Sunday, February 28, 2021

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Scotty McKay "Scotty McKay Rocks"

(Bear Family, 2020) Dallas Rocker Scotty McKay is best known today for having served a stint with Gene Vincent's Blue Caps on piano and rhythm guitar, but he had a prolific recording career of his own, and this is the first comprehensive collection of his work. Things kick off in fourth gear with his first single, "Rollin' Dynamite,” which appeared on "Desperate Rock 'n' Roll" and was later covered by Kenny and the Kasuals, and the wild rockin' sounds don't let up.Though there's only three original tunes here, McKay covers his contemporaries (Elvis, Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Frankie Ford) with style, flair and plenty of enthusiasm. His "Baby Let's Play House " had more slapback echo than Elvis' version, and his take on Chuck's "You Can't Catch Me" and Bo's "Who Do You Love" are real barn-burners. McKay's boss beltin' and cool croonin' are jet-propelled into overdrive by lead guitarist, Bobby Rambo (of Gene Rambo and the Flames and later the Five Americans). This 32 track collection features a bundle of singles and a half dozen wild acetates (standouts include his own "Bad Times" and ''Evenin' Time,” and his rocked up take on Julie London's "Cry Me a River" has to be heard to be believed) . Most of these tracks were recorded in the 50s, but Scotty did not slow down in the mid-sixties, cutting a killer version of Titus Turner/Little Willie John's "All Around the World (Grits Ain't Groceries),” which appeared in the schlock horror film, "Creature of Destruction,” as did the cool flipside, "Here Comes Batman,” which also appeared in "Creature,” but, sadly isn't included on on this CD. Both performances are on YouTube. Fresh off a tour with the Yardbirds, McKay cut a savage "Train Kept a-Rollin’” with Dallas garage band the Exotics (though it was long rumored that Jimmy Page played lead guitar). Scotty also did three songs in another 60s Horror film, "the Black Cat,” with Scotty and band all wearing eye patches (!), but, alas, those tracks don't appear here. Almost everything here is medium to breakneck tempo. It's the stuff, all tuff, no duff. 

Friday, February 26, 2021

Superteam Family/Brave and Bold Lost Blogspot

( This is just insane...every day, for almost ten years, this dude has posted an imaginary archival team up cover featuring characters from different companies/universes that he creates by seamlessly overlapping images from existing covers...and then he does it again 3000+ more times! Every day he does this! I do not know how he cannot be more famous  and I do not know why this took me so long to discover and I can't imagine how he can find the time to never fall short of this dasily goal. I write a review a day but I don't take more than a three minutes writing any of them, I mainly do it as an exercise to get some writing in, but this dude creates a concept and executes it and takes time to make it look good and adds captions and makes it funny and has lore for his team ups where stories (which only exist on covers he made up!) continue in later numbered issues, and this is amazing and bananas! Good job Russ are an Intenret superhero and may all your Team Ups be great!

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Ron Dante "Ron Dante's Funhouse"

(Sunset Records, 2020) If anyone deserves a career retrospective it's Ron Dante, even if he had to produce it himself, which he did. Known primarily as the voice of The Archies, Dante also has many TV commercial jingles and solo recordings under his belt. Fittingly, this set kicks off with "Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies and "Tracy” by The Cuff Links, another manufactured studio group patterned around Dante's strong Pop vocals. Both songs made the Top 10 simultaneously in 1969, and I'm still not thoroughly convinced "Tracy” wasn't partly the inspiration for XTC's "Life Begins at The Hop." "Sally Ann” by The Cuff Links appears here, too, and it's good enough to convince me I need to pick up The Cuff Link's album next time I see it on the cheap. This two CD set also contains several songs by The Archies that appeared on TV, but never made it to vinyl, solo Dante recordings, and a half dozen of his commercial jingles (I could go for a half dozen more, I love this stuff.), the best being The Archies' breakfast drink, Tang, plus duets with Andy Kim, Bruce Johnston of The Beach Boys and Toni Wine (the female voice on Archies hits like "Jingle Jangles” and, of course, "Sugar Sugar”). The newer recordings are predictably more high tech sounding, especially the "2020 Euro Dance Mix” of "Sugar, Sugar," but they lose none of the Dante charm. Dante knows how to sell a song, he has a voice just made for television, but he was and is a pretty good looking guy, too. He gives "Happy Together” a rockin' overhaul, and the liner notes inform us he's now the lead singer for The Turtles (but, what happened to Flo and/or Eddie?). "Let me Bring You Up” and "Umbrella Man"(credited to Starbird) are fine examples of modern day Bubblegum Rock, and did you know Dante had a song in "the Little Mermaid"? Me either. The 1980 single, "God Bless Rock'n'Roll” would have been a welcome addition, but Ron is covering all the bases, here. Three songs by The Chan Clan, the house band for the early '70s cartoon show, The Amazing Chan and The Chan Clan turn up here, and they're good (especially "Number One Son"), but they haven't got The Archies beat on a good day. There's also two Spider-Man songs not from the Ralph Bakshi Saturday morning cartoon show, The Electric Company's Spidey segments, or even the late '70s live action series. Dating from 1972, these songs might have been slated for use in a TV pilot that never came to be. In any case, "Theme From Spider-Man” is a kick, with it's Shaft-inspired wakka-takka-guitar, and lyrics boasting of Spider-Man's status as a sex machine with the ladies ("Shut your mouth” "I'm just talkin' about Spider-Man” "We can dig it”). Along with thirteen Archies songs, there's the opening and closing themes to Archie's Funhouse, the second of many Archie cartoon shows, which made me wonder why some of the other Archie show themes aren't included here. Surely, Dante sang at least some of them. There's seventeen (count 'em) Archies dance intros, as well. You see, on the original Archie Show the songs were preluded by brief instructions on how to do the new dance of the week. Most had Archie-themed names like "The Jughead," "The Betty,” and "The Veronica Walk,” and cool instrumental vamps behind the Dante-sung dance instructions. Kids would dance in front of the TV set, trying not to step in their bowls of cereal when the song came on. I don't think my brothers and I did, though. Unfortunately, the sound quality takes a serious dive on these tracks, like they were recorded off the TV with a handheld microphone, as do the commercial jingles, but that's my only complaint, and it's probable that the masters no longer exist. Overall, this collection is fun to have, though it probably won't make believers out of people who aren't already Archies fans. Then again, who can say? The packaging is cool, the first disc had a repro of the orange Calendar records (the Riverdale gang's alma mater) label and the second bears the artwork from an Archies cereal box record (for those too young to remember, they used to put cardboard records for acts like The Archies, The Monkees, and the Jackson 5ive on the back of cereal boxes). The cover art was done by latter day Archie artist Dan Parent, who's no Dan DeCarlo, but it's a nice touch. To cap it off, Ron Dante is donating a dollar from each sale to The Shriner's Hospital for Children, so everything's Archie!

