Friday, January 27, 2006

Ancient Indian Bronze Statue of Baal or Hillbilly Geegaw?

While visitng my buddy John down in West Virginia coal country, he showed me this incredible statue he had which he got from a farmhouse in Martinsburg which was home to a bunch of occult worshipping hippies. This 10" statue appears to be of the Phoenicean or Canaanite god Baal, as it depicts the head of a bull on the body of a man. Exactly where and when this statue dates from is a mystery Im trying to unravel. The spiffy outfit is quite amazing, complete with another demonic image of a face with its tongue hanging out and cute, pointy boots!

In one hand there is an hatchet(or tomahawk if this is indeed a Native American artificact) and in the other, a pipe used for smoking. Its almost as if he's saying smoke with me or I 'll chop your head off, or maybe let's smoke and then I'll chop your head off. Or maybe, let's chop down that burning bush and then have a smoke!(and what was he smoking anyway??) I just dont know as this is a little out of my realm, but I wanted to post if and see if anyone could fill me in on this. Take note to the markings etched in the base. Is it an ancient language or just some scribbling?? The mystery beckons.

The god Baal was a fertitlity god associated with human sacrifice and other atrocities and there exists some evidence of Baal worship(or a similar deity) among the Native Americans and pre-colonial settlements though I would have to think this dates from more modern times. Nevertheless, its quite an unusual statue and it was given to my buddy by people who told him it was evil! It certainly looks demonic! Maybe I can use its magic power to achieve success for my record label without selling my soul in the process. Suffice to say there are many out there who sell their soul on a daily basis in the music biz, but not me. Id rather post crazy pics on my blog and see what kind of response I get! Its called the fast track! Its fast alright but I cant tell you which way Im heading. I dont quite know what to make of this odd relic, but I'm sure it could kick any Shogun Warrior's ass!

Monday, January 23, 2006

PA Rocks the 60s! Sounds From the Woods Documents the Scene!

Sounds From the Woods is a fascinating look at the 100s of bands that Pennsylvania spawned in the wake of the British Invasion. Anyone who is a serious collector of this period knows that both the quantity and quality of records from PA during the 60s was very high. Once all but unkown, records by the Centurys, Shaynes,Magic Mushrooms, Flowerz, Loose Enz, Swamp Rats, Ognir and the Nite People, the Mystic Five et al are now heavily comped and highly sought after by collectors worldwide. Mike Kuzmin, himself a fan and collector of this era, has made a valiant attempt at the mammoth undertaking of compiling a discography of the mid 60s PA bands, focusing mainly on releases by small labels such as Kingston, Barclay, DB, Process and so on, while still including a surprising amount of major label releases and charted bands as well. The end result is a fine book that crams a ton of useful info with some classic photos and concert ads into its 165 pages. Check out the cool pic of Ognir and the Nite People whose great I Found a New Love 45 is just one of many stellar PA 45s found in this book. Also check out the cool pic of the Darts in capes which shows they must have spent more on than outfits than they did for their recording! However, all the Process 45s I ever heard must have had the same budget and engineer cause they all sound like one big racket!

For a collector or simply a fan of 60s music, this book is a treasure trove of info packed with some amusing anecdotes and a ton of rare photos. Due to the size of the undertaking, the scope of the book is limited to rock and roll mainly, with the occasional soul and pop release mixed in. The book sticks mostly to the years specified though again there is an occasional stray. For those completists out there, we still await the PA Rockabilly, PA Country, PA 70s Rock and the Soul book too; however, Kuzmin was wise to set some parameters for his book due to the epic nature of his work. In this 2nd edition, Kuzmin has corrected and clarified previous entries as well as adding new ones. The documentation of this era's music is a momentous task, especially considering the numerous one-off releases on tiny labels. The book is clearly a labor of love, made by a collector for collectors. The numerous label pics and the grainy photos from old newspapers give the book the feel of the classic zines like Hoosier Hysteria and Rebel Teen and like his predecessors the book is tribute to both the bands and the collectors who rescued the music from undeserved obscurity. The book is meticulously cross referenced too, inviting one to check other listings as the inevitable sharing of members and changing names(or in some cases having the bands name changed by others)occured and it also presents a handy index that lists the songs that have been reissued on compilations. Of course, this book asks more questions than it answers and the world still awaits definitive discographies of lables like Process, Kingston, Barclay, Murechord, Bridge Society et al. Still the digging Kuzmin has done with this book goes quite far in listing most of the known garage, rock, pop and psych 45s from PA and that in itself is a commendable feat!

