Friday, January 30, 2015

Frank Sidebottom Salutes The Magic Of Freddie Mercury And Queen

The late great surreal nutter in the giant paper mache head (and a puppet sidekick) sings here in his swimmer's clamp nasal tone and unfailingly good humor just what is says on the tin. He recorded a fair amount of stuff, and this EP is as good an intro as any. For those of you who saw the recent film "Frank" and wondered what the real man was all about...

Frank Sidebottom Salutes The Magic Of Freddie Mercury And Queen

1. Frank Gordon
2. Everybody Sings Queen
3. I Am The Champion
4. Radio Gaga
5. Save Me
6. We Will Rock You
7. The Bit I Missed Off The Queen Song On My Z39 EP
8. Queen Hip Hop Disco Mix

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Over Two Hours of Radio Shenanigans

Spacebrother Greg asked me to guest-dj on his "Radio Misteriso" show for the umpteenth time last July, and it is now up for your listening, er, "pleasure"? Along with all the bizarre thrift-store vinyl, antique novelties, and outsider strangeness, we play some songs from the latest Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra album, a band Greg and I had the pleasure of meeting and seeing in all their multi-media glory a couple of weeks ago.

Pilot your flying saucer here (playlist/listen/download):

Mr Fab on Radio Misterioso July 27, 2014
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 2:25:56 — 66.8MB)

Back up by request: Lynn Rockwell - One Man Band 
Thanks to super-swell maniac Mike for the Rockwell - you rock well, Mike!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Be Stoned! Dig: Zipps

There's 'beat' as in the Beat literary movement that produced beatniks, and poetry read over (usually) jazz music.  And there's 'beat' as in the European '60s rock'n'roll-inspired pop. The kooky, sometimes hilarious Dutch band The Zipps combine both: yes, a Beat Beat group.

Their music's fine in a basic mid-'60s garage kinda way (some tunes are quite catchy), but the real distinguishing characteristic of The Zipps is singer/guitarist Philip Elzerman's English-as-a-second-language vocals, which are either nonsensical, or obscured by his thick accent. Or both. In the Ramones-y titled, Byrds-y sounding "Kicks and Chicks" Elzerman claims that he "read all the books of Jack Kerouac," but he pronounces that Beat icon's name as "Ker-acky." Two lengthy tracks called "Beat and Poetry" are live all-Dutch language spoken word over peppy rock music, not jazz. An odd combination. Tho in the hysterical "Hipsterism," one of the greatest, funniest '60s nuggets I've heard lately, Elzerman says "I always like to listen to good jazz/You're a square! And you don't like it, I guess!" Followed by a solo on that most rock'n'roll of instruments, the flute. Having said that, the groovy a-go-go instrumental version of "Lotus Love" is one of my faves off this career-spanning collection. Wish I could hear all of "LSD 25" minus the interview on top of it, it's a great Seeds-y proto-punk stomper.

The Zipps - Be Stoned Dig

Thanks again to our psychedelic nugget farmer, Count Otto Black!

1Highway Gambler
2Roll The Cotton Down
3Kicks And Chicks
5Beat & Poetry Part 1
6Beat & Poetry Part 2
7Marie Juana
8The Struggle For Ice-Cold Milk Of Benzi The Bassplayer Or How To Promote Original Dutch Milk
9When You Tell It, Tell It Well..!
10Lotus Love (demo - vocal version)
11Walking On This Road To Mine Town (previously unreleased live track)
12The Beer Hall Song (previously unreleased live track)
13Kicks And Chicks (previously unreleased live track)
14Philippe Salerne* & Zipps, The*Avec De L'Italie
15Philippe Salerne* & Zipps, The*Venez Voire Comme On S'Aime
16Lotus Love (instrumental - previously unreleased demo version)
17The Struggle For Ice-Cold Milk Of Benzi The Bassplayer Or How To Promote Original Dutch Milk (previously unreleased stereo version)
18Kicks And Chicks (previously unreleased stereo version)
19LSD 25 Interview

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Bandcamp Is The New Cassette Culture 4

Continuing our survey of new music you can listen to, and in many cases, download for free on, we fly off to exotic lands. It is the depths of winter now, so I felt a tropical vacation was in order. 