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Lay's Game Day Chili


(Lays, 2020) I can taste a mild chili-ness, and you can make an argument that there's some cheddar cheese flavor profile noticeable, but there's definitely no sour cream or chive action despite the graphic. I assume this was for the Super Bowl, so I would have made the chili flavor more intense, gone hog on the onion, maybe spiced it up with a little Tabasco profile. But maybe this lost some of its oomph, because I also assume that this is an old assed bag, because people don't do big pots of chili for the NBA.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Oh Snap! Pickle Slices

(Oh Snap, 2020) These are fine, fresh tasting pickle slices with nice flavor and they boast of no extra brine, so you wont spill much pickle juice on your car upholstery (though you might spill a little, hopefully the Febreze works). Still, a liquor store/gas station giant pickle in a bag is a technology that does not need to be improved upon. Sure they are overly chewy, borderline too big to bite, and all of them seem to have been pickled during the Clinton presidency. But they are some perfect-assed snacks. But this is the real world, and there are plenty of days when you are not in a liquor store or gas station so there's honor in gentrifying the pickle bag so you can get your portable pickle on even when you are in an upscale store, so god bless them. But these are not nearly as satisfying as eating yourself sick on a rubbery football-sized former vegetable.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Sex Pistols “The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle”


(VIRGIN, 1979)



Never before in the long and illustrious annals of popular music history has a man been handed so much raw talent atop a potentially platinumous platter, at such an opportune time and location, as when Steve Jones, Paul Cook and Glen Matlock, fresh from hiring a new frontperson named Johnny Rotten, strolled into London’s cleverly named Sex shoppe circa 8/75 and asked its proprietor, suede-o bohemian entrepreneur Malcolm McLaren, if he’d be interested in helping them invent punk rock, revolutionize – or, failing that, destroy – the music business, and earn a million pounds (of dollars) in the process. And never before has a man so swiftly and slyly enacted his master plan and seen it bear fruit in greater abundances than even he, in his wildest Col. Ahmet Loog Epstein fantasies, would have believed possible (within a mere twenty-three months, the Pistols swept from crashing obscure British art college balls to bumping Linda Ronstadt off the hallowed cover of the Rolling Stone)… and Never Before, and hopefully Never Again, has such a superfluity of potential and promise – not to mention profit – been so thoroughly and effectively botched, blundered, and bludgeoned. For, thanks to Malcolm McLaren’s brilliant mismanagement, the Sex Pistols, an act of unlimited wit, fire and socio-musical import, are recalled today as little more than the great rock’n’roll swindle Sid Vicious played in before he set his hotel room on fire, sliced open his girlfriend, and joined Elvis and Kurt in that big cabaret revue in the sky.



Unceremoniously hoofed from the band on the virtual eve of their anti-success for professing admiration toward the wrong people (Paul McCartney) in the wrong place (the pages of Melody Maker) at the wrong time (1976), the Pistols, in one fool swipe, lost not only their most accomplished musician (well, not that that mattered much: after all, his replacement was Mr. Vicious, fresh from the Dee Dee Ramone hunt-and-plonk school of bass playing) but their one true resident songsmith (yes, it was GLEN who cooked up some of the Seventies' catchiest guitar hooks;  ie: "Pretty Vacant" and "God Save Whats'ername"). Relatively unperturbed, Glen took his talents elsewhere (Iggy Pop, plus big Pig faves The Rich Kids) while the new and "improved" Pistols resorted to dismembering old Eddie Cochran tunes and warbling cute li’l ditties about the Holocaust with some Great Train Robber.



In refusing to press enough copies of "Anarchy In The U.K." to allow the Pistols' debut disc to creep any higher than #38 in the British charts, EMI Records actually (though probably unwittingly) helped establish the band at this most crucial stage of their tragically brief career as not only Euro-youth’s latest cause célèbre, but Fleet Street's most potent front-page fodder since Beatlemania itself. Then, with characteristic ineptness, Malcolm trotted his cultural icons elsewhere:  inanely into the open arms of Virgin Records, at the time widely known – and ridiculed – as the graveyard of such synthesized Seventies casualties as Mike "Tubular Balls" Oldfield. Under Virgin's laughably feather-brained wings, the emphasis was quickly placed more on Amusement than Anarchy, and the band was now forced to attack the airwaves with such duds as "Friggin' in the Riggin',” "Rock Around The Clock" and, in a rare display of Virgin forthrighteousness, Some Product. (NB: said discs now populate your local pop shop's delete zone... right alongside Mike Oldfield's).



No doubt experiencing sudden pangs of guilt in the midst of their post-Rumours coke 'n' caviar indulgences, and in nostalgic remembrance of their label's maverick infancy when record contracts were bravely being handed out to the likes of Wild Man Fischer and The Fugs, Warner Bros. decided to test out the new waves of 1977 by arranging a distribution deal with Seymour Stein's legendary Sire label (who in turn had such bright hopes as the Ramones and Talking Heads under contract). However, soon growing discontent with simply marketing Seymour's signings, Warners set out to land a punk act of their very own Stateside, and spent untold amounts of Fleetwood Mac royalties to graft Malcolm's boys to the dotted line in October of '77. No sooner had WB issued Never Mind The Bollocks, here’s John, Paul, Steve and Sid on their very doorstep as it were, about to embark on that ill-fated first, and last, American tour. Now, to say Warner Bros. had absolutely NO IDEA how to handle, let alone capitalize upon, the Pistols' arrival on the U.S. scene is akin to accusing John Lydon of having certain flaws in his personality... to say nothing of his choice of diners (for example, it's been alleged Warners hired former CIA goons to roadie the band's tour). Nevertheless, despite a decade of non-promotion, Bollocks was finally awarded Gold Record status in 1987...  and Warners went on to reap additional billions from Seymour Stein's signings (ie: Madonna).



