Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pretty In Ink

I've been waiting for this survey of women comic artists from 1896 to present to be published by Seattle based Fantagraphic Books! I was a little worried as I have Trina's 1985 book, and knowing this to be an update of it I wondered how much might be repeated, but am happy that in fact many new examples are offered of the women's work and while some others were in the previous book they are often larger or even in color here! So much more has been added about many of the earlier favorite artists such as Gladys Parker, Fran Hopper and Ruth Atkinson, and some new to me old names have been added. I was also quick to flip to the last chapter and catch up with more recent work in the format and enjoyed that section quite a lot. Certainly worth the price of admission, and it's a very attractive quality 180 page package all around. Some of the non-North American artists who had been included in 1985 were dropped however, so I suppose something is lost on those who missed that book (which I understand is somewhat hard to find these days).

Trina Robbin's Pretty In Ink (link to Fantagraphics)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

California dreaming?

Among my all time favorite groups, Fleetwood Mac has been perhaps the longest lived and most interesting. Interesting because they have been not one but many different groups under that name. The original blues based group of Albatross, Oh Well, and Heart Beat Like A Hammer gradually folded into a jazzier pop group which included the late great Bob Welch. I remember hearing one of Bob's Mac tracks on FM radio back around 1973-74, Hypnotized, and that particular cut still brings back memories. The band almost broke up after the album with that track I found out later. There was even a phony Fleetwood Mac put out on the road for awhile to complete a tour and their British manager claimed he owned the name (made up of drums and bass rhythm section Mick Fleetwood and John McVie's names by founder Peter Green). The reason the band continued at all was due mainly to the fight in lead guitarist and singer-songwriter Bob Welch...

 Fleetwood Mac with Bob Welch, second from right (next to Danny Kirwan) circa 1971-72.

Bob encouraged the other three to relocate to California where their label Reprise Records was located from which the band would have more favorable conditions with which to legally keep their name. It was a tough time but they made it through, but only for an exhausted Bob to want to leave to launch a more hard-rocking group (and later solo success with Sentimental Lady and Ebony Eyes). Fleetwood Mac meanwhile went on with new California members Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks (ex-Fritz) to conquer the world with Rhiannon, World Turning, and Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow among many others. Eventually the group would be inducted into Cleveland's Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, including founder guitar hero Peter Green...

... yet not Bob Welch? This is a major omission to say the least, even disregarding it being the wish held up to his death of someone who contributed so much to the group. Perhaps the case for Bob's inclusion is best made in this 1998 article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper...

Many have signed petitions and written to the Hall directly. The forces against induction can be guessed at but may include fellow member and one time friend of Bob's Christine McVie (seen in all three lineups represented above). As a fan of both artists I can only hope to live to see this wrong righted, it has been allowed to continue far too long already. Mick Fleetwood credits Bob with the group's continued existence into the latter half of the 1970s, but the music of that too easily overlooked period alone demands Bob Welch be honoured as a vital member of Fleetwood Mac.

Bob's albums with Fleetwood Mac (all released by Reprise):
Future Games (1971)
Bare Trees (1972)
Penguin (1973)
Mystery To Me (1973)
Heroes Are Hard To Find (1974)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Giving Peas A Chance

When I was young I lived in the Dingle,
a few doors up from that famous Ringo.
Little knew I the pathway to riches,
our old man cleared council ditches.

I remember when skiffle became all the rage,
our Mum just smacked us, said 'now act yer age'.
Told to be practical, told to behave,
I married a carpenter, a bloke with a trade.

Together we moved out closer to George,
a stylish wardrobe we soon had to forge.
Yes it were true, we'd never had it so good,
those sitar cases made nice firewood.

No time for singing like that Cilla Black,
it was wake up the kids, get 'em out of the sack.
Fish and chips were a regular deal,
mushy peas made it more of a meal.

There's lots of peas now in the old folks home,
there's peas for my breakfast, and peas in my poem.
Trapped in my bed I curl up all fetal,
and dream of my life if I'd married a Beatle.

If I'd married an artist, someone with panache,
I'd not mind if critics had a bit of a bash.
Another pain pill, another bed change,
I too could've been shot in some place strange.

