Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mark Mothersbaugh of DEVO's Mutated Christmas Album

This 1999 collection of eccentric electronic instrumental Christmas music by Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh doesn't sound much like Devo, or, for that matter, Christmas music. It does sound really nice, tho. As the song titles indicate, the tunes suggest famous Xmas carols, and sometimes just barely at that, e.g.: the cartoonish "Midnight Windup Toy". And isn't "Soylent Night" the greatest title?

Mark Mothersbaugh - Joyeux Mutato

01 Jingle$, Jingle$, Jingle$
02 Blue Joy
03 Midnight Wind-Up Toy
04 Bell Boy
05 Happy Woodchopper
06 Only 12 Shopping Days Left
07 Peace And Goodwill
08 Enough Xmas For All
09 You Better Watch Out...
10 Let There Be Snow
11 I Don't Have A Christmas Tree (Soylent Night)
BONUS: Devo - Merry Something To You [a barely minute long jingle from a 2010 Warner Bros xmas comp]

I was reminded of this album after li'l bro Paul Fab told me about the big ol' Mark Mothersbaugh exhibit he saw recently at the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art. (That's Paul at the exhibit, above.) It's a career retrospective of Devo memorabilia and Mothersbaugh's prodigious visual art output. Check the short (exclusive! not on YouTube!) video below Paul shot of some crazy contraptions: "I believe he calls them Orchestrions. It's a gallery (his kooky rugs on one wall) with four Orchestrions which all play together. They're mostly old organ pipes, but also many bird calls, whistles, metal bells and other noisy things. They're cobbled together with visible electric (and barely electronic) controls all left out and taped into whatever position they're supposed to be in. Every 5 minutes they start playing. What a cool sound."

Damn! Can't wait to see it. Once it finishes its Denver run, the exhibit will be on tour for a couple years. (I did quite like Mark's "Beautiful Mutants" gallery show in 2009.) Thanks to Paul for the pic and vid.

Friday, December 12, 2014

"Christmas Memories Played on Antique Musical Boxes"

Victorian-era robots! Plinkety-plonkety music not played by human hands!

If the phrase "music box" conjures up images of that tchotchke in your grandma's living room with a ballerina twirling around on top as "Moon River" plays, you may be surprised to hear how lush and orchestrated these beauties sound. We don't know exactly what singers and musicians of the pre-recording era sounded like, but as these big boxes, sporting such impressive names as the 'Symphonium,' were actually found in household parlors of the late 1800s, listening to them is a bit of a time machine into them long gone days before radio, records, or the internet provided in-home musical entertainment, and song titles all started with "O."

The tunes featured on this 1977 release are short, sometimes under a minute, so for the big hits like "Silent Night," they wind 'em up and play the song two or three times in a row. And if you hate Christmas music, there's plenty of unfamiliar songs here that don't feel especially seasonal and could feed your mechanical-music jones all year 'round.

Christmas Memories Played on Antique Musical Boxes

1. O Tannenbaum
2. O Sanctissima
3. Silent Night
4. Among Shepherds-The Holy City-Every Year Anew
5. O Come Little Children
6. O Tannenbaum
7. O Come Little Children
8. See the Conquering Hero
9. Cloister Bells-Ave Maria
10. O Come All Ye Faithful
11. Monastery Bells 

Another vinyl gem unearthed by this blog's ol' pal Brer Windbag. And if you're looking for some appropriate Victorian-era literature to read whilst listening to this, how 'bout this 1882 book of children's short stories that usually feature the children dying. Features the feel-bad classic, "The New Mother":

"Anyhow Stories"

O come little children, indeed. "The Imitation Fish" is another cherished tale to make your kids miserable. And who wants to set "The Paper Ship" to music?
Thanks to Count Otto, and Windy!

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Krazy Krustmas Kollections

I don't usually post things I haven't listened to, but by the time I have the opportunity to check these recent presents that Santa dropped into my in-box, these seasonal sounds will be out of season.

