SNAKE-EYED DROPOUT BOOGIE

Years from now or even minutes from now when someone, say a potential employer, does a search on my name in Google or whatever, there’s the distinct possibility that one of the results that will come back will be the one I’m typing presently on the CHILD MOLESTERS. Such is the Faustian bargain that one must strike with the Information Age. I’d like to make it known that I only endorse said band’s name for its potential, probably now past, to shock and confound the bourgeoisie – which I’m certain was its aim when these Los Angeles-based art cretins launched it on the world in the late 70s. Possibly by now you may already have a sense of the band; Forced Exposure magazine brought this punk-era combo new life in the late 80s with a slavishly adulatory series of articles, soon followed in the early 90s by reissues of their work both legitimate and illegitimate. I bought them all. Some aged better than others, but the one track that still slays me is this one from their posthumously released “The Legendary Brown Album” called “Snake-Eyed Donkey, Fish-Eyed Snake”. Chugging Beefheart worship drives this rambunctious bit of mouth-breathing, remedial, low-down dirty blues, and I get the heebie jeebies every time I play it. Likely recorded in the early 80s, as the band ceased production in 1982. This is some real late 20th century black snake moan, and I invite you to hear it or own it by clicking the link below.

Play or Download THE CHILD MOLESTERS – “Snake Eyed Donkey, Fish-Eyed Snake” (from 1994 LP/CD “The Legendary Brown Album”)

Ugh

Bill Maher was a much funnier man prior to his most recent HBO stand-up special, when he wore designer jeans and a t-shirt featuring a cartoon picture of a dragon smoking pot. Bill, you’re 51-years-old and rich. Buy a mirror.

Wow. I really don’t feel like making a post.

The funniest part of the Reno 911 movie? The previews.

I just won a Memphis Pros (our ABA team, ‘70 – ‘71) hat off of eBay.

The Sunshine Kid –My Linda

The Sunshine Kid –My Linda/Get Your Rocks Off Baby –RCA 2413 (1973 UK)

Post Apple single by Chris Hodge. My Linda has some real meaty power chords, a bit of funky Wah Wah and a strange Asiatic interlude, there’s a lot crammed in for sure. As for the subject of Chris’ desires…Perhaps this is why Chris was pushed or jumped ship from Apple???? The Beatle Oooohs are a nice touch in any case. Get Your Rocks Off Baby is a more straightforward boogie work out; again very strong in the guitar department.

Click on title for edits of My Linda and Get Your Rocks Off Baby

Simply Gary

 

On my latest scarred trek back
to The Most Musical Town in All of O Canada,

I fortunately found myself
right there in the studio audience
as none other than Simply Saucer
laid tracks towards
their first “new” album in, well,
thirty-some-odd years.

Even got
to appear in an up-coming documentary
on The Little Band That Could
to boot !

Much More News
to come,

so
Stay Completely Tuned,
lost groovers…..

Latest shopping trip…

Just got back from a few days gallivanting around Witchfinder General territory. I Managed to hit one record fair plus a few record shops in Norwich and a car boot sale in Banham (not far off the B 1113)! I came back with around 50 singles -No real amazing finds, but cool stuff including some choice Bugglegum: Nevada Sound with a cool version of Gimme (Gimme) Good Lovin’ on Pye, BubblesHazy Hazy Crazy Crazy (in Europe they edited out the Crazy Crazy from the title), several Demos on UK including Sloply Bellywell, Robin, Handful of Cheek, Ricky Wilde

A whole slew of Jam promos (SylvesterGimme Time, Bitter Suite -Six O’ Clock News, Walter MittyCaroline etc…).

Biggest disapointment: A 1973 single on RCA under the name Hammerhead…weak poppy reggae.

Best deal –The PassengersSomething About You for 25 pence!

As for the Sakkarin single above? It is in fact a demo copy of Sugar Sugar!

Back soon…

12. New York Dolls

Long story short, Paul Nelson, freshly promoted to A&R from publicity at Mercury Records, first witnesses the New York Dolls in 1972. “The Dolls were something special,” he would write later. He spends the rest of the year trying to convince his higher-ups to sign the band to its first record deal, but isn’t successful until March of the following year. In June of 1973, the Dolls record their first album. The rest is history.

