Monday, June 24, 2013

Stuffs 'n' such

1) Forty years after 1969 Live made it evident that the four Velvet Underground studio albums were just the tip of the iceberg, and 20 years after Clinton Heylin gave some profound clues of what lay beneath the surface in From the Velvets to the Voidoids, we live in an age where the rarest and most desirable VU boots are becoming generally available. Just peruse Olivier Landemaine's comprehensive website, as well as online outlets like Forced Exposure, Amazon, or Discogs, and you'll find Jeff Leegood's October '69 Dallas recordings available on CD (on the Keyhole label) and vinyl (on Keyhole and Russian BB); Jamie Klimek's recordings from a year earlier at La Cave in Cleveland are out on Keyhole vinyl and CD; and the god-king of VU boots, Sweet Sister Ray (which combines a one-time performance of a 40-minute prelude to "Sister Ray" from La Cave with two hot 1969 "Sisters" from the Boston Tea Party, including the one from the infamous March 15th "guitar amp tape") was just reished on sweet, sweet double vinyl by a guy in Michigan. These things are all in small editions (although the Russian End of Coles are supposedly showing up at Half Price Books), so grab 'em if you see 'em. Things like this are never around for long.

2) Viewed a bootleg copy of Robert Frank's suppressed '72 Rolling Stones tour doco Cocksucker Blues and was struck by how dull the musos' life on the road appeared. The scene in which first Keef, then his companion, nod out on a bench in a locker room while Mick schmoozes with Ahmet Ertegun kind of tells the story of the next 40 years of that band. The female fans that offer themselves to the band, only to wind up as cheap entertainment for the road crew, seem pathetic, as do the ones of both genders who use the Stones in their "kings of decadence" phase to validate their own substance abuse proclivities. His musical contributions aside, I'll confess to being more than a little bit weary of the glamorization of Keef the wealthy drug addict. Sure, his status makes him less of a threat to you than the guy from down the street that broke into your car and jacked your stereo, but how much cooler is that, really? Reminds me of why I got off the Stones-fan bus in the '70s.

3) Re-reading St. Lester, both of his anthologies as well as Jim DeRogatis' bio, I'm struck by how much of a product of the commodification of rock that he railed against he really was, poor bastard, and how his own celebrity and the need to live up to his persona helped destroy him. In his scrawl, he sure takes a long time to say what's on his mind -- you get the sense he spent more time writing than he did thinking about what to write -- but he always meant what he said and, more to the point, when he's good -- a paragraph here, a paragraph there -- he's transcendent, like the last page of The Great Gatsby. A rough diamond; one wishes he'd had more time to refine his art. But we'll not see his like again.


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