This blog hasn't been very active lately, and one reason is technical - the official M4M computer hasn't been feeling well (I'm writing this on Mrs. Fab's borrowed laptop). So I'm entrusting you-all to listen and review in the comments these enticing krazy krampus kollections:

"Wild Xmas With Bomarr Vol. 9" - Bomarr's been making these superb collections for years, and, as he writes: "I swear these mixes get weirder and weirder every year." He compiled this "after hours and hours of digging deep" and I'd believe it - I haven't heard of any of these artists. 

Cat A Wallers' Xmas Mixes is a new site, a work in progress, but already has a couple of things up, inc. a not-safe-for-work "Rude-Ass Christmas Mix," so that's gotta be good.

While I still had a functional office, I was able to re-up by request:

A Steelband Calypso Christmas

Rockin' Disco Santa Claus

Brave Combo - "Christmas In July"

Bah Humbug - The Alternative Christmas Album

Tuesday, December 02, 2014


Zoogz Toozday returns with some re-up requests: the sick punk/jazz/prog of Zoogz Rifts' "Amputees In Limbo," "Island of Living Puke," and "Torment" are all back on-line. And if that still isn't enough scatological humor for ya, plug your nose and dive into this:


courtesy of reader Duke Kola, who sounds like a pretty cool grandpa. He writes: "I made this mix (with a couple of changes) a few years back for my pre-teen grandson. Never fails to bring a few smiles to my face regardless of how many times I listen."

Now this may seem like a somewhat dubious concept for a mix, but if you're gonna sing about such stuff, you've got to have: a) a sense of humor, and b) a lack of inhibitions, both of which are sterling qualities for an artist to possess. Not to mention the fact that you've pretty much thrown all commercial potential and radio play hopes out the window once you've gone down this path, another admirable move. And this is indeed a very entertaining listen, more so than I was expecting. 

I personally would have added the Bonzo Dog Band's "The Strain," but I'm sure we all have our favorites.

01. Amsterdam Dog Shit Blues - Mojo Nixon
02. Caca De Vaca - Joe 'King' Carrasco
03. Snake Bit and Can't Shit - Root Boy Slim
04. Constipation Blues - Screamin' Jay Hawkins
05. Somebody Just Poop - Goofy
06. Somebody Farted - Bobby Jimmy
07. Fart - Breetles
08. I Can't Stop Farting - The Queers
09. Old Fart At Play - Captain Beefheart
10. The Phantom Windbreaker - Red Bovine
11. Pissin' In The Wind - Ernie Payne
12. Pissin' On Your Steps - Del the Funky Homosapien
13. Wee Wee - Abner Jay
14. Piss On the Wall - J. Geils Band
15. Urine Your Out - Prehistoric Cavemen
16. The Thing From Uranus - Sloppy Seconds
17. Shit Don't Stink - TMA
18. Shit For Brains - Nervous Eaters
19. Bag of Shit - Sean Price
20. Shit Can Happen - D12
21. Shaving Cream - Byron Lee
22. Disco Defecation - Flash Bouyancy
23. The Slurf Song - Holy Modal Rounders
24. When the Shit Hits the Fan - Circle Jerks
25. Piece of Crap - Neil Young
26. My Shit's Fucked Up - Warren Zevon
27. Why Does It Hurt When I Pee - Pancho and Sancho
28. I Ain't Gonna Piss in No Jar - Mojo Nixon
29. Don't Eat the Yellow Snow - Frank Zappa

Thanks a heap, Duke!

Monday, November 24, 2014


If the GlassDuo album I posted last week had you hungering for more musical wine glasses...

My review of the first Musical Betts album posted here three years ago also applies to this one: "The Musical Betts were a husband-and-wife duo who played (mostly) instrumental versions of gospel songs on such instruments as cowbells, marimba, musical saw, slide guitar, and sleigh bells. And vibraharp, which I think is like a vibraphone. Really cool stuff, but alas I know nuthin' about 'em...It's a bit odd hearing melodies played on instruments like cowbells performed not as Spike Jones-like comedic music, but in a stately, emotional manner."

Well, that was easy. I have nothing further to add except that we know a little (very little) bit more about these two, thanks to this album's liner notes: Mrs. Betts was a "college teacher" in Michigan before she met Rev. Clarence, but we don't even learn her first name! Also, this album's volume level has to be one of the lowest ever. Nice relaxing music for when that tryptophan kicks in.

