Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

July 28, 2019

Frank Virtue and The Virtues, “Hop, Skip and Jump: 1955-1962” (Hydra Records, Germany, CD)

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“Hop, Skip and Jump” (Hydra Records, Germany, CD issued in 1997)

30 tracks recorded in Philadelphia, mostly recorded between 1955 and 1959


 1  Roll ‘in An ‘a’ Rockin’
2  Straighten Up & Flyright
3  Rattle My Bones
4  Guitar Boogie Shuffle
5  My Blue Heaven
6  I Think You’re Lying
7  Let’s Have A Party
8  Hop Skip Mambo
9  Corrine Corrina
10  Boppin’ The Blues
11  Stranded In The Jungle
12  Flippin’ In
13  I Ain’t Gonna Do It No More
14  Mambo Rock
15  Rip It Up
16  My Constant Love
17  I Made A Mistake
18  Oo Ya Gotta
19  Lover Boy
20  Go Joe Go
21  Can’t We Be Sweethearts
22  Fever
23  Rose Of San Antone
24  Hallelujah I Love Her So
25  Charleston Twist
26  Mountaineer Teen Break
27  Toodle Oo Kangaroo
28  Roll Over Beethoven
29  I’m Going Home
30  Good Bye Mambo.

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There is a lot of mis-informed discussion printed both online and in books and magazines about the early days of rock and roll and the pre R&R days by people who have not actually listened to a lot of small-label recordings from the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. People like the late Billy Miller or the late Cub Koda or The Hound or Bill Dahl you could trust because they’d listened to thousands of records from that era, and knew their R&B and country boogie inside out. They’d listened to the source recordings, not just read about them….or used someone else’s third-hand generalities as the evidence for their claims.

One of the most important (though not most often discussed) streams that fed into the river that was 50’s rock and roll was the nightclub “jive” tradition from the Northeastern United States, often with Philadelphia as its home base. Artists such as the pre-Cameo Charlie Gracie, Freddie Bell and the Bellboys (whose arrangement of “Hound Dog” was adapted by Elvis), Bill Haley, Mike Pedicin, Jimmy Cavallo/Cavello, and many others were doing a music rooted in Louis Prima and without the cultural influence of the American South you would find in someone from Memphis or Mississippi or Houston, where country music was the native and dominant  music of the region, and where young white musicians would grow up alongside African-American blues artists, even during the days of legalized segregation, and hear local blues and R&B records by local artists on local radio stations.

These kind of artists were issuing records as early as 1951 and 1952 which are by any standard rock and roll, and for every Haley or Cavallo or Gracie who was recording in that era, there were surely dozens or hundreds working the local lounges and Italian restaurants and lower-tier nightclubs of the Northeast. On a German collectors album devoted to Charlie Gracie, which includes all of his amazing pre-Cameo rock and roll records (he was somewhat watered down by Cameo, as many other artists were), there is a 1952 TV appearance from a Philly broadcast hosted by Paul Whiteman, where Gracie does a solo vocal-and-guitar performance which is a full two years before Elvis’ first Sun Records, and while it’s quite different, it’s a totally original SOLO rock and roll performance, one of the earliest, and in a just world, it would be anthologized widely and be well known and cited often and included in documentaries. It isn’t (and it’s not on You Tube, or I’d provide a link).

A lot of these artists tended to be “entertainers,” where the show element of a performance was important, and a frontman with good people skills and a line of jive patter was essential. While we can never find ourselves in a New Jersey Italian restaurant and lounge in 1954 featuring such an artist (as we enjoy our linguini with clam sauce), the album under review today will get you as close as you can possibly get in 2019 to that magical world.

Frank Virtue is probably best-known today for his massive instrumental hit “Guitar Boogie Shuffle,” a rock and roll guitar adaptation of Arthur Smith’s “Guitar Boogie,” and for his Philadelphia studio (see pic) where hundreds of great local singles were recorded over the decades (he also mastered the Beatles single on Swan!). “Guitar Boogie Shuffle” by Frank Virtue and The Virtues was issued in a number of countries and has been reissued many times, along with album-length collections of the Virtue band’s instrumental rockers (which, it should be mentioned, featured JIMMY BRUNO on lead guitar, who had a long career as a jazz guitarist and has a number of albums out you can still find today). Everyone should own a collection of The Virtues instrumentals, but that’s not what’s being discussed today.

Leave it to Hydra Records in Germany (check out their amazing catalog of deep archival digs of early rock and roll) to compile the ultimate collection of little-known and largely unreleased VOCAL recordings from Virtue and crew—-if you want to know what a typical nightclub set circa 1955 or 1956 from a Philly-based act that would use the word “rockin” in its advertising, this is it, 30 tracks worth.

The earliest 1955 recordings here, with an unknown female vocalist, still have the influence of the vocal trios of the big band era, but built on the chassis of a small guitar-based combo, and the rest of the tracks here are the kind of small-group jive-rock discussed above, sometimes with a booting tenor-sax. As would be expected and appreciated by nightclub and lounge audiences, a number of the tracks are rockin’ adaptations of standards such as “My Blue Heaven,”  “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” and “Rose of San Antone,” alongside doo-wop influenced tunes such as “Can’t We Be Sweethearts” and THREE (count em!) tracks that exploit the mambo-rock fad.

