Saturday, June 29, 2013

District 9 (South Africa, 2009)

District 9 achieves the impossible: it’s a film that manages to merge science fiction, political satire, comedy and action hero testosteronics without dropping any balls. It all works flawlessly and perhaps that’s why it earned an Academy Award Best Picture Nomination in 2010 (The Hurt Locker won).

Neil Blomkamp’s first film is a stunner: a gigantic space ship from an unexplained planet is land-locked over Johannesburg, South Africa with all the aliens aboard (called “Prawns”) near death and dehydrated. After being “rescued” they are sent an internment camp which quickly turns into a beat slum where they are largely neglected.

The discrimination takes a turn for the ugly when a munitions company called MNU (Multi-National United) begins a program to have them all kicked out of their shacks in the largely fenced off area. Most of this is shot in a reality show documentary style, almost overshadowing the excellent CGI effects of the Prawns arguing with the authorities.

A cheerful, bumbling stooge of a bureaucrat, Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley) is assigned to head the eviction project. Although he believes he’s been assigned this task for his dedication to MNU it’s revealed that he’s the boss’ son-in-law. Copley plays van der Merwe with an Inspector Clouseau-style obliviousness.

The discrimination and persecution of the Prawns in South Africa brings up several parallels to apartheid, however in this film even the blacks bully the Prawns terribly, especially local gangster Obesandjo and his thugs.

During a routine eviction of Prawn scientist Christopher Johnson (Jason Cope) Wikus finds a canister of Prawn biochemicals that explode in his face, causing him to develop black nose bleeds, frequent lapses in consciousness, and culminating in his development of a Prawn claw. Wikus, after experiencing a nightmarish medical examination, escapes from MNU pursuit to hide in District 9. These scenes recall not one, but two classic Franz Kafka short stories: The Metamorphosis and In The Penal Colony.

At this point of the film the tempo changes from fake documentary and comedy to suspense and action film. Wikus wakes up to the fact he’s been played for a stooge, dumped from his job and his wife and a prime candidate for dissection by both the MNU and the insane Obesandjo (Eugene Khumbanyiwa).

Wikus begs scientist prawn Johnson to hide him much to Johnson’s chagrin, only relenting when he sees his son taking a liking Wikus’ newly grown claw (“He’s one of us”.) Wikus plans a suicide run back to the lab that kept him to recover the cylinder Johnson spent twenty years collecting to enable his spaceship to fly back to his planet. It’s never fully explained how the spaceship rocket fuel can transform an Earthling into a Prawn.

Without getting further into the story there are a lot of action film battle sequences between the newly prawned Wikus against the MNU (esp. a sadistic soldier named Koobus, played with moustache twirling villainy by David James) and the Obesandjo Gang.

While I’m not much of a CGI fan I have to confess that the CGI aliens are outstanding and the audio for their weird voices are bizarre, sounding like a cross between a clicking taxi cab radio and a dying tuba. As stated earlier, there are quite a few references to South African apartheid but on a planetary scale. Copley’s performance as Wikus is excellent, shifting gears from bumbling idiot to persecuted Earth citizen with equal intensity. Come to think of it, District 9 isn’t all that different from The Hurt Locker; it’s The Hurt Locker as co-written by Franz Kafka and Harlan Ellison.

There have been many versions of Crime and Punishment in the cinema, the Peter Lorre version being somewhat good to the awful Crispin Glover–starred update, but there will never be one as nutty as the Southern California hipster version made in 1959, retitled “Crime and Punishment USA”.

Directed by the great Denis Sanders, Crime and Punishment USA is George Hamilton’s maiden voyage as leading man, and he plays the accused killer simply named Robert with an Anthony Perkins-type reptilian aplomb*. The story takes place in groovy Venice, California with a lot of awesome location shots at Pacific Ocean Park (P.O.P. also seen in “Movin’ With Nancy”), and while much is made of beatnik culture with Hamilton kicking back playing bongos with bullfight posters draping his pad, you can tell the Sixties are rolling right in to burst through the walls at any minute.