But Macca's still rocking, I might see him soon,
perhaps he'll move in with that old Peter Noone.
I'd contemplate further, although I do hesitate,
as I threw my back out last time I did meditate.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

My Back Pages

Before this blog I had a tiny piece of Geocities. Geocities closed down in 2009 but I recently discovered someone has been reloading old site content at something calling itself oocities. I'm glad to see these back. I remember a fantastic Danny Kirwan (of early Fleetwood Mac) site on geocities, much more deserving of preservation but which sadly appears to be gone forever now.

Rebecca's Los Machucambos Discography Page

Rebecca's Cass Elliot Page

Rebecca's Pussycat & Tony Wille Page

Rebecca's Stereolab Review

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What's Going On?

Count me among those heartsick over the lack of justice for a seventeen year old.

It was chilling to see the defense lawyers attempting to demean the friend who was on the phone with him just before he was killed. It was completely astonishing to see him described as armed because he had a sidewalk! You'd only expect a defense like that in some backward near lawless country. I don't know how you would live with yourself doing such a good job for a person who went to lengths to create a confrontation. There were no burglary tools on the 'suspicious' teenager, but the adult confronter had a loaded gun.

And still they won't listen, won't talk to them... so they can see...

what's going on?

I appear to have lost three of my scant number of 'followers' after this post. The perils of being at all 'political'?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Holding pattern

Yes, I'm still clinging to the surface of the planet, sometimes scurrying about upon it. I have thought of posting, then haven't. I have some substantial vintage Stones bits uploaded and waiting to add to my clippings collection earlier here, and I scanned in a load of early Peter Green/Fleetwood Mac stuff for a chat area about same I could dump here. Yet I hesitate...

I've been tempted at times to get political here but then come to my senses. Outrage follows upon outrage while most people don't want to know, in other words 'twas ever thus. Well, back to gafia-land as the old sciffy fans used to say, but I'll be back like Waylon Jennings in that song, even if I won't always be around.

Bit of a Jennings type lyric here, don't read anything serious into it though, not sure where it's going...

What started out as a wild impulse,
turned into something tangled, something else,
'Cause your love and my love aren't the same,
can't you see, it's a mystery without name.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Raeside calling.

One of my favorite things most days is to find a new Adrian Raeside editorial cartoon in the local paper here. This has been a favorite thing for me verging on thirty years now I suppose. He was just on the radio call-in show today for a short stretch promoting his new book (linked below) and unfortunately I missed calling in myself, but it made me want to help maybe turn people on to this major original cartoon talent...
 photo raesidecartoon1.jpg

Here is a favorite from a couple of years back.

 photo raesidecartoon1.jpg

Here is another favorite... I always love to see his bears as they have a gormless yet lovable quality to them (he often does the same for our politicians). His dogs are similar if a little wiser, and recall the New Zealand cartoon strip Footrot Flats in character. It was interesting to learn that Adrian was born and grew up there, perhaps Koko is a distant relative of Murray Balls' sheep farm Dog?

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Byrds is the Word!

I had a blast typing recently with Trina about the scene around the Rising Sons and early Byrds in L.A. For those who don't know she was part of the scene around Ciro's on the Strip right when Jim McGuinn, Gene Clark, David Crosby, Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke were making a fabulously new noise combining strains of folk and what was later called country roots with Merseybeat! Vito, Franzoni and their crew came in and started freaking on the dance floor and the U.S.A. would never be the same! Dig Crosby reading one of those cheapo Pop Art Productions... yeah, the Byrds read comic books as well as sci-fi mags, popular expression was being redefined all over the place by thoughtful cats like The Beatles, The Kinks, The Zombies, The Animals and The Rolling Stones in England, The Lovin' Spoonful, The Fugs and The Velvet Underground in NY, and The Sons, Love, The Beau Brummels and the Byrds out in California!

Erik has performed and recorded some of Jesse Lee Kincaid (of the Rising Sons) original creations, and I remember I bugged him into buying a Dillards LP with She Sang Hymns Out Of Tune.

Here's a great early Byrds track not officially released back in the day (written by Gene Clark) but ought to have been a perfect theme tune for some Shindig or Shivaree type tv show...

In honor of the huge Byrds kick I've been on I figured I just had to have a shirt to go with the books and records. Behold!

