Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Another exhibit of weird old album covers? I like this trend. Last year here in Los Angeles we saw the bad religious album covers exhibit, this year, running thru Sept. 5, it's the wacky world of Jewish novelty records of the '50s and '60s. And not in some tiny hipster gallery either, but in the august halls of the Skirball Cultural Center.

Jews On Vinyl "...was
developed in association with the publication And You Shall Know Us By the Trail of Our Vinyl: The Jewish Musical Past As Told By the Records We Have Loved and Lost (Crown, 2008), a project of the non-profit Idlesohn Society for Musical Preservation, which reissues select classic recordings and has created a digital online home for Jewish musical memory in an attempt to restore missing legacies to our contemporary view of Jewish America." These are the folks who put out the infamous "Jewface" collection we wrote about, and whose blog offers much music listening/video viewing satisfaction.

These kinds of records are ubiquitous in American thrift-stores and use
d record shop bargain bins, and I buy 'em occasionally. But this exhibit puts them in a sociological context I hadn't considered before - as silly as these records can be, they are nonetheless important for documenting the transition of American Jews from isolated tenement-dwelling immigrants to mainstream Americans, from Yiddish theater to (mostly) English-language satire engaging the popular culture. Such as:

Micky Katz "The Most Mishige"

Like a Jewish Spike Jones, Katz made kosher mincemeat of popular songs of the day thru his zany upbeat parodies, laced with lots of Yiddish words I don't know. His still-teenaged son, future Broadway star Joel Grey sings the track "Holidays."

THE POIPLE KISHKE EATER (Sheb Wooley) July 25/58
YIDDISHE MAMBO(Sid Kuller-Mel Diamond) Nov.16/54
DOWNTOWN STRUTTERS' BALL (Shelton Brooks) Jan.9/52
HOLIDAYS (Mickey Katz) Aug.13/51
NUDNICK THE FLYING SCHISSEL (Mickey Katz-Irving Fields)Nov.4/57
KNISH DOCTOR(Ross Bagdassarian) July 25/58
k'NOCK AROUND THE CLOCK(Jimmy De Knight-Max C. Freedman) Aug.23/55 (2:03)
WHERE IS MY PANTS? (Georges Auric-William Engvick) Aug.6/53
CHINATOWN, MY CHINATOWN (Jean Schwartz-William Jerome)May 12/50
CHEDER DAYS(Gus Edwards-Will D.Cobb) July 2/51
IT'S A MICHAYE IN HAWAIYE(Mickey Katz) July 25/58

Friday, June 25, 2010


Here's a veritable King Tut's tomb of post-punk/avant/weirdo rock from the ever-fertile late-70s/early '80s punk days of England. Geoff Leigh was a founding member of prog legends Henry Cow, who offered a distinctly different take on art-rock then, say, Emerson Lake & Palmer, namely avant-jazz/20th century classical influences. And those influences splatter all over these tracks, some of which are otherwise not too far removed from contemporaneous fellow Brits like Gang of Four or Magazine. A Pere Ubu-ish free-form explosiveness further conspired to keep these records off "Top of the Pops."

Apart from solo releases, we also get tracks from his other bands
Black Sheep (now X Black Sheep), Red Balune, Kontakt Mikrofoon Orkest - none of whom I'd heard of before, and I thought I knew my New Wave. Start with the irresistible synth-punking "Animal Sounds," then check both sides of the "Do The Residue"/"Living in Rotterdam" single. "Buy mccb", a commercial for their label, is catchy twisted funk. Advanced students may then want to move on to "Spider In Love," a delirious burst of spazz-jazz, with Geoff humorously singing "I'm Spiderman in love!"

A generous 22 tracks in all, yet the quality level rarely dips. And it's all free. Ahhh, life is good...

Geoff Leigh "Things From The Past"


Thursday, June 24, 2010


"Originally recorded in 1973, this vinyl rarity is best described as an electronic ceremonial soundtrack. After being discovered in a hidden compartment beneath a closet floor, Fonetap Music has obtained the rights and reissued it in all its dusty glory."

That's their story and they're sticking to it. In any case, Grant Moros' all-instro all-electro "Mysteries" certainly sounds like it could have been recorded in the early '70s, and the whole occult ritual aspect of it recalls Moog-master Mort Garson's excursions into that realm.

