long as you're watching it from a distance!
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I haven't been having any interesting rock 'n roll-related dreams as of late, but my cyst-er had one in which I was a featured player. In her dream I presented a young Frank Zappa (who was wearing this weird braid that was clipped to the back of his collar in order to make his hair look longer) a gift of a refinished antique book shelf with psychedelic decals. And you know what, he was gracious and liked it! More than I can say about some people I send gifts to who don't appreciate them and even make it a point to let me know about it! And you know who you is!
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Hope this edition of BLOG TO COMM suits your own personal sense of rockitude as it does mine. Actually, I don't give a fig what you think but to be honest I kinda like it even if I think my writing "qualities" have gone down more'n a few degrees this past week or so. Big heaps to P.D. Fadensonnen, Bill Shute, Paul McGarry and even Bob Forward-thinking for their contributions to the cause, and the rest of you can go pound a fire ant hill for all I care you ungrateful things you!



Spontaneous Music Ensemble w/Rashied Ali-DOUBLE TRIO 3/10/1968 CD-r burn

Given that I don't have as large a Spontaneous Music Ensemble collection as I sure wish I would a disque like this comes in handy. John Stevens' group is aided and abetted by Rashied Ali on this sesh which reminds me of FREE JAZZ only with a smaller group and an equally potent sound impact. Beautiful free play here featuring some of stalwarts of the European scene like Peter Kowald and Dave Holland all done up in that over-the-top-screaming-all-the-way fashion your mother warned you about but as usual you didn't listen. A true motivator...well at least to the point where I'm gonna have to dig up my ONE, TWO, ALBERT AYLER album for yet another dose of this better than you ever will be freedom aggregation.
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GENE CLARK WITH THE GOSDIN BROTHERS CD-r burn (originally on Columbia Records)

I'll bet there were a few rock 'n roll souls who were glad that Gene Clark left the Byrds way back '65 way...after all that meant there would be more albums in that folk-rocky style to give a listen to and who wouldn't mind that! Of course once David Crosby got kicked out I'm sure these same people were shudderin' once they got an ear of the CSNY sound but back in '66 who woulda known?

On this debut solo platter Clark got the country greats the Gosdin Brothers to back him vocally and a pretty sharp band (including some Byrds and the Wrecking Guys) to provide the music. Naturally (or something like that) the overall results are boffo! Might be kinda slick to some of you rock sophistacados out there but the combination of Clark's vocals with the contemporary folk rock and orchestra make for a good slab of bright and at times sullen sounds that not only would melt the heart of not only your typical iron-haired teenybopper of a sophomoric sophomore (and believe, I went to high school with a whole slew of 'em!) but even the more grizzled among the faculty.

The original album is driving enough true, but the additional twennysome tracks add a whole load to the experience what with the outtakes, acoustic demos and stereo mixes which don't mean a hoot to me, but it's sure nice to hear the earlier songs again without having to get up and adjust my cheapo boom box!

I dunno if you were the kind who cried while listening to the Byrds, but if your sensitive self is wont to get all enraptured in the strains of folk rock this one might just make you Crimea River!
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Various Artists-SOURCE RECORDS 1-6 1968-1971 3-CD set (Pogus Productions)

SOURCE was such a fine magazine (if you could call this oversized ring-bound publication a "magazine"), not only for the information given on a variety of "new music" composers and performers but for the added inserts and the ten-inch records which came with (I believe) ever issue. Reading about everyone from the likes of John Cage to Philip Glass to Anthony Braxton to even Harold Budd  was certainly eye-opening to a budding avant garde fanabla such as I, and I sure loved to pour through those bound volumes that it seems that NO ONE ELSE in the world knew about because hey, they were so pristine and mint-like to the myriad who didn't know just how expensive those issues had become o'er the years!

Lo after all these years the musical portion of the mag has finally been re-issued (or at least it was in 2008---had it all this time but it got lost inna shuffle). That's cool, because since SOURCE was part of the library's periodical department I couldn't take any issues out, and that included the records I was anxious to tape for my own listening pleasure! However I was told that if I could bring my own turntable and stereo into the library I could record them that way but like, no way in heck was that possible!

Pretty good stuff here too---that is, if you think that the idea of sound as pure atonal chance music sure beats the bejabbers outta yer typical I-Heart playlist. Some of it is mildly interesting (like the piece where Alvin Lucier tapes a phrase and generation by generation repeats it until it sounds like total ratsqueal---reminds me of some of the nth-generation tapes of various rock acts that were flyin' around in the early-eighties!) while others sound like just about every other art piece done up my some music major circa 1975 who thinks he's on his way to a flattering cover piece in  ART IN AMERICA.