The Musical Betts "The Golden Bells"

UPDATE: reader Richard L. writes "The low level may be result of a very astute engineer.  The bells have an incredible amount of very high frequency (even ultrasonic) sound levels.  Early analog audio equipment could not handle this at normal levels resulting in a lot of audible artifacts (partial erasure of the tape, thumps, and distortion).  Also, the VU meters would not respond to the quick attack of the bell clapper hits.  This is the sad voice of experience speaking.  One solution was to run everything at -10 dB to get more transient headroom."

Thursday, November 20, 2014


For newcomers looking for a crash course, or vets who want to relive old favorites, check out the now-archived 3 hour Music For Maniacs special on WFMU's Bodego Pop, a look back at ten years of blogging. On to the next decade!

My fave new discovery was recently sent to us by Australia's sound collage superstar Buttress O'Kneel, who co-recorded this in 2000/2001 with Panthera Leo (who is now the mother of the kid in Stinky Picnic) and is finally letting it out of the can. The Fruiting Body used no guitars, no keyboards, no drums...heck, no instruments of any kind. Check the ingredients for one song: 

2 rubber bands, plucked 
1 retractable ball point pen, clicking 
2 Bessemer saucepan lids, ringing 
1 elephant, thumping 
1 elephant, spraying 
1 elephant, rumbling 
1 extremely low sine wave

Sample, loop, and serve. Could have been a gimmicky novelty, or a dry piece of conceptual art, but it's really just good music. I started listening out of curiosity (what does a radar, owl, and air raid siren sound like mixed?) but ended up being quite struck by both the technical ingenuity and the musical qualities. The song "Eel Race Road" is freakin' epic. Free/name-your-price download here:

The Fruiting Body: "Nudibranch and the Moondew" (click on 'lyrics' to get each track's ingredients)

This album reminded me of the early days of sampling, when the idea of finally being able to make music out of everyday sounds was an exciting new one, e.g.: Bernie Krause' 1988 all-animal-fx classic "Gorillas In the Mix." But sampling existing musics (and tv, radio, etc) as a way to deal with our 'media environment' quickly took precedent, Ms. O'Kneel being one of it's foremost proponents (she claims that the events of 9/11 also pushed her into that direction.)  And there's also the fact that it is simply easier to make music with music then with hairdryers and trains. Still, there's a lot of potential for this approach. Back in 2005 we wrote about Matthew Herbert's yummy album that used only food sounds. It is now available to listen/purchase:

Matthew Herbert "Plat du Jour" (song notes HERE.)

The notes point put that the first song uses, among other sounds "chickens being killed for a local farmers' market and its feathers washed and plucked." Oh man, now I'm hungry. Who's up for some KFC?! 

Sunday, November 16, 2014


I am quite delighted to announce that the crucial WFMU show "Bodega Pop" will devote all three hours of its weekly programming to this here web-log as our 10th anniversary festivities continue. This Wednesday 7:00PM Eastern time on Woof-Moo's "Give The Drummer Some" stream (not the over-the-air broadcast) the party commences. Your host-with-the-most Gary Sullivan helms a blog also called "Bodega Pop", and its tales of international music-collecting derring-do fills me with insane envy. Damn, this guy's got a great collection. And now, my latest Bandcamp discovery:

AllMusic said about today's album: "In the running for strangest novelty item of the year [2007], A Drop in the Glass is nevertheless an impressive display of musicality." Indeed. GlassDuo from Poland have constructed what they claim is the world's largest wine glass instrument, some 57 pieces strong.  Yes, wine glasses. You know how you can wet your finger and rub it along the rim of the glass to produce a musical, if somewhat squeaky, tone? Well, these two have taken this old idea to a virtuoso level. Mussorgsky's "Pictures At An Exhibition" is one of those classical war-horses that I'd never really given much thought to, but that was before I heard the familiar opening "Promenade" performed on something I am now drinking out of.