A few familiar faces are here, too: Frank Silvera from Stanley Kubrick’s “Killer’s Kiss” plays the dogged police inspector Lt. Porter, constantly trying to get Hamilton to confess to his crimes and presenting endless hypotheses about the act of murder. Hamilton laughs in his face and says he’s too good looking to be guilty of any crime, so typical of Southern California narcissism which is so rampant today. When Silvera asks him what he’s majoring in college, Hamilton says, “Politics –I hope to run for office someday”. Haw!

Mary Murphy from “The Wild One” plays a sexless prostitute who befriends Hamilton and allows him to read her diary so he can scream at her with schizo delusional superiority. The overabundance of dialogue would be punishing if it wasn’t for the sheer absurdity of what the actors are being given to read. It’s like a deadpan comedy version of Dostoevsky filtered through a dying beatnik’s cold, dying fingers. Regardless of who’s doing what to whom this is George Hamilton’s show all the way. And it freaks me out!

*It's interesting to note that three years later Orson Welles directed Anthony Perkins in a modern version of Kafka's classic "The Trial". Could Orson have gotten his inspiration after seeing this movie? Nobody's talking. :)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fractured Fashion Flickers

Well, this has been a pretty action-packed week at Viva Rebecca. Anybody who thinks that making clothes is for pussies has another think coming, because a lot of it's pretty physical, more physical than banging on a stupid guitar like a fucking chimp. This is a brief summary of what's happened in the past few days:

(Mon): Spent the better part of the day tearing apart a plus-sized astronaut suit for a private client. By plus-sized I mean that the client is 400+ pounds, so this isn't Buzz Aldrin territory we're talking about. All of the components have to be super-sized and accuracy is absolutely crucial. Working in tandem with that is Rebecca's space alien outfit for the upcoming Barbie convention, which utilizes mixed media of leather, vinyl and multi-colored sequins.

(Tues): Went to The Sword and The Stone in Burbank ( do a fitting for three gigantic statues, two male and one female. All three statues are at least ten feet tall and have to be measured on a ladder and then draped with pattern paper and after, muslin. A lot of crawling around and climbing involved. I left my church goin' clothes at home!

(Wed): Got my two pair of pants in the mail from GuyLook ( from South Korea, a great menswear mail order house. One pair was a wonderful checkered thing, and the other pair was a cool green biker jeans. Lucky I fit perfectly in them as the sizes are very Asian (largest size is a 33 waist). Bless you, YMCA.

Girls are calling Rebecca up for a job trying to replace me. Uh, yeah you can replace me when you can sew, serge, baste any kind of fabric, unpick microscopically tiny seams, draft patterns, trace and cut every kind of material including fur, shop for fabric in the Garment District in less than two hours and still shut the fuck up about your boyfriend problems, bitches.

(Thrs): Went swatching for leather at United Leather in downtown Los Angeles (, probably the closest thing LA has to SH Frank in San Francisco, a veritable endless cove of leather, suede and even furs. Love the textured leather and the prices were reasonable.

The phone's ringing off the hook from production companies requesting our services, so thankfully business is picking up again. What a nightmare year 2012 was.

(Fri): Los Angeles Magazine ran a feature on Julie Newmar's top 10 favorite places in LA and listed Viva Rebecca, us on it. Here's the link: ( And I still managed to find time to make a t-shirt dress for Rebecca and put the finishing touches to my upcoming crime novel - for release in August, 2013 (hopefully).


Lately I've been going crazy over Jo Ghost shoes, whose men's shoes are beautifully designed and use only the best and most exotic leathers money can buy. Their shoes are colorful without being too fruity (i.e. Miami Vice) and the designs are some of the most imaginative this side of John Fluevog.

The 1788 Inglese Multi-Color is a terrific boot using three different shades of leather with a lace-up front. I also like the Antik Submarine shoe which uses a colored stingray pebbled finish, and there's also the 1838 with its endless rows of eyelets and laces, looking just like roller skate shoes without the plate and wheels.

