Monday, October 20, 2014

The Roto Rooter Good Time Christmas Band

"Bernie Green plays More Than You Can Stand In Hi Fi" is back on line.

This cheerfully eccentric band of refugees from the UCLA jazz program made just this one  1974 album, perhaps never fully realizing their potential.  Their role models, Spike Jones and His City Slickers, and the Bonzo Dog Band, were only just getting warmed up on their first releases. Tho they suffer a bit from the "we're so wacky!!" affliction, there are far too few musical anarchists like this who have the chops to play jazz and classical but make the noble decision to throw away all artistic 'credibility' in the name of eclecticism and absurdist humor. And the Roto Rooters were def on the right track, showing a healthy irreverence towards classic rock ("Purple Haze") and classic classics ("The Sabre Dance"), covering campy oldies like Shirley Temple's "On The Good Ship Lollipop" and singing cowboy Roy Roger's signature sign-off song "Happy Trails." (Supposedly Van Halen got the idea to end their shows with "Happy Trails" from these guys.) For some reason folkie label Vanguard Records put this one out. Granted, they also released Perrey & Kingsley's Space Age Moog-sterpieces, but still, a strange choice, and perhaps no surprise that this album sold about 12 copies before dropping off the planet.  (My recently-purchased copy was still in the shrink-wrap!) 

 If we extend the definition of the pre-punk L.A. 'Freak Scene' beyond Zappa's immediate circle of outsiders and oddballs (Wild Man Fischer, Cap. Beefheart, The GTO's, etc). we'll find plenty of like-minded loonies that followed in their wake, inc. The Los Angeles Free Music Society, the art/music axis of Mike Kelley/Jim Shaw/Destroy All Monsters, radio host/music archivist Dr. Demento, the Rhino Records label, and these chaps. What the 'freaks' had in common was a rejection of the SanFran 'hippie' attitude, a love of old-timey musics, jazz /improvisation and avant-classical, and a whacked-out sense of humor. They may have liked some psych rock, but had no interest in being 'mellow', they were in-your-face cynical smart-asses. Raised on 'Mad' magazine, they were among the first to realize that the 20th century had already produced a huge slew of ignored pop-cultural waste - monster movies, thrift-store records, bad TV - just waiting to be creatively recycled. 'Avant-tarde,' decades before that phrase was coined. Jazz music had just died after the glorious supernova of electric Miles, H. Hancock, etc, and had quickly settled into it's current bland 'smooth-jazz' zombie-fied afterlife, rock had not yet experienced the punk Big Bang that would create a viable DIY culture, and the classical avant-garde was snugly tucked into it's academic ivory tower. There wasn't much 'alternative' culture at the time - you had to swim in the mainstream, or quickly sink into obscurity. And much of the above-mentioned stuff was indeed pretty obscure. Even the 'famous' names like Captain Beefheart never rose above the club/mid-size venue level, and certainly never came near the Top 40.

But there was one glimmer of independence - the afore-mentioned Dr. Demento show. A Sunday night radio show from LA specializing in comedy/novelty records that became a fixture on virtually every American FM rock station, "The Dr. Demento Show" was geared towards youngsters, and admittedly featured plenty of sophomoric yuks. But it was also a free-form free-wheeling forum for strange and forgotten sounds of any era or genre, from old 78s to unsolicited demos. Barry Hansen (Dr. D.) would actually listen to anything that hit his mailbox. The RRGCB sent in one such tape and became the first of his discoveries, quickly becoming the house band for the show. Their version of a Dr. D. hit, the great Big Band oddity "Pico and Sepulveda" (included on this album) became the program's theme song. They also provided incidental music for the show, such as the weekly top ten/Funny Five jingles. For lots of videos (inc. an otherwise unwaxed cover of "Jollity Farm") check out their


And they don't play any Christmas songs.

The Roto Rooter Good Time Christmas Band

A1Fanfare/Buick LeSabre Dance
A2Martian March
A3On The Good Ship Lollipop
A4Hungarian Dance No. 5
A5South Of The Border
A6Love Me
A7Pico & Sepulveda
A8The Band Played On (And On)
B1Swamp Lake
B2Purple Haze
B3The Beer Bottle Polka
B4Marianne
B5Overture & The Rite Of Spring
B6Happy Trails To You/March Of The Cuckoos

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sounds Of The American Fast Food Restaurants

As a follow-up to last months' posting of Gregg Turkington's Sounds of San Francisco Adult Bookstores is the equally silly:

The Golding Institute-Sounds Of The American Fast Food Restaurants (1996)

17 minutes of barely discernible audio recorded "in the field" in a KFC, McDonalds, Jack in the Box, etc., tho Turkington's droll, incisive, funny narration is again the star of the show.


