Friday, May 31, 2013

TOM WILSON - "GAY NAME GAME"

Back in 2008, I wrote: "One day in the early '90s, I was looking through one-dollar records in a thrift store when I came across one called "Gay Name Game." With a song entitled "Lesbian Seagull" listed among it's contents, how could I resist? The album is a typical sensitive singer-songwriter acoustic relic of the '70s, though the out-and-proud lyrics certainly set it apart from, say, James Taylor.

So imagine my surprise when in 1997, in the middle of a mainstream Hollywood film ("Beavis and Butthead Do America"), one of the characters starts singing "Lesbian Seagull." And legendary crooner Engelbert Humperdinck sings it over the closing credits! Eh, what?! I guess Beavis and Butthead creator Mike Judge must have stumbled across this record, too.

Thus, a strange curio from the original gay-rights movement enters the mainstream. It is an amazing tune...Caw, caw, caw!"


By request, here's the whole album.  "Lesbian Seagull" is the classic, as singularly odd, funny and heartfelt as you would expect from that song title, but the whole album is quite a good listen. The way-ahead-of-its-time subject matter certainly holds one's interest, and the witty songwriting of tracks like the title tune rival master satirists like Tom Lehrer (Wilson even outs J. Edgar Hoover way before that hit the mainstream).

This was Wilson's first album of a still-going cabaret/musical career. It has never been digitaly reissued.

TOM WILSON - "Gay Name Game" (1979)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"Percussion: Playful And Pretty"

is now back up, by request:

http://musicformaniacs.blogspot.com/2012/02/rip-phil-krauss.html 

And I'll be guest dj-ing once again THIS Sunday, June 2nd, 8pm PST on Spacebrother Greg's "Radio Misterioso," (sorry for the earlier erroneous announcement) for another two hours of wild sounds that have mostly not been featured here. Listen live at http://killradio.org/ so you can call in and/or go on Greg's facebook page and leave comments 'n' stuff. It's always a treat to visit the killradio studios in an extremely sketchy part of L.A. Will once again Greg drop a mic out the second-story window to eavesdrop on homeless guys fighting down on the street? Tune in to find out!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

AJNA: A Giant, Strange Mechanical-Music Contraption

From Sweden comes some fantastic new videos of AJNA, a large musical robot that looks like Dr. Who's police box tricked out with drums, sound-making thingies, and visual artworks. The first video is a minute-and-a-half intro to the beasts' wonders, but the second video sports a full band - a contemporary chamber group, really - getting down to business with AJNA to produce some truly striking, lovely sounds and sights that are rich in dark, esoteric atmosphere.

The song "Karlak" was written by Jens Peterson-Berger of the great band Originalljudet, and features the harmonium, one of my favorite obscure musical instruments. Known mainly for its use in Sufi music (e.g. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan) and Nico's post-Velvets solo albums, it sounds somewhat like a goth, droney cousin to the accordion.






Tuesday, May 21, 2013

MAS & HOPE: Words and Music For the Now Generation

Imagine if the Shaggs wrote songs for a christian Mrs. Miller...

Some years ago, I posted a few choice cuts off this mind-boggling private-press release that my brother found in a thrift-store, writing:

"Love...Wider Than The Ocean" is a 1972 private pressing by Mas & Hope Kawashima, two Japanese-Americans who sing and play their own hymns on side one. This one's ["the Road of Life"] my fave, clunky rhymes over primitive piano...
Though perhaps not as charming as "The Road to Live," this tune ["Demonstrate, Demonstrate your Faith" - advice for the student protesters] is of interest for it's sheer ineptness: ham-fisted guitar, lyrics that don't scan - I literally cannot make either rhyme or reason out of this one.

Side two finds them massacring the classics - in Japanese.


Quothe the liner notes: "Following the trend of the current Jesus Movement, these new, original songs express the feelings of young people searching for something to believe in and to hope for. The words and music are written for the Now Generation with their concerns for love, pollution, ecology, war, racial tensions and frustrations of living in a technological age." 
 The address listed on the back cover: 666 (!?!) NW 4th Ave., Ontario, OR.

By request, I've recorded the whole thing, and side one really is wonderful - nine nutzoid tracks of female warbling, low (and I mean really low) fidelity guitar and/or piano music, and charmingly amateurish songwriting. Side two features a different (male) singer, is all in Japanese, and except for the swell "Ode To Joy," I don't recognize the songs.  I think they're mostly hymns.