So why don't I own more Jo Ghost shoes? Well, Jo Ghost, based in Italy, on average sell their shoes for at least $400, much too much rich for my blood. Yeah, you need gold blood to afford these babies. But if you have gold blood run don't walk to get your Jo Ghosts, more commonly found at Haute Footwear ( They can also be found at Dellamoda (


Finally got my hands on the S/S 2013 Another Man Magazine, the best men's fashion magazine on the planet, esp. since Homme Essential went Hollywood and preppy in the past year. If you liked The Face Magazine from the Eighties then you'll like this also a lot. There is so much rock & roll style in this fash mag that you'll think you're looking at the hippest rock magazine ever.

Although the cover shows Arctic Monkeys lead singer Alex Turner on the cover there's hipper people to be found inside, like a feature on Nick Cave's sartorial style from his days as grub monster in The Birthday Party to his 3-piece suit look in The Bad Seeds. There's also a photo shoot with Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream and a sneak preview to Richard Hell's upcoming memoirs. I also liked the piece that matched eerily similar quotes on style from Johnny Thunders and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Very cool!

If you like your models either Quadrophenia-style with purple and pink hair or the decadent Seventies Keith Richards beehive boy look, every page just explodes with rock energy, with fashions that include a great Hermes leather t-shirt, Lanvin bondage pants, Jeffery West rocker boots and old Ralph Lauren even has a few rocker threads to show off in here. Another Man is published bi-annually and if you don't mind coughing up $15 an issue it'll sit on your hipster coffee table proudly.

Top illustration: Elvis by Donfeld, from the book "Hollywood Sketchbook".

Friday, June 14, 2013

Doomsday Or Bust

I stood in the alley right by the school yard fence, watching the kindergarten children playing in the yard during recess. I stood right by the sandbox and noticed a gleaming square in the sandbox. It was a photograph, a Polaroid, I guess. Three kids, four years old, squatted to get a closer look at it.
“Eew”, a little boy whined, “it’s a thingie!”
“Stinky finky!” another kid shrieked.
“Yeech, thingie!” a little girl joined in. “Dingie dingie!”

The little boy put his baby finger in his nose and took out a microscopic booger and spread it on the picture. There was baby snot on the Polaroid of a man’s hard-on in the sandbox. The two other kids giggled. The little girl kicked sand all over the Polaroid. The third kid, another little boy, spat on the photo and all three shrieked with laughter. They then grabbed fistfuls of sand and buried the Polaroid in it and jumped on the small mound, shrieking and giggling all the time. I scratched my butt and walked away. I saw enough.

Anyway, I was thinking...if Adam, the first man, was created from dust, why do the rest of us men arise from liquids and fluids we’ve been lying in for nine months? Did we come from the earth or did we come from water? What is our natural element? I’m so confused. I understand less and less as I get older.

I hadn’t worked in awhile and I was down to my last twenty dollars. I needed a job badly and I was willing to take anything, no matter how low I’d sink. I was on my way to Sparky Burger. I saw the large boy shaped like a lightning bolt, Sparky, happily hoisting a plate with a cheeseburger and french fries on it. The other hand held a lightning bolt. Under him was the cheerful slogan, “Sparky Burger, the fastest food in the world: Quick Going In, Quick Going Out”.

I entered Sparky’s and the nervous teenagers behind the counter stared anxiously. Someone asked me if they could help me and I asked for an application. I filled the awful thing out and enjoyed the firm command at the end that stated my urine would have to be studied in order to gain employment at this Sparky’s establishment. All my life I was told I was no good and now suddenly my urine seemed very important to someone. Progress.

I handed my application in. The teenager turned to his right and hollered, “Crawford, we have an applicant!”
A side door opened and a very dour middle-aged black man came out. He shook my hand firmly with a very grave expression on his face.
“How do you do, Mr. Tyler-” He read off the application.
“Taylor”, I corrected.
“Mr. Tyler, I’m Crawford, the manager of this Sparky’s establishment. Will you please be seated?” and led us to some plastic molded tables and chairs designed like lightning bolts.