A1Introduction
Narrator [Introduction By] – Golding Institute, The, Ryan Kerr

A2KFC (6th Avenue & Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, CA)
A3Jack In The Box (11th Avenue & Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, CA)
A4Taco Bell (Highway One, Pacifica, CA)
A5Nation's Giant Hamburger (Westlake Mall, Daly City, CA)
A6Subway (Skyline Plaza, Daly City, CA)
B1Hot Dog On A Stick (Stonestown Mall, San Fancisco, CA)
B2McDonald's (Stonestown Mall, San Francisco, CA)
B3Burger King (John Daly Boulevard, Daly City, CA)
B4Straw Hat Pizza (Westlake Mall, Daly City, CA)
B5Round Table Pizza (Oceana Boulevard, Pacifica, CA)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Christmas 2001: A Space-Age Adventure

The "Space-Age Santa" collection from a couple Christmases ago featured a track "from a kiddie xian xmas album that I found in a thrift-shop called "Christmas 2001: A Space-Age Adventure"; I actually digitized the whole thing, but, believe me, you don't need to hear it." Well,apparently someone DID need to hear it cuz yesterday I got this comment: "I would do anything to hear "Christmas 2001: A Space-Age Adventure" again. My children's choir at church performed this in December of '79. You said you digitized it... Is it something I could hear?" 

You'd do ANYTHING, eh..?  *Makes diabolical face, rubs hands together* Mwa-ha-ha-haaa! Oh, all right, here it is:

Flo Price - Christmas 2001 A Space-Age Adventure

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

UnPop Music - A MusicForManiacs Sampler

All music that isn't classical, jazz or ethnic/folk is 'pop', meaning 'popular.' Except when it isn't. Here are some new releases you should run out and buy (and some not-so-new ones that I slept on) that have everything a pop song should have: brevity, melodic vocals, toe-tappin' beats, clean production, energy...heck, even danceability. Everything except actual popularity. Mostly these are tuneful tunes sporting very funny, clever lyrics (perhaps too witty for the masses), with a kouple of kooky kovers thrown in.

UnPop Music - A MusicForManiacs Sampler

1. ac00perw - "Smells Like Teens": Nirvana re-imagined as sleazy Steely Dan-type '70s soft-rock.
2. Iggy Pop - "Monster Men (les zinzins de l'espace)": In 1997, The Iggster sang the theme song to a French kid's cartoon show called "Space Goofs;" how punk is that?!
3. Jens Lekman - "A Higher Power": great bad rhymes, from this Scandanavian's 2004 album entitled (speaking of Iggy) "When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog."
4. Larry Gallagher - "I'm Sorry for What My People Did to Your People": wickedly funny Tom Lehrer-esque satire, from the album "Can I Go Now?"
5. Maya Beiser - "Back In Black": from the new album "Uncovered" of massed overdubbed  cellos playing instrumental versions of rock and blues hits; I'm not really sure why this exists. Dig the video of her cello-riffic cover of Led Zeps' "Kashmir" below.
6. One And Seven Eighths - "Pegasus (The Camping Waltz)": Most tracks on their album "Modern Camping Songs" are real nice ambient/abstract electro instros, but this brilliant novelty is the best thing that Viv Stanshell never did.
7. O-Type - "Stupido": New vinyl re-issue of this MX-80 Sound spin-off sounds like a lot of other '80s noise rockers, until the vocalist starts channeling a panoply of fascinating, horrific characters, e.g.: the hapless protagonist of this song, rendered in a 'retarded guy' voice at once funny and disturbing.
8. Sid Ozalid - "Elephant in a Sack": Frequent contributor Count Otto Black slipped us these short, silly tracks from one of his fellow Scotsmen, an oddball known more for poetry than music; from "Songs & Stories From a Suitcase", the 1982 EP by Sid Ozalid & His Legendary All-Stars.
9. Sid Ozalid - "My Tortoise Can Burst Into Flames"
10. Sid Ozalid - "This is the Story of the Missing Jacket"
11. Twink The Toy Piano Band - _{ ·_ U _· }_: The latest from the master of toy-tronica has a cute album cover/title ("Critter Club"), cute tarot-like cards of animals, cute song titles (all typographic symbols), but a decidedly more mature sound; the large supporting cast features a number of horn players, giving excellent tunes like this one an almost jazz feel. They grow so fast!



