Saturday, February 27, 2010

Country for Garage Punkers #2: James Mc Murtry

I gotta blame Stephen King for this one. I picked it up after he raved about it in a column he wrote for Entertainment Weekly. It's been on my mind ever since. The political statements, the working class ethos, and the passion carry this live album all the way through. It's the kind of work that I would have loved to play for Joe Strummer and heard what he thought about it.
Musically the album runs from ballad feeling folk songs Lights of Cheyenne to more up tempo western swing numbers like Choctaw Bingo -- which happen to be my favorite tracks on the album, along with Too Long in the Wasteland and Levelland. I have checked out McMurtry's studio albums and they have some great stuff, but there is just something about the live recording that raises above what he's been able to do in the studio.
Here is the track listing and links to the lyrics for each song from the McMurtry website which can be found HERE

1. Saint Mary of the Woods

2. Fraulein O.

3. Red Dress

4. No More Buffalo

5. 60 Acres

6. Rachel's Song

7. Out Here in the Middle

8. Choctaw Bingo

9. Lights of Cheyenne

10. Levelland

11. Max's Theorem

12. I'm Not From Here

13. Too Long in the Wasteland

Thursday, February 25, 2010

FFB: The Zoot Marlowe

FFB: The Zoot Marlowe books by Mel Giden

let's pause to just look at the books covers for just a moment:

I recall reading these book, all featuring alien detective Zoot Marlowe, but honestly I couldn't tell you what happened in any of them-- luckly for me, and you we now have the internet to help with that information.

Surfing Samurai Robots

from Fantastic Fiction

He called himself Zoot Marlowe, said he'd just blown in from Bay City. But even the wacked out surfer dudes could tell that the four-foot detective with the giant schnoz was from somewhere out of their world. Still, he could throw a mean Frisbee and he said he was a private eye, and when someone decided to smash and trash all the surfing robots in Malibu just days before the biggest surfing contest of the year, Zoot was the only being around willing to track the 'bot-beaters down. But Zoot didn't know just how widespread a conspiracy he was about to run up against. For this first case of his Earthly career would see him taking on everything from the Malibu cops to Samurai robots; motorcycle madmen to talking gorillas; and a misplaced mistress of genetic manipulation!

My inability to recall all the details should not be taken as a slight, in fact the reason that I read all three of the Zoot Marlowe books was that I plain enjoyed the time I spent with Zoot. Having purged them from my collection in 2002, I don't have the books handy to flip through so I throw open the floor to anyone who has read them.

Thoughts, comments, ect?

Monday, February 22, 2010

No New Hard Case Crime Month #2: Baby Shark

Feb 2010: No New Hard Case Crime Month #2: Baby Shark by Robert Fate.
Texas, yes, Texas, the early 50s-- a teen girl is riding shotgun with her dad, a pool hall warrior. Moving from town to town, game to game in the wild, wide open days of the post WWII boom. She's getting an education for sure, only things go wrong, people are killed and this girl, wounded in body and spirit is left to pick up the pieces of her life and take care of business.

Here is the copy from Mr. Fate's website

October 1952, Henry Chin's Poolroom

A father murdered. A daughter sexually assaulted, beaten, and left for dead. A pool hall set ablaze.And so begins Baby Shark, a story of recovery and revenge.

As a rule, in the 1950s, a good girl didn't admit to being raped-and she'd never seek revenge for her father's murder.

But Kristin didn't play by the rules.

Baby Shark has everything a good Hard Case has, sparse language, hard boiled action, a wrong in need of being set right and creatures of darkness in need o exposure. It's got the narrative drive and the zing of classic crime pulp. The setting and people ring true-- and Fate has assembled a crew that is worth revisiting and in danger of becoming like Joe R Lansdales Hap and Lenarod Books, you read them to visit with the charcters. Only Fate's plot and set up works and has it's own magic. I also like the fact that he has taken what is essentially a late 70s Rape Revenge set up and instead of up date it to the late 2000s had taken it back to the 50s.

It's good stuff, and if it makes it to the big screen in the next couple of years Adrianne Palicki from Friday Night Lights has to play the lead.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

FFB: No Sleep Till Canvey Island.

FFB: No Sleep Till Canvey Island by Will Birch

In the USA following the Garage Rock era, it was the 70s Westren Swing Revival and the Outlaw Country movement that were the forerunners to Punk Rock, in the UK it was Glam and Pub rock that really set the stage for the Sex Pistols, The Damned and the Clash. In This book Will Birch traces the history of the scene as it bashed it's way from the little clubs around London to the world stage. Artists like Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, and Ian Dury would emerge from the scene to stand in the spotlight, meanwhile dozens of others played away and became cult bands, and many would go on to be part of that first wave of British Punk Rock at the end of the 70s. Birch was one of those, as the drummer in the form The Kursaal Flyers was involved on the ground and in the trenches.

