Cleopatra) So the best news about this album, the first Missing Persons album of original music since the 80s, is that it really sounds like Missing Persons. Bozzio's voice has the exact same youthful, fresh mischievous, sexy lilt as it ever did, and producer/composer Bily Sherwood is wisely much more interested in tapping into the magic of vintage bubbly 80s New Wave pop than in breaking new ground. "Do or Die," "Hello Hello," and "Crisis in Overdrive" are perfect revivals of that past future sound that's simultaneously beautifully dated and beautifully timeless. The bad news for Missing Persons super fans (or Zappa sidemen completists, or Duran Duran replacement members collectors, or ambitious drummer followers, or people who believe in love) is that Terry Bozzio and Warren Cuccurullo are not involved in this record. Considering his prig background Sherwood seems incredibly good at simple, pure pop, and like the most successful Cleopatra releases, this presents strong new material that 100% conforms to exactly what old fans of the act would want -- there's even a not-particularly acoustic "Walking in L.A. (Acoustic Version)" bonus track. I have no doubt lady Bozzio will perform this in the hair and makeup since borrowed by No Doubt and Lady Gaga.
Friday, January 31, 2014
Thursday, January 30, 2014
GUEST REVIEW BY GENTLEMAN JOHN BATTLES (Purple Pyramid) This is pretty raunchy stuff for QMS circa 1970. Dino Valenti returns to the fold but it’s plain to see this was still John Cippollina’s band. As Jeff Dahl once said, “that guy never played a bum note in his life.” Even when he’s stretching out a bit on a solo you know he’s going somewhere. The vocals don’t sound affected, like some very precious later stuff I’ve heard. Some of the songs drag on a bit, but that was still their norm. Besides, they sound like they were in the moment. “Mona,”the standout track in ANY Quicksilver set starts out the with the prerequisite Diddley beat accentuated by Cippollina’s tremeloed rhythm guitar. It’s crazy, screamin’ wah wah blooze that might have been borne of the SF hippie scene, but like Moby Grape and early Airplane, they can take the music somewhere elese and bring it back, making it all make musical sense, even when they are in danger of briefly losing the map. After “Mona” the band does a song called “Baby Baby” they claim to have just learned, which is OK, just considerably less rockin’, as is “Rain,” but “Mojo” brings back the rain, establishing Quicksilver as a force in the hard rock age to be, as they say, reckoned with, with screamin’ guitars and even a screamin’ Valenti. The liner notes support that the hot keyboard fills here are by none other than Nicky Hopkins, though he was to part company soonafter when his services were needed by various Stones, Whos and ex-Beatles. The two blues jams with James Cotton (who played the North California ballromm circuit) are predictably a bit off the cuff, but they’re having a good time. Cotton isn’t showboating, he’s just comfortably jamming, sitting in with a young blues/rock band like it’s second nature. Sure there’s 23 minutes of such jamming, but you can run some errands…like Jake always says, that’s the beauty of the blues: it’s like watching All My Children, you can leave and come back at any point in the near or distant future and you’ll still be able to understand what’s going on, you didn’t really miss anything, just enjoy it!
Posted by Roctober Productions at 3:54 AM
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
(thethons.com) I’d been hearing murmurs of an interesting new garage band in town, and this is a case where I’m glad to learn that the folks spreading such words have no idea what garage really is. Garage rock was kids from Skokie trying to play like art students from England trying to play like cats from the South Side of Chicago. The Thons are guys from Chicago playing like the British guys who didn’t give a damn about the blues. This is all out Buzzcock-y, even making one or two Joy Diversions here and there. The more recent “30 Foot Snake” album has one slice of All-American heartland rock (appropriately titled “Strummy Song”) but for the most part these guys do a remarkable invocation of interesting 70s punk without becoming a self-conscious parody. I’m Thon-derstruck!
