Thursday, March 31, 2005


The absolutely critical website, dedicated to all things theremin, has a fantastic mp3 library chock-full of rare historical recordings of what's been called the strangest musical instrument ever invented. Most of it's the spooky mood music you'd expect, but what is one to make of things like:
"Sinners" by a rock'n'roll combo known as Freddy And The Hitch-Hikers. Recorded around 1961, it's one the first (the first?) rock records using electronics.
"So Attracted To You" Quoth, "A great spooky cha-cha tune from 1959 by Herbi Silvers and his Orchestra. This song features Leon "Herbi" Silver on vocals and saxophone and his "Silver Belles"." Dr. Samuel J. Hoffman, the man on the theremin here, was possibly the most widely known and recorded thereminist ever, appearing on American national TV shows like "Tonight" with Johnny Carson, recordings with everyone from Les Baxter to Captain Beefheart, and countless mystery/horror/sci-fi film scores. There's a treasure-trove of his stuff here.

And this concludes today's history lesson. Questions?

Oh, come on now, can I see some new hands?

Monday, March 28, 2005


San Francisco's six-piece accordion-slinging zanies name-check Myron Floren (Lawrence Welk's accordion-wielding polka-meister) as they cover Grand Funk Railroad's '70s cock-rocker "We're An American Band" thusly:

"We're coming to your town, we make annoying sounds, We're An Accordion Band!"

Gimmicky for sure, but darn those accordions, it's fun headbangin' stuff.

Saturday, March 26, 2005


Here's a little Easter egg for ya, courtesy of Tommy George, a Big-Band music veteran, songwriter, and, later in life, TV writer ("Starsky & Hutch"!). But recently he recorded a self-released album of swingin' Big-Band original gospel tunes called "Jesus Saves, Jesus Swings!," full of professional-sounding finger-snappers like "Jump For Jesus," and "Tore Up From The Floor Up," that praise the Lord in hipster slang.

"He Ain't Here" is an upbeat reading of the story of the Passion and Resurrection in which George cheerfully sings, "They gave him to the soldiers/to be beaten and to be scourged!" There's a million Christmas songs, but we finally now have an Easter classic.

And if you cats were diggin' that, here's a new dance called the "Jesus Jive."

(But isn't "jive" another word for nonsense...?)

Thursday, March 24, 2005


"Nouvelle Vague" is supposedly the French translation of both the terms "New Wave" and "bossa nova." And that pretty much sums it up. French electronica musicians/producers Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux's debut as Nouvelle Vague (to be released soon in America on Luaka Bop) reimagines punk classics into an EZ-cheezy cocktail mix. The Dead Kennedys, The Clash, and Pil are among the old anarchists flown to a beach in Brasil, as an ooh-la-la female singer seductively croons their old hits. I know, lounge versions of rock oldies is an oldie itself by now, but these are some clever arrangements. Witness their take on The Cure's "A Forest," or XTC's "Making Plans For Nigel." Aaaah...

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Konono No. 1 started off as a group playing traditional music of their native Congo, Africa, decided to experiment with electronics to amplify their sound, and then things got weird. Most African music is either acoustic traditional, or slick modern pop, but Konono No. 1 (are there more?) have a hard, noisy sound and berserk energy level the likes of which I've never heard before. The poor but resourceful crew cobbled together home-made microphones and speakers, resulting in a distortion-drenched sound, and fashioned percussion instruments out of pots, pans, and auto parts, as can be seen on the Crammed Disk Records website. The traditional instrument the thumb-piano is hand-held - small metal rods are plucked with the thumb to go "boing" - but when played loud and distorted sound more like an electric guitar. Songs like "Lufuala Ndonga" come off like a band of witch doctors playing Ministry covers. (Three minutes in the fun really starts.)