For those who have never heard of Pub rock, (from Wiki)
Pub rock was a mid- to late-1970s musical movement, largely centred around North London and South East Essex, particularly Canvey Island and Southend on Sea. Pub rock was largely a reaction to much of the popular music of the era, which tended to be dominated by progressive rock and highly polished, supposedly over-produced American West Coast 'AOR' sounds. Many viewed such music as inaccessible and 'out of touch', while pub rock was very much about getting 'back to basics', tending to be based around live performances in small pubs and clubs, playing unpretentious music, from country rock to rhythm and blues-influenced hard rock.
I read the book a back in July of 2003, I recall because it was what I was reading when I visited Japan. It is filled with the information and the details, but a little low on narative drive, and one of my firends in Sweden who is a fan of the music went so far as to call it boring. I don't know about that, but if you are all interested in the time, the place, and the music it is worth checking out.
I was inspired to write about this book due to the imminate release of two films that deal with Pub Rock, Sex & Drugs & Rock'n'Roll a biopic about the late Ian Durry and Julien Temple's latest rock documentary about the Group Dr. Feelgood, Oil City Confidential. I am looking forward to seeing both films.
Anyone interested in the music, there area a couple of solid Pub Rock collections out there: Pub Rock: Paving the Way for Punk and Goodbye Nashville, Hello Camden Town: A Pub Rock Anthology.
Will Birch has a Website HERE & He has a Blog for his new book on Ian Dury (which I am looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of) HERE.

thoughts, comments, fave raves from the Pub scene?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

FFB: The Strange Case of Edward Gorey...

FFB: The Strange Case of Edward Gorey by Alexander Theroux
I recall my mother watching the PBS series Mystery! when I was young, and liking the title sequence more than the shows. It was only later in the '90s, when I was in the throes of my Horror Punk years, that I really started to explore the world of Edward Gorey and see the influence that he had on many of the things that I held dear. His morbid, dark, and sketchy cartoons seemed to be remnants of a past era, and built a world and body of work that was in many ways a dark American version of the great P.G. Wodehouse.

A reclusive and cult figure, it was only after his passing in 2000 (and isn't it fitting that a man who was so stuck in the 1900s would only live only to see the turn of the century) that this slim 68 pages biographical volume was issued. It's a quick read that includes examples of Gorey's work, and some insight to his world. Writer Alexander Theroux was not only a fan of Gorey, but a friend and neighbor, giving him an authority on the subject that many biographers don't have.

Alas my Horror Punk years are behind me, and slowly as I have drifted around my book collection has drifted away, however this little biography has stayed.

Thoughts, Comments?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Leningrad Cowboys: Thru the Wire

Leningrad Cowboys -Thru the Wire

Starting off with the sombulistic Sax and the sound of the rain, The Leningrad Cowboy's tune Thru the Wire is a crime drama more in line of the down and out damned than anything involving cops and crooks. It drips with a midnight of fear and a need to escape, building slowly from that initial shimmer of radiance before dipping into a world of bitter black coffee and cheap smokes.

Thru the wire

Funny how things always look the same
Holes in the shoes collar turned up
up against the rain
Another cheep hotel
Some girl she’s on the floor
Once more hopin gonna make it
Singing hopin singing


Thru the wire
It’s been a long time honey
And your dreams they get so old
Oh yeah
This might not be the greatest story ever told
Just one more heart
Just one more heart coming in from the cold

clock in the mark square
It’s chiming 12 o’clock
Slow across the border
Another car gets stopped
Uniforms asking questions papers getting read
I’m feeling half dead
Thru the wire


The word gonna out tonight
Why the spinning stops
My body’s feeling broken
And I want to turn it off
But I just keep rockin and ????? and singing


The Leningrad Cowboys were introduced to the world with the film Leningrad Cowboys Go America, and it's soundtrack. It was when I took in a viewing of the film at the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis that I first saw the video for the song Thru The Wire. Several music videos were shown along with the film and, even though I really wanted to avoid including videos in this series I would be remiss if I did not at least link it it; ( so go check it out for your self. I am not aware of any covers of this song out there, but I think someone like Gaslight Anthem or Social Distortion could do it justice, of course I wonder what Johnny Cash would have done with it. If I had to pick a band I would like to hear cover it, at this moment it has to been next months crime tune artist, Drivin'n'Cryin.