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Destructors “The Sublime, The Perverse, and the Rediculoid”, The Destructors/Dogtown Rebels “Terrorismo”
(Rowdy Farrago) There is no need to say that the Destructors two new releases return them to the Oi!-ish glory and fury of their old days/heyday, as the dozens of albums they’ve released over the last decade have maintained a pretty steady IV drip of intensity. That said, their new full-length, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the original incarnation breaking up, recreates an album they would have released back then, re-recording (or recording for the first time) songs from that era, which needless to say, are pretty timely now, as atrocity, absurdity, and war are always in vogue. There are also some covers, and you know -- no one needs, nor objects to, more versions of “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” “Louie Louie,” or “Wild Thing.” Their new split EP with Dogtown Rebels sees the D’s stick it to so-called revolutionaries, The Strokes, and reports of punk’s death that have been greatly exaggerated. Dogtown Rebels match the nastiness of the elder statesmen on this release, but don’t ape them, peppering their pub rock with other influences (check out the Devo-esque vocals on “Someday”) making this one of the best split Destructors records. The "New York" EP is gloriously stupid - I think I am much happier to hear a salute to New York pre-punk and punk in the 70s done in the D's pummeling, ploddish, pub punk style rather than hear them try to mimic the Velvet Underground or Television or Ramones. There isn't a lot of nuance and poetry involved as the band either literally just names all the bands they can think of (especially on "NYC 1975," which lists the pre-KISS and pre-Blondie Wicked Lester and Stilletos, but leaves out the Fast...haven't they been reading Roctober?) or artlessly invoking all the juiciest nastier moments of Gotham infamy (dead Nancy at the Chelsea, Valerie Solanas manifesto-ing, heroin jags with Burroughs). But you know what else wasn't nuanced? The CBGB's bathroom! And Jayne County's makeup! There's also a great Dictators cover ("New York New York"), but they really shoulda stretched a couple years and done "New York's Alright (If You Like Saxophones)."
Posted by Roctober Productions at 10:45 PM
(makeorbreakrecords.com) Though Jumpsuit is known for bringing the rock, it's understandable that an introspective rock opera (putting audio to the tension, wonder, ecstasy and out of bodiless that occurs in the brain firings of a bowler's mind as he pursues a perfect 300) requires more than just rock. John Elmquist of Hardart groop brings the angular twisted jazz modern classical weirdness to the party, and the result is less bombastic than you want from your rock operas, but no less grand. Very strange and a little queasiness-inducing, but definitely something you actually feel in your brain as you listen. Bonus: There are fake boobs involved, sorta.
Posted by Roctober Productions at 7:15 PM
Monday, January 27, 2014
Sunday, January 26, 2014
“Shrunken Head Music” compilation, Vespero “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” b/w “One of these Days,” Vibravoid “Colour Your Mind” ep
(Fruits de Mer) The latest pile of records from this productive vinyl psyche label came our way, so we dove into the dreamy cloud and here’s what we hear: The best of the bunch was the Vibravoid EP which starts off with a cover of the 60s Aussie band Tyrnaround that features stingin’ guitar, spooky sounds and psyche/garage scariness arranged in a Middle Eastern pattern, eventually descending into pre-irrelevance Pink Floyd-influenced discordia. That is followed by a Michel Polnareff cover that showcases clean, compressed fuzz guitar over a catchy melody that invokes “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Paul Revere’s “Hungry” and maybe the Dead Boys “I Need Lunch.” The International history lesson ends with a cover of L.A.’s Human Expression, respectfully remembered with a tremelo attack worthy of the Cramps, made more interesting as the guitarist wrestles with wispy, paisley embellishments. Less interesting in Vespero. When you’re dealing with Quaaludish late 60s-early 70s Pink Floyd, it takes some doing to get that plane off the ground, and though not unpleasant, V’s “Eugene” treatment kinda doesn’t go anywhere, not picking up steam until six minutes in, or so. Their second Floyd cover sounds like might have kicked in as early as five minutes into it, but I didn’t get that far. Vespero also appears on the double 7” comp “Shrunken Head Music,” covering Faust, with prerequisite Hawkwind synth noises, with feedbacking guitars also recalling Hawkwind (at their most structurally challenged) as they jam pretty much throughout, especially when the drums kick in about halfway through. The singer sounds like a 1930s newsboy ranting on LSD (which had yet to be invented…maybe a time travelling 1930s newsboy…wasn’t there a Jack Kirby comic about that?). The comp opens with Frobisher Neck covering Brainticket with a mellotron, that track followed by Black Tempest covering Tangerine Dream, and while a positive person might say the two tracks perfectly compliment each other, I’m a little grumpy and I’ll just say that since I listened to them not on vinyl, but back to back on a CD I made for a road trip, I thought both combined into one long noodling nowhere fest. This prog rock revival/tribute is not the best driving music if you’re behind the wheel because it put me in a weird white line fever trance state. PsycheaDULLic. The end of the Black Tempest track recalled someone walking around a flooded bathroom floor, which got a little more interesting when they peed on the floor then dropped their hair dryer. It’s like instead of dropping acid they actually dropped their acid, with a “plop” as it hit the puddle. The best I can say is: “Dr Who theme on ludes.” The last track by Jay Tausig is a distracted Satriani in space exploration about swimming in your own imagination. Like the aforementioned fumbled LSD tab, it got me wet.