It's a hitherto closely-guarded secret that 'way back in the Summer of Hate one esteemed Chicago Sun-Times film critic was, by some inSidious twist of faith, hired by Russ “Beyond The Valley Of” Meyer to script the Sex Pistols' eagerly-awaited silver screen debut, Who Killed Bambi?  ("Remember, without me, there wouldn't be any mention of Bambi in this movie," boasted Ebert to Rolling Stain). Yet despite both a healthy budget (courtesy of Warners' film division) and truly inspired casting (Marianne Faithfull as Sid's mother), the movie never made it past the screenplay stage, denying not only the Blank Generation of a Hard Day's Night they could call their own, but theatre-goers the world over a larger-than-life Technipallor dose of charisma Rotten & Vicious-style. Who Killed Bambi appeared years later in wholly bastardized form as The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle, Meyer quickly high-tailed it onto the pages of Film Threat magazine …and Marianne Faithfull was, bless her great big heart, recently spotted sipping wine in a Paris hotel lobby with none other than her far-from-broken Englishman Keith Richards. See? Even this screenplay has a happy ending!


6.  THE I.N.S.

At 11:30 PM on the night of December 17, 1977 every North American who still believed rock’n’roll had some spit left in it was tuned to their local NBC-TV affiliate, anxiously awaiting the Sex Pistols' long-rumored appearance on Saturday Night Live: a television event which promised to equal, if not surpass, Elvis and them Fabs' Ed Sullivision barnstorms of decades previous. Alas, it was not to be. For several days before The Great Event That Couldn't, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, lamely citing several Cook and Jones criminal offenses (nothing serious, mind you... just the usual r'n'r roster of B and E's, concealed weapon and assault-with-a-Fender-bass charges) ruthlessly denied both Malcolm and his anti-Beatles permission to enter the Big Apple. That is, until after the comparatively meek and mild Elvis Costello had replaced the Pistols on the SNL in question. Perchance it's simply virtual paranoia running away with me again (excuse me, I think my mouse is tapped...) but this seems to me to be but the first of several high-level attempts to squash the horror known as p-u-n-k-r-o-c-k by the post-Watergate White House. Read on.



Unlike British Prime Minister Harold Wilson, who shrewdly rode to Downing Street beneath the coat-tails of four fellow Liverpudlians in 1964, Jimmy Carter was not so willing to embrace the latest pop/rock peculiarities in order to secure a power base amongst his nation's young. Quite to the contrary, at a closed-door pow-wow with the recording industry elite in 1977, the peanut-pruning President reportedly suggested to a gaggle of America's leading radio programmers and promo honchos, in a most sinisterly Agnewesque fashion, that, quote, "Boys, we really don't want this new wave music now, DO WE." As a sorrowful result, the Pistols' stylus-shaking debut LP soon vanished from the airwaves and sales racks of the land, only to be replaced by the safe, sterile, sickly-slick sounds of, amongst far too many others...



This late but wisely little-lamented combo epitomized America's squeaky-clean response to the Pistols’ furor: They looked, and sounded about as menacing as Pat Boone had twenty years before, when he too helped rid the USA of "dangerous new sounds" by musically castrating the likes of "Tutti Frutti." Ironically, it was Pat's dippy daughter Debby whose deceptively darkened "You Light Up My Life" held a 439-week stranglehold atop the Billboard Hot 100 at the very moment such classics as "Bodies" and "I'm A Lazy Sod" languished unheard in some obscure Greenwich Village import bin.



And while America was being force-fed such pablum as "My Best Friend's Girl" and "Heart of Glass” under the guise of New Wave, those Brothers Gibb, designer chest-wigs intact, were busy dominating both the AM and FM dials with their eunuch blend of down-under falsettos and bubbleyum R'n'B. Their glory daze already far behind them, these once-imaginative Aussie chart-toppers pioneered the utterly detestable genre known and loved/loathed to this day as Soundtrack Rock, thanks to such full-length promotional vehicles as Saturday Night Fever and (pause for blanching) Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The veritable upchuck of billion-sellers which resulted left precious little room in your home entertainment center for Messrs. Vicious, Rotten, Cook and Jones.


10.  JOHN SIMON RITCHIE, 1957 - 1979

R.I.P(unk):  No Future indeed.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Joe Dirt/Joe Dirt 2