Naturally, having collected this stuff for years, I feel this is a valuable and a worthy undertaking. Kuzmin's DIY approach is to be commended though publishers take note: It sure would be nice to have a cloth bound edition with pages of glossy photos! Mike's tireless obsession has resulted in a spiral bound book thats mostly complete, though he readily acknowledges some bands that remain of unknown origin but sure look like PA releases. There are certainly a few minor omissions and maybe even more bands yet to be unearthed like Chester's Adam and The Evils, unheralded and unknown, who recorded some awesome acetates. It was great to find out the Sites'n'Sounds brooding punk 45 "The Nite Is So Dark" was from York(!) and seeing pics of Ognir and the Nite People, the Darts and the Scott Bedford 4 and many others is worth the price alone. The occasional biographical note provides some more slivers of info into these elusive recordings. One reprinted poster features a bill with Morgantown, WV's Mind Garage, the Marshmellow Steamshovel, and Rebecca and the Sunnybrook Farmers! Must have been one helluva show! The small press run of this is bound to sell out quick so it would be wise to pick this up before it disappears like so many of the records contained within.
Sounds From the Woods is an excellent read for either the hardcore collector or a fan of 60s garage bands who wants to learn more about bands from the Keystone State. Drop us a line if youd like to acquire a copy for your very own!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Welcome to his Nightmare! Todd Tamanend Clark's Nova Psychedelia

Todd Clark's nightmare takes up 150 minutes on this sprawling Anopheles 2 disc set of what I believe is his entire recorded output from 1975-85. The Pittsburg area Native American parlays a love for primitive electronics, rock and roll, science fiction and comic books into a spectacular dark twisted vision of a world gone mad. Imagine Simon Bar Sinister at work in his lab making yet another electronic noise machine with which to conquer the world and you get the idea. The whole thing starts with a 12 minute synthesizer/therimin piece that is a cross between 50s SCiFi and the trippy soundtracks that Goblin did for Dario Argento. Lest you think this is all stellar electro-skronk, I will tell you Todd also kicks in a healthy dose of Stonesy rock and roll too. He even tackles 2000 Light Years From Home, though in Todds deconstruction the only thing recognizable is the bass line! The subject matter is what youd expect to compliment the shimmery psychedelic sound,lots of stuff about bright flashing lights, brain waves, death, God, the zodiac, xrays and phosporesence. The overall mess of sounds tends to lump it in the catch all category/buzzword proto-punk or as the sticker says proto-cyber punk!

Certainly when he started recording in 75 TTC had very few peers. There are a few nuts that come close like Debris, MX-80 Sound and Pere Ubu and Ubu's Allen Ravenstine and Tom Herman do guest on a couple cuts. Undoubtedbly the self produced recordings' small pressings have led to their obscurity and cult status. Todd's monotone deadpan vocals may have also hindered a wider audience though I feel they are part of the attraction here, adding to the unnatural, otherworldly sound. Its a sound thats driven home by bleeps, squeals, screeches, some dynamite guitar and plenty of twisted lyrics. "X-ray Ecstasy" indeed, as this is a magical personal odyssey reveling it its own excess and overkill while making jokes all the while. Todd pays homage to his forefathers with unique covers of "Hungry" and "I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night" as well as taking the listener on a bumpy trip thru the nether regions of his psyche. Come take a trip with Todd to alchemy island!
You can buy this at fine stores or straight from Anopheles and check out Todd Clark's CD Baby page too!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Waitin On a Train---Pulling into your town soon!

