Sunday, May 29, 2011

Someone Saved My Life Tonight/Iggy, Elton and the Gorilla Suit/"I Simply Can't Understand Why Iggy Isn't a Huge Star"

Some of the more interesting rock reads are those where there is on the surface an incongruity between the writer and the subject material. Oddly enough the results are usually as fascinating if not more so than the material. Case in point is Byron Coley's Motley Crue book I recently wrote about, as well as Bangs' Rod Stewart and Blondie books (interestingly, Bangs did not rate very highly Blondie's later records in much the same manner of his dislike of most of Rod the Mod's solo career). Thankfully Seymour Stein and Sire Records in the mid-70's sponsored a slew of rock bios and today we feature Greg Shaw's "Elton John: A Biography in Words and Music" - nice cover shot, no? In the 70's, if you wanted an lp that was the antithesis of Luciano Cilio's "Dell 'Univero Assente," look no further than Elton at his most bombastic.

I remember seeing at least 10 copies of this for peanuts years back at a shop and passing on it. So, back in LA earlier this year prior to the return to the NZ bush, the time was right as I had just finished the essential "Bomp 2: Born in the Garage" - (a public service by Suzy Shaw and Mike Stax if there ever was one). So, Michael Gira, thank you and Alice Bag for the inspiration to reinvestigate the John catalog. You are dead on that there is something in the austerity of those early records and Greg Shaw perfectly articulates that "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" is "a powerful, hard-rocking single in the style of Slade." I couldn't have put it better myself. Greg even proclaims the single "the party record of the year." Strangely enough, "Daniel" had been the previous single. The schizophrenic nature of those first 6-8 records all within a relatively short time period is fascinating and the volume of output obviously fueled by some serious substances. The singer-songwriter with strings v. the glam/pop hits. Can't really make up our minds. Do we thank Elton for inspiring some of the lesser junk shop glam cash ins? Not unlike people who hate the Doors/Jim Morrison but lavish praise on those undeniably inspired by that font of greatness. For some reason when I see the Creem greatest hit below, I am now reminded of Nick Kent's great anecdote about luckily being confused with Elton's guitar player.

Elton gets a lot of slams for the "persona," but who else knew both Nick Drake (and demoed Drake's and John and Linda Martyn's great early songs with Linda Thompson) and Iggy Stooge - and championed them both - in real time while both Drake and the Stooges were recording. The only other Drake/Iggy connection I can think of and which I have been writing about to post here soon, is Francoise Hardy, whose 1971 lp, "La Question," I usually rate in my top 10 records.

Last time I was at the Hollywood Bowl, it was checking out John Fogerty perform an awesome 4th of July show a couple years back - man, is his guitar playing underrated. However, there were not five pianos on stage nor Groucho, Elvis and Beatle impersonators. It would have livened it up. And Linda Lovelace was not the emcee. As Gira asks, where is the audacity of the performer today and why are they hiding under rocks. I quote: "creatures like him are what make the rest of us retreat and slink away into the murk of daily existence, cowering and furtive, only to emerge again when the light and sound and magic of an Elton John lures us, hypnotized, out of our dismal caves." NB: I always thought that "Philadelphia Freedom" was a bicentennial ode but in fact, Greg Shaw notes that it was a simultaneous tribute to Gamble & Huff - thus the Philly connection with strings - and his favorite tennis player Billie Jean King. Poor Booby Riggs. Not even Bowie on "Young Americans," ripping off the same sound, could pen him a tribute.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ask Henry Rollins "What's New for '82?"/Real Bands and Fake Bands/"People Are Going to Get Smarter"/"No More Robot Skaters"

From "lifestyle" magazine Action Now, January 1982. Same issue which features a review of "Damaged" and calls it "Damage"(sic) three times.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Found this one in the barn and figured it would look pretty great on a t-shirt. Ok, I'll admit it. I saw SWA countless times during the 1980's and in particular '85-'87 or so. Also saw To Damascas and the Sylvia Juncosa Band heaps of times. SST bbqs at the Anti-Club. Yep, I was there. All the mid to late 1980's SST stuff needs a real critical reappraisal. Fer example, Always August's "Black Pyramid"? The best dollar bin buy you will make this year. As to SWA, Dukowski is a fucking master. So too is Sylvia. At the time, all those hair metal mags were covering shite and published close by in Hollywood. Right there at the Anti-Club, Raji's etc., Sylvia was ON. Sorry you missed her live, but it ranked up there for pure brain fry with the early Equidimius show I caught at some high school on the westside. I haven't seen Sylvia this century but reports are that she is back. I hope she is still surfing as well . . .

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Claude Bessy Sings the Beatles

As a follow-up to the recent post on Claude Bessy, some additional pieces for Bessyologists are floating around the web.

The first Bessy clip is a sort of stop gap from the time window post-Masque and prior to Jimmie "Original Tap Dancing Kid" Spheeris little sister's "Decline of Western Civilization." From a 1980 Showtime program entitled “What’s Up America,” you get Claude briefly in his sartotial splendor. Not only that, but you also get a brief soundbite from R. Meltzer. Also on board are the Angry Samoans, Phranc, the Chiefs, Suburban Lawns and the Dickies among others. More non-Decline footage from Blackies as well as the OC's "Nu-Beams" (looking like the cover of the first Tin Huey 45).

