Wednesday, April 27, 2011

VINYL-PALOOZA #9: The Wisdom of Solomon

In 1989, Solomon Solo, a native of Ghana, Africa now living in Los Angeles, spent what must have been a big chunk of change to hire a large crew of slick session musicians for his vanity album "The Wisdom of Solomon." He did not, however, hire any singers. And that's what lifts this album from competent-but-uninteresting private press release to outsider gold. All the songs are Solo's originals, a blend of American-style r'n'b with some African influences, and if anyone else sang 'em, even with Solo's idiosyncratic lyrics, they still probably would have been fairly ordinary.

The opening track is harmless enough, but then we get the songs that feature Solo's high, thin-to-screechy and

frequently off-pitch singing that is nevertheless full of sincerity and passion - he means these songs. And some of the songwriting actually is catchy - the title song has a pretty interesting West African feel to it, and I get "White Doves of Seville" (my favorite track) stuck in my head for days, even if Solos' voice causes me to occasionally wince.

And I like his quote on the back cover: "To understand proverbs and parables is to have wisdom and understanding." have understanding is to have understanding..?

Monday, April 25, 2011

VINYL-PALOOZA #8: The Occult Organ of Jimmy Rhodes

Late at night, when it's all quiet, the lights are low, cocktail in hand, nothing hits the spot like old organ records - cool, creepy, atmospheric...wistfully nostalgic and romantic, but with a darkness. Best played low in the background. Aaah...

This album sounds like the way it's '40s-ish noir album cover looks, only it was recorded in the late '60s/early '70s. Mr. Rhodes was clearly way out of step with the psychedelic generation, which isn't too surprising: according to his bio (the only thing on the 'net I could find about the guy) he went on to play with Lawrence Welk and made Christian records with his wife.

Jimmy Rhodes "My Best To You"

01 My Best To Y
02 Around The W
03 Moritat (Mack The Knife)
04 Beyond The Reef-Hawaiian Wedding Song
05 Lies-The Glory Of
06 Alley Cat
07 The Blue Skirt Waltz-The River Seine
08 Miss You
09 Til Tomorrow-Goodnight My Someone
10 The 3rd Man Theme
11 Do You Ever Think Of Me-You Were Meant For Me
12 Avalon-The Sheik Of Araby
13 Que Sera Sera
14 The Portuguese Washerwoman

I featured other occult organs on my "Strange Interludes" collection.
This has been another fine windbag contribution.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

M4M Returns To Radio Misterioso

I'm back guest dj-ing for another two hours of audio oddities on Greg "Spacebrother" Bishop's Radio Misterioso this Sunday, April 24, 8-10 pm Pacific Standard Time, on Maybe it'll be archived, maybe not, so ya gotta listen, awright?

Friday, April 22, 2011

VINYL-PALOOZA #7: Music For Tree-Huggers

If you like trees - I mean, if you really like trees - well, today's your lucky day: here's an entire album's worth of songs about our leafy, barky buddies, courtesy of the US Dept. of Agriculture. Your tax dollars at work! Released in connection with the Bicentennial in 1976 (not sure what the connection is there, but, oh well) folkie Ray Schmitt and the Free State String Band play original, painfully earnest songs with lines like "Have you ever seen a tree cry? Well I did/Have you ever heard it sigh? well, I did." Beavis and Butthead's hippie teacher Mr. Van Dreesen probably has this album. On 8 track.

Just as I was starting to zone out from all the mellow vibes, along comes the song "Just A Tree," a kind of funky jazz rap song about all the things we make out of trees, with multiple vocalists, including children. Cool! And "Imagine," (not the John Lennon song) is really cool - a psychedelic jazz trip-out, with Yma Sumac-ish soaring female vocals. Imagine...Alice Coltrane making
public service announcements. I guess they ran out of ideas for more tree songs because the last two tracks are wild bluegrass instrumental jamz, played so fast I thought I had the turntable on the wrong speed. Can't blame 'em for the filler tho - I mean, how many songs about trees can one write?

 Ray Schmitt and the Free State String Band "A Forest Is..."

Schmitt is still around, mostly making documentary films, but he has a few CDs for sale as well on his site. Since we just had Earth Day, and Arbor Day is coming up (hey, remember Arbor Day?) if there was ever a time to listen to an album like this, this would be it.

Thanks again, windbag!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

VINYL-PALOOZA #6: Golden Half 2

Continuing our month-long project of only posting old records previously unshared in blog-land, let's remember Japan's pre-tsunami better days. This early '70s girl-group release is full of upbeat, hap-hap-happy songs, and slick bubblegum production. These gals were probably picked more for how they looked in swimsuits then for their singing abilities - their vocals are okay, they don't harmonize, just all sing in unison. But they're cute, so who cares! And they cover the Partridge Family's "I Think I Love You" and "Proud Mary," sing in both English and Japanese, go Hawaiian and Latin, and cover an absolutely killer Lee Hazelwood song called "Movin'" that I've never encountered anywhere else. Seriously, If any of y'all can tell me anything else about this giddy gem of bubblegum Moog a-go-go, I'd be much obliged. I've looked up all of Hazelwood's albums on Amazon and can't find it on any of 'em. Maybe he wrote it for another singer? My Google-fu skills have let me down this time.