But most if not all does have some degree of brilliance. Allan Bryant's "Pitch Out", done with various MEV members in their own studio, holds much promise what with the use of electric guitars almost coming off like a bizarre post-rock concept that might be twirling about nowadays. Speaking of twirling, Mark Riener's "Phlegathon" (a name that I'm sure could be used to describe various competing blogs) features these twirling mobile-like devices that create their own sounds that kinda remind me of those 4th of July rockets that whistle about as they blast off.

There's more some from familiar names on the avant garde set as well as those who are probably still stuck in the beret and stale doritos bracket, but whatever I'll betcha you can find a whole load of good and still engaging to the typical light aficionado concepts floating around on these platters. Too bad it took me almost forty years to hear 'em, but better now that I'm a less picky old turdburger than then when I was a starry eyed fanabla who probably woulda thought that Karlheinz Stockhausen's farts were legitimate forms of gastricular expression that Deutsche Grammophone better release just as fast as Stockhausen released his!
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Various Artists-RADIO CRAMPS---"THE PURPLE KNIF SHOW" CD-r burn (originally on Skydog Records, France)

Yeah you heard it all before, but you didn't hear it via a radio show hosted by Lux Interior doing a fairly good Mad Daddy impression! Great tracks, great announcing (even though I think he woulda been tossed outta Bus Eubanks' class) and if you gotta hear these tracks what better way'n to hear 'em in a gathering such as this! Two beefs...first is that the Swamp Rats' version of  "Louie Louie" is shallwesay "truncated" inna middle plus the entire Troggs Miller Beer commercial is nowhere to be found even if Mr. Interior did back-announce it! Sheesh Paul, you doin' this tryin' t' be funny 'r sumpthin'??? (Don' worry...I finally heard the ad on Youtube and of course it's a great tune done up by a band who could be both commercial and underground at the same time!)
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Perry Leopold-EXPERIMENTS IN METAPHYSICS CD-r burn (originally on Gear Fab, or Guess if you wanna go back to the original version, or Guerssen if you want a vinyl copy, Records)

Do I have to apologize if I think this 'un's nothing but a sappy introspective and downright precocious bit of early-seventies singer/songwriter folkpuke even if alla the hip names out there seem to like it? Couldn't wait to rip this acoustic neo-outsider offering off the laser launch pad what with Leopold's soft and whispering through the winds voice that could probably even knock James Taylor over (not that that ain't hard to do) with the acoustic guitar just plucking about in standard pacifist and patchouli fashion and...well, with a good portion of the so-called punks of the past showing their true peacenik colors these sorry days it's no wonder this has attained a cult following amongst the smart set. It only makes me wanna attend a FEMEN protest and yell things like "HUBBA HUBBA HUBBA" and "SHAKE THEM TITS" at a buncha gals who at that very moment will probably regret this particular form of free expression.
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MEN & VOLTS PLAY CAPTAIN BEEFHEART---A GIRAFFE IS LISTENING TO THE RADIO CD-r burn (originally on Feeding Tube Records---Forced Exposure has copies available here)

After the turdburger above it was sure time to CLEAR THE AIR. Which is what I did with this particular goodie done up by the infamous klunkalong group Men & Volts. Now I will admit that I thought some of the Volts's stuff was pretty snappy while other long-forgotten recordings just grated on me as if I were a hunka Romano cheese, but the idea of this band recording a Beefheart tribute album actually works! Well, it's sure a better idea'n those weak-kneed candyasses of the nineties paying "homage" to the Velvet Underground totally lacking the original's deep sense of dark nihilism. All your favorite Beefheartian moments worked up by the infamous M&V sounding just as good as the originals yet not irritating as if done solely for the sake of being self-consciously innovative, coy or cute. A must get 'n I dare you!
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Various Artists-SWINGIN' THE TRANSCRIPTIONS CD-r burn (originally on P-Vine Records, Japan)

Kinda surprised that I'm listening to this platter especially when I am NOT in whatcha'd call a forties jazzy/blues/pop mood. But these tracks taken from actual radio transcription discs do kinda bring back memories of early-seventies comic book collecting while Bus Eubanks would explain to us the whys and wherefores of the tracks we've just heard. In fact, this could have used some spoken introductions from Eubanks himself only he's been dead about thirty years. Appearances by many big names of the day (Ink Spots, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Mills Brothers...) are bound to make your typical centenagenarian wanna break out the zoot suit and not wash his hair ever again!
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Sonny Sharrock-LIVE IN BREMEN 10/29/1987 CD-r burn

