Friday, December 23, 2005

A TOOLBOX CHRISTMAS

"Your favorite carols performed on your favorite hand and power tools..An extraordinary orchestra of hammers, saws, drills, ratchets, 2x4s, pipes, planers, and much, much more...You may even hear the occasional mandolin, dulcimer or oboe adding their voices." So says the folk music label, Gourd Records, about woodworker/musician Woody Phillips's debut album "A Toolbox Christmas." Imagine, if you can, Einst├╝rzende Neubauten recording for Windham Hill...

Woody Phillips - "The Twelve Days of Christmas"

I'll be taking a little time off, so thanks for all the tips, comments, and CDs sent my way - this has truly become a community effort. I'm always amazed when I check my web stats to see how many visitors I get every day. See you next year!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

TRANSEXUAL SILVER HELLS

The King of Jingaling, he of the crucial Christmas music site Falalalala.com, posted an album yesterday by a singer I wasn't familiar with, Wendy Rose. I listened, I was amazed, I asked His Highness who this woman was, and where has she been all my life? All he knew was a friend sent him the CD, and Ms. Rose is apparently a transexual street performer from Toronto, Canada. Her website features photos of Miss Thing in her librarian glasses (Warning! Bathtub shot on the bottom of the page!), as well as a few mp3s of original songs, but, like the Christmas album, the no-fi recordings all feature her Casio-esque music, and her singing, which is sort of a cross between Neil Young and Yoko Ono.

Wendy Rose "Silver Bells" - Not as off-key as the rest of the album (she's maybe batting .500 here), and dig that electro groove! Unless, of course, you sickos want to hear the really painful tracks...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

POT-BELLIED PIGS SING HOLIDAY FAVORITES

Pigs. "Singing" Christmas songs. Well, why not? Don Carlos' Singing Dogs' "Jingle Bells" is one of the all-time classic holiday novelties, and the "Jingle Cats" albums did well. So, in 1994, Texas musician Bobby Breaux took advantage of the then-popular potbellied-pigs-as-pets fad to record a short album of sampled pig squeals and grunts set to holiday standards.

The fad didn't last long, as pig owners soon found out that those cute little piglets grew into 200 lb beasts with monster appetites. But at least it inspired this (now out-of-print) CD "The Jingle Bellies."

The Jingle Bellies "Joy To The World" - a more disgusting, almost flatulent version you'll never hear. Which, of course, coming from me is a compliment.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

THE DEFINITIVE "THE FIRST NOEL"

Ladies and gentleman, prepare thyself for the most jaw-dropping rendition of this holiday chestnut you've ever heard. What's it like? Well, let's just say I hope this isn't coming too soon after Wing's ACDC interpretation.

Johnny "Bowtie" Barstow: "The First Noel"

And there's more where that come from - a whole album's worth, in fact. Can't find much info on Bowtie apart from producer/keyboardist Larry Golding's notes. Although the album came out a year ago, it's apparently been in the works for some time: "In the early 1990s, when John Barstow first performed at The Angry Squire's open mic night in New York City, I knew he was something special. We soon became friends, and he agreed to let me record him in my home studio, which consisted of a 4-track cassette recorder and an electric keyboard." I think you'll agree it was well worth the wait.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

MAE WEST'S WILD CHRISTMAS

Dana Countryman has posted the entire Mae West "Wild Christmas" album from 1966. The screen sexpot was 73 years young, still chasing the boys and shakin' it to a groovy mid-'60s go-go beat, as she performed songs made famous by Eartha Kitt, Elvis, and The Beatles, as well as custom-fitted creations like "Santa Come Up and See Me".

Mae West - "New Years Resolution" Mae purrs over a "Hang On Sloopy" rip-off riff, "I'm gonna have goodwill towards men...and the more men, the more I will." I'm not exactly sure what that means, but it sounds dirty.

Don't wait til New Years to download this, though - that's when it's coming down.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

WING GOES AC/DC

You say you love Mrs. Miller? You cheerfully sing along with The Shaggs? Forget that noise, mac, 'cause nothing, I mean nuthin' can prepare you for Wing's latest.

Wing, a middle-aged-verging-on-elderly Chinese woman now living in New Zealand, who has so risen in stature in the hearts and ears of strange-music fans in recent years that she even appeared (in animated form) on "South Park," has moved from Celine/Streisand/showtune-type balladeering to a more pop/rock orientation (she's done entire albums of both ABBA and Beatles covers). Throughout, her high-speed-drill singing style and English-as-a-second (third?)-language delivery have remained constant. Her latest releases: two classics by fellow Down-Under-ers AC/DC. Yep, there's nothing like hearing AC/DC's suggestive crudities sweetly uttered by the grandmotherly Wing, accompanied by what sounds like a guy with a Casio who takes such long solos that, by the three-and-a-half minute mark, Wing kills time by singing "Yeah" about 50 times.

Wing "Back in Black"

and since 'tis the season, "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" - If you're new to Wing, you may want to start here, before working your up to the more advanced material.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

SATANIC PUPPETEER ORCHESTRA

They're called the Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra, but I don't detect anything particularly satanic about this good-natured band, nor are there any puppets in evidence. For that matter, it's not much of an orchestra - one man largely handles the music, a "mad scientist" whose robot creation sings lead. Therefore, it's the perfect name for this bizarre, funny bit of musical dada.

Sure, it's someone's idea of a gimmick, but a strangely believable one - "ReMax," in which our hero describes being kidnapped by the Re/Max real estate company because he wouldn't sell his home to them, and is held hostage in their hot-air balloon, is the sort of randomness a robot really would write if it could.

Said robot, SPO-20, sings melodically over the rinky-dink electronic backing (with occasional toy piano), but his melodies seemingly come from a completely different song then the one accompanying him. Said mad scientist Professor B. Miller says they are in midst of preparing a four-CD (!) box-set debut album. Hmmm...

Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra - "ReMax" - Hey, it makes me laugh.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

EXPLOITATION MOVIE ADS

A site called ToeStubber is offering up an amazing collection of old exploitation movie radio spots. Such titilating titles as "The Naughty Stewardesses" ("if a groovy soul-sister is your dish..."), "Frenzy of Blood," "Females For Sale," and "Dr Tarr's Torture Dungeon" are featured.

"Ginger" "...her weapon is her body!" The groovy music drowns out the dialogue. Which is probably just as well.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

SANTASTIC: HOLIDAY BOOTS 4 YOUR STOCKINGS

Online album now available: "Santastic," which mashes up decades of Christmas records to amusing, danceable and sometimes (good-naturedly) irreverent effect. Features internet "stars" like Go Home Productions, Poj Masta, DJBC (the compiler), solcofn, Thriftshop XL, DJ John, ATOM, Pilchard, Cheekyboy, Aggro1 & Katie Enlow.

So far, my fave is the insanely ingenious "Santa Benz" by Orange County's own Voicedude. RIAA's contribution, "Santa's Acid Hawaiian Space Disco" features bits of The Beatles, Bing Crosby, children's records (including one using a Solovox, a '50s voice synthesizer), 8-bit, other Xmas mashups, The Beach Boys, an astronaut, etc...

It's the perfect holiday season gift - it's free!

UPDATE: Here's a different version of the RIAA track then the one on the album - t
he Beach Boys bit is better mixed, with some Jean Jaques Perrey thrown in.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

TWINK, THE TOY PIANO BAND

Boston, MA's Twink (no relation to the British psychedelic rocker) have released two wonderful albums of toy piano-based bubblegum instrumentals like:

"Hoppity Jones" - Toy pianos play along with a sampled scratchy antique record, paving the way for the new Twink release, "The Broken Record," which dispenses with toy instruments in favor of mashing up allegedly hundreds of old children's records.