(Happy Madison, 2001/2015) Noble and I have been watching every Adam Sandler/Happy Madison/Happy Madison adjacent movie for the last few months, as he fills out a spreadsheet he created documenting Sandler-signature tropes and peccadillos (Sandler wearing shorts; cruel bullying portrayed as a virtue; hiring Allen Covert; Rob Schneider ethnic impersonation; audible fart, etc.), with a goal of creating a database revealing the Sandler-iest of the Sandler pictures. We are in the home stretch now, and to be thorough we are checking out DVD releases to see if deleted scenes change any tallies, or to find short bonus films to add to the list.  Anyhow, you get a few surprises along the way, and the most pleasant one came on my recent viewing of David Spade's reliably, if mildly, funny tribute to White trash culture, Joe Dirt. The two-decade old comedy has aged well, not only because juvenile potty humor is relatively timeless, but mainly because Spade seemed really invested in creating a sympathetic, ethical, innocent, humble hero, whose lowbrow taste and toothless braggadocio define him less than his innate likability. As in Spade's far inferior, Dickie Roberts, which is jarringly closer to an MOR family comedy than almost anything else in the Sandlerverse, things shake out so that in the end the lovable loser gets way more lovable and way less loser-ish. 
   The recent death of Rush Limbaugh, whose jokes seemed very poorly executed to my ears' funnybones, led to online discussions about which conservative funnymen are, in fact, funny men. Sandler and Spade were celebrated, with the caveat that they are publicly soft spoken about any Republican leanings. However, possibly the most conservative element of the Happy Madison comedies is their definition of "good guy." Why is it so important that Deuce Bigelow and Bucky Larson not actually have sex while thriving at sex work? Why is there noble dignity in working at a toll booth but slutty shame in serving at Hooters? And while it is funny how casually nonplussed Joe Dirt is to be trapped in the sex abuse pit of Silence of the Lamb's cross-dressing killer, why is it considered so hilarious for the random Farley brother, and other typical Sandler supporting characters, to want to humiliate Joe for being victimized? Well, whatever the reason is for this sex-negative sympathetic protagonist formula, one thing is for sure: Joe nails it. He is completely adorable, and Spade's light, earnest constant joking, especially in the Dennis Miller shock jock radio interview framing device, is delightful.  There are two slow-developing poop joke set pieces in the film, but the bathroom humor is more a declaration of proud juvenility than it is a defining feature. Joe Dirt is a movie about liking Joe Dirt. 
    I had seen the film years ago, and it made a good impression, as the fun film follows the model of the first and most recent Pee Wee pictures, putting our manchild hero on a grand road trip mission. But the DVD proved a real treat and elevated my esteem for the movie because there were two commentary tracks. Spade's was good, demonstrating how proud and invested he was in the project (he put up his own money to afford Christopher Walken) and some of his comedy philosophy ("big teeth, big laughs") and returning again and again to his pride in coming in under budget so that they could afford the classic rock song licenses the film needed to get the trailer park flavor just right.
    But the commentary from director Dennie Gordon was the treasure. A lot of the pleasure was in hearing her genuine pride in this silly film, and her affection and loyalty to her crew (putting them in as extras for fun, for example). But what was really good was her technical insights, breaking down the shots and the lighting and framing, explaining how even how very dumb comedy needs to be executed just right so the jokes hit. During the part where Joe and his Native American fried find a nuclear bomb she explains broadly how jokes and reveals were re-scripted to make them work better, explains how shots were composed to get the most oomph, marvels at a perfect lens flare during a driving shot, and most impressively, breaks down the composition of the shot in which pounds of diarrhea drips on Joe's head to makes you appreciate the cinematic craftsmanship and deftness needed to make a poopy head joke as funny and effective as possible.
    Which is why I had high hopes for Joe Dirt 2, which reunited most of the original cast and some of the original creative team (though not Gordon). Sure it was 14 years after the original, and was produced by Crackle, a streaming service on which you can watch episodes of The Critic, sequenced out of order, that look like VHS transfers and stop for commercials mid-joke. But's Joe Dirt...we love that guy!
    This may not be the the actual worst movie I've ever seen, but it is the most disappointed and frustrated I've ever been watching a movie, and it is SOOOOOO BAAAAAD! What is most foundationally off-putting about it is that it doesn't even look like a movie. At all. Any lessons learned on the set of the original about the craft of comedy filmmaking was buried under pounds of diarrhea. Many, many, many of the shots are just someone (often a Playmate/porn-looking starlet in an awkward sexy stance) standing mid-frame, shot in antiseptic Hi Def with bright, depth free lighting, saying a bad line awkwardly that does not fit the timing of the scene and looks unlike a movie or commercial or real life...or anything.  
    And the crazy thing is this movie's narrative is an ambitious time travel/It's Wonderful Life/dirtbag Forest Gump thing (i.e. time travel Joe sees teenage Skynyrd playing in a club and mentors them towards their destiny/true band name, dismissing the faux Van Zandt's deathly unfunny series of gay band name choices). But the execution was so bad it made me feel shame for finishing the movie and made me deeply dislike everyone involved in its production. I always assumed because he is relatively funny in everything I've seen prior to this that Patrick Warburton was OK, but he was so unfunny delivering such basely awful and terrible material in this that moving forward he might as well have white power tattoos on his face as far as my sympathies towards him. This movie is so bad it feels like a hate crime, and not for the endless homophobic jokes, but for just being deeply, deeply, deeply awful.
    Roseanne Barr and Gary Busey were originally shot as Dirt's lost parents in the first film, but Gordon reveals in the commentary that they were so recognizable it took away from the comedy, so they reshot with the very funny Caroline Aaron and Fred Ward. Not only would they have NEVER considered losing footage of a celebrity in JD2, but I don't believe they shot a frame of sterile, soulless Hi-Def video that they didn't use.This is just a filthy toilet full of one take terribleness by people who it is hard to believe ever knew how to make a movie. I don't know why Walken agreed to be in this, but he made a terrible mistake. I don't know why Kid Rock knew to turn this down (his role re-cast with the Sugar Ray guy, who is dead to me now), but ROck has now earned a level of feel respect from me. I don't know exactly what my current opinion of David Spade is, but I do know that after watching the original Joe Dirt commentaries my opinion of him as a comic, a person, and a moviemaker soared. I was re-accessing his prominence in the Sandlerverse and proudly rooting for him moving forward. I was willing to fall under the spell of cinema and transfer Joe Dirt's nice guy/lovable/worthy winner attributes to the goofy character's creator. Not so much anymore.
    If there is one good thing about Joe Dirt 2 is that there's no DVD commentary or bonus features of any sort, which is a blessing. I could not spend one more second with that fucking Dirtball...a dirtball that one DVD ago I was willing to spend my whole life with.
    But that's the way the dirt crumbles.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Z Roll Farm Original Flavour


(Taekaenoi, mfd 8/20, exp 8/21) I am not sure exactly what this Thai snack is. The first one I bought was just a piece of rigid rolled up seaweed, soaked in something sweet. The cone/tube formed a cavern that was confoundingly empty, so I thought maybe this was the snack equivalent of some kind of zen koan for me to ponder as I snacked, but considering the prominent "Central Islamic Council of Thailand" stamp on the back I dismissed that.  Instead I went back and bought a variant that had a picture of something inside. Since the "Z" in the name is parenthetically rollspained to mean "sea" on the wrapper, I expected something fishy, but the giant self-peeling potato graphic suggested a spud theme. However, the spotted green, phallic/horror movie creature graphic declaring "Original Flavour" threw that easy explanation off. The ingredient list suggests this it is a seaweed wrapped, meat and fish-free potato/corn grit hydrid chip ziggurat flavo(u)red with sugar, mushrooms, soy sauce and liquid smoke. But the sticker attached next to the ingredients declaring "California Proposition 65 WARNING Cancer and Reproductive Harm" made me stop analyzing the wrapper and just enjoy this sweet, crunchy, mysterious, dangerous goodness. I like it. And I've lived long enough and am not pregnant, so will continue to risk it.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Dot Wiggin Band "Ready! Get! Go!"


