Tuesday, August 30, 2005


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


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


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, 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


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


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


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"


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


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:


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


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


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


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 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


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


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"

Monday, August 01, 2005


The Black Diamond is a singer from West Virginia. And, no, he doesn't cover KISS's "Black Diamond" (so far as I know). He is, in fact, a black Neil Diamond impersonator who sings over what are, apparently, thinly-produced karaoke tracks. Despite the fact that he somtimes sings like Neil Diamond being strangled, or perhaps because of it, he seems to get a fair amount of professional gigs in West Virginia, at places like sporting events and at a reception for a medical conference.

"I'm A Believer" He sure is: "I thank GOD for loaning me this gift."

It's a loan? You mean he'll have to give it back?!?