(Thanks again, Count!)

Thursday, October 02, 2014

FILTHY FRIDAYS: Halloween Instrumentals (2 Disks: 60 Tracks)

Another request satisfied: for what is possible the strangest comedy album ever, Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan

And another weekend is upon us, presenting you-all with yet another opportunity to temporarily (or not?) cast aside your nerdly pursuits and let our continuing survey of mid-century sleazy-listening musics help turn you - yes, you! In the Spock ears - into the heppest cat or kittie on the block. This real real gone assortment of surf, garage, r'n'b, soundtrack themes, and assorted radio ads is packed with both stars (Joe Meek's Moontrekkers*, The Ventures), and forgotten regional releases. Rock'n'roll as it should be, before it went middle-class and respectable.

Need something to look at while listening? The great lowbrow artist J.R. Williams put these comps together, so eyeball his way-out artworks. (Wish so many weren't sold out - I gotta get that Uncle Fester one.)

J.R has added a few more goodies for your trick-or-treat bag at the bottom of the page.

Halloween Instrumentals (CD 1)
Halloween Instrumentals (CD 2)




















































But wait! There's more! Dig these short mixes, for ghouls on the go:


Cool Ghouls mix:  J.R.'s Fun House (formerly "J.R.'s Prints of Darkness"): Cool Ghoul mp3 mix
image
J.R.'s Fun House (formerly "J.R.'s Prints of Darkness"):...
Roland - Billy Duke & the Dukes Dinner With Drac - John Logan Dance Along With Dracula (Doin' the Drac) - The Monstrosities Casa A Go Go - Count Von Shukker...
Preview by Yahoo
image
J.R.'s Fun House (formerly "J.R.'s Prints of Darkness"):...
My Girl Friend Is a Witch - October Country Draculena - Aaron McNeill The Monster Miss - Miss L.L. Louise Lewis My Baby's Got a Crush on Frankenstein - Soupy Sal...
Preview by Yahoo



FANGS a million to J.R. Williams for all this ghastly goodness.

 *The record was banned by the BBC as being "unsuitable for people of a nervous disposition" 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bernie Green Plays More Than You Can Stand In Hi-Fi

Hey, it's this blogs' 10th anniversary in a couple of weeks! What are we doing? Where's the party at? I have no time to plan anything, but I'll show up. Heck, I'll bring the beer.

By request I've re-upped lots more Zoogz Rift than you can stand, not necessarily in hi-fi.



Bernie Green only made a few albums as bandleader, but they are eccentric indeed. The fact that one of them was done in association with "Mad" magazine should tell you something. This release isn't really Space-Age Pop, swing, or exotica, nor are we exactly in Spike Jones novelty territory either. I don't know what to call it - big-band circus music, maybe? RIYL: orchestral Raymond Scott, or Carl Stalling. 

The exciting percussion-fest  "Railroad Train Samba" shares album space with the self-explanatory "Saxophobia," the ambitious (and quite insane) "Concerto For Calliope," and a cartoonish version of the Cuban standard "The Peanut Vendor." Perhaps fearing that this was indeed more than his listeners could stand, Green cools out with some low-key easy-listeners ("Summer," "Idyl") that aren't at all funny or eccentric, tho I do dig the noir mood of "Caesar's Soliloquy."

Big thanks to windy for this one!

Bernie Green Plays More Than You Can Stand In Hi-Fi (1957)




A1La Sorella
A2Mister Peepers Theme
A3Ragging The Scale
A4Railroad Train Samba
A5The Virtuous Orchestra Suite
A6Caesar's Soliloquy
A7National Emblem March
B1A Frangesa
B2Saxophobia
B3Concerto For Calliope
B4Summer
B5Double Blues
B6Idyl
B7The Peanut Vendor

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Story of the First Voice Synthesizer, The SONOVOX

By request, now back up:
- Strange novelty songs collection "Fun Music"
- Zoogz Rift "Murdering Hells Happy Cretins"

Long before Peter Frampton's talk-box, the Vocoder, or Autotune, there was the Sonovox, demonstrated here in what must surely be the strangest "pop" music of the 1940s:


Anyone have a spare Sonovox lying around? It's almost David Dole's 100th birthday, and he'd really like one. Granted, the considerable historical importance of this gizmo almost assures that it won't be found in too many attics or garages - museums, more like.  But he really deserves one. After all, he was one of it's first users. 

If any invention was truly out of time, the Sonovox is it. It's ability to create strange electronic sounds and music would have been welcomed in the post-Moog '70s and '80s when bands like Kraftwerk and Zapp were artificially processing their vocals. But, incredibly, the Sonovox was invented at the height of the Big Band era. For the most part, people didn't really know what to do with it. But our special guest poster today is here to tell us about the one industry that did utilize the Sonovox: advertising. 

I am quite amazed and delighted that Mr. David W. Dole is able to give us this first-hand account of the history of the Sonovox. I don't know if it's story has ever been told in such detail in public before. Here's the man himself:

Sonovox enthusiasts: It must have been around 1942... I was 28 years old - working in the "broadcast department" (of course then that meant "radio" only) at Henri, Hurst & McDonald - an ad agency - 520 No. Michigan- Chicago. About 1940, in California, Gilbert Wright was dressing for the day and was using his new electric razor with which to shave. Some 15 feet away - in the bedroom, his wife called to him with a question. He answered while stroking the electric razor over his throat. Mrs. Wright called to him: "What did you say, honey? - it sounded like your razor was talking to me!" Voila! Birth of an idea! 

Gil thought it thru - and about two years later he and wife were visiting her brother (I think that was the relationship) in Chicago - and putting out the word they had something new and unique called Sonovox for which Gil had obtained a patent. Gil's brother-in-law was a partner in a radio rep firm on Michigan Avenue. The word went out, through the brother-in-law's sales reps to the timebuyers in Chicago that Sonovox was issuing an invitation to visit the radio rep firm and learn about Sonovox. I was interested and visited - and learned how to become a Sonovox articulater. I spent perhaps 6 or 7 lunch periods - slightly extended - using Gil's equipment plus a 10" Victor Red Seal phonograph record of Andre Kostelanetz orchestra of some 40-60 musicians playing "Mary Had A Little Lamb". 

I was particularly interested in the capabilities of Sonovox and how it might effect my then current job. You see I had been a radio sound effect artist in Minneapolis and had moved to Chicago and joined the agency for John Morrell and Company - meat packers - in Ottumwa, Iowa for their product, then the largest selling dog food in America. On the program, encouraged by the announcer's "Come on, boy. That' it. Sit up! Speak, speak:" And with that I would whine, growl, and end with "Woof, woof, Red Heart" The announcer would repeat it - "That's it - Red Heart"... in three flavors: Beef, Fish and Cheese! Americs's largest selling dog food!" I was curious as to whether Sonovox might either put me out of business as a sound man - or would be a tool to use in place of my live performances ! Turned out neither! 

As I was deciding on this, Mrs. Wright came to me, complimented me on getting the use of Sonovox down pat and asked if I would consider making a trip to New York on their behalf as an articulator. It seems that they had sold the idea of using Sonovox to Bromo Seltzer's agency - articulating a steam engine chugging along repeating "Bromo-Selt-zer - Bromo- Selt-zer", but that Mrs. Wright had been the articulator and the client felt that the product would be better represented if the articulator was a male. (The Sonovox technique is sexless but the client was not persuaded.) I replied "Yes, be glad to". But it proved un-necessary - the client was convinced Sonovox was sexless. 

I'm still in the market to acquire Sonovox equipment with which to entertain my grandchidren! Know where I can acquire a unit? David W. Dole dwdole@me.com 

There are a number of wonderful old "sono" radio commercials you can listen to here: 
PAMS advertising  

The other early adopters of the Sonovox were children's record producers. I've uploaded one such goodie from 1947, plus a bonus track: an mp3 of the audio from the above Kay Kyser video, from the 1940 film "You'll Find Out". 

"Sparky's Magic Piano"

Much thanks (and happy birthdaty!) to David Dole.

Oh, and he would also like to pass on one of his other innovations:

Use DOLE DATNG - Briefest and best! "JA" is January. All other months use 1st and 3rd letters: FB MR, AR, MY, JN, JL, AG, SP, OT, NV & DC. Letters ALWAYS in the middle - with date and year interchangeable but 2 numbers for "day" and 4 for "year". Copyrighted 1996 but free for all! 