(Alternative Tentacles, 2013) Obviously you can't re-capture the Shaggs shagginess, but Dot's record from a few years back is a real pleasure and her songs are still great and her singing is both better and exactly as Elmer Fudd-ian as ever. I am very glad this record exists.

Snak Club Tajin Chili & Lime Toasted Corn


(, 2021) The Snak Club is a club I join without hesitation, and if they serve this snak at meetings I hope the Zoom era ends soon. This is basically mini-corn nuts with Tajin on them. It is a perfect portion size and though I feel these could use one extra shake of what I refer to at home as Lime Salt (in contrast with Lemon Pepper, as these are the two seasonings I consider first and second, before even standard S&P), I am able to accommodate that shake, so no problem.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

too much joy "mistakes were made"


(People Suck, 2021) Just enough joy! And that is not really me being lazy, or jokey (this time). This is not a band that I particularly connected with historically, but sincerely delivered poppy pleasantness with humor and a balance between shiny veneer and DIY earnestness is welcome these days. If everything wasn't web-based now, I'd be well served to to listen to this while I waited in the IRL unemployment line.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Whole Shabang


(Keefe, 2021) These are very good chips, and the "super-seasoned" thing is deftly finessed, offering a lot of flavor without being overly salty or unpleasantly hot. I only see these is certain spots on the South Side and I thought maybe these were being awkwardly marketed to Black communities with a slang product name that does not seem to have that much resonance or specificity but it turned out the real story is about super specific tastes. This brand apparently is such a popular snack amongst the incarcerated that the company began offering it outside of prisons and jails because of demand by freed or paroled Shabangers. So if you see a store stocking this feel secure and proud to be surrounded by those receiving second (or greater) chances. And we now know prison populations are fine arbiters of snacky goodness. I would suggest paid focus group taste testing as a new prison job, but obviously that would devolve into some Tuskegee shit in a matter of weeks, so this is a case where we will just have to count on capitalism to help us get guidance from discerning inmates on our leisure food options.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Oxford American Summer 2013 issue


(, 2013) I usually just read the music issue, but for some lucky reason, I own the whole 2013 run, which were sitting unread in my home, just waiting for a pandemic. I read them all during my fun COVID hiatus, and man am I glad I did. I am not Southern and have spent less than 2% of my life living down South, but who doesn't dig Southern music and/or writing? This was my favorite issue of the batch. Fine work in this issue includes a piece on Hiss Golden Messenger by Amanda Putrusich, whose 78 record goon book makes her my perpetual music writing hero; an explanation of, and recipe for, Bible Cake by Chris Offutt; Robert Gordon on Tav Falco (with devastating photos making it 1000x cooler than the recent similar piece in Third Man's mag); some jarring fiction from Delaney Nolan; some meta-maybe fiction about the possibly true story behind a fictional story about teenage fake cowboy work, by Ron Rash; and Stanley Crouch stanley crouching to the extreme in response to Django Unchained. But the money pieces are by two women who do not mess around when it comes to getting at the goods. Wendy Brenner writes about going deep into the Internet detective hole after becoming obsessed with a mysterious, seemingly enchanted eBay seller poetically hawking hundreds of thousands of pieces of bizarre costume jewelry. Her eBay drowning occurred while housebound due to illness and while I am sure this was a stellar read in 2013, in late 2020, deep into an international pandemic of houseboundness, it resonates chillingly. Also...Jennifer Percy spends a week at the Vent Heaven ventriloquist convention! I don't feel I need to even tease why this is interesting, but what it is hard not to mention is the conventioneers (also more resonant in the post-Trump era) constant suspicion of journalists, specifically, their relatively media savvy awareness/fear that they are going to be made to look like weirdos if they cooperate with the writer. ALL DECLARED WHILE ACTING AS WEIRD AS POSSIBLE! This back issue is available relatively cheap, and is highly recommended, and as soon as I have actual income coming in I will subscribe. I sure hope that over the last decade it hasn't gone south. (rimshot)

Monday, February 15, 2021

Marie Severin - The Mirthful Mistress of Comics by Dewey Cassell with Aaron Sultan


(TwoMorrows, 2012) Marie Severin is definitely one of the most interesting figures in comics history, but she is also possibly one of the greatest comic book artists. One can make a strong case that we don't know the answer to the latter declaration because of sexism, but it is also possible that her other talents kept her from that fate; that she made a more secure living not going that path; or even that she just didn't want to do it. Unfortunately, we do not know the answer to that question after reading this book, but considering the resources available, we are fortunate Mr. Cassell and Mr. Sultan dedicated themselves to give us even this much. Like all TwoMorrows publications, reprints of rare, wonderful artwork makes this book a genuine treasure. Unfortunately, like many (certainly not all) of TwoMorrows' books, this isn't really a book, more like a squarebound fanzine, and a lot of this is transcribed interviews with figures who had varying levels of familiarity with Marie's work, plus some reprinted archival interviews, and a chapter structure that arranges interviews and short blurbs and artwork into categories. What we do learn is about the path of her fascinating career. As sister to the great (greatest?) Western comics artist and Cracked cover/parody king John Severin, Marie was introduced into the industry and became a colorist for the legendary EC horror, war, and humor books (including the original run of MAD). Her dynamic artistic talent meant that the colors deftly enhanced the frights, intrigue, excitement, and laughs, but when an anti-comics crusade led to MAD becoming a black & white magazine she no longer had a role at the publisher (more on that later). She ended up with Marvel where her value, if not necessarily her talents, were recognized. Marie had an amazing design sense, was a remarkable caricaturist, was incredibly funny, worked quickly and very hard, and was a good teammate. She was on staff, coloring or overseeing others doing the coloring, but also made last minute corrections, did the artwork for house ads, special projects, and fan club material (she is credited here as the artist for the delightfully infamous Hulk sweatshirt where he is pulling the toy ducky on the back of the shirt), and could be relied on for pretty much anything visual needed at the company. She did do several runs of full issues on major comics in between other artists, had her own comic briefly (Beware! The Claws of  the Cat), paired with her brother for the sublime Kull series, and most prominently, had a run where she was the signature cover artist across almost all titles  (Gil Kane and Jack Kirby both had long stretches where they did most of the covers across titles as well, it was a thing they did back then). This was because she genuinely, innately knew how to design a perfect, dynamic comic book cover. This was an incredible skill, and what I did not know before I read this book was that she also for a long while designed nearly every Marvel cover, drawing out loose, gorgeous preliminary covers for other artists to follow, which are now the original comics artwork I most covet. She was truly one of the masters of superhero cover art (Kirby fans are familiar with a solid Kirby Thor cover that was rejected and replaced with a brilliant Severin cover of a sword-yielding Loki lording over a supplicant Thunder God...Loki's sneering face on that cover is a high point in Marvel art history). So, should she have been given more chances to be the lead artist on Marvel books in the 60s and 70s, and did sexism hold her back? Clearly there was sexism, but drawing comics was a thankless, low paying job with little security. Even the greats at Marvel, Jack Kirby especially, were freelancers on the hustle. Did being a staffer provide a better, or at least a more secure, living? It is unclear from this book what the financial stakes were. Also, was her wide range of talents too valuable to lose by making her a full time penciler? Perhaps there was no path at Marvel that would have brought her more security and riches. However, as is the case so frequently in TwoMorrows publications, the most knowledgeable, insightful input comes from Mark Evanier, who speculates that her natural humor and incredible caricaturing (frequently used primarily for office morale, as her coworkers valued the cartoons she made of them, even the ones that were truth-tellingly critical) meant that EC should have hired her back to work at MAD. They knew her and knew what she could do and just were seemingly unable to conceive of a woman being a valuable part of the Usual Gang of Idiots. MAD was second only to Playboy in pay rate, and Marie could have really done well if she was doing some movie parodies and article illustrations for them. Marvel created a few short-lived comics that applied the early 50s comic book MAD approach to toothless parodies of Marvel characters or current pop culture (Not Brand Ecch, Spoof, Arrgh!), and that became Marie's signature work for the company. When Marvel did Crazy, their knockoff of MAD magazine in the 70s and 80s, she did great work, but the pay was miserable. Though she held Marvel together during some of its most important eras, maybe her glory could have came elsewhere. Or maybe she wouldn't have wanted to do that. I don't know from reading this book, which interviews her without getting at a lot of insights, and does not pretend to be a deeply analytic, research intensive biography that is in a position to make any kind of bold statements or hypothesis (Evanier's theory is an outlier). And that is what it is. As I write this I notice that copies of the book are on super sale at TwoMorrows site so I definitely think you should get this, even if it just to see the sketches, the illustrated envelopes to friends, the rare layouts, the original art reproductions (including color guides and commissions), and a beautiful color section. Her legacy deserves more (maybe a coffee table collection of her cover breakdowns?) but it is great that we even got this, and I'm grateful the author and publisher got the ball on Marie studies rolling.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Hershey's Kisses Lava Cake

 (Hersheys, 2021) I'm kinda in the same boat as Colbert in thinking that dark chocolate is bogus - milk chocolate just tastes better, so what is the point? But put goo in the middle? You got my attention Milton Hershey...

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Trolli Sour Brite Crawlers

(2021)This has florescent fur! I don't know if this will seal the deal on some valentine action for you, but I do know that any person who would let a fluorescent fur box of sugar worms seal a deal is a person that will provide spectacular action, guaranteed!


Friday, February 12, 2021

Neil Hamburger "First of Dismay," "Still Dwelling," The Yellow River Boys "Urinal Street Station," On Cinema live, Mister America