Recorded right around the time Sharrock was starting to break out from the under-the-cultured jazz miasma into the BIG TIME, this German show's got hefty clarity and the virtuoso's guitar lines soaring in ways that seemed to herald a new lookout and vision amongst other corny descriptions. Hot play on themes old and new and the band backing him ain't duff either. I thought it was snat enough...now if only someone would find those early-eighties Material and solo gigs that took place at CBGB not to mention other under-the-underground hangouts long gone 'n boarded up.
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Various Artists-TIRED RED WINGS AND SAD YELLOW HANDS CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Here's yet another deep dive into the Bill Shute box (which is massive and keeps growing like the Dogpatch Ham) featuring all sortsa goodies that were only excelled by the fact that I was reading THE AESTHETICS OF ROCK while this 'un spun away. Yeah there are a coupla duds here but so what, because the hot stuff from the doo-woppers to the mid-sixties miracles (including Mr. Lucky and the Gamblers' "Take a Look at Me" which sounds better here than it did on BOULDERS) really make me wanna get up and pretend it's 1965 all over again! Even the less-drastic of the selections have a kick to 'em like Froggy Landers and the Cough Drops' "River Rock" not forgetting the Fox Chasers' "Yellow Hand" which is a nice Indian thumper right up their with Johnny Preston's "Running Bear". You even get a "Tequila" swipe from the "Scamps" entitled "Enchilada"! Not only that but the kiddie records were fun, especially that one that tells you how to bring up your cat right! Now if I get a cat I'll know what to do, other'n accidentally run over the thing while backing out of the driveway.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

DEE-VEE-DEE REVIEW! THE OUR GANG STORY---A HISTORY OF THE LITTLE RASCALS (Legend Films)

As a rule I hate documentaries, but when they ain't bein' preachy and trying to cram alien arguments into your beanie well----I gotta admit that I kinda like 'em. Of course only a very few of 'em make my own personal cut...f'rexample there was this pretty good documentary on Tex Avery that popped up back inna late eighties was good enough that it even had my dad cracking up, plus the Steve Allen-narrated Three Stooges 'un which used to run on PBS usually during pledge break time was boffo what with all of the expected public domain clips and ancient interviews not to mention the inclusion of various pseudo-rarities like the trailer for STOP, LOOK AND LAUGH which really dredged up a whole lotta memories I'll tell ya! That clip, if anything, reminds me of my 1974 Christmas break from school since channel 33 was airing the exact same trailer as a commercial all through the holiday season making any true fan of Stoogedom and general fun 'n jamz wanna watch the flicker if anything! The catch was that the dang thing was gonna be aired on their morning movie slot the exact same day school resumed, so like why the constant barrage of ads when none of the kids the film was aimed at were gonna be front and center to watch it?

THE OUR GANG STORY fits in more with the Three Stooges kinda documentary than it does with those uber-left soapboxers that I assume they still show on POV. That is, the thing is really fun to watch, informative, shows a whole lotta rarities that I haven't seen in ages and best of all IT SERVES TO REMIND YA OF JUST HOW MUCH FUN YOU HAD BACK WHEN YOU WERE A SUBURBAN SLOB TURDLER STUCK SMACK DAB IN FRONT OF YOUR TEE-VEE SET WATCHING THESE AND OTHER SHOWS THAT CONTINUE TO SPEAK TO YOUR SOUL LO THESE MANY YEARS LATER!!!!! I for one haven't forgotten the joys and thrills that such programming could bring and SPEAK to me and my mere existence, dunno about you.

And hey, this is everything that the longtime fan of the series would want in a Rascals documentary...I mean, the bastard's not only chock fulla stories and clips familiar or not galore, but it also gives us fairly accurate accounts regarding the major players of both the silent and talkie eras not to mention all of the black kids like Farina and Stymie who we always felt deep affection for even in those pre-civil rights days. Best of all we get to know about their real life existences not only while they were young 'n rascals but in their post-kid adult days and such, giving us updates and (most of all) that final curtain call for those talented young stars who made nonviable clumps of cells like myself want to join up with 'em and like pronto.