Posted by Roctober Productions at 6:52 AM
Saturday, January 25, 2014
Friday, January 24, 2014
Thursday, January 23, 2014
Cornelius Chapel) This is the reason that I don't like to go to the bathroom in the middle of a movie...you miss something in the middle and you don't know what the hell is going on. Although I know the Dexateens made a record called "Singlewide" which is supposed to be a slick, mature slab that's often compared to Drive By Truckers (thus fully Austin City Limits approvable), the only record I have by them is from ten years ago on Estrus, and if this is the same band I'm pleasantly confused. While this EP ends with a nice spooky slice of trashy garage ("Do the Crawl"), and opens with a title track that's a groovy, hillbilly Stooges stomper, in between they get Byrds-y, folksy, Jack White-y, reflective, sensitive, and do some bluegrass/C&W historical society-stuff. The trashy southern rock of their early record is still here, but stuffed with some stuffing I would never have expected from that band. So I obviously missed a bunch of interesting stuff in between...maybe I should have just stayed put and peed myself!
Posted by Roctober Productions at 7:56 AM
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
dougmacdonaldband.com) All-American rock 'n' roll anthems to carhorns, meat cleavers, and the longterm ideological failings of attendees of the 1979 Sox/Tigers Disco Demolition double header. Unusual perspectives, chilling sincerity, and a few nice hooks makes this album much more of a special treat than I expected.
Posted by Roctober Productions at 6:56 AM
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Monday, January 20, 2014
(voiceofaddiction.com) Raging pub/’77-style political punk with a few surprising optimistic flourishes amidst the doom. I’m a little surprised by the anti-Mayor Daley song, as Rahm has now had years to raise their ire, but maybe in 2021 we’ll get that one from these punk lifers.
Sunday, January 19, 2014
(Audience Network, 2013) Before Netflix and Hulu started creating budget conscious shows and licensing British programs to create a slate of “original” programming, DirectTV was doing the same thing on their Audience/101/Freeview channel, but there ain’t no Orange is the New Blacks in their holster. The worst show I saw had Jason Priestly charmlessly playing a blackhearted cad, proving how utterly awful dark “comedy” with no sense of humor can be. Speaking of black hearts, one easily avoidable show on the channel is Guitar Center Sessions, where new and vintage bands rock out in a sterile studio, audience free, capturing all the charm of hanging out in a Guitar Center. No matter who the guest was I have never been able to watch more than minute, but the last episode was Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and I couldn’t miss it. Jett is my all-time rock ‘n’ roll crush for so many reasons, the number one being that she simply has my favorite singing voice ever. While it doesn’t have range and is awash in what some might consider imperfections, it is a voice that is simply perfect for rock ‘n’ roll, and I’m thrilled every time I hear her gsynthesize punk, glam, and garage in her distinct, gritty, unornamented, blunt, sexy tone. As Jett and her boys rocked through a half dozen or so songs in clinical HD that voice was absolutely perfect, she has not lost anything over the decades and I still love to hear her. I’m a little ashamed to speak about my other reason to love Joan, which is her face, and not because I’m embarrassed to have always found Jett’s visage (and generosity of eyeliner application) absolutely enchanting. Jett, in part because of the attitude in her eyes as both a tough teen and a confident woman, is eternally the great punk rock beauty to me. What I am ashamed of is my forthcoming critique of her seemingly augmented face, her taut skin making her face look just different enough that I had trouble really looking at her close-ups. But fuck it, as a pr-teen/pre-Joan loving boy my rock ‘n’ roll crush was Debbie Harry, and her face seems to have dealt with all kinds of “adjustments,” over the last 20 years, but when I watched her from near the front row last year I couldn’t see anything but a masterful, beautiful rock ‘n’ roll diva, so I shall still go see JJ I concert any time I can, but may limit my HD close-up TV viewing of my heroine. That said, the interview segments on this episode were amazing. Though Jett was given nothing but un-insightful, insipid, softballs by KCRW deejay Nic Harcourt she responded with thoughtful, lengthy, detailed answers laying out her musical history with impressively articulate intelligence. Sure, she may have (with prompting from Harcourt) restated the same answer about “girls can rock, too” a time too many, but anyone who has seen the Tomorrow episode where she is a charmingly inarticulate teen being shamed by Paul Weller’s British speechifyin’ would not have seen these wonderful monologues coming. Obviously Harcourt never challenges her about her difficult relationship with former Runaways, or pushes her to explore her collaborations with Kenny Laguna, Kim Fowley, Kathleen Hanna, The Gits, or pretty much anything beyond obvious stuff, but I loved hearing Joan talking (her speaking voice as awesome as her singing voice). That Harcourt constantly wanted to talk about “I Love Rock n Roll” (without ever asking about the original Arrows version, btw), and then it wasn’t performed was weird, but the band killed “Bad Reputation,” “Crimson and Clover,” “Cherry Bomb” and strong new material. Not sure I will watch this show again, but glad I watched this one. And for the record, I still (after thousands of listens) insist that the “Cherry Bomb” chorus hook is one “ch” too short.