Other highlights: Chopin's "Prelude" (tho I prefer Serge Gainsbourg's remake "Jane B"), the clanging of metal percussion (a trash can, perhaps?) halfway into "Great Gate of Kiev", and the medley of hits from Grieg's proto-goth "Peer Gynt." After a while you may forget the unusual methods used to produce these sounds, and just listen to it for it's musical merits. It's available for purchase, or listen to the free stream:

GlassDuo: "A Drop In The Glass"

An mp3 for ya: 

GlassDuo: "In The Hall of the Mountain King" (excerpt from track 10)

I'm finally listening to some proper classical music. My mother will be so proud.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


This blog is now 10 years old. And amidst all the media hype, the presidential pronouncements, and the parades, one lovely maniacs actually sent me an email headed: "I love Filthy Fridays and want to give you money." Well... okay! Hadn't thought about it before, but if someone wants to click on the new PayPal button to your right, that's up to you. We all celebrate in our own ways. And this is how I celebrate: by continuing our series of weekend-starters from the mid-century Golden Age of Sleaze. 

What to read/look at whilst listening to these instrumentals? Why, take a gander at the gams on this website (makes wolf whistle): "Decedent History," a site of particular interest to those in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, but any dedicated sleaze-ologist worth his/her weight in tassels should find it fascinatingly filthy fun.

Listening to a burlesque show?! Who'd want to do that? Well, for starters, the millions who bought David Rose's bump-n-grind big band instrumental, "The Stripper," a record that went to #1 on the American charts in 1962. Which of course, lead to records released designed to cash in on Rose's success, inc. 2 albums by Rose himself, "The Stripper," and "More! More! More! of the Stripper," both of which are in print.

So yes, one of today's albums does indeed include a cover of "The Stripper," but these records weren't just cash-ins. "Bald" Bill Hagan & His Trocaderons were an actual burlesque show band that performed at Philadelphia's still extant Trocadera Theater, tho nowadays it's a concert venue. The music is mostly the kind of Dixieland jazz played as a slow grind that typifies burlesque music, but also dips into rock'n'roll ("The G-String Twist"), and psuedo-Middle Eastern belly-dance exotica ("Erotic Fantasy" is a version of that exotic antiquity "Song of India"), another common style found wherever 'torso tossers' were found strutting down 'varicose alley' (aka: the runway.) And compared to Rose's studio slickness, these fun records sound a little more raw and loose - probably closer to what it actually sounded like at joints like the "Troc".  The recording dates would seem to put these at the tail-end of the original burly-q era.

Both albums recorded from vinyl. The first one starts off a bit scratchy, during the MC intro/phony applause effects, but improves. Va-va-voom!

Bald Bill Hagan And His Trocaderons - Music To Strip By (1966)

Bald Bill Hagan And His Trocaderons - Music For A Strip Tease Party (1967)

Music To Strip By:
A1A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody
A2Bumps And Grinds
A3Frankie And Johnny
A4G-String Twist
A6Night Train
B1The Stripper
B2Party Time
B3Bedroom Blues
B4Second Honeymoon
B5Girdles Aweigh
B6My Heart Belongs To Daddy
 Music For A Strip Tease Party:
A1I'm In The Mood For Love
A2Stripper's Delight
A3Erotic Fantasy
A4C Cup Blues
A5Vampin' And Campin'
B1A Good Man Is Hard To Find
B3Koochie Galore
B4Cha Bump
B5Makin' Whoopee

Monday, November 10, 2014

Your Dead Pet Sings To You

Oh, so horrible, so can this be real?! I just discovered this on craigslist whilst looking for something else entirely. From reading the below description, you know this is all kinds of wrong, but the reality is even worse than you can imagine. 

A touching memory from your beloved little friend you miss can always be as close to you as your computer.
In our Pet Memorial Photovids,,,the pet photo that you send us will be animated to sing our original song,,,"When You Think Of Me,,,Smile !". Yes,,,your own pet will sing to you.

You may order a song-only version,,,or you can choose to order a Customized Memorial photovid for which I invite you to compose a brief script of dialogue that you want your beloved little friend to say in their video.
I will help you with the script as much as you want me to.