"Pussycat" - "I love little pussy!"

Monday, November 28, 2005

THE POPE SMOKES DOPE

I planned on posting this song back when the Pope died, but couldn't find it in my collection. By the time I did find it, the moment had passed, but since I got a request for it over the weekend, here is David Peel and the Lower East Side's 1972 hippie novelty classic, the title song from an album that was reissued on CD briefly but has apparently fallen out of print again:

David Peel and the Lower East Side: "The Pope Smokes Dope" - featuring backing and production from John Lennon, released on Apple records, following an Elektra Records release, "Have A Marijuana" that was supposedly recorded live on a New York City street corner.

After this brush with major labels, Peel put out his own albums. According to his un-updated website, he planned on releasing a 16-cd box set (!) in 2003. Did this actually come out?

UPDATE: Not only did it come out, he recently released a new 15-CD set!
Thanks to Adam J. and Scott S.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

LET US GIVE THANKS...

...on this Thanksgiving Day (an American holiday that involves eating and watching football) for singing athlete records like "NFL Country," an album of country-music stars/football players duets. Just what the world needs!

Waylon Jennings (did he need the money that bad?) croons with Troy Aikman, Bill Bates, Dale Hellestrae and coach Joe Avezzano: "The Good Old Dallas Cowboys"

"NFL Country," which also features Glen Campbell with Terry Bradshaw, and songs with titles like "Four Scores and Seven Beers Ago," can be had used for ONE CENT on Amazon. Again, something we should be thankful for.

I'm off for the holiday, see y'all next week.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

CHARLIE TWEDDLE'S FANTASTIC GREATEST HITS

Charlie Tweddle's 1971 self-released home recording, "Fantastic Greatest Hits", could be the work of Hasil Adkin's hippie nephew: avant-hillbilly-psychedelia is one possible description of it's contents. According to Companion Records, who have reissued this rare-as-hens'-teeth album on CD, "Charlie's pharmaceutical wanderings led him to believe he was a real life prophet and that his brand of Appalachian Psychedelia would change the world. Instead, the LP was almost universally panned and he spun off into a deep depression from which he wouldn't emerge for several years."

Several years after recording these odes to nature (and flying saucers), he meticulously created artwork and packaging, pressed up 500 copies and released it (under the name "Eilrahc Elddewt") to a puzzled, scornful world: "The LP was hand-distributed and received only minimal positive feedback; sales were poor.Why? Well for one, side two of the album is 25 minutes of chirping crickets and sound fragments. The abrupt patches of dead air on side one probably didn't help much either. More than a few of these albums were returned as "defective". Of course, all of these production moves were intentional."

Scroll to the bottom of this page for mp3 excerpts.Track #8 sounds like three recordings playing simultaneously - spoken word, country music, and a sci-fi soundtrack.

Monday, November 21, 2005

LINK WRAY R.I.P.

I saw Link Wray perform this past July at Glendale's (CA) annual Cruise Night. He hobbled on stage like an old man but, clad in black jeans, leather jacket and shades, pounded out timeless primal rock'n'roll with youthful abandon. Little did I know it would be his last appearance in America. He died recently at age 76. His brutal instrumentals paved the way for garage rock, metal and punk. I remember coming across a Link Wray album with liner notes from Pete Townsend crediting Wray with inspiring his pin-wheeling power chords. But Wray had a weirdness, an atmosphere to his music that defied pigeon-holing.

My first exposure to Wray was, believe it or not, through Adam and the Ants! I had their "Kings of the Wild Frontier" album as a wee lad, and one of my faves off it, "Killer In The Home," featured Wray's classic riff from his late '50s hit "Rumble." I later discovered that some of my fave Cramps tunes, like "Sunglasses After Dark," were Wray instros + Cramps lyrics.

LINK WRAY: "Rumble" - Hey tough guy, have you had any of your songs banned? Oh yeah? How about an instrumental getting banned? Now THAT'S hardcore. In spite, or perhaps because it was banned from various stations this one rode high on the charts, providing the soundtrack to countless juvenile-delinquent switchblade fights.

LINK WRAY: "Batman" - The TV theme adorned with absurd sound-effects, dialogue, and grown men saying, "Zap! Pow!"

Big thanks to garage-punk.com and Record Brother - check 'em out for more Link Wray info and mp3s.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

GABBY LA LA

It's been said that American girls can't wait to appear grown-up, but Asian women spend their adult life acting like little girls - dressing in school-girl uniforms, giggling as they obsess over "cute" things. Gabby La La, who sings in an Asian-accented Betty Boop voice about a girl fighting "The Boogie-Woogie Man" hiding in her bedroom or admonishing "Too many sweets - brush your teeth!" would certainly seem to fit that characterization. But what's ultimately most impressive about the CalArts-trained Ms. La La is her command of a variety of unusual instruments, and her apparent inability to make "normal" music. Imagine, if you can, Tom Wait's band backing Shonen Knife.

Her charming album "Be Careful What You Wish For," the only non-Primus-related album on Cali indie-rockers Primus' Prawn label, fits no known musical genre - the sitar-driven "Golden Flea" feels like a raga, but I doubt Ravi Shankar would sing about a "flea who can be the life of the party"; Frank Booth would no doubt have a big question mark over his head upon hearing Roy Orbison's "In Dreams" scored cheerfully for accordion, hand-drums and finger-snaps; elsewhere, she plinks away on a toy piano, sings about eggs, elves, and pirates, throws in some theremin-squelches on one tune, and supposedly tap-dances during her shows (unlike Singing Sadie, however, she didn't record her dancing). Except for Primus' Les Claypool playing bass on a few songs, it's mostly Gabby's show.

"Backpack" - Ukulele-funk (when was the last time you read that phrase) about leprechauns and mermaids. Actually uses the word "scrumdiliumptious."
"Twins" - The finest duet for toy piano and sitar you'll hear this year.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

MASH-UP MADNESS

To celebrate the recent 15th birthday of the internet, howzabout some music that owes it's existence to the internet: mash-ups, swimmingly safely (relatively speaking) in the depths of cyber-space, away from predatory music-biz copyright lawyers:

The Geez: "Whole Lotta Coconut" - Ohio's master mixer has a pitched-up Harry Nilsson singing, with (almost) Chipmunks-like effect, that "Lime and de Coconut" song over Zep. Utterly absurd.
Pilchard: "Laurel vs Hardy" - Stan and Ollie get funky, courtesy of Reading UK's master mix-monkeys.
Totom: "Blowing My Mind" - The Pixies back up Bob Dylan; Totom from France has made a true mind-blower with this one.
DJBC: "Challahback Girl" - Boston's BC makes Gwen Stefani sing over "Hava Nagilah."
"Hava" swig of Manischewitz and laff yerself silly over this one.
RIAA: "Beastie Butt" - Beasties, Butthole Surfers, a children's record, and Lee Scratch Perry. Now it gets silly.
RIAA: "Itsy Bitsy Short Dick Man" - Now it gets really silly.

Monday, November 14, 2005

GALAXIA: THE REVOLUTION STARTS NOW!

Steve Wallis wants to lead a worldwide socialist revolution. Although apparently he has no musical background, he decided he would start a band "because it is possible to influence people greatly through music." How did he decide he would be the singer in his band? He tried karaoke, and was pleased with the results. Dubbing his group Galaxia, he announced a time and place in his native Manchester, UK, for audtions.

No-one showed up.

Undeterred, Wallis recorded his response to the G-8 summit, "Do They Know It's G-8 Time?," accompanied by a studio guitarist. He still hopes to get a group together, make albums, and sell them (donating proceeds to the Galaxia Foundation for the World Socialist Revolution) as soon as he can find record-stores that will carry them - "HMV is a particularly right-wing chain, but it may be possible to get our CDs stocked in Virgin Megastores and WHSmiths."