Posted by Roctober Productions at 12:03 PM
Saturday, January 18, 2014
Friday, January 17, 2014
(A-Zap) These noisy veterans successfully combine hardcore, ambient, electro, glitch rock, prog, metal, glam and everything else here in a way that results in scrambled eggs dance music that’s groovier than a noise band should be allowed to be. Factor in the supreme squeak-o vocals and one might say you have a progressive, shriller Chipmunks. But this album is good I prefer to think of it as the shriller Thriller.
Posted by Roctober Productions at 7:40 AM
Thursday, January 16, 2014
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Loose Squares) Listening to raw, vital pure dance music while sitting at a desk typing gives me as little insight on its functionality as body moving lubricant as I would have about the taste of a slice of pie from seeing a picture on a menu. That said, I know pie usually tastes good and I know every time I've heard good Chicago house or juke played in public or private gatherings that it gets things shaking. What's tastiest about these slices, though, is that Chicago producer Umberton isn't afraid to draw on the sound of 2 or 5 to 10 or more years ago, giving some delicious tastes of Chicago underground dance music recent history. But more importantly, while saluting the past Mr. U never fails to seem futuristic. Nostalgic futurism is where it's at! Now where's my pie?
Posted by Roctober Productions at 9:08 AM
Monday, January 13, 2014
(Goner) The masked rodent puts his jagged buckteeth to work by chomping down on a gravel-encrusted wad of discarded Bazooka he found on the side of the road – that’s right – it’s Gritty Bubblegum time! From the brilliant Chic-A-Go-Go fave “Do the Stooge” to “True Vulture,” which sounds like it’s performed by a homeless Partridge Family, to the sinisterly sweet new birthday standard “The Birthday Girl,” to an urgent cover of “Pretty Girls” (made famous by Kids of Widney High), to the straight up hardcore song “Buried in a Bong,” this is top to bottom the best song collection the Lone Ranger of Lechery has ever released. This makes me feel like I am Somebunny, I am!
Posted by Roctober Productions at 7:49 PM
Sunday, January 12, 2014
(Golden Joy) Bombastic classic South-of-the-Mason-Dixon boogie rawk delivered by a sly singing bombastic, classy saloon diva. No surprises on this, other than the surprising revelation that hardly anyone practices this kind of fundamentally near-perfect kind of rock ‘n’ roll these days. She’ll always be royal!
Posted by Roctober Productions at 5:58 AM
Saturday, January 11, 2014
(marcuscorbett.com) What follows will be the dumbest, least perceptive review written about this impressive, atmospheric exploration of folk/world fusion: You ever notice the tabla is inherently whimsical? Corbett is making moving music that blends Western folk with Indian classical, even doing some interesting vocal chant exercises, and the mood is always soulfully serious, and somber at times…if you don’t notice how bouncy and groovy and fun that awesome tabla is! One can’t bounce somberly, can one?