IN this example for you,,,,this video is a customized Memorial with added dialogue that I produced for a client. A customized version like this featuring your own script thast your pet would perform is $60.00. A song-only version with the pet just singing the song is $30.00.
This is the song your pet would sing,,,and your Memorial Photovid would be similar to this video: 

The song is acapella - let the mashups begin!

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Buy This Box or We'll Shoot This Dog: The Best Of The National Lampoon Radio Hour (3 Disks)

By request, "Night of the Living Monster Mash-up" is back up. 

I had a fine time when I recently spoke with M4M contributor James "DJ See" Carroll of Orange County, CA's KUCI on his "Radio Chimichanga" show. Mr. Carroll's most recent gift to us is this amazing document: 3 disks of audio shenanigans from the highly influential 1970s humor magazine. The radio show lasted from 1973 to 1975, when key members jumped ship to TV, joining the first cast of "Saturday Night Live." And indeed, there are some first-draft versions of future "SNL" skits here (not to mention the roots of "Spinal Tap"/"A Mighty Wind"). This collection features the amazing cast of Christopher GuestJohn BelushiGilda RadnerBill Murray, his brother Brian Doyle-MurrayChevy ChaseRichard Belzer, Joe Flaherty (hey, we just featured "Count Floyd" on the "TV Horror Hosts" post), Billy Crystal, Michael O'Donoghue, and others, all in the crude early garage-band stage of their developments. 

It's not all purely of historical interest tho - there's still some great stuff here, esp. the spot-on music parodies. And some of those parodies are by one Tony Scheuren, whose musical satire career was sadly cut short by an early death. Scheuren had been in the crappy late '60s Boston band Chameleon Church. I'd never heard of them, but found their album in a thrift store. Wondering who they were, I looked at the back cover and there was Chevy Chase looking at me. He was their drummer. So I bought it, but it is so wimpy and low-key it makes Donovan look death-metal. Scheuren was in another Boston band that wasn't very good (whose album I also discovered whilst thrifting), Ultimate Spinach. But at least they used some weird instruments.

The Best Of The National Lampoon Radio Hour [Disc 1]
The Best Of The National Lampoon Radio Hour [Disc 2]
The Best Of The National Lampoon Radio Hour [Disc 3]

Tracklist/artist info HERE.

Apart from his mighty contributions to this blog, James Carroll is also the man behind the Lamposts band, whose album "Adolt Cartoon" is available on Bandcamp. Lets take a listen, shall we?  "f14" is most excellent punkabilly. "I Hate Cops" isn't the hardcore you'd expect, more like a jazz band covering Led Zeps' "How Many More Times."  "Skull tattoo" is agreeably trippy, and first part of "the process of discrimination" is great if weird funk-rock, before it moves into mopey George Harrison territory. Check it:

Lamposts - Adolt Cartoon

Thanks and praise to DJ See Lamposts!

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Sicodelico Sounds of Peru's LOS HOLY'S

Seeing as how Latin America's Day of The Dead festivities begin today and go thru Nov. 2, now's the perfect time to rock out to these juvenile delinquents from, of all places, Lima, Peru. Trashy surf/garage sounds from the 1960s, all instrumental reverb and fuzz guitars and sleazy electric organ, with one song ("Holy's Psicodelicos") even featuring a theremin. "Campo De Vampiros" is the appropriate party-starter by these Dia de Los Muertos daddy-o's.  

I would be interested to know how Los Holy's (sic) fit into Peruvian culture of the time. Were they considered makers of no-good teen trash by the mainstream culture, but revered as cool cats by the kids?  Or was this stuff so foreign to their society that they were playing a kind of 'world music,' without any of the controversy that this kind of primitive rock created north of the border?