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

100 Copies of The Beatles' White Album Playing At The Same Time

Artist Rutherford Chang says: "I collect first-pressings of The White Album and currently own 1,034 copies." As part of his 'White Album' project (which also includes a record store only stocked with copies of you-know-what arranged according to serial number) he somehow got 100 of them to play at once. I wonder how? Sounds quite good tho, like 100 needles were dropped onto 100 turntables at pretty much the same time. Then they slowly go out of phase, like an old Steve Reich tape-loop piece. Surprisingly wonderful, e.g.: "Julia" (end of side 2) whips up a really nice drone. And I hadn't actually sat down to listen to the White Album since I was a kid, so it's also an interesting way to revisit the album.

Four 20+ minute tracks, one for each side of the White Album, plus lots of pics of White Albums in various states of decay:

Rutherford Chang - We Buy White Albums

Reminds me of another Beatles-related oddity, a very skillfully executed mashup album based on the absurd (or is it?!) premise that someone visiting another dimension where the Beatles never broke up brought back a cassette of one of their later albums. It's actually made up of tracks from various Beatles solo releases. The whole crazy story, and the album download, is available here:

The Beatles Never Broke Up

Thanks to Amadeus, And Count Otto!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Ultimate Ultimate Xanadu

Not just the ultimate Xanadu collection. No way, we leave that to other, poorer blogs. We've got the Ultimate Ultimate Xanadu collection. Two disks worth of covers of songs and documentary snippets relating to a film I've never seen. But since the wiki entry on it says that it was the inspiration for "the Golden Raspberry Awards to memorialize the worst films of the year", then maybe I should see it. Apparently there's a sizeable cult for this 1980 "romantic musical fantasy film" - these 2 disks are boiled down from a 20-disk fan collection.
 
Tho it's heavy on the electro-disco and ELO outtakes/rarities, there is still a variety of sounds here. Particular faves: Klaus Wunderlich's disco organ instrumental (in my world, '70s discos don't have DJs spinning the BeeGees, they have old guys playing the organ); what sounds like an inept school or amateur theater cast (disk 2, track 4); a Japanese pop-punk girl band called Tiger Shovel Nose; Hemes House Band (and I usually hate house music); and a "bossa-nova toy pop" version of the title song. Tho I suspect I'd like a bossa-nova toy pop version of anything. Brazilian band La Sound even covered the entire soundtrack (?!), tho we get just one song from it here (disk 1 track 16), a nifty lounge finger-snapper. 

This plethora of Xanadu-nocity comes to us courtesy of Don-O, the man behind the Hour of Crap podcast, the Twilight World 'zine, and many other useful pursuits. This was originally a project of his Xanadu fan site, in which he whittled down the collection of Robert Porter, who ran a Jeff Lynne fan site. Lynn is of course the man behind the Electric Light Orchestra, who provided much of the music for "Xanadu."

Didn't think I would like this much, but the unrelenting, irresistible perkiness of the damn thing wore down my resistance, and I was happily bopping around to all this nonsense. Drive yourself and everyone around you crazy with lots and lots of versions of an Olivia Newton-John disco showtune! "A place where nobody dared to go":

Ultimate Ultimate Xanadu disk 1

Ultimate Ultimate Xanadu disk 2

Thanks to Don and the Xanadu Preservation Society.



Friday, September 19, 2014

FILTHY FRIDAYS: Buddy Lucas "Shake Rock Rattle And Roll"

Judging by this incredible album, punk rock was invented in New York 20 years before the Ramones debut, by a black saxophonist playing instrumentals. You doubt me? Ladies and gentlemen, behold! the one album I've been dying to post here on our series of wild, post-war weekend-starters.

Buddy Lucas "Shake Rock Rattle And Roll" (18 songs)

If "lowbrow" music of the pre-rock crit era ever gets the respect it deserves, this album would be a Holy Grail collectible. I mean, just look at that artwork! 


Your momma was wrong: sometimes you can judge a book by it's cover, and the pulp-paperback, late-night, lurid cover of this 195? album perfectly suits the music, which ranges from mid-tempo striptease grind, to all-out proto-hardcore rockers like "Stand Up" and especially "Stampede" that must have seemed fairly incomprehensible to a Fifties audience. Perhaps that's why Buddy "Big Luke" Lucas had to pay the bills with session work.  That's him blowin' on Dion's "The Wanderer" and Frankie Lymons' "Why Do Fools Fall In Love," amongst many others. 

Oh, and how do you know that a '50s recording artist is black? They're not pictured on the album cover! The pic of Mr. Lukas below was collected elsewhere off the inter-webs. The actual back cover of this album contains no info, just a black-and-white rendering of that Bukowski-drumming-with-Jayne Mansfield front cover drawing.