Golden Half 2

1 Movin'
2 Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling
3 Blossom Lady

4 Proud Mary
5 Mammy Blue
6 Hey! Kapten Fahr Nach Hawaii

7 Chottoa Matte Kudasai
8 I Think I Love You
9 Hey Jude
10 Rose Garden

11 Buttons and Bows
12 Mambo Bacan

Saturday, April 16, 2011

VINYL-PALOOZA #5: Slaughter on Central Avenue!!

As a companion to the collection I posted a couple of days ago, "Hollywood Stomp," here's another album of old recordings dealing with Los Angeles, but this time it's every song I could find that mentions L.A.'s Central Ave scene, either by title or in the lyrics. These jazz and/or blues tunes are primarily from the 1940s-early '50s, and swing and rock like crazy, dad, crazy. The vocal numbers often feature humorous hep-cat lyrics, and the instrumentals are smokin', e.g.: the absolutely berserk piano on the Lionel Hampton cut.

Many of the Central Ave all-stars are present and accounted for here, from a pre-crooner Nat King Cole in his earlier role as piano instrumentalist, to proto-rocker Big Joe Turner, of "Shake Rattle & Roll" fame. The madcap Slim Gaillard (also featured on "Hollywood Stomp") drops by to pay tribute, as well.

The Ave. is a pretty ordinary-to-dodgy place now, but you can still visit the Dunbar Hotel (pictured) where visiting royalty like Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington stayed when they were in town. And you can hit the annual Central Ave Jazz Festival.

Johnny Moore & The
Three Blazers featuring Billy Valentine - L.A. Blues
Slim Gaillard And His Boogiereeneers - Central Avenue Boogie
Pee Wee Crayton - Central Ave Blues
Nat King Cole - Central Avenue Boogie
Crown Prince Waterford - L.A. Blues
Pete Johnson - Central Avenue Drag
Big Joe Turner - Blues On Central Avenue
Lionel Hampton - Central Avenue Breakdown
Private Cecil Gant - Midnight on Central Ave
Herbie Haymer Quintet - Swinging On Central
R. Green & Turner - Central Avenue Blues
Dee Williams Sextette - Central Avenue Hop
Edward "The Great" Gates - Central Rocks

Thursday, April 14, 2011

VINYL-PALOOZA #4: Hollywood Stomp - Los Angeles in Song 1920s - 1940s

While still sticking to my plan of only posting records this whole month (nothing taken from digital sources) I admit I got things a little wrong - today's post comes from 78s, and they're made out of shellac, not vinyl. Oh, whatever, this is all utterly wonderful music no matter what it's made out of, all from the first half of the history of audio recordings. And all the songs are about Los Angeles, in some way. Interesting that the name "Los Angeles" is almost never used - "Hollywood" and "California" were the magic words, apparently.
There's a real warm, uplifting, and, dare I say, glamorous feel to these tunes, some of which are also very funny and/or a bit odd. Click on the artist name for info on them, if any.

Al Jolson - California, Here I Come

Freddie Quintette Simmons - Hollywood Bound (this and Spivey's tune are some low-down bluesy jazz)

Victoria Spivey - Hollywood Stomp
Spike Jones - It Never Rains In Sunny California (Spike's novelties were so imaginative, they were practically avant-garde.)

Felix Figueroa & His Orchestra - Pico and Sepulveda (Yep, the classic that Dr Demento played on his show for years is still the most perfectly strange and fun
ny record one could hope to hear.)

Joe Raymond and His Orchestra - Hollywood
Robert Clarey - Hollywood Bowl (This Frenchman survived the Nazis, and went on to star in "Hogan's Heroes"!)
Russ Morgan - California Orange Blossom
Cleo Brown - When Hollywood Goes Black and Tan

Slim Gaillard - Santa Monica Jump

Kay Kyser - When Veronica Plays the Harmonica ("...on the pier at Santa Monica..." Some of the most ludicrously silly hep-cat lyrics EVER h
ere; oh, and Kyser was the male band leader - the female singer is Gloria Wood)

Earl Burtnett & His Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel Orchestra - If I Had A Talking Picture Of You (The Biltmore Hotel still stands in the heart of Downtown LA, and is quite the ornate, opulant pleasure palace.)

Collins and Harlan - Those Charlie Chaplin Feet
Roy Rogers - San Fernando Valley (this singing cowboy really d
id live in the Valley, not far from where I grew up)

Hoosier Hot Shots - Avalon (These guys were almost as screwy as Spike Jones)

Modernaires - Santa Catalina (Island of Romance) (This vocal group is backed by Glen Miller's big band.)