Los Holys "Sueno Sicodelico" (1967)

1. Campo De Vampiros
2. Sueno Sicodelico
3. Melodia Encantada
4. Reunion Psicodelica [a cover of the Markett's Space-Age surf classic "Out of Limits"]
5. Piedra De Doce Angulos
6. Hawaii Five-O
7. El Hombre Desnudo
8. Holy's Psicodelicos
9. The High Chaparral [cover of the '50s movie theme "Moulin Rouge"]
10. Psicodelico Desconocido  [cover of the Meters' funky soul groover "Sissy Strut"]
11. Spectro I
12. Choque De Vientos

(Muchas gracias to El Count Otto Negro!)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Groovy World Of Marcia Strassman

The recent news about the passing of actress Marcia Strassman payed little heed to her short, strange music career. She recorded a few singles in the late '60s, including one of my all-time fave examples of...what's a word for something that you know is awful, but love it just the same? Maybe there isn't one. (Let's invent one!) Whatever it is, that's what Strassman's "The Flower Children" is. This 1967 Uni records 45, one of those only-in-the-'60s odes to the counter-culture, was one of the last gasps of the big-hair, lushly produced girl-group sounds. Soon the flat-haired, acoustic guitar strumming singer-songwriters would take over. But not before Mrs. Kotter sang the hell out of this ridiculous number, redeeming it thru her passion and sincerity (and a great arrangement). It was a hit in California, if nowhere else.

The equally ludicrous follow-up, "The Groovy World of Jack and Jill," similarly has a swell pseudo-Phil Spector sound. And, really, I like all of her records (tho surprisingly, a  Kim Fowley production ["Stargazer"] is a bit of a dud.) How can you not like such choice lines as: "My toys are all dead, but my friend is here/nothing is wrong with me" (from the song "Self-Analysis").

Even more tragic than her early death from cancer - the fact that her frog-voiced "Welcome Back Kotter" co-star John Travolta was the one with the far more successful musical career. A great record like "The Flower Children" languishes in obscurity, while that execrable "Grease" soundtrack lives on. Won't someone please think of the children?!
Marcia Strassman - Singles (1967-68)

1. The Flower Children
2. Out Of The Picture
3. The Groovy World of Jack and Jill
3. The Flower Shop
4. Self-Analysis
5. Stargazer

This isn't a complete discography. I am missing one of her songs: "Flower Shop." Anyone, anyone..?  Mega-thanks to super-reader Holly for supplying not only the missing song, but higher-bitrate copies of the other songs AND the artwork!

Monday, October 27, 2014

The BAT Pack: A Halloween Mix

Rockin' soul, surf, lounge, jazz, comedy, novelties, outsider oddities, movie ads and dialogue clips...hey kids, it's a '50s/'60s lowbrow All Hallow's Eve! Inc. dusty vinyl corpses robbed from my tomb, er, record closet, that I attached electrodes to and ripped to mp3. Featuring such creatures as: Mort Garson on the Moog; schoolkids singing about stealing trick-or-treaters' candy bags; a song-poem called "Vampire Husband;" Lon Chaney Jr "singing" the theme to the classic cult film "Spider Baby;" a James Brown rip-off; visits to Japan (The Golden Cups) and France; two different songs called "Surfin' Hearse," and jazz drummer Philly Joe Jones doing a goofy Dracula bit inspired by Lenny Bruce. And then you've got Bobby Christian's infamous "The Spider and the Fly," described by Lenny "Nuggets" Kaye as the most demented record ever made. (And who am I to disagree?)

The BAT Pack

01 "Horror of the Zombies"
02 Guy Marks (as Bela) - Begin the Beguine
03 Lon Chaney - Song From Spider Baby 
04 "bloodbeast"
05 Bobby Christian and the Allen Sisters - The Spider and the Fly
06 Richard Rome - Ghost a go go
07 The Quads - Surfin' Hearse
08 Jan and Dean -Surfin' Hearse
09 "Lady Frankenstein"
10 Serge Gainsbourg - Docteur Jekyll & Mister Hyde
11 Helen O'Connell - Witchcraft
12 Bela LaGoldstein - Old Boris
13 the Ventures - Exploration in Terror
14 "Dr.Tarr's Torture Dungeon"
15 Arthur Prysock - (I Don't Stand) A Ghost of a Chance
16 Alvino Rey - The Bat
17 "Brain that Wouldn't Die"
18 Little Tibia and the Fibulas - The Mummy
19 Happy Monsters - Clap Your Tentacles
20 The Golden Cups - Spooky
21 Jack Marshall - The Teen-Age Surfing Vampire 
22 The Ramrods - (Ghost) Riders in the Sky
23 "Bloody Pit of Horror"
24 Nancy Dupree with Ghetto Reality students - Bag Snatchin'
25 Mort Garson as The Blobs - Son of Blob
26 Shelley Stuart & The Five Stars - Vampire Husband
27 Cre-shells - Dracula
28 "Frenzy of Blood"
29 Philly Joe Jones - Blues for Dracula
30 Guy Marks (as Boris) - Don't Take Your Love From Me

