Thursday, March 30, 2006


A reader asked if I had any "eefing" records after becoming intrigued by this wonderful NPR story that aired a couple of weeks ago. 'Deed I do, from an old vinyl album I got out of the library 10 years or so ago and taped called "I'm On My Journey Home." It's one of the strangest folk music collections I've ever encountered, and eephing, a vocal style that vaguely resembles a hillbilly form of human-beatboxing, is only part of it.

Has anyone made an eephing record in last 40 years? It may be, as the NPR story suggests, a lost art.

Jimmy Riddle: Eephing
Joe Perkins with Jimmy Riddle: Little Eephin' Annie - taken from the NPR story; this record actually charted in 1963

These other oddities from "I'm On My Journey Home" are vocal pieces that fall into the may-not-actually-be-music category, but are delightful nonethless:

Leonard Emanuel/"Red" Buck Estes -
"Hollerin'" & "Whoopin'"
Lindy Clear/Ben Rice - "Ringing The Pig"/"Spelling From The Old Blue-Back Speller"

Monday, March 27, 2006


"I don't believe anyone's born bad, I don't believe anyone's born sad, but some people are born...mad."

So sings England's Dan Treacey on the brand-new album "My Dark Places" by his band the Television Personalities, their first since the early '90s. Why the long wait? Well, in the '80s, Treacy sang about Pink Floyd founder/mental case Syd Barrett, and in the '90s he practically became him. Trapped in a downward spiral of homelessness, drugs, crimes to pay for drugs, institutionalization, rinse, repeat, Treacy "lost the plot," as he sings in "I Get Sick Again," one of his new songs. He didn't play music for years, until prison nuns got him some instruments. He sent out an e-mail after being released in 2004 announcing his desire to return to music, and fans staged a benefit to buy him studio time. Which I find genuinely heart-warming.

The new four-piece lineup features fellow original member Edward Ball and is playing around England.
I wonder if the album is sequenced in the order it was recorded - it starts off a shambling mess. Imagine Wild Man Fischer fronting the exaggeration, but only a slight one. But the performances quickly grow more confident, and miserable songs like "All The Young Children On Crack" give way to some happy-sounding tunes like "They'll Have To Catch Us First," a groovy bit of '60s a-go-go Mod pop that could get easily get a be-miniskirted Twiggy frugging, although, like the rest of the album, the playing is little ragged, and vocals are hardly pitch-perfect.

Elsewhere he salutes another '60s fave, The Velvet Underground, over a Casio beat, Wesley Willis-style; paraphrases the reggae classic "Uptown Ranking" by singing
"Uptown top wanking," announces "Don't be fooled by the rocks - I'm still Danny from the block!" and delcares "The king's got his crown back, back on the throne" to applause sound effects.

The sadness always returns, though. In "I Hope You're Happy Now," Treacy moans, "I hope he's everything you wanted me to be...". Treacy was apparantly so overwhelmed to be playing music again, he would break down crying in the studio, and he certainly sounds like he's on the verge of doing just that throughout "My Dark Places."

Television Personalities: "I'm Not Your Typical Boy" - a lovely Daniel Johnston-esque piano ballad cloaked in sincerity, humility, and humanity.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


The film "Dangerous Men" has become something of a phenomenon here in Los Angeles since it first appeared on screens last September. To quote an imdb review, "What is to be said about the movie that would make Ed Wood vomit with rage?... Filming began in 1985 only to be shut down ...then in 1995 to be refinanced and reshot in a desperate attempt to resolve the "story" with different characters of no logical connection!" As another reviewer describes it: "mountains explode, people grow beards in 3 seconds, men read from scripts that are plainly visible in the shot, bad guys get knocked out by scalp massages, women transport knives in the cracks of their buttocks, plots are abandoned ten minutes after being formed, title sequences contain no other name than "John S. Rad," nude men dance with cedar leaves in the desert, the same "punch...ah!" sound effect is used 24 times in a 30 second period."