Ears stopped ringing? Then check out "Paradiso," which answers the question: What would it sound like if Carlos Santana took speed and was limited to only 8 notes?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


There's a whole school of music that shuns cutting-edge electronic instruments or computer programs in favor of the kind of primitive 8-bit technology found in video games or '80s computers like the Commodore 64. The C64 was sold between 1982 and 1993 and was one of the biggest movers in home-computer business history - more were sold then all the Macs put together - so nostalgia is certainly a factor, but "chip" composers are also drawn to the challenges and inherent fascination of trying to make music with such rinky-dink sounds. The Micro-Music website has lots of tunes you can download, and they don't all sound like Pac-Man soundtracks. Some are hip-hoppy, some suggest reggae dub, some rock'n'roll, but I doubt you'll hear anything better than Duff Fader's


Glitchy Rich took a rap acapella from the same time period (a 1987 Public Enemy classic), electronically processed it and wrote some new 8-bit tunage as backing. If we must have an '80s revival, may it sound like this.

Friday, March 18, 2005


The American media feeding frenzy over the murder trial of actor Robert Blake might finally be waning since the not-guilty verdict was handed in a couple of days ago, but in a shocking act of necrophilia (to quote his website): "Juror number eleven, Roberto Emerick, decided to express his feelings the only way he knows how - through music, and here it is: Judgment day is a six song CD based on the murder trial of Robert Blake, the star of Barreta and the Little Rascals who was accused of killing his wife Bonnie Lee Bakely"

Taken in total, the six lo-fi mp3s create a rock-opera like effect (paging Andrew Lloyd Weber), with some songs told from Blake's point of view, like "Rosie," expressing Blake's love for the daughter he and Blakey had. I think the acusatory "Nurse Nancy" has something to do with the baby's nanny. But "Opening Statement", which sums up both the prosecution's and the defense's arguments, is not only "Judgement Day" in a nutshell, it's also quite simply one of the strangest footnotes in American legal history.

Apparently the law forbids jurors making a profit from their service for at least 90 days, and after this period a CD featuring good sound-quality version of these songs will be released. Betcha can't wait.

PS: Mrs Fab, our friends, and I often dine at the scene of the crime, Vitello's Restaurant (it's just up the street from us), where Blake often ate. In fact there's a dish named after him still on the menu. Now that's he's free, does this mean we'll be seeing him there?

I'm scared.

Hold me!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


B.J. Snowden is a well-known (in certain circles) singer-songwriter who's recorded one of the few songs about St. Patrick's Day. It's even called "St Patrick's Day" and it certainly would give pause to Irish pub denizens expecting The Clancy Brothers. Like her other songs, it's largely played solo, on a Casio. Some have said B.J. can't sing, and her clunky lyrics are amatuerish, but hey, she's actually got a degree from the Berklee College of Music and is a grade-school music teacher. So there!

Discovered by Fred Schneider of The B-52's, she charms New York's jaded hipsters with songs as straightforward and sincere as her album title, "In Memory of My Father & My Life In Canada's Atlantic Provinces." I'm sure she won't be getting smashed on Bushmills like you bums because she's a nice lady with a teenage son and she probably has to teach class the next day, but if you're out there whoopin' it up on St Paddy's Day, hoist a glass and sing along with B.J. She'll be happy to know you enjoy her music.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


The Scala Choir is a Belgian girl's chorale led by two brothers: Steven and Stijn Kolacny. One provides piano accompaniment and the other conducts. But, for undetermined reasons, they've released two albums (not released in the US unfortnately) of unlikely pop covers. "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Radiohead's "Creep," Lou Reed, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nine Inch Nails all get the classical vocal choir treatment. And then there's The Divinyls' ode to female self-satisfaction, "I Touch Myself." How old are these girls, and how great is their command of the English language? Do their mothers know what they're singing?

Definitely better than "The Vienna Boy's Choir Goes Pop" album, even if the the Boys did cover Metallica.

Monday, March 14, 2005


It would be nice if there was more of an examination/celebration of Irish culture on St Pattie's. But what do we get? Shamrock shakes & green beer. It's such a wasted opportunity. Not that I'm helping:

"It's Whiskey": Run-DMC's "It's Tricky" vs The Pogues & The Dubliners
"Compton's In The Dingle": NWA "Compton's In The House" vs The Chieftain's "The Dingle Set"

I picture Eazy-E dancing a jolly jig as Dr Dre plays the fiddle. Gives a whole new meaning to "Black Irish." (Sorry.)