His website has pages for "Band Members" (actually, since he's the only member, he writes about people he would like to be in Galaxia, such as a popular BBC actress, and members of the group Katrina and The Waves) and "Pictures" (of Steve Wallis, including a picture of his passport!)

Galaxia - "Do They Know It's G-8 Time?" Sing along with lines like "Proportional representation by single transferable vote"!

Friday, November 11, 2005

PUNKTRY-WESTERN MUSIC

Something fun for the weekend: a kouple of kooky kountry kovers of yer favorite punk-rock classics:

Two Tons of Steel: "I Wanna Be Sedated" The Ramones go to a hoedown
Asylum Street Spankers: "TV Party" These wacky Austinians update the Black Flag standard

Square-dance in the mosh pit!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

SWAP-MEET SUPERSTARS pt2: BOB VIDO

Monday's post about Mingering Mike reminded me of Bob Vido: they were both musical visionaries who only made private recordings complemented by an enormous amount of visual art (fake album covers, etc), both were discovered when their life's work was put out for sale at a flea-market, and both discoverers established web-sites dedicated to their discovery. But unlike the recently uncovered Mingering Mike (both the alive-and-well man and his work), Vido and his wild music and paintings came to light only after his death.

Many of you may already know about Vido thanks to a mention in Irwin Chusid's book and companion CDs "Songs In The Key of Z," (essential reading and listening, by the way, if you're new to all this), and a song ("Boo-Bah-Bah") posted on Otis Fodder's "365 Project." But you may not know that Vido's discoverer, Los Angeles' Jonathan Ward, has added more songs to the website.

Unlike the down-to-earth Mingering Mike, Vido fancied himself a mystic/scientist/philosopher, penning a bewildering book detailing his invented field of "Rhizology." And say what you will about his music, but the Bulgarian-born Angeleno, who worked as a commercial draftsman for most of his life, was an excellent, if eccentric, visual artist by anyone's standards. I especially like his space/ufo paintings.

Vido called himself a one-man-band who could play live on a variety of instruments over backing tapes, but it's yet to be determined if Vido ever did perform in public. His songs are divided into jaunty accordian ruminations on bizarre subjects like "Fridgenometry," or horn-driven flights of fancy that have been compared to Space-Age free-jazz madman Sun Ra. These are just excerpts, unfortunately, but Ward is hoping for a CD release someday:

"The Fridgenometer"
"Total Creative Music"
"Piano Concerto"

Monday, November 07, 2005

SWAP-MEET SUPERSTARS: MINGERING MIKE

While poking through a Washington D.C. flea-market, Dori Hadar and Frank Beylotte made an amazing discovery: an entire collection of handmade album covers that containing cardboard "records" from the late 1960s and early 1970s, created by a would-be funky soulman named "Mingering Mike". From a New York Times article:

"The front covers were intricately painted to look like classic funk albums; on the spines were titles and fake catalog numbers; the backs had everything from liner notes to copyright information to original logos...A few albums had even been covered in shrink-wrap and bore price stickers and labels with apocryphal promotional quotes.

What Mr. Hadar found was a cache of seemingly nonexistent music: soundtracks to imaginary films, instrumental albums, a benefit album for sickle cell anemia, a tribute to Bruce Lee, a triple-record work titled "Life in Paris," songs protesting the Vietnam War and promoting racial unity, and records of Christmas, Easter and American bicentennial music. He had discovered, perhaps, an outsider artist.

After some detective work, the pair have actually tracked down Mingering Mike, and it turns out that the music to these fantasy records really did exist. Mike still possesses scores of old reel and cassette tapes of his homemade music, often made under the most primitive of conditions: some feature people mouthing bass parts and even entire string sections. Some feature people beating on a bed with a comb or thumping telephone books for percussion. Some feature someone playing a kazoo-like trumpet made out of crumpled paper. Mike claims to have written over 4,000 songs."

Kids often fantasize about a music career - doodling possible band names on their notebooks, jamming with friends, making grandiose plans. Eventually they either get some instruments, start playing, and try to work towards their dreams, or give it up as they grow up. Mike (and his anonymous associates) grew up, but never left the fantasy stage - he never learned traditional instruments, sought out live gigs, etc. Why should he? Reality would have been disappointing. It was all perfect in his mind.

Does Mingering Mike know that "minge" is an extremely rude British slang word? Regardless, Hadar and Beylotte recently set up a website featuring scads of beautiful scans of his album covers and artwork. However, only a few sound files are up - transferring Mike's crumbling reel-to-reel and cassette archives is a mammoth task, as a friend of theirs writes here. I transferred two of the songs to mp3s:

Mingering Mike: "Hey You" - a fine bit of acapella funk
Mingering Mike: "Tribute to Bruce" - Bruce Lee, that is. Hi-ya!

Friday, November 04, 2005

UPDATE: MC POTBELLY

After writing this about middle-aged insurance-salesman rapper MC Potbelly, Da Man himself sent me his home-recorded CD, chock full of brief-but-to-the-point songs boasting charmingly amateurish production, a rhyme flow like no-one else (except maybe The Shagg's drummer), and hysterical lyrics often detailing pimp life as he imagines it. Sometimes his lyrical concerns move beyond typical hip-hop subject matter and into metaphysical realms I don't quite grasp (genetic afterlife?)

MC Potbelly: "Sisters" - another of his pimpin' fantasies; so far beyond outrageous it's practically surreal.

He mails out free CDs to anyone who writes him, a move I highly recommend.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

OUTSIDER MUSIC DOCUMENTARIES pt2

Where can I see these?

From the program for soundunseen, a 2003 film festival in Minneapolis:

SONGS IN THE KEY OF Z: OUTSIDER MUSIC VIDEOS: Special guest Irwin Chusid returns to Sound Unseen for an evening celebrating those unclassifiable and often unbelievable artists that embody true independence- the "outsiders." Chusid is a radio personality, record producer, and music historian who is dedicated to unearthing the most unusual artists on the planet. Tonight, he'll present a brand new selection of outrageous outsider music videos as well as the first US showing of the new documentary, 'This Is Outsider Music' by Spectre Productions. The program illuminates the singular visions of Shooby Taylor the Human Horn, Bingo Gazingo, BJ Snowden, Peter Grudzien, Alvin Dahn, Damien Storm, Klaus Beyer, Gary Mullis, and many others. These shockingly original independent artists must be seen and heard to be believed!

SHOOBY - Director: Doug Stone2003, 10 minutes
Shooby gives us a brief introduction to the remarkable William "Shooby" Taylor, "The Human Horn". His music began gaining a cult following in the 90s, but no one knew much about him until fan Rick Goetz tracked him down last year. Director Doug Stone documents his resurfacing and appearance on WFMU Radio.


Hey, I forgot about this one from last year:
"Off The Charts," an American public-television documentary about the song-poem phenomenon now out on DVD.

And check out the "comments" under pt 1 for Alexis' and Jima's tips for more viewing. And, oh hell, just look at all these. We really could have an Ousider Music Film Festival.

OUTSIDER MUSIC DOCUMENTARIES pt1

For some reason (increasing public interest? coincidence? conspiracy?) several documentary films have been produced in the past year or so about some of the major figures in outside music, with more on the way.

"dErailRoaDed: Inside The Mind of Larry "Wild Man" Fischer" - Now on the film festival/art-house circuit. Watch the trailer featuring Frank Zappa and Mark Mothersbaugh.

"The Devil and Daniel Johnston" - Also currrently on the festival circuit. There are clips from the film on the site but I couldn't get them to work.

