Sunday, November 30, 2008

CHRISTMAS IS FOR WEIRDOS

Chris Weirdo is back, this time with 2 disks worth of Yuletide oddities that certainly got me into the holiday spirit this weekend. If you've been diggin' his previous comps like Music For Weirdos then you know what to expect.

It kicks off with a delightfully cynical number from 1962 called "Merry Christmas You Suckers" that certainly gives Tom Lerher or Stan Freberg a run for his money (Mr. Freberg, is in fact, represented as well). Never heard of Paddy Roberts before, but I'm a fan now. This is followed by a wealth of Christmas cartoon music, EZ-lounge instros, The Sonic's rip-roaring mid-'60s garage rock, a track from the infamous "Star Wars" Christmas album (hey, I got that one on vinyl), Moogs, banjos, '70s disco and RIAA's self-explanatory mashup " The Six Million Dollar Man & Santa Claus Fight Global Warming." One of the real finds for me was the square-dance version of "Jingle Bells." And who knew Eartha Kitt recorded a sequel to "Santa Baby"?

The second disk features a wealth of swing/jazz novelties from the 78 rpm era.
I imagine "Santa Clause Hides in the Phonograph" is from the very early Edison era of recording. Some real stompin r'n'b oldies too: "Mambo Santa Mambo," "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus" - yep, Kris Kringle's down with all the latest dance moves. Then it's laffs galore from the likes of the Three Stooges, cartoon voice legends Jim "Thurston Howell III" Backus & Daws Butler (hipster/beatnik comedy is always welcome), and ventriloquist Shari Lewis. Really glad to have a copy of the Dr Who-inspired "I'm Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek" by The Go Go's - from '60s Great Britain, not the '80s Valley girls. There's the Christmas Beatles novelty record, "Ringo-Deer" by one Gary Ferrier. But my jaw dropped at the, er, "rap" song "A Knightrider Christmas" - oh my, Hoff for the holidays.
Christmas Is For Weirdos1
Christmas Is For Weirdos2

So let's all give Chris another hearty "huzzah." As the Teenage Reindeer says, "Like, merry."

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

OUR THANKSGIVING BLESSINGS ARE GREAT

This Thursday is Thanksgiving Day, one of the bigger holidays here in the USA. So let's celebrate with an example of that most democratic of art forms, the song poem.

Norm Burns: "Our Thanksgiving Blessings Are Great"

Didn't we just do Halloween?

Happy Thanksgivoween!

Monday, November 24, 2008

PALAOA - Live from the Antarctic Ocean

UPDATE 12/8/11: Audio now back up

PALAOA is a German scientific research project whose website features a continuous audio stream transmitting live from the ocean below the Antarctic ice. It's the best ambient music I've heard lately, and it's not even music.


Sometimes it sounds like an abundance of sea life singing, howling and braying, mixed with creaking glaciers, and "...Additional broad band noise caused by wind, waves and currents adds to it on occasion. There are three sources of click-like interference: switching relays, electrostatic discharges caused by snow drift, and...thunderstorms ten thousands of kilometers away."

Here's a random recording I made off the stream recently. I really had to crank up the volume using my music software, but when I did I was startled to hear so much sonic activity and variety. It's 19 minutes long, but I could listen to it all day.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

BAGPIPES FOR HEADBANGERS

Duuuude! Have you heard Eluveitie's latest album "Spirit"?

Whoooah! Those Swiss metal monsters have a new album of Celtic thrash? Awesome! I'm majorly into bagpipes, accordians and fiddles - they rock!

Totally. The whole album's solid - when the rock crunch gets a bit too heavy, they folk things up a bit.

It's like The Pogues meet Sabbath!

Yeah! Those death-metal vocals are still hella funny, though. Sorry, but it's true, especially when he's, er, "duetting" with a folkie chick. She's like "Tweedle deedle dee!" and he's all "Rowr rowr rowwrrrr." Weird. And lyrics are in Gaelic sometimes.

Huh huh, you said "Gay lick!"

No, "Gaelic," dumbass, like the ancient Celtic culture and whatnot. You know, like Druids 'n' shit.

So crank some, dude!

For sure man. Check out this tune. Starts out all scary and ambient, then gets down to business. All over in two and a half minutes.

YES!!!