(2013-2019, Drag City, mostly) To me true success is having a terrible idea, committing to it, and then executing it to completion with exacting precision and unyielding conviction.  Anyone should (though not everyone can) see a good idea through. But to see a terrible idea through and hold your head high at the end is a very special achievement. There is no finer example of this than the Yellow River Boys, a glistening sample cup of shameless (literally, as presenting this material without shame is key) Southern boogie rock exclusively about peeing for pleasure. This is so funny, and so dedicated to theme, that I consider it the most heroic music recorded of the last decade. There are many very talented musicians/fetishists involved in this project, but Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington certainly have their DNA splashed all over it. 
    Speaking of Tim and Gregg, I am not deeply ensconced into the On Cinema world enough to speak on it as their superfans might, but I really do feel it was perfect comedy for the Trump era. Tim and Gregg portray characters that are both profoundly mediocre White American men who have come to deeply believe they are spectacular, entitled geniuses. What is particularly insightful is how Gregg is more or less harmless and borderline charming in his charmlessness as he spews his VHS gospel with unearned, delusional self-confidence, while Tim is only 5% more cocky, yet that 5% leads to actual death and destruction everywhere he goes. The MAGA parallels in the Tim/Gregg act would became more evident as Donald's actual words and actions kept blurring the lines between absurdist comedy and horror reality, eventually inspiring an actual On Cinema election movie (Mister America). But long before Trump triumphed these echos were in the characters (years ago Tim in his awkward standup would stumble through anti-Obama musings). In the past I had not enjoyed live Tim and Eric shows because the awkward silences on TV were where all the comedy happened; raucous fanboy cheering killed the humor. But On Cinema works on so many more levels that seeing their tour with crowd interactions (for VHS movie trivia challenges, and demagogue political rally simulations) was a delight. If the Yellow River Boys is the ultimate example of bringing a single terrible idea to glorious fruition, the massive, sprawling Extended On Cinema-tic Universe is a glorious, gluttonous feast of things that shouldn't have been done but damn well were.
    With these excellent examples of ill-advisedness in mind Turkington's work with the hapless Neil Hamburger seems almost quaint, but his last two LPs yielded some of his best work. Because Hamburger does not sing beautifully it certainly falls under the questionable project umbrella for him to release an all musical album, but his country album a few years back was a pleasant exploration/exploitation of C&W tropes and treasures. But the 2019 Still Dwelling album is a quantum leap deeper into the musicverse. By enlisting gifted industry veterans to arrange, produce and play the splendid music on here, Hamburger has created a lush landscape of stellar sounds upon which to lay his cringy caterwauling. But even if he sang gorgeously (which is not possible while still being identifiable as Neil Hamburger) or had a gifted songbird triumphantly trill over the tracks, it would still qualify as a terrible idea, for while this music is perfect and perfectly executed, it is all done with the ornate excess of the Bacharach/Andrew Lloyd Weber heyday, a style no one (the fools!) cares about these days. So there is no way in hell this very labor intensive project qualifies as a good idea, and by executing it fully and fabulously it becomes a great triumph, if a bizarre one (as T.S.O.L. and Heart songs are given glorious production flourishes, and even an actual J.C. Superstar tune is brought to climax). It is really fun to sing Superstar songs, and while early Hamburger musical excursions parodied the comedians and actors who indulged themselves by recording pop songs, I feel Hamburger is overtly indulging himself here. This does not sound like a joke, and it does not sound like karaoke, as no karaoke track would have this level of, or such dated, production. And his voice is not presented as that of an awkward karaoke singer, for the production here is so good they actually take Neil's substantial vocal deficiencies into consideration, and this thing sounds as good as possible. As this project travels from terrible idea to musically magnificently inevitable commercial flop, Neil is rewriting the rules of failure!
    And Still Dwelling is not even Neil's crowning musical achievement. On his previous LP, First of Dismay, Neil combined classic standup with some songs (including a Merle Haggard cover that does sound like karaoke, in a relatively good way). Hidden within is Neil's masterpiece: "Endless Roll." On this meticulously crafted, catchy pop disco ditty Neil, with painful sincerity and exacting specificity, expresses his frustration with a never-ending box of Costco garbage bags of such infuriatingly inferior quality that he fantasizes about throwing a party when the bags are finally used up, then cleaning up after the party utilizing a worthy brand's bags. He describes the failures of the drawstrings in detail and has powerful pain, confusion, and despair in his voice. Is it a good idea to write a song about malfunctioning trash can liner plastic drawstrings? How can it be? Is this song fantastic? Yes it is. And while great protest and calls to action and shining lights of truth songs have been written about conspicuous consumerism, and while much musical talent has been devoted to infectious commercial jingles, Mr. Neil Hamburger may have written history's only full length, danceable, earworm, lyrically magnificent anti-jingle denigrating a specific product. He is the first person to ever release a song about shitty garbage bags! He is a genuine musical innovator and revolutionary, in part because his idea is so deeply, truly terrible. What would you call that? I call it TRUE SUCCESS!

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Sammy Davis Jr Open End Disc Jockey Interview

(Reprise, 1961) 
What is better than an open ended interview record, those bizarre artifacts featuring a celebrity giving answers to questions following a section of silence, in which a script-following radio DJ sets 'em up for the star to knock 'em down? There have been joke ones (Bob and Doug) or half-joking ones (RuPaul) but finding a real life Open End disc is a magical treat. I did not receive the script so my first cold listen involved me improvising and anticipating as I hemmed and hawed my way through general questions while fantasizing about sitting across from Samala (some of them even almost made sense). My game was made more fun by the oddly extra long silences to accommodate the seemingly complex canned questions. And every listen was especially fun because of Mr. Davis' eloquent and dignified answers. Sure, his replies were somewhat flat, and he seemed less engaged than he would be with Carson (or Larry King, or Dick Cavett, or Alex Haley in Playboy), but that makes sense, why would he treat me like Showbiz  royalty? Best yet, he is taken aback, perhaps slightly insulted, that I would deign to ask the question that was pre-scripted, perhaps by himself, about his leisure time (Sammy works more than the rest of the Rat Pack, never taking a vacay, but he does indulge his hobbies [golf, guns, gear (high end Hi Fi stuff], and getting pictures taken with his cameras) between sets and shots). This was made around 1961, it seems, as he's actively promoting his The Sammy Davis Jr All Star Spectacular all vocal impressions album and is reflecting on Oceans 11. He name drops not only Frankie (Sinatra can sing, which is why he can act, we learn), but also Dino, Charles de Gaulle, Bela Lugosi and Mario Lanza. the B-side is just a long series of tones, maybe so the radio engineer can calibrate the 7" to the DJ's levels, or maybe it's an open ended interview record for Martian DJs who dig Sammy. I mean, who doesn't? 

(Thanks to Victorville Film Archive for donating this record to Roctober's collection) 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Leslie Odom, Jr. & Sam Ashworth "Speak Now" flexi

 (ABKCO/Amazon Studios, 2021) As the revival of vinyl (or "vinyls" as they are often oddly called these days) and record players and Record Store Days continues I am constantly trying to figure out what signs point to the supreme audio format being here to stay, or, alternately, having jumped the shark and headed towards the way of the Zune. Well if ever I was surprised and confounded and unsure what signs pointed where, it was when the new issue of Variety featured a promotional flexi disc rubber cemented into the magazine to promote this tune from "One Night In Miami..." (the drama about Sam Cooke, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, and Jim Brown having a deep hang in 1963) for best original song Oscar. A flexi stuck in a magazine like it was a 60s National Geographic,  a 70s MAD special, or an 80s pop magazine?!? When Eva-Tone went out of business 20 years ago I thought flexis were done forever, but someone took up the production mantle and now this craziness is happening...what's next...BTS records glued to cereal boxes? I am 99.9% sure this flexi has a bunch of fake surface noise/audio pops put in the mix, to go along with the period theme of the movie (there is a .1% chance the magazine rubbed up on it and that the new manufacturer of flexis now makes them in a manner that makes pops possible). It also is either pressed on, or adhered to, a heavier plastic than most classic flexis, and the hole was a little small, but that made for a snug fit and it played fine. As far as the song, well Sam Cooke wouldn't have lost any sleep if Bobby Womack released this opposite one of his singles, but Odom can sing, and if you think I'm rooting against Regina and her four Kings you are crazy. I hope this does win an Oscar, and that the statuette they hoist has a flexi attached to his shiny bottom featuring selections from Sam Cooke at the CopaThe Adventures of Ali vs. Mr. Tooth DecayMessage to the Grass Roots, and Jim Brown Tells It Like It Is.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Josh Caterer "The Hideout Sessions"


