Where are the Zacherleys, Stellas, and Elviras of today? Could it be that real (i.e. non-cuddly and entertaining) Evil pervades our society to such a degree that celebrity practitioners of the Dark Arts (even if they were just friendly TV hosts) have been made obsolete? I guess you see Elvira pop up around Halloween (though out of costume on her VH1 talking head segments), but lately these characters have gone the way of the dinosaur. Our area had the great ghoulish Uncle Ted on Channel 16, who hosted horror movies and performed at our elementary schools and was a total legend; there was something about celebs who dealt in the occult that put them in a much hipper bracket than the local sports stars. When I saw my first Butthole Surfers show with Uncle Ted's hunchback sidekick, he regaled me with stories that just reaffirmed what a cool dude I suspected he was. But, yeah, the days of the local occult celeb: all gone, unless it's for a real-life, bloody, Dahmer-esque reason I suppose.
Louise Huebner was given the title Official Witch of Los Angeles, coddled by the city government and even allowed to cast a mass spell with 15,000 attendees in the Hollywood Bowl, though her title was revoked later on. You can read all about it here, but in the meantime, "The Earthquake Spell For Unwanted Lovers" (MP3) is taken from her Seduction Through Witchcraft LP, a spoken word series of spells and invocations accompanied by 1956 electronic sounds drummed up by Louis and Bebe Barron (famed for quite a few electronic inventions and the Forbidden Planet soundtrack). The record came out on CD in 1996 courtesy of Henry Rollins' Infinite Zero label.
The cackling Martha Wentworth's 1958 gem Terror Tales By the Old Sea Hag may be (OK was) actually a character and not the real deal, but the idea of a kid being exposed this highly screwed up and shrill-as-hell spoken word record at that particular era must have been a pretty scarifying thing indeed. Though it wasn't all steeped in character, Wentworth, who had a pretty long list of acting cred, claimed:
"...the Old Sea Hag, Mariah Halkins, [comes] from a combination of two unrelated and different personalities. One, a person of unknown age and origin, was encountered by Miss Wentworth on the Island of Nantucket in Massachusetts many years ago, the other was drawn from a study of William Shakespeare's immortal comedies. Her dedication to the plays and poetry of the incomparable bard prompted her to transpose many of his characters into the simpler terms of modern drama. The Old Sea Hag has now become a composite of all the electrifying eccentrics the world over... an ancient woman of the sea whose beginnings are relegated to the frothy oceans of conjecture." Here are MP3's of "Devil Octopus" and "Shipwreck."
Finally, one of the weirdest occult-vibed records to have come to FMU in a while, Ruth White's electronic oddysey The Flowers of Evil. Baudelaire poems, weird electronic alchemy, all from 1969, and creepy as hell. WFMU's copy came in via the equally mysterious Dolor Del Estamago label, and doesn't have a track list, but here's a few MP3s of "Mists and Rains" and "Spleen" served up. Creel Pone might have some copies in stock, this one is definitely a must-hear for anyone interested in electronic music's (relatively) early era and just late night spookery.
Below are links to all MP3-filled posts in Beware of the Blog over the past month (pureed and garnished by Liz Berg):
- If you missed the news, WFMU's Ergo Phizmiz is now offering up a podcast version of his weekly radio program.
- Listen to the GOP ad that aired on several non-commercial stations in California due to an error with the nation's illustrious Emergency Alert System (EAS).
- Visit our "Remembering Rummy" farewell montage: Ken has provided a Rumsfeld remix, Lukas posted some MP3s of musical interpretations of Donald's poetry, and Mike gives us a song with lyrics that are taken from Rumsfeld's political speeches.
- We should all be proud of the grand state of New Jersey, home to WFMU, Bon Jovi, the Misfits, and oh yeah, that guy Bruce. Ken has posted an album's worth of NJ-centric tunes that will awaken the Jersey girl in us all.
- Need to up your incorrect music quotient? Download Frequencies of the Beast, an album by Pneumershonic. With song titles like "Farewell Marimba Bimbo," you know this one is an instant classic.
- Cookie Monster and Big Bird MP3s for all of you muppetphiles.
- Brian Turner has posted the holy grail for all of you krautrock fans: the lost Faust album, V.
- Paul McCartney recorded a secret album of easy listening covers of the Paul and Linda McCartney album Ram, under the name Percy Thrillington. You can grab the whole thing right here, thanks to Kenny G.
- Remember Lenny and Squiggy from Laverne and Shirley? Well, those guys actually put out a record called Lenny and Squiggy present Lenny and the Squigtones. Michael McKean and David Lander recruited Christopher Guest (aka Nigel Tufnel) for the project, pre-This is Spinal Tap. Props to Brian Turner for unearthing this!
- Ever wanted to interview Lou Reed or Big Black? Well now you can! Provided that you stick to the script with no ad-libbing whatsoever. Thank Ken for providing you with these priceless opportunities.
- Spin, twirl, twirl, as if you were a planet in the solar system. This instructional song has not been updated to reflect Pluto's current status as a non-planet, but you'll forgive Captain Christy and Lukas.