Lots of nice stuff here: the song "Neophyte's Illumination" hints at a more low-key "Popcorn," and "Ritual of the Serpent" makes great use of primitive drum machines. "Death Be The Penalty" is as intense and scary as it's title, but it's immediately followed by the genuinly lovely "Rosslyn's Crypt." You can download the whole thing here:

Grant Moros "Mysteries"

but buy it here in various formats, including the fancy-shmancy FLAC. Rumor has it that there's a vinyl version availble, which would worth picking up for that cool artwork alone.


Monday, June 21, 2010


Some of my favorite albums of late have been internet give-aways, the perfect music-distribution route for weirdos who don't make the kind of trendy cookie-cutter sounds the labels are looking for. Such as:


Were it not for the 'net, how else would I know about the strange/outsider music underground of Portugal? There is abundance of goodies here, and from what I've heard so far, none of it sucks, and everything's been at least worthwhile, and at best wonderful.

Stealing Orchestra is the band that started this 'net label. "We are using: sampling, guitars, accordeon, drums, flute, oboé, marimba vibraphone xylophone, cello percussion, piano, theremin and a lot of keyboards like church organ or hammond." Start with:

"For Me 'Formidable," from their "É Português? Não Gosto!" album, in which traditional Portuguese polkas and waltzes are transformed into a spazz-tronic circus.

- From their "Bu!" album, "É Contra Mim Que Luto ," and "Catarse" especially when the exotica sample comes in @ 1:oo.

- G.G. Allin's Dick, also Portuguese, play a cartoonishly crazed polka-tempo electronica on their "King of the Road" album; might be my fave YANSR release so far; "
Monocycle From Hell" is a tune that has wormed it's way into my head, popping out at odd times.

- Slipper are a British band featuring ex-Loop Guru members that draws inspiration from '50/'60s exotica, but filtered thru a modern sensibility. Check "Nuke Bug," in which a thick dub bass line is crawling with insect sounds; kinda like those tropical bird call-festooned Martin Denny records, but more creepy. "Lobsters" features a Peter Gunn-ish guitar riff, Miles-esque horns, and weird nightmarish noises.

- The Prostitutes play '60s-style garage rock and surf instros with maximum fuzz and energy; compared to the eccentric eclecticism of other YANSR acts, there's nothing too original here, but these Portuguese punks are plenty fun.

- Duo Inmortales play Residential one-minute-long songs with text-to-speech robots on vocals. Pick hit: "My First Nazi Girl."

Vincent Bergeron's first two tracks annoyed me with it's modern-classical atonalities and Bergeron's nerdy voice singing in French. Then, either I got used to it, or the classical-chamber-group-chopped-up-in-a-sampler sounds sunk in, and I found songs like "L'Art du Déssaroi" to be pretty damn cool.

- Luis Antero's 17-minute long "Sinfonia Amphibia" consists of nothing but field recordings of some very loud uncredited Portuguese critters, presumably amphibians. I like to play this at the same time as other musics, such as the minor-key shoegazey sounds of worriedaboutsatan.


Friday, June 18, 2010


No offense to my Boss-Town peeps, it's just a basketball thing. Us fans of the Los Angeles Lakers love it when our team wins the NBA Finals, but when they beat Boston to get there, oooh, it's just that much better. Bwahahahaaa!

So let's celebrate the L
aker's latest championship title the way we celebrate everything around here at M4M: with some really weird, bad music.

Ron Artest: "Michael Michael" - Artest played a great Game 7; made a jaw-droppingly awful Michael Jackson tribute song; not at the same time. He actually thanked his psychiatrist after the game last night. Um hmm...

NBA "Where Clutch Happens" - I recorded the audio for this commercial off the video; features the sampled
voice of the Finals MVP Kobe Bryant auto-tuned to nice effect; it's actually a pretty catchy little tune.

There's a million rap songs celebrating Bryant and the current Lakers team by everyone from Ice Cube and Snoop Dogg down to the most rank amatuer rapper. But the Laker tribute song tradition began in the '80s during the reign of Earvin "Magic" Johnson and the "Showtime" Laker team, producing records that ran from cheezy/goofy:

Onaje Murray "Hoop Troop (Lakers)" - from his otherwise serious funky jazz album, "I Hear A Samba"

to the spectacularly tasteless and hilarious:

Niki Rios: "Thank You Magic" - A 9-year-old girl attempts to tug at our heartstrings with this epic ballad; If Magic Johnson wasn't already HIV-positive, this would have really sickened him.