Of course that means yer gonna get a load of the obvious like that scene from IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE where Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer opens up the high school gym floor to reveal the swimming pool underneath but stuff more attuned to the BLOG TO COMM frame of derangement. I'm talkin' about things like that scene in the East Side Kids' SPOOKS RUN WILD where Sunshine Sammy as Scruno dusts about the portrait of a flesh and blood Bela Lugosi who utters that infamous "awwww---SHIT" which I guess got more'n a few kids out there wonderin' whether or not they heard right! It's stuff like that for which I live, and for that I dig these traipses back into a ranch house upbringing via a comedy series that was ancient history even then all the more.

You also get loads of oft-time neglected silent-era info and the dirt on the talkie and later-on post-Rascals MGM years as well, and best of all we even get a peek at those weird obscuro things that keep me coming back like early syndication opening clips and even some movie-theatre ad where Spanky's more or less endorsing some new bike that I doubt 99% of the people watching said ad could afford. There's even a clip of Roach and the Rascals meeting with Mussolini's son back when Benito was considered a Third Way kinda hero neither communist nor National Socialist, at least until he invaded Ethiopia and ruined everything.

But ill-fated dictators aside it's a good and easy watch, informative and memory jogging, even to the point where I could recall some sunny morning as a three-year-old watching Jackie Cooper push Wheezer and Petey down that steep road while they were hiding in a drainpipe thinking about how much fun that would be (taking the ride that is, not pushing the 'pipe!). And it sure brought back fine memories of a time in life where I didn't have to be bugged by anything more terrorizing than my cyst-er and everything from going to the supermarket to visiting the relatives was as big an adventure as anything those great moom pitcher kids were doin'. And believe you me, when I discovered that those comedies were made years earlier than I thought (after espying an outdoor scene with nothing but old cars---heck I thought those comedies were CONTEMPORARY!) I knew that my chances of being a Rascal were long gone. Oh well, in a few years I could always hope to be a castaway on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! ORDER TO ASSASSINATE STARRING HELMUT BERGER!


Atmosphere is essential in a crime film....you can forgive a number of flaws if you can feel and taste the atmosphere, and ORDER TO ASSASSINATE has atmosphere to burn. Released in Europe in 1974 and then issued in the US in 1975 under the name ORDER TO KILL (the VHS tape from which my DVD-R was copied has a cheesy video title of MISSION TO KILL...and the film is also known as HEAD OF THE SERPENT), ORDER TO ASSASSINATE was shot in the Dominican Republic, which gives it a fresh flavor and distinctive and atmospheric tropical locations. A number of Euro-crime films have used the general Caribbean area well, from VIOLENT CITY with Charles Bronson to MEAN TRICKS with Charles Napier (and let’s not forget some of the Terence Hill and/or Bud Spencer films which were shot in Florida or the islands).

In this one, Helmut Berger plays an American Army deserter who has become involved with a crime organization operating out of Santo Domingo (led by head mobster Kevin McCarthy! yes, of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS fame), and when he hesitates on a hit of a friend he’s ordered to do, he gets on McCarthy’s kill-list. At the same time, he’s being courted by US law enforcement heavy-hitter Jose Ferrer (I’m not sure what government agency he works for....as an FBI officer, he’d have no jurisdiction in the Dominican Republic--although he talks of “orders from the Embassy”--and he does not seem to be CIA as he’s more of a police sort than an intelligence sort, but hey....who asks questions like that for a film like this...settle back and enjoy the ride!), who is in this film A LOT and has the requisite gruff badass authority needed (and who dubs his own voice, fortunately, as does McCarthy).

Helmut Berger has always been a one-of-a-kind film presence. Rocketing to stardom in Luchino Visconti’s THE DAMNED, he pretty much cornered the market in the field of bored, jaded, debauched, formerly aristocratic characters who had fallen from grace. Think of him as a willowy, upper-class Austrian version of Joe Dallesandro or a more desperate and dissolute Fabio Testi who hasn’t eaten for a few weeks. He has a magnetic presence in anything he’s in, and his long career has shown him to be a very versatile actor and a man who still has the same magnetic presence in his 70’s that he had in his 20’s. A non-traditional documentary was made about him a few years ago--HELMUT BERGER, ACTOR--which I need to see, and which was labeled by John Waters as best film of the year. Here, he’s just right as the man without a country, and even without a clear identity. Dressed in the light colors you’d expect in a tropical area, with his shirt always unbuttoned 2/3 of the way down, he’s not so much a typical tough guy but a man who has checked out of conventional life-as-it-is-lived (and both the cops and criminals are playing on opposite sides in the same game, a game which Berger has drifted beyond) and has nothing left to lose. He’s quite convincing and charismatic as the anti-hero here.