“I knew they were going to have to be a big success or I would lose my job,” Paul remembered to Steven Ward in 1999, “and I did.” Whether or not the Dolls were indeed the reason for Paul’s exit from Mercury Records is explored in Everything Is an Afterthought. One thing that’s not debatable is his essential role in the group’s career.

Last evening, 34 years after the classic debut album, the New York Dolls played the Siren Festival in Coney Island. As I stood there, right up front, hearing some of those same songs that Paul first heard and in which he perceived greatness, it felt as if perhaps he were there, too. Looking up at the stage, nodding his head and smiling as David Johansen, still full of the energy that ultimately abandoned Paul, sang about having a “Personality Crisis”: “… you got it while it was hot/Now frustration and heartache is what you got.”

Almost one year ago over at Mere Words, I wrote about the Dolls’ third studio album, One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, and the fine documentary about the band’s original bassist, Arthur “Killer” Kane. That post, “Playing With Dolls,” is reprinted here along with some photos I took last night. Enjoy.

In the early Seventies, the New York Dolls were the reigning rock & roll band in New York City, the darlings of David Bowie and the avant-garde intelligentsia, Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith rolled into one, and America’s principal purveyors of such newfound concepts as deliberate musical primitivism and the punk rock of futuristic, haute-couture street children. A cult band, they were passionately loved or hated, and more than a few critics (myself included) saw in them this country’s best chance to develop a home-grown Rolling Stones. The Dolls were talented, and, more importantly, they had poisonality! Both of their albums made the charts, but a series of stormy misunderstandings among their record company, their management and themselves eventually extinguished the green light of hope, and the group disbanded… Like all good romantics, they had destroyed everything they touched. 
                                             
                                            Paul Nelson, Rolling Stone, May 18, 1978

The argument could be made that we have the Mormon Church to thank for One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, the first studio album in 32 years by the New York Dolls. It may not be a particularly good argument, but all the components are there for a not even half-baked conspiracy theory: 

As depicted in Greg Whiteley’s fine documentary New York Doll, original Dolls bassist Arthur “Killer” Kane, who, following an act of self-defenestration, had converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was working in the church’s Family History Center Library when he discovered that an almost 30-year dream, something he had prayed for again and again, was about to come true: the remaining Dolls (David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain) wanted to reunite. Not only are his Mormon coworkers and bishop supportive of their friend, whose life of drinking and drugs had gone out the window with him, they help fund the retrieval of his guitar from a local pawnshop so that he can start practicing for the reunion gig. Had they not and had Kane not rejoined the band, and had New York Doll never been made, you could argue that there would not have been the press and acclaim and subsequent momentum to get the Dolls back into the studio, back on the radio, back on TV, and back in the stores. 

If New York Doll isn’t the best piece of pro-LDS propaganda the Mormon Church has ever had at its behest, it’s at least some damn funny and insightful off-the-cuff filmmaking. (Has ever a movie come into being so accidentally?) The movie’s wacky elements and plot twists a faded, jealous rock star, his bitter wife, a quart of peppermint schnapps, a handy piece of cat furniture, an open kitchen window, and an unexpected demise tell a tale of decadence and redemption worthy of Raymond Chandler.

But in the midst of all this craziness there beats a heart, and it’s a sweet one. Such as when Kane, “the only living statue in rock & roll” and, in Johansen’s words, “the miracle of God’s creation,” leads the group in prayer before they take the stage for the first time in almost 30 years. Or earlier, back at the library, when Kane explains the responsibilities of being a rock & roll bassist to the two little old ladies with whom he works. Or when he confesses to his Mormon bishop his apprehensions about getting back together with Johansen (who, when he finally arrives in the studio, looks like a haggard Allison Janney). 

                      

Which brings us to the Dolls’ third album, One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, which arrived in stores on Tuesday and which, like Bettie Page adorned in leather, is hard and soft at the same time. Lots of ricocheting guitar lines and anthemic pounding housed within four Phil Spectorish walls of sound; middle-aged men acting tough, vamping and posturing while sounding melodic as all hell. A reminder of how rock & roll ought to be. How it used to be. 