And this first album is especially timely, as it features Evan Crankshaw from the great  "Flash Strap" blog, who just debuted his all-exotica radio show, "The Explorer's Room" last week. 

The Cumberland County Mean Gang "Crashing Waves"

Starts off a bit New Age-y, but track #3 "Slave Trade" is really great psychedelic exotica that sounds like it was played on your grandma's electric organ after someone spiked her Ensure with mescaline; it dovetails nicely right into the next track, which is almost 9 minutes of pure lysergic abandon. "Under The Jungle" does indeed sport jungle ambiance, tho the music is more Jean-Michel Jarre '70s-type electronica than Martin Denny. It's melody is re-used in the next track, a Giorgio Morodor-on-cheap-ass-Casios techno-dance stomper. The most excellent "Ritual of Flight" begins with theremin- ish electronics, followed by haunted-house organ...and exotic bird calls?  Just what kind of spook show is this, anyway? Was happy to hear grandma's psychedelic organ again on track 8. Price: Name Your Price. And enjoy your flight.

The Mad Drummer - from South Africa, but sounding more Zappa than Zulu. The inverse of Paul Simon and Vampire Weekend? A lot better than them, that's for sure. All 6 songs are good, but for someone who calls himself a mad drummer, the synthetic drums are the one (minor) fault I find with this. Price: $3.

Boolz "S.O.S.[Slovvd-n-Chopped]" - Also from South Africa comes this trippy dub electronica. I like the bugged-out VV3ΔK [SLOWD-N-CHXPPXD]  Price: Name Your Price

Some comps that will keep you busy and dancing for days: 

Peru Maravilloso: "Vintage Latin Tropical Cumbia"

Analog Africa - 21 albums!  Haven't listened to all of them, but I can def recommend "African Scream Contest" - just don't buy the line about it being "psychedelia." It's James Brown-ish funk and West African highlife, and what's wrong with that? Can we stop throwing the word 'psychedelic' around so much?  It's getting to be as meaningless a term as 'experimental.' And be sure to read this as you dig the crate diggin' sounds of Analog Africa: Dusty African Grooves.

Friday, January 16, 2015

VOODOO DANCE DOLL: 1950s/60s Rock'n'Roll Exotica

Bongos in the Congo!  Apes in the jungle! Tikis, cannibals, and witch doctors! Grown men making tropical bird calls! Sound familiar? But this ain't no jazzy Martin Denny-style exotica for grown-ups' cocktail parties. No, my teen-age hoodlum friends, this sampler of exotic rock (rock-xotica?) + relevant soundbites marks this blogs' return to weekend-starting sleazy-listening sounds from the Golden Age of Cool. As with the first collection that kicked off this on-again/off-again project, many of these tracks were recorded off my vinyl, songs that hopefully have not been featured on similar comps like the "Jungle Exotica" series. My records are in various states of preservation, so I did track down some digital replacements when available. But most of this is out-of-print wax whose occasional pops and cracks can be thought of as the crunching of jungle undergrowth beneath the furious feet of Watusi exotic dancers (in all senses of the phrase).

Ingredients: surf rock, doo-wop, rhythm 'n' blues, novelties, some actual ethnic peoples, movie clips, radio ads, excerpts from a record meant to accompany a slideshow or filmstrip about the Congo, Africa (unfortunately, it did not contain the visuals), and some loungey things, but with a backbeat. There are a few well-known hit-makers here like Eartha Kitt, the Dave Clark Five, and Santo & Johnny, but as these records are from the gloriously unself-conscious pre-rock critic era*, many of these artists have been lost to the mists of history. 