The Leningrad Cowboys were really the Finnish band The Sleepy Sleepers with singer Niki Tesco from the UK punk group The Members. I like a lot of their other recording, but it is only on this song that I delve into the darker more noir side of the pop spectrum. My friends in Finland seem to see them as a joke, but I enjoy them, and have their Go Space album in addition to the Go America soundtrack.

Additional info at:

Niki Tesco:

Thru the Wire is the second of twelve posts in my crime tune series for 2010.
Next Month: Drivin'n'Cryin Legal Gun

Thoughts, Comments?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

FFB Another Fine Myth by Robert Asprin

FFB Another Fine Mythby Robert Asprin

I find myself writing more and more personal Friday Forgotten Book entries as of late, and this one isn't any exception. I started off thinking about the generation gap between me and several of the other regular contributors. I read about people discovering the 60s and 70s reprints of old pulp stuff, seeking out original 50s pulps before the collectors boom and even having been around to see some of that stuff when it hit the shelves.

I on the other hand grew up in the 80s. Things were changing, book stores started to become more and more prevalent, the book section of general merchandisers was shrinking if not vanishing and the market was shifting. This was true also of many other forms of media, but we are talking about books. I didn't have a chance to discover a lot of stuff by stumbling across it on a spinner rack. Despite living in a college town with several better than average book sellers (of both new and used books) my discoveries were more from word of mouth, or from other media.

Robert Asprin was a writer that I discovered for another reason. I was friends with his son, who went to my school and he was the scout master of my younger brothers cub scout troop. He was known for his Thieves World anthology series and his Myth Adventures series. It is the later of these that is my forgotten book for this week.

Another Fine Myth stars a magician's apprentice, Skeeve, who after his master is killed finds himself looking for the killer. With the help of a demon named Aahz (say it out loud). Skeeve sets out on a quest, and craziness ensues. The book is a comic romp filled with puns and silliness that is light fun and engaging. I have to admit that a lot of the puns went right over my head as a young reader and I didn't really know exactly what was being satirized.

Asprin passed away in May 2008. Around that time I re-read Another Fine Myth, and found it to be fun, refreshing and light. Not the kind of thing that I tend to read these days-- maybe that's not exactly true. I read a lot of crime fiction and a story where a apprentice has his master killed, and set's out with another master to avenge the killing would fit nicely into many a crime story. Maybe I am not as far afield from where I started as I thought.

Looking back on Another Fine Myth, also got me thinking about being a teen in the 1980s. Watching too much TV, eating junk food, and reading then current mass market Sci Fi and Fantasy with my friends. I look at so much of that 80s stuff now and it seems so soulless and cliched, but the Myth books and Another Fine Myth in particular skewers and knowingly plays with those conventions.

Thoughts, Comments?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Books Read: Jan 2010

Books Read: Jan 2010

The Role Call:
Tomato Red by Daniel Woodrell
The Jugger by Richard Stark
Nightmare in Pink by John D Mac Donald
The Corpse Wore Pasties by Johnny Porkpie
The Mall of Cthulhu by Seamus Cooper
Peepshow by Leigh Redhead
The Godwilf Manuscript by Robert B Parker
Tommy Gun by Bill Yenne
The Seventh by Richard Stark
Hard Candy by Andrew Vachss (DNF-- Shelved for now)

The Comments:
It was a lot of crime fiction, mostly because that's what I am into mostly these days. A couple of Richard Stark Parker novels are in the mix-- they always fit in nicely after I read in foreign/ uncharted territory.John D Mac Donald Book for the Month: Nightmare in Pink the Second Travis Magee book was tough and slow going at first, but once the action started to roll, I could not put it down. First books introducing seriesPI's for the month? That would be Leigh Redhead and Robert B Parker (RIP) bothof whom I do need to revisit and see where they take/took their PIs. Tommy Gun was the one non-fiction work, which tells the history of the Thompson SubMachine Gun. It was pretty interesting, but did get bogged down with anecdotes about it's use in WWII, still a interesting read to any one who has a curiosity about American crime in the 1920s, The IRA (in the same time period) and of course WWII. Tomato Red was something I picked up because it was on Christa Faust's wish list. It was OK, but really not my thing. The Mall of Cthulhu and The Corpse Wore Pasties were both fun romps, a little on the lighter side, but entertaining enough that I look forward to what every their authors deliver next.
Favorite book Cover of the month:

Thoughts, Comments, favorite candy?