(Pravda, 2021) Pravda is one of my favorite Chicago labels, and not just because they gloriously refuse to die. When I was a teen my neighborhood band, The Farmers, was on the label. My musical hero, Andre Williams, was welcomed with open grooves. Their series of live albums with outsider musicians (Tiny Tim, Cordell Jackson, Hasil Adkins) were some of the first concerts I attended that were immortalized with releases. Their retail space (when it was by the Music Box) was friendly, had great punk singles, and generously sold me many, many good records. When the New Duncan Imperials were funny it appealed to my dementoid novelty DNA, and when their jokes were corny, awkward and fell flat it had a satisfying Dick DeBartolo MAD movie parody thud. Chicago off center legends like the C*nts and Cheer-Accident made the label historically crucial, in an asterisk way. And the label's inkling to lean into fun rootsy rock & R&B every so often is a repeated reminder that their sensibilities line up with mine. Musically they have been so all over the place for the last 35 years it is hard to compare them to other labels (except maybe Cash Money, if you're taking Trump pardons into consideration), but while that variety may have kept them from having the success that a narrowcasted label might achieve, it sure kept things fun. I am also a Hideout superfan, and no Chicagoan needs to hear justification for digging that gem. I am not particularly invested in the Smoking Popes, so take away the Kenn and Tutten connections and maybe I come in cold on this one, but factoring those in I went in with open ears, and was pleasantly rewarded. Obviously I am not going to complain about any record with a sincere Sammy Davis, Jr. cover, but I waas also delighted by the sincerity, simplicity, and grace Caterer and the rest of his trio (the always classy bass of John San Juan and the tastefully forward-in-the-mix drumming of John Perrin) bring to standards, while never dipping into lounge schmaltz or even nostalgia. This is a low key slice of calming loveliness, which is a nice treat after the last million years we went through in the last twelve months.

Monday, February 8, 2021

The Red Step

 (Pravda, 2021) More like the "Dread" Step! ButI seeing as that's what they're going for, good job boys!

Sunday, February 7, 2021



(Munster, 2013) I don't speak Spanish, I don't know any of these bands, and I lost the liner notes. But I'm 666% sure all two and half hours of these songs translate to "Bela Lugosi is Dead" over and over and over...and I LOVE it! Though I feel like even I know how to say "Bela Lugosi," "is," and "dead" en Espanol. So maybe this is all regional dialects. 

Friday, February 5, 2021

Coca-Cola with Coffee


(Coca-Cola, 2021) It tastes like Coca-Cola...and coffee. At the same time!

Thursday, February 4, 2021



(Source, 1979) I consider Debarge one of my favorite groups of all time, and because they were such talented songwriters (Diane Warren wrote their too corny hit, and someone else gets the blame for "Who's Johnny;" all their magnificent compositions were original) you can make an argument they they were the most talented Motown family act. You would lose that argument, Michael's intangibles alone are G.O.A.T. stuff, but you could make and sustain the argument for a respectable arguing session. As big a fan as I am, I intentionally have not found out everything about the group, because the more you learn the sadder and worse it gets. I know there is some kind of self-published Tell All, and a Bobby Debarge melodrama movie, but I just...can't. The music is so good and does not make me sad, and the tragedy is just too much for me. But that willful ignorance has kicked me in the tuchus this time, as I did not know anything about Smash, the pre-Debarge/Switch act. So, what is kind of commonly known, is that Bobby and Tommy Debarge were is Switch who got on Motown, and Bobby helped five other siblings get signed as Debarge (though even that is still kinda confusing, when El sings Switch's "I Call Your Name" in concert, as one example). What I did not know was that Bobby and some of the musicians of Switch were originally part of Barry White's team under the name White Heat. So the crazy part comes next: most of White Heat become Hot-Ice (different than the disco group Hot Ice that were out at the same time) and they release an album in Germany that, according to a note on the back of the Smash LP, "hit the top of the West German-Swiss music circles" in 1977.  This group had most of the future Switch musicians playing on it,and a few of the Switch vocalists, plus it added El, Marty, and Randy Debarge, so 60% of Debarge, and most of Switch, plus some other guys. That's a lot of dudes making a lot of sounds, which I know because in 1979 they re-released it in the US under the band name Smash with a fantastic, if incongruent, pseudo-Jack Kirby cover. So my choosing to be dumb about Debarge for that last four decades meant I was sentenced to never listen to their lost funk album until 2021! And this is funk, not disco. While the brass heavy stuff is pretty akin to classic Kool and the Gang stuff, there is also a ton of Hammond and Rhodes on some tracks that are layered in a way that teases the synth density on the Minneapolis stuff that was about to hit. The lead track (the only one with Switch's Phil Ingram, as a percussionist, not vocalist) is a manic funk instrumental recalling Billy Preston's "Outa-Space," but with so many musicians and vocalists involved the sound changes track to track, and only three of the eight songs even hint at the kind of falsetto vocal arrangements that the Debarge clan made magical. But on side 2, track 3 we get a Bobby-written tune called "Please Don't Let Me Go" which is just a straight up Debarge/Switch ballad in every way, time warping this LP a few years into the future, giving 70s ears a glimpse into the best of 80s R&B. This album is all over the place but all the places are good and I guess I am glad I was so dumb for so long, because there is delight in discovery. I wonder how things turned out for Bobby...wait, don't tell me!