Monday, August 31, 2015

HOOSIER HOTSHOTS: One-and-a-half Albums

 Just realized a couple days ago that my emails have been getting deleted. If you've written to me in the past couple weeks, sorry. I am trying to restore them.

The Hoosier Hot Shots were one of the first and best of the novelty bands, predating Spike Jones & crew, as I wrote back in 2011. Since then, I've found two Hot Shots vinyl, well, one-and-a half, to be precise. Continuing our discussion of budget labels, the "Hound Dog" album was released thru one of those shoddy companies, and a number of the songs are not by the Hoosiers, but by a folk group playing the kind of standards that could be heard around any campfire. See? Not all filler is killer. The Hot Shot's tunes are great tho, just mind the dodgy sound quality, and try not to wince at the awful album cover.

Speaking of the covers, there is absolutely no info on them, but I'd wager that these tracks were recorded in the '50s or '60s judging by their hi-fi sound and the presence of popular '50s styles like calypso and rock'n'roll. One song even has not-entirely-convincing celebrity impressions. Brilliantly inventive and effortlessly enjoyable nonsense, with a surprisingly spooky interlude.

HOOSIER HOTSHOTS: One-and-a-half Albums

a1 Sweet Georgie Brown
a2 Ida
a3 Mary Ann
a4 Darktown Strutters Ball [hey, it's the one socially acceptable coon song!]
a5 Toot Toot Tootsie
b1 Washboard Stomp
b2 Down By The Riverside
b3 Indian Love Call
b4 Heartaches
b5 Wabash Charleston
c1 Intro
c2 Hound Dog
c3 Them Hillbillies Are Mountain Williams Now*
c4 Mr Sandman
c5 There's No Romance In Your Soul
c6 Meet Me at the Ice House Lizzie

*This song, about the spread of hillbilly music from it's folk roots to mainstream acceptance, is actually pretty astute - the music industry did indeed come up with the phrase 'country music' as a gentrified replacement for 'hillbilly music,' a phrase that was perceived as being too lower class to appeal to mainstream record buyers. Just as 'rock'n'roll' became 'rock,' comic books' became 'graphic novels,' 'graffiti' became 'street art'...

Tuesday, August 25, 2015



These savage young rock'n'roll instrumentals live for 'kicks'! And beware the 'square' who stands in their way!

In the 1950s and 1960s, countless records were cranked out by the "budget labels," whose releases were essentially the music industry equivalent of cheapie exploitation films. Like those groovy movies, screened at drive-ins and grindhouses away from respectable cinemas, budget records were usually not found in record stores, but in the racks of places like drugstores. They were impulse buys, sold for a dollar, at a time when proper albums went for $3-4. And like z-movie producers, budget labels used all manner of deceptive, eye-grabbing visuals to lure suckers, er, I mean customers into buying their often inferior products. Case in point: an album called "Bye Bye Birdie" with an album cover (pictured right) presumably depicting a scene from the musical film of the same name. This album features a grand total of ONE (1) song from the film (and a remake at that). Also featured here are albums by popular folk/pop star Trini Lopez, and jazz-man Buddy Tate, both featured only on side one.

So who was performing on the rest of these albums? Who knows? It is safe to say that there never were any actual bands with names like the Exotic Guitars or the Rock and Rollers Orchestra. Budget labels would acquire tapes, sometimes thru rather dubious means, and release them under a variety of phony artist names and song titles. It may seem hard to believe now, but in the '50s/early '60s such now well-regarded styles as blues, r'n'b, and rock'n'roll were, for the most part, not considered mainstream. So these tapes could be had for cheap.

It's unfortunate that we'll probably never know who performed this music, since it's quite good. The Exotic Guitars sound like session cats doing their impression of surf rock, and the Rhythm Rockers might be sessioneers, too. But I would imagine that the Rock and Rollers Orchestra was a black rhythm-and-blues nightclub band - they blow like crazy, dad. Music scientifically designed to rock a party  to da break-a-dawn. The band probably never made a penny from these recordings.

Of course, there's lots of uninteresting filler out there, too. And we're lucky with today's selections so far as sound quality is concerned, since budget labels like Crown were notorious for using the worst quality vinyl, and these sides sound pretty good. Both the Bella St Clair and the R'n'R Orch records start off fairly low key before getting increasingly crazed, so perhaps there was some actual thinking going into the sequencing at least. Those albums cover, tho...oy. That Buddy Tate one's a beauty, eh?