Combining clever wordplay (“Evolution is so obsolete/Stomp your hands and clap your feet,” from the pro-simian/anti-creationist single, “Dance Like a Monkey”) and wordy cleverness (“Ain’t gonna anthropomorphize ya/Or perversely polymorphousize ya”), Johansen, whose vocalizing and songwriting have both aged magnificently, proves that, despite his Buster Poindexter detour, he remains one of rock’s savviest practitioners. He leads the Dolls through a variety of subjects and styles while spewing his trash poetry lyrics (“All light shines in darkness/Where else could it shine?”) with his heart on his sleeve and his tongue firmly in cheek often at the same time:

Yeah, I’ve been to the doctor
He said there ain’t much he could do
“You’ve got the human condition
Boy, I feel sorry for you”

Funny is one thing, smart is another; but funny and smart at the same time, that’s tough. Ask Woody Allen.

Listening to the new album, I couldn’t help but think of critic Paul Nelson, whose words opened this piece and who, back in the early Seventies, was the A&R guy who put his job with Mercury Records on the line when he signed the Dolls to their first record deal (“I knew they were going to have to be a big success or I would lose my job, and I did”). What would Nelson, whose body was found alone in his New York apartment earlier this month, have made of the Dolls’ new effort and return to the spotlight? And would he have seen anything of himself in the song “I Ain’t Got Nothing”?

This is not how the end should have come
Who could imagine this when I was young?
Where is everybody?
It’s not the way I wanted it to be

With One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, the New York Dolls pick up right where they left off over 30 years ago, as if no time at all has passed. Which begs the question (especially with all the dancing like a monkey going on): shouldn’t there have been some kind of evolution musically? If the Dolls remain just as smart and funny as before, and rock just as hard if just plain surviving isn’t enough  what have they gained? 

Wisdom perhaps?

We all should be so lucky.


Copyright 2007 by Kevin Avery. All rights reserved.

12. New York Dolls

Long story short, Paul Nelson, freshly promoted to A&R from publicity at Mercury Records, first witnesses the New York Dolls in 1972. “The Dolls were something special,” he would write later. He spends the rest of the year trying to convince his higher-ups to sign the band to its first record deal, but isn’t successful until March of the following year. In June of 1973, the Dolls record their first album. The rest is history.

“I knew they were going to have to be a big success or I would lose my job,” Paul remembered to Steven Ward in 1999, “and I did.” Whether or not the Dolls were indeed the reason for Paul’s exit from Mercury Records is explored in Everything Is an Afterthought. One thing that’s not debatable is his essential role in the group’s career.

Last evening, 34 years after the classic debut album, the New York Dolls played the Siren Festival in Coney Island. As I stood there, right up front, hearing some of those same songs that Paul first heard and in which he perceived greatness, it felt as if perhaps he were there, too. Looking up at the stage, nodding his head and smiling as David Johansen, still full of the energy that ultimately abandoned Paul, sang about having a “Personality Crisis”: “… you got it while it was hot/Now frustration and heartache is what you got.”

Almost one year ago over at Mere Words, I wrote about the Dolls’ third studio album, One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, and the fine documentary about the band’s original bassist, Arthur “Killer” Kane. That post, “Playing With Dolls,” is reprinted here along with some photos I took last night. Enjoy.

In the early Seventies, the New York Dolls were the reigning rock & roll band in New York City, the darlings of David Bowie and the avant-garde intelligentsia, Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith rolled into one, and America’s principal purveyors of such newfound concepts as deliberate musical primitivism and the punk rock of futuristic, haute-couture street children. A cult band, they were passionately loved or hated, and more than a few critics (myself included) saw in them this country’s best chance to develop a home-grown Rolling Stones. The Dolls were talented, and, more importantly, they had poisonality! Both of their albums made the charts, but a series of stormy misunderstandings among their record company, their management and themselves eventually extinguished the green light of hope, and the group disbanded… Like all good romantics, they had destroyed everything they touched. 
                                             
                                            Paul Nelson, Rolling Stone, May 18, 1978

The argument could be made that we have the Mormon Church to thank for One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, the first studio album in 32 years by the New York Dolls. It may not be a particularly good argument, but all the components are there for a not even half-baked conspiracy theory: 