Posted by Roctober Productions at 8:01 AM
(Gulcher) The Gizmos album was recorded live in 1979, West Lafayette, Indiana (home of the Boilermakers). Being the Christmas season the Hoosier punk pioneers kick into a surf instrumental of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” then proceed with a set of just melodic enuff punk for the assembled punters at a house party (yes, my young friend, you didn’t invent punk rock house parties. I went to my first a year after this one…in diapers, of course…and I wasn’t a baby!). It’s actually recorded to four-track, but there’s surface noise, feedback and stuff that can’t be avoided in a real live field recording, like solitary “woo girl,” and some in yer face rock ‘n’ roll with immediacy and Indianacy. It all gels, technical snafus notwithstanding, by the time the band gets to the sorta rockabilly-punk furor of “Johnny’s Got a Gun” (no relation to the Dead Moon song…which makes sense), after which they ask for donations in the hat (that’s a real house party!). “Jog” carries on carrying the inspiration, not the imitation, of the Ramones, whom they’d just opened for. “Melinda is a Lesbian” is a solid Buddy Holly by way of Bo Diddley rocker. The band had influences, obviously, but didn’t wear them on their sleeves -- the original Gizmos were more into the Dictators and the MC5 and probably did “You’re Gonna Miss Me” before Radio Birdman ever took it on. This CD is about a turning point – by ’79-’81 punk was largely morphing into new wave, power pop and hardcore. The Gizmos changed over the years, but their sharp punk attack stayed intact. They did not become Granddaddies of pop Punk, but they did make it out of the 70s, propelled by solid riffs, fluid bass lines, and a catchy beat to make the whole thing work, and a snotty, reedy vocal sound that was also the order of the day. Nearly every region had at least one band that fit this description, but the Gizmos changed what they wanted to and kept what they had: an edgy rockin’ punk sound that was fun before the moshpit tried to pummel out punk rock’s fun-ness. Indiana had to be a really rough place to be in a band in the 70s and early 80s, but the Gizmos performed an invaluable service and, sounds to me, like they got their kicks along the way. As the show winds up, with the junk food aesthetic of the band taking them to 7-11 with “Rockin’ for Tacos” and “Hot Burrito #2,” it leaves the listener with the lingering taste of Beavis and Butthead living in the 70s (but with decent taste in music…and not being so fucking dumb). About 100 years later we get a very different live album from a Gizmo. After his Gizmos days Tim Carroll, as we learn between songs on this ridiculously charming album, fell under the spell of the rootsy post-punkers Rank and File and eventually became less of a rocker and more of a bonafide songwriter. This album has Carroll, as the opening act for a friend in an intimate venue, playing his best rockin’ country-ish cuts from the past 30 years, just him and his electric guitar. An earnest ode to Hank, a bouncy fishing fantasy, a tale of seducing an anti-country gal, a salute to a pro-country punk rock gal, a heartbreaker about a hurricane, and a funnybone tickler about a guitar slingin’ grampa are some of the highlights. While the album title is clever (because he’s the opening act, get it?) Carroll doesn’t exactly achieve its implied double meaning, as his relaxed, friendly banter between songs isn’t about letting the feelings in his innards out, but rather about recounting (to a receptive, smart audience) the hills, valleys, and small satisfactions of a marginal, but often satisfying musical life. He recalls his history of having one tune covered quite a bit, watching a Hollywood movie, in which he’d placed a song on the soundtrack, all the way through without hearing a note of his only to be relieved when it underscored the closing credits, and relates his mantra about letting go of youth, but not rock ‘n’ roll cool. There are a million reasons to love the Gizmos (we all should have love for the brave, silly kids who spent the seventies saving rock n roll) but what’s great about this recording is that it gives you a dozen reasons to genuinely like Tim Carroll.
Posted by Roctober Productions at 4:58 AM
Friday, January 10, 2014
Ten Reasons Why the New York Dolls are STILL Lookin’ Fine on Television:
1. The fully, perfectly B&W action kicks straight off down some desolate roadside with a dusty, yet meticulously trashy-as-ever Dolls being asked “how you, um, guys got together.” “I met Arthur on MacDougal Street,” says Johnny. “Na na na, that's not how it started,” complains Sylvain, as nearby twigs ‘n’ cigarette butts suddenly become airborne. And? We're off!!
2. Vintage “Lookin(g) For A Kiss” performance footage is expertly intercut with shots of our not-yet-ready-for-celluloid heroes as they walk down Hollywood Boulevard, checking out the neighborhood novelty-slash-porn shops, cruisin’ Frederick’s, and catching David JoHansen actually experimenting for perhaps the first time with a terrifyingly great big proto-Poindexter coif.