(All tracks sourced from 99 cent vinyl)
Exotic Guitars:
1. Walkin Around [essentially a rock rip-off of Ray Barretto's "El Watusi," which was a great song, so fine by me.]
2. Time of My Life
3. Goin Home
4. Susan
5. Beach Party

Bella St Clair and the Rhythm Rockers:
A1 Rock A Bye [continuing in the surf-y vein]
A2 Rocking Guitar
A3 Tribute To Birdie [now it's starting to get wild, w/some screamin' sax]
A4 Rolling Theme [superb rockabilly - frantic, man, frantic!]
B1 Rolling With The Punch
B2 Teen Frenzy
B3 Jamboree
B4 Final Farewell
B5 Phone Fancy

The Rock and Rollers Orchestra:
1 - Let's Rock and Roll
2 - Romp And Stomp
3 - Long N Lean
4 - The Screwdriver No 1
5 - Cool Fool [the screwdrivers must be kicking in, cuz this song is nuts]
6 - Soda Bob [a bump-n-grinder for you burlesque dancers]

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Little Tiny Smelly Bit of The Stinky Puffs

As we've learned from Stinky Picnic, child musicians like the word "stinky." But The Stinky Puffs weren't just any kiddie rockers - Simon Fair Timony (age 7 when the band was formed) was the stepson of Jad Fair of Half-Japanese, and one of his li'l bandmates was the son of Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth. If I was one of their fathers, I might be worried that one of their songs is called "Menendez Killed Their Parents."

On this 1994 release they fly thru 9 tracks in 13 minutes, first in the studio, and then live, backed by the 2 surviving members of Nirvana, and Ira Kaplan from Yo La Tengo. These kids got connections! It's surprisingly catchy and enjoyable. The kid's uninhibited sense of fun is certainly a contributing factor. And the songs sure don't overstay their welcome. The song "I'll Love You Anyway" is a heartfelt tribute to Kurt Cobain.

A Little Tiny Smelly Bit of The Stinky Puffs

  1. "Buddies Aren't Butts"
  2. "Menendez' Killed Their Parents"
  3. "I'll Love You Anyway"
  4. "I Am Gross!/No You're Not!" 
  5. "Pizza Break" 
  6. "Buddies Aren't Butts" (live) 
  7. "Menendez' Killed Their Parents" (live)
  8. "I'll Love You Anyway" (live)
  9. "I Am Gross!/No You're Not!" (live)

Friday, August 14, 2015


 The liner notes on the back of this true outsider music classic detail Marlin Wallace's years of pain at the hands of communists (or "reds," as he calls them) shooting painful laser-like rays at him and his mother. Mad? You call him mad?! Say what you like, but he had his act together enough to hire pro singers and musicians to perform his songs and release this 1981 double album. The slick studio country rock is, as in song poems, at odds with the unpredictable, idiosyncratic lyrics.

The album starts off fairly sensibly, but the eccentricities in both lyrics and vocal performances start to add up to truly one of the more bizarre listening experiences you're likely to encounter. Songs like "La-Lo-Ram-Ya" are as kooky as the titles. "The Jungle in Flight" is smothered in gratuitous sound effects. The singer in "Wildcat Mabellene" breaks into hilariously spazzy vocals. Heartfelt ballads might lull you into thinking: aw, this guy's not that crazy, a little sappy perhaps...until you hear a lounge crooner belting out: "Abominabllllle...snow creatuuuure...." 

The second disk in general is a lot stronger, with such must-listens as the prehysterical "Millions of Years Ago," the rhythmically propulsive jungle adventure "Head-Hunters," and, really, just one goodie after another right up thru the Revelations-inspired closer "Mark Of The Beast." Some of the 'professional' singers sound fairly inept at times. Hope they didn't cost too much. Might be Marlin himself singing songs like "Stranger In The Land."

Marlin Wallace ‎– The Corillions / Double Album

1Sweet Love Of Mine
3I'll Try
5The Planet Mars
6Georgia Corn Liquor Man
7The Jungle In Flight
8Love Me Tonight
9Whistlin' Bill
10How It Feels To Be Alone
11Wildcat Mabellene
12Ghost Train
13Little Orphan Girl
14This Is War
15Heart Full Of Pain
16Gray Wolf
17Abominable Snow Creature
18Colorado River
19Midnight Train
20Golden Dreams
21Millions Of Years Ago
23The Song Of The Wind
24The Flower Of Love
26Only You
27Before The White Man Came
28The Russian Bear
29A Stranger In The Land
30Big Eight Wheels
31Mark Of The Beast

Wallace survived the red's attacks and, as pointed out in this post from 2011, he's been cranking out albums ever since, performing (with some help) and singing his songs all by himself.  As I wrote: "His albums are usually themed. Wanna hear a whole collection of songs about bugs and insects? Interested in rivers? Outer space? Jungles? Well, Wallace has written entire albums dedicated to these concepts. Give that boxing fan in your life a copy of "Songs of Pugilism."  

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

TALES OF MANHATTAN: The Cool Philosophy Of Babs Gonzales

In this 1959 album of rhymed poems set over a cool jazz beat, Babs Gonzalez posits himself as the hippest of the hip, here to school all you cosplay-wearin', video-game playin', indie "rock"-listenin' rubes 'n' cubes. This cat wants to pull your coat to, like, where it's at, ya dig?  A fun relic from the days when jazz was part of a low-down street culture, not today's boring, conservatory-trained "American Classical Music."

