Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"The Psychic Starship that is Called Can"/O.D.'d On Life Itself 1977/Psychic Guerillas/Teenage Depression/Michael Karoli’s Cheekbones

There were a couple of ways to go with your Can fandom in 1970’s Britain. You could be like the Godfrey brothers, spectacularly harnessing the Can canon into something completely new. They fully assimilated and mutated “Full Moon on the Highway” off the underrated and essential avant-garage classic that is “Landed” like none of their contemporaries. That Epic Soundtracks could later record such heartbreaking solo tracks that wouldn't have sounded out of place on "Runt: The Ballad of Todd Rundgren" or a Brill Building compilation is just proof of how far reaching and omnivorous their musical consumption.

There was another path to follow if you liked Can. As a time capsule of the sensibility of a particular group of young persons circa 1977 (Oxford), you could do a lot worse than to examine the particulars of “OD” magazine. OD adheres to the three "H's": Hammill, Hillage and Harper (also known as "psychic guerillas" to the OD crew).

Remnants of a post-hippie but staunchly "progressive" mentality coming to grips with punk and dedicated to underground comics, krautrock and “freek festivals,” there is no real counterpart in the states. Here is what Steve Lake said in 1977: “The way I see it there are two versions of Anarchy in the UK 1977. There’s the Mark P. blueprint which consists of everybody producing magazines and posing in fashionable clubs while sipping expensive government drinks. And there’s the alternative view which says you go out and take your freedom . . . if a few weeks of alternative living in rural Britain’s cosmic countryside, dropping loads of acid and warming up around firey chillums, appeals to you – then any one, or several, of the following events could well be your ‘cup of tea.’” Uh, thanks Steve, but I think I would rather hang around and see the Heartbreakers with drinks than sit around "fiery chillums" with the great unwashed.

Stonehenge is listed as the June 18th-26th site and even better, at 1976's Meigan Fair in South Wales, Steve Hillage AND Nik Turner turned up to jam! Did I mention that this was written by a the same guy who helped found Crass-anarcho styled rockers Zounds! Who knew?

OD magazine decided in a stroke of Solomonic genius to print two covers to the same issue. On one side you get a “reet” cover of Irmin Schmidt. Flip the magazine over and you get the Eddie and Hot Rods cover. What is of interest here at Waitakere Walks, and the source of much amusement, is the shaggy dog story of the two Oxford free-festival minded heads trying to interview the uber-classy Irmin Schmidt of Can. The setting is the “Saw Delight” tour in 1977 after travelling to London from Oxford with some elaborate theory of the I-Ching to drop on the “psychic starship that is called Can.” The sophisticated continental style which cares more for the adoring blonde fans and "scoring" chocolate bars than the two loon pant clad interviewers is in such contrast to the “freedom” ethos of the zine that these two guys don’t gather that they don’t breathe the same air as the rock elite whose music they adore and take copious drugs to.

Here is "Saw Delight" era Can live:

We had to keep the gratuitous shot of Roy Harper who really deserves a future write-up.

Even though it is two years earlier, a track from what to me was the best avant-garage lp of 1975 - at least until I heard the Rob Jo Star Band lp recently. My guess is that OD rated "Landed" as too mersh and/or simple - their term is the backhanded "patent ordinariness." Fucking hippies:

I have no idea who these guys are but they may be on to something – dig the vocalists slippers. This will do until I can post Crawlspace with Ed Flowers and now joined by guitarist Grady Runyan tackling this classic in the way that only the 'space can do. Joe can tackle Rosko any day and Bobzilla is a modern day Jaki if there ever was one.

More antics from O.D. - almost Savage Pencil-esque in the photo booth hi-jinks.

What is a bit of a wake-up to the OD folks is that their other cover stars, Eddie and the Hot Rods, give them much the same treatment via the press office of Island Records: “5,000 people are phoning me up every day asking if they can speak to the Rods.” We do like "the Rods" in 2010 and find the lyrics to "Teenage Depression" a-ok despite the TV "clean" version and "Do Anything You Wanna Do" a great pop number as well. The Seger cover rocks as much as a Seger track can (and some clearly rock).

Here is Eddie and the Hot Rods. Come on guys – one of my favorite 70’s pop lyrics CHANGED: well im spending all my money and its going up my Nose!!!!

This front man ain't no Ricky Williams:


  1. This stuff is just too good to be forgotten.
    I've given you a nod and a link, from the TZ L&E

  2. Hey omdroparebop - thanks for the kind words and reading! The Jefferson Airplane write up will happen when time frees up. Just watched the Night at the Family Dog again and that is some SERIOUS playing by Jack Casady and Dryden. According to the Gleason book, Spencer Dryden actually saw Bird play and hung out quite a bit on Central Ave in LA during the heydey. That plus the fact he was related to Charlie Chaplin. WHOA!