Mas & Hope Kawashima - "Love...Wider Than The Ocean"

There is no info on the 'net about this album. Mas & Hope were married and were reverends working with Japanese-American churches, mainly in Northern California, but otherwise I could find no info about this or any other musical projects they might have had.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

I Will NOT Be Appearing On Radio Misterioso...


...this Sunday nite. Two hours of radio hijinks will be postponed to a later date. But the good news is, thanks to super-swell maniac Phil C., "The Lavender Jungle" comp is back up. 

And there's some great stuff up on the youtubes. Another valued tipster, Niels, hepped me to this clip of "Flying robot quadrotors perform the James Bond Theme by playing various instruments including the keyboard, drums and maracas," a spectacular example of the ever-evolving genre of mechanical music.

HERE is a 16-minute explanation for you techies.

And I didn't have a March Fourth post this past March 4th re: alternative marching bands, because I didn't have any material.  Well, I got one now: this swell vid about a band I wrote about HERE, a 5 minute documentary on the mysterious, highly experimental Itchy-O Marching Band, revealing their home/custom-made instruments.



Wednesday, May 15, 2013

JUNK ORCHESTRAS Pt 3

I'll be guest dj-ing once again this Sunday, 8pm PST on Spacebrother Greg's "Radio Misterioso," bringing up another batch of wild sounds that have mostly not been featured here. Listen live at http://killradio.org/ so you can call in and/or go on Greg's facebook page and leave comments 'n' stuff.

And now...on with the show:


My recent posts about musicians who build their instruments out of junk reminded me of similiar artists I'd written about, whose songs posted ages had long since gone off-line.  I was also reminded of a recent single re-release, and miscellaneous records I'd had for years.

Junkyard Bands

The Junkman - 'Beat The Can' [both from his album 'The Junkman 2," available from his site - the liner notes break down exactly what objects are used for each song]
The Junkman - 'Drug Puppet' [bit of a Residents kinda thing going on here]
Electric Junkyard Gamelan - 'Bigbarp' [pictured above]
Car Music Project - 'Noodles'
Gamelan Son of Lion - 'Bang on a Tin Can'
Electric Junkyard Gamelan - 'Nutbutter Challenge'
The LA Drivers Union Por Por Group - 'Por Por Horn-To-Horn Fireworks'
Electric Junkyard Gamelan - 'Space Kitty' (excerpt)
Staff Benda Bilili - 'Sala Mosala'
Wendy Chambers - 'Star Spangled Banner' [on the legendary car-horn organ, pictured right]
Wendy Chambers - 'The Kitchen' [not only are kitchen implements used as instruments, but an actual meal is supposed to be prepared during the performance of this piece!]
The Junk Yard Band - 'The Word' [killer Def Jam single from the '80s - a group of children playing gogo funk from DC; that lead singer rivals the young Michael Jackson]
The Watts Little Angel Band - 'Nik Nak Paddy Wack' [same concept as The Junkyard Band, but from a decade prior; this must-have single, whose b-side is an oldies medley 'New Orleans/Land Of A 1000 Dances,' has recently been re-issued]

All of this had me thinking about Test Dept (none of whose music I can recall off the top of my head) and Einst├╝rzende Neubauten (think I did like some of their stuff), two '80s bands whose use of found percussion was popular with the industrial crowd, as it was seen not only as a way to be real noisy, but to seem shocking and rebellious and what-not.  

Also from the '80s: the L.A. band Savage Republic used things like an oil drum and a railroad tie - anyone else use junk percussion mixed with conventional instruments, in the service of actual songs? Think I read David Byrne saying that he and Eno played junk on "My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts."

And did the Bang On A Can group ever actually bang on cans?

Friday, May 10, 2013

JUNK ORCHESTRAS Pt 2: A Child's Garden Of Junk

(Now back up: Capt. Beefheart "Clear Spot" instrumental tracks, and the Caribbeana Esoterica of Elmore Stout, and The Lashing Dogs.)