With the usual Italian 70’s crime-funk-jazz soundtrack, a gritty look and feel to both the photography and the locations and sets, a plot where pretty much everyone winds up dead (oh, pardon me....spoiler!), and the gravitas brought to the film by such heavyweights as Jose Ferrer and Kevin McCarthy and Renato Rossi (aka Howard Ross, aka Red Ross), ORDER TO ASSASSINATE delivers the goods. I’m surprised to see it get mediocre or negative reviews among the few writeups found for it (mostly by Eurocrime completists). Let me put it this way, anyone who would get excited about the prospect of seeing Helmut Berger circa 1974 as an existential hit-man in an Italian crime film shot in the Dominican Republic with Jose Ferrer as a burned-out cop and Kevin McCarthy as a gleeful mob boss....and I would assume we could count many BTC readers in that category....will get EXACTLY what you’d want from this film. Since I have two hands, I’ll give it two thumbs up.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

I can't believe it---here I made it through the first week of 2018 and nothing even remotely catastrophic has happened to me or to any of my precious possessions for that matter! Not that I'd expect anything particularly evil (remember that word?) to happen considering how I try to remain holed up in my once-fart-encrusted bedroom throughout the winter months (spent the autumn doing a major chipping expedition...by the way, you need any fuel for your coal furnace?), but here it is the weekend and I am sad-to-say to the detriment of my enemies relatively safe and sound! And hey, I'm not even dreading the frigid months at all not only given the great music that has been heading my way these past few days/weeks/months/years but due to the fine reading material whether it be old fanzines, new fanzines, comic strip and book collections to keep me well occupied (actually, whatever flotsam might be found lying about). Bill's Christmas gifts are gonna be put to good use as the weeks roll on, what with the stack o' books he sent not forgetting an entire season of a radio classic that I really can't wait to pour myself into once the cold weather doldrums really start rampagin' my typically delicate system.
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IN CASE YOU WANNA KNOW, here's what I've been listening to this week, not counting various items up for review in this or future posts! Can-MONSTER MOVIE, Creme Soda-TRICKY ZINGERS, Amon Duul-PARADIESWARTS DUUL, Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band-CLEAR SPOT,  the Electric Eels-THEIR ORGANIC MAJESTY'S REQUEST, Dick Hyman and Mary Mayo-MOON GAS and Syd Barrett-BARRETT. Choice reading material-Sandy Robertson's WHITE STUFF fanzine (the issue with the Henry Miller article) not to mention a spot skip reading of R. Meltzer's THE AESTHETICS OF ROCK (emphasis on the footnotes just like Eddie Flowers does!) which is perhaps the way it was meant to be read.

Records (and reading) like this remind me of those great days of record prowling, collecting and absorbing, when records, fanzines and choice magazine articles (mostly from CREEM but elsewhere as well) seemed less like collections of random soundspurts and more like neo-sacred texts or keys to temporary joy in otherwise drab lifestyles. Sheesh, I think I better stop glomming THE TEXTS OF FESTIVAL before I really go over the deep end what with all this rock as a secret code and pathway to being your own deca-neointellectual spirited self just like those doofs you've worshiped from afar!
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Nice-a buncha-a records we gotta here this week, kid. Heapin' hunka thanks go to Bill Shute, Paul McGarry and P.D. Fadensonnen for the freebees, and of course-a me for-a workin' atta livin' to buy-a da rest!


Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention-BACON FAT CD (Keyhole Records, England)

Remember that dream I had about thumbing through a stack of Frank Zappa and/or Mothers albums that I had come across in the basement, looking upon loads of platters that sure seemed familiar but which in fact I never laid eyes upon before or since for that matter? Well, judging from the freaky cover seen on the left I wouldn't doubt one bit that BACON FAT was part of that stack, for this live platter (taken from an FM broadcast courtesy the CBC) is a definitely hotcha recording that I sure wish I had hold of during my teenbo days of record collecting had it only been flyin' aroun' back then!

