Saturday, September 13, 2008

KDIL Blues Licks

But wait! Hold everything! Stop the presses! Hold the phone!

How could I have forgotten? There's no question that David and Greg (I'm'na remember Greg's last name before we're done; not Greg Jones of the Consumers, though) and me created Browbeat in direct imitation/competition with Sniffin' Glue... but first, way before us and, really, more important, if only because it was first and even less anchored to any apparent existing reality, was KDIL Blues Licks.

I first spotted it on the floor near the door of the used record store. This, this method, this system, this way, was to become the time-honored method of xerox-fanzines, was to become the folkloric way, but as far as Phoenix, Arizona goes, this was the time we ought to honor. These were the trailblazing pioneers. KDIL Blues Licks! Man, was that thing ugly!

Man, was it ever ugly and stupid-looking! (As powerful and trouble-making and epoch-stirring as it was, there ought to have been a nice 8 1/2 x 11 inch dent in the concrete floor. There may well be. I wouldn't bet against it.) It looked like they couldn't even figure out how to work the xerox machine. It looked like they didn't have a clue about what they were doing. It didn't look sexy and slick and psychedelic and smooth and special and sharp and sensational and tasteful and ironic and hip — everything was getting really hip right about then, and this just looked lame. It was SO lame!

It was laying there, in a small crummy pile too small and crummy to be declared a stack, by the glass door of wee tiny li'l Bullfrog Records at Seventh Avenue and Camelback . . . let's see — Northeast corner, next to the little parking lot, a minuscule storefront barnacled onto what was probably a drugstore or a print shop or something every bit as useful and proper. (The cowboy bar where I booked the Consumers to play their very first show ever was catty-corner across the street, rear entry, gravel parking lot to help facilitate the spills'n'thrills that made cowboy bars such a gravel-grinding-in-your face drunken parking lot experience more nights than not. Peel out, dude!

Bullfrog Records was owned and operated by Butch, this genial lank-haired hippie guy with coke-bottle wire-frame glasses. It wasn't just a Used Records store (in fact, that side of things is probably defined by my own broke-ass sensibility), it was mainly an "import store." Which, in those days, meant mostly horrifying British prog-rock bullshit and a schmattering of German prog-rock Stierscheiz, which is them frontier days were pretty much impossible to find, and certainly in Phoenix F. Arizona. Bill Drummond (who enters our story right about NOW) had done a Drummond-esque mural on the slumpblock wall by the parking lot, and then it had spilled over onto the glass window front of the joint. I don't remember what it was, but it probably had to do with bullfrogs and, possibly, canals, and, knowing Drummond, outer space.
If you weren't careful, you'd probably run into Drummond at Bullfrog, and he'd probably be fondling Gong records about pothead pixies and their flying UFO teacups or some such post-hippe twaddle, and if you made the mistake of saying "Uh, hi....", the next thing you knew, Bill was rattling away in his Buzz-Click Robot voice about all kinds of stuff.

(A complete and entire generation away, the Beastie Boys would create a magazine of their own ('cause they had crashed and destroyed so many SPIN parties before they got famous that while we loved 'em and all, we may have loved 'em too well, and weren't willing to devote each and every issue to 'em, much to their dismay and disdain and all... ), so they started their own, Grand Royal, which was kind of genius, which was more than kind of genius, and within the pages of what I think was like their second issue (nationally distributed! probably internationally too!) they defined and defiled and designated and delineated the term for the hairdo that Bill Drummond (the Phoenix one, not the KLF one — he came later) and Peter Gabrield were rockin' : The Mullet.)

Drummond was practically always there, in his drippy prog-rock mullet, and his white-on-white outfits, with maybe a few colorful Jackson Pollock drips in all the beaming colors Jackson Pollock would have avoided like the colorful plague, and with his ever-present, ever-active, ever-busy sketchbook, and his little Rapidograph pens, which he continually and obsessively sketched in all the while he continually and obsessively talked to you, and when he was done sketching and you looked — well, you had apparently not been standing around in the cramped quarters of a used record store on Seventh Ave and Camelback in Phoenix, but had been chillin' in the aft-deck of some StarTrek space-lounge, and you were looking bullfroggy and bug-eyed and mullet-ified, like everbody else.

Drummond hadn't done the hippie-esque mural on the front windows at Oasis Records, halfway down the block, opposite side of the street, towards Central Avenue — "It's all San Andreas' fault," it said, and there was a cosmic hippie dude with headphones being all psychedelic and stuff — but he was pretty much always there too, because it was where also where KCAC was. KCAC was, however briefly, the most extraordinary thing in Phoenix in some ways — certainly if you weren't into the part of Phoenix that was cowboys and rodeo belt buckles and and Buck Owens' KNIX. (And unless you consider the absurdly tiny R&B station KCAC replaced, serving all seventeen black folks in Phoenix, and Johnny D and me.) KCAC had been this secret little AM station somewhere around the middle of the transistor dial, and it had been assembled and created and imagined by a visionary. And because KCAC was so genuinely glorious, well, it defined the very empty airspace where KDIL belonged. Which had so little to do with being glorious.

And KDIL Blues Licks....(because hardly anybody ever could catch KDIL on the air, which includes the FCC, and the FBI, who didn't have much else to do in Phoenix, given the distinct lack of Communists)

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