"The flipflopaphon – the tromballoony – the springy tuby thingy – the gardenhoseatoot": such are the tools of Saul Eisenberg aka Mr. Junk Man, who not only travels around his native England performing on his home-made junk instruments, but also works with kids to help them build and perform on (and dance with) their own recycled sounds. He seems to be the kind of "cool teacher" that I wish I had when I was a wee lad. 

He has a resource page for other teachers that features and instrument-building demo video. Teachers, heck, I want to make these!  And he will build for your park/recreation area a "soundgarden," which has nothing to do with any old Seattle grunge bands, but are rather children's play areas with instruments built into them. Just fantastic.

There are free streaming/download songs on his site:

http://www.thejunkorchestra.co.uk/

Wonderful stuff, but I have one complaint - some of the tracks are too short, some lasting barely a minute. C'mon, Mr. Junk Man, why so chintzy? We want a proper album!

Thursday, May 09, 2013

JUNK ORCHESTRAS Pt 1: The Gas Tank Orchestra

I haven't been posting anything new lately, cuz I've been trying to re-up albums that were victims of the Great Mediafire/Rapidshare Takedown of 2013 by request. Which I'm happy to do, but I wasn't able to find: The Full Life All-Stars, The Lavender Jungle, "Ya No Hay Beatles," The Musical Betts, March Fourth 2012. 'Til then, dig these crazy sounds made not by guitars, not by keyboards, not by trap-drum kits - man, that old-fashioned stuff is for squares - but by stuff. Junk. 'Found objects,' and what-have-you.

The Gas Tank Orchestra does what it says on the tin, making their instruments out of discarded auto parts. The now-defunct New Orleans combo has an excellent posthumous free download album now available that does wander around somewhat aimlessly at times, as improv groups are wont to do, but really hits the gas (sorry) on nifty toe-tappers like "Making Way," "Bunnys Bolero" and "Desire Project." The GTO don't make the kind of racket that groups like Einst├╝rzende Neubauten used to make - their sound is subtle, atmospheric even, with a keener sense of rhythm. They are from one of the world's funkiest cities, after all.

The Gas Tank Orchestra - "Homeshed"

Another album of theirs is available for streaming/purchase that features a more sampled/cut-n-paste production at times. Pick to Click: "Oilspeak."

The Gas Tank Orchestra - soundclick album

More junk orchestras to come in future posts.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Re-Up Requests

The following albums are now back up:
UPDATE 5/7/13:
The George King/Joe Corney Organ Sound 
FORBIDDEN 45s!! (windbag edition)
CAPTAIN BEEFHEART KARAOKE PARTY
Lew Davies and His Orchestra - Strange Interlude
Caribbeana Esoterica #2: Junkanoo & Goombay
 
http://musicformaniacs.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-first-man-on-moog.html
UPDATE 5/7/13:
Slaughter on Central Ave

The Occult Organ of Jimmy Rhodes
Golden Half 2
Deb Hyer - One Man Band
Avant-March
(still looking for a couple of other requests)
UPDATE 5/6/13: John Cage
UPDATE 5/4/13: Now up by request are RMI Harmonic Synthesizer album, and four from Zoogz Rift: Ipecac, War Zone, and Water II, and Torment.

L. RON HUBBARD SPLURGES ALL OVER YOU

"Force yourself to smile and you’ll soon stop frowning.
Force yourself to laugh and you’ll soon find something to laugh about. Wax enthusiastic and you’ll very soon feel so. A being causes his own feelings. The greatest joy there is in life is creating. Splurge on it!"

If you don't have those words memorized, you will, after hearing them repeated over and over on this ghastly 2001 album released by the Church of Scientology, voiced by a semi-all-star team of singers. It sets the poems of the cult's late founder L. Ron Hubbard over crappy music that sounds way too dated to have been recorded only 12 years ago.  I genuinely figured this was from the mid-'90s at the latest. So what's it's all about, Alfie?

- We kick things off with an intro from soul legend Isaac Hayes, who unfortunately only has a couple of quick cameos on this album. Hearing Hayes' trademark baritone speaking voice trying to give this drivel a bit of gravitas is pretty great - as funny as his "South Park" work.
- Anyone who thinks joining Scientology will give your showbiz career a boost should ask "fresh new singer" Shannon Star Roberts, or L.J. Jackson - this album is their sole Discogs credit. One of Roberts' boring songs references Scientology mythology: "Theta, Theta, See You Later." Catchy, eh?

