Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Long Gone Saturday Night

"There's nothing more rebellious than some ugly person dancing around thinking they're wonderful"
-Kim Fowley

Another one gone: no sooner did I write a eulogy for the great Jack Bruce do I find myself mourning the loss of the great Kim Fowley. Kim Fowley, legendary Hollywood songwriter, performer, producer and Whirling Dervish passed on ten days ago, January 15, 2015. What makes Fowley so unique from all Hollywood movers and shakers is that there isn't anyone in Hollywood who couldn't claim Fowley as a musical associate, and that was the key to his staying power as an artist.

Through the garage, psych, glam, punk and metal eras and beyond there wasn't a style or project he deemed too small or beneath him. His work transcended trends due to his absolute belief in everything he worked on.

Talking to Kim was not for the weak of heart: he fixed his steely gaze at you from that skull-like face and spoke with a directness that either frightened you or made you laugh. It was actually a pretty good acid test to see who was sincere and who was just another Sunset Boulevard huckster.

And Sunset Boulevard! How many songs did he write about Sunset or Hollywood Boulevard? Songs like Hollywood Nights, Terrors In Tinseltown, Hollywood USA, Canyon Woman, Hollywood Child, Mayor of the Sunset Strip, ad infinitum.

Whether seeing him at Canter's in 1966 or Rodney's English Disco in 1974 or a Weirdos/Nerves show he promoted in 1977, even seeing him at the screening of "New York Doll" at the Director's Guild Theater in 2005, Fowley was there, a permanent fixture on the local scene.

My favorite album by him was Good Clean Fun, followed by Outrageous, where he took his manic Sunset Blvd. energy and distilled it into wild, raw, savage tracks, treading a demented balance between Steppenwolf raunch and Frank Zappa-style freakazoid documentary.

And speaking of Zappa, Fowley was one of the craziest voices on "Freak Out", the first Mothers of Invention album, babbling all the way through sides 3 and 4 in an improvisational foreign language known only to himself. Fowley can also be heard laying down an unbelievable rap about Wild man Fischer on the legendary "An Evening With Wild man Fischer" album.

With the loss of Kim Fowley the world has lost a lot more color. Things look a lot paler than they used to.


Captain Beefheart fans will have to postpone their mourning for a little while, because Rhino Records in association with Warner Bros. have just released an amazing four-disc box set of iconic Beefheart albums titled Sun Zoom Spark. The discs included are the long out of print Lick My Decals Off, Baby, The Spotlight Kid and Clear Spot, with a fourth disc comprised of unreleased outtakes and demos mostly recorded during The Spotlight Kid sessions.

Many Beefheart fans consider this period (1970-1972) to be his most fully realized (read freest) work ever, arguably better than his later Virgin Records output. I would advise many newbies to start with Safe As Milk, followed by Trout Mask Replica, and then this chunky monster of a box set.

But getting back to Sun Zoom Spark, the fourth disc is guaranteed to get even the most rabid fans to buy it. Beautifully packaged with tons of Don Van Vliet art, this is one of those box sets that's impossible to resist.

In addition to this treasure trove of newly released stuff is a download of the complete Spotlight Kid/Clear Spot outtakes, posted in its entirety on You Tube by Idiotska's Live Corner, seen at: Clocking in at over three hours(!) this is even more phenomenal than the Sun Zoom Spark CD. An early version of "Ice Cream For Crow" titled Drink Paint Run Run starts the action, and it amply demonstrates Zoot Horn Rollo and Winged Eel Fingerling playing some of the most incendiary guitar you'll ever hear.

The three hour tapes reveal snippets, references and full-on previews of Low Yo Yo Stuff, Circumstances (played as a dirge), Sun Zoom Spark, Harry Irene, Suction Prints, Sheriff of Hong Kong, Ice Cream For Crow, Flavor Bud Living, Sue Egypt, Dirty Blue Gene, and even a hint of Up On The My-Oh-My.

I intend on getting the Sun Zoom Spark package because you get the great bonus disc as well as the very first official Warner Bros. release of Lick My Decals Off, Baby, which Rhino had in limited release for only two years, so seeing it back in print's pretty exciting. If you can get through a blistering thirty-minute version of Pompadour Swamp then your ship's come in. Forty years in the making and worth every minute waited.


And speaking of Kim Fowley and Captain Beefheart, there's a great documentary on You Tube called "From Straight to Bizarre" about Zappa's legendary record labels: Straight and Bizarre Records and the artists that made it happen.

It's rich in rare footage of Zappa and The Mothers of Invention, featuring small capsule profiles on the artists run rampant on the labels: Alice Cooper, Wild Man Fischer, Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band, Essra Mohawk (Sandy Gurvitz), Jeff Simmons,and The GTOs. There's also a few bits about non-label artists like Vito and Mr. Ubiquitous, Kim Fowley.

There was a little too much GTOs for my liking and not enough Beefheart. A little background on the people behind the scenes like Cal Schenkel, responsible for the offbeat and provocative album covers would have been great to watch.

I was also disappointed to see Tim Buckley and Judy Henske cut out of the doc, which makes it not completely comprehensive in my opinion. They're quickly dismissed towards the end as simply being Herb Cohen's folkie clients. So what? They helped give the labels just as much personality as Alice and The GTOs. Nevertheless, this is essential viewing not just for Zappa fans, but for Sixties counterculture fans as well.


Hello, world, I'm still trying to sell my Lydia Lunch records. If you want to bask in her ridiculously nihilistic oeuvre here's your big chance!

I'm selling her 1979 album Queen of Siam on Ze Records, the Eight Eyed Spy album released on Fetish Records in 1981, and an autographed 7" Teenage Jesus And The Jerks single baby Doll b/w Feud In Flop, all for the low price of $90. Robert Quine fans note that he played guitar all over the Queen of Siam album, so there's some major skronk going down for sale. Here's the link if you're interested:

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