The "Curl Activate: '80s Novelty 12" Singles" collection I posted a couple years ago featured some other home-brew basketball/Lakers records, including a good one sampling the late great announcer Chick Hearn, the voice of the Lakers. After Chickie died, this solo acoustic folk atrocity was released in tribute:

Swamp Donkey "Golden Throat" - Reminiscent of Neil Innes' Bob Dylan parody, but of course, I don't think this one is supposed to be funny.

(Thanks to ma home-slice IVOR for heppin' me to the "Thank You Magic" magic.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Some nerdy guy releases an album featuring songs about hot dogs, and they send it to me. I swear, do other bloggers get this kinda stuff? But I figured I should give it a listen since I doubt anyone else is gonna review it.

And I'm glad I did listen. Actually, not all of New Yorker McSAPPR's songs are about hot dogs, but they all are pretty silly. And pretty enjoyable. He gets deep into his subject, with songs even saluting the winners of the Coney Island Nathan's wiener-eating championships.

Musically, it's a quite unexpected return to '70s jazz-inflected "soft rock" - think Gerry "Baker Street" Rafferty, Randy Newman, Michael Franks, etc.
Even in these retro-crazed days, I haven't heard too may folks go back down those "mellow" roads too often. Probably cuz you really need some serious chops to play that kinda L.A. session cat style, which these guys most certainly do. Imagine Steely Dan, only with lyrics by a five-year-old.

"Hot Dog Rock"

UPDATE: The link seems to have disappeared. Yo McSAPPR, where's your album?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Some of my favorite albums I've heard lately have been internet give-aways. Perfect for weirdos who don't make the kind of trendy cookie-cutter sounds the labels are looking for. Such as:

Nac/Hut Report: Might as well start with this one, since I've been listening to it regularly since it dropped late April. This Polish/Italian boy/girl team reference the old musique-concrete scene and infamous noisemakers like Psychic TV and Einstürzende Neubauten, and there are certainly all manner of harsh industrial screeches here, but the songs are lovingly topped with cool vocals crooning
evocative minor-key melodies. I play this one after a cocktail before going to bed. For some reason, it's kinda soothing (must be the feminine touch.)

Nac/Hut Report: 9th Overflowing...Milky Slaughterhouse...Dream Of Incubator

Here's an interview, with a link to a download of their first EP, which I haven't had a chance to check out yet.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Well, I am having too much fun with all these new Blogger design goo-gaws, aren't I? Red-blood cells in the background! A new look everyday?!

Ralph Carney's having even more fun on his album "I Like You (A Lot)," which came out back in 1999 (yeah, I'm a bit slow sometimes). Carney is the carny calling you into his freak show of kazoos, xylophones, Tibetan bowls, drum machines, cheesy organs, Beefheartian guitar, harmonica, musical saw, strings, bamboo flute, pots 'n' pans percussion, and all manner of spazz-jazz horns.

Yep, he plays 'em all, producing a new adventure in every song: some tracks could be by The Residents if they were influenced by early jazz instead of Zappa. There's a "Pet Sounds" pastiche called "Brian The Beach Man," kinda-klezmer Middle-Easternisms, beat-box funk, free jazz skronk, a song
inspired by Miles Davis' psychedelic excursions, and the occasional vocal number sporting absurd dada-esque lyrics. Add a subtle sense of humor and fun, mix with technical virtuosity, serve hot.

Carney has been Tom Waits' right-hand man since the early '80s, contributing greatly to His Waitsness' transformation from '70s singer-songwriter to experimental oddball. But he also has played with Chris Butler in Tin Huey, has appeared on records by The B52s, David Thomas of Pere Ubu, Allen Ginsberg & William Burroughs, and even more sedate acts like country/folk singer Victoria WIlliams.

Ralph Carney "Fun House" - Not the Stooges' song, this is a delirious carnival ride
Ralph Carney "Hawaiian Eye" - Because I'm feeling summery: some exotica for kazoos, autoharp, cowbells and jews-harp.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Here's a collection of '60s surf rock by black artists, more recent reggae songs about surfing, a tongue-in-cheek '80 New Wave song (the Bus Boys) and some mashups pitting black singers against surf instrumentals. And one rap song.

The Black Surfing Association has only a handful of members now - during the '60s surf music craze, there were no doubt even fewer black surfers, especially in the days of segregated beaches. So why would black musicians make surf music? For money of course. As with the "Surfin With Bo Diddley" album I posted a few days ago, record companies were looking to jump on any profitable trend. The reggae songs, tho, might be more of a sincere nod to their large surfer fan base. Ernest Ranglin's song "Reminiscing" is indeed reminiscent of the '60s classic "Theme From Endless Summer" by the Sandals.