The Rising Sons only got one single out the door while they were active, but if you take a trip to Wolfgang's Vault you can listen in to some of their early appearances at the famous Ash Grove in 1965 with Ed Cassidy (later of Spirit) on the drums... There are also two original Jesse Lee compositions to be found previously unknown, and Taj Mahal was a great frontman! Mick Jagger had nothing on him, nor Brain Jones on Ry Cooder's guitar work. Gary 'Magic' Marker is on bass and gets his turn to vamp on a couple of outros. How this group wasn't huge I can only mutter 'hoo nose'! The Charlatans were another influential ground-breaking group that barely got anything out on vinyl at the time. Their 'Amazing' collection on the Big Beat label is essential '60s stuff (plus I'm just plain weird for Ferguson, wish I could've met him).

Gary, Jesse Lee, Taj, Ry Cooder and Kevin Kelley (later a Byrd during Gram Parsons' stint).

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Here's mah mayin mahan doin' his thang on a Friday night at Darrell's Tavern. This is a Zappa number 'Willie The Pimp', with backing by the group Thee Of (dig those Les Pauls). Video by Sandy Buchner (of Randy Hicks Band)...

Also, there's a documentary about the historic Funhouse club in Seattle in the works. There's a taster promo courtesy of Ryan Worsley.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

The Great Bill Cowsill

This is where the pure gold is. If you like great vocals and great songwriting, especially if your preferences run along Gene Clark, Everlys or Hank III lines. In case you don't know about Bill let me try to hip you...

I was lucky enough to simply stumble upon Bill with Jeffrey Hatcher live with the Blue Shadows group at an outdoor event during some local or provincial holiday back around 1993. It was a hair-raising sound they were laying down, and unforgetable. When their first album was released shortly after I made sure to get the cassette shiny new at the same Sam the Record Man I bought my fave Velvet Underground, Los Lobos, Dwight Yoakam and Doug & The Slugs tapes at (that's what I was into those days). On The Floor Of Heaven... what a masterpiece then and now! I'd actually heard eastern Canadian Jeff Hatcher and The Big Beat before, they'd had a song Man Who Would Be King that was very rockabilly cool but not in any Stray Cats, Neil and The Shocking Pinks or Razorbacks show-offy way (supercool though all those cats were). In a way I'd heard Bill before as well, through an oft spun 45 single of Indian Lake.

There just is not one weak song among the twelve originals on that first album, On The Floor Of Heaven. It has to rank as one of the greatest debut recordings for a group bar none. It would be damning with faint praise to describe If I Were You, a Cowsill/Hatcher collaboration, Byrdsian, that's because had those five cut this wistful number back in the day not only could they have not done it any better, it might well be thought of now as their best song among many greats. No lie. Then you have Deliver Me (check the video at the bottom), written by Jeff but mainly sung as high and lonesome as it gets by Bill. He always seemed to wear a Star Trek badge but it failed to get him beamed up whatever night inspired this killer performance. A Thousand Times and When Will This Heartache End are sweetly pained songs even the Everlys would've loved to have recorded I think, and On The Floor Of Heaven or The Fool Is The Last One To Know could've kept even the Louvins together a bit longer. Seriously, you can't believe you're hearing another stone classic when you (lucky you) put this album on for the first time. I Believe would've a feather in Carl Perkins' cap, and closer Is Anybody Here the same in Roy Orbison's. But who needs any of those stars great as they are or were, because the Blue Shadows based out of Vancouver will never be topped for the definitive renditions. That's why it's such a shock, even after going down a storm at SxSW at the time how the darn album was not released in the U.S.! It makes me want to apologize for Shania Twain if her decent pop made masterpieces chock filled with adult human feeling plus musical chops and hooks galore unmarketable to the big wig Columbia fools of 1993-1994. I'm also sorry it has taken me this long to rave here about these musical treasures.

"To my mind, that is the finest piece of work I ever did. It is just so good. The writing is so good. The production is so good. It is a nice little piece de resistance." - Bill Cowsill (1948-2006)

Bill Cowsill, fired from his family pop band for smoking the devil weed... the best was yet to come. Prior to The Blue Shadows forming Bill was a member of another Canadian combo called Blue Northern. His fantastic Vagabond appeared as a B-side with them and they released one EP and an LP.The follow up to On The Floor Of Heaven, Lucky To Me, has some ace tracks as well, and there equally astonishing rarities and outtakes on second bonus disc that comes with the reissue of On The Floor Of Heaven...