As depicted in Greg Whiteley’s fine documentary New York Doll, original Dolls bassist Arthur “Killer” Kane, who, following an act of self-defenestration, had converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was working in the church’s Family History Center Library when he discovered that an almost 30-year dream, something he had prayed for again and again, was about to come true: the remaining Dolls (David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain) wanted to reunite. Not only are his Mormon coworkers and bishop supportive of their friend, whose life of drinking and drugs had gone out the window with him, they help fund the retrieval of his guitar from a local pawnshop so that he can start practicing for the reunion gig. Had they not and had Kane not rejoined the band, and had New York Doll never been made, you could argue that there would not have been the press and acclaim and subsequent momentum to get the Dolls back into the studio, back on the radio, back on TV, and back in the stores. 

If New York Doll isn’t the best piece of pro-LDS propaganda the Mormon Church has ever had at its behest, it’s at least some damn funny and insightful off-the-cuff filmmaking. (Has ever a movie come into being so accidentally?) The movie’s wacky elements and plot twists a faded, jealous rock star, his bitter wife, a quart of peppermint schnapps, a handy piece of cat furniture, an open kitchen window, and an unexpected demise tell a tale of decadence and redemption worthy of Raymond Chandler.

But in the midst of all this craziness there beats a heart, and it’s a sweet one. Such as when Kane, “the only living statue in rock & roll” and, in Johansen’s words, “the miracle of God’s creation,” leads the group in prayer before they take the stage for the first time in almost 30 years. Or earlier, back at the library, when Kane explains the responsibilities of being a rock & roll bassist to the two little old ladies with whom he works. Or when he confesses to his Mormon bishop his apprehensions about getting back together with Johansen (who, when he finally arrives in the studio, looks like a haggard Allison Janney). 

                      

Which brings us to the Dolls’ third album, One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, which arrived in stores on Tuesday and which, like Bettie Page adorned in leather, is hard and soft at the same time. Lots of ricocheting guitar lines and anthemic pounding housed within four Phil Spectorish walls of sound; middle-aged men acting tough, vamping and posturing while sounding melodic as all hell. A reminder of how rock & roll ought to be. How it used to be. 

Combining clever wordplay (“Evolution is so obsolete/Stomp your hands and clap your feet,” from the pro-simian/anti-creationist single, “Dance Like a Monkey”) and wordy cleverness (“Ain’t gonna anthropomorphize ya/Or perversely polymorphousize ya”), Johansen, whose vocalizing and songwriting have both aged magnificently, proves that, despite his Buster Poindexter detour, he remains one of rock’s savviest practitioners. He leads the Dolls through a variety of subjects and styles while spewing his trash poetry lyrics (“All light shines in darkness/Where else could it shine?”) with his heart on his sleeve and his tongue firmly in cheek often at the same time:

Yeah, I’ve been to the doctor
He said there ain’t much he could do
“You’ve got the human condition
Boy, I feel sorry for you”

Funny is one thing, smart is another; but funny and smart at the same time, that’s tough. Ask Woody Allen.

Listening to the new album, I couldn’t help but think of critic Paul Nelson, whose words opened this piece and who, back in the early Seventies, was the A&R guy who put his job with Mercury Records on the line when he signed the Dolls to their first record deal (“I knew they were going to have to be a big success or I would lose my job, and I did”). What would Nelson, whose body was found alone in his New York apartment earlier this month, have made of the Dolls’ new effort and return to the spotlight? And would he have seen anything of himself in the song “I Ain’t Got Nothing”?

This is not how the end should have come
Who could imagine this when I was young?
Where is everybody?
It’s not the way I wanted it to be

With One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, the New York Dolls pick up right where they left off over 30 years ago, as if no time at all has passed. Which begs the question (especially with all the dancing like a monkey going on): shouldn’t there have been some kind of evolution musically? If the Dolls remain just as smart and funny as before, and rock just as hard if just plain surviving isn’t enough  what have they gained? 

Wisdom perhaps?

We all should be so lucky.


Copyright 2007 by Kevin Avery. All rights reserved.