"Bruce Haack: The King of Techno" - Out now on DVD. Watch the trailer (he appeared on "Mr Rogers"?!)

"You're Gonna Miss Me" - about Roky Erickson. Can't find a site for the fim, but here's a review.

Although there was a stage musical about The Shaggs, the film, a fictionalized "bio-pic," as they say in Hollywood, has been delayed (in "turn-around," as they also say.) Tom Cruise (?!?) was once interested in making a film about The Shaggs.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

BAD RELIGION pt4: L. RON HUBBARD

Halloween may be over, but is there anything scarier then...Scientology? Aaaaaah! Since that particular sci-fi-based cult has the most rabid legal team on the planet I'll probably get sued for this, so enjoy these while you can:

L. Ron Hubbard: "Terl, The Security Director"
"The Drone"

Scientology founder Hubbard recorded these in 1980 using the then-state-of-the-art (now hopelessly dated-sounding) Fairlight synthesizer, one of the first samplers. The album was a "soundtrack" to his novel "Battlefield: Earth." Over 20 years later, of course, Scientologist John Travolta brought the book to the big screen and was roundly ridiculed. Never saw the film, but it can't be more amusing then this music: slickly produced electro (mostly) instrumentals, laden with campy robot/alien voices and sound effects: "Ah, his woman friend! Bwa-ha-ha-haaa!"

Almost as funny:

"Enturbulator 009 is the outlandish comedy band that dares mock $cientology. Banned from Mp3.com, Banned from Indielaunch.com" claims their Soundclick site. Their music page has some good tunes: "Entheta" and "OT3" are rap songs that expose the cult's secrets with insanely profane humor, "One of Us" is a brilliant cut-up/remix of what sounds like an official Scientology recording, and the self-explanatory "$cientology Sucks!" is sho' nuff fonky. Listening to all their songs reveals a group as obsessed as, well, a cult-follower - they even know the names of various church leaders, and personally taunt them.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

RHONDA'S READY TO RAGE

Rhonda (yep, just Rhonda) is another performer utterly convinced of her beauty, fabulousness, and imminent stardom. This Floridian's website, filled with amateur glamour snapshots of Miss Thing, modestly separates her musical and dramatic sides into "Grammy," "Oscar," and "Tony" categories. And you can get this for only $125! A seven-song CD entitled "Fairy Tale Lost" boasts such reputation-boosters as "Rowdy Girl," "Equally Manic," and an ode to wearing trashy clothes called "My Dress Code." Look out world!

As far as her music goes, I'm not sure what style or sound she's trying for - it's low-tech, but not in a cool indie-rock way, more like one guy with a Casio trying to play slick, commercial pop diva stuff. Some songs are quite short, and end so abruptly I had to check to make sure they weren't getting cut off. And her singing? Well, as Alexis from West Virginia says, "Rhonda sounds like your average tipsy off-key karaoke participant... if your average tipsy off-key karaoke participant was a voice actor for a PBS puppet show."

Rhonda - "Rage" Alanis Morissette, step off!

Big thanks to Alexis.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

BAD RELIGION pt3: DAVID KORESH

David Koresh, the Texas cult leader who went out in a blaze of glory, was a struggling singer-songwriter before he not only found Jesus, he thought he was Jesus. (Not the first musician who thought he was god, har har). Presumably there are other tapes of his recordings around, but all that seems to be available are two songs that Maniac Martin from Germany kindly sent our way, taken from the rare and usually expensive album "Voice of Fire":

"Book Of Daniel" - starts off with what sounds like a UFO landing...and a "mellow" California singer-songwriter steps out

"Sheshonahim"


and a big danke to Martin!

UPDATE 10/25/09: Looking for the "Mad Man in Waco"? Go HERE!

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Monday, October 24, 2005

GHOULS WITH ATTITUDE

It ain't all "Monster Mash" out there, folks. Horror-rock novelty records were quite common during The Golden Age of Sleaze (mid-'50s to mid-'60s). Case in point:

"Ghouls With Attitude"

2 disks-worth of '60s horror-rock downloads, spiced with campy monster movie trailers and some tunes more on the jazzy side. Originally compiled last year by Otis Fodder, available again this year thanks to net-album overlords Oddio Overplay. It would take years of thrift-store record spelunking to find all these ghastly gems, so grab 'em now before the sun comes up...

SON OF MONSTER MASH-UP

"Son of Monster Mash-up", the follow-up to last years' "Monster Mash-up" (duh), is another various-artists on-line collection of old songs rising from their musical graves to haunt the living, usually pieced together with other recordings in Frankenstein-like fashion: DJBC has Tom Waits backing old-skool rappers Whodini's "Haunted House of Rock," The Beegees take Tom Jones to a New Orleans voodoo disco, both "The Raven" and "JuxtaPoeCreature" set Edgar Allen Poe to music, DJ John's "Devil Mix" invokes The Horned One via The Charlie Daniels Band, Don Loves You actually makes "Ghostbusters" seem like a great song, and doesn't "Halloween With Morrissey" say it all?

Vincent Price, The Sex Pistols, Bauhaus, Radiohead, and a crypt-full of sound effects and horror movie samples also loom menacingly near your ears. I did track #12 and you are absolutely under no obligation to listen to it or like it. I'll just feast on your still-steaming entrails if you don't. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

A SYNTHESIZER NAMED SERGE

Theremin...Moog...Serge?

Yup, The Serge, named after it's inventor Serge Tcherepnin (pronounced "Cher - epp - nin"), was an innovative synthesizer built in the early '70s capable of producing, according to it's proponents, a wide, and wild, variety of sounds its competitors could only dream of.

Tcherepnin, born of Russian-Chinese parents and raised in France, developed his modular creation while teaching at the Los Angeles-area California Institute of the Arts (call it "CalArts" for short, please, not "CIA"). He started a synthesizer company, was selling nearly nothing by the mid-'80s, sold it, and, ever the adventurer, moved to Europe where he helps Jews move to Israel.

Costing tens of thousands of dollars, difficult to program (it uses the old telephone-switchboard style modular setup like the early Moogs), the Serge has always been rather obscure. But a sampling of the wonderous array of sounds it makes possible is now available thanks to Serge-player m/n/m/l: a demo tape released by the Serge company in 1983, though some of the music goes back years before.

From The Serge's Musicians Tape:

Easy Teeth: "Her Blade" - some raucous techno-punk rock from 1980
Scot Gresham-Lancaster: "Suburban Dream Music" - haunting minimalism, beautiful melody

It's a tad hissy sometimes, but aren't we all?

Monday, October 17, 2005

BAD RELIGION prt2: APOLOGETIX

Although they claim they get some criticism from Christians who think all rock music is the devil's, The ApologetiX nonetheless take secular pop songs and inject a Christian message into them, with sometimes amusing results, as in this reworking of the Beatles' "Love Me Do":

ApologetiX: "Love The Jews" Don't be surprised if you find yourself walking around singing this. Though you may get odd looks.

Other titles: "Baa! We're Lambs" (The Beach Boys' "Barbara Ann"), "The Real Sin Saviour" (eminem's "The Real Slim Shady"), and - one of my faves - The Romantic's "What I Like About You" becomes..."God I Like About You." And guess which Guns'n'Roses song became "Verynice City."

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

BAD RELIGION prt 1: LI'L MARKIE LIVE!