Voodoo Dance Doll - an M4M

01 congo slideshow- weekend dance
02 Mel Taylor & The Magics - Bongo Rock
03 The Vistas - Tiki Twist
04 Leni Okehu and his Surfboarders - Hawaiian People Eater
05 Eartha Kitt - Honolulu Rock And Roll
06 congo slideshow - superstition dance
07 Muvva Hubbard & the Stompers Congo Mombo
08 "Alligator Man"
09 The Dave Clark Five - Chaquita
10 The Pyramids - 
Koko Joe
11 "100 Percent Gorilla"
12 The Rocking Vickers - I Go Ape
13 Billy Mure - Tabu
14 congo slideshow - witch doctor
15 Werner Hass - Oh-ee-oh-ah-ah
16 Dick Dale & The Del-Tones - Jungle Fever
17 Jerry & Mel - Cannibal stew
18 "Zombie Island Massacre" - Zombie Attacks Honeymooners
19 congo slideshow - drumming
20 Mel Taylor & The Magics - Drums A Go-Go
21 Thurl Ravenscroft - Dr Geek From Tanganyika
22 Buddy Morrow And His Orchestra - One-Two-Three-Kick (The Original Conga) pt1.
23 roger craig - song of india
24 The Fugitives - Human Jungle
25 Bela's "Jungle Hell"
26 Roy Estrada and The Rocketeers-Jungle Dreams Part 2 
27 Busby Lewis - Jerk
28 Susan King-Drum Rhythm
29 Yngve stoor - Hula Rock
30 Perez Prado - Cuban Rock
31 Leni Okehu and his Surfboarders - Hawaiian Rock
32 Freddy Cannon - Everybody Monkey
33 Johnny and Santo - Caravan
34 congo slideshow - watusi
35 big walter and the thunderbirds _ watusie freeze part 1
36 "shrunken heads" ad
37 Buddy Morrow And His Orchestra - One-Two-Three-Kick (The Original Conga) pt2
38 Marti Barris - Ahbe Casabe
39 Sandy Nelson - Casbah 

Thanks to Count Otto for the Rockin' Vicars!

*Cartoonist/record collector Robert Crumb has described the early rock he really liked as "proletariat," and indeed, there may be some class-ism behind the critical dismissal of so much rock prior to the mid-'60s: once rock scrubbed off all of that honky-tonk/ghetto stank and adopted such middle-class, college-educated features as "poetic" lyrics and classical European influences, then it finally merited the status of High Art. But of course, the music wasn't really improved so much as it simply changed - from fun, funny, energetic, sexy, and atmospheric to...not as much. Rock didn't get better, it just moved to the suburbs.

Monday, January 12, 2015


The Berlin Wall may have fallen 20 years ago, and you can buy McDonald's in Red Square, but that festering hot bed of godless Communism the United Nations is still around. Side 1 of this ludicrous fear-mongering document from 1962 pounds home the notion that anti-Americanism is built into the UN. Side 2 repeats the malarkey that is still heard today about America being 'founded on Christian values,' citing The Mayflower Compact, and something Woodrow Wilson said. For more shoddy research, unconvincing arguments and implausible conspiracies, dig this spoken-word, very sample-able LP:

Billy James Hargis - The UN Hoax (1962) 

You will be shocked - shocked! - to know that Hargis' career was knocked askew by a sex scandal. Wiki sez: "In 1974, when Hargis was nearly 50, he was forced to resign as president of American Christian College due to allegations that he had seduced college members. Two of his students claimed that they had had sex with Hargis—one was female, one was male. Other students corroborated the story. The account was reported by Time magazine in 1976, along with other alleged incidents at Hargis' farm in the Ozarks, and while on tour with his All American Kids musical group."  The UN, laughing diabolically, had their revenge!

(Thanks once again to windy)

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Nugglets: Strange/Novelty DIY Compilation

By request, the "Soft, Safe and Sanitized" collection is back on line.

DJ Useo, when not creating mashups, or blogging and podcasting, scours the internet for strange and silly song stuff, as featured in his previous collections, "Music For Maniacs Tribute," and "Fun Music." And here's his latest 'n' greatest, exclusively for us, and hence, you:

Nugglets vol. 1 

This is the sound of new millennium DIY bedroom-producer kooks operating blissfully free of any illusions of "makin' it in the music biz," with many tracks downloaded from the old Apart from boasting one of the greatest album covers ever, this disreputable collection also features Dr Demento-ready novelty songs, odd experiments, youngsters screwing around, a "Death Metal Alphabet" lesson, a 36-second Dylan parody about a dead squirrel, a musical saw, some actual catchy tunes, and inexplicable sounds from folks in various states of mental health. Plus! Not just one, but two techno-polkas. Worth it for the DJ My Ass track alone, the kind of spazzy nonsense that the internet was created for. 