Eluveitie: Spirit

All jocularity aside, these guys (pronounced el-VEY-ti) have turned in one of my fave albums of the year. Who'd have thought that Celtic-folk-metal would ever be a viable genre?
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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

WORLD TOILET DAY

Did you know that today is World Toilet Day? I read that in the newspaper this morning. Guess where I was reading it.

The history of toilets is a surprisingly interesting one. As this article points out, modern indoor plumbing can be traced back to London's Big Stink of 1858, which was so bad, Parliament was disrupted and "everyone who could leave town did."

It's a serious issue, but nothing serious about today's song. Styx, yes THAT Styx, recorded this faux-calypso in their early years. It's a hidden track on the cd reissue of their 1974 album "The Serpent Is Rising," which suggest they're embarrassed (em-BARE-ASSED?!) by it and are trying to hide it. It's a dumb song all right, but catchy, funny, and certainly preferable to their later dreck.

Styx "Plexiglass Toilet"

(I used to call 'em "Stynx." How appropriate that was.)

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

YMA SUMAC: The Queen of Exotica 1922-2008

Yma Sumac, the Diva Exotica, the Celine of strange, the Barbra of the bizarre, passed away recently, thus ending the original exotica era - she was the last surviving member of the Mount Rushmore of exotic music after Les Baxter, Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman had all moved on to that big tiki bar in the sky.

Sumac was one of my favorite singers. I don't mean favorite exotic or ethnic or '50s singers, I mean favorite singers, period. She possessed an otherworldly, technically astounding multi-octave instrument that moved from death-metal growl to operatic ecstasy - sometimes within one song. She often didn't even seem to sing lyrics, but created animal sounds and other indescribable special effects with her voice.

Hailing from Peru, South America, she lived here in Los Angeles and was a fixture in LA's jazz/cabaret clubs throughout the '80s and early '90s, though her reputation rested almost solely on a handful of '50s releases, beginning with the Les Baxter produced classic "The Voice of the Xtabay" (pronounced "SHTA-bay") in 1950 for Capital Records. The mixture of lush orchestrations, energetic Latin/ethnic percussion, weird atmosphere, and Yma's whooping, swirling, alien voice produced some of the most remarkable albums of the '50s.

Yma Sumac "Kuyaway (Inca Love Song)"
from "Legend of the Sun Virgin"

Yma Sumac "Five Bottles Mambo" (yes, actual bottles are used as percussion)
from "Mambo!"

Yma Sumac "Dale Que Dale! (The Workers Song)" (almost a surf/twist-rock beat to this one)
from "Fuego del Ande"

Yma Sumac "Jivaro"
from "Legend of the Jivaro"

And that was about it. She toured throughout the '60s, from whence comes an obscure live album released in the early '90s of a performance in the Soviet Union (how she pulled that off during the Cold War I do not know.) On this song, twice as long as the original version on "The Voice of the Xtabay," she really dumps everything out of her bag of sonic tricks, vocally imitating the wildlife of the Amazon.

Yma Sumac "Chuncho"
from "Live in Concert 1961"

She returned for one last album, "Miracles," in 1971, reuniting with Baxter for...wait for it...a psychedelic rock album. She still sang the way she always did, only this time over heavy guitars. Take that, hippies!

Yma Sumac "Medicine Man"

She made one last recording in 1988, a surprisingly normal version of a Disney song for a various artists comp.

Yma Sumac "I Wonder" (from "Sleeping Beauty")
from "Stay Awake"

The '90s lounge revival produced this excellent remix. I'm not usually too crazy about marketing-driven remixes of old classics, but I did really like this one:

Yma Sumac "Gopher (Mambo) [Qburns' Abstract Message remix]"
from "Electro Lounge"

From Poland of all places came this mashup from a few years ago:

El Barto & Liam B "Planet Mambo" (Yma vs Afrika Bambatta)

See Yma in action! From the 1954 Charleton Heston film "Secret of the Incas."

THIS JUST IN! Just got a note from Nick Limansky, author of the new book Yma Sumac: The Art Behind the Legend . He's a classically trained singer, and, incredibly, has been working on this project since 1980. It looks to be an essential part of any Maniac's library.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

RIAA: Madnight

The inspirations for this one: Dreams, nightmares, Los Angeles noir film and literature, "lowbrow" and Surreal art, carnivals and sideshows, 78 rpm records, weird old black and white movies, autumn...

It's not all mere found-sound editing, e.g. "A Frottage Co-Sale" - the vocals are lyrics to the old tune "A Cottage For Sale" fed into a text-to-speech program, then
almost every syllable was pitch-shifted to get it in tune with the melody. And the title song features live multi-overdubbed theremin.

RIAA: "Madnight"


1. The Dead Stay Awake
2. Wild California Love
3. Murderer's Polka
4. Hip in a Box
5. How Fucking Nocturnal
6. Madnight
7. I Don't Want To Set the Slogun On Fire
8. Dead Man's AYDS
9. Running With The Devil Bunnies
10. In A Masochistic Mood
11. Always Another Sucker On The Vine
12. Crows Over Martha
13. Lauratrocity
14. Scatter-Brain Freaks
15. I Wish You Bullets
16. Macabre Bowel Movements.
17. Carnival Jesus Tongue
18. Well, Bust A Move
19. A Frottage Co-Sale
20. Who's Afraid In Dark Trees?
21. Got To Be In My Dreams

SOURCES:
1. Criswell, from the Ed Wood film "Orgy Of The Dead," Susanne Vega " Stay Awake," Amy Winehouse "Back To Black," text-to-speech audio, Kate Bush "Waking
The Witch"
2. Alan Ladd from old-time radio version of Raymond Chandler's "Red Wind," Dr Dre "California Love," The Doors "My Wild Love"
3. Charles Bukowski "I Live In A Neighborhood of Murderers," artist unknown "Holly Wood Polka"
4. Portishead "Glory Box," Ursula 1000 "Hip Length"
5. Magnetic Fields "How Fucking Romantic," Harry James & His Orchestra "Harlem Nocturne"
6. amusement park audio, karaoke version of Cole Porter's "Night and Day" vs Mr Fab on the theremin
7. Ink Spots "I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire," SPK "Slogun," World Famous Audio Hacker "Bonus Beats"
8. 2 takes of Jelly Roll Morton "Dead Man Blues,"
radio ad
9. Van Halen "Running With The Devil," Twink "Hoppity Jones," Al Trace "I Love A Rabbit"
10. Glenn Miller "In The Mood," "Glen or Glenda" soundtrack, Florence and the Machine "Kiss With A Fist"
11. Tom Waits "Just Another Sucker On The Vine," Crispin Glover "Never Say Never to Always" (a Charles Manson song)
12. Tom Waits "Martha," If-Then-Else (aka The Weirdos) "Crows Over A Parking Lot," drums: John Bonham ("In Through The Out Door" outtakes)
13. Julie London "Laura," Joy Division "Atrocity Exhibition"
14. a Wurlitzer fairground organ "Scatter-Brain," Britney Spears "Freakshow,"
"Freaks" soundtrack, Son House "Death Letter," beat: Michael Jackson "Billie Jean"
15. Charles Trenet "Que Reste-t-il de Nos Amours?" (aka "I Wish You Love"), U2 "Bullet The Blue Sky," M. Foon "Octaaves"
16. Brenda Watson "Constipation: The 30 Day Advanced Cleansing System," Harry Breuer "Samba Macabre," Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam "I Wonder If I Take You Home"
Jimi Hendrix "ESP"
17. audio from Children's Fairyland amusement park; Mormon kids "Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam," Combustible Edison "Carnival of Souls"
18. Captain Beefheart "Well," Young MC "Bust A Move" (original version and remix)
19. Guy Lombardo "A Cottage For Sale" with text-to-speech vocals, Kate Bush "The Dreaming"
20. Brian Eno "In Dark Trees," school filmstrip audio: "Who's Afriad?"
21. Les Paul & Mary Ford "I'll See You In My Dreams," Michael Jackson "Got To Be There," Sal Mineo "Love Affair," Lawrence Harvey "This Is My Beloved"

Miscellaneous bits 'n' beats by RIAA

THANKS! to: Solcofn, Otis Fodder & the 365 Day contributers, World Famous Audio Hacker, the guy from Tortoise who did a drum breaks album, whoever the nice GYBO person was who made the "Glory Box" 'pella available, CORPORATION.