Early '90s video footage of Li'l Markie, the funny/disturbing man/child of Christian children's music, has been unearthed. I'd like to offer Bomarr a thank-you as big as Li'l Markie himself for the tip. Watch the video, read all about it, and BE SAVED, brothers and sisters, by going to Bomarr's groovy site here:

Li'l Markie: "I WIll Praise You" (live in Miami)

Monday, October 10, 2005

BOSS HOSS: UPDATE

Back in June I wrote:

"Combining two recent trends here at m4m - country/hip-hop fusion, and weird covers, may I now present Boss Hoss, a German (!) country band that covers rap & pop hits. Their album "Internashville Urban Hymns," debuted at No. 11 on the German charts, so it's not all Hasselhoff over there. It's not such a stretch when they render The White Stripes, Hendrix, or Elvis hits into country corn, but, improbably, Outkast's "Hey Ya," eminem's "Without Me,' The Beasties Boys' "Sabatoge," even Beck's "Loser" get the twangy gee-tars/foot-tappin' treatment. Now here's where it gets scary: they also do Billy Idol's "Eyes Without A Face," just as Paul Anka released his lounge version. When did that song become a standard? Did I not get that memo?"

But I only had a link to the band's website with a snippet of a very clever and jes' plum hee-larious Britney Spears cover. Here's the whole tune:

Boss Hoss: "Toxic" - Replete with absurd Western-movie sound effects, and a singer with a thick pseudo-Texas drawl asking, "Do ya feel me now"?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

TOR HERSHMAN: ATHEISM, SAMUEL BECKETT, AND FART JOKES

A loyal Maniac, The Bobo, writes, "...I want to tell you about a very strange fellow by the name of Tor Hershman. I discovered this guy about three years ago on a Yahoo Group devoted to horror films. Every so often he would post a link to a song he wrote and sang. Bizarre stuff that ranged from sophomoric parodies to songs devoted to atheism (which he strongly advocates)."

Remember how much fun it was as a child to play with tape-recorders? Making funny/rude noises and jokes, creating fake radio shows, uninhibited singing and clowning around. Upon nearing adulthood, most of us either give that up entirely, or become "serious" musicians, disk jockeys, etc. Not Tor, whose hissy, crude (in every sense of the word) recordings blend his adult philosophical concerns and avant-garde art aspirations with the sub-Howard Stern sense of humor and pause-button editing technique of a fifth-grader's basement variety show.

Typical of "outsiders", Tor seems utterly oblivious to the accepted rules of proper musician behaviour, performing with the passion and enthusiasm of guy who sounds like he has no other show-biz career aspirations then simply to have a helluva great time. The third track on his website, "Radio TOR," is a medley of song parodies, such as John Lennon's "The Ballad of John and Yoko" perfomed in a Donald Duck voice (?!), interspersed with Tor's spoken asides, introductions, and goofy jokes. Elsewhere he waxes more experimental/philosphical, saying about one track, "If you enjoy the works of Samuel Beckett you may be delighted by my lil' opus." Although, really, it's no more strange or funny then his other stuff.

Big thanks to The Bobo!

Monday, October 03, 2005

I LOVE EGG

Here's a real head-scratcher: from the land that gave us Hello Kitty and vending machines dispensing used school-girl panties comes a Japanese animation site call
I Love Egg. [EDIT: or Korean, according to reader Cooper.]

Quothe the site, "[The eggs] act like characters of fairy tales. They always attempt to change, since they feel that they cannot stay in the refrigerator like normal eggs."

Sing along with:

"I Love Egg"

Friday, September 30, 2005

GEORGE BUSH DOES WHITE LINES

Here's a newie from rx's website, ThePartyParty.com. All the songs feature hilarious, ingenious cut-ups of Bush and his cronies set to toe-tappin' tunes, and "White Lines" is no exception - yup, the old Grandmaster Melle Mel rap classic gets a juiced-up arrangment, as dubya rocks the mic, adding some startling new lyrics about Kate Moss in the process. As always, one has to wonder how many hours went into sifting through GW's speechs, isolating words, and pasting them together.

rx: "White Lines"

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

DON ADAMS R.I.P.

I had one of those "awwww, that's too bad" moments the other day when I heard about the death of Don Adams. Growing up, I loved watching him play the bumbling spy Maxwell Smart, a character he played off and on in movies and tv shows for several decades. But Adams was more than Smart - he had a very succesful comedy and stand-up career before "Get Smart," recording albums like "Don Adams Meets The Roving Reporter."

Don Adams: "The Finkston Trio" - would you believe...a funny, strange parody of early Sixties musical styles like folk, doo-wop and "Monster-Mash"-type Halloween novelties, all rolled into one.

Monday, September 26, 2005

MUSIC FROM FOOD

Matthew Herbert, veteran electronic music producer and remixer going back to the early '90s house days, has a new album, "Plat de Jour," whose sounds are largely made using food - quothe this BBC article: "Sugar" is made entirely from sounds generated from a can of Coke...while "The Final Meal Of Stacey Lawton" is made from the sound of his pal, Heston Blumenthal, recreating the last meal of a death row prisoner (a jar of pickles)." I'm not exactly sure how these items were used to make the music, but it has something to do with the wonders of sampling struck objects.

We've already covered other groups that use food here, like The Wyld Men and The Vienna Vegetable Orchestra. Y'know how first there was hardcore, then other terms like cuddle-core, lounge-core, etc? This stuff could be called "apple-core."

Or not. Anyway...

Matthew Herbert: "Esme’s Waltz" made from the following ingredients:
- Dry coconut
- Eden organic grape juice in a glass bottle (Germany)
- Organic peanuts in a plastic bag
- Mount Hagen decaffeinated, organic coffee in a glass jar with a plastic top (Germany)
- Two out-of-season apples

Friday, September 23, 2005

SINGING SADIE

Singing Sadie sounds crazy. This Australian one-woman-show sings in an out-of-control voice that doesn't always hit the "right" notes (but they're usually close enough) humorously dirty lyrics over old big-band records. And then, maybe half-way thru each tune...she tap dances. Well, she tries. It's kind of the dancing equivalent of her singing, like someone randomly dropping silverware on a hard floor. Her debut 4-song EP is called "Songs For Swingers." And she's finally swung her way here to America, where she'll be performing live on Irwin's show on WFMU next week (Wed., 2:00pm Eastern Time). Prepare thyself for:

Singing Sadie "Let's Call Her Lil"

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Hey, I Got A Theremin For My Birthday

I actually did, a Moog Ethervox, to be exact. Doesn't get any cooler then that. Makes me wanna listen to stuff like Project: Pimento, "...a five-piece band from San Francisco, with a repertoire of toe-tapping lounge favorites from the 40s, 50s, and 60s," fronted by sulty singer Miss Lola Bombay and featuring thereminist Dr. Robby Virus.

"Star Trek"
"Call Me"

From their album, "Magical Moods of the Theremin."

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Return of Dictionaraoke

In 2001, Chicago's Jima had an interesting idea. On-line dictionaries, like, say, Merriam-Webster's website, have audio pronunciation guides - look up a word and you can click on a sound file of an announcer actually pronouncing the word. What if you sampled lots of these words and strung them together in a song? The result was dictionaraoke: "Audio clips from online dictionaries sing the hits of yesterday and today," over instrumental music often provided by cheezy karaoke backing tracks. The contributors were mainly members of the Negativland mailing list.

Over the years, many of the links were broken, but the entire project has been revived and hosted by archive.org. The result is hours of deadpan, robotic amusement like:

pimpdaddysupreme: Cameo's "Word Up"

Animals Within Animals: "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang
" - Who knows how many hours (days?) it took to make this remarkable remake of Dr Dre and Snoop Doggy Woggy's hip-hop hit.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

GAMEBOY MUSIC prt. 3

Thanks to reader Slapdash for pointing us towards yet another band that uses hand-held video games. This time it's German combo Pornophonique, mixing acoustic guitar and vocals with Gameboys to nice effect.

Pornophonique: "Sad Robot"

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

FEMA For Kidz Rap!

