Tuesday, December 23, 2008

MASH-TERPIECES

There's been a remarkable batch of mashup/sound collage albums hitting the web recently, going way beyond the usual Top 40 acapella vs rock instrumental. These (mostly) free download albums sometimes feature live vocals, and original lyrics & music mixed with found-sound elements, and richly textured collage soundscapes. Was 2008 the best year yet for illegal music?

The Who Boys: "Now That's What I Call The Who Boys!" These British nutters claim that this is their last album; if so, then they're going ou
t on top with a superior mixture of spoken-word absurdism, '60s kitsch, brutal electro beats, lovely harmony singing, and all the while sampling everything from country auctioneers & scratchy old 78s to headbangin' rock.

The Who
Boys: Gotta Hava

Santastic Four: Boston's dj BC has been compiling various-artist Christmas comps for a few years now, and t
his is the best one yet (and I'm not just sayin' that cuz I'm on it!). New York's ATOM has created a tune so abstract it's almost unrecognizable as holiday music.

ATOM: You Should Be A Freaky Christmas, Baby

Mashed In Plastic: A David Lynch tribute, featuring music, dialogue & sound effects fr
om his films; available as separate tracks or as two seamless, dreamy, disturbing mixes. The website is a feast for the eyes and ears. Best mashup comp ever?

Colatron: "I'll Be There In Twin Peaks"

People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz: "Rhapsody In Glue" This one, the second collaboration between two primo British eccentrics, does require a small donation, but it's well worth it for another delightful mix of Alice in Wonderland-esque songs and lyrics, cartoonish sound effects, and sampled coolness, like this version of the EZ '60s classic "Theme From A Summer Place":

People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz: "Carmic Waltz"

RickRawked: Doesn't get more mental then this - a various-artists collection that's basically just old-fashioned acapella + instro mashups...but they're all using Rick Astley's '80s cheeze-fest "Never Gonna Give You Up." Rick slowed down, Rick pitched-up, Rick swings, Rick rocks. Incredibly, it doesn't get dull, and most of it works.

Phil RetroSpector "Ricky" (Rick vs the "Rocky" theme)

This should keep y'all busy for a while - I'll be back in the new year. Thanks to the M4M crew for all your contributions: Chris Weirdo, solcofn, J-Unit 1, and all you lovely Maniacs out there for another year (our fourth!) of sonic sweetness. Keep them cards and letters coming - I may not have the time to post everything you write to me about, but I really appreciate it. As the Cramps advised, stay sick!

Friday, December 19, 2008

THE WORST CHRISTMAS SONG EVER

It isn't often that the world of political talk radio ventures into Music For Maniacs territory, but recently Alan Colmes featured a record from his collection on his show that he described as the "worst Christmas song ever." He may be right. I certainly haven't laughed this much at a Christmas recording since the Richard Cheese album came out, but that was intentional humor.

It's a Mercury Records single from 1975, produced and co-written by Paul Vance, who had an extremely successful string of hits in the '50s-thru-'70s, such as Brian Hyland's
"Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" and Perry Como's "Catch A Falling Star." Singer Linda Bennett was another pro, with an RCA album and several tv and movie credits under her belt by the time they made this. And, of course, Mercury was a major label. So there was no excuse for this.

It's starts off as a typically bland bit of mid-70s pop, then slowly moves into the twilight zone before arriving at a simply ludicrous, laugh-til-you-cry ending. SPOLER ALERT: Don't read the comments to this post until you've heard the song!

click the song title for divshare listen/download:
Linda Bennett "An Old Fashioned Christmas"

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bah! Humbug: The Alternative Christmas Album

"Bah! Humbug" is a now-deleted collection of acoustic satirical songs by a bunch of British folkies, with a couple classic American ringers from Tom Lehrer and Loudon Wainwright III. The low-key folk setting is an amusing contrast to such potentially dark material such as "The Man That Slits The Turkey's Throats At Christmas," a lovely acapella vocal number.
Funny stuff, and maybe just the thing if you're starting to get sick of Christmas music. Grab the whole thing here:


Bah! Humbug: An Alternative Christmas Album


Thanks to Santa Chris!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Krimus Karuls

Krimus Karuls is a free Christmas-themed download album featuring 7 short tracks by 12-year old Nichole, who seems to be making up the songs as she goes along. Despite the usual juvenile predilections for atonal singing and utterly uninhibited performances, Nichole still seems to posses a strong, confident voice - she might become an excellent "real" singer one day. I think my fave of hers might be "What a Day for a Dog of Gold", but it's only 23 seconds. Heck, this bit unhinged zaniness is the longest and it's only 1:50.

Nichole & The Dreamcatchers:
"It's Time To Rejoice"

A couple of '70s-era home-recordings of kids singing Christmas songs are also included. The remainder of the tracks on the album are low-fi rockers by grown-ups in the Beat Happening/Guided By Voices vein. Some of it's pretty good, e.g. the Chrome-esque "Ode to Gandolf and Ye Ole Christmas Spirit," and the peppy organ grinder "It's Jesus' Birthday So He Should Get the Toys." The closer "Red & Green" brings kids back for a lovely lullaby.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

POT-BELLIED PIGS SING CHRISTMAS STANDARDS

"The Jingle Bellies Christmas Album" just might be the weirdest holiday CD in my collection. This out-of-print 1994 release by Louisiana-born session cat Bobby Breaux is certainly one of my favorites. The almost flatulent sounds of sampled pig snorts and grunts is often, er, "acapella," though the album opener "Deck The Halls" has a groovy Latin rhythm. Grab the whole thing in all it's 22-minute glory here:

The Jingle Bellies Christmas Album

1. Deck The Halls
2. Joy To The World
3. Medley: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; Hava "Nasqueala"
4. Amazing "Grease"
5. Jingle Bells
6. O Come All Ye Faithful
7. Greensleeves
8. Medley: Noel; O Christmas Tree; We Wish You A Merry Christmas


Sunday, December 07, 2008

RADIO USE ONLY

Radio Use Only is a fascinating site devoted to those releases record hounds often come across in thrift stores and used-record shops' bargain bins - albums released by radio stations.

The practice "...started out as promotional items to spotlight a certain disc jockey or a particular show on the station. Other early-known radio compilations would feature various popular songs, of the time, in a pre-packaged set. Some of these would also include audio samples of station disc jockeys introducing songs...Starting in the early 1970’s, radio stations began sponsoring albums featuring local, unsigned performers."

The blog has audio samples. I particularly like this "groovy" and "happening" Dallas-area radio station jingle:

KXXK jingle (circa 1968-1971)

Which reminds me of this contemporaneous (and seasonal) jingle from the Free Design:

The Now Sounds of Christmas