All these tunes are high-energy summer fun, but some work better then others. The Isley Brothers' "Surf and Shout" and Chubby Checker's "Let's Surf Again" merely re-write old hits. And Diana Ross and The Supremes' "Surfer Boy" is really unbelievable - can you imagine Miss Thing on a dirty beach in those gowns? With that hair? Surfer, please!

Soul Surfin'

- Let's Go to the Beach 2:06 Sanford and the Sandies
- Surf Party 2:26 Chubby Checker
- Surf and shout 2:28 Isley Brothers
- Summertime Is Surfin Time 2:09 Surf Bunnies
- What'd The Bulldog Say 3:10 Zoom (Ray Charles vs The Ventures)
- Surfer Boy 2:26 The Supremes
- Soul Surfing 3:34 The Bus Boys
- Surfbusters 2:58 G3RSt (Ray Parker Jr vs The Tornadoes)
- Wipeout Taffy 3:29 Party Ben (The Surfaris vs D4L)
- (We're Gone) Surfin' 2:05 Chubby Checker
- I Like Nitro 2:39 JetSetAlex (Reel2Reel vs Dick Dale)
- Surfin' 4:57 Israel Vibration
- Mama Nature 4:30 Pato Baton
- California Girls (Crenshaw Blvd. Mix - Extended Remix) 6:11 The Cally Boys
- Surf Trick 2:10 RIAA (Kelis vs The Phantom Surfers)
- Dizz And The Boyz Getz To The Beach 2:42 MadMixMustang (Dizzy Gillespie vs Beach Boys)
- Reminiscing 4:38 Ernest Ranglin
- Let's Surf Again 2:08 Chubby Checker

There actually have been a couple hip-hop/surf cross-over hits (not included here cuz you can get 'em anywhere). The Black Eyed Peas "Pump It" takes a page from the MC Hammer hack songcraft playbook: 1) take the most obvious cliche song (Dick Dale's "Miserlou" in this case) 2) don't sample it so much as take pretty much the whole song 3) put a beat over it 4) shout a catch phrase over the music. Witless, but hey, it
is "Miserlou," hard to ruin that one, so if I have to listen to Top 40, I'll take it. And in the '80s the Fat Boy's remade "Wipeout." The lovable lard-asses hooked up with the unloveable Mike Love's pseudo-Beach Boys to produce not only a jaw-droppingly kitschy video but a Top 40 hit.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010


UPDATE 6/10/10: Corrupted track 4 has been replaced; album re-upped.
Obviously, this is not surf music. It's barely even Bo Diddley - apparently he's only on four of the songs. So what is this? Southern-fried r'n'b deceptively packaged to cash in on the '60s surf craze. I guess the scam would work if you had no idea that Diddley was a black guy from the middle of the country, nowhere near any oceans (not that it's impossible for black folks to surf, but it was mighty rare in the early '60s.) But considering that Bo was one of the biggest rock'n'roll stars of his day, that's not too likely.

The other songs were by one Bill Riley, who may or may not be Sun Records rockabilly wildman Billie Lee Riley, tho these instrumentals don't sound anything like Billie Lee's stuff.

At least they are mostly guitar instrumentals, with the psuedo-Hawaiian nonsense vocals of "Surfer's Love Call" hinting at exotica. A real curiosity, and a sought-after collector's item.

Surfin' With Bo Diddley

1. What Did I Say
2. White Silver Sands
3. Surfboard Cha Cha
4. Surf Sink or Swim
5. Piggy Back Surfers
6. Surfers Love Call
7. Twisting Waves
8. Wishy Washy
9. Hucklebuck
10. Old Man River
11. Oops He Slipped

Friday, June 04, 2010


Just for you lucky Maniacs! Here's an exclusive collection of rare, obscure novelty songs and kooky instrumentals, thanks to DJ Useo, podcast host, and the compiler of the "It Is To Laff!" comedy mashup collections.

For you Dr Demento fans, the more juvenile/tasteless (not that there's anything wrong with that) songs are early on, giving way to cartoonish instros, dada weirdness, and satire (e.g.: the spot-on easy-listening yuppie spoof "Are You Middle-Class Enough?") Full of surprises, and, yep, fun stuff indeed.

Mega-thanks to DJ Useo!