Deanna Durbin & Robert Paige - Californ-I-Ay (lyrics as nutty as it gets)
(artist unknown) - HollyWood Polka

Dorothy Shay (The "Park Avenue Hillbilly") - I've Been To Hollywood

Benny Goodman Orch. - Hooray For Hollywood (You know the tune, but check out the rather sardonic lyrics HERE.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

VINYL-PALOOZA #3: The Complete Cockatiel Training Album

As we continue our all-month thrift-store record binge......Today's album was supposed to be played for your pet bird. It would listen to the repetitious tracks and start to imitate them, whistling and talking just like the record. Side one is nothing but unaccompanied whistling of short song fragments, repeated for three minutes apiece. Side two is great if you want your bird to talk like a bored, unimaginative phone-sex operator. The most annoying album ever made??!?!?!?

Actually, the whistling is well done - it is, after all, by Muzzy Marcellino, one of the biggest whistling stars of his day, back when there was such a thing as a "whistling star." The guy even did the bird calls at Disneyland's "Enchanted Tiki Room."

Did anyone ever buy one of these records for the purpose for which it was created, and not just as a source of goofy samples? Do they actually work?

The Complete Cockatiel Training Album

    Whistled Tunes
  • Pop Goes the Weasel
  • Charge - Wolf Whistle
  • Dixie
  • Star Spangled Banner
  • Oh Susanna
  • Race Track Call
  • Beautiful Dreamer

  • Spoken Word
  • Hello Baby
  • I Love You
  • Hello Baby, I Love You
  • Hey, Good Lookin’
  • Want to Play With Me?
  • Hey, Good Lookin’, Want to Play With Me?
  • Hey, Good Lookin’, I Love You, Want to Play With Me?
Thanks to windbag!

Friday, April 08, 2011

VINYL-PALOOZA #2: '60s Guatemalan Garage/Psych

Mid-to-late '60s garage/psychedelic rock seems to be some of the most expensive collectors items out there in record-land, and the more obscure, the better. Well, see how many boxes this one checks: it's so obscure, there's no mention of it anywhere on-line that I can find, it's so obscure it's from, of all places, Guatemala. You got yer heavy fuzzed-out guitar, you got yer wah-wah action, you got yer sleazy organ, and you got yer original songs (no Stones retreads here), and most importantly, you got good songs. Some great songs, actually, with a heavy surf influence - a bit late for surfing in 1969 (or thereabouts) but, hey, they're not as trendy as los norte Americanos down there in Central America. If this can't make collectors cream their jeans, I don't know what can.

Side one kicks things off with a massive fuzz-fest that is virtually a one-chord

song, allowing Armando de Leon
Flores a chance to go to town on his guitarra. The cheesy organ on the second song practically takes things into Herb Albert territory (which is fine by me), and only by the third track do we finally get some vocals, and what fine harmonies they are. The 4th song is fast and frantic, but with a definite Latin feel to the melody, distinguishing it from the usual "Louie Louie" clones. "Luna de Xelaju" is an atmospheric waltz-to-rocker with evocative tremoloed guitar, and "Genesis" is another upbeat instro.
Plenty of awesomeness right there, but the medley that takes up all of side two completely shreds - from the standards "Telstar" and "Penetration" to scads of unknown (to my gringo ears) Latin American gems, The Electronic Fountains deliver as perfect an 18 minute set of garage/psych/Latin/surf as one could hope for. Whatever the tune is that starts at around 10:30 (EDIT: actually, I meant the tune that goes from 13:30-15:00), it's now one of my favorite songs. What more could one ask for? Better sound quality, I suppose - the vinyl's worn. But you're never gonna find a copy of it. Bidding starts at..?


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

VINYL-PALOOZA #1: Space Age Lounge Pop A-go-go!!

It's Vinyl Month here at M4M. Yep, in an attempt to pick up the slack after technical difficulties have kept me from posting much here lately, I'm gonna go thru my 12 inch black round thingies and spend the month featuring some weird old records of drool-worthy obscurity, lovingly hand-ripped from crusty old vinyl on to my new computer (Umm...tell me if the new recording software sounds ok, ok?) Record Store Day is coming up, after all.

We post all kinds of music here, but one thing we can all agree on is the grooviness of '60s Space Age/lounge/ pop. Albums of this sort have been some of the most downloaded 'round these parts, and this one has it all: futuristic Perrey/Kingsley-like keyboards, discotheque dance energy, Roger Roger-esque wackiness, lounge jazz, Latin rhythms, and sample-able funk grooves. It was released by the British library label Studio 1, who had ties to a German company, and I do notice some rather Teutonic-looking names in the writing credits. Otherwise, there's nothing else I've been able to find out about these most talented chaps.