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Spike Jones: 1941-1948

To make up for my lack of posts during my winter break, here is every single record Spike Jones and His City Slickers released in their first 7 years, 106 songs in all (split up into three sections). More radical than most academic avant-gardists, but a damn sight funnier,  bandleader/ drummer/ occasional vocalist / sound fx maker Jones and his numerous cronies weren't the first novelty orchestra (bands like the Korn Kobblers preceded them by a few years), but they did set the standard that musical anarchists have been striving for ever since.
As familiar as Jones is, it's still enlightening to listen to all these songs in chronological order, as one can hear the development of the band from a compact unit specializing in a kind of crazed Dixieland jazz, to an increasingly open-ended project, incorporating more and more musical styles, guest vocalists, and tracks that are more like sketches than songs. And tho I knew about their biggest hit single "Der Fuehrer's Face" (and the infamous "You're A Sap, Mister Jap"), I didn't realize how many WWII songs they did record. In "Leave the Dishes in the Sink, Ma", a song celebrating a sons' return home, the sense of relief that the war is finally ending is palpable.

As Spike used to deadpan after every song in concert: "Thank you, music lovers."

Spike Jones 1941-1948  pt1
1. Barstool Cowboy From Old Barstow
2. Behind Those Swinging Doors
3. Red Wing
4. The Covered Wagon Rolled Right Along
5. don`t talk to me about women  (1941)
6. Yankee doodler  (1942)
7. Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag
8. Three Little Words
9. When Buddah Smiles
10. You're A Sap Mister Jap
11. Never Hit Your Grandma With A Shovel
12. Horsey, Keep Your Tail Up
13. Camptown Races
14. John Scotter Trot
15. Love For Sale
16. Moanin' Low
17. Cheatin' On The Sandman
18. Come Josephine In My Flying Machine
19. The Sailor With The Navy Blue Eyes
20. Der Fuehrer's Face
21. Hotcha Cornia (Hotcha Chornya-Russian Folk Songs)
22. I Wanna Go Back To West Virginia
23. Water Lou (Drip, Drip, Drip)
24. Clink, Clink, Another Drink
25. Little Bo-Peep Has Lost Her Jeep
026 - Dinah  (1942)
027 - 48 reasons why  (1942)
28. The Sheik Of Araby
29. Oh! By Jingo
30. I'm Going To Write Home
31. Hi Ho My Lady
32. I Know A Story
33. St-St-St-Stella
34. Hotcha Cornia (Hotcha Chornya-Russian Folk Songs)
35. Down In Jungle Town

Spike Jones 1941-1948  pt2
36. As Time Goes By
37. People Will Say We're In Love
38. G.I. Haircut
039 - hitch old dobbin to the shay again  (1943)
40. It Never Rains In Sunny California
41. Wang Wang Blues
42. My Little Girl
43. The Sound Effects Man
44. Ragtime Cowboy Joe
45. The Vamp
46. He Broke My Heart In Three Places
47. Besame Mucho
48. I'm Goin' Back To Where I Came From
49. There's A Fly On My Music
50. Row, Row, Row
51. I Wanna A Gal Just Like The Gal That Married Dear Old Dad
52. Jingle Bells
53. Cocktails For Two
054 - they go wild, simply wild about me  (1944)
55. And The Great Big Saw Came Nearer And Nearer
056 - paddlin` madeline home  (1944)
057 - oh! how she lied  (1944)
58. Red Grow The Roses
59. Jamboree Jones
60. Whittle Out A Whistle
61. Casey Jones
62. At Last I'm In First With You
63. Down By The O-Hi-O
64. Holiday For Strings
65. Cocktails For Two
66. Leave The Dishes In The Sink, Ma
67. Serenade To A Jerk
68. Drip, Drip, Drip (Sloppy Lagoon)
69. Chloe
70. The Blue Danube
71. Black Bottom
72. Toot Toot Tootsie, Goodbye