Hey kids! You know about FEMA, right? Yes, America's Federal Emergency Management Agency, the one that's supposed to be taking care of the Hurricane Katrina disaster! Well, they've got a funky-fresh rap song on the FEMA For Kids section of their website. Remember now, gang, "Disaster prep is your responsibility/And mitigation is important to our agency."

"Mommy, what's "mitigation" mean...?"

FEMA For Kidz Rap

That's some hi-fi sound quality, eh? Blame budget cuts...

Saturday, September 10, 2005

WILLIE NELSON: THE REGGAE YEARS

Further evidence of the random nature of the universe: Country music legend Willie Nelson has recently released...a reggae album. The entire album, "Countryman," is reggae, complete with dub effects, a guest appearance by the legendary Toots Hibbert (of Maytalls fame) and covers of reggae classics like "The Harder They Come". But Willie's mainly singing his usual heart-breakin' country stuff, complete with traditional instrumentation (like the lonely cry of a steel guitar) alongside the Jamaican sidemen dropping their riddems. It all sounds like some wacky dj's country/reggae mashups - the dichotomy between the two styles is funny and bewildering. But, hey, Willie does partake of the sacred herb. So maybe the two cultures have more in common then we think...

Willie Nelson "How Long Is Forever"

Speaking of the ganja, America's biggest (and most conservative) retailer Wal-Mart didn't appreciate Willie's artworK - an alternate cover had to be created just so the Kansas housewives wouldn't be offended. But Willie's feeling too irie to get upset:
"
"They're covering all the bases," Nelson joked."

Friday, September 09, 2005

“George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People”

Well, that was fast! Yesterday, Houston hip-hop crew K-OTIX (a.k.a. The Legendary K.O.) posted a wickedly funny parody of Kanye West's "Gold Digger," taking Kanye's intrumental (and his now-infamous tv comment), and added their own vox/lyrics. The orignal's chorus of "Get down girl, go 'head get down" is now a plea to: "Come down George, come on, come down."

The Legendary K.O.: “George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People”

The Black Lantern has made a video.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Christian Astronauts

This gets my vote for least-likely (but most welcome) CD reissue of an an obscure vinyl release:

"Fans of small town, grass-roots productions will delight in this wonderful outer space childrens album produced by the Fremont, Ohio-based Shoup family back in 1971...Captain Shoup, the father of this family act led the Christian Astronauts on a decade-long career spanning the entire 1970s...the family filmed over 300 episodes of Beyond the Blue, a cable TV childrens ministry. We're told each episode was filmed inside an elaborate space ship set, custom-built by the Captain. Besides Rick and Michelle (siblings), Sister Shoup (mom), and Jerry (the space dummy), the production starred a 7 foot tall robot named Loosenut, equipped with flashing eyes and moving arms."

From the album "Beyond The Blue" by the Christian Astronauts (mp3s on bottom of page):

"Prepare to Fire" an introductory skit, featuring home-made sound effects, and a robot who speaks with the same voice as the Captain
"Countdown" Sister Shoup's wobbly singing, accompanied by even wobblier organ

Wait a minute. Weren't The Shaggs also from a town called Fremont? Hmmm...

GAMEBOY MUSIC prt2

Yesterday, we talked about Poland's Gameboyzz Orchestra Project. Well, whatdayaknow, there's more music played on hand-held video games out there. Thanks to bomarr for heppin' us to Oakland, CA's Passage, an indie-hip-hop act who has recorded at least one GameBoy tune:

"West World or Wheels"

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Gameboyzz Orchestra

The Gameboyzz Orchestra Project is a six-person group from Poland who do exactly what it says on the tin - make music using hand-held video games and nothing else. Darn good stuff, too. It's amazingly musical, with tight arrangements, some tunes bursting with danceable energy, others more abstract and experimental.

Musically, they recall the electronic melodic sense of Kraftwerk. Sometimes it's almost techno, but non-ravers have no fear: lacking a boomin' bass, they relay on rich textures instead. As they say:

"Console's interface is rather poor (few buttons only), so sound structures created by us must be rather simple, too. This is also the reason for having 6 players - the more players the sound environment is more complex."

Passt,_wackelt_und_hat_Luft!
Live@Amsterdam#01

Sunday, September 04, 2005

NEW ORLEANS prt2: MARDI PARTY!

Yeah, you right! We gonna pass a good time right now with some classic funky N'Awlins r'n'b from the '50-'70s. If you don't know nuthin' about these legendary artists and tunes, this here's your beginners guide. Turn it up, the Crescent City's here to stay!

Fats Domino "I'm Walkin'"
Joe "Boolagloo" Jones "You Talk Too Much"
Professor Longhair - "Tipitina"
Dirty Dozen Brass Band - "Junko Partner"
The Dixie Cups "Iko Iko"
The Meters "Cissy Strut"
Dr John "Basin Street Blues"
Neville Brothers "Big Chief"
Clarence "Frogman" Henry - "Ain't Got No Home"
Frankie Ford "A Certain Girl"
Ernie K-Doe "Mother-In-Law"
Lee Dorsey "Everything I Do Gon' Be Funky"
Irma Thomas "Break-A-Way"
The Wild Magnolias "Soul Soul Soul"

If y'all find these tunes as tasty as a bowl of file gumbo, send a few coins over to The Red Cross, and, like Mrs Fab did, The Louisiana SPCA for all them critters. Then there's the Preservation Hall Hurricane Relief Fund established by Preservation Hall, home of the legendary trad-jazz band, to provide musicians with financial support. 100% of money raised through this fund will go directly to New Orleans musicians.

Laissez Le Bon Temps Roulet!

Friday, September 02, 2005

NEW ORLEANS prt1: GENNIFER FLOWERS

Last time I was in New Orleans, our cab drive casually mentioned that the nightclub we just passed in the French Quarter was Gennifer Flower's place. Her rich husband got it for her so she'd have somewhere to sing her sultry jazz ballads.

Gennifer-with-a-G-Flowers? One of President "Pimpin'" Clinton's mistresses? A nightclub singer? This we had to see. The next night she was scheduled to perform we went down to The Kelsto Club and found her looking resplendent in a white gown. Her mother was there as well. I approached her with Mrs Fab's 35mm camera and asked for a picture. She gravely eyed me, and asked, "Who are you with?" I was a bit taken aback: "I'm with...myself." She turned down my request and I slunk back to our table.

Later, she joined our table and explained that our camera looked so professional she assumed that I was a tabloid photographer, but after seeing us drinking and socializing she realized we were regular folks and happily posed for pics. I bought a drink that came in a souvenir shot glass shaped like red lips. And a fine time was had by all.

Sorry, no mp3s for y'all this time - don't think she recorded anything. Even her website is down. It was up the other day...

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

THE POLITICS OF DANCING prt5: JOHN ASHCROFT

Thought I was done with political percussive polyphonics until idigworms reminded me of former Attorney General John Ashcroft's stirring performance in the film "Fahrenheit 911":

JOHN "spent $8,000 on drapes that hide naked statues" ASHCROFT: "Let The Eagle Soar"

Ashcroft actually started his music decades ago as part of the gospel group Ashcroft and Bacon while he was still Missouri's State Auditor. They performed such hand-clappers as
"Jesus Hold My Hand": Sounds like a challenge to all homophobes; who knew he was such a screaming liberal?

By the time we get deep into side 2, it seems like they're losing inspiration: "More About Jesus" is a pretty generic name: "What do we call this one?" "Oh I dunno, it's just some more stuff about Jesus, you know..." And the title "We've Come This Far By Faith" suggests they're barely able to make it through the whole album.