(FANGS a lot to Count Otto for a couple of these. Art by Shag.)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Singing TV Horror-Show Hosts

In 1953, the late Maila Nurmi aka Vampira invented that beloved American tradition, the TV horror host. Did other countries pick up on this concept? Low budget local stations filled their late night or weekend afternoon slots with crappy old movies, usually, but not always, of the monster variety. The shows were hosted by a smart aleck in a costume traipsing about a cobwebbed castle/ laboratory/etc set, interrupting the proceedings to make jokes, perform in skits, read letters from viewers, perhaps interact with other cast members/puppets, or, in the case of Cleveland's Ghoulardi, blow things up. And many of them made records: Vampira, her bastard offspring Elvira, John "The Cool Ghoul" Zacherle, and the lass featured below, who made one of the most perfect 45s ever.

This interview with the author of a new book about Vampira makes the case that Nurmi was the ultimate hip chick, a bad-ass beatnik who was just too hot for mainstream tv audiences to handle. After listening to the podcast (not too long, even at an hour's length), I rented "Vampira And Me," a documentary from last year based on interviews with Nurmi. The late '80s/early '90s L.A. band Satans' Pilgrims are featured. I'd long known about the records they made with Vampira, but didn't realize that most of the 'lyrics' were taken from found religious tracts. "Tribute to Elvis," however, is Nurmis' own recollections of her friendship with The King, one of many celebs entranced by her proto-goth beauty.

Why did so much insane music come out of Ohio in the '70s? David Thomas of Pere Ubu cites the influence of a popular Cleveland horror host. Ubu, The Dead Boys, Devo, the Cramps (especially The Cramps), etc. were the Ghoulardi generation, kids weened on Ernie Anderson's anarchic character who played wild garage rock records, and would blow up things with firecrackers on the air, much to the dismay of the station management. Oddly enough, my first-hand memory of Anderson is after he quit Ghoulardi to be the ABC network announcer - that was his leering voice announcing "The Loooove Boat." (Filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson is his son.)

The tradition lives on. Elvira's comeback show in 2011 was great, but short-lived, even with Jack White contributing a theme song, and even a brief on-air appearance.

Quoth Ghoulardi: "Stay sick!"

Horror Hosts - A MusicForManiacs Collection

01 Ghoulardi - "Intro"
02 Vampira - Genocide Utopia (with Satan's Cheerleaders)
03 John Zacherle - Dinner With Drac (the still-living/performing New York host made quite a few records; this was his most popular)
04 Tarantula Ghoul and the Gravediggers - Graveyard Rock (Portland's answer to Vampira was originally known as Tarantula Girl)
05 Bill Cardille - Chilly Billy's vamp (1971 Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater host)
06 Dr. Sarcofiguy - My Girlfriend Is On Fire (a few years ago we wrote about this contemporary cat)
07 Elvira - Zombie Stomp (from 1995)
08 Ghoulardi - "cool it with the boom booms"
09 Vampira - I'm Damned (with Satan's Cheerleaders)
10 Tarantula Ghoul - King Kong
11 John Zacherly - Monster Monkey
12 Count Floyd - Treat Her Like A Lady (parody of a '70s disco hit; the great Joe Flaherty playing the host of the fictional SCTV network's "Monster Chiller Horror Theater")
13 Ghoulardi - "acid "
14 John Zacherly - Come With Me to Transylvania
15 Elvira - Zombie Killer (with Leslie and the Lys)
16 Vampira - Tribute to Elvis (with Satan's Cheerleaders)
17 John Zacherly - Happy Halloween

"Screaming relaxes me so..."

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Roto Rooter Good Time Christmas Band

"Bernie Green plays More Than You Can Stand In Hi Fi" is back on line.