Spike Jones 1941-1948  pt3
73. MacNamara's Band
74. Siam
75. Liebestraume
76. You'll Always Hurt The One You Love
77. That Old Black Magic
78. Mother Goose Medley
79. Hawaiian War Chant
080 - i gotta girl i love (in north and south dakota)  (1945)
081 - hedda hopper`s hats  (1945)
082 - george m. cohan medley  (1945)
83. Old McDonald Had A Farm
84. I Dream Of Brownie In The Light Blue Jeans
85. The Glow Worm
86. Laura
87. Jones Polka
88. The Jones Laughing Record
89. My Pretty Girl
90. Rhapsody From Hunger (Y)
91. I'm In The Mood For Love
92. When Yuba Plays The Rhumba On The Tuba
93. (I'm Forever) Blowing Bubble Gum
94. William Tell Overture
95.  Love In Bloom
96. The Man On The Flying Trapeze
97. Popcorn Sack
98. Our Hour (The Puppy Love Song)
99. My Old Flame
100. People Are Funnier Than Anybody
101. By The Beautiful Sea
102. I'm Getting Sentimental Over You
103. I Kiss Your Hand Madame
104. All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)
105. Ill Barkio (Il Bacio)
106. None But The Lonely Heart (A Soaperetta)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mark Mothersbaugh of DEVO's Mutated Christmas Album

This 1999 collection of eccentric electronic instrumental Christmas music by Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh doesn't sound much like Devo, or, for that matter, Christmas music. It does sound really nice, tho. As the song titles indicate, the tunes suggest famous Xmas carols, and sometimes just barely at that, e.g.: the cartoonish "Midnight Windup Toy". And isn't "Soylent Night" the greatest title?

Mark Mothersbaugh - Joyeux Mutato

01 Jingle$, Jingle$, Jingle$
02 Blue Joy
03 Midnight Wind-Up Toy
04 Bell Boy
05 Happy Woodchopper
06 Only 12 Shopping Days Left
07 Peace And Goodwill
08 Enough Xmas For All
09 You Better Watch Out...
10 Let There Be Snow
11 I Don't Have A Christmas Tree (Soylent Night)
BONUS: Devo - Merry Something To You [a barely minute long jingle from a 2010 Warner Bros xmas comp]

I was reminded of this album after li'l bro Paul Fab told me about the big ol' Mark Mothersbaugh exhibit he saw recently at the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art. (That's Paul at the exhibit, above.) It's a career retrospective of Devo memorabilia and Mothersbaugh's prodigious visual art output. Check the short (exclusive! not on YouTube!) video below Paul shot of some crazy contraptions: "I believe he calls them Orchestrions. It's a gallery (his kooky rugs on one wall) with four Orchestrions which all play together. They're mostly old organ pipes, but also many bird calls, whistles, metal bells and other noisy things. They're cobbled together with visible electric (and barely electronic) controls all left out and taped into whatever position they're supposed to be in. Every 5 minutes they start playing. What a cool sound."


Damn! Can't wait to see it. Once it finishes its Denver run, the exhibit will be on tour for a couple years. (I did quite like Mark's "Beautiful Mutants" gallery show in 2009.) Thanks to Paul for the pic and vid.

Friday, December 12, 2014

"Christmas Memories Played on Antique Musical Boxes"

Victorian-era robots! Plinkety-plonkety music not played by human hands!

If the phrase "music box" conjures up images of that tchotchke in your grandma's living room with a ballerina twirling around on top as "Moon River" plays, you may be surprised to hear how lush and orchestrated these beauties sound. We don't know exactly what singers and musicians of the pre-recording era sounded like, but as these big boxes, sporting such impressive names as the 'Symphonium,' were actually found in household parlors of the late 1800s, listening to them is a bit of a time machine into them long gone days before radio, records, or the internet provided in-home musical entertainment, and song titles all started with "O."

The tunes featured on this 1977 release are short, sometimes under a minute, so for the big hits like "Silent Night," they wind 'em up and play the song two or three times in a row. And if you hate Christmas music, there's plenty of unfamiliar songs here that don't feel especially seasonal and could feed your mechanical-music jones all year 'round.