“Mr. Tyler, I’m looking at your application, and it appears to me you have little experience in the customer service of food preparation business. What makes you feel you are seriously qualified to work at Sparky’s?”
My mouth moved and I spoke. My mind thought, ”How about low self-esteem?”
As I was blowing horseshit about being a good self-starter and enjoying working with different kinds of people he kept tapping his pen against the table with this nobly tolerant look on his face.

“Tyler, I need to get a good idea how you manage under stressful conditions. This is a high-pressure industry and Sparky’s just doesn’t hire anyone, we need people with good initiative and respond well to high-stress situations”.
I cracked a smile that tore all the muscles in my face. I thought, “For five dollars an hour? Crawford, you’re a fucking comedian”.
“Working at Sparky’s is an immense responsibility, and as such you are responsible for many quick, snap decisions. Let me give you an example”. The pen stopped tapping and he proceeded to furrow his brow thoughtfully and quietly thought hard for a brief moment.

“Let’s say, for example, a customer comes in, orders two Sparky Burgers with cheese, one order of Sparky Onion Pals, and an Orange Spark, you give him his food and he suddenly says, Goddammit, Todd (is that your first name, Tyler, Todd?), I asked for only one Sparky Burger without cheese, one order of Sparky Tater Pals and a Sparky Choco Shake, and he’s raising his voice and getting everyone’s attention in the restaurant, and-”
Restaurant? Is that what they’re calling these shit pits these days? Haw!
“-you’re completely in charge! What do you do?”
I gave him a quick answer and already a disgusted, pained expression filled his tired, exhausted black face that toed the line one too many times, a face that had to tolerate hemorrhoids, cavities in the teeth and a wife who couldn’t be pleased even if he put a leash on his neck and handed her the lead in her fist.

Crawford asked me another stupid question concerning fast food preparation and how it applied to man’s inhumanity to man. As he droned his question to me I glanced out the window and saw three teenage black guys swaggering around the parking lot and elbowing patrons going towards their cars, cornering people and taking their wallets. Every time one of the three would hike up their shirt a customer would hand over their wallet. What the fuck.

“I’m waiting for your answer, Tyler, what would you do then?”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Crawford, what did you say?”
“Follow me, Tyler, follow me”, he sighed impatiently. He repeated himself testily and slowly. “A customer comes in without a shirt on and asks you for the key to the Dynamo Room, which is only available to our customers. You say no and he makes a scene, grabbing fistfuls of our condiments from our condiment counter, yelling at the top of his lungs”. His voice rose and he almost shouted. “Quick, Tyler, what do you do then?”

I gave him a slow, mechanical answer. I wasn’t even thinking about what I was saying. My temples pounded. The boredom ached and I was almost in pain from the mundanity of what I was doing. I saw people all around me at their tables eating Sparky’s fast food. Fat. Fat. All I smelled here was burning fat. These people were being duped into thinking they were smelling food but all it was was the stench of burning fat. It took burning fat to cook their food and everything they were consuming was nothing but burned fat. The smell enticed them and now they were eating all that fat, clogging up the plumbing inside their bodies. But they didn’t care. Sparky’s was the people’s choice.

“I don’t know, Tyler”, Crawford winced painfully, “I’m not sure you’re Sparky’s material, but if you answer my last question correctly you may have a chance of turning this around and changing my mind. Now, what if a customer came in and-” My temples pounded harder. Crawford’s voice sounded more and more like a transistor radio with dying batteries. This is probably what telephones sounded like seventy years ago.

The three teenage youths came in from the parking lot. One was carrying a small, green trash bag. The stolen wallets must have been in them. Duh. Since one of them was bare-chested underneath a Raiders jacket, Crawford stopped talking, glared at him, and barked, “Excuse me, sir, but you cannot enter our restaurant without the proper-”
“Shuddup, motherfucker”, the youth pulled out a gun from his waistband and whipped it across Crawford’s face, which sent him falling over the table next to me.

