Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Strange music for strange weather: As you may have heard, out-of-control fires have made it positively Satanic here in L.A. (well, more Satanic then usual): hot, a brown haze in the air, an acrid smell, and a blood-red sun, at least where I live in the Valley where I can see the flames from my house. It reminded me of a mix tape I made in the '90s that I've set about for the last few nights re-compiling called "Strange Interludes." Not exactly noir or Halloween musics, these were mostly '40s-'60s early jazz, EZ, and Space-Age pop songs with a weird, moody feel. The tracks were mostly plucked from otherwise-normal albums, like there might be a collection of soundtracks hits with one theremin tune on it, or an organ collection of pop standards with a dark exotica track thrown in between the Beatles and the Bacharach covers.

My tape was inspired by an early '60s album recorded by Lew Davies & his Orchestra for Command Records called "Strange Interlude," which you can get HERE. I loved it. Unlike your usual Command stereo hi-fi upbeat gimmickry, it was low-key, creepy, with songs like "The Witching Hour," "Old Devil Moon" and "In A Mist".

Using my old cassette as a guide, I re-recorded the songs from my thrift-store vinyl. But a number of these tracks have since been re-issued on CD so I've tried to include as many good digital copies of these songs as I could. I've also added some songs that I've discovered since I made the tape, as well.

Apart from the afore-mentioned theremins, there's also harmonicas, Phantom-Of-The-Opera pipe organs, sound effects, ondiolines (an early electronic keyboard), a capella vocal groups, and plenty of percussion (e.g.: tuned bongo drums) mixed with the usual '50s EZ lush orchestrations.

Strange Interludes

1) Johnny Kemm "Taboo" - Man, I loved this track so much, I've scoured the net looking for any info; all I've found was that he was a popular organist from Joplin, Missouri who, according to this newspaper archive (scroll down) died a bizarre death, and had "been employed as an organist by the Missouri State Hospital for the Criminally Insane"! Huh? Any Maniacs live in the area who can do some research on this guy?
2) Marty Gold And His Orchestra "High On A Windy Hill"
3) Duke Ellington "The Mooch" (Buy it!)
4) Dick Hyman "Stompin' At The Savoy"
5) John Buzon Trio "Mister Ghost Goes to Town"
6) The Four Freshmen - "Crazy Bones"
(Buy it! tho this is taken from my vinyl)
7) Phil Kraus "Buffoon" (Hey, entire album posted here! I agree with Mr Purse - this is one of the best songs on it)
8) Georges Montalba "Anitra's Dance" (never expected this obscure pipe organ record to be not only in print but a collector's item for being mistaken as an Anton "Church of Satan" Levey album)
9) David Carroll - "Hell's Bells"
10) Billy May & Samuel Hoffman "I Dream Of a Past Love" (B
uy it!)
11) David Rose - "City of Sleeping Dreams"
12) Dick Schory & The Percussive Art Enemble "Cloud 9" (at 1:50 or so, doesn't this sound like Kraftwerk's "Trans Europe Express"?)
13) Enoch Light and the Light Brigade, arranged by Lew Davies "Bidin' My Time"
14) George Gould - "Dark Eyes"
15) The 3 Suns "Autumn Leaves"
16) Eartha Kitt - "I'd Rather Be Burned As A Witch"
(Buy it!)
17) George Shearing - "Bewitched"
18) Lionel Hampton - "Blue Moon" (Buy it!)
19) Creed Taylor Orchestra "Monster Meet"
20) The Mulcays - "Kiss Me Again"
21) Carl Stalling "Skeleton Dance" (audio recorded from a cartoon)
22) Leroy Holmes & His Orch - "Spellbound"


Dj No Breakfast said...

i would love to listen to "strange interludes" but the link is dead ... could you provide a working one? Thanks a lot.

Mr Fab said...

Just tried it - works for me. CLick on "Strange Interludes" in red, then "Click Here to Start Download."

Anyone else having problems?

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

Mr Fab said...

Strange is right - just checked and over 100 peoples have dl-ed it so it's working for some.

But not for all. So I also put it up on another site. Hope that one works...

J-Unit 1 said...

Thanks for the re-up to another site. I figured I just missed the boat.


Korla said...

I would love to listen to the Lew Davies & his Orchestra album you mentioned. Unfortunately the link is dead. Do you know whereelse i can find it? Thank you for your great work btw.

Mr Fab said...

I'll see if I can up "Strange Interlude" soon. Might not be til a week or so.

Mr Fab said...

OK, it's up now:


Korla said...

Great! Can't wait to hear it. Thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

Links are dead. Would you please re-up if possible? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

That was amazingly fast. Thank you so much.

serhodes said...

You said you wanted to know a bit more about Johnny Kemm, so I'll give you what I know.

I am his granddaughter, whom he never met. He primarily played the organ, but could also play piano very well. Johnny was very good at playing by ear, but not sight-reading. He contracted with Lowery Organs, and produced several records during his career. Additionally, he had a live radio show and created tracks for the local rollerskating rink.

I hope you enjoy this additional information. As for his death, yes, it is true that he was murdered. It was a horrible event.

Mr Fab said...

Great to hear from you, Ms. Rhodes. I have two of your grandfathers albums, and they are two of my favorite organ records, and believe me, I have a lot of organ records! He should have had more national rcognition.

kevin attics said...

This mix appears to be down. Is there a way to reup it?