The vocalists (who include frontman Virtue) vary, and sometimes have more enthusiasm than great technique, but enthusiasm and a raspy tone are what rock and roll singing is about—-hey, even today there are artists milking this vein, often working cliched Italian-American stereotypes into the act (I saw one about six months ago at a lounge here in San Antonio! A transplanted upstate New Yorker who was “working” us Texas locals, telling us how this song and that excited the customers at “Vinnie’s Pizzeria” or whatever—-I suppose this kind of thing is to Jimmy Cavallo or Mike Pedicin what the Blues Brothers were to Junior Wells, and that’s not meant as a compliment) and making Sopranos and Mad Men and Bobby Darin references! It’s a timeless routine!


I’m not claiming the performances on this album, taken from obscure acetates and local 45’s, are the greatest recordings ever made or that they are some unheard 1952 sessions that rewrite musical history. No, what’s special about them is that they are probably VERY typical of a unique movement in the NE USA. They are acetates documenting the act, not intended for airplay or wide release, along with raw local 45’s, which may have been sold from the bandstand or at a neighborhood record shop where Virtue himself night have dropped them off. The “typical” nature of the sides puts you in the moment in mid-50’s Philly or Jersey, and for me that’s an exciting thing. Most of the recordings are from 55-58, but there is also a 1962 twist 45, which sounds like the kind of “custom pressing” you’d find on a Collector/White Label compilation LP.

A name seen often on the credits here is the larger-than-life James Myers/Jimmy De Knight (credited as co-writer of Rock Around The Clock, and you should Google that to read the various perspectives on his authorship of that song), a man whose association guarantees some exploitation value to any project. Jack Howard, longtime Bill Haley friend and associate and man behind many Philly small labels, is credited with producing some of the sides here, as is Dick Clark (!!!!). The liner notes, composed by someone whose first language is German, mention that Clark used the band to record soundalike cover versions for quickie knock-off “covers of hits” records he produced. I was unaware of this side of Clark and don’t know anything about what labels these were issued on. It’s possible some of the selections here are from those knock-off records (they cover Stranded In The Jungle and Blue Suede Shoes and the like). I’d love to know more.

Whatever the source of the sides, they rock from start to finish, with that unique “New Jersey lounge” flavor that cannot be faked (only badly imitated, such as by the band I saw recently). Virtue’s biggest hit, “Guitar Boogie Shuffle” is included here, but otherwise this is the material you DO NOT hear on most Frank Virtue and the Virtues reissues. If you enjoy this kind of music, you should also get the Jimmy Cavallo collection on Blue Wave, the Mike Pedicin collection on Bear Family, the Charlie Gracie collection on Cotton Town Jubilee (or the old Gracie LP on “Revival” from France), any collection of Bill Haley’s pre-Decca sides, and Collector/White Label’s ROCKIN AND BOPPIN ‘BILLY IN PHILLY CD (which has a picture of Frank Virtue on the cover). Also, the European ANORAK ROCKABILLY 45 website had a good number of singles from the Philadelphia ARCADE label available for download a few years ago, and those might still be up—-those are also full of typical club bands of the era, in that amazing era in Philadelphia music history.

Want a taste? Not sure what’s being discussed here? You can listen to the entire album at the link below….put it on while you are doing whatever you’re doing today. And transport yourself to a neighborhood lounge in South Philly, circa 1956, with “famous recording artist” Frank Virtue and The Virtues. I’ll take the wayback machine there anytime….

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listen to this entire sequence of 30 songs at this link:

You Tube: Hop Skip and Jump

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July 27, 2019

now available, MY WEEK BEATS YOUR YEAR: ENCOUNTERS WITH LOU REED, 1972-2013 (Hat & Beard Press)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 11:43 am

lou book pic


Compiled by Michael Heath, Edited by Pat Thomas

Hat & Beard Press, 300-page hardback, published May 2019

publisher’s statement and ordering info

I’ll be doing a full review of this fine collection of 41 years of interviews from the one-and-only LOU REED in UGLY THINGS #52 (#51 is at the printer’s now), which will not be out until later in the Fall. To help promote the book, I wrote a brief recommendation of the book at Amazon, which you can read here:

Bill Shute recommendation for Reed book

Of course, you should always buy a book directly from its publisher rather than from some massive conglomerate, so please use the link above labelled “publisher’s statement and ordering info” to order your copy.

lou book pic 2

This handsome and essential volume was compiled by Michael Layne Heath, punkzine pioneer and acclaimed poet, who published a number of chapbooks with KSE over the years, and who was included in KSE’s 2014 poetry collection POLYMORPHOUS URBAN: POEMS FOR LOU REED, alongside Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozabal, Jim D. Deuchars, A. J. Kaufman, and Matt Krefting.

Lou Reed turned the interview into performance art. His collected interviews belong right alongside his albums and live shows and collected lyrics when considering his overall body of work. Many of us used to wait excitedly for Reed’s next appearance in print, especially in CREEM, where he would engage in arguments with Lester Bangs or in insightful conversation with Bill Holdship. Different aspects of Reed’s persona came out in each interview, and all were entertaining, giving a slightly different glimpse into the creative mind of Mr. Reed. Get your copy of this from the publisher next payday!

Also, please check out UGLY THINGS #52, where my official review of the book will appear. It should be out in the later Fall.



July 17, 2019

discover The Popular Jazz Archive

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 7:08 pm

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harry reser










For many years, THE POPULAR JAZZ ARCHIVE has been posting online collections of 78 RPM recordings of the great pre-Swing Dance Bands of the 1920’s and early 1930’s.