A Couple of E-Mails and a Photo

If you live in the U.S. and walk by newsstands regularly, you’ll have noticed that Rolling Stone is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. I haven’t seen any of the hoopla — although I hear their Summer of Love issue is pretty good — but I did get an e-mail a while back from a woman who’s organizing a reunion of the San Francisco staff.

Staffs, I should say; in the early days Rolling Stone went through employees pretty often. I should know. I was one of them.

For a little over six months, from sometime in March to sometime in October, 1970, I worked at Rolling Stone. It was a very exciting time to be there, because it was exactly in that period that the magazine took off, that it printed some of the first pieces that put it on the map, and, not so coincidentally, that the record industry, whose ads it needed to survive, decided it was worth supporting.

Under the leadership of the managing editor, John Burks, we learned on our feet, most of us. I sure did; I’d joined the staff, barely 21, by far the youngest, with virtually no idea how to do anything. The first thing Burks asked me to do was to start double-spacing my copy. “The typesetters go blind if you don’t,” he said. That’s right: we used hot type. In fact, for the first weeks I was there, we shared space with the print shop that typeset and printed the paper, at 746 Brannan Street. After that, we moved a few blocks to 625 Third Street, a brand new office building, where we had a whole floor.

That’s where we worked, where we printed the stories of Janis Joplin’s death, of Jimi Hendrix’ death, of the student protests that summer, and of Charlie Manson, stories that won the magazine an award from the Columbia Journalism Review. By the time it arrived, pretty much everyone who’d been involved in those stories had been fired. Me, too. I was cleaning out my desk as two women from the circulation department wheeled in a big birthday cake for the fourth anniversary party. “Are you still here?” one of them asked. “Why don’t you get out of here.” I got out.

That’s why I scratched my head when the woman organizing the reunion announced that there was a web page for it, because naturally I went right there and saw this photograph:

It’s labelled “Rolling Stone staffers circa March 1971 at The Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco.” Which is a hoot. Yes, it’s from March, 1971, but the one thing it couldn’t be is the staff of that particular magazine, because pretty much every person in that photo had been fired by October, 1970, when I left. There’s Jon Goodchild, British design wunderkind, on the far left; someone I vaguely remember but can’t name; Patty Hafferkamp, who’d been the receptionist; Burks in some weird floppy hat; Cindy Ehrlich, from the art department (although she often spelled Patty at reception) in her nurse’s getup; Robert Altman, the photographer who succeeded Baron Wolman as the Rolling Stone photo guy (and with whose permission this photo is used); John Morthland, fired just before me, the guy who brought the Hendrix story in despite being sent down a million blind alleys — and of course, despite not being in London; Michael Goodwin, the magazine’s film writer, but also a bon-vivant and folkie; a guy whose name I forget but who was an expert in direct-mail advertising; Hal Aigner (thanks, Mike!), who never had a thing to do with RS, but was a fine writer; Phil Freund, who’d been the business manager at Wolman’s Rags magazine, and Phil’s wife, whose name I’ve forgotten.

It’s a staff photo, all right (although I’m not sure why I’m not in it). It’s just the staff of Flash.

Flash was all too aptly named. It blew up and never happened. We had big plans, but they came to nothing. Just why is explained much better than I could in a column by another guy who’s not in the picture, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll, who was responsible for our cover story, and, indirectly, for nearly getting Groucho Marx busted by the Secret Service for calling for Nixon’s assassination. That made the front page of the New York Times, but, sadly, too late to save Flash. It revived Groucho’s career, though, so maybe Flash didn’t die in vain.

For a while, I was thinking of attending this staff reunion, although most of the folks I’d enjoy seeing again — Burks, Goodwin, Wolman, Carroll, Morthland, Altman — I can see any old time when I’m where they are, because we’re more or less in touch with each other. It’s also around the time that Village Music will be closing, and I’d really like to be around for that. But what really caused me to draw up short was when a follow-up e-mail disclosed that the events of the reunion will cost money — $295, plus a 3.5% processing fee.