- Carl Anderson apparently was one of the original stars of "Jesus Christ Superstar" and had some pop hit in the '80s "that endeared him to soap-opera fans" (gee, wonder why I never heard of him?); one of his two songs here is a mindbogglingly awful 16-minutes long. Two minutes would be bad enough, but, holy hell, sixteen interminable minutes? He should be shot! Oh wait, he died of an illness a few years after this album. Never mind.
- I always respected Doug E. Fresh as a hip-hop pioneer who recorded the classic single "The Show"/"La Di Da Di." But one of the low-lights of this album is the appalling apocalypse fantasy "We're Going Up While The World Goes Down," which Fresh futilely tries to pump up into a wave-your-hands jam despite lyrics like:

"I was in a Safeway row
of housewives and no chow
Who said they'd been forsaken
by even moldy bacon
The manager's cruel cry
Was the actual why
They'd ate up all the animals
And now must turn to cannibals"
Apart from retarded grammar ("The manager's cruel cry Was the actual why"?!?) Hubbard's attitude of: you're-all-gonna-suffer-and-die-but-we-won't-ha-ha! is hideously immoral for someone claiming to be a spiritual leader. It reminds me of the Xian fundies' 'rapture' fetish. Needless to say, the generic music has gone thru the Scientology washing-machine, bleaching out any chance of black funkiness.
- Someone named Pamela Falcon has the thankless task of translating one of Hubbard's free-verse poems into music, to whit: "CUPIDITY/Cunning mind/Which unnerves the eye/Unclean lancet." Come on everybody, sing along!
- Another low-light: albino blues-rocker Edgar Winter is one of those well-known figures I'd never really had an opinion on one way or another. Well, I have one now: I fuckin' hate him! His "The Joy of Creating" begins with him saying "Y'all know about the joy of creation? Well, this is how we do it down in Texas." He then proceeds to insult the entire Lone Star State with hysterical gurglings that pass for singing over pseudo-enthusiastic music that has all the soul of John Tesh. I have a hard time having much respect for someone  who would allow this abortion to be released under his name, with his consent, while calling himself an artist.
- Chick Corea, the guy who contributes the only boring parts to otherwise-classic Miles Davis albums, drops by with under two minutes of pointless piano noodling and recitation.

A former Scientologist known on-line as Tiger Lily wrote on an ex-Scientologist message board: "At the time I was in, those albums were touted as being so theta-infused that just listening to them was supposed to key you out. They had the songs on their phone system "hold", and played them in the lobby over and over (how the staff stood that I'll never know).

I took that to heart and listened whenever I could. I lived 2 hours from the Org so I would listen to those *&^%$%# things for 4 hours on course days trying to internalize them. I memorized all the words. I sang along.

I remember thinking it was pretty cheesy , but they told us that Ron's music was way ahead of it's time, so I just decided I must be stuck in the 70's or something and made myself like it."


Listen to the "way ahead of it's time" music here:

The Golden Era Musicians and Friends "The Joy of Creating"



1Isaac HayesThe Joy Of Creating Prelude 0:48
2Shannon Star RobertsTheta, Theta, See You Later 3:22
3Shannon Star RobertsFrom Sea Of Dreams 2:46
4Carl Anderson and Brenda Eager * The Love Of A Man 3:58
5Doug E. FreshThe Joy Of Creating 2:39
6Doug E. FreshWe're Going Up While The World Goes Down 5:55
7Howard McCrary and L.J. JacksonThe Joy Of Creating 1:12
8Pamela FalconThe Sum Of Man 5:40
9Edgar WinterThe Joy Of Creating 2:32
10Edgar WinterBlue Endless Sea 3:55
11Elena RoggeroThe Joy Of Creating 1:41
12Elena RoggeroStamboul 3:38
13Chick CoreaThe Joy Of Creating 1:46
14Carl Anderson and Elena RoggeroSong Of The Bard 16:58
15Isaac HayesEnvoi                                                           00:32

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Two More Requests Now Up

Dig it!
Nick O'Lodeon - Kaleidocosmicorgrig
M4M Sampler - From The Sublime...
UPDATE: ...and here's two more by request:
Zoogz Rift: (Nonentity) Water III
Zoogz Rift: Island Of Living Puke