Bands such as Art Hickman’s and Isham Jones’ are as important to the development of what became Swing as Fletcher Henderson’s was–it’s just that Henderson’s  (with the coming of Louis Armstrong in 1924 and the influence of Don Redman’s arrangements) had a strong jazz element, and people with a jazz orientation can clearly see the line of development from Henderson through, say, Benny Goodman.

The Dance Bands of the 1920’s—-not the small jazz combos such as the Wolverines, but the larger groups who recorded regularly and may have had residencies at hotels—-existed during the Jazz Age, and many of them had a jazz element (some did not), but they would have associated “jazz” with the bands who had the Original Dixieland Jazz Band or the New Orleans Rhythm Kings as their models.

My late mother, who was alive in the 20’s and 30’s and who attended many Swing concerts at movie theaters in the late 30’s and early 40’s, certainly knew what jazz was….but she had a term that she used often to define music with a jazz element that would not be labelled jazz, and that was JAZZY. Louis Prima’s 1950’s hits would be called “jazzy” as would Van Morrison’s scat singing as would a 20’s hotel orchestra doing a Charleston number.

Here’s the link:

Popular Jazz Archive at the Internet Archive, 1000+ songs from 78 RPM discs

Not only do you get expertly curated, chronological 78-by-78 surveys of the different dance bands covered, but often, when there were pressings on different labels and under pseudonyms, you are provided with both (or all, if there are three or more) versions, even though they may not necessarily be different takes. Wow!

Few labels do reissues of this kind of music anymore, and these transfers are excellent, the kind of thing you’d find on a specialist reissue label. Just choose an artist at random, let the songs run through (be ready for multiple versions of many) the playlist, and put it on while you are working or doing something at home. Pretend you are at some swanky hotel with a sprung dance floor in 1926… For me, 20’s dance bands have a dynamism and freshness that’s always appealing and always puts a smile on my face. Here and there you’ll find some lugubrious crooning, but you’ll also find uniquely 20’s lyrics as absurd or surreal as Robyn Hitchcock at his best. Hey, it’s free….so don’t complain–just enjoy. And think about the fact that we’re just five months short of the 1920’s being 100 years ago!


July 15, 2019

‘A… Come Assassino’ (Italy 1966), starring Alan Steel/Sergio Ciani

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  “A… COME ASSASSINO” (A For Assassin), Italy 1966

B&W, 77 minutes, Italian Language (subtitled in English)

starring Alan Steel (Sergio Ciani), Mary Arden, Gilberto Mazzi

directed by Angelo Dorigo (aka Ray Morrison), produced by Walter Chiari

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A…COME ASSASSINO, a late (1966) B&W Italian murder mystery, is mentioned rarely, and when it is, it’s due to the presence of star ALAN STEEL/SERGIO CIANI, well-known from sword and sandal films such as HERCULES AGAINST THE MOON MEN. Steel continued working after the Peplum boom, and in the last six months I’ve seen him in a 1970 India-set colonial adventure with Peter Lee Lawrence, and a 1976 Robin Hood comedy very much in the vein of a Bud Spencer film. He’s been convincing in everything I’ve seen, as he is in this film. Also, the film is occasionally mentioned as an early Giallo. Well, maybe in the sense that there is a murder and a number of disreputable suspects, but anyone going into this expecting a kind of proto-Dario Argento slasher is sure to be disappointed. It sometimes is vaguely reminiscent of one of the B&W early 60’s German krimi films in content, but has none of the stylized post-expressionist eccentricity of those films, although it probably would have appealed to fans of that genre outside of Germany.

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The patriarch of a wealthy family is killed by having his throat slashed. Because he knew in advance that his family and hangers-on were all no good, he created a tape-recorded will in case he died, and its terms are novel: of the eight or so people in his orbit who might expect some kind of inheritance, one month after his death, only THREE of them would be allowed to present themselves to his attorney for the remains of his estate. If there are more than three, then NO ONE would get a cent. If there are fewer than three, that was OK….they would split it (of if one, he/she would get it all). He knew that these crooked, sleazy individuals would probably kill themselves over the money in their greed, and no doubt he expected to laugh from the grave over their attempts to eliminate each other. That’s the plot, which takes about ten minutes to set up, and then the remainder of the film involves the characters playing out this scenario, as one after the other leaves the picture, until….  well, you’ll need to see it yourself to find out, but it would not take a genius to figure out what happens, especially once one meets and gets to know this motley crew. And you just know there will be an ironic and cynical resolution, and of course, there is.

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The film plays very much like a Charlie Chan film or Perry Mason episode, minus the hero detective or attorney. There is a clever inspector who seems to be unravelling the threads of the initial crime and then the later shenanigans, but he is hard-pressed to keep up with the pace of the new complications and deaths as the characters eliminate each other.

Running just about an hour and a quarter, A…COME ASSASSINO moves quickly, has a crew of entertainingly sleazy and back-stabbing characters, utilizes the atmospheric B&W photography and old-dark-house setting well, and does not overstay its welcome. In the last 20 minutes it begins to take on some horror film-style camera angles and imagery, but again, anyone coming into this expecting a B&W proto-giallo will be let down.