And that brought me back to SXSW this spring, and all the writers walking around wondering where the work had gone, and saying “Thank heavens my wife has a job.” (It’ll cost $295 plus the fee for your wife, too). In a way, it made me sad; the planned events involve catering and space rental, and a lot of care has gone into planning them. But we’re also in an era where thousands of journalists are losing their jobs, where magazines are cutting back on space for writing because ads are disappearing. Maybe not many are as broke as I am, but most writers I know, even veterans — maybe especially veterans, perceived as being “too old” or something — are pretty broke these days.

This is going to continue. Things have been a bit better in England, a place where I have very few contacts, but the shadow is creeping up the wall there, too. This week I got an e-mail from a mailing list I seem to have gotten on for writers for two magazines I don’t write for there. The one I might write for doesn’t much like Americans, and I had my go-round with them years ago, so maybe that’s how I got on the list. Anyway, some excerpts from the e-mail may be of interest to those of you contemplating a career in this vanishing industry.

“Dear All

“And first the bad news. For the first time in six years we were unable to negotiate an increase in freelance writers’ pay rates this year.

“We had a couple of amiable and informative meetings with [management] as usual, but by the end of their budgeting process [they] explained they couldn’t offer anything – likewise no annual increase for the staff.

“The background is a steep decline in advertising – “migrated” to the web and TV – alongside corporate demands to maintain or exceed the 30 per cent net profit gold standard. Consequently, three staff editorial jobs have been lost at the same time as writing for the websites has been offloaded on to the magazine staff and editorial budget cut by a large chunk. Also you may have noticed a reduction in paper quality.”

And in case you think any freelancer gets rich writing for them, they posted the rates. (Quoted in pounds: double it for dollars, multiply by 1.5 for Euros).

“Features: minima 295/266; Reviews: short/standard review 43 (150 words); others, minimum 266 per thousand.”

Given that this magazine is owned by a huge conglomerate which, as Jon wryly noted in that column, doesn’t care about “good writing,” but, rather, in the bottom line, there’s even a question of whether, or how long, the magazine can be expected to keep up that 30% profit, and how quickly they’ll kill it once it sinks to below that. One way to keep it profitable is to do what they’ve just done: give the staff more work to do. Which means give less work to freelancers. And more staff burnouts, another feature of life at this particular magazine.

It’s a shame, but it’s the reality of the situation right now; the profession I somewhat accidentally entered 42 years ago this coming September is in steep decline. I happen to think there’ll be a correction at some point, because people will eventually discover that they don’t actually like spending their lives staring into screens, and that the elegance and resolution of a plain old piece of paper is, actually, the highest and best use of the medium of words. But we’ll have to struggle through the days to come first. And there will be fallout. I, for one, am trying to figure out another way of making a living. It’s not easy, after all this time, and to be honest I haven’t come up with a single answer. But then, I also don’t want to be the last rat off the ship.

Anyway, I probably won’t be making that reunion party. Not even to hear Ben Fong-Torres do karaoke. Hell, he used to sing around the office, and I still sometimes wake up in a cold sweat remembering that.

Thanks, Dave!

Colleague David Dunlap Jr. just turned me onto the Chingo Bling (and entourage) phenomenon. Giving further credence to the fact that the only important thing in Houston is Hip-Hop, this nuthatch deserves an audience. So as not to undermine Dunlap’s upcoming profile in The Washington City Paper, I’ll keep it short. Having invested a considerable amount of time and energy to Novelty Hip-Hop, I’m hooked for a few days. Just give the website a thorough run, and you’ll be hooked as well.

End your journey with the video by Chingo cohort, Coast (”Hennessey and Cheetos”). Scroll down to the player and browse the list. That sample? Nice, brazen lift.

 

 

 

Gisela Dreßler -48 Crash

Gisela Dreßler -48 Crash/ Can The Can –Amiga 455984 (1974 DDR)

Released in East Germany in ’74, Gisela delivers two admirable Suzy Quatro cover versions. Perhaps 48 Crash has the edge, but both performances are top draw and there is no lack of power within the grooves . Gisela (the perfect mix of Romy Schneider and Bobbie McGee?) shows no restraint in her delivery and the result is very convincing. I am unaware if there is a Lives Of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) subplot behind her story, but it’s great stuff to be enjoyed for what it is…

Click on title for edits of 48 Crash and Can The Can