The auteur of "Dangerous Men," one John S. Rad (aka Yeghanehrad), who did the music for the film as well just about everything else, has taken the show on the road to a few other cities, and to whet your appetite, has written a new song...just for you! Life getting you down, friend? Yeah, well, I bet even the most miserable sad-sack couldn't listen to this "song" without erupting into uncontrollable giggle-fits.

John S. Rad: "Dangerous Men"

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


I was in a used/collectable record store a year or two ago when I overheard two store employees talking about the lounge/exotica revival of the '90s: "Boy, that came and went in no time, didn't it?" Er, not quite. Yes, record labels exhausted their archives of oldies they could repackage, and the media moved on to other things, but many of us carried on just as as we had before my local mall opened and closed an Ultra-Lounge store.

If tiki/lounge is dead, someone forgot to tell Shag - the man's not just an artist, he's a cottage industry. Tiki/lounge asthetics have infiltrated the mainstream.
In fact, the above-mentioned mall recently opened a Hawaiian/tiki themed store. Am I going to be too hip and complain about this? Nu-uh. I remember '80s decor fads that make tiki, no matter how trendy, infinitely preferable. Nagel prints, anyone? Didn't think so.

It's probably wise to not try and recreate the '50s as much as update them, as a new mashup cat named The RevTed has done with this Henry Mancini vs Beach Boys mix:

The RevTed: "God Lujon Knows"

In the mashup world, "God Only Knows" is known as the Acapella of Death - many mixers have been drawn to its beauty, only to have their tune dashed upon the rocks of harmonic difficulty. The Rev does as good a job as anyone.

England's Voodoo Trombone Quartet actually started off as one-man mashup machine Braces Tower before hiring so many musicians to realize his exotic big-band a-go-go fantasies that they are now far more then a quartet. And trombones ain't the half of it.

Voodoo Trombone Quartet: "Monster Island" - from their album. Only available on a British label for now, unfortunately, crammed as it is with swank numbers like "Voodoo Juju" and "Your Pleasure Is Our Pleasure."

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Art Paul Schlosser - Inside Outsider

"Hi,I'm ART PAUL and although I admit I am a Christian this CD is not designed to make everyone give up there fun and only talk about Jesus but rather it is a fun music CD that I hope will help you understand better about Christianity.That God Loves you not God wants to destroy you."

Art Paul Schlosser has become, according to one Wisconsin paper, "arguably Madison’s most recognizable local musician," due to his
painfully sincere lyrics, off-key singing, clumsy performances, and simple melodies. Which, of course, adds up to entertainment in my book - what's not to like about songs like "My Mother Is Reading A Book," "The Food Is Cool," and "Santa is Elvis"?

s the article points out, "do his fans “get” Art Paul Schlosser (if indeed there is something to “get”), or does he merely represent a subtle freak show, providing point-and-laugh amusement for drunk college students?...Is Art Paul Schlosser putting it on? Is he constructing his own image as a genial idiot savant whose childlike persona and amusing songs allow him to garner more money and attention than would otherwise be afforded someone of his limited musical skills? Perhaps yes, and perhaps not."

If he is a put-on, it's a remarkably consistent one - he's recorded numerous albums over the years. And yet, he certainly appears to behave like a show-biz professional - tv appearances, CDs, sites on MySpace, SoundClick, and Still, it's hard to believe someone would spend years faking songs like:

"Eat Nutriciously"

Maybe he has someone doing all this for him - he is married. Or maybe even "outsider" musicians are show-biz savvy nowadays. And "I Love My Mother" really is a great song, but I'm saving it for Mother's Day. Unless you want to buy it now - it's available through iTunes.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Years ago, a British radio man/mad genius named Paul Lowry took existing recordings of popular favorites and used all manner of studio trickery to turn them into insane, hilarious "remixes": tape looping, interjecting sound effects, Chipmunk-like vocals, tape speed manipulating...the man would stop at nothing. The recordings, apparently never released, are similar to the music-concrete the avant-gardists were doing at the time, but filtered through a Spike Jones sensibility.