Christmas Memories Played on Antique Musical Boxes

1. O Tannenbaum
2. O Sanctissima
3. Silent Night
4. Among Shepherds-The Holy City-Every Year Anew
5. O Come Little Children
6. O Tannenbaum
7. O Come Little Children
8. See the Conquering Hero
9. Cloister Bells-Ave Maria
10. O Come All Ye Faithful
11. Monastery Bells 

Another vinyl gem unearthed by this blog's ol' pal Brer Windbag. And if you're looking for some appropriate Victorian-era literature to read whilst listening to this, how 'bout this 1882 book of children's short stories that usually feature the children dying. Features the feel-bad classic, "The New Mother":

"Anyhow Stories"

O come little children, indeed. "The Imitation Fish" is another cherished tale to make your kids miserable. And who wants to set "The Paper Ship" to music?
Thanks to Count Otto, and Windy!

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Krazy Krustmas Kollections

I don't usually post things I haven't listened to, but by the time I have the opportunity to check these recent presents that Santa dropped into my in-box, these seasonal sounds will be out of season.

This blog hasn't been very active lately, and one reason is technical - the official M4M computer hasn't been feeling well (I'm writing this on Mrs. Fab's borrowed laptop). So I'm entrusting you-all to listen and review in the comments these enticing krazy krampus kollections:

"Wild Xmas With Bomarr Vol. 9" - Bomarr's been making these superb collections for years, and, as he writes: "I swear these mixes get weirder and weirder every year." He compiled this "after hours and hours of digging deep" and I'd believe it - I haven't heard of any of these artists. 

Cat A Wallers' Xmas Mixes is a new site, a work in progress, but already has a couple of things up, inc. a not-safe-for-work "Rude-Ass Christmas Mix," so that's gotta be good.

While I still had a functional office, I was able to re-up by request:

A Steelband Calypso Christmas

Rockin' Disco Santa Claus

Brave Combo - "Christmas In July"

Bah Humbug - The Alternative Christmas Album

Tuesday, December 02, 2014


Zoogz Toozday returns with some re-up requests: the sick punk/jazz/prog of Zoogz Rifts' "Amputees In Limbo," "Island of Living Puke," and "Torment" are all back on-line. And if that still isn't enough scatological humor for ya, plug your nose and dive into this:


courtesy of reader Duke Kola, who sounds like a pretty cool grandpa. He writes: "I made this mix (with a couple of changes) a few years back for my pre-teen grandson. Never fails to bring a few smiles to my face regardless of how many times I listen."

Now this may seem like a somewhat dubious concept for a mix, but if you're gonna sing about such stuff, you've got to have: a) a sense of humor, and b) a lack of inhibitions, both of which are sterling qualities for an artist to possess. Not to mention the fact that you've pretty much thrown all commercial potential and radio play hopes out the window once you've gone down this path, another admirable move. And this is indeed a very entertaining listen, more so than I was expecting. 

I personally would have added the Bonzo Dog Band's "The Strain," but I'm sure we all have our favorites.

01. Amsterdam Dog Shit Blues - Mojo Nixon
02. Caca De Vaca - Joe 'King' Carrasco
03. Snake Bit and Can't Shit - Root Boy Slim
04. Constipation Blues - Screamin' Jay Hawkins
05. Somebody Just Poop - Goofy
06. Somebody Farted - Bobby Jimmy
07. Fart - Breetles
08. I Can't Stop Farting - The Queers
09. Old Fart At Play - Captain Beefheart
10. The Phantom Windbreaker - Red Bovine
11. Pissin' In The Wind - Ernie Payne
12. Pissin' On Your Steps - Del the Funky Homosapien
13. Wee Wee - Abner Jay
14. Piss On the Wall - J. Geils Band
15. Urine Your Out - Prehistoric Cavemen
16. The Thing From Uranus - Sloppy Seconds
17. Shit Don't Stink - TMA
18. Shit For Brains - Nervous Eaters
19. Bag of Shit - Sean Price
20. Shit Can Happen - D12
21. Shaving Cream - Byron Lee
22. Disco Defecation - Flash Bouyancy
23. The Slurf Song - Holy Modal Rounders
24. When the Shit Hits the Fan - Circle Jerks
25. Piece of Crap - Neil Young
26. My Shit's Fucked Up - Warren Zevon
27. Why Does It Hurt When I Pee - Pancho and Sancho
28. I Ain't Gonna Piss in No Jar - Mojo Nixon
29. Don't Eat the Yellow Snow - Frank Zappa

Thanks a heap, Duke!