Imagine a 60’s Italian version of those early 1930’s American indie murder mysteries, set in an old mansion on a rainy night, and made by outfits such as Chesterfield or Mayfair, and you’ll have a better idea of what the film delivers. I found it very entertaining—-it offers a consistent mood, colorful characters who have been cheating and cheating on each other in different combinations that are exposed as the film progresses, and it winds up ratcheting up the suspense and atmosphere in the final 20 minutes. Alan Steel is quite effective as the patriarch’s private secretary who begins as a kind of uptight accountant type but turns out to be much different, and watching him untangle is a pleasure. Fans of Mario Bava’s BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (which this film does not resemble at all) will be happy to see American actress Mary Arden appearing here, and she also gets a multi-dimensional role that allows here to be both seductive and to chew the scenery. The English subtitling is adequate, and no one will have a problem following the murderous trajectory of the film. Perfect for late night viewing, and easily available for your enjoyment on You Tube. Be sure to subscribe to the “Blake Adam” channel, which is hosting the subtitled feature. He’s got dozens and dozens of 60’s Euro genre films in a number of styles, most of which are quite obscure and quite good. Enjoy….

July 13, 2019

GOLDEN HITS OF THE SHANGS (Judi Gee CD, Canada, 2019)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 3:33 pm


Golden Hits Shangs

THE SHANGS, “Golden Hits of The Shangs”

   Judi Gee Records, CD, Canada, 2019

Ontario’s SHANGS released two albums (A LITTLE BIT OF SEMI-HEAVEN and LONGET) and a non-lp 45 (Claudine b/w Gli Amori De Strata) in the 1990’s and immediately had an international cult following among the kind of people who collected Julie London albums, considered Lesley Gore’s popsike period the height of achievement, and later purchased all of the SOFT SOUNDS FOR GENTLE PEOPLE compilations. I probably had their recordings in my regular rotation for 10+ years. There is no band that sounds remotely like them, and although they are rooted in 60’s girl-group and female soft-psych recordings (and Hollywood Babylon chic), they don’t sound much like the 60’s artists they admire. When they cover a 60’s song (some of their material is covers, but most is original), it’s like they took the original song, put it in a hot shed in the tropics for 18 months, and pulled it out again after it had grown fur and started to disintegrate. In fact, the hot-house vibe of this album is HUMID that if you had some soil, you could grow vegetables in the music.

One reviewer described it as sounding like Big Star slowed down to 16 rpm, and that is evocative and accurate. I would say that if you could imagine the Jesus and Mary Chain at their most languid, locked in a room for two weeks with all of the SOFT SOUNDS FOR GENTLE PEOPLE comps and the A&M albums by Claudine Longet on repeat, and then ordered to record an album after being fed downers and leathery dark-red wine, that might wind up being similar. When I saw David Bowie’s 1976 STATION TO STATION tour in Denver, he showed the Bunuel/Dali film UN CHIEN ANDALOU as his “opening act”…..if The Shangs used a film as an opening act, it would be Dick Randall’s 1968 THE WILD WILD WORLD OF JAYNE MANSFIELD.

With imagery taken from subjects ranging from early 30’s Hollywood suicide Peg Entwistle, sultry and mysterious 30’s/40’s vocalist Libby Holman, actress Arlene Tiger (star of Jerry Gross’s FEMALE ANIMAL), and the films DAY OF THE LOCUST and PATCH OF BLUE, you have a good idea of what the Shangs’ music is rooted in.

In fact, the music is so wet and shimmering, it has a strong erotic quality and would probably get an “R” rating for attitude and overall vibe.

Also, and this to me is the highest compliment, this album sounds like you’re listening on headphones even when you are NOT listening through headphones.

Just imagine that you’re having a dream (probably a fever dream), and you hear an amazing album sounding like what I’ve described above and you see it’s on Lee Hazlewood’s LHI label and you wonder why you’ve never heard of it. You wake up, jot down the album title while you still remember it, and see that there was no such LHI album released in 1968….no, it’s a NEW album on the Canadian “Judi Gee” label, and The Shangs have taken that fever dream and made it real. Now, isn’t that the kind of album you want to hear? I should hope so….

As with some of the musical artists The Shangs idolize—-Claudine Longet, or Julie London, for instance—-this album takes you into its own unique world, a world you won’t want to leave. I world you’ll prefer to “reality.” Few bands have that power, that ability, that passion—-The Shangs do.

Here are two of the songs from the album, but be forewarned that the album is quite eclectic, every track sounding different and being constructed differently. These are a TASTE of the album, but there are many more flavors among its 15 tracks:



Presently, I’m not sure where the album is for sale, but it’s getting a number of reviews and airplay on a number of stations here in North American and in Europe. You can either Google the title (and put it in quotes, or you’ll get many entries for GOLDEN HITS OF THE SHANGRI-LAS) or check out the band’s website at

A number of the Shangs have connections with Simply Saucer, but don’t be expecting this to sound like The Saucer—-the similarities are it’s totally original, it creates a world of its own, it’s mind expanding, and it exists beyond time and place.

Get your copy now!

(ps, love the imitation Sidewalk Records logo)

Golden Hits Shangs

July 8, 2019


Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 3:05 pm



both hardcover, edited by ROBERT DEIS and WYATT DOYLE

ordering link:

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Creative artists, like everyone else, need to make a living. Some, such as poet Wallace Stevens or composer Charles Ives, worked in insurance while practicing their craft after-hours. Others find employment using commercial applications of their artistic skills. A composer friend of my daughter’s, a brilliant prodigy even in his teens, has paid the bills composing music for video games. A friend of mine from high school and college, someone I would consider among the finest writers (in terms of being a craftsman and virtuoso in the field of writing) I’ve ever known, chose to use those skills in the worlds of journalism, technical writing, history writing, and business communications. For me, reading one of his pieces on the use of marble in the construction industry or on the presidency of Chester Arthur is as much of a joy as reading something by Fitzgerald or Auden.