Reading, England's DJ/mashup loonies Pilchard (aka The Fruntroom 5) received a tape of Lowry's work thinking it was, in fact, the work of Spike Jones. But Spike was a performer - he did everything with a live band. This is clearly tape/studio tomfoolery, though very much influenced by Jones's brand of wacky musical comedy. Lowry even uses some of the same music as Spike - classical war-horses like the "William Tell Overture."

Unfortunately, little is known about Lowry. When I asked Pilchard for more info, he wrote, "There aint no chance - the guys dead. He was called Paul Lowry. The woman that gave me the tape is senile...He played on the radio - that's all I can tell ya. Actually-come to think of it-musique concrete MAY have been written on the tape. There's another geezer mentioned in the notes which alas I no longer have, jog me memory.. I dunno, I'll try track the old girl down." We're keeping our fingers crossed.

Paul Lowry

1. "I Got Rhythm"
2. "William Tell Overture"
3. "Sabre Dance": sounds like live pots'n'pans percussion; brilliant tape looping at one point
4. "Rudio Nasrael" (??): some mighty impressive belching in this one.

Kudos to Pilchard for performing some serious audio restoration on the tape.

UPDATE June 10, 2007: We still don't have much info on Lowry, but Ted from Redding CA confirms hearing "William Tell Overture" on a tape of BBC radio broadcasts, so it appears that Lowry, indeed, did these for the BBC.

UPDATE June 13, 2007: I wrote to the BBC. Their reply: "I note your interest in a gentleman called Paul Lowry who may have been employed by the BBC. Having checked our database, we have no contact details for anyone of this name." I'm starting to wonder if his name was, in fact, Paul Lowry. Maybe that was just the guy who owned the tape that fell into Scott Pilchard's hands...UPDATE July 8, 2009: All tracks now available HERE, thanks to Doklands, who also informs us: "I managed to identify the "Rudio Nasrael" track - it's the theme to the BBC show "Radio Newsreel", also known as "Imperial Echoes" and written by Arnold Safroni.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


"WeirdPunk L.A": an album's worth of "weird-punk" from the Los Angeles underground.

Though hardcore, the fast, furious, guitar-driven form of punk, and it's attendant spikey-haired stage-diving audience, has been extensivly chronicled, and commercial radio-friendly New Wave acts live on in '80s club nights and hit compilations, another side of the late '70s-early '80s scene has largely been overlooked: the intelligent, intellectual, experimentalists. They're sometimes called "art-punk" and, yes, many of these groups had art school backgrounds, or played galleries as often as clubs, but really, isn't all music art? "Synth-punk" is another common term, but not all these groups used synths. The common thread was that they were, whether naturally or by design, weird.

Herky-jerky rhythms! Synth squiggles! Sarcasm! Featuring out-of-print (or never-in-print) classics from The Screamers, Wall of Voodoo, Oingo Boingo, The Suburban Lawns, and lots of great bands you never heard of.

UPDATE 8-6-12: Back on line here!

1. The Screamers: "Veritgo"
2. Wall of Voodoo "Red Light"
3. Suburban Lawns "Flavor Crystals"
4. Slow Children "Spring In Fialta"
5. Oingo Boingo "I'm Afraid'
6. Food And Shelter "Changing My Mind"
7. Nervous Gender "Fat Cow"
8. Rick Potts Band "Platform Swimfins"
9. Fibonaccis "Slow Beautiful Sex"
10. Bob & Bob "We Know You're Alone"
11. Karen Lawrence & The Pinz "March Of The Pins"
12. Abecedarians "Benway's Carnival"
13. Red Wedding "Drums"
14. Man Child "Mad Dream"
15. Bakersfield Boogie Boys "I Get Around"
16. Monitor "Beak"
17. Susan Rhee & The Orientals " I Love You I Hate You"
18. Irritators "Whack The Dolphin"
19. Din "Respond To My Thoughts Only"
20. Chuck Wagon [of The Dickies]: "Rock and Roll Won't Go Away"
21. Humanoids on Parade "Humanoids on Parade"
22. Bad Religion "...You Give Up"