Thursday, February 07, 2013

The Trina Tornado

I found out cartoonist/scholar/herstorian Trina Robbins was going to be in Victoria in relation to a documentary film she participated in (Wonder Women), so despite some currently taxing health issues I went downtown to see her. We talked old cartoonists for awhile and I gave her a CD with my cartoon cover. I learned a mutual friend of ours (Barb Rausch), had died though, that's the risk in catching up.

Trina is a great and positive person, more active than me and she's 74 now! I guess that means she must have been my age when I first met her way back. Her 1985 history book (shown left, Eclipse, 1985) done with Cat Yronewode (top Will Eisner scholar) about women cartoonists really got me interested in the work of almost forgotten 1910s-'40s comics creators like Nell Brinkley, Rose O'Neill, Ethel Hayes, Gladys Parker and Tarpe Mills. I did know Tarpe Mills before this thanks to an Archival Press collection of black & white strips which was released circa 1978 (shown below), and why I ever sold it or the many Fiction House comics I had accumulated with women artists like (the still living) Fran Hopper, Marcia Snyder, and Lily Renee in their pages I sometimes wonder about, but they had all become too expensive for me to justify keeping at a critical point in my life. Miss Fury is considered by many the first Superheroine, predating Wonder Woman, Mary Marvel and, (probably the second ever) Bulletgirl. Growing up I loved seeing Batgirl on tv riding her Batcycle, somehow the female body looks better in tights and capes whereas usually the male body just looks dopey or silly, which almost makes me want to splurge on the Phoenix of the X-Men costume on Ebay so I can strut about in shiny boots like I'm all that and a packet of crisps!

In regard to Brinkley there are two books I can highly recommend; Nell Brinkley and the New Woman in the Early 20th Century, McFarland 2001, and the lavish The Brinkley Girls, The Best of Nell Brinkley's Cartoons From 1913-1940, Fantagraphics 2009, both authored by Trina. For Rose O'Neill I can point to Linda Brewster's Rose O'Neill The Girl Who Loved To Draw, Boxing Day Books 2009 while wishing for an even thicker revamp in the future. So nice just to finally see photos of these pioneering women! Sadly I don't know of any equally good books for Ethel Hayes or Gladys Parker, and very sorely wanted they are.

The Legends shop at which Trina was signing books had a display of often very lavish reprint books like the Tarpe Mills & Miss Fury, IDW Publishing 2011 one I bought for Trina to autograph. I could easily go into the red on just the old Felix the Cat collections and Eric Shanower Oz adaptations I saw. It's not quite a normal comic shop though, the glowering bizarrely muscled modern superheros were not nearly so prominently displayed as were local cartoonists works and vintage bagged funny books! There is a shop in Seattle over by a Dick's Drive-In that also struck me as more inviting to the general populace, but many are more foreboding and cultish much to the detriment of the form that is losing mass media status. In any case, I left feeling somewhat renewed and optimistic about the 'comic book world'. More Owly please, and less 'Owlman becomes a heroin addict and blows Smirky-villain up with frag grenade', or more Beanworld and less steroid-and-helium-boob-world!

Postscript: I once had an early Marvel comic (1949, shown) titled simply Cindy Comics (shown right) and it was filled with some of the most skilled and expressive cartooning I had seen but by an unsigned and possibly still unknown artist (I can rule out Al Jaffee, Dan DeCarlo, Mike Sekowski, and Ken Bald). Trina suggested it could have been Syd Shores, and going buy some of the more realistic art he did at that time I have seen I can almost completely rule him out on this, but other possibilities are Morris Weiss, Earl James or none of these fellows. Trouble is it is very hard to find representative cartoon work by all three. It's possible whoever the mystery artist was they had a connection to Harvey Kurtzman going by the proto Annie Fanny cover art. Again, I sure regret not keeping all my old funny books! I did see the same artist with single also unsigned stories in Patsy Walker comics of the time. I think of them as 'the good Cindy artist'. Patsy Walker is remembered where many other teenage characters are forgotten only because Marvel later made her into a Miss Fury style superheroine (wonder why Millie The Model wasn't similarly recycled). On the slim chance anyone has any examples of teenage strip art by the named cartoonists, or just solid Archie style cartooning from 1945-53 Marvel/Atlas comics, please consider me a fanatic for it.