When visual artist Samson Pollen (1931-2018) found himself in the Coast Guard during World War II, he was asked to put his drawing and painting skills to use in the service of military communications and promotion, including doing magazine art for the Coast Guard publications. Describing a painting of the Titanic he did for the cover of Coast Guard Magazine, Pollen said, “I focused on a rowboat, up close: a woman holding a baby, an elderly woman crying, and the yeoman up there, steering the oars. I put a human touch to it. I wanted to tell a story, so I played up the human interest and that’s why they liked it, I guess. I was becoming an illustrator then.”

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After the war, Pollen did a painting of some teenagers hanging around outside a poolroom, using actual teens at an actual poolroom as his models (Pollen worked with live models throughout his career, often for photo reference) and taking a lot of time with the piece so he could use it as a sample of his work while making the rounds of publishers. When he took his sample to Magazine Management, their art director acquired it immediately and used it on a story then in-progress set in a similar environment. That opened the door for a long career doing magazine work and paperback book cover art, and Pollen became one of the most exciting and in-demand artists in that field, creating hundreds of paintings over many decades.

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These two collections from New Texture focus on Samson Pollen’s work in the field of Men’s Adventure Magazines (MAM) such as STAG, MEN, TRUE ACTION, FOR MEN ONLY, ADVENTURE, MALE, etc. These magazines featured colorful, two-fisted, action-adventure stories not unlike the old pulp magazine fiction of the 30’s and 40’s, but full of sex and explicit violence (often in their own section and segregated from the general magazines on the publications rack at the local drug store or grocery store) and aimed at an adult male audience, many of whom were WWII or Korean vets. Unlike a comic book, which the potential purchaser can scan and see via pictures what is delivered for the purchase price, short stories could not be scanned by the customer at the magazine rack as easily. Stories needed an exploitative title with hooks (how about WE WERE LOVE-AND-TORTURE SLAVES OF THE HELL RAIDERS or I BATTLED THE SYNDICATE’S UNDERWATER SMUGGLERS or I FOUGHT BRAZIL’S WOMEN-STEALING TRIBE or NIGHT OF THE FLESH SEEKERS or THE TOWN THAT BECAME A CYCLE-WAR BATTLEGROUND or HOW A YANK AGENT STORE RED CHINA’S H-BOMB TIMETABLE) but also art that would sink the hooks in deeply enough that the action-starved male reader would put down his money at the counter because he just HAD TO experience for himself the thrills and excitement the story promised. However, this art had to also serve a second function, one just as important. It had to plant images in the mind of the reader, images that he could then bring to the story while reading it and build upon in his own imagination. You needed good titles, evocative art, and of course picturesque and exciting stories or no one would ever buy a second issue of one of those magazines. As these two books show, Pollen was a master at this and no doubt was responsible for selling hundreds of thousands of magazines (and paperback books) over the years.

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The two themed collections, POLLEN’S WOMEN and POLLEN’S ACTION present both Pollen’s original paintings (in B&W, in color, and in the interesting and evocative “duotone” format, which is essentially B&W but with one other color, usually blue) and the artworks as they appeared in the original magazines, so one can see their original context, how the works were edited/cropped for publication, and the nature of the stories they accompanied. I noticed that one Amazon review of the books considered this “repetition,” but it actually opens the works up for me and also gives an invaluable insight into the world of the men’s magazines for which the paintings were commissioned and in which they were used. Giving us either just the paintings or just the covers on the magazine page would offer only half the story.

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Pollen would be provided by the magazine’s art editor with the key details of a story and then be given a few weeks to produce the image that would illustrate the story. Pollen gave an example of a typical assignment: “This hero has an automatic weapon in one hand, and he’s carrying a woman in another hand, and a dog in the other, and he’s climbing up a cliff.”

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What was Pollen’s secret weapon? He explains in the book, “my paintings are often at an angle, and twisted. Very few of my paintings are on a flat level, like a sidewalk or a floor. It’s always tilted this way or that way, to get motion. Perspective gives you depth and motion, and I like motion…. You gotta get everything going in that one picture…..You try to get a little motion out of it, and a way you can do it is with twisting and turning and all of that, to give it a little life….That was always my objective, to keep it alive. Pulp action’s supposed to be action, right? …. I like storytelling. A writer tells stories on paper with a pen, and I tell them with a brush. We’re both doing the same thing in a different way.”

It was the art and the story titles that sold these magazines, and these same elements planted the seeds into the readers’ imaginations which then sprouted when people read the stories themselves. It’s easy to see why Magazine Management kept Pollen working until the men’s magazine genre folded in the mid-to-late 70’s (Pollen then moved back into paperback book covers as his mainstay).