You will be forgiven for thinking that Babs was a Latina, going by his name and that album cover, but nope, he was a black man. Not much of a singer, he got by on sheer attitude. This album makes an interesting contrast to the Buddy Starcher album we posted last week - tho they are both spoken word over music, they're pretty much poles apart. Babs is everything Buddy wasn't: cool, cynical, urban, sophisticated, and non-white. A hipster, in the original sense of the word. If those two ever met, like matter and anti-matter, they might have annihilated each other.

Tales Of Manhattan: The Cool Philosophy Of Babs Gonzales

A1 The Hat Box Chicks
A2 Broadway - 4 A.M.
A3 You Need Connections
A4 'Dem Resolution Liars
A5 Manhattan Fable
B1 'Dem Jive New Yorkers
B2 The Squares
B3 A Dollar Is Your Only Friend
B4 The Cool Cat's Philosophy
B5 Ole Braggin' Freddie

I have no beef with today's trendy urban youth, they got their own thing. I just wish they hadn't stolen the word "hipster," esp. since they don't even seem to like it. In Bab's day, you had to earn that designation. After all, he named his memoirs "I Paid My Dues." The hip scene was a secret underworld society. They needed these code words, as this was the era before the civil rights/black power movement, and long before the decriminalization of, er, "reefers" ("tea," "gage," etc). In these songs you'll hear such slang expressions as: 

Cadillac boys = pimps
frail = girl
pound = $5 (a lot of money in those days)
black and whites = night and days
vine = a suit of clothes
long green = lots of money

Still can't figure the lingo? For further research, digeth:

Cab Calloway's Jive Dictionary

Slim Gailard's Vout-o-Reenee Dictionary

Del Close & John Brent: "How To Speak Hip" (booklet)
                               "                                  (album - individual mp3s)
                               "                                  (album)

Which is all well and good, but what's the lingo for modern life? We need words for: computers, the internet, blogs, cell phones; synthesizers, CDs, mp3s; gays and alternate lifestyle stuff; etc., etc., etc. Come on, you real hipsters, start coining!

Wednesday, August 05, 2015


It's amazing what sorts of things actually became hit records in the Sixties.

Buddy Starcher was a country singer/guitarist best known for the goofy, not-entirely-accurate, 1966 proto-conspiracy theory record "History Repeats Itself," which, according to wiki: "...hit No. 39 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and the album of the same name from which it was drawn peaked at No. 37 on the U.S. Country Albums chart." And what an album it is, both fascinating as a historical relic, and as uniquely absurd entertainment.

Starcher intones these melodramatic spoken-word pieces like a good-ol-boy who's put on a suit and is giving a very grave speech to the local Kiwanis club. All of his conservative messages and sappy stories are backed by somber patriotic and country music, except for the comic relief track "A Taxpayer's Letter."  In "Day of Decision," Starcher claims that "...this is the age of the American cynic. The year of the unbeliever. The day of doubt." Woo-hoo, it's about time! "We change channels when a political discussion comes on."  You say that like it's a bad thing. "We've decided that elections and politicians have been bought and sold, like cattle." Er, no comment.

What the hell is up with "Eve Of My Multiplication"? Is it about someone with a math test the next day? Re: "The Fall of A Nation": Atilla The Hun's name was pronounced "AT-la"? Well, maybe it was. Not like he's around anymore to ask. "Judge, What About Me?" is supposed to be a tear-jerker about a "lame" boy and his divorcing parents, but I LOL-ed throughout this unintentional comic gem. Not so funny is the pro-Vietnam bullshit, e.g: the redundantly titled "Brave Men Not Afraid," in which we are informed that soldiers are not afraid to die. They aren't, eh? (Don't you love it when non-soldiers speak for soldiers?)

The hit single claims to find a number of parallels between Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy. I guess this was supposed to be considered weird and eerie, but it's really just a bunch of meaningless coincidences, some of which aren't even true. You could do this with any number of things, even without having to make up facts, and indeed there are some other similar tracks on this album. I think it's time for new records of this sort. How about the chilling parallels between John Cale and Brian Eno? (cue dramatic music)

- Both were born in the UK, and moved to New York City.

- Both came to prominence as founding members of hugely influential avant-rock bands.

- Both left those bands after their first two (2) albums, after clashing with the bandleader.

- Both became producers of some of the greatest artists in alternative rock.

- John Cale = 8 letters
- Brian Eno = 8 letters

- Both were born in months that start with the letter 'M':
John Cale in March
Brian Eno in May

- Both performed on the albums "The End", "June 1, 1974", and "Wrong Way Up."

- Both were male.

- Both were white.

- Both were bipedal.

- Both had brief but torrid affairs with Dawn Wells, who played 'Mary Ann' on "Gilligan's Island" (unverified)

Yes, my friends, it would appear that once again...history repeats itself.

(there's some skipping on track 2; sorry, I did my best, even put coins on the tone arm, etc.)

1 History Repeats Itself
2 The Great Decade Of The Sixties
3 Eve Of My Multiplication
4 Sniper's Hill
5 Last Supper
6 I'm In A Jam, Jim
7 History Repeats Itself Part II
8 A Taxpayer's Letter
9 Day Of Decision
10 Judge, What About Me?
11 The Fall Of A Nation
12 Brave Men Not Afraid