Joe Carducci, author of arguably the best post-Meltzer book on rock music in the past 25 years, the essential "Rock and the Pop Narcotic" (Redoubt, 1st ed.; 2.13.61, 2nd ed.) (also known as the Bible in this household - ed.), has pointed out on the New Vulgate site that you can see the Claude Bessy/Paul Williams Hardy Boys appearances on youtube. For your ease, watch part of it below. Worth following all the parts with Paul Williams and Claude - the first clip has Claude as part of the band "Circus" singing "White Album" Beatles acapella in the back of a VW microbus (at around 3:30 and following):

Now, while someone has uploaded portions of the lifestyle show that captured the Weirdos live at the Masque in early 1978, what they haven’t uploaded is the portion where the leisure suited host interviews Claude off camera and where Claude rightly predicts - and is resigned to the fact that - the magic of the spectacle being flimed (incl. Bobby Pyn, Carla Maddog, Terry Graham and Wiedlin acting like swooning teenagers before the Denney's), i.e., the whole Hollywood, post-glam, somewhat older Masque scene would be over in six months. It took slightly longer for the jocks to glom on to Black Flag, but Claude was a pretty fucking astute observer and it was over soon enough. We cant hold it against the entire old-Hollywood guard for the the SST-booking ban in Hollywood can we? If someone puts that up, I can get those posted here. I may also periodically start posting some of Claude’s features and reviews from Slash for scholarship purposes and to start a dialogue on his work. Does anyone have any copies of Claude's 1973 reggae zine "Angeleno Dread" so that we can read that?

Now this one is pretty unpalatable given the various music that Claude himself championed just years earlier. That said, would Claude have gone to the epic SST "The Tour" that hit UCLA in the summer of '84? I am not so sure of that either. As Spira and Long's lyrics detailed, "Reagan's In," and by that time Claude bailed LA.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"Monsters of Metal"/"Sincere Apologies to All of the Women in the World"/Black Flag and the Crüe/"Rock 'half measures'"

Do Kim Salmon, Scott Miller and Ginn/Rollins/Dukowski know that they get a special dedication in one of the first tomes solely dedicated to Mötley Crüe? Straight from the barn archive, I present to you, "Monsters of Metal" from 1986 written under Byron Coley's nom de plume, Billy Dwight. Yes, the subject matter of this one is dodgy (the same year Byron published another book on Chuck Norris though under the Coley brand name - post on that one down the line).

Not quite sure how I missed it in real time, but it is one of the funnier music books of the 1980's even if it was a quick money maker. I found this one sometime in the 90's after I heard about it. Dig the ace 80's bubblepop design:

While living in Santa Cruz, Forced Exposure was really one of the main taproots into the various streams of '80s culture. Much entertainment was had by the reviews, and I believe that a letter was sent to the magazine by me asking if one Billy Dwight would be supplying more film reviews. Here is a "photo" of the Dwight family that ran in a 1987 Forced Exposure (G. Haynes cover). Did Byron swipe this photo from a copy of Ina May Gaskin's classic from the Farm? I'm too lazy to rifle through the copy of "Spiritual Midwifery" staring at me from the family bookshelf.

The influence Forced Exposure had among my peers for a few years there in the mid to late 80's - until publication ceased really - (along with Phuud/Black to Comm, Ugly Things and a couple others) was heavy. The 90's opened up the game a bit for others as I have written about previously. I guess I can say that Billy Dwight was responsible for sending me and my mates to see Derek Bailey record the live lp at LACE that came out later on Emanen based on a FE review. I think I now know the real reason for the lapse in time between issues of FE based on the extracurricular writing of books. Byron was responsible for a lot of lexicon that folks I know used (along with Thirsty a lot of funny spelling for words we knew).

Most likely the only Mötley Crüe book, or any book for that matter, with special thanks to Black Flag, the Scientists and a Game Theory record.

That this was done in 1986 no less should really lead to the re-write of that decades history. I mean, is this fact in that Azzerad book for crissakes?

Here is a single random excerpt - you need to know more about Mick Mars. Now, why did Byron not delve into the crossover back in Indiana between Mick Mars and the nascent Lazy Cowgirls?:

This is NOT Mick Mars:

To get back to chronological order, I bought Black Flag's "Damaged" the week it came out in December 1981. At the time, I was somewhat unsure of what to make of Rollins as "Jealous Again" (and the previous singles) had been my most played music that year apart from some cantorial practice tapes. While I don't play "Damaged" too often now, I still rate and respect it and am really more of a fan of their music that followed. You caught Gira's recent comment on hardcore, right? Yes, I still join the chorus of "RELEASE THE TWO-GUITAR '82 FLAG DEMOS! However, "Side 2" - as the original Pettibon "My War" t-shirt I wore much of 1984 and have now passed on to my son says - Side 2 of "My War" is still the era I where I come down push comes to shove. Sorry knuckleheads.

When I purchased "Damaged," I did not know that also in December 1981, Mötley Crüe released "Too Fast For Love" on their own Leathur Records. I finally heard the self-released version of "Too Fast For Love" in 1986 when living in Santa Cruz.

I was unwittingly forced to listen to "Too Fast" ad nauseum by collegiate pals enamoured by acts that Carducci has politely referred to as '"rock" half measures." Pop metal in other words. Mind you I diverge with Carducci in his rating of "half measures" such as Van Halen - VH's pop and DLR's tin pan alley instincts are in part of what make their first four records palatable to my ears. Eddie Van Halen is incapable of producing a statement anywhere near "The Process of Weeding Out" and why even try.

This one is in three parts from Anarchy TV! - 1985 fuckin' live. Heavy and unstoppable:

This Game Theory album from 1985 has a pretty great Big Star cover. They did not play "You Can't Have Me" when I saw them with Rubin Fiberglass in 1985. Is "Sister Lovers" from the D. Crosby lyric in "Triad"? Can someone clear that up for me.

A gratuitous Huskers drop here? You be the judge.