Saturday, March 12, 2005


It's called "manualism" thankyouverymuch, and The Three Tendons are amongst the world's foremost practioners, even appearing on "The Tonight Show." Their web site now has video clips - see them squeeze immortal melodies out of their bare hands! - and lots of songs (in .ram, not mp3. Sorry). Their version of "The Girl From Ipanema" will have you spitting coffee all over your keyboard, so be careful. Other instruments (like tire pumps) are also used. Laugh all you want, but it's incredibly difficult to get anything remotely musical out of the act of squeezing your hands together - the "hand-whistled" version of "Danny Boy" is astonishing.

Thursday, March 10, 2005


From Stark Effect: A "mic in track" is a recording made on a PC...record from the microphone input of the PC's sound card and save the recording in mp3 format. The default filename is "mic in track" followed by a number."

Basically that means someone else's home recordings that YOU can download. Type "mic in track" into a peer-to-peer network (KaZaa, etc) and you can download/eavesdrop someone reciting poetry, personal messages, practicing the bongos, anything else people do with a microphone on - the audio of equivalent of Peeping Tommery.

Stark Effect has brilliantly created a series of remixes from his collection of these recordings, ranging from the sublime ("Think Of Me") to the ridiculous ("Eeples and Beeneenees.") "Bunnyrabbits, Satan, Cheese and Milk" was even named Best Remix of 2002 by radio WFMU. And they should know. Dozens of raw, unedited m-i-t recordings are available as well, such as "14," a dramatic 10 minute phone conversation between a former boyfriend and a troubled 14-year-old mother. Yikes.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


In response to yesterday's post, here's Cheekyboy's Michael Jackson vs Pink Floyd mix.

Isn't it nice that we can find humor in the face of such unpleasantness?

Monday, March 07, 2005


A funny new one from the UK's Excelents:
"Michael's Little Children" Michael Jackson and Vincent Price's "Thriller" have never sounded more scary than when juxtaposed against Billy J. Kramer's "Little Children."

Friday, March 04, 2005


I didn't realize settings were set so that "Only Registered Users" could leave comments. I fixed it so now anyone can. No wonder most folks have been sending me emails instead of leaving comments. Big ol' heap o' stinkin' thanks to anyone who has commented by either method.

ANNOUNCEMENT: If you've asked me to review your music and I haven't, it's usually because a) I've just reviewed something very similar and I like to have variety, or b) I haven't had the time to check it out yet. I may very well review you in the future. Do NOT be discouraged or think I just don't like you for some reason. Pass along any tips, whore yourself, etc. You all have suggested some great stuff, so please keep it rollin' gang.

Thursday, March 03, 2005


Although Dion McGregor had some success as a song lyricist (Barbra Streisand, Blossom Dearie) his greatest recorded legacy was a 1964 album called "The Dream World of Dion McGregor." Some people spend untold hours, if not years, trying to craft a classic album - McGregor could do it in his sleep. Literally. His roommate and songwriting partner tape-recorded McGregor talking in his sleep for an incredible seven years (1960-1967). Not the usual sleeptalking mumbles, these are full-fledged mini-dramas, with McGregor providing narration, dialogue, sound effects, and music, usually ending with him screaming. Decca, a major-label no less, released the first album, but McGregor, who died in 1994, would not live to see the release of a second collection, "Dion McGregor Dreams Again," or the recent release "The Further Somniloquies of Dion McGregor." Future release are a possibility.

Although the dreams are bizarre, surreal and frightning, the man was anything but. By all accounts he was a real-life incarnation of Jack from "Will and Grace." Never fully employed, always flirting with show-business but too much of a goof to seriously pursue it, McGregor crashed on friends couches or spare beds for years, getting away with it because he was so entertaining - his hilariously campy sense of humor comes through in the recordings. The net result is like Kafka performed by drag queens.

If you can survive "Food Roullette," watch out for the "Horseshoe Crabs."

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


In October, Cambridge, UK's Twinkleboi posted


an on-line album of bootleg mashup/sound-collages inspired by President Bush and the war in Iraq. A new-and-improved version is back online with contributions from, among many others, Wax Audio, Osymyso, Eve Massacre, Instamatic, Don Amott, Earworm, Gordyboy, and RX, the mad genius who re-edits speeches to make it appear as if Bush is singing/reciting songs like U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday."