Sunday, April 30, 2006


If I wasn't married I'm sure I wouldn't have considered seeing Bea Arthur's one-woman show "Just Between Friends." Not that I have anything against the famed actress, star of TV classics like "Maude" and "The Golden Girls." I just figured it would be an evening of songs done in her froggy voice and show-biz anecdotes, but Mrs. Fab wanted to go, and so we did. And, whatdoyaknow, I quite enjoyed it, if, for no other reason, some of those songs and stories where, well, filthy. Not even those rappin' grannies I wrote about recently had anything on this 70-something bad girl. She remade some nasty old blues tunes that can be found on compilations like "The Copulatin' Blues" such as this ode to furniture sales:

Bea Arthur: "If I Can't Sell It, I'll Keep Sitting On It" - as well as a bonus anecdote about an unnamed actress' personal hygiene that would make Leoncie blush.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Continuing our series of posts about unlikely rappers: Did the founders of hip-hop music in the '70s ever imagine that one day their music would teach the Cambodian people their horrifying history? Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash et. al. would have been open-mouthed in shock if they heard that a bootleg of a rap album recorded by a Cambodian-American youngster in his parents' garage would do just that. Much to praCh's amazement, his debut album, little known beyond Long Beach, CA's Cambodian community, became the number one album in the land of his birth. It served the dual purpose of schooling Cambodians in American-style hip-hop, and telling some grim truths about dictator Pol Pot's murderous regime.

praCh: "The Great Escape" - A gripping account of his family's escape from Cambodia
praCh: "Ah-Yei (Khmer Rap)" - performed entirely in the Khmer language

Saturday, April 22, 2006


After the Gangsta Fag post a couple of days ago, someone posted asking about other oddball rappers from demographic groups one normally wouldn't consider in hip-hop. I immediately thought of my Valley homegirl Rappin Granny (aka Vivian Smallwood). Tired of the kids blaring a music she hated, she decided to fight back with her own rhymes.

I don't know who the original rappin granny was, but this is not the one who appeared in the 1985 film "Rappin'", or the different rappin granny who was in "The Wedding Singer." Nor is she Fruity Nutcake, the New York white lady who has appeared on Howard Stern. Wow, there could be a best-of-rappin-grannys compilation.

Here's footage from one of Ms. Smallwood's many TV appearances.
The music may be 50 Cent's, but the lyrics are largely hers. She even, er, shakes her booty. Granny got back! (sorry) Was there really a show called "America's Most Talented Seniors"?

Rappin Granny "In Da Club" - Well, Shirley Jones seems to enjoy it.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


...sang the Ramones, and few schools rocked like the Dondero High School A Capella Choir, of Royal Oak, Michigan. For 35 years Rick Hartsoe has been the Choir Director, aided and abetted by energetic instrumentalists, also culled from the student ranks.

Sadly, not only is Dondero High closing, but so is Otis Fodder's 'net-label Comfort Stand - a generous heaping of Dondero High's annual performances are Comfort Stand's last offerings.
There are many gems here, but check out this cover of Boston's

"More Than A Feeling" - the arena-rock bombast of the original is transformed through the choir's singing, handclaps, and more low-key (but still energetic) arrangement into an innocent campfire singalong. Just charming.

Don't know what Otis will be up to now, but I hope it means completing another Bran Flakes album of thrift store record-inspired mashups. And as for the beloved Mr. Hartsoe, he, like the school, is retiring.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Gangsta Fag

Well! That says it all, doesn't it? Countless rappers, inspired by NWA's "Straight Outta Compton," have filled their music with anger, violence, and curse words, but it's usually been directed at gays, not from them. Gangsta Fag's Twisted G, however, has come straight (well, as straight as he can be, har har) outta New York with music that goes after gay-bashers with a baseball bat. He has the requisite street credentials (prison time, etc), and claims he used to rob and rape crack dealers! That'll teach 'em.

From an interview on his website: "Q: Is it true that most of your fans are straight men?
Twisted G: Yeah that shits very true...Straight people find it disturbing, repulsive, and incredibly fucking hilarious. They love the shock factor and that's cool too! But if you find yourself singing all the lyrics and dancing to it around the house all the time, than yeah, you are a mutha fuckin fag and that's cool too baby!"

Gangsta Fag: "Run From The Faggots"

Thanks to Radio Clash

Friday, April 14, 2006

POP SURREALISM... how books like this one describe some contemporary underground ("lowbrow") artists who's surreal scenes are populated not with melting watches and guys in bowler hats, but with images from contemporary culture. And "pop surrealism" is not a bad description for the work of some mash-up music types. They don't just make a dance club novelty by, for example, putting a Fifty Cent acapella over a rock track (not that there's anything wrong with that), but plunge you into a dream-logic landscape, creating psychedelic audio collages that can make your head spin.

Case in point, DJ Earlybird, aka The Flying Soccer Moms aka Beaufort Kissdrivel aka Uganda.
"Serge Gainsbourg vs Elvis feat. Dolly Parton" takes Monsiour Gainsbourg's late-'60s porno-funk grinder "Je t'aime...Moi Non Plus" and inexplicably mixes it with spooky Elvis wails (from "Blue Moon") and Ms. Parton's high-and-lonesome cries. Do not listen to this one while driving or operating heavy machinery (Ya gotta go here, third one down)

Aber N. Stein: "Voodoo Dick" (Click here, second one down) - in a fit of major cleverness, Mr. Stein takes Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile" guitar riff and twists it into Led Zeppelin's "Moby Dick" and "Stairway To Heaven." Guaranteed to make the stoners in your life say, "Duuuuuude..."

And while we're at it,
RIAA presents what is quite possibly the silliest, most ludicrous mashup of all time:

Johnny SKAsh" which mixes the Man in Black's "Folsum Prison Blues" with Bad Manners' version of Mancini's "Baby Elephant Walk," some Skatalites, Wall of Voodoo (both doing "Ring of Fire") and more cartoonish sound effects this side of a Spike Jones record.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Mike Watt recorded a great rocker a few years back that went, "The kids today must protect themselves against the '70s." And this 1977 video by Danish group the Tommy Seebach Band, a riot of facial hair, cheesy choreography, and ludicrous lip-synching and mugging for the camera, is Exhibit A why Watt was right. Or, perhaps, wrong, for our perverted purposes. I'd watch more MTV if they showed stuff this bizarre.

The song they're playing is another version of "Apache," the surf guiter instro made famous by 6-string kings like Jorgen Ingman, The Shadows, and the Ventures, but here given a soft-core Euro-disco arrangement. It may seem hard to believe that this song would have anything to do with hip-hop history, but, as all crate-digging headz know,
Michael Viner's Incredible Bongo Band did a funked-up "Apache" that became a break-beat classic. This one, however, is a lot more funny:
Tommy Seebach Band: "Apache" (video)

Friday, April 07, 2006


Bosoms! Lots of makeup! Wildly dramatic trilling! Casio-riffic no-budget music! It can only be that "icy spicy" babe Leoncie. Did I mention bosoms? As Miss Thing herself says, "A Little Bit Of My Cleavage Shows, And Then The Icelandic Volcano Explodes. Boooom!"

Forget yer Bjorks - Leoncie may be from Iceland (while claiming Indian heritage), but there all similiarities end. She writes and records her own music, even makes some of her own outfits, while performing everything with the breathless enthusiasm and relentlessly up-beat optimism of old-fashioned show-biz, even though her lyrics can turn baffling ("Radio Rapist"?) or, as in the case of "Satan City," which she claims is based on a real Icelandic nighborhood, nightmarishly surreal:

Leoncie "Satan City" - a place so offensive to her devoutly Christian sensibilities she claims they're "fucking on the street." Come on everybody, clap your hands! (But mind the abrupt ending.)

Many of her songs are about love. Or, more accurately, lust. Not for the easily embarrassed:

Leoncie "My Icelandic Man" - Wow, I wonder how she performs this one live. Hey, you two, get a room!

This page has more mp3s on the bottom, including her "headbanger" number:

Leoncie: "Wrestler" - And, yes, it's about wrestlers. Get this woman a tv appearance NOW!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


This website tells you how to rig your computer's scanner to play stuff like Beethoven's "Fur Elise" as this video demonstrates:

scanner: Fur Elise

Be a hit at your next office party! However: "use at your own risk. The author assumes no liability for any damages incurred by its use..."

Sunday, April 02, 2006


Crass, outrageous, unpredictable, Terry Knight was all showbiz. Before being stabbed to death in 2004, he had worked with everyone from ? and the Mysterians to Ed McMahon. If he's remembered for anything, it's for his involvement with early-'70s arena rockers Grand Funk Railroad. But, as Barry Stoller reveals in his biography "I (Who Have Nothing): The Terry Knight Story," Knight had a surprisingly diverse portfolio in the '60s - dj, singer, songwriter, producer, record company exec, in styles from raungy garage punk ("Comin' on Back To Me" is a classic "Nuggets"-style rocker) to shmoove EZ-listening. And it's almost all out-of-print. Today's guest post tells the tale of Knight's brief production/A&R career at Cameo-Parkway. Take it away, Barry!

Knight never intended "I (Who Have Nothing)," his breakout national hit
with the Pack and his first foray into lounge music, as a 45. The
decision rested with Neil Bogart, president of Cameo-Parkway, the
company which distributed Terry Knight &The Pack's locally-produced garage records. When
the tune hit, Knight immediately seized his chance and submitted to the
influence of C-P (and Richard Rome, C-P staff arranger, who produced the
string-laden ballad).

"Comin' Bac
k To Me" (by the Alabama garage band, Rites of Spring) was
Knight's first production duty with C-P (and his second ever with a
group other than his own). Essentially, he 'saved' the Rites of Spring's
failed 45 attempt, initially a demo, by supervising the re-recording of
the vocals which featured new lyrics. The tune, released while "I (Who
Have Nothing)" was still on the charts, bombed.

"If Love Is" was a vanity project for 'Dandy' Dan Daniel, a DJ at New
York's influential WMCA-AM. On this, Daniel's third C-P 45, 'Dandy' Dan
emotes Rod McKuenesque poetry over a backing track originally intended
as a Knight solo session. The music was written by Knight with
assistance from Rome; the lyrics are probably Knight's. The backing
track was recycled on a subsidiary C-P easy-listening album by the
International Pop Orchestra. Summer 1967, one of the last C-P releases.

Knight composed "The Incident Theme" on the set of the movie (which is a
malignant kicker) shortly after C-P folded in a flurry of lawsuits
between Allen Klein (who leveraged a buyout of the label) and Bogart
(who fled the label with several newly signed groups and producers plus
a stack of masters which surfaced in a variety of contexts). Knight was
managed by Ed McMahon at the time and McMahon had a part in the flick.
Promoted on the Tonight Show. Arrangement by Charles Fox (who did the
score for Barbarella shortly after). November 1967.

After The Incident bombed, Knight and McMahon went separate ways. Knight
was without a recording or production contract until early 1969. The
rest is heavy metal history.

- Barry Stoller
Utopia 2000