Sunday, January 31, 2016

Robert Williams: Buy His Records

Anyone who played in Captain Beefheart's Magic Band is of course an automatic A-lister in the avant/strange music world. So it's no wonder that late-period Magic Band member Robert Williams' debut solo release, a four-song EP from 1981, is chock-a-block with strange music superstars: a couple of DEVOs, a slew of Zappa/Beefheart sidemen, even Robbie Krieger of the Doors. And the music is quite nice, too, moving into (slightly) more commercial New Wave territory with its' integrity intact.

But unfortunately for Williams, his 1997 public humiliation on the hugely popular (and still running) "Judge Judy" show is what he will always be best known for, at least until reissues of "Doc At The Radar Station" knock Bruno Mars off the charts. Williams toured with PiL, and attempted to sue no less than Johnny "Lydon" Rotten himself. To put it in strictly legal terms, he did not win.The complete episode is no longer available on-line, and the short clips that are up don't do it justice, so you'll just have to trust me when I say that it was one of the most howlingly funny moments in TV history. 

Poor li'l fella. He does deserve to remembered for his music, not just with the Cap'n, but on his solo records, and with Eazy Teeth, who made one great experimental synth-punk single in 1980 that featuredTito Larriva from the Plugz on vocals, included here. Also: 2 tracks from his fine 1998 album that is in print, "Date With The Devils Daughter": "Hello Robert," which features some hysterical (in all senses of the word) answering machine messages from Wild Man Fischer, and "Frank and Don and Me", feat. guitarist Jeff Morris Tepper from his Magic Band days. Not bad for a "nudnik."

Robert Williams - Buy My Record + bonus tracks

Monday, January 25, 2016


Back in 2007, I posted a rip-roaring "Rubber Duckie" as part of my "Disco Sickness" collection I put together for Otis Fodder's 365 Project and WFMU. I never got around to digitizing the entire album, but a swell Maniac did, throwing in another album to boot. Brian, a contributor from the Growing Bored For A Living blog, sez:

Hello, all. A few years back when I started browsing blogs, I came across this glorious pile of music known as Music For Maniacs. I've gotten many great things from this blog, and was always looking for something strange I could contribute here. Well, I found it...

In 1978 and '79, to capitalize on the disco craze, Sesame Street released two albums: Sesame Street Fever and Sesame Street Disco. Fever even had the participation of Robin Gibb (on the title track and on "Trash"), due to the input of his children, who were Sesame fans. Some songs even made the show, most notably the gonzo booty-shaker "Me Lost Me Cookie At the Disco", off of Sesame Disco. And this isn't a hack job either: there's some real pros playing in the studio - the music is flawless.

File includes both albums, put together under the title Sesame Street Ultimate Disco Party. Also includes artwork. Audio files were ripped from quality YouTube vids; that's why one track has an outro by the YouTube poster. They all sound great, though. Add this one to your pile of disco madness, right next to Ethel Merman...though this one is far better. Enjoy!
01 Sesame Street Fever
02 Doin' The Pigeon
03 Rubber Duckie
04 Trash (w/Robin Gibb)
05 C Is For Cookie
06 Has Anybody Seen My Dog
07 What Makes Music
08 Me Lost Me Cookie at the Disco
09 The Happiest Street In the World
10 Sing
11 Disco Frog
12 Doin' The Trash
13 Bein' Green
14 The Happiest Street In the World

Muppets + ridiculous hi-NRG '70s disco = party. Now kids, what do we say when someone gives us a present? Thaaaank yooooou, Brian!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Back up by request: Zoogz Rift "Ipecac" and "War Zone."

David Bowie's death has rocked the world (as well it should), but let's not neglect to note the recent passing of another legend, albeit a very underground one: the genuinely unique, bizarre, and offensive performer known as Blowfly. As interviews attest, the man was a real character. I discovered the foul-mouthed funkster c. 1987, after stumbling across the album "Blowfly's Party" in a used record blowout sale (probably paid 50 cents at most) and wondered: what is the deal with this guy?! Some years before hip-hop got nasty and was still in it's bubblegum phase, this album featured such tunes as "Prick Rider" and "Can I Come In Your Mouth." As George Takei would say, "Oh my..." A few years later, I saw him, with Rudy Ray Moore opening, at Brendan Mullins' great post-Masque venue, the Club Lingerie, and it was the most star studded show I've ever been to. Seriously. Everywhere I looked, there was Stan Ridgway, one of the Bangles, Flea, Henry Rollins...had no idea Blowfly was such a cult figure. Little while later, he was opening for the Pixies at the height of their popularity. Crazy. Back in 2007, I reviewed on this here web-log his then-recent "Punk Rock Party" album he released on Alternative Tentacles records, which you can (and should) listen to HERE.

It's amazing how he made a career out of the most vulgar, immature potty humor, performed in pseudo-superhero costumes. Even if you don't think he's that funny, you gotta respect that. A truly singular talent.

His first album, "The Weird World of Blowfly" is a great funk record - for those of you who don't find singing "My Baby Keeps Farting In My Face" to the tune of "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" funny, it really is enjoyable for it's musical merits alone. Recorded live before a properly unruly audience, the band doesn't quit, with each song seamlessly flowing into the next, a la James Brown's live medleys. Blowflys' singing is surprisingly decent. His crack band included Timmy Thomas on keys, who would have his own hit with the classic organ/primtive-drum-machine classic "Why Can't We Live Together," guitarist Little Beaver (love his "Party Down" album), and bassist George "Chocolate" Perry, who, oddly enough, played with Joe Walsh, Neil Young, and Stephen Stills.

The follow-up interjects a little more comedic variety into the smutty-new-lyrics-to-hit-songs formula by framing the songs in tv show parodies. Good idea, but chopping up the tracks instead of letting it flow like the first album was not. Still, a worthy follow-up, with an almost as hot band. Both albums have a great live sleazy ambiance, like you're in the coolest basement nightclub or sweaty little bar and everybody's drunk and wild. And how 'bout them album covers?

Blowfly - "The Weird World of Blowfly" (1973)

Blowfly - "Blowfly On TV" (1974)

Thursday, January 14, 2016


"American Folk Music" is the most boring possible name for an album, but fear not! The latest release from veteran North Carolina wackos the Moolah Temple $tringband is anything but dull. They take songs from Harry Smith's venerable "Anthology of American Folk Music" and radically warp them by introducing such elements as exotic Middle Eastern-isms, clanging and banging percussion, incongruous '80s hip-hop style drum machine beatz, even a bit of rapping on one song, and mix them with the trad sounds of guitars, banjos, and a skillful fiddle that suggests that someone has been taking music lessons. The hideously/hilariously inappropriate combination of traditional folk music and Autotune (!) on "Farmland Blues" had me laffin' out loud. Also dig: the fuzz guitar crunch of "Little Moses" (even tho it goes on too long), and a version of "John Hardy" that might even be better than the Gun Club's? Scuzzy vocals are often distorted beyond recognition. "The Titanic," however, actually approaches mainstream respectability, complete with perfectly competent backing vox.

Moolah Temple $tringband: "American Folk Music"

More Bandcamp weirdness ahoy! L.A. nutters Freshly Wrapped Candies have unwrapped an old album of theirs from 1989 chock full of hermetic, inscrutable DIY obsessions that, perhaps inevitably, are sometimes reminiscent of The Residents, esp. on songs like "Grandfathers' Rug". Other standout songs like the downright catchy "Think" and the Beavis and Butthead-ish "Pitter Pat" don't immediately suggest any particular influences. Organically strange, but not off-puttingly so. It emerges from the haze with its' humanity intact.

Freshly Wrapped Candies: "I Like You" 

Monday, January 11, 2016


I don't even know how to deal with the death of David Bowie, at least so far as this blog is concerned. He was such a monumental figure in my musical upbringing that I wouldn't know where to begin. Ah lieu of anything relevant, here's the post I had planned for today. If, like me, you've just been listening to lots of Bowie and want to take a break for something a little new and different, I must say that the mood of these songs is strangely appropriate: 

What will you do with all that xmas scratch your relatives laid on ya? What, they didn't give you anything? Bastards! No matter - these zesty-flavored new(ish) releases can be listened to, and in some cases downloaded, for free.

We're long-time fans of Twink, The Toy Piano Band, and not only can you now check out his entire discography on the Bandcamps, but you cats must also dig his latest:

This album is inspired by winter, and so has a somewhat more somber tone to it. Somber, yet cartoon-ish, if you can imagine that. The master of toy-tronica is in fine form on such pick hits as "Pipper Snitch," and "Sparklemuffin."

Not sure how I discovered Corpus Callosum, probably by searching for unusual instruments, but this bunch of eccentric California folkies have come up with what is possibly the most gorgeous tune on Bandcamp. Musical saws and accordions beautifully creak along with sing-along vocals:

Corpus Callosum: "Hymnal"

Now that you're all properly relaxed, I shall send you off to dream-land with this stunning bit of Eno-Frippy drum-less drone courtesy of the Connecticut combo Landing.

Landing: "Yon"

As with the Corpus Callosum track, I haven't really listened to much else by this group. I just keep returning to this one. Music to hibernate by... 

Friday, January 08, 2016


Who or what is/are Ko Transmissions? I don't know, but the lengthy letter that accompanied the cassette release featured here tells a long, involved story of musical messages sent to planet Earth by the Ko people. Yes, we have apparently made contact with space aliens. You heard it here first!

Ko-core is all instrumental. The tape gets off to a good start with some lovely harp sounds. This is followed by a drummer-less rock band, and a vaguely Middle Eastern electric guitar solo. Those last 2 parts weren't too interesting, but @ 9:12 we get to an excellent passage of exotic tribal drumming backing more Middle Eastern sounding violin (?) and possible other stringed things - music for green-skinned belly dancers entertaining their masters on some far off planet.

Which is followed by spooky guitar drones that smack of vast interstellar voids. Fine stuff. Next up, some noodly guitar plucking; a lengthy track starts @ 21:00 with drums and  what sounds like mbira, cowbell-y percussion, and some kind of ethnic flutes/woodwinds that sounds like an Irish pennywhistle made out of PVC pipes. Then: atonal guitar skronk. I like the oddly bent Residential noises that start around 32:00 and the ambient drone that follows it. Some Beefheartian proggy guitars are then called to prayer at Mecca, and we're done.

None of it sounds particularly extra-terrestrial, but neither does it sound like any standard musical styles, unless 'random weirdness' is now a genre. 44 minutes of inter-planetary communication here: