Thursday, March 15, 2018


Let me take a brief break from the comics and moom pitchers for at least this week just so's I can concentrate my mental synapses on this li'l beauty. Considering that I never was whatcha'd call a fan of fiction or books without pretty pictures to look at for that matter this post is indeed a rare occurrence and who knows, perhaps it is the seeds of a new, more dignified and intellectual BLOG TO COMM we can all look forward to and cherish as the years slug on. Y'know, a blog that is less concerned with the more "trivial" affairs of my personal music/art/funzies background, concentrating on the better, more pure aspects of humankind leading us all on that brave path towards a world where we can all frolic hand-in-hand while gazing in adoration at marble statues of Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Sheesh, I'm starting to make myself sick.

Well, this title doesn't lie for SCIENCE FICTION FOR PEOPLE WHO HATE SCIENCE FICTION sure is a good selection of short stories taken straight from those infamous and stack of ten for a dollar magazines of yore, all crammed into a nice and cheap (at least back then) paperback that you can polish off in a few days if you so wish. Not only that but all the big names inna game are here as well as a few I and perhaps you won't be familiar with but that's cool. After all, I look upon those lesser beings in the SF world as being the Seeds and Sonics to the Beatles and Stones of Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury and although they're all so cool and hip and all but sheesh, I gotta say that I ultimately prefer the Seeds and Sonics and like, maybe you will like the bubbling unders just as much as I do.

Some of this material may be familiar to you such as Clarke's "The Star", a piddling piece of thinly-disguised humanist angst that was later re-written for that new TWILIGHT ZONE series I tried to fool myself into liking oh so long ago. Bradbury fares much better with "A Sound of Thunder" which once again deals with how one insignificant act in the past (kinda/sorta discussed in last week's KID ETERNITY review) could upset the entire course of the future which makes me wonder if had someone say, not farted at a certain time a few thousand or so years back a domino effect of a much different variety resulting in a vastly alien to what we know destiny would have occurred. I mean, say if that fart had happened at a slightly different time who knows, maybe Dave Lang wouldn't have been born at all which would have set our civilization on a much healthier course!

Even the lesser-knowns here put out a few good 'un's including H.C. Gold's "The Man With English" dealing with sensory patch crossovers the kind that would become more common with the advent of LSD 025 a good ten-plus years after this saga was written. Edmond Hamilton's "What's It Like Out There?" relays the tale of a meteor-shocked astronaut returning from a Mars mission having seen and done a whole load of particularly hellish things that one could hardly call romantic. And believe it or don't but these tales hold up especially for a guy like me whose head is stuck in the pre-hippie era of fun and jamz, with only the William Shiras tale entitled "In Hiding" "lazing out" as Patrick Amory would so lovingly put it. Oh it starts out rather enticingly and all, but this tale of post-Atomic Age mutation just reeks of the whole X-Men-styled persecution hype that seemed to (and still does!) run rampant amongst our more "enlightened" brethren of a bleed-heart variety. If you'll only substitute "mutant" for whatever choice cause protected class warms the cockles of your heart you might get an idea of where this tale eventually ends up at. Maybe I'm making it sound worse than it really is (I mean, it ain't BAD as in horrific), but nowadays when I see my betters making excuses for the evil behavior of others who just happen to be "different" you know my bullshit detector's clicking way more than a Geiger Counter in Hiroshima ever could.

Actually the only reason I bought this book was because of the inclusion of Robert Heinlein's "The Year of the Jackpot" which is a tale that, although originally published in 1952, really seems to sum up the sicker than sick state of affairs that seems to be permeating Everywhere USA if not the world these sad 'n sorry days. The opening scene tells it a bus stop in downtown El Lay some gorgeous young gal all of a sudden starts taking her clothes off. She's straight down to beaver when a cop comes over and starts hassling her to get dressed while a transvestite couple (women dressed as man and vice versa) in turn start giving the cop a hard time at which point the gendarme gives up and hands that now raincoated femme over to a mid-aged statistician named Potiphar Breen. It seems that loony things like public nudity, transvestism and overall abnormal behavior are beginning to coalesce at a rather accelerating pace and the math-minded logarithmic-studying behavior-arc watching sunspot-counting Breen has come to the conclusion that all of this outlandishness will tally up into the biggest jackpot of all, mainly the ultimate cash-in-the-chips of all eternity that people have been predicting for ages but now seems so inevitable....

Now if I was a ten-year-old kid reading this you can bet I'd be hiding under the bed right now, but given all of the doomsday drivel that has been pushed at me ever since I was a mere tyke I can take it all in stride. But sheesh, seeing some of the weirdities that are going on as I type this out sometimes I just wonder...

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

COMIC BOOK REVIEW BY BILL SHUTE! DANGER #16 (Super Comics, 1964 available via Golden Age Reprints)

During my junior high/senior high years, I lived right behind the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, so as a 14 year old, I was able to earn pocket money there doing odd jobs such as working in horse stables, cleaning up after midget car races, putting up or taking down temporary fences, etc., but my first REAL job was as a 15 year old (you could work at age 15 in Colorado) at the Burger King on West Colfax, near the western edge of Lakewood and the unincorporated parts of the county. I lived a few miles west of there in Golden. My high school, Golden High School, had what was called a “modular schedule,” meaning it was like a college schedule, where you would take one class two days a week for ninety minutes, another class three days a week for fifty minutes, etc. The end result was that I had to attend high school only two and a half days a week, and I also actually got school credit for working at Burger King. Thus I was able to open the store myself (they did not serve breakfast back in those days….we opened at 10:30 a.m…so I would show up at about 7:30 a.m. to “open”) a few days a week and had a key and would handle the bread deliveries, etc., before the alcoholic manager (who was a great guy!) came in around 9.

The daytime crew consisted of a mix of people—high school students such as myself, along with people who’d dropped out of high school and worked full time to pay for their Firebird or Camaro, and some older people in their late 20’s or 30’s, who were re-entering the job market or who just preferred a low-stress, relatively easy job. Yes, it was demanding during rush hours, but it took no thought and you could do it in your sleep. Back then (this policy was changed decades ago, unfortunately), you could also get ANYTHING on the menu free if you worked at least a four-hour shift, and that would include a double-meat Whopper, large fries, a shake, etc. If you worked an eight-hour shift, you could get a full meal during your break and then a smaller sandwich later, so some of these folks, myself included, would have TWO meals a day at Burger King and really would not have to buy much food at home. Although I was probably the youngest person there, I found myself becoming friendly with and chatting with the older employees more than my fellow high school students. They were far more interesting and had far more life experience—I could actually learn something from them, and since some of the other teenagers kind of looked down on them for having to work at Burger King as an adult, they appreciated the fact that I appreciated them.

I especially remember two of the ladies who worked there….both probably in their early-to-mid 30’s…quite well. One was named Della, freckled and with dark red hair, and I hit it off with her immediately when within the first two days of my meeting her she casually dropped the name Bo Diddley in conversation. Turns out she must have owned a dozen Bo albums, and she was also a blues fan. Life is SO much more enjoyable when you are working alongside someone who knows who Billy Boy Arnold is, who knows what is meant by “an Elmore James riff,” and who can compare Roy Buchanan albums at length and quote the monologue from “The Messiah Will Come Again” (from Roy’s first Polydor album) from memory with just the right pauses and inflections. As I remember, she was also heavily into the films of Terence Hill and Bud Spencer. Not only had she seen each of the Trinity films multiple times, she’d also seen films they’d done separately, when they’d hit a local drive-in or show up on late night TV. I can’t tell you how much that impressed me! She had a great sense of humor about everything and was always the voice of calm and reason during a heavy lunch rush or when things started to fall apart. She had two children who were at elementary school while she worked lunches, and her husband had a good job as a master electrician or plumber or whatever, so she worked more to get out of the house than for the money.

The other lady I remember was named Diana. While Della worked in the kitchen alongside the rest of us guys, Diana worked the counter, so I never really got the chance to chat with her while working much, except when the store was empty in the early afternoon after lunch and before people got off work, and of course on our breaks. Because she was working the front counter and with customers, and also because she was the kind of person who paid attention to her appearance, she did wear make-up to work, did her hair, etc. She was a blonde and teased her hair out to make it thicker and fuller, and she had her hair in the style of what the female lead in a 1967 Elvis movie would have had. This being 1974-75, that was a bit out of date, but she worked it well. She also drove a lime-green 1968 Ford Mustang, which impressed me. As I remember, she had a soft Southern accent and might have been from Tennessee or some state along the Mason-Dixon line. She had the kind of generous legs and thighs you’d see in a Robert Crumb artwork and usually wore relatively sheer white stretch-pants with her Burger King uniform top. When she went out into the restaurant to take out the trash or stock the napkin-holder, the male customers surely noticed her.

I would often chat with her over lunch breaks, and because I was not someone who would ever potentially be hitting on her or wanting to date her, she was quite open with me. She was certainly a person of discretion, though, and a very classy individual, with the kind of inner resolve that comes from a poor background. She had a daughter in junior high, and she was supporting them solely through the Burger King job. She worked hard every day, sought extra hours when she could get them, and was really a pro. I admire people who take their job seriously and try to represent well the company that pays them. They shared a small apartment, and she actually slept on a fold-out bed in the living room, with her daughter getting the bedroom. She had a lot of life experience, and I learned a lot about dysfunctional families and divorce and child custody and that sort of thing from her. She’d also been a cocktail waitress at some sleazy lounge over on East Colfax, and that had been her job prior to Burger King. Sometimes I could tell that she wanted to be alone during her break—she was considered haughty by some of the employees, so they would avoid her—and of course some days we did not work at the same time, so on those days I’d often bring a comic book to read over my lunch break or my second break were I working a long shift. I also noticed that on some days she would sit with an older customer, maybe in his late 60s or early 70s. He would come during down-times when we weren’t crowded, so he could linger at the counter and chat with her. I also noticed that he would come around the time of her post-lunch break, so after he’d ordered his food and eaten it, she’d come out on break, and she’d allow him to come sit with her.

I’d be sitting across the dining room, also on my break, stuffing my face with my free double-meat and double-cheese Whopper, and reading some cheap comic book I got used for next to nothing. A comic book is a comic book—who cares if it’s new or three years old? I certainly did not. And making just over the minimum wage, I certainly did not want to waste much of that precious money on full-priced comics that I’d read once and then toss into a box in the basement, to be re-discovered five years later and re-read. Something like DANGER #16 was exactly what satisfied me then (as it does now, 40 years later)—a random assemblage of older comics from fly-by-night publishers, thrown together for the low-end of the comics market by Israel Waldman’s I.W. Comics/Super Comics, which we discussed last year in a few reviews here (I reviewed Danger #15 in the 6 December 2016 entry here at BTC). Super Comics was the comics equivalent of a budget label. Old product no one cared about was re-purposed to fill books to sell at cut-rate prices in multi-packs at low-end stores in poor neighborhoods or to be moved through the murky used-periodical marketplace. Before the internet and the amazing websites such as the Grand Comics Database, I had no idea what old comics were being foisted off upon me in something like DANGER. Yes, the stuff looked old, but publishers such as Charlton re-used old material too, so I didn’t really know or care as long as it wasn’t something I’d read within the last year. This particular issue has a mind-bending combination of failed super-heroes (Yankee Girl), funny animal stories, crime stories, and a group of patriotic adolescents who right wrongs against our nation called the “Young Americans,” another failed concept from the past which no doubt dated back to the post-World War II era.

Something as cheap and random as DANGER somehow was the perfect complement to my life as I would glance over at Diana and the older man and see her brushing her hand against him. At first, I thought it might have been her father or her uncle or something, but no uncle would look at his niece the way he did, and while I’ve hugged relatives before, I never did caress them, the way she did him.

I knew not to ask who he was, whenever we’d chat. I did notice, though, that on some occasions he’d slip her something in a small envelope or wrapped in a folded piece of paper, and on other occasions, she’d give him a small bag with something in it. They’d meet maybe once a week, and this went on for maybe six months. It clearly wasn’t a drug transaction.

Near the end of that period, during the down time after lunch and before dinner, I’d been called out one day to the dining room area to clean up after someone who’d vomited all over the floor (he or she should have known better than to order one of our YUMBOS, the microwaved ham-and-cheese sandwiches BK was pushing at that time), and I had to go right past the booth where the two of them were sitting. He did not see me coming as I approached from his rear, and when I got near the table I saw him slip her, inside a folded piece of paper, what must have been three or four twenty-dollar bills. She saw me observe this, established eye contact with me, and I moved on, looking forward and acting oblivious. I cleaned up the mess, washed up, and went back to work. That afternoon, after she finished her shift, she came back to the walk-in freezer, where I was pulling frozen meat to thaw for the dinner shift, and where she knew we’d be private, walked over to me, and said in a very straightforward and business-like manner, “he’s widowed…he’s lonely…no one is being hurt…I have a child to feed and clothe and house on this cheap-ass salary….it’s just like getting a tip.” She smiled, turned around, departed, and left me to my work in the walk-in.

Obviously, this was never mentioned again, and I really don’t know why she felt the need to inform me….because it actually raised more questions than it answered.

She eventually moved on to another job that paid more….in an insurance office, as I remember. We remained friendly at work, but I always kept away when she’d meet the older man. Some weeks after Diana left, I mentioned the older man to Della, in between her conversations about Bo Diddley or Bud Spencer or different lineups of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Evidently, Diana had told Della, woman to woman, what was going on, and then Della told me. The older man would tip Diana $20 or 30 to sit with him for 5 or 10 minutes and she’d touch his hand once or twice and rub her leg against his. Then once a month or so, she’d give him a pair or two of soiled panties in a bag, and he’d give her $60 or $70 for that. They never met outside of Burger King, and she never even told him her real last name.

One morning around that period, some strident Libertarian who waited at the same bus stop where I waited, pontificated about how “every area of your life, including your personal life, is a marketplace.” He was probably right.

No one was hurt. They both got what they wanted and needed. Like Super Comics product and like life, it was tacky, random, and temporarily satisfying as long as you didn’t think about it too much. And then you moved on.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Hey readers, do you really wanna know what the weather is like out here in the Tri-State area? Do you in any wayshapeform care about some unbeknownst to you detail from my life, or what I think about a certain person or my opinions on everything from tariffs to gun control? Of course you do, I mean why else would you wanna tune into this blog anyway other'n to live vicariously through my various beliefs and antics?

But I won't do any blabbing along those lines. Well, at least not this week because I'd rather get right to the matter at hand, mainly music. And goodness gracious if you can believe it I actually got to listen to a nice juicy hunk of good stuff this week as the following writeups will most certainly attest to, and not only do I have to thank myself for latching on to some of these items but I must the likes of Bill Shute and Paul McGarry for their various platters that swung by my way. I'd thank Bob Forward as well only I didn't get to any of his this time. Well not exactly...I will 'fess up to the fact that I did spin part of the Hy Maya effort but eh, I gotta admit that I didn't think that much of it because it was a tad too electronic bedroom music-y for my tastes! But, being the total coward so self-conscious and concerned with what other people think about me and my opinions kinda guy that I am, I will listen to and re-listen to it until I actually break down and LIKE the thang! I mean, what other way can I keep my standing as one of the few true blue thinking man's kinda geniuses there are left in the world today?
As far as my personal fave pre-beddy bye spins go, this week's snoozer-time award goes the platter that is really throwing my lobes for a loop just HASTA be the 13th Floor Elevators' HEADSTONE effort that came out on the International Artists/Charly label quite a few years back. In a field which has included some hefty "mind-expanding" (hee!) competition this 'un's the hands-down fave around these parts and for more'n OBVIOUS reasons if I do say so myself. I always need to get a good dose of the Elevators into my system when things are down and bloozey, and this particular package (containing the entire Contact Records sessions plus live rarities of varying sound quality) really does fill the bill when it comes to getting some much-needed psychedelic resensification around here. Sheesh, given just how great these tracks are I guess I better do some digging and try to unearth more Elevator rarities lest I meet up with the same fate that befell all of those people who wanted to see Roky Erickson and company nailed to the wall for their lysergic excursions ifyaknowaddamean. Or as the late Don Waller once so succinctly put it, "Reality is for people who can't face drugs"!!!
Some good news on the tee-vee front...the cable (yech...but what choice do I got?) "Insp" network is running the early hour-long GUNSMOKE episodes on Saturday nights which is at least one good reason to keep me off the streets and out of trouble! After being inundated with the later-on color episodes which really don't strike at the heart of the matter (the matter being high-energy intense television) these early-sixties GUNSMOKEs really do pack a whole lotta the classic tee-vee energy that seemed to seep away once the boffo earlier portion of that decade began to seep into a banality it took quite awhile to crawl out of. Caught a good one last week with none other than Uncle Joe/Billy himself Edgar Buchanan as a bank robber who saves the life of a young Matt Dillon then uses the favor a good two decades later to his own thievin' advantage.

Chester seems to have been AWOL by this time (perhaps Dennis Weaver was already getting reading for his KENTUCKY JONES fiasco?) but at least Burt Reynolds as Quint the half-Indian blacksmith adds a cool dimension to these what with half the cast wanting to see him hung because of his racial mix! Well at least Festus ain't around in these...never really could cozy up to his BO Plenty-inspired sidekick self nohow!
Like I said above, a good selection of booty here. Read 'em and weep---that you didn't think of getting hold of these spinners before I told you to!

The Trashmen-BIRD CALL---THE TWIN CITY STOMP OF THE TRASHMEN Four-CD box set (Sundazed Records)

If dreams ever came true this one would have to be one of the better ones in my life. Yes, the COMPLETE collected works of everything the Trashmen ever released (and not!) can now be obtained in a nice little package complete with the obligatory booklet and a whole lot more music than what most Trashmen poo-pooers ever thought the group had in 'em. Don't wanna rattle yer chains with a fifty-paragraph paen to these wondrous track like I tended to do during my less-restrained days, but let me just say that you all know the beauty of "Surfin' Bird" and just how much it not only signaled the end of 1958-1963 instro-garage madness but helped create the mid-sixties warp-rock style we still cherish even after a good half-century. Any self-respecting BLOG TO COMM fan BETTER have these in his collection lest he hurt my precious feelings. And it is all gutsy he-man rock 'n roll that doesn't let up one bit...let's just say that the Trashmen are not for TRANS-MEN and you better believe it!
MASI ASAKAWA CD (Honest John's Records, available via FORCED EXPOSURE)

Japanese torch singer type from the sixties (and after) whose vocalese ranges from jazzy to straight pop. Reminds me of something you'd hear in a foreign film, or perhaps even the Osaka Holiday Inn where a bunch of drunk German tourists call out for some of those old beer hall putsch singalongs since the Japanese are honorary Aryans after all. Mostly dreary but it does have a few snatches of brilliance like an imitation Coltrane ending to one song and an Indian drone thing which sounds even stranger with Japanese voices singing along. "Onna" is particularly haunting. If you get to hear these fine, but I don't know if it warrants buying an entire album.
Jean Jacques Perrey-PRELUDE AU SOMMEIL LP (Fantome Phonographique France, available via Forced Exposure)

I'm always on the lookout for these early "avant garde" composer types who might have been crushed under the thunder of the bigger names in the biz, and from what I can make out Perrey was one guy who probably got crushed a little more than many of his compatriots ever did. This '58 recording features him playing these sweet and emotion-packed tones on an Ondioline in an attempt to create music that was to help one slip into the arms of Morpheus as they used to say. Overall the sounds are relaxing with these gentle chord changes that result in a music that at one time sounds like a typical 1962 kid trying to play "Apache" on his toy chord organ and at others a soundtrack to an old silent movie horror film. Almost as ambient as that stock music they used for sound on the OLD MOVIES, THE GOLDEN ERA program that channel 25 used to run back in the mid-seventies. An interesting peek at the genesis of things that were to come (and come all over the place at that) once the late-sixties got into musical minimalist gear.
The Kinks-THE GREAT LOST KINKS ALBUM CD-r burn (originally on Neue Revue Records---a bootleg I believe)

For being one of those "older kid" groups that seemed so high falutin' and brainy when I was growin' up I find myself listening to the Kinks a whole lot more now than I did way back when Ray Davies was giving Mike Douglas a hard time on his famous afternoon tee-vee show of yore. Hot collection of very-early to last days of the Pye-era Kinks, and oddly enough this only features a fraction of that infamous Kinks tossout of the same title that was cluttering up the cut out bins of the mid-seventies. But still this has a whole lotta fun and charm to it as well as a few goodies I forgot about via other Kinks Kompendiums such as the beautifully bad taste "When I Turn Out The Living Room Light", a song that would have had Davies drawn and quartered had it only come out in today's over-sensitive and downright watch-what-you-say clime.
Various Artists-SYDE TRYPS SEVEN CD-r burn (originally on Tenth Planet Records)

Not exactly mid-sixties garage band---more or less late-sixties punk rock the kind that snuck its way onto the original NUGGETS thus upsetting all you PURISTS out there. All English and all psychedellically snat too given that these recordings by such acts as the Brain and Those Fadin' Colours never did get any real push and sank like a post-peanut butter turd in the toilet bowl of rock 'n roll. Kinda wish I knew more about these groups but I get the feeling that all these and more will be lionized and hosannaed to all heck in a hundred years while the mass of remaining rock 'n roll scholars will undoubtedly be muttering "Jimi Who???"

The Troggs-AU CD-r burn (originally on New Rose Records, France)

Sheesh, I wonder just how many of these albums of re-recorded hits and other rare faves were released by the Troggs throughout their career! This '89 effort was but one, and frankly I must tell you that it's a pretty wonderful affair. Sure the thing opens up with a cover of the Bacharach/David number "There's Always Something There to Remind Me" (which became a nausea-inducing hit thanks to Naked Eyes back in the eighties) but then again, as Bill Shute might say, Reg Presley could sing the phone book and make it sound great! The new tracks like "The Disco Kid Versus Sid Chicane" rank as top-notch Troggers while the synthed-up re-dos are pretty snazzy even if they (expectedly) don't quite measure up to the originals. These guys never let you down, so don't do the same and pick this 'un up wherever you can find it!
The Creation-PSYCHEDELIC ROSE CD-r burn (originally on Cherry Red Records, England)

Awwww sheesh, why did the Creation reunion have to be this sappy? These tracks, originally recorded for ELO's Jet Records, contain all of the worst (as if there were any good) elements of eighties pop with none of the original Creation flash and verve to be found even on the remake of their claim to fame "Making Time". A total disappointment from a group I thought would have been able to transcend the sick trappings of the eighties and flash us all back to those biff bang pow times that a few of us sure missed in our moderne day music, Unfortunately I was wrong again...sheeesh!
Various Artists-ON THE BUMMER SIDE OF THE STREET CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

These disque do serve a special purpose in my life and I just ain't talkin' 'bout hearin' new to mine ears music'r anything like that either! These Bill burns usually transport me back to those good ol' turdler and/or suburban slob days just like a trip to the flea market in the seventies or eighties could, or better yet a trip down to my aunt's basement when I was a kid when I would snoop around and, after noticing that a whole buncha glassware was wrapped in mid-fifties vintage newspaper, unwrap the papers if only to read those classic old comic strips. And I actually saved one of the wrinkled papers which, years later, ended up as clip art in some of those later BLACK TO COMMs that I hope you need to fill up your collection because I NEED TO SELL 'EM!!!!!

Anyway, this is a nice oleo of various clutter that hits me sorta as if my entire life was flashing before my eyes but it was only the good, goof off kid stuff that I got to see. Of course Bill had to start off with a downer garage band thingie done up by some guys who probably thought that the guitars and drums were the key to getting good gash but discovered otherwise. I did enjoy Ron Thompson's jangly instrumental "Switchblade" and some of the r&b crankouts (especially John Patton's "Chitlins Con Carne" which is so strange I must give it some sorta BLOG TO COMM award for unintended mystical importance) while the Rod Keith "song poem" was enough to bring out at least a chuckle. Heck, the Death Killers' "Homer Simpson" was a great expression of post-turdler tee-vee trauma via rock 'n roll (no kiddin'!) and if the singer, guitarist and toy keyboard player are more than five-years-old I'll eat their Banana Wackies!

A surprise for sure Bill, but as far as Bernie Roberts w/ Blondie goes...well, were you thinkin' the same sorta Blondie that """"I"""" was? Guess not.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

COMIC BOOK REVIEW! KID ETERNITY #2, Summer 1946 (Quality Comics Group, available via Golden Age Reprints)

I remember seeing these Kid Eternity stories back when they were being reprinted in one of those early 25-cent "Bigger and Better" DC titles, at least until Marvel did their switcheroo to 20-cent regular-sized comic fare and National did likewise. However, since whatever title these sagas were appearing in wasn't one of my faves it was like I never bothered to read any of 'em. They just didn't seem like the kinda thing I'd wanna ruin my rods and cones over anyway, what with the hero being a boy whose costume was more or less a reg'lar shirt and trousers with a red sash with his sidekick being a fat bald guy in a tunic...just didn't jibe with my pre-teen sense of fun 'n jamz I'll tell ya!

And the kid's "power" of being able to recall any historical figure from the past by merely uttering the word "eternity"...I mean, I got enough history in school and if I wanted to read about Thomas Jefferson in the comics I woulda bought some sappy educational title to peruse, y'know? But hey I wanted some costumed hero action and the Kid just didn't seem to be my kinda grog as the hipsters used to say way back when.

Of course given the "open minded" and "fair towards all" devil-may-care attitudes that I've not only promoted in the blog but in the real deal world out there I'm willing to give this character another chance. After all, KID ETERNITY was originally published by the incredible Quality Comics line of different than usual heroes and if I could sink my mental clams into the likes of Plastic Man, the Spirit, Midnight and a slew of other different with a twist heroes then why not Kid Eternity? I'm older now, probably not wiser, but reading KID ETERNITY in the confines of my boudoir during the dank evening hours seems like a much better way to spend my free time rather than looking into the antics of anything DC or Marvel may be printing in that overwrought, overtextured and overdosing styles that pretty much ruined the entire concept of comics at least for a stickler to past accomplishment like myself.

Gotta say that I found this second issue pretty much fulfilling in that perfect gosh-honest way that it must have to the original owner of whatever copy Golden Age Reprints used to crank this one out. Kid Eternity comes off like the kind of kid hero who permeated the comic racks of the World War II era (the kind that few boys out there really wanted to identify with) but he's likable as is his "companion" Mr. Keeper, sorta like a nice version of Uncle Fester or better yet a good B-moom pitcher angel of some sort who could have been played by an Eric Blore or Alan Mowbray. Kid Eternity, for all his supernatural abilities, manages to come off human making errors in judgement yet not the psychological wreck that Stan Lee helped promulgate a good two decades later, and thankfully the camp of the sixties hadn't permeated entertainment yet or else KID ETERNITY might have become a title that would have been totally worthless as far as any true comic fun reading jamz went.

In the first story Kid Eternity tries to stop brothers who are warring over an inheritance by summoning up a number of Civil War notables worsening things in the process until the most obvious solution (which I won't reveal---this ain't the review section of an IMDB entry!) comes to mind. In the next one a girl who is not dead comes wafting into the heavens looking for her lost cat---turns out she is the kidnapped daughter being held for ransom and while we all think she is eventually going to do the ol' 86 routine she thankfully is saved from a painful end (oops, I revealed the ending to that 'un!). And in the final 'un a time-traveling mad scientist is attempting to change history first by trying to sabotage the landing of Columbus and then by ensuring a British victory at Lexington (although the appearance of Crispus Attucks called back to the living and getting some revenge in the process for being killed 'n all is likely to arouse suspicion especially sine this Attucks is WHITE!). Naturally it's all to no avail what with the keen insight of Kid Eternity calling on the right historical figure to settle the situation at hand with very little fuss or worry. Funny enough, but the theory of changing history through time travel reminds me of this story about the li'l kid in Sunday School who, while being told about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ cried out "BUT WHY DIDN'T SUPERMAN SAVE HIM???" I'm sure that's a yarn which the underground/alternative comic types have worked on throughout these past fiftysome years, or if they haven't they probably will more sooner than later (paging Al Kuhfeld).

There's also a SNAP SHOTZ story by Al Stahl here which I didn't bother to read because it looked a little too kiddie-ish and a HINKY DOOLEY by "Hib", the same guy who did that ARCHIE swipe entitled JONESY that also occasionally popped up in the SPIRIT SECTION newspaper supplement. Bill Shute might find these entertaining the same way he reads the obligatory two-page text filler, but I find them definitely skip over territory unless I'm really hard up for fresh comic doody. Who knows. the next time I drag this out I might even read the blasted thing.

I don't regret skipping over KID ETERNITY during my early comic buying days like you probably think I would have...these stories wouldn't have appealed to me back during my way-less-honed adolescent times that's for sure. But a good eon or so later I find it all rather settle back and relax yourself fun. Might be worth pitching in for a few more of these, unless there's one where the Kid decides to bring Tim Yohannon back from the afterlife which I guess would ruin the mood of the entire series come to think of it. 

Tuesday, March 06, 2018


Like a number of under-utilized and under-appreciated American stars of the 1950’s and early 1960’s, Ricardo Montalban found starring roles in European films (and also in Mexico) at a time when he was working primarily in television and in secondary film roles. He would become a household name here in North America later in life through his Chrysler commercials, his FANTASY ISLAND tv show, and his appearance in STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, but he was one of those actors who was always great in anything, and he could carry a film with his charisma even when the project itself was not great. Check out the 1950 police procedural MYSTERY STREET the next time it plays on TCM, where Montalban plays a small town police officer working with a Harvard professor (Bruce Bennett/Herman Brix) to use contemporary science to determine the identity of a skeleton found on the beach. The content is a little dry, you’d think, but with Montalban and Bennett taking charge, it becomes riveting and you care about the characters and their daily work.

The Italian producers of GORDON, THE BLACK PIRATE certainly understood Montalban’s star quality, athletic appeal, and basic charm—in the first scene, we see him bare-chested and in the midst of a swordfight, which he handles quite well (most of it done without a double), and throughout the film, whether sweaty and fighting, or dressed elegantly to impress the colonial officials on the island of San Salvador in the Bahamas, Montalban dominates and you can’t take your eyes off him. While his character is a pirate, technically, he is the hero here as he is fighting the slave trade (he had been taken into slavery earlier in his life), stopping slave vessels and eventually going to San Salvador, posing as a Cuban landowner who needs cheap labor, to find the person who is the hidden head of the slave trade….and that oily slimeball is played by none other than VINCENT PRICE!

Thankfully, both Montalban and Price dub their own voices (alas, Montalban did not dub his own voice in the English language version of another Italian film of his, DESERT WARRIOR), and it’s a joy to see and hear these two totally unique actors strut and chew the scenery. With the perfect mix of action, intrigue, and costumed adventure (and fancy dances and balls and the like), GORDON, THE BLACK PIRATE would have been great programming for a Saturday or Sunday matinee either at the local second-run theater or on TV, as a change of pace from the sword and sandal films often shown.

It was released theatrically in the US in 1963 as RAGE OF THE BUCCANEERS by Colorama Features, an early 60’s company which specialized in European action/adventure imports, but also released THE GIRL HUNTERS, the fascinating adaptation of the Mickey Spillane novel where Spillane himself plays Mike Hammer, and which was shot in the UK (with some New York exteriors) and has an odd look and feel but is haunting and highly recommended. The only other example I can think of where an author plays his own character, which is NOT an autobiographical character, would be author Richard Wright himself playing Bigger Thomas in the strange Argentinian-made version of NATIVE SON (and Wright was pushing 40 at the time, I think, so seeing him as a faux-teenager reminded me of the later Bowery Boys films). I do remember seeing RAGE listed once in TV Guide as showing on my local UHF station, but I don’t remember seeing it back in the day.

Director Mario Costa directed a number of other costumed historical and sword & sandal films between 1959 and 1964, working with such American actors as Gordon Scott (3 films, including the western BUFFALO BILL, HERO OF THE FAR WEST), John Drew Barrymore, and Tony Russell. He’s not mentioned very often as a distinctive stylist, but like many a working director of bread and butter action-adventure films, he knows how to handle action, how to make historical crowd scenes look larger than they really are when shooting on a low-budget set, and how to bring the best out of his leading men and women. The main drawback to the circulating print of this film—which comes from an old Australian videotape with cheesy new video credits at the beginning—is that it’s pan and scan. When Vincent Price first appears in the film, you hear his voice talking in a conversation but you don’t see him for about 20 seconds. You see another actor looking to his left, engaging in a conversation with the voice of Vincent Price and a face you can’t see, because Price is in that section of the widescreen frame that is cut off. Coincidentally, I remember that happening to another Mario Costa film (no fault of his, of course, since this cutting was done by the American distributor for TV prints), THE CENTURION, where John Drew Barrymore is outside the cut pan and scan frame, and you hear his distinctive voice but do not see him, and that happened many times in THE CENTURION since there were often discussions among THREE characters, Barrymore being the third. It got annoying after a while, to put it mildly. Here, though, that happens only once or twice. Still, considering the excellent footage on ships and in large historical sets, we are missing A LOT from the widescreen version being cut. I hope an uncut version surfaces in Europe (it may have and I don’t have access to it). Until then, GORDON, THE BLACK PIRATE is an exciting and enjoyable tale told in a colorful manner with bravura performances from its two great stars. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore, alas, and they don’t make actors like Montalban and Price either, so enjoy this kind of classic Italian swashbuckling entertainment whenever you get a chance.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Nice week we're havin' here, innit? Well, it could be a nicer week if it were only a li'l warmer around these parts but I can't complain. After all, I'm the kinda guy who sees a whole lotta beauty if ya can believe it in all kinds of atmospheric conditions whether they be overcast rainy summers or frigid winter morns just as much as I can warm 'n sunny days, if only because these kinda days remind me of FORMER kinda days when I was a kid and a rainy afternoon meant I could do nothin' but hang out in my room playin' with my Dinky or snuggled up in front of the tube wonderin' whether or not to go to the bathroom or watch a favorite television program. I even have the soiled underwear to tell you which path in personal decisions I eventually took which sure does dredge up those rather soaked up times when perhaps my judgement wasn't exactly the best.
I'm not as Citalopram-induced "up" as I was when I posted about my inner pride in being a true "star" (but not a wizard) two weeks back, but I'm still feeling quite chipper if I do say so myself. "Loopy" might be a better term, perhaps because the ONLY beddy-bye music I have been listening to these past fourteen or so days has been the Mahogany Brain WITH (JUNK-SAUCEPAN) WHEN (SPOON-TRIGGER) Cee-Dee which somehow fits into my own scatterbrained sense of being better than  most of the other recordings I have at hand. (Well, not really since the Brain's SMOOTH SLICK LIGHTS also has gotten some airplay around here as well as a few others I'll be reviewing for ya shortly.) These platters sure make for a great soundtrack to reading THE AESTHETICS OF ROCK too making me wonder how none other'n R. Meltzer himself would have handled these had they made their way into his mitts back when he was still a rock writer of some renown (but not much as far as the music editors of STONE were concerned!).

I've also been reading my collection of Patti Smith WHITE STUFF fanzines, the ones that future English Scottish rock scribe Sandy Robertson did up way back '77-'78 way when these kinda mags were a nifty way to get to the bared wire intensity of it all without having to wade through pages of REO Speedwagon drivel like ya hadda do when reading a "legit" newsstand mag. Awe inspiring to say the least. Yeah, I know I mentioned this 'un about a decade back when I got hold of a disque containing the entire zine run but sheesh, you just can't read a computer screen onna toidy or next to your bed late at night, and that's why I had the dang things printed on to paper the way God intended such things to be enjoyed.

After getting a load of some of the daft rock musings found on the web (and this blog is included in the list, or at least my contributions are!) it's sure great reading some smart and down to earth rock screeding (and written in the classic neo-gonzo style as created and nurtured by such demons as Lester Bangs, Nick Kent, Charles Shaar Murray, Patti herself etc. and so forth) done up not only about the lady but the acts of the past we like such as Lou, Kim, Iggy and the rest who were still producing a rather potent grey-room-breaking shock in our systems even during this late stage in the game. I'm talkin' the groups and people that surely mattered a whole lot to a load of us suburban slob kids who used to pose in front of our bedroom mirrors pretending we were at Max's Kansas City, and one page of Robertson or one of his cronies spewing forth about the likes of everyone from William Burroughs to Harry Crosby sure beats the entire ROLLING STONE HISTORY OF ROCK AS A BACKDROP TO HIPPIE EXCESS schpiel we've been fed for a longer time than anyone can imagine.

Oh yeah, I must also admit to another beddy bye fave this past week, mainly a disque of the Rocket From the Tombs demo broadcast on WMMS as it was aired without the sound quality up-grade (?) of the legitimate album and with almost all (about five or so seconds missing) of Peter Laughner's commentary just the way that I'm sure most lucky listeners heard the thing way back when. The gaps between the songs are annoying to say the least, but the power and energy is so pure and straightforward that it's amazing that something this good would even be considered broadcast-worthy at the time...a good decade later with the entire corporate rock world wallowing in the abyss of tired tropes and cheap mummery such an act wouldn't have even been considered holy enough to soil the sacred airwaves of 'MMS, but sheesh the mere thought of a rock 'n roll group of such QUALITY being publicized like this even during the day of "free form" radio boggles the mind. Remember that story Nick Kent once gave us about how Iggy Pop and Lou Reed, both outta work once the Stooges split and Reed departed the Velvets, were considering putting together a band but decided not to because it would just be too much for any stage to hold? Well, Rocket From The Tombs was just that group and at this point in time all I can ask is...for moremoreMORE!!!!! because we need it and like yesterday!
Here be the reviews which I think you can make your way through without any help from myself. Not as wondrous a batch as the previous ones were but fine enough at least with what's being promoted out there in the so-called "real" (hah!) world if I do say so myself. Yeah, the pickin's might seem rather skinny as the days role on but one thing I gotta get into my head and get into it soon is...1977 just ain't comin' back any day soon as like I gotta make with what I got so quit bein' such a spoiled crybaby, Chris! So let's stop snifflin' away and read...

Harmonia-DOCUMENTS-1975 CD (Groenland Records, Germany)

Yes, even more Harmonia recordings are up and about for our perusal years after the fact, and although these things ain't as crucial to my listening parameters as an unearthed goodie from one of my top ten spinners would be it's like eh, I ain't gonna ignore it. These guys did put out some rawther fast-paced, energy-driven music and better unreleased Harmonia than the sorta drek that has been tossed out as "rock music" these past fiftysome years which, had I never heard the life-reaffirming sounds of groups like Harmonia, would have turned me off of the entire "rock" concept faster than you can say Andy Secher!

"Tiki-Taka"'s a new version of the old Harmonia "chestnut" and if you liked that you'll like this re-arrangement that goes on a quite different tangent. Sounds close to the old Kraftwerk/Neu! "motorific" (hah!) style that was probably losing favor around the time this remake was being laid down.

"Live at Onkel P3 in Hamburg" is a perfect soundtrack to the overcast dusk I'm enjoying this Sunday PM. Here the trio are joined by Guru Guru leader Mani Neumaier on a live jaunt that has that great repeato-riff sound that hearkens back to that one rock 'n roll group I'm trying to stop name-dropping if only due to cranial weakness on my part. You know, the one that pretty much set the pace for every other hot chug in music that came out until at least 1979??? But it works swell as Rother strums electric guitar while Rodelius tinkles electric piano and Moebius scronks subdued on the synth. And Neumaier's playing is pure steady, keeping the beat with a few rolls here/there. This is one of those tracks I sure wish could go on forever but hey, the evening has only so many hours.

"Proto-Deluxe", an early version of the DELUXE track what with a return to the more "zuckerzeit" Harmonia sound with a pounding piano and soaring guitar lines. The kind of electronic whiz that attracted Eno to these guys and had Bowie swiping more than a few ideas for LOW (as if he really was as "original" as all those rock critics would have led us to believe). Some old Harmonia licks are tossed in and others abused. It works, at least as a template of things to come very soon.

"Live at Fabrik in Hamburg"---more with Neumaier and a track that a kinda chunky almost dance beat taken to its logical (?) extreme. It kinda drives and swerves back and forth like "Autobahn" on 45 packing a whole load of energy even with the not-so-cyborg use of synths. Kinda reminds me of the electronic music pop avant garde of the mid-seventies which, only a scant few years later, sounded like nothing but rinky dink.

Krautsters are sure to enjoy this rumble and even some of us more rock 'n roll-inclined types might (that I won't guarantee that!). Nice to see the archives being flushed out like this which only makes me hope that perhaps in the near future more 60s/70s artyfacts will be making their way to our ears thus staving off the inevitable plunge into total non-funzy disaster at least by a few months.
Battre Lyss-TILL DEN STRANG SOM BRAST AN ATT ALDRIG SPANNA EN BAGE (without the umlats and other accentuations) CD (Guerssen Records, Spain)

There's nothing here that really make me wanna jump for joy the way a good straight-ahead rock 'n roll platter does, To me this is mostly laid-back early-seventies bell bottom rock, the kinda music I would have imagined some ironed-haired cause-afflicted gal would listen to in the privacy of her boudoir while sniffling about the plight of Biafrans. Some elements of late-Beatles McCartney seem to seep in here and there while a whole load of budding FM strains can easily be discerned. Not the kind of exhumation that I particularly care that much for, but giving how I can't judge you readers one bit I'll bet a whole load of you will go hog wild for it.
Cathy Berberian-POP ART LP (Vinyl Ermitage Italy, available via Forced Exposure)

Surprisingly solid ('cept for the William Walton closers which still have a sorta charm) platter with Berberian singing Kurt Weill (and not making me sick), the Beatles and some freaked out avant things ("Stripsody" by herself and things from ex-hubby Luciano Berio) that will remind you of her classic work on "Fontana with Aria Mix" or whatever it was called. If you're the kinda kid who used to take an interest in the "new music" because of its relation to the budding rock as art movement of the late sixties, or you have that Steely Dan album which mentions her, you might take some initiative to seek out and give this rarity a spin.
The Monochrome Set-1979-1985: THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS 6-CD set (Tapete Records Germany, available via Forced Exposure)

I never did cozy up to these guys throughout their long career, although I did feign some interest at one time if only due to the group's interesting method of operation (art school sound and hijinx to be precise). Snatching up a few early Rough Trade singles and leaving it at that probably woulda been the best thing for me to do, for I find the grand bulk of the Monochrome Set's material (at least found on their first four albums plus two disques of single sides) rather thin sounding. Not that there aren't moments where they do plow straight into forms of smartpop that just do tingle the nerve endings like they should, but for the most part their music sounds like stripped down Roxy Music and Sparks records played around 39 rpm. Sorta the missing link between mid-seventies English glitzy pop revival and eighties thin-sound regurgitation (Culture Club, Dexy's Midnight Runners, Soft Cell...).
Don Dietrich/Ben Hall-LIVE AT MUG, DETROIT 12/31/2013 CD-r burn

Talk about ringing in the New Year! A total eruption set that shows that, if the avant garde of jazz wasn't already dead and buried, at least the dug up corpse re-ignited with electrodes sure comes off a whole load better'n whatever else is getting passed on as that once-vibrant slice of sonic spiritualism. Dietrich bellows on a tenor while Hall plays some of the best free splat heard in ages and to top it all off the two are doing it with this strange electronic drone wailing through the entire affair sounding like a buncha busted bagpipes that were found in the Royal Scots Fuselage trashcans still gasping for air. Absolutely mind-blowing to dig up an old cliche, and as you all know I JUST LOVE OLD CLICHES. But I love this total eruption attack even more and if you can locate a burn of it I know you will too.
Storm Bugs-A SAFE SUBSTITUTE CD-r burn (originally on Snatch Tapes, England)

Did I hear this one before? Sounds so familiar in its electronic screech and voice mangipulative way. Typically twisted very early eighties English experimentalism born and bred of the industrial revolution giving way to the vapid mechanical future we all thought we would be experiencing once 1990 rolled around. And come to think of it, weren't we right???
WHITE BOY AND THE AVERAGE RAT BAND CD-r burn (originally on Heaven and Hell Records)

Don't let the sweet strains of synth strings that open this 'un fool ya, this record is top notch heavy metal crank that (unlike the metal that inspired these guys and you'll know who they are once you listen!) doesn't let up one iota! Even the obligatory blues track drives you mad just like Iggy did on "I Need Somebody", and for a bunch of guys who were lifting from the established metallic munchers left and right they sure put out a platter that can actually drive one downright mad. Too bad the majority of HM fans eschewed this breed of blare for the kind of fluff that Anastasia Pantsios and the entire musical establishment deemed "proper" 'stead of the real thing or else the listening matter of the nineties might have been vastly different that it most certainly was.
Joe Houston-LIMBO CD-r burn (originally on Crown Records)

Not bad a-tall jazzy limbo/calypso music that sure made for fine backdrop to an afternoon of comic book reading. Various limbo-fashioned sounds done up in a nice r 'n b style that seep right into you like the best of this music does. And after all these years later I gotta say that LIMBO sure comes off as a better, more cohesive "concept album" (which it is) than THE SIX WIVES OF HENRY VIII ever did!
Various Artists-MALICIOUS BIRMINGHAM SLEEPWALK CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Here's another Bill burn with no hint of what's to be found within the aluminum layer on it, unless you count the title's obscure hints. Still a surprise what with the obvious song-poem, some Swede singing about his fat Olga in the days before the Polish got branded as the stupid ones, some weird neo-free jazz that sounds like imitation AACM howl and these really cheezy versions of pre-Beatles instrumentals done up on synthesizer. I kinda'd like to know who was responsible for that guitar noodling with brush drums in the foreground track. And those scratchy 78s that sound like the same track done up first in 1910 and then a good fifteen years later. AND that weird dirge that closes out the disque while yer at it.

Gotta say that I probably dig the old ads that Bill stuck on here more'n anything. You get Charlie McCarthy and Goodyear tires, not to mention the THIRD appearance on these Bill Burns of the infamous Choo-Choo Charlie "Good 'n Plenty" commercial! Bill must really like that 'un, or either hes' stuck on the famed candy coated licorice flavor. Your guess, but I always preferred Good 'n Minty!

Thursday, March 01, 2018

BOOK REVIEW! EMMY LOU by Marty Links (Scholastic Books, 1971)

Like that one pair of undershorts that you just can't get the skids outta no matter how hard you wash it, this book turns up every so often in my life.

I originally got EMMY LOU through the Scholastic Book Service which I would assume existed if solely to promote serious reading amongst us dolt-like suburban slob kids* back 1971 way. Naturally I bought this 'un if only on the basis of this character's appearance on the then up-and-running (and personal favorite) ARCHIE'S TV FUNNIES Saturday morning cartoon series just about the same nanosecond this book made its appearance into my existence. Those animated vignettes made the Emmy Lou character out to be a nice lovable sorta comic strip miss in a pre-hippoid love 'n games sorta way and like hey, being a comic saturated type at the time what better way for me to spend my depression-era wages than a funny book such as this.

And in a world where the "fairer" (hah!) s-x was doing its best to ugly itself up and alienate themselves from us guys who would be more than GLAD to fulfill their every lovey dovey whims in a few years, let's just say that a comic like EMMY LOU really did appeal to this prepubescent blubberfarm more than anything Trina Robbins woulda put out 'n I mean it!

Howevah when I got the thing a month or so later (they were sold outta the GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW paperback which I also ordered if you can believe that**!) I almost upchucked the greasy fish patty with fine bones innit they served up for lunch in the school cafeteria. This Emmy Lou character most certainly wasn't any flashback to the old timey comic strip fun and jamz that I sure craved in my entertainment, but a modern-kinda hippie gal who at times looked as if she could have been the president of the Melanie fan club with an un-wiped butt aroma to match! The art wasn't solid line fine but "feminine"-looking as well, and not only that but the gags were class-z unfunny in a way that predates the sad state of affairs seen in the funny pages these past thirtysome years.

If anything EMMY LOU was a poor imitation of that comic panel great PONYTAIL only the latter thankfully remained funny even when the dregs of modern suburban peace 'n crap hipsterdom gags expectedly crept in. In no way could I ever see that gal untie her namesake hairdo and don an afghan looking like someone who woulda been kicked outta Woodstock for looking too down to earth.

Needless to say this book was stuck inside my messy desk only to make it out in June when we hadda clean 'em out and skedaddle. From there it went into a box inna basement along with an old CRACKED magazine special (photo fumetti a la HELP! which only goes to show ya they weren't only stealing form MAD) and a buncha old RATS REAGAN, IMPY and FEEBLE FABLES cartoons I drew and immediately forgot about. From there it ended up in a box with other old comics collected in paperback forms which ended up in various parts of the abode for years until...

I happened to dig it out only recently and marveled that the book still looked rather pristine while loads of my MAD and PEANUTS paperbacks from the same pre-teen stratum look like death march survivors. There was a little yellowing on the inside cover which surprises me because hey, it wasn't like this book was seeing much sunlight during these past 45 years but otherwise the thing was in A-OK condition. And of course, for kicks (the same kinda kicks kids got sniffing glue and holding their breath until reaching an oxygen-deprived satori) I decided to look at the thing again and guess what....


Boy was that comic panel a dud. The art still looks so female-derived that it coulda been used for illustrations in SEVENTEEN at least until the sluttier side of gals was being boosted up, while the gags were watered down PONYTAIL boy hungry school hatin' jokes that are only hampered by the flitzy artwork. Overall this 'un seems more aimed at the early-seventies hippie chic wannabe gals you used to see rather'n a Saturday Afternoon Barber Shop kinda kid type that I sorta aspired to. No wonder I was so embarrassed upon receipt of this particular effort. Too bad that GL/GA book wasn't still in stock because hey, those mighta been socially relevant to all heck 'n all but at least they looked a whole lot gutzier'n this feminine flapdoodle!

* Of course the only ones we kids bought were more often than not entertainment-related mind candy---though my cousin did buy Mary Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN because he thought it was gonna be like a cool horror movie---and boy did his cysters ridicule him for that because like this book was definitely about his third grade reading level with words like "corpse" 'n all!

** Recently I've been considering buying the two paperbacks via ebay if only to add "closure" to this sad and sordid affair.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Had I been around in the 1940’s and early 1950’s and been of comic book-buying age, I surely would have spent many of my precious adolescent dimes at the local drug store comic-rack on various Hillman Periodicals products. Best known for FROGMAN and AIR FIGHTERS/AIRBOY, they also offered REAL CLUE CRIME STORIES, PIRATES COMICS, CRIME MUST STOP, DEADEYE WESTERN, and the comic book under review today, CRIME DETECTIVE COMICS (they also had a wide variety of magazines, and continued the magazine division after shuttering the comics side in 1953).

CRIME DETECTIVE COMICS had a good run, 32 issues from 1948 to 1953. I can’t speak for the entire series—I’ve read only this issue—but this entry is not at all a typical crime comic. Perhaps the other issues are. Certainly, the exploitative cover, with gangsters dropping off a corpse at the city dump, is typical for a violent crime comic. So is the statement on the cover, “This magazine is dedicated to the prevention of crime. We hope that within its pages the youth of America will learn to know crime for what it really is: a sad, black, dead-end roads of fools and tears,” which reminds me of those solemn, do-gooding messages you’d find at the beginning of a sleazy 1930’s exploitation film.

However, the image on the cover appears nowhere in any of the stories within (I guess it was too good NOT to use!), and surprisingly, hardly any of the stories are set in the usual crime environment. Every story except one is either set in the past or in another country….or both! The quality of the storytelling is high, and the art does a good job of representing the historical periods and the foreign settings, while being action-filled, and the clever plots build suspense as the criminals seem to be getting away with their schemes and scams, but one little slip-up sends everything falling down for them, and justice triumphs!

The first story, THE MAN FROM ANGEL COURT, is set in England in the time of Dickens….and indeed, the villain is lifted from Dickens, Fagin, of Oliver Twist fame. Charles Peace’s father is killed while working with circus animals, and the crowd cheers his death on, thinking it part of the act! Young Charles then goes on a vendetta against humanity, posing as different characters in different towns and using that front to case the area and pull of some big heist. Next is the only modern American story, THE CAN OPENERS, about two guys who meet in prison and use their prison education time and the prison library to educate themselves about metallurgy and the like and then train themselves to be safe-crackers, but with a radical new technique where they extract the lock and then replace it, rather than blowing the safe or cutting a big hole in its front. SOMETHING FOR THE LADIES is set in 1870’s New York and has a rather odd plot. A crook’s wife wants a fancy coat for some ball she’s attending, but he can’t afford one. So he steals a long police officer’s coat, she uses the material to create a unique creation that impresses everyone by looking police-ish, and then everyone is knocking cops on the head during their shifts and stealing their coats! And one of the criminal gang writes poems about what’s happening! Next is THE TORCH, set in 1920’s London, about a disgruntled insurance salesman who sees how much money could potentially be made through arson, particularly when the items burned are “faked” and replaced with cheap items which will pass as the originals. He gets away with this on a bigger and bigger scale until he gets SO successful, he brings in a partner….and the partner’s loose lips sink his ship for good. The final story, THE STOLEN SHIP, is set in Scotland (and then on the high seas), is very satisfying, and is like an entire B-movie crammed into 8 pages, with an aggressive pair of crooks who steal a ship, re-name it, use it in some scam, repaint it and rename it again, use that one in yet another scam elsewhere, etc. They essentially keep the original crew hostage (the first mate was easy to buy off and get on their side), but they slip up slightly in the creation of their false papers needed for the ship’s registry and the various cargoes, and they too are taken down. As is written at the top of the page at the start of every story, and on the front cover, in boldface, THE ONLY SURE THING ABOUT CRIME IS PUNISHMENT!

The late 40’s were a Golden Age of crime comic books, and you had to deliver the goods to stay in business. This issue of CRIME DETECTIVE COMICS manages to be a bit creative while still delivering those goods. I’ve been reading a few other Hillman comics recently, and I may review some of those here. You can read this issue…and the entire run of the magazine…for free at, and Golden Age Reprints also offers a handsome exact reproduction. Even copies in lousy condition of these Hillman comics go for big bucks nowadays, and you’re unlikely to stumble across them in your junk-store shopping, so the online public domain comics sites and re-printers are doing a great public service for those of us who still care.

Saturday, February 24, 2018


Allow me to get back into my blowhard-y writing mode at least this once---I mean, the people who put these mags out deserve some sort of recognition no matter how run on sentence-y and dripping with grammatical abortions this particular post may be.

But otherwise yes, it does look as if it's time for another dive into the boundless realms of rock 'n roll (and perhaps other musics for uncompromising gormandizers) fanzines, mainly because I don't have anything else to write about at during this point in time things being so stand still 'n all. Haven't been coming across the kind of fanzines I'd most certainly want to grace my ever-expanding (and hopefully soon shrinking, as those eighties rags I have just don't cut the same sorta cheese that the seventies ones did!) collection, no NIX ON PIX #1 or old issues of Nancy Foster's NEW AGE or GROOVE ASSOCIATES, but I've gotten a few rarities that do convey some of the rock as sheer noise as an artform that dare not say its name scribblings that made those earlier mags so enjoyable. And I even got some seventies-era ones to blab about as well so as they say bear with me...
s'funny, but I totally forgot that I already owned the one and only issue of THE RING$ FANZINE, a publication for, by and about the infamous punk rock aggregation led by none other than John "Twink" Alder himself! Self promotion is the only way to go, and boy did Twink and buddies do it up fine with this issue which, in typical crudzine fashion, is printed on one side only and made up of nothing but clippings and such (the only "real" article being an interview with Twink regarding Syd Barrett and their time in Stars!). Of course I love ever last bit of it xerox quality and all, and I don't care if I did double buy on this one because now I have TWO copies of it and you probably have none! And if you think I'm gonna share mine with you you're sadly mistaken because it's mine...all MINE!!!!!!!!
Here's another one I've had for quite some time but since I never did manage to write about it here goes. And it is an obscuro as well even though it looks as if they released more than a number of issues than you can count on your hand, especially if you're Jerry Garcia.

Along with the typical early-seventies English fanzine appreciations of the likes of Arthur Brown' Kingdom Come and West Coast Amerigana, FAST AND BULBOUS took time to praise the kind of music that really stimulated the stirrups of more'n a few bedroom bozos like myself who used to pretend to be cool and with it in front of the full-length mirror. A piece on "outre rock" mentions the likes of the Stooges and Black Oak Arkansas but concentrates on Alice Cooper in a piece that was more befitting a Charles Shaar Murray than it would a starry-eyed graduate of the Anastasia Pantsios School of Mindless Self-Indignant Emote. A Velvet Underground history of considerable length doesn't really tell us anything we haven't known for the past fifty years but its still nice finding out that someone in England remembered them during this particular period in time. A tad on the upcoming 200 MOTELS movie was pretty "nice" even if that moom was really hard to sit through, and even if the rest of this deals with stuff that was written about more often in other magazines it's still good enough to eyeball even if you couldn't care one which about Mighty Baby. I wonder if the people who put this out later ended up in some bizarro space rock punk extravaganza once the seventies clocked out (the lack of an indicia makes it difficult to know who exactly was behind this...though a "Mary Warner" did sign her name to the Velvets and Kingdom Come pieces so who knows...)...information is requested.
And while we're talking about fanzines put out by a specific group just for the purpose of them pumping their own pedal organ (see Rings above) let me clue you in to this one I never even knew existed! Yes, THE DROOGS actually had their own fanzine out way back '77 way, and I dunno how many of these did make their way into the fart-encrusted boudoirs of Amergan rockdom but at least this one did and we're all richer at least by one issue for it! It's not just a horn for the group to toot regarding themselves either, for there's a whole lot on eternal teen idol Sky Saxon in these pages to get any real punk rocker all fired up and that includes an update on Ken Barnes' BOMP history from a few years earlier as well as a Mark Shipper "Flashes" update on a mythical Saxon comeback that I kinda wish actually happened! Hey, there's even a pic of the elusive Shipper (pictured around here somewhere) which might be the only photo taken of the famed fanzine editor extant. I get the feeling that when the United States Postal Service gets around to issuing their "Famous Fanzine Editors" commemorative stamps its this snap that's gonna be the basis for Shipper's! I really do!!!
Getting back to the Olde English fanzines howzbout this particular oddity? Well, not exactly "oddity" but a different than usual fanzine to pop outta the Isles back during the overpunked atmosphere of the late seventies. I read a lotta good things regarding Steve Burgess via Gary Sperazza's various reviews of DARK STAR in the pages of BOMP! and how this guy was the only good thing about that particular joss stick 'n patchouli'd publication, so I thought that this particular offering with Burgess at the helm woulda been the bee's knees as we used to say back in college.

Well, SNIFFIN' FLOWERS (neet title, eh?, but not as good as SNIFFIN' ROCK) ain't exactly that breath of fresh air I was hoping it would be, but with interesting/insightful interviews with the likes of Daevid Allen and Steve Hackett (not exactly my choice of top guitarist but still an interesting 'un...he's a fan of Devo!) it's a better read than a whole lotta crudzines that have taken the rock 'n roll world by storm. If you're still living in Middle Earth this might suit you more than any of the other fanzines that get mentioned in these various fanzine history posts. Not for the wilder amongst us but still worthy of mention and hey, maybe even highly recommended. Bad points, no photos, some poetry/short stories and too much elven art and layout.
Let's sidestep to France, where the infamous ATEM fanzine came out and thrilled the more electronic-gizzed minds out there (at least those who could read French) for quite a few years. Here's the debut ish from '76 which looks snat enough, and even though it is all en Francais and the music championed by these monseiurs doesn't always appeal to my better sense of somethingorother I like it a whole dadburned lot!

I never heard Hatfield and the North but they're the cover stars here...maybe that ROTTER'S CLUB album of theirs is a Canterbury classic, but I'm not that anxious to find out. I could like in a Soft Machine sorta way but it ain't like I'm that anxious to find out. The article on Nick Drake looks rather tasty even though I never could find the appeal in his rather depressing and dogged music, while I am one who might like those early Richard Pinhas platters that some internet wags used to slap a "proto punk" tag on, but I fine Heldon rather tepid in comparison.

Whatever, ATEM sure had lotsa spunk even at this early stage in the game although I still can't snuggle up to the editors' eclectic tastes which include everyone from the brilliant (John Cale) to the bland (Eagles)!
Back to English fanzines---I must admit that the majority of rock-oriented ones from that particular island which I have come in contact with have been rather readable and well-written with material that I'm sure coulda passed muster at any of the British Weaklies with flying coloreds as Archie Bunker woulda said. Sure the subject matter might not always have been what I would all top BLOG TO COMM Grade-A stamp approved, but the writing is usually intelligent while being down to earth in that sage GOLDEN AGE OF ROCK SCRIBING WAY. Its too bad a whole load of these fanzine kiddies couldn't have been as rich and famous as Nick Kent, Mick Farren or even Jane Suck because hey, they had more'n a lot on the ball and it's too bad that by the time they entered the real life rock writing world all the bigtime shot-callers wanted was brainless hacks whose mere job was to take press releases and chop 'em so that the same message was made readable to the new generation of brain-numbed rock fans as consumers rather than Burroughians Wild Boys of yore...or something like that.

Dunno if COMMON KNOWLEDGE made it past ish #1 but even if it didn't it was a good enough start at a personalist, obsessive stab at the fanzine market that had a spirit to it that we sure needed more and more of as the years rolled on. With interesting and in-depth interviews with the likes of Mark "Alternative TV" Perry and Mayo Thompson (coming off even more intellectually compressed than usual) and articles on the Desperate Bicycles and how to make and sell your own personal recordings, COMMON KNOWLEDGE was a mag that stood out from the competition. It all goes to show you that with a little sweat, some scissors, paper, moolah and an idea anyone coulda been the new Jymn Parrett or Adny Shernoff, at least in their minds (which is probably the best place where we ALL can be!).
Hey, did I miss out on some eighties/nineties glitter rock revival that somehow wooshed right past my addled mind? Sheesh, I sure coulda used one back then because I'm sure a new back of glamsters prancing around woulda been a welcome relief from what was transpiring. GLITTER SPUK was a fanzine that hailed from none other than Hamilton, Ontario and not only that but its headquarters were stations on Locke Street. a road that should be familiar to Hamilton Ontario fanzine fans out there. SPUK was devoted to glam and glitter and nothing else, and they sure did their fair share of detailing just what was goin' on in the world of hair and lipstick at a time when we all thought that glitter was about as memorable as a fart at a formal dinner, as Charlotte Pressler once so eloquently put it.

I ain't familiar with any of the acts mentioned in these pages, but they all, from Lovemaker to Rebel Rebel to Plastic Tears, look like the kinda groups whose posters woulda lovingly adorned the bedroom walls of that 300 pound greasy blond haired sagged tits pimplefarm that everyone in high school avoided. He sure was a mentally deranged clump of not-so viable cells true, but then again if he had only survived his move to New York City and that job in the mail department at THE VILLAGE VOICE before succumbing to some offshoot disease caused by the BIG one he contracted in some private booth as the Rosita Flemburn Revue played in the main "dining" area then well...I'm sure his group woulda topped 'em all in the flashbashcrash department and don't you doubt it one second!

But the folks at SPUK do have their glam, and maybe even glands, on straight enough to have reviewed David Bowie's then latest entitled OUTSIDE (yeah, I don't remember it too). And the piece on T. Rex was a nice bit of fanblab that revealed nothing new but hey, they guy had been gone a good twennysome years by then and it sure is nice that he is remembered.
I really ain't that hot or cool for that matter on the very late-seventies English fanzines, but I just hadda get hold of this issue of THE STORY SO FAR not for the Mo-Dettes interview and flexi disc (the latter which did not show up in the mag!) or the Clash and Athletico Spizz entries but for the Dr. Mix and the Remix interview which naturally sent me for a loop! These guys just might have been THEE last gasp of the great 1964-1981 era of under-the-counterculture rock 'n roll groups and reading more about these French wonders really topped off what was already a rather stimulating week if I do say so myself.

And the rest of it ain't that bad at all what with the inclusion of the Barracudas (another good gulp of gasp!) and hey, even the Joy Division guys get mentioned in here even though they never did sound as good in 1985 as they did five years earlier.

'n yeah, not only did the Joy Division but most of the music reviewed in these pages sound trite once the eighties progressed on, but in the here and now even those old Clash records sound sprite-y next to the offal that has been tossed at us since. And as far as a document of the music and feeling and other stuff that made up the late-seventies era, THE STORY SO FAR sure makes for a nice like...time capsule or somethin'.
Last fanabla I mentioned OUTLET, an exemplary if hard-to-read xeroxed rag that was edited and mostly written by a guy with a mad passion for rock and roll sounds both old and new. I managed to pick up three more of these mags dating from the end of its run in the early-eighties and man they are what I would call rather good fanzines that really bask in that talking to you instead of at you kinda writing that has permeated the pro and fanzine (and internet) arenas for a much longer time than I can care to think of.

Of the issues I've recently latched onto...the Stiff Records discography might come in handy for those of us who like the early rumblings back when the likes of Nick Lowe, the Tyla Gang and Ian Dury were still part of the same punk rock continuum as the Stooges and Seeds. The latter days of the label (actually talking the Rachel Sweet era on) don't quite get me all as excited as the Radar and Rough Trade stuff that was coming out at the same time but after all these years maybe it did sound a little better than REO Speedwagon.
The cassette review special is a thick issue jam-packed with the new "cassette culture" and self-produced releases as well as a bit of fan blab on the Sonics and Dave Clark Five which I guess brings everything down to earth, at least for us punksters who liked a little history in our musical makeup. And the one with the Plastic People of the Universe on the cover (or actually the cover of one of their EUROCK releases on the cover) also contains a piece which reveals nothing new, but if I wanted nothing new presented to me I'd want it done by the guys at OUTLET and not some cheap crudzine wannabe that's for sure! (In addition, I must mention that the Monkees article was brilliant enough, giving us all a little more insight into an act most of the snobbier rock people of the day had written off from the moment the four made their grand appearance.)

The most surprising of the recent bunch is an issue from that dreaded year (at least for me) of 1983 which I assume must be the fanzine's last 'un if only because this one came out in the more standard English fanzine size and featured clearer printing even though it was one-sided. Still it had a nice sense of dignity to it, as if editor Trev Faull just knew that the era/aura that had presented to us those great groups and ideas in the mid-seventies were evolving into a monster that had nothing to do with the original intent. This issue almost has the feeling of those early OPs when it looked as if the spirit of undergroundism was still roarin' away yet only a few years later those indie records and tapes just weren't swingin' the way they once were. Neither was most any other form of music which is why my orders to New Music Distribution Services were becoming more jazz-oriented as time rolled on, but as some sort of tombstone to that sadly-missed era OUTLET's final issue couldn't have been better.
England must've sure been fanzine crazy back inna seventies. Not counting the slew of punk rock-related wares and the items that pop up on today's post but with regards to Sci-Fi, Horror and other general interest subject matters that may or not mean something to you. Too many worthy reads were lost in the confusion which is I guess one reason why this column exists. And as far as esoteric neo-rock hipster fanzines go LUDD'S MILL was a whole lot more than even a curmudgeon provocateur like myself could handle.

Originally a street-level anti-establishment raveup, LUDD's MILL evolved into a kinda/sorta poetry cum beat kultur cum music mag and considering their musical tastes you can tell they were on the same wavelength as most of us unwary types were and might even remain.

Number 15's the one with the photo of a young Genesis P. Breyer-Orridge taken from an old COUM Transmissions poster on the front cover and musings on the Doors' AMERICAN PRAYER and Patti/Verlaine along with other goodies regarding William Burroughs. The followup has a thingie from Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo that also appeared in CLE, musings on a trip to Lowell Mass. trying to re-trace the same steps Kerouac took, Tuli Kupferberg art and even more sf/fantasy writing! Loads of reviews not only of the new and under-the-counterculture variety but of various soundscapades regarding those into the poetry end of things but it ain't all beret and stale doritos lounging about here! It would be nice to read more of these and since I get the feeling that LUDD'S MILL ain't the kind of scarcity that many other fanzines in this genre most definitely are, more issues just might be heading my way one of these decades and don't let anyone fool you.
As you might be able to tell by the selections that have been reviewed so far, .IT'S SURE DIFFICULT TO GET HOLD OF MANY OF THE CLASSIC EARLY/MID-SEVENTIES ROCK 'N ROLL FANZINES THAT I SURE WOULD LOVE TO HAVE AND TO HOLD IN MY PAWS THIS LATE IN THE FUN AND JAMZ GAME! That's why I'm having to rely on fanzines of another sort when it comes to fulfilling my self-published droolings such as with this particular item which I bought for the mere cover alone. OZARK FANDOM's "2nd Punk Issue" sure seemed promising what with the choice mentions of the likes of Warren Oates and Eddie Haskell along with various other miscreants on the cover. Too bad the p-rock feeling didn't ooze into the actual mag what with the standard (and oft-times ho-hum) regular comics fanzine material found on the inside. Ronn Foss displays some of his nudie art that might have offended Fredric Wertham but doesn't even raise a smile in me while Bob Vojtko's "Moosie" is only mildly amusing like an early-sixties MAD filler. However I thought Mike Vosburg's Lovecraft rendition was good like those early-seventies Marvel stories were before they got too creepy after the Comics Code loosened up. Like many of these comic 'zines ya gotta take yer chances.
Way back when I wrote up a more current Sparks fanzine whose title escapes me at the moment, but danged that there wasn't yet another mag dedicated to them that was up and about way back in the seventies! And what makes SPARKS FLASHES so great is that the thing was done up before the Brothers Mael trekked on over to England to make it big as a faux-English act! Yes, back when Sparks were still wallowing around in the realm of rock clubs and minor FM radio play they actually had a fanzine devoted to 'em and of course it's wild in that early-seventies glam slam sorta way which is but one reason why I like it!

Kinda reminds me of a smaller issue of KICKS #1 or any early type-pecked out fanzine thing so common during those Golden Age of Rock Fundom days. Like many of these lower-budgeted affairs this was printed up on one-side only, but it's still gonna getcha the way these things should with all of that fan-like rave and track-by-track dissertations and quotes from various Sparks fans ranging from Sal Maida to Brian Sands! The usual clippings and such also fill out the pages and let's just say that if you were one of the few not to ditch your Sparks albums at some flea market in the early-eighties then well, you might just want to give this one a try if only to prove to yourself that you were RIGHT about these guys all along!
More comin'...and if you're an old timer who wants to either get rid of some old fanzines cluttering up your condo and/or would like a little retro-fame in the process, you know what to do!