3. A lone, brave fan holds up a crudely-scrawled cardboard sign proclaiming N.Y. DOLLS ARE GREAT as “Trash” picks up, this time accompanied by off-site, quite outasite sequences of the boys poncin’ n’ prancin’ up their proverbial storm at a calculatingly lo-budget photo shoot …David’s hair now back into its proper Tyler-vs-Jagger shambles, we see.
4. Speaking of whom, hilariously quaint all-last-night’s-parties footage of the man being interviewed, poolside, soon begins appearing between songs. And I quote: “Pittsburgh, they went wild. We played third bill to Mott the Hoople and the Blue Öyster Cunt [sic!]. We didn't even have a dressing room – they gave us this little trailer that was in this ice-skating rink/swimming pool complex. We ate in this diner. It was just about time to go on and EVERYBODY started throwin’ up. Violently!”
5. The Dolls’ faux-Tommy gun ridden homage to Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits,
aka their “Lipstick Killers” proto-gangsta shoot, is herein repositioned beneath “Bad Detective,” followed by the wisenheimers as severely alt. cowboys in toy holsters and plastic GI Joe bazookas for, of course, “Vietnamese Baby.”
6. Cut to WNBC-TV newsman Tony Hernandez reporting: “History is being made çin the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel tonight. For the first time that anybody really can remember, a Rock Halloween Party is being held here. As you can see, the Guest List appears to be quite unique” – as the WNBC cameras pan across a 1973 audience much more Rocky Horror than “rock” – “as are the hosts of this Halloween party. I'm speaking of the unique group of young men known as the New York Dolls.” Cue “Human Being,” Syl quite convincing indeed in his Charlie Chaplin costume (that little tramp) as a VERY Doll’d-up, far-from-dull pantomime horse suddenly waltzes on stage, giving David JoH quite the run for his $.
7. Those of the Gawker persuasion should meanwhile keep a close eye peeled for gorgeously grainy glimpses of Cyrinda Foxe, Michelle Piza, and other certifiably Rock Scene-approved arm candy sprawled backstage and underfoot throughout Lookin’ Fine On Television. In fact, look very closely and you can even spot the Dolls’ Mercer Arts Center compadre Ace Frehley celebrating his very own Rock Halloween.
8. So nice to see so much of Arthur “Killer” Kane throughout the proceedings as well, he the solid-bottomed Ox (as in John Alec Entwistle) of mock-rock. RIP …to both of them.
9. During the concluding “Jet Boy” sequence we are naturally treated to frightfully hilarious footage of the hot-panted Dolls invading Kennedy Airport, actually being allowed to board an L.A.-bound jet (with Bob and Nadya Gruen’s trusty video gear rolling!) then watch what's left of them being most unceremoniously dumped hours later out upon the left coast. This was, rest assured, many years before the creation of the TSA, all you frequent flyers out there will be most relieved to know.
10. But perhaps the true black-and-white heart(break) of the matter is to be found within Lookin’ Fine On Television's Bonus Footage, wherein David, most uncomfortably – in more ways than one – clad in some turtleneck/sports jacket contraption interviews his old – in more ways – bandmate Johnny Thunders outside CBGB. The two attempt witty, friendly banter one 1976 night on the Bowery just prior to Thunders’ UK Anarchy tour with the Damned and the Sex Pistols (“I think they're real cute; that's all I know about ‘em, really. I've seen their pictures,” says Johnny). Reference is duly made – though at this early stage in the game neither can realize the full import or irony of the situation – that the Pistols are under the command of, and “outfitted,” as David points out, by none other than ex-Dolls’ svengali Malcolm McLaren. “He's really got an eye,” adds JT. Malc also certainly realized, though in this footage it isn't clear if either Messrs. Johansen or Thunders do yet, that the Dolls’ days and nights have already clearly come and gone; the band and its brand already tragically unhip by ‘76, rendered utterly redundant by the Ramones and painfully passé by those Pistols. More proof cannot be had of this than watching herein the stragglers outside CBs pushing obliviously by our two joking B&W video stars, busy instead with the new hot club and the new cool scene(s) the New York Dolls themselves, as Lookin’ Fine On Television more than shows, more than inspired and instigated.
Posted by Roctober Productions at 6:17 AM
Thursday, January 9, 2014
[GUEST REVIEW by JAKE AUSTEN] (Atria) One way that being a diehard Prince fan is similar to following a sports team is you often find yourself rooting from your heart rather than your head. Despite the brilliant artist crafting some of the most memorable music of the last 35 years, his legendary creative fertility has resulted in almost 40 full-length releases, an inordinate amount of them double, triple, and in once case, quintuple albums. This resulted in stretches of songs, albums, and even a few years, in which you desperately want to get behind what you’re hearing, but the best you can do is hope the next song hits it out the park.