Warranting further investigation: idigworms also notes Pieces of Intelligence: The Existential Poetry of Donald Rumsfeld, which sets to music (by professional opera singers!) the strange musings of the Defense Secretary, such as:

The Unknown (just a snippet unfortunately)
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

Department of Defense news briefing
Feb. 12, 2002

Thursday, August 25, 2005

MOOG BREAKBEATS

As a tribute to Robert Moog, the recently deceased inventor of the modern synthesizer, SRI (Sonic Reclamation Industries) offers you some rare, ripped from out-of-print vinyl, late '60s-early '70s funky fun: a free download album called "Moog Breakbeats" available

here.

It includes the Les Baxter song The Beasties Boys sampled for "Intergalactic," one tune featuring Herbie Hancock (on piano), appearances by Enoch Light, Martin Denny,
Herbie Mann, Hugo Montenegro and many others. Blast off! And thanks again, Bob.

UPDATE 6-16-07: back on line!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Weird Wide World Of Henry Jacobs

"During a house renovation in Mill Valley a couple of years ago, a stash of reel-to-reel tapes and 45s was discovered beneath the floorboards. Caked in grime, the collection found its way to nearby resident Jack Dangers of Meat Beat Manifesto, whose own large sound archive included several records released by the owner of the collection: Henry Jacobs. Remarkably preserved for all the exposure to the elements, the more than eighty tapes chronicle wild collaborations with close friend and theologian Alan Watts, San Francisco soundscapes, riffs with Ken Nordine, fictitious radio spots, warped tabla beats, feedback mayhem, hipster parodies, and goof conversations...This CD/DVD collection pays homage to Jacobs’ creative play, presenting recovered and restored audio as well as rare animated films that will give you a taste ofthis man’s special talents.

•Beginning in 1953, he hosted one of this nation’s first world music programs for KPFA in Berkeley, CA. This lead to a record deal with Moe Asch of Folkways, who released the LP, “Audio Collage,”in 1955. That release featured early uses of tape manipulation, compound loops, and feedbackin compositions, along with tracks comprised of mock interviews and improvised riffs.

•Appears on Lenny Bruce’s first record (on Fantasy).

•Nominated for an Oscar in 1964 for his work with John Korty on the animated short “Breaking the Habit.”

From the new Important Records release "The Weird Wide World Of Henry Jacobs":

excerpt #9 "Unusual Sound Patterns"
excerpt #5 "laughing string"
excerpt #6 guitar loop/spoken word niceness

Other Henry Jacobs albums available from Smithsonian/Folkways

Monday, August 22, 2005

ROBERT MOOG R.I.P.

Robert Moog, the man who single-handedly changed music with his introduction of the synthesizer in the mid-'60s, passed away yesterday at age 71.

I'm happy to say that I shook the man's hand. He was in town to promote his latest gear in Jan. 1998, and a theremin/Moog show at the Hollywood Athletic Club was organized around it. Don Bolles DJed, spinning classic Moog vinyl. Charlie Lester, and funky Moog/theremin trio The Kurstens performed brilliantly, Dr. Madd Vibe (aka Angelo Moore of Fishbone) did a crazy solo poetry/theremin thing, the great Moog Cookbook headlined. When Bob got up to speak, someone in the crowd shouted out, "We owe it all to you."

This wikipedia entry is a solid overview of the life and work of Robert Moog.

Yes, the synth that bore his name, and spawned countless imitators, will always be what he'll be most famous for, but he started and ended his career building theremins. Peter Pringle, when not performing on Dr. Samuel Hoffman's RCA, performs on a new Moog Ethervox.



Peter Pringle "The Blue Lotus" - a percussive bit of exotica inspired by ancient Egypt.




Friday, August 19, 2005

Welcome to the World of Lesbian and Gay Square Dance!

Who knew?

"The IAGSDC [International Association of Gay & Lesbian Square Dance Clubs] is an umbrella organization supporting gay and lesbian Modern Western Square Dance clubs in the United States, Canada, Japan and Denmark...Every year at the IAGSDC convention, a new Queen is chosen. The judges evaluate contestants on deportment, personality, dress sense and talent. Most years they find none of these qualities in any contestant, so pick the winner by rolling dice." Past winners include Pam Demonium (1988), Tami Wynotte (1989), Layona Davenport (1990), and Lois Carmen D'Nominator (1995).

Thursday, August 18, 2005

ENOCH LIGHT: THE FIRST CENTURY

As much as we try and keep up with today's Now Sounds, it's always good to remember past masters, and today is the perfect occasion to wallow in the music of Space Age/exotica/strange music maestro Enoch Light: today, August 18, would have been his 100th birthday. And there's no shortage of celebrations going on:

Xtabay's Lounge World has six, count 'em, SIX entire albums up for zip download with more to come. "Spaced Out" has always been a personal fave of mine. And if that's not enough, EnochLight.com has links to even more Light downloads, as well as telling you everything you need to know about this technological and artistic pioneer.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

THE POLITICS OF DANCING prt4: ORRIN HATCH

Orrin Hatch is a Mormon, a conservative Senator representing Utah, and a songwriter. In collaboration with one Janice Kapp Perry, Hatch has recorded eight (!) albums of patriotic and religious music. "Freedom's Light", from 1997, might be the most unlistenable album you'll ever hear, but hey, who else has quotes on the back from George & Barbara Bush ("...will thrill all who hear it") or General Colin Powell? That's some fan base.

Musically, it all sounds like TV commercial or public-service-announcement background music. Although the song title "You Gotta Love This Country" sounds like a threat, the slick studio vocalist and blandly upbeat music conjures up images of a shiny new pickup truck or SUV scrambling over mountain roads, as the announcer says something like, "Dodge trucks...built for your country!"

Orrin Hatch "The Country of the Free"

If nothing else, this album at least inspired the best customer review in Amazon.com history:

"***** Fabulously gay!, January 6, 2005; Reviewer: Adam "Anteater" Adam (San Francisco, CA) - The breathless energy of Barbara Streisand, combined with the smoky come-hither crooning of Michael Stipe and the glitz of Liberace, only begin to described the fabulously gay nature of this album! You'll squeal like a little girl when you hear "Morning Breaks on Arlington" and you won't be able to stop tapping your heals when the familiar notes of "I Love Old Glory" come on. Put on your glitter and heels, boys, Orrin Hatch is coming to town!"

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

THE POLITICS OF DANCING prt3: LEAVE BILL CLINTON ALONE

In 1998, bluesman Larry Shannon Hargrove ("The Texas Songbird") released the album "Leave Bill Clinton Alone" (on the Big Bidness label) whose title song was a reaction to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. An Amazon reviewer wrote, "Larry Shannon Hargrove manages to make Wesley Willis look like Phil Spector." I wish! Actually, the rest of the album is by-the-book blues, with a couple of ill-advised forays like "Father's Rap" (well, he means well) and a version of "The Wind Beneath My Wings" that...well, in his defense, can anyone make that song listenable? But the historical value of this album is sealed with the inclusion of, not one, but two versions of:

"Leave Bill Clinton Alone"

LOS PUNK ROCKERS

You may want to pop over to Strange Reaction, a punk music blog, to download the entirety of Los Punk Rockers' album "Los Exitos de Sex Pistols," a song-for-song reworking of "Never Mind The Bollocks" from 1978. The singer clearly doesn't know English too well, and has a very funny wacked-out, off-key (even for punk) style.

From the blog's comments: "This album was released by spanish Sex Pistols fans in 1978...the only stuff recorded by Los Punkrockers...that’s the typical spanish accent, even thoughthe legend says there were some well-known hard rock musicians of that time hidding themselves behind this anonymous name Los Punkrockers , but who knows…I recall hearing that this was from the early democratic era (just post-Franco) that there was still a great deal of govt. suspicion against foreign pernicious influences, and that consequently NMTB was not to be released. This was the solution…"

Los Punk Rockers "God Save The Queen" I swear this a different chord progression from the original. And what language IS this sung in?!