Monday, November 24, 2014


If the GlassDuo album I posted last week had you hungering for more musical wine glasses...

My review of the first Musical Betts album posted here three years ago also applies to this one: "The Musical Betts were a husband-and-wife duo who played (mostly) instrumental versions of gospel songs on such instruments as cowbells, marimba, musical saw, slide guitar, and sleigh bells. And vibraharp, which I think is like a vibraphone. Really cool stuff, but alas I know nuthin' about 'em...It's a bit odd hearing melodies played on instruments like cowbells performed not as Spike Jones-like comedic music, but in a stately, emotional manner."

Well, that was easy. I have nothing further to add except that we know a little (very little) bit more about these two, thanks to this album's liner notes: Mrs. Betts was a "college teacher" in Michigan before she met Rev. Clarence, but we don't even learn her first name! Also, this album's volume level has to be one of the lowest ever. Nice relaxing music for when that tryptophan kicks in.

The Musical Betts "The Golden Bells"

UPDATE: reader Richard L. writes "The low level may be result of a very astute engineer.  The bells have an incredible amount of very high frequency (even ultrasonic) sound levels.  Early analog audio equipment could not handle this at normal levels resulting in a lot of audible artifacts (partial erasure of the tape, thumps, and distortion).  Also, the VU meters would not respond to the quick attack of the bell clapper hits.  This is the sad voice of experience speaking.  One solution was to run everything at -10 dB to get more transient headroom."

Thursday, November 20, 2014


For newcomers looking for a crash course, or vets who want to relive old favorites, check out the now-archived 3 hour Music For Maniacs special on WFMU's Bodego Pop, a look back at ten years of blogging. On to the next decade!

My fave new discovery was recently sent to us by Australia's sound collage superstar Buttress O'Kneel, who co-recorded this in 2000/2001 with Panthera Leo (who is now the mother of the kid in Stinky Picnic) and is finally letting it out of the can. The Fruiting Body used no guitars, no keyboards, no drums...heck, no instruments of any kind. Check the ingredients for one song: 

2 rubber bands, plucked 
1 retractable ball point pen, clicking 
2 Bessemer saucepan lids, ringing 
1 elephant, thumping 
1 elephant, spraying 
1 elephant, rumbling 
1 extremely low sine wave

Sample, loop, and serve. Could have been a gimmicky novelty, or a dry piece of conceptual art, but it's really just good music. I started listening out of curiosity (what does a radar, owl, and air raid siren sound like mixed?) but ended up being quite struck by both the technical ingenuity and the musical qualities. The song "Eel Race Road" is freakin' epic. Free/name-your-price download here:

The Fruiting Body: "Nudibranch and the Moondew" (click on 'lyrics' to get each track's ingredients)

This album reminded me of the early days of sampling, when the idea of finally being able to make music out of everyday sounds was an exciting new one, e.g.: Bernie Krause' 1988 all-animal-fx classic "Gorillas In the Mix." But sampling existing musics (and tv, radio, etc) as a way to deal with our 'media environment' quickly took precedent, Ms. O'Kneel being one of it's foremost proponents (she claims that the events of 9/11 also pushed her into that direction.)  And there's also the fact that it is simply easier to make music with music then with hairdryers and trains. Still, there's a lot of potential for this approach. Back in 2005 we wrote about Matthew Herbert's yummy album that used only food sounds. It is now available to listen/purchase:

Matthew Herbert "Plat du Jour" (song notes HERE.)

The notes point put that the first song uses, among other sounds "chickens being killed for a local farmers' market and its feathers washed and plucked." Oh man, now I'm hungry. Who's up for some KFC?!