The youth with the bag ran towards the cash registers with his bag held open. The youth with the open Raiders jacket stood to his side with his pistol aimed at the Sparky’s employees. The third youth wore a ski cap and pulled out a pistol from under his waistband and shot out two closed-circuit cameras from either side of the counter. He then spun around and had his gun aimed at us, covering his two friends.

While the guy in the Raiders jacket was barking at the counter help to turn over all their money, the guy with the ski cap covering us yelled, “Nobody move or I’ll blow your motherfucking heads off, understand?”
I glanced down at Crawford and he was wiping the blood off his mouth and staring nervously. Ski Cap, I noticed, was getting a little tense and nervous himself. All the customers stared quietly at the robbery before them. Ski Cap went from holding the gun with one hand to holding it with both.
As I pulled my gun out from inside my waist, Ski Cap yelled, “I said no moving!”
He fired his pistol, at me and hit the woman at the table next to me in the leg. “Aaagh!” the woman shrieked and grabbed her leg, crying. I knew it. He was a lousy shot.

I peeled off two rounds in Ski Cap’s face and he fell against the counter. The boy with the bag quickly turned around to never know who it was who killed him, because I peeled off two more rounds into his back. One was between the shoulder blades and the other shot went right through the back of his neck. He slumped over the counter in a pool of blood. The boy in the Raiders shirt panicked and quickly grabbed the trash bag out of his dead friend’s clutches.

“Fuck you!” he yelled, firing three rounds wildly at me. I ducked behind a table, but it didn’t matter because he couldn’t aim better than his dead friend, and put two rounds into the window, and one into a large cardboard display of Sparky happily holding up a plate of Sparky Electro-Tuna Tacos. Raider Shirt ran out into the parking lot. He hopped on a motorcycle. I ran out after him.

I jumped him from behind and pulled him off his motorcycle. People across the street and all around us were just gaping at us fighting it out.
“Get the fuck offa me, bitch”, he grunted. He kicked me in the face and leaped back on his cycle. He kick-started the bike and I ran right in front of the bike, pulled out my gun and let it loose, blowing his face clear off his head. He fell off the bike instantly and thudded to the ground like a sack of wet shit.

The motorcycle revved up right at me and popped a wheelie, knocking me over and still flying on a wheelie right through the front window of Sparky’s, smashing glass all over the place. I was dazed and stunned like a Sparky Burger-bound cow and crawled past the dead thief through the parking lot, crawling away from the noise and the blood and the broken glass to the civilization of my lonely apartment.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Going Downtown With Carter Brown

There has never been a beast so strange as the paperback publishing world, a once inexplicable planet where writers could make a fortune without garnering much respect in literary circles. I'm not referring to modern potboiler stars like Stephanie Meyer or Robert Ludlum. I'm referring to someone like Harold Robbins, who pretty much in his time had a stranglehold on the bestseller charts with tomes like "The Carpetbaggers" and "The Dream Merchants".

His books have sold in the billions worldwide. When people talk about great crime writers the usual names crop up: Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, Donald Westlake, Elmore Leonard. Few ever mention or even care about Carter Brown, who in his time (1962-1972) sold millions of paperbacks worldwide. Who is Carter Brown?

Carter Brown in actuality was an Englishman whose real name was Alan Geoffrey Yates. Originally a PR writer for Qunatas Airlines in Australia, Yates turned to writing pulp fiction westerns, sci-fi space operas, and even romance weepies novels under assumed names. Every Carter Brown crime novel took place in America, and it has been rumored that a ton of them were written before Yates even set foot in the States!

The three most popular recurring characters in Brown's novels are Police Lieutenant Al Wheeler, private eyes Rick Holman, and dumb bunny detective Mavis Seidlitz (with the 38-24-36 measurements). Whichever character Brown featured in his novels you were always guaranteed a lot of smoking, drinking, and sexing up. In other words, Carter Brown novels were cheap Swinging Sixties pulp fiction at their sleaziest. Just to amp up the sleazy sex factor, each brief paperback clocking in at usually 120 pages a piece all featured covers of skimpily clad goddesses by the great Robert McGinnis.

For those who dig the Peter Gunn, Johnny Staccato and 77 Sunset Strip TV shows, Carter Brown is more of the same. Hard lovin' swingin' and two-fisting private eye with killer dames who drop their drawers before they swing their fully loaded .357 Magnum at yr. skull. Smoke a Lucky Strike and crack open a Carter Brown novel, it ain't noir, it's better than noir, it's sexy trash.

While I haven't read enough Brown books to qualify as an expert on his work, I'd like to weigh in on some of my favorite books I've read by him:

The Corpse: Lt. Al Wheeler’s on the case of the mystery of the annoying, drugged-out hepcat that got iced in front of the bandstand at the hippest beatnik jazz coffee house. The only reason his murder’s a big whoop is because he’s the son of a powerful newspaper magnate. The Fifties jazz club vibe of the book will remind you of John Cassavetes’ terrific detective show, “Johnny Staccato”. Lots of babes, booze, billionaires and beatnik bongos abound. The Robert McGinnis cover doesn’t disappoint either.

W.H.O.R.E.: One of the more surreal detective novels ever written, police Lt. Al Wheeler runs afoul of a gang of psychotic killers in Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck masks. The Mickey and Donald-mask wearers are strike breakers who plan on assassinating a Cesar Chavez-style protest leader who's making plans on marching down the Grapevine with his fellow fruit pickers. And that's just the first sixteen pages!

Somewhere in the mix, of course, are a team of deranged feminists called W.H.O.R.E. If it sounds crazy, just remember this was published in 1971 when exploitation films like "Sweet Sugar" and "The Mini-Skirt Mob" were at their apex. Unless Carter Brown's estate is controlled by an iron fist there's no reason why his wild novels aren't being reissued by Stark House or Hard Case Crime.

Tomorrow Is Murder: More Sixties sleaze from Carter Brown about a sexy psychic predicting a millionaire’s death on a Joe Pyne-style TV talk show. The PI this time is Mavis Seidlitz, a bodaciously stacked bimbo blonde in the Little Annie Fanny tradition. She’s on the case in groovy Venice circa 1960, busting up bongo beatnik coffeehouses and catfighting witches into Beverly Hills poolsides. Carter Brown never disappoints.

The White Bikini: Quick, entertaining sleaze about a Hollywood party girl found dead on the beach who may be the daughter of a high-powered movie studio executive. The trail to murder leads private eye Rick Holman to oversexed folk singers in coffeehouses of Venice, psychotic bodybuilders in Muscle Beach, and studio brats spinning roulette wheels in Las Vegas. Trashy good fun that embraces Sixties culture at its wildest.

Other Carter Brown book titles you may not have heard of: Who Killed Dr. Sex?, No Tears From The Widow, The Flagellator, The Ice Cold Nude, No Blonde Is An Island, Nymph To The Slaughter, The Bump And Grind Murders, Walk Softly Witch, and countless more!

Without belaboring the point that Carter Brown novels are sleazy but entertaining trash, there are no philosophical soliloquies that you get in a David Goodis classic or some deep existential journey into darkness like Jim Thompson. Like his contemporary Mickey Spillane, Carter Brown served up pure entertainment dressed up as a sexy crime novel with insanely generous servings of pop culture trash: surfing, beatniks, hippies, strippers, health food freaks, fitness and yoga clinics, pill - popping psychiatrists with nothing but sex on their minds, etc. Compared to the crimes committed on shows like "Breaking Bad" it just seems quaint in comparison.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

MC5 Or DC5?