I don’t lead with this to suggest Prince’s lesser works eclipse his masterpieces – he’s such a captivating composer that I’ll gladly rationalize multiple spins of Jehovah’s Witness-themed jazz, or Available Only at Target three-disc sets for the satisfaction of the occasional winner. I bring it up because I Would Die 4 U, Touré’s study of the Prince’s life and work, invokes a too familiar feeling. As I turned the pages I kept reminding myself how intelligent, charming, and talented the author was, and kept hoping the next track would get better.
The good news is it eventually does, but the bad news is the cultural critic and TV personality commits early to a desperately shaky hypothesis. His first misstep is opening with a definition of “icon” that includes the (debatable) criteria that one must be “the mirror and shaping force…the thermometer of an era.” The problem with that is Prince became a superstar through monumental talent, cagey provocation, and intense drive to succeed on his terms. His voice was magnificently his own, not that of a generation, and while millions followed with fascination, few emulated. Prince profoundly influenced electronic instrumentation, moderately influenced fashion, and was a groundbreaker in getting warning labels on CDs, but he did not create a nation of androgynous futurists going to school in panties and trenchcoats. People were captivated by Prince because he was one of a kind, not a prototype.
Sticking to this generational theme, Touré spends lengthy passages awkwardly defining generation X (of which Prince was not a part, he was a late term Baby Boomer). Inspired by Malcolm Gladwell, the author surveys data and trends, leading to his bold, and off topic, declaration that the defining aspect of gen X was divorce. What this has to do with Prince’s complicated childhood, with blended families, parental abandonment, and a strong support system amongst teachers and friends, is unclear.
Questlove, the Roots’ arranger/drummer, is very likely earth’s #1 Prince fan, so when he endorsed this flawed work as the all-time greatest Prince book it would have puzzled me, if, sadly, he wasn’t right. Because of Prince’s enigmatic persona, dense thicket of recorded material, and questionable CEO skills that left trails of sour grapes and non-disclosure agreements, it’s difficult to figure out how, what, and even why to write about Prince. Reading through the choppy, awkward quotes from prior trade books and the jargon filled rhetoric from the Prince-themed dissertations Touré cites makes the lengthy, insightful quotations he coaxes from Prince’s former colleagues more impressive. From an engineer’s heart-wrenching account of Prince recording his most personal song, then wiping the tapes clean, to an icky play-by-play of Prince’s lovemaking technique by an alleged former paramour, Touré’s skills as an interviewer shine. Add to that more access to Prince’s peers and co-workers than any prior Prince prose-maker has enjoyed, and the fact that he’s met the man (I would have been delighted if the book was a 150 page account of the day Touré shot hoops with the Minneapolis Genius), and Questlove’s assessment seems on the mark.
Drag the hinky generational theory to the trash, and I Would Die 4 U becomes pretty solid. Touré deftly explores his subject’s dealings with sex, race, gender, and faith (inherently titillating topics), allowing him to geek out about lyrical themes, numerology, and even bathing habits. This sometimes reveals truths, sometimes generates semantic exercises, but all of it is executed with authority and joy that he can’t muster while trying to relate Prince’s motivations to the Zeitgeist embodied by the teens in John Hughes’ 80s films.
After speaking to a number of close associates who insist Prince savvily marketed himself in his early days with lascivious antics, and a demographic spanning multi-racial, co-ed band, Touré ends the book with a lengthy study of Prince’s spiritual lyrics. These expressions of faith (going back to an un-ironic recitation of “The Lord’s Prayer” in his otherwise mischievous 1981 manifesto “Controversy”) are certainly not marketing tools, and the author concludes that what ultimately has driven Prince from the beginning was a desire to spread the Gospel; the high heels, buttless pants, and joyful incest songs all ruses to get you to open the door for the prosthelytizer who wants to help you get to Heaven. “Prince’s message was a pitch perfect for gen X,” Touré writes, “but, at the same time, it was thousands of years old.”
He’s at least half right, and the book is nearly 2/3 good. Which is a much higher batting average than Touré's subject has enjoyed. And that guy’s an icon!
Posted by Roctober Productions at 3:47 AM