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These two beautiful, oversized, horizontal-format hardcover collections are a wonderful tribute to Pollen’s work, and editors Deis and Doyle do a good job of providing a context for the work and letting Pollen’s own words do a lot of the explaining, though really no explanation is needed for these rich, complex, and satisfying artworks. The large and crisp presentations of the pieces are a pleasure to savor and both books are an excellent buy, considering the hardcover art book you are getting. They are available from any Amazon affiliate, here or overseas, as well as other online booksellers. The publisher’s announcement for the most recent volume, POLLEN’S ACTION, can be found here:

New Texture–Pollen’s Action

Pollen paradise sm

Separated from the original stories, Pollen’s artworks tell their stories boldly and vividly in these two essential collections. They are as fresh and exciting as the day they were taken from the artist’s studio to the publisher, and they also document a cultural environment and publishing industry that’s long gone. If you have friends who enjoy vintage crime and adventure B-movies or who read older crime and adventure novels, why not surprise them with one of these attractive collections as a birthday or holiday gift. It doesn’t matter if they are unfamiliar with Pollen’s name or the men’s magazine genre—-I can’t imagine anyone like that not going wild over these books, keeping them close by a comfortable recliner, available within reach when they are settling back after a long day, a good scotch on the rocks at hand, ready to travel to a world full of armed escaped Nazis and cannibals and masked gun-runners and voluptuous gun-molls with names out of a James Bond novel….all in the safety of their living-room armchair.

For your enjoyment, here is a later work of Pollen’s (included in the book as an extra), the poster for the classic Italian exploitation film SLAVE OF THE CANNIBAL GOD, starring Stacy Keach and Ursula Andress, which I’m proud to say that I saw at an Oklahoma drive-in on its initial theatrical run!

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true pollen

Publisher’s press releases for the two volumes:

Samson Pollen (1931–2018) was one of the greatest illustration artists whose work appeared in vintage men’s adventure magazines (MAMs) from the 1950s to the 1970s . Pollen’s specialty was action—dynamic, explosive, outrageous action. Illustrating work from authors Mario Puzo, Martin Cruz Smith, Richard Stark, Norman Mailer, Ed McBain, Richard Wright, Don Pendleton, Erskine Caldwell, Walter Kaylin, Robert F. Dorr, Pollen’s immersive illustrations transported adventure-hungry readers from tropical jungles to brutal battlefields to raging seas and mean city streets. Samson Pollen painted it all—spectacularly.
The Men’s Adventure Library follows the first-ever collection of Samson Pollen’s illustrations, Pollen’s Women, with Pollen’s Action, a deluxe new volume collecting the cream of Pollen’s high-octane action paintings. Includes history and commentary by the editors and an introductory essay by the artist.

POLLEN’S WOMEN is a lush visual archive collecting some of artist Samson Pollen’s most memorable pieces, selected from the hundreds of jaw-dropping illustrations Pollen provided for men’s adventure magazines (MAMs) from the 1950s through the 1970s. Sexy women were a regular component of story illustrations published in the more than 160 MAM titles that flourished from the early 1950s through the mid-1970s, and nobody painted beautiful and dangerous femmes like Pollen. Much of the artist’s work—literally, hundreds of pieces—saw print in the Atlas/Diamond group of MAMs from Marvel Comics founder Martin Goodman’s Magazine Management Company. Until now, almost none of these illustrations have seen print since their original publication in those latter-day pulps. POLLEN’S WOMEN collects the artist’s sexiest and most lethal female portraits in a deluxe hardcover edition, with an autobiographical introduction by the artist. Edited by Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle for The Men’s Adventure Library.

July 7, 2019

Alan Watts, ‘Cloud-Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown: A Mountain Journal’ (1973)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 8:53 pm


Reading Alan Watts (1915-1973) today, in 2019, or listening to any of his many recorded 1950’s-1960’s talks and radio broadcasts, I’m struck by how timeless and how welcoming his approach is. Never a doctrinaire man, Watts was able to open the door to “the bigger picture” for hundreds of thousands by asking us questions we’d not stopped to ask before (or not stopped to ask recently) and by providing accessible metaphors and imagery to lead us into new territory, from which we could see ourselves as if we were observing someone else. In his talks, he was a master at what would today be called “discovery learning,” in that we would be the ones to come upon the enlightenment from the items we would put together for ourselves, provided in a seemingly casual and self-effacing way by Watts. His witty tone and perfect timing (like a comedian who knows how to “work a room” but still seem natural and spontaneous) certainly did not hurt his approach….neither did his exhaustive knowledge of comparative religions, art and literature and mythology, etc., always able to pull the perfect illuminating reference out of his endless storehouse of learning, without ever seeming pedantic.

He was never stuck in one particular school of Zen (in fact, he was not necessarily liked or appreciated by the powers-that-be in that area, which I suppose is to his credit),  nor was he necessarily an advocate of any particular “method” related to Zen, nor did his imagery come primarily from a Zen or even Buddhist pool. He was just as likely to find his imagery from the world of science or philosophy or psychology or other spiritual traditions, but most importantly, he was always rooted (as a poet should be) in the particulars of daily life.

If Watts is new to you, I would recommend you just find a random talk/lecture online and put it on while you are involved in some mindless activity around the house but are free to listen and to think. Let it wash over you. Don’t worry about “getting” anything. Then listen to another one in a few weeks.

I first discovered Watts in the early 70’s, perhaps in the year after his 1973 passing, when the local public radio station in Denver would play talks of his on Friday nights for a month or two (I discovered Krishnamurti the same way). Having already read Kerouac and Philip Whalen, I was ready for Alan Watts’ piece of the puzzle.