Monday, August 15, 2005

THE POLITICS OF DANCING prt2: THE CLINTON YEARS

1994 was a pivotal year in music history - it marked the appearance of albums by both Bill and Roger Clinton that would stand as the magnum opus by both artists. Like Jessica and Ashlee Simpson, the Clinton brothers worked independently, their styles perhaps too dissimilar to combine.

When Bill was in The Czech Republic as part of his day job, he took part in an impromptu "jam session" with some top Czech jazz cats, adding his saxophone wailings to such standards as "My Funny Valentine" and Gershwin's "Summertime", which resulted in the EP, "Bill Clinton Jam Session: The Prez Blows." He takes the second solo here, after Stepan Marcovic:

"Summertime"

Li'l bro Roger's album, "Nothing Good Comes Easy," (available now on Amazon for only 46 cents!) opted for a more commercial pop approach, with Jimmy Buffet-esque pseudo-Caribbean flavorings, rock and blues covers like "Born Under A Bad Sign." Though the siblings took clearly different paths, it's hard to not hear Roger calling out to Bill in:

"Brother Brother"

Then, unexpectedly, incredibly, these two colossal figures strode off the music stage and haven't released an album since. Will they return? Who can say? Roger Clinton sang on his album's title song, "It's my life to live/Never take more then I give/Can't you hear the sound/Just my feet on solid ground."

Yes, Roger, we do, indeed, hear your feet.

Friday, August 12, 2005

THE POLITICS OF DANCING prt1: THE GEORGE W. BUSH SINGERS

Taking presidential speeches and setting them to music is a novelty record tradition dating back at least to the early '60s:

The JFK Singers: "Ask Not Waltz"

But dubya's ascendancy to the throne is even more grist for the musical satirists' mill: Bush's verbal flubs and bizarre syntax stylings are already funny. Adding original music and a vocal choir to actual Bush recordings is a tart icing on the cake. Appropriately, bandleader Steve McAllister bases his group The George W Bush Singers in Austin, Texas - Bush Country! - where they often perform live, even at that music industry shmooze-fest South By Southwest. From their album, "Song In The Key of W," a tune showcasing Bush's flair for inventing new words:

"Embetterment Ingrinable"

Thursday, August 11, 2005

RIPPING-OFF THE RIP-OFF ARTISTS

Coldplay (bet you never thought you'd see them mentioned here, did you?) have a new single called "Talk" that sounds suspiciously like Kraftwerk's "Computer Love," from their classic 1981 "Computer World" album. Anyone know if there are any German names in the Coldplay album writing credits? They certainly didn't sample or remix the original recording of "Computer Love" - might just be a good old-fashioned rip-off. A mashup (from Really Interesting Audio Adventures, in this instance) was inevitable:

RIAA: "Kraftplay"

Monday, August 08, 2005

AVANT GARDE HIGH SCHOOL CHOIR

One of my links, Tape Findings, collects cassette home recordings like family gatherings, band rehearsals, kids screwing around with a tape recorder, and other glimpses into private American lives. But in the course of downloading these charming gems this past weekend, I was flabbergasted by the innocuously named "Spring Choir '84." The St. Charles, IL High School Choir evidently had John Cage (or one of his admirers) for a band leader, because the abstract electronic effects and atonal harmonies couldn't be more radically opposed to the usual "Sound of Music" revivals normally found on school concert recordings. Not even the Langley School has anything on this guy. No credits on the cassette label, though. Any St. Charles alumni out there?

The St. Charles, IL High School Choir: '84 Spring Choir

UPDATE: Big thanks to Scott Bank (St Charles alumni class of '82) who commented that John Stoffel was possibly the choir director, and the band director was Jeff Childs.

Friday, August 05, 2005

MINI-KISS

Mini-KISS are not just another KISS tribute band - they're all midgets, dwarfs and whathaveyou. Hence, (as they say), the name. They're touring constantly - Look! Here's a page of photos and some must-see videos:

a page of photos and some must-see videos

Thursday, August 04, 2005

CULTURE SHOCK

Doug, of WFMU's show "Give The Drummer Some," created a CD called "Culture Shock" in 2004 as a fund-raising premium, but has recently posted the whole thing on line. As well he should:

"Disco from India? Doo-Wop from Malawi? Rap from Vietnam? Salsa from Scotland? With bagpipes? They're all included here in the online version of Doug Schulkind's 2004 marathon premium, Culture Shock. Dont pass up this amazing collection of jaw-dropping, mind jarring cross-cultural music hybrids. Eighty minutes of melodious map-melters that set the world on its ears. A bonus: The music is not just goofy, it's good!" Sho 'nuff is. Dig:

Ignace De Souza & The Melody Aces - "Asaw Fofor" Doin' the Twist, African-style
Yoon Il-Loh - "Guitar Boogie" Korean country singin' and a-pickin'
Ly Ngua O - "Vo Chong Lam Bieng" From Vietnam, something strange resembling rap music

A kind Maniac (Martin from the Netherlands) sent me the link to this a few weeks back but I couldn't play many of the songs for some reason (too much web traffic? My computer sucks?) so I was reluctant to post it, but it played fine today, so all systems are go. You can also listen to the whole collection streaming by going here, then clicking "Play Page." Thanks to Martin.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

THE GREATEST MUSICIAN EVER EXISTED

Italian-born musician Joseph Ferrante may be a paranoid schizophrenic, but that hasn't stopped him from spamming thousands of websites, for some years now, with vituperative and self-glorifying messages. He posts them anywhere and everywhere, even on websites that are supposed to be geared towards, say, pets, or autos. His older message, often entitled "The biggest shocking news on Earth," blames The Beatles for ripping him off and trying to destroy his music career.

And that's just the beginning: After a lengthy list of roadblocks and rejection, he writes, "It was during those same months that I was getting threatening, anonymous phone calls on my mobile, warning me against giving live performances or playing anywhere. The calls were always made from public telephones. One music agent whom I'd contacted in an effort to find myself a manager, apologized, saying: "I'm sorry, but I cannot use you...". He refused to say why and hung up on me. That was when I realized what a huge operation I was up against. So huge, in fact, that in the three and a half years I have been in England this second stay I have as yet to give my first live concert or perform anywhere, despite having contacted more than 20 music agents."

It never occurs to Ferrante (where's Teicher?) that the quality of his music has anything to do with all this. Indeed, a more recent message of his is entitled, "Joseph Ferrante, the greatest musician on Earth," in which he states, "And now, it is time to have a look at the greatest musician ever existed, whose supernatural musical powers made the established musicians and the music industry forge the biggest international plot ever to stop him." Not only that, but, "Joseph Ferrante is a graduated architect, a graduated doctor, a graduated psychologist, a nearly graduated biologist, an astronomer, a web designer, a philosopher, a writer, a painter, a master in all religions (discoverer of mysteries yet unknown to mankind), a master in all occult sciences, a magician, an astrologer, a yoga teacher, a piano tuner and technician, a music teacher, a martial artist, a weightlifting trainer, a graduated actor, an acupuncturist, a chess teacher, a homeopater, a professional level photographer, a four languages speaking man...He heals people for free, either with his medical skills or with his spiritual powers."

Although it's obvious Ferrante himself wrote these messages, they're written in the third person in a breathless, over-the-top rambling manner with lots of CAPITALIZATIONS and extreme characterizations ("...he is the greatest genius ever existed...") and signed by "The Team" or "The News Media."

Joseph Ferrante: "Hey Jude"