IT 161 Page -13 by Chris Rowley OZONE: Form of Oxygen having three atoms per molecule, pungent, refresh- ing odour and exhilirating influence. Exhiliration by God, that's what we all need. Away with all that sullen squatting in hunched rows, passively observing and grate- fully applauding the Numbed Cells Squad and other such delights. Let us go forth right- iously ripped at all the right times (and Lord they are many) and shuffle, bump and boogie to our heart's content. The Ozone gang with all attendant paraphenalia is coming and they should provide some first rate fun nite-outs for those who catch their gigs. We've all heard the various interpretations of the Country line up and sound, especially the "modern" or "countrypolitan" form that is laid out by so many Rock performers to say. Now there's a chance to dig on the rare blend of Rock & Roll with all the Kentucky Moonshine things thrown in as well. Comm- ander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen have become the kind of band thatrcan energise almost any gathering from the Reddest Necked weekend dance to the psychedeli- ised throngs that like to hang out in distant country meadows. If you like a band that can rip through rock and roll greats just like they used to be, well, they can do that too. For various reasons, this band have yet to make any dramatic impression on the UK sales charts. Their hit single in America "Drive In Lincoln" never got airplay here because of the BBC's qualms about mention- ing expensive makes of Ford on the pris- tine waves of Radio Onderfull. In the States it was huge and did all sorts of ballistic things on both Pop and Country charts. Their albums have also achieved respectable sales as well although for some reason the Trucker's Favourites album didn't do as well as expected. Here in Britain they have a certain follow- ing amongst the cheerful, untamed and practically picturesque hippy remnants that still infest Ladbroke Grove and other areas of Anglograd '73. They may also turn out some of the folk who enjoy George Ham- Iton IV and all his many "entertaining" friends and I understand that they are sure to do a Country TV spot as well as the Grey Whistles. As Joe Kerr, their managing spirit says, "after this band have been through town there should be a lot of cowboys around". Well, Cowboy suits or Cowboy mania or not, :his visit to the UK should be an interesting experience all round. Commander Cody amd Co are, in no way, one ot the great Original American Bands, like the Dead or Quick- silver. Mr Kerr arrived here ahead of the band, like all good managers should, to check that things were getting organised and over some beers gulped down on a sticky Sunday after- noon we talked about the band, their origins and little intimate feelings and favourite toothpaste (Pistachio). They came together for the first time in Ann Arbor, Michigan's university town, with a reputation for radical activity and generally lively atmosphere. George Frayn, who had led from Long Island, found himself study- ing at the University of Michigan and he also began getting into playing piano and boogying witn a band called the "Fantastic Surfing Beavers" This band also acquired another future Airman in John Tichy, who introduced some country numbers to their set. The Beavers succumbed to an obscure oblivion but from them and some other bands circulating at the time, around '65 to '67, like the Seventh Seal which produced Bill Kirchen, and the evil sounding Lorenzo Lightfoot Athletic Club and Blues Band came the components of the first round of Commander Cody and The Lost Planet Air- men. One particularly feverish night spent under the influence of the old reality adjust- or itself, LSD, the name Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen was welded together in the mind of George Frayn, from strange sci-fi movies on the TV. First was something about a Commander Cody and the other involved a Lost Planet and its atte- ndant Airmen. It came in a flash as they used to say, or at least this is what Mr Kerr is convinced came to pass. Bit by bit the first Commander Cody band came together, with strange outriders and musicians, like the "West Virginia Creeper" who played Pedal Steel and'a troupe of women calling themselves the Galactic Twist Queens who would show up to up to writhe around the stage and a terrible singer called the Marquis De Soul and a drummer with a pronounced taste for Jazz and Soul. It was the frothy mad times of 1967, there was a lot of Ozone about, John Sinclair was a preaching the gospel of revol- ution, the Guitar Army thing was a gather- ing, the MC5 were hovering and about to land. The promoters in the big halls around Detroit weren't keen on bands who kept playing for free, and the audiences wanted the psychedelic drone at full volume. ¦ The appearance of a band that played country music as well as rock and roll was greeted with hoots of outrage. The fifties were still too close and the reaction against "greasy kids stuff' was strong. Audiences, their minds twisted with space warp electro- nics while they whirled in full-blown idiot dance. After a bit the band fell to pieces, with components shooting off all over the place. The jazz drummer was the first to go, packing up right in the middle of a gig be- cause he just couldn't bear tp lay any more Country and Western Music. Billy C went ' off on a tour with Sam Lay, one time drum- mer for Butterfield. The Creeper went to Nashville to learn pedal steel guitar and Cody started teaching add painting. Eventually Bill Kirchen on the West Coast realised the potential of a band like Airmen and he got onto Cody and told him about the new promised land. Cody and other remnants fled to San Francisco, where they teamed up with Kirchen and Billy C again and began playing in some memorably strange bars and other places all along the "dirt circuit"; as Joe Kerr lovingly refers to it. Things imp- roved, they were on the road again, gaining a reputation and picking up an audience. They played with The Grateful Dead and then really started getting feedback from Californian freaks. They became a 'cult' band and then started bringing out albums and singles including "Drive-In-Lincoln" which took off up the charts. Personnel shifts con- tinued, the Creeper finally departed, they went back to Ann Arbor again to a great reception and Lance Dickerson became their drummer. They maintained their relation- ship with the Alternaculturals in Ann Arbor and gigged away all over the country As things have progressed from the old hysterical days of Acidlove and then Mothers Against Walls, the "Counter-culture" has become a fragmented and diffuse thing. The politics of goday are, for the moment, bound down to the realities of making a living in the capitalistic thingy, trying to work out for real some of the theories evolved about life an' sex an' life again, and facing the incredible inevitability of political creatures like Nixon or Heath (or Brezhnev or Pompidou if you prefer). There's a lot of people coming up to the thirty year mark, that just keep on reviving Fifties things on both stage and screen in London are covered with revivalistic shows. I keep > meeting people in the mid-twenties bracket who wouldn't dream of buying an album from todays star groups, for them it's back to the Temptations or the Blues or Bob Dylan all the time (or even the dread Shane Fenton, even The Lafayettes). Yet mention Commander Cody to some of this crew and they perk up almost immediately, it seems that Ozone is already well spread around. There are just a few cultural totems still around that enjoy favour right across the Age spectrum and a lot of the new units that howl across the front pages of the pop press get little reaction indeed from generations raised on the mythic figures of the 50's and 60's. Like long rolling combers of Brewer's Delight, these waves of nostalgia keep wash- ing in bringing old ideas back for re-use and enjoyment. After all alcohol is now successfully rehabilitated, no doubt to the relief of the Brewing Interests, and people who once regarded Drink as something that produced 'straights', while the dope they ¦ smoked was simple and pure and lots of fun, have realised tbe therapeutic value of Alk in this mad, mad world of ours. This desire for Rock at a human level is just the sort of springboard Cody and the Airmen need. They'll be popping up all over the country during the next few weeks and they should be good to see. The Rock scene in the 70's is so full of extremes and creazed variations upon the old themes, with such a vast horde of acutely specialised bands that anybody who can take it on to a more general boogie to the roots thing can only generate the right kind of excitement.