CLOUD-HIDDEN, WHEREABOUTS UNKNOWN: A MOUNTAIN JOURNAL (1973) was the last Watts book published in his lifetime, a collection of 19 meditative pieces composed in the foothills of Mount Tamalpais, CA, ruminations on the nature around him and his realizations of his place within it and among it, one with it. I stumbled across the book in the 1980’s for a dollar or so used, but wasn’t really ready for it at the time. Looking back, I must have been impatient and more closed to “reading daily experience and detail” than I later became, because I felt in the 1980’s that it had too much nature writing in it—-a perfect example of the wisdom of the Dylan line “I was so much older then/I’m younger than that now” (and Watts himself quotes another well-known Dylan line in one of these journals).

Speaking of Kerouac, Watts appears under a pseudonym as a character in two Kerouac books, THE DHARMA BUMS and DESOLATION ANGELS, and Watts also commented on Kerouac, not in a particularly favorable way, but one would not expect those two to get along….or even to see the value in each other’s approaches. I mention Kerouac here because as I was re-reading Watts’ CLOUD-HIDDEN, I was reminded of Kerouac’s BIG SUR and DESOLATION ANGELS. They are both set in similar areas and both contain detailed physical descriptions functioning as metaphors for greater truths. However, the approach to language and the method-of-communication is worlds apart. To use a jazz analogy, Kerouac would be someone along the lines of saxophonist Rev. Frank Wright (or maybe Albert Ayler, but I hear more Wright), while Watts would be coming from an angle not unlike pianist Paul Bley. I can’t imagine a duo album from those two. That’s fine, however. There are many roads to the palace of wisdom, each better suited to different people….and to the same person at different times in their lives, different days of the week.

The pieces in CLOUD-HIDDEN were originally published in magazines and distributed to private subscribers to Watts’ journal. Watts makes clear in the intro that there is  no particular running order to the pieces (though he does provide dates of composition for those who might want to read them in chronological order). If he walks to the west one morning, walks to the east one afternoon, investigates a dry creek bed one day and spends time among wild mushrooms the next, it’s not as if one experience leads into or provides a foundation for the next. You could even dip into the pieces at random and make a pencil mark on each one you read.

Let me share a passage from the book. As with the structure of a sonnet or a sermon, Watts tends to look at particulars first and then to apply those particulars and come to some kind of wisdom from their contemplation. My quote will be from the latter section of the pieces.

From “And The Mountain”: We are misled when we believe that our ideas represent or mirror nature, because that sets us outside nature as mere observers. The tree does not represent the fish, though both us light and water. The point is rather that our thoughts and ideas ARE nature, just as much as waves on the ocean and clouds in the sky. The mind grows thoughts as the field grow grass. If I think about thoughts, as if there were some “I,” some thinker watching them from outside, there arises the infinite regression of thinking about thinking, etc., because this “I” itself is a thought, and thoughts, like trees, grow of themselves. In solitude [in other words, in the remote rural area where Watts is located and pondering, coming to these epiphanies and writing these journals] it is easier for thoughts to leave themselves alone.

CLOUD-HIDDEN can still be found very inexpensively, and as a Vintage paperback, there were surely many copies in circulation. It’s actually still in print today. As the last book Watts published in his lifetime, it’s a fitting snapshot of what he had to offer. Looking up the book online, I see the following description from the publisher’s blurb: “Watts’s meditation on the art of feeling out and following the watercourse way of nature, known in Chinese as the Tao…. embracing a form of contemplative meditation that allows us to stop analyzing our experiences and start living in to them.” Yeah, that’s true, but this is not a book that uses jargon (as the blurb does), which is a big part of its value. Enlightenment can be found in the 1920’s blues 78’s I’m listening to while writing these comments, or in the alley behind my home, which I’m looking out the window at while writing. No special jargon is needed, no particular program need be consulted. After you read and think about a few of these pieces, Watts can move on down another road, and you go down your own road. They function like beneficial chance encounters….after one, you are focused on the new road you’re on, in front of you, around you, not in memory of  your previous encounter, though your vision and your sense impressions might be slighter sharper because of the encounter.

Back in the 1970’s, I remember travelling through the far western part of Kansas with a friend, who commented in a negative way, “there’s nothing out here!”

I responded, “no, there’s nothing here to get in the way.”

Pick this up when you see it, if you’re so inclined….or surf for one of Watts’ talks online and put it on while doing the dishes or paying your online bills….then, go down your own road, refreshed and senses opened….

Also, you might find this You Tube video a worthwhile use of 2:22 of your life today:


July 4, 2019

now available, ‘RIVERSIDE FUGUE,’ new book-length poem from BILL SHUTE

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 8:46 am



66 page perfect-bound paperback, composed 11/2018 –  6/2019 in Texas and Louisiana

available at all Amazon outlets in North America and Europe as a local purchase

US customers may order at

riverside cover

Many reading this will remember that in 2017 I made the decision to change the nature of my poetry and move into longer, book-length works instead of shorter pieces in the 5-8 page range. My first two poetry books, TWELVE GATES TO THE CITY (Word Mechanics 2006) and POINT LOMA PURPLE (Word Mechanics 2007), had both been book-length creations, and the structural and organizational and imaginative challenges of the long-form work have always appealed to me—-I rarely go a month or more without returning to such works as Melville’s CLAREL, Crane’s THE BRIDGE, or Wordsworth’s THE PRELUDE, and I am a great admirer of modern epic works such as Diane Wakoski’s four-volume THE ARCHEOLOGY OF MOVIES AND BOOKS (I, Medea The Sorceress; II, Jason The Sailor; III, The Emerald City of Las Vegas ; and IV, Argonaut Rose), which is sure to become one of the essential works for an understanding of the late 20th and early 21st Century in future times, and Anne Waldman’s IOVIS TRILOGY. Of course, I should not mention myself in such august company, but I’ve always been of the opinion that one must aim at the stars to get over the backyard fence!