In these days of bloggers and myspacers it seems the constant stream of stuff gets a bit overwhelming as everyone wants to be the Next Big Thing. It's quite refreshing to hear a band like Waitin On A Train simply because they love playing old timey and hillbilly songs and it shows. Far from being calculated towards a target demographic, they instead would rather sing traditional murder ballads and play fiddle tunes. Their zest for their cover material and originals is matched only by their scorn directed at the modern cookie cutter style bluegrass bands with their soundalike tunes. More traditional country than bluegrass, their shows are an exuberant celebration of bygone times. If you are in the Central PA area this month, check out their shows:

Jan 6 2006 9:00P
McCleary's Public House Marietta, PA
Jan 14 2006 10:00P
First Capital Bar and Grill York, PA
Jan 20 2006 10:00P
Murph's Other Bar (the depot) YORK, PA
Jan 28 2006 8:00P
Feb 2 2006 9:00P
Spence Cafe West Chester, PA

For those unfortunate souls who are out of the area, check out their original tune Dead on The Floor or their own instro Flying Eggs! Swell tunes. Tony, Paul, and Adam are at work on a new CD filled with their own stuff as well as a few well-seasoned chestnuts. Check back later for more info or come on down to one of the shows!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

ESPN has no right to rock! Neither does the Hard Rock!

I just had to comment about the pathetic New Years Eve show on ESPN. In an attempt to be cool and use rock and roll for nefarious ends, ESPN brought on board the Troggs, NY Dolls, the Chesterfield KIngs and the Mooney Suzuki Live from the Hard Rock Cafe courtesy of Little Steven's Underground Garage. First, no underground show EVER charged $300 a ticket or the even more ridiculous price of $2000 for a reserved 4 seat table. These people are killing rock and taking 4 of my favorite bands along! That alone would rate a big FU to the Hard Rock and the UG. Still, ESPNs coverage was blasphemous. Nowhere in their ads did they even mention any of the bands, as if they were embarassed to! Then they didnt let any of the bands even complete ONE song. What happened to cool shows like Don Kirshners Rock Concert and In Concert? What corporate asshole decided that I would be happy hearing song snippets from my favorite bands?? Did they really think I wanted to see Stuart Scott playing air guitar to "Wild Thing"? Please ESPN--get out of the rock and roll business and stick to sports. As far as the Hard Rock goes, you wont see me there ever! We can rock and roll without the help of those who wish to line their pockets at our expense!

In direct contrast, Sirius radio broadcast the entire Patti Smith show from the Bowery Ballroom on New Year's Eve, uncut and uninterrupted. The sound was great, and Tom Verlaine guested on guitar making it a unique event. The band really rocked on material old and new and Patti let us know how she felt about our President when she indicted him for various nasty deeds before lauching into a spirited "Rock and Roll Nigger" Their version of "mama told me not to come" was a riot as Patti rambled about someone dosing her spinach and waliking thru gelatin for 100s of years while Verlaine let rip a swampy Fogerty style solo. It again reflects the sad state of affairs in this country when we have to pay to have uncensored radio. Nevertheless, the show was great and thank you Sirius--now wise up and get more varied music programming! Its pretty bad when the Canadian station CBC RAdio 3 plays better stuff than the numerous US stations. Unfortunately even the Underground Garage seems overformatted as the DJs arent even allowed to play their own stuff unless approved by the mgmt! Thank God for 2 hours of the Cosmic Commander on Left Of Center! Nothings gonna please everybody, but hey, we are paying for variety so lets have a little more OK! And all you people who are trying to destroy music in a quest for a fortune, get lost and leave us alone!

Celebrate the Life and Music of Link Wray!

Thanks to the fine folks at Joe's Record Paradise, there will be a Link Wray Tribute in Rockville MD on January 15th! This star studded event will feature many DC area greats who have played with or shared the stage with Link as well as 39 descendants and the swell A-Bones whose Norton label has the swanky 2 CD set Mr. Guitar and the archival Missing Links series. With the passing of Link and Hasil Adkins this year, Rock and Roll has lost two of the great ones. Their raw energy and rough hewn tunes are hard to beat when one is searching for primal rock and roll. Thanks to Billy and Miriam at Norton for doing such a swell job supporting and compiling Link and Hasil while they were still around. The great job they did reissuing the stuff helped cement both Hasil and Link's reputations as the titans they truly were.

The tribute will be held at the spacious El Boqueron restaraunt which holds about 600 so it wouldnt be a bad idea to buy tickets or at least check in with Joe's before the show. The evening promises to be filled with sweaty, exuberant, primal, fuzz filled rockin. What a fitting way to pay your respects to one of rock's true pioneers! Kudos to Joe's for doing all the work while running a really cool record shop too! These are the people that need our support cause they are really keeping it real! Hopefully we will be able to get a Hasil tribute off the ground too. The details are very sketchy yet, but it may come off. Check back for more later. In the meantime check out the Links to the Link show and come on down!