This cheerfully eccentric band of refugees from the UCLA jazz program made just this one  1974 album, perhaps never fully realizing their potential.  Their role models, Spike Jones and His City Slickers, and the Bonzo Dog Band, were only just getting warmed up on their first releases. Tho they suffer a bit from the "we're so wacky!!" affliction, but they get a pass, as there are far too few musical anarchists like this who have the chops to play jazz and classical but make the noble decision to throw away all artistic 'credibility' in the name of eclecticism and absurdist humor. And the Roto Rooters were def on the right track, showing a healthy irreverence towards classic rock ("Purple Haze") and classic classics ("The Sabre Dance"), covering campy oldies like Shirley Temple's "On The Good Ship Lollipop" and singing cowboy Roy Roger's signature sign-off song "Happy Trails." (Supposedly Van Halen got the idea to end their shows with "Happy Trails" from these guys.) For some reason folkie label Vanguard Records put this one out. Granted, they also released Perrey & Kingsley's Space Age Moog-sterpieces, but still, a strange choice, and perhaps no surprise that this album sold about 12 copies before dropping off the planet.  (My recently-purchased copy was still in the shrink-wrap!) 

 If we extend the definition of the pre-punk L.A. 'Freak Scene' beyond Zappa's immediate circle of outsiders and oddballs (Wild Man Fischer, Cap. Beefheart, The GTO's, etc). we'll find plenty of like-minded loonies that followed in their wake, inc. The Los Angeles Free Music Society, the art/music axis of Mike Kelley/Jim Shaw/Destroy All Monsters, radio host/music archivist Dr. Demento, The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, Zoogz Rift, the Rhino Records label, and these chaps. What the 'freaks' had in common was a rejection of the SanFran 'hippie' attitude, a love of old-timey musics, jazz /improvisation and avant-classical, and a whacked-out sense of humor. They may have liked some psych rock, but had no interest in being 'mellow', they were in-your-face cynical smart-asses. Raised on 'Mad' magazine, they were among the first to realize that the 20th century had already produced a huge slew of ignored pop-cultural waste - monster movies, thrift-store records, bad TV - just waiting to be creatively recycled. 'Avant-tarde,' decades before that phrase was coined. Jazz music had just died after the glorious supernova of electric Miles, H. Hancock, etc, and had quickly settled into it's current bland 'smooth-jazz' zombie-fied afterlife, rock had not yet experienced the punk Big Bang that would create a viable DIY culture, and the classical avant-garde was snugly tucked into it's academic ivory tower. There wasn't much 'alternative' culture at the time - you had to swim in the mainstream, or quickly sink into obscurity. And much of the above-mentioned stuff was indeed pretty obscure. Even the 'famous' names like Captain Beefheart never rose above the club/mid-size venue level, and certainly never came near the Top 40.

But there was one glimmer of independence - the afore-mentioned Dr. Demento show. A Sunday night radio show from LA specializing in comedy/novelty records that became a fixture on virtually every American FM rock station, "The Dr. Demento Show" was geared towards youngsters, and admittedly featured plenty of sophomoric yuks. But it was also a free-form free-wheeling forum for strange and forgotten sounds of any era or genre, from old 78s to unsolicited demos. Barry Hansen (Dr. D.) would actually listen to anything that hit his mailbox. The RRGCB sent in one such tape and became the first of his discoveries, quickly becoming the house band for the show. Their version of a Dr. D. hit, the great Big Band oddity "Pico and Sepulveda" (included on this album) became the program's theme song. They also provided incidental music for the show, such as the weekly top ten/Funny Five jingles. For lots of videos (inc. an otherwise unwaxed cover of "Jollity Farm") check out their

And they don't play any Christmas songs.

The Roto Rooter Good Time Christmas Band

A1Fanfare/Buick LeSabre Dance
A2Martian March
A3On The Good Ship Lollipop
A4Hungarian Dance No. 5
A5South Of The Border
A6Love Me
A7Pico & Sepulveda
A8The Band Played On (And On)
B1Swamp Lake
B2Purple Haze
B3The Beer Bottle Polka
B5Overture & The Rite Of Spring
B6Happy Trails To You/March Of The Cuckoos