It's taken from an all-cylinders on pump night where not only is the band playing good but Zappa's not in one of his arrogant moods where he makes the audience feel like a bunch of retardos. Rare numbers (even rare for the bootleg crowd!) and exemplary performances are in store, and the shebang even ends with a hot cover of "All Night Long" that makes Ruben and the Jets' version sound kinda feh! I'm sure glad Keyhole Records are releasing these rarities for the massholes amongst us, and if they can keep the high quality stuff up I'll be sure that 2018 will end up as one hot year for rock 'n roll, even if it is rock 'n roll of a decidedly vintage nature!
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Tony Williams Lifetime-LIVE @ UNGANO'S, NYC 6/28/70

There's a new and legit (I think) Lifetime album featuring a classic live set from '69 comin' out shortly, so this particular set should prime me up for that in nothing flat. Sound quality (if you care) is audience cassette level, but the performance is crazed enough for any true believe to admire. Song selection is grand, made up of pastiches from familiar Lifetime album tracks with new arrangements and other aural trinkets tossed in making for something that would be unique to even those in on the game for a good fortysome years.

Actually this gig presented a better-than-average sampler of everything that fusion jazz was supposed to be all about until the likes of Return to Forever (I heard their debut on Polydor was hokay...was it???) started gaining the attention of the bowtie and tux jazz aficionados out there in schmooozeland. Enjoy this now, because in a good ten years it was all gonna be Stanley Clarke!
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THE DICE CD-r burn (originally on Polygram Records)

Here's a mid-eighties rock group that didn't flop about like so many others during those decidedly anti-rock times. Toronto's Dice aren't anything to toss the cornflakes over, but they do have an early-seventies punk sort of rave about 'em that reminds me of all those great flea market finds I was afraid to spend fifty-cents over (money being a rare commodity those days). Not bad...reminds me of Mott the Hoople in parts so if you liked them who knows?
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Henry Mancini-ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK LP FROM ORSON WELLES' TOUCH OF EVIL CD-r burn (originally on Challenge Records)

Eh, it's a soundtrack album of which you can find for a dime a dozen in any stack o' platters to be found at an antiques shop near you. It's nothing that really perks my pubes so-to-speak but I gotta admit that it sure sounds more boffo 'n whatever it is I hear passing for incidental sounds on whatever tee-vee program I might be trapped into watching these days. Did I ever tell you that my uncle from Aliquippa Pee-YAY grew up and about with Henry Mancini way back when? From what my departed uncle had told us lumpen kids, Mancini was a real sissy boy who used to carry his violin around in a case just like those Mama's Boys you used to see in THE LITTLE RASCALS. Haw, and that guy made more money in one day than my uncle saw in his entire life!
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Fever Tree-ANOTHER TIME, ANOTHER PLACE CD-r burn (originally on Uni Records)

I must admit that I had earned some respect for Fever Tree after reading that they swiped their arrangement of "Hey Joe" from the Red Crayola (something which I probably mentioned in every other Fever Tree review of mine---why stop now?), but I was wary of just what the rest of their output sounded like! Judging from this platter not that bad really...yeah the slick big label production is in full force and what might have been straightforward late-period first generation psychedelic songs are testosteroned up, but I'll take these guys over the Jefferson Airplane any day. And hey, the Airplane never could work up the freaky quotient the way they could on a track like "Grand Candy Young Sweet" no matter how much Nick Tosches might doth protest! Best of all, this can get jazzy and classically tinged as all get-out, yet it doesn't make ya wanna puke even with the strains of "We Shall Overcome" opening the LP closer "Death is the Dancer". A nice surprise from a group that coulda made it bigger with a little push from the label, but then again what else is new?
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JOSHUA CD-r burn (originally on Rockadelic Records)

For being one of those early-seventies peace 'n love platters, JOSHUA ain't that bad. Yeah you have to sit through the group's whole 1971 pacifist ploy which looks even sillier now than it did then (all that comes to mind is this old political cartoon I remembered where some guy in a chicken suit is holding a protest sign that reads "WAR IS IMMORAL") but some of the track do rock out and contain good melodies that hold my attention. It's nothing that makes me feel great like most of the first psychedelic era offerings extant can (this is more or less second generation psychedelic petering out into BLESS THE BEASTS AND CHILDREN sensitivity) but it holds up if only slightly. And thank your lucky stars that they didn't have a horn section or else this woulda come off even worse'n Mom's Apple Pie!
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AFRTS CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

I'm still tryin' t' figure out the title of this one. Could it be a really simple "Jumble" of which the solution is "farts"??? Whatever it means, it just could be an obscure Cambodian term that loosely translates into "boy does this Cee-Dee make me wanna go to sleep!"

Actually the disque starts off fine if 'tard-y what with this radio quiz show entitled ARE YOU A GENIUS which I guess was broadcast to bolster the lower IQ'd World War II soldier's ego what with the rather simple questions that were being popped out to you the listener (though I shouldn't brag...I actually missed the one about how many pounds of milk goes into a pound of butter 'n the answer is "twenty-one" in case you're as doofus as me!).

INVITATION TO LEARNING is even more boring, a panel discussion group program dealing with philosophy the kind that Linus of PEANUTS fame used to watch when these things popped up on tee-vee. This kind of programming might have been good 'nuff for that egghead but please leave me outta it!

Closing it out are a buncha PSA and related made for the armed forces in Vietnam and with cornballus radio like this no wonder all those hopheads were deserting! The anti-drug ones sure had me nostalgic...for the days when all those hippies were droppin' like flies and I sure didn't feel sorry for 'em even though my teachers said we should because they're victims or something like that! I mean, if you gotta feel sorry for someone why not let it be for yourself!

Thursday, January 04, 2018

FUN-TIME MAGAZINE REVIEW! UGLY THINGS #46 (available via Forced Exposure)

I must say that I rang the old year out right with this particular piece of rock "journalism" pretty much in the same way I rang 1971 out reading the final installment of "The Kree/Skrull War" series in THE AVENGERS. In other words, this particular issue of UGLY THINGS really is gritty after all! It got me all hot and bothered with juices flowin' in the same manner as when I was a kid approaching the toy shop counter wond'rin which Matchbox car my fifty pennies were headed for, or thinking that maybe I could afford that copy of JAMMING WITH EDWARD that was being sold for $1.99 at the local department store. Or getting the latest catalog from Renaissance/Systematic/Bomp and being stymied by the vast array of not available in stores in the tri-county area kinda offerings that were made available for a bozo who wanted to be subhuman scum since all of the higher forms of life were waxing eloquent over Pat Benetar. It really is that crucial to me.

Hokay the Equals never were my favorite late-sixties rock 'n roll saviors even if "Baby Come Back" was a monster thudder, but the epic-length interview with singer Derv Gordon had be glued to my seat even more'n when my sweaty nude body would sit firmly upon a Naugahyde reclining chair during a heat wave. The Goldbriars history probably never would have popped up in this mag if it weren't for the Music Machine connection but somehow I was attracted to the thing like flies toward Dave Lang's body aroma. And frankly I wasn't that interested in either the Total Crudd or Simon Stokes pieces even with the Dictators and Spats connections firmly in place. But I read 'em and liked the pieces even if I don't know what the latter especially rated such a big story in a magazine that used to avoid the anti-second wave of psychedelic rock 'n roll with a feral passion, ifyaknowaddamean...

Here's WHAT got  rip-roarin' over this latest ish of UT...first off the unexpurgated interview with ultimo rock 'n roll legend Captain Beefheart done up by Greg Prevost, originally produced for the third issue of his long-gone and sorely missed fanzine FUTURE but presented en toto complete with gaffes and flubs galore (Greg didn't know about the animosity Van Vliet had for Wild Man Fischer that's for sure!) complete with rare photos and Greg's own personal background regarding that fateful night he approached the man.

Also hotcha was the piece on the tracks that were slated for but ultimately left off the holier-than-anything-you-could-pick-up-in-the-budget-racks NUGGETS compilation of first-era psychedelic and thud rock classics. True, a few of the rejects would have fit in snuggingly (Blue Cheer's "Summertime Blues" comes to mind) but others like Dr. Feelgood and the Interns' "Mr. Moonlight" (from 1962---you'd think that if Lenny Kaye were to stretch the time boundaries the way he stretched the term "psychedelic" the likes of the Kingsmen and Trashmen would have appeared!) and Pearls Before Swine's "Drop Out" seem rather odd. Really, if Kaye were to dip from the ESP font you'd think that "Frenzy" by the Fugs or something from the second Godz album woulda been a better representation of the spirit of rock 'n roll as that mad mid-sixties driving force. Even the Holy Modal Rounders woulda been swell though they were on Elektra so like maybe they, like Love, were disqualified on that count alone!

And the other articles on everything from the Balloon Farm to Dylan to Geoff K/Crozier were fine and reminiscent of that whole era (roughly 1964-1981---the latter twelve of those on a strictly under-the-counterculture level) also held my brain in blissful rockist check, not to mention the reviews galore (even if I don't think I'd part with any of the filthy lucre this time) and the better than anything you'll find in the "real life" mainstream press contributors. My faves this time were Bill Shute (for obvious reasons) and Tim Stegall who seems to be developing into one of the better fanzine-bred writers I've seen in ages. He sure put all of those a$$holes who used to razz him mercilessly in their place that's for sure, and I hope to read more of his scribings not only in these pages but elsewhere, wherever that may be!