If there is a more burning question than "Boxers Or Briefs?" it's the big musical question: MC5 or DC5? Not that its impossible to enjoy the music of both bands, but there is a slight generational difference. In some ways they're surprisingly similar - both bands have an affinity blues/jazz only presented differently, and both are also extraordinarily LOUD, especially for their time. Let's weigh both bands:

The MC5 (Motor City Five) were the pride of Detroit, Michigan in 1968 and well initially well-known for aligning themselves with John Sinclair's White Panthers Party, not quite as menacing as the Black Panthers, but still a great gimmick, forerunners to The New York Dolls and their red leather drag and Communist flag shtick and many others following that.

In 1969 several labels hit pay dirt cashing in on the Detroit sound, like The Bob Seger System, The Frost, The Amboy Dukes, SRC, The Stooges, Grand Funk Railroad with even Alice Cooper stopping by for an extended residency. Elektra Records signed the MC5 for the terminally loud 'n proud "Kick Out The Jams" showing the band ripping it up with bottomless American flags rolling down miles and miles behind them.

One of the brilliant highlights of Kick Out The Jams was the choice of covering Sun Ra and The Troggs on the same record, pretty audacious for its time and a definite influence on me, as well. If free jazz can't be played on electric guitars then it can't be played on anything, dammit! Wayne Kramer and Fred "Sonic" Smith clearly defined the band's sound with their wild, barley controlled screaming guitars.

Back In The USA was considered a disappointment when it was released, but I think after the utter Mad House riot Revolution In The Streets vibe of the first album a more controlled affair was in order, so you got more poppier songs like Shakin' Street and High School. By the time High Time was released the band was back in full psycho abandon with tracks like Sister Anne, Sonically Speaking - back to the jazz saxes honking like mad - and Future Now.

I'm the usually the last to hear good news about anything, so I just recently heard that in 2010 Dave Clark finally turned over at least ten albums worth of material of DC5 (Dave Clark Five) music, three of them containing either unreleased or obscure tracks that barely got its minimum daily requirement of oxygen. Unfortunately they're only available on iTunes, so it's time to pay the Apple piper again. But I digress.

The DC5 were such a powerful force during the British Invasion that they knocked The Beatles out of the Number One position in the charts and in their prime were two steps behind The Fab Four everywhere they went. They followed The Beatles as the second English band to play on The Ed Sullivan Show. It was that serious, but why not? They were sensational.

Unlike the MC5 there was more than guitar army reconnaissance going on: the DC5 had some wicked blues organ playing from singer Mike Smith, who wrote most of the material, and wicked raspy saxophone playing from Denny Payton. Denny Payton occasionally overdubbed his tenor and baritone saxophones together on several songs, sounding not unlike that badass Dana Colley from Morphine.

With Mike Smith's snarling vocals mixing with Dave Clark's military march pounding (pre-dating Gary Glitter's homo stomp by a good 10 years!) and Payton's growling mad dog saxophone, the DC5 tore into R&B standards like "Do You Love Me", "Reelin' and Rockin'" and "I Like It Like That" with vicious abandon.

Equally exciting is the new, unreleased material like "Fallout Shelter", "The Man In The Pin Stripe Suit", and "Return My Love". And how great is it that we can finally enjoy songs like "I'm Thinkin'" and "Say You Want Me" in digital panorama sound instead of that scratchy Epic Records vinyl. Nostalgia is nice but pops and hisses aren't and a good, clean polish only makes the songs sound more demented.

The influence of both bands is far and wide, almost hard to even estimate: MC5 have influenced bands like Radio Birdman, KISS (esp. High Time, listen to Baby Won't You or Over And Over) and The Didjits. The DC5 have clearly influenced bands as varied as The Monks, Slade - check out the stomping drums! and The Ramones, who covered the sublime Any Way You Want It.

If you haven't heard the MC5 lately dust off their records and turn it up, especially Sister Anne. And if you haven't checked out the DC5 on mp3, now's the time to do it before Dave Clark pulls a Walt Disney and pulls the tracks off the shelf, which he's done before. I guarantee it'll clean your clock!