My 2018 book AMONG THE NEWLY FALLEN was a long-form work using some of the techniques of motif-based film-music composition and the murals of Thomas Hart Benton to create a piece on a much larger canvas (46 pages), and with this new 2019 book, RIVERSIDE FUGUE, I was inspired by the KSE album “Staring At A Statue Of Paint” by MORE EAZE (aka Marcus Rubio). I had it on repeat as I was working on AMONG THE NEWLY FALLEN in Oklahoma in the summer of 2018, and I thought that for my next work, I would have to study the patterns of repetition and variation in those pieces by More Eaze, and use that as a foundation, along with the classical fugue structure, I could adapt to my needs as a poet. I began work on RIVERSIDE FUGUE in November of 2018 and continued on it until mid-June of 2019, finishing it during my writing vacation in East Texas (on a cattle and horse ranch near the Texas/Louisiana border) and Louisiana the first two weeks of June. This time I edited and formatted it as I went along, rather than completing the work in longhand first and then typing it into the computer, so it was sent off to the publisher when I arrived back home, the proofs have been checked by a few people (not just me), and the book is now available for YOU to read. Only $9.95, and whatever country you are in, the cost should be similar as you can order it as a local product from your local Amazon outlet. The days of having to spend $15 postage on a $7 KSE chapbook are long gone—-this new method is working out very well, and it’s allowing me to create beautifully printed perfect-bound paperbacks that achieve 100% of what I conceive in my mind’s eye.

My prose has appeared far and wide over the years, still coming out regularly today, and as long as no publisher/editor changes my grammar and punctuation or alters my paragraphing or substitutes other words, it matters not the format in which the work appears. The words will remain the same.

Poetry does not work that way, and it especially does not work that way in the world of open-field poetry, where the page is a canvas, and where every element of spacing and placement and positioning-of-stanzas and layout is an integral part of the work. To use an early-jazz analogy, prose or standard poetry anchored to the left margin would be like a piano roll, while open-field poetry would be like a live performance in your living room by Meade Lux Lewis. At least that is the intention, and that is what’s possible in the hands of someone who attempts to use the infinite possibilities of the medium.

As usual for me, this work is a collage of contemporary life and consciousness, and like present-day society, it’s both absurd and painful—-you may laugh and cry on the same page. I am always happy when doing a reading at a venue that is not thought of as “literary” (say, a bar) and the people in the audience laugh in the right places, and their jaws drop and they are silent in the right places. That tells me that I have succeeded in what I’m doing.

I also made the decision with RIVERSIDE FUGUE to have no specific viewpoint character in first-person singular as I sometimes do, some worker reflecting on their own experience and their part in the puzzle. Of course, there is always the implied controlling intelligence that is assembling the poem, but that’s another issue. This time the viewpoint perspective is first-person plural, WE and US. As we all are under-fire so much on a daily basis and as we need to rise above the ways in which we are being separated from each other, and set against each other by those for whom such anger and confusion and separation is in their best interest, it seemed as though the WE of unity-under-fire was needed today.

The poem runs 60 pages, in three sections. I hope you’ll find this poetic version of a fugue-like structure to be fresh and integral to the overall effect.  RIVERSIDE FUGUE — it will make you laugh–it will make you cry.

I think you’ll also like the handy 5 x 8 size of the book. I composed specifically for that size and format, and I intend to use this size/format again for my next book. It’s small enough to take with you and carry around, but the words on the page are bold, clear, and precise, and the page-canvas is focused yet capable of infinite variation.

USA customers can use the ordering link above. Overseas customers can just search for the book at your local Amazon affiliate–it will be the equivalent of US $9.95 in your local currency.

There is also a Bill Shute author page you can access here:

Bill Shute author page

American readers can direct order any of my 6 most recent KSE paperback poetry books. Overseas readers can search for any of the 6 locally to save money. This page also provides a feed of KSE blog posts. My poetry books from imprints other than KSE are not available here, alas. POINT LOMA PURPLE and TWELVE GATES TO THE CITY have been out of print for years, and the British book APPROACHING THE APPARENT sold out a few months after its release. My joint book with Michael Casey, CULTURE OF COMPLIANCE, is still available from Ruminant Press in Massachusetts, though only a handful are left. You can order that here:

I’ve already started on the next book-length poetry project, which I hope to have completed in the Summer of 2020.

There will supposedly be a “selected works” collection spanning 15 years coming out in Germany in 2020—-I’ll let you know about that as it happens. I submitted the requested manuscript for that last fall.

Hope you find RIVERSIDE FUGUE interesting and worthwhile. There’s certainly nothing else similar to it out there, and I can safely say that it achieves exactly what I set out to achieve. Whether or not you find what it achieves to be of any value is, of course, another matter.

Thanks again for your support over the years. Some of you out there have been readers of mine since the 1980’s. As they say whenever you fly Southwest Airlines, “we know you have a lot of choices out there in the marketplace….”

riverside cover

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