So what UGLY THINGS #46 worth the time to purchase, pour through and digest? What the fanabla do ya think, pud?

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! THE AMAZING DR. G STARRING FRANCO AND CICCIO!



The Italian (actually, Sicilian) comedy duo of Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia were a huge presence in Europe in the 1960’s, churning out 10 films a year and doing parodies of various successful film genres of the day. They are best known to North American audiences, if they are known at all, for two films they made with American stars which were released in the US dubbed in English: PRIMITIVE LOVE with Jayne Mansfield, and WAR ITALIAN STYLE with Buster Keaton. They are often described as “two Jerry Lewises,” and there IS some truth in that, but it’s a bit more complex. Franco (the shorter and more manic one) is like Jerry Lewis after five energy drinks, but beyond that general shtick he also plays upon the Italian stereotypes of Sicilians and he is the one who usually initiates the duo’s interactions with others. He has a rubbery face and is a wild physical comedian, going well beyond Lewis or Lou Costello. Ciccio (the taller and less manic one) is to some extent filling the role of a Bud Abbott or an Oliver Hardy, in that he thinks he is the smart one of the pair and to some extent he bullies his partner, but when put under pressure he seems to be even more out-of-it than Franco.

I would not claim to be an expert on their dozens and dozens of films....I’ve seen probably 7 or 8 of them....but as with comedy teams from The Three Stooges to Abbott and Costello, you can pretty much put these guys into ANY setting and just let them do their thing....think of Bud and Lou on the high seas, in the army, in the West, in the Revolutionary War, you name it! THE AMAZING DR. G. is Franco & Ciccio’s parody of James Bond-style spy films (and they did more than one of those). Of course, many Eurospy films WERE parodies themselves, and many that weren’t outright parodies were played somewhat tongue-in-cheek, so the “plot” here is no more ridiculous than in the typical Eurospy film. It has a superb musical score by Piero Umiliani which has the wordless female vocalizing and the Latin trumpet solos one expects of the spy soundtrack but also supports the comedy well. And the cast is excellent--the great Spaniard Fernando Rey (see pic), best known to Americans for THE FRENCH CONNECTION, but one of the busiest and most versatile actors in Europe, plays the criminal mastermind GOLDGINGER; a young George Hilton (before his big spaghetti western fame) appears briefly as 007; the Peruvian strongman Dakar, well-known to sword and sandal film fans, plays Molok, a mostly-silent (except for the occasional grunt) enforcer character not unlike Harold “Odd Job” Sakata did; and Rosalba Neri graces the film with her presence.

If you’d like one detail from the film to give you a taste of what it’s like, Franco carries around a seductive female mannequin leg with a bit of sexy dress attached to its top, keeps it in a cello case, and uses it for hitch-hiking and to entrap others to stop and check it out. The film is played out on THAT level.
This was picked up by American International TV for one of its US television packages, dubbed in English and retitled as THE AMAZING DR. G. (the original title was DUE MAFIOSI CONTRO GOLDGINGER (see posters). Those who watch a number of 60s European dubbed films know the pool of voice actors who dub the majority of these films, and it’s enjoyable to hear voices you know from Italian westerns or sword and sandal films playing various spy parts and also doing exaggerated comedy.

Lowbrow comedy never really gets the praise it is due. The Bowery Boys or Larry The Cable Guy or Jim Varney will never get any industry awards. In a way, the Terence Hill and Bud Spencer duo films picked up the baton from Franco and Ciccio in Italian cinema, and carried it through the 70’s and 80’s , and other than here at BTC and among their legions of fans, you don’t see THEIR films getting much acclaim either. And the comedy of one culture does not often translate well into another culture which is not familiar with the regional and cultural subtleties which are being lampooned. However, for me the comedy of Franco and Ciccio does still entertain because their ridiculous personas and the extreme physical comedy transcends culture and foreign dubbing. If you like Jerry Lewis at his most extreme or Huntz Hall at his most wired (as he was in the films after Leo Gorcey left the Bowery Boys and was no longer there to keep him in check), then you’d probably also love this film. And if you are a Eurospy film fan on top of that, THE AMAZING DR. G. may well be a dream come true for you the way it is for me.