My friend Ken Katkin sent me an MP3 of a great old punk song by The Fems, who were an early 80s Buffalo band that released a great single of totally fried, lo-fi hardcore in the Angry Samoans tradition. The song in question, "Go to a Party and Act like an Asshole", earned an unusually strong reaction from the listenership when I played it last week, and turns out to have a pretty extensive and interesting backstory. Ken is the once-upon-a-time proprietor of Homestead Records, a former fill-in DJ at WFMU, host of the now-legendary Thanks IV Sharin' program on WPRB, and has gone on to do great radio in a variety of other places. Here's Ken now with the deepdish details on this lost classic of the Buffalonean underground music scene:
The Fems were a legendary Buffalo hardcore band of the 1980-82 era, who still play reunion gigs in Buffalo every five years or so. They had a lot of different lineups. The version of "Go To A Party" that's available here was digitized from my cassette of the Fems' no-label self-released 1982 7" single. The single itself sells for about $400 on eBay on those rare occasions when it can be found there; only 500 copies were ever pressed, and the masters were lost. I gave away my two copies in the summer of 1982, which I spent at math camp in Chicago. I gave one to radio station WNUR, which still has it, and the other to a pal who subsequently died in 1997. His widow now lives in Philadelphia and may still have my former copy, but I can't bring myself to ask her for it. By the time I returned to Buffalo from Chicago in August 1982, the Fems record was sold out and totally unavailable. After 1982, The Fems released a reunion cassette in 1990, and a reunion
CDR in 2001. Both of those releases contain re-recordings of "Go To A
Party," as well as many other tracks. Both were formerly available at
Home of the Hits record store on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo, but sadly
the store went out of business about a year ago.
For your further enlightenment, here are some Fems MP3s, including the original version of "Go to a Party...", the subsequent 1990 and 2001 re-makes, plus another track from the original 1982 EP. All hail the Fems!
As the dreaded end of summer approaches, NYC's glorious free outdoor shows begin to dry up, and we settle back into crummy weather/indoor activity mode. Use these final few weeks of summer to take one last carefree frolic on the beach, then check out some of these pre-fall happenings. Get out of the house now, before your Netflix turnaround becomes faster than an excursion from the sofa to your fridge.
High Brow Enrichment Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit - Anyone interested in the ways music, technology, i.p. law, and policy simultaneously grind and slamdance together should head out to Washington, D.C. on Sept. 17-18. Hot button music industry issues like net neutrality, sampling, royalties, payola, social media, and the digital revolution will be discussed by panels of experts, regulators, and musicians (full schedule here). It's bound to be an interesting conference, but don't take it from me, I'm a geek when it comes to this stuff. Take it from someone much cooler: Ted Leo (MP3).
High Concept Outings Rocks Off Boat Cruise - Rock concerts on a boat. Simple. Genius. With a seafaring schedule that includes Lee "Scratch" Perry, Kid Koala, Holly Golightly, Bit Shifter, and a Pink Floyd tribute band, what's not to love? I'm personally a fan of their unicorn-dolphin-rainbow logo and impeccable customer service (one show in particular is "SOLD THE FUCK OUT, BITCHES - Get your tix sooner next time").
Pickin' Pockets at the Atlantic Antic - Though it technically lies within the fall season, I'm still including Brooklyn's best street fair with my list of late summer activities, because hey, it's outdoors. Check it out on Sept. 30 from 10am-6pm, and be sure to swing by the WFMU table and allow us to shower you with public displays of freeform affection. Pony rides! Tube socks! Greasy sausage sandwiches!
Scavenger Hunt in Brooklyn, afterparty with free booze and Dan Deacon - Instead of dropping $300 to pass out from heatstroke and hallucinogen-induced constipation at Burning Man, spend Sunday, Sept. 2 (date has been postponed until sometime in Oct) searching the city for arcane objects and sites, as you compete for prizes with teams of other wired adventurers. Or just hang out for a few hours, then drink it up and snap your glowsticks to the happy, glitched-out sounds of Baltimore's Dan Deacon. More details and ticket info here.
It really distresses me when crazy people have kids. Here's why: me and you aren't much more than talented apes. We learn things entirely by imitating what we see. Yes, it's critically important that the parent set a good example for his child because a poor example can only breed bad tendencies in the child's fertile yet naive mind. Moreover, we as members of society at large have a responsibility to the youth of America, to shield them from what is vile and fill them with righteous thoughts.
Seriously though, I am concerned about this and I'm particularly concerned about the little girls who you see on the cover of this Oral Constitution record. They look sweet there, but their parents make them participate in fucked up music. And I mean fucked up even by Norwegian standards! Eerily sexual, nightmarishly mystical, gloomy, pounding, angry, demented and hypnotic folk music: sure to produce psychosis in high doses, especially for the young and impressionable - aren't you worried about the future of these little ones now? (Five mp3s follow the jump).
I found this self-help album in a charity shop many years ago. The first thing
that struck me was the odd tone of the title. It's not positive as in 'We will
teach you to sing!' or 'Learn to sing!' but 'We'd like to teach you to sing'. A
bit unsure about itself. It’s sentiments reminded me of comedian Victoria Wood's
satirical airport departure lounge sitcom 'We'd quite like to
The project was the brain child of one Bob Anthony and his
company Pro/Mu/Sing Ltd. He demonstrates all the vocal exercises and sings the
songs on the album. However a different, anonymous figure introduces each
section. His nasally tone and speech impediment reminds me a little of Lady
Penelope's chauffeur Parker from Thunderbirds. I keep expecting him to say 'Yes,
M'Lady' after each sentence.
The record claims to be the first teaching
LP of singing. It may well have been but at just 33 minutes playing time it's a
little light and there are actually not that many exercises to try (a lot of
side 2 is taken up with a series of instrumentals in different tempos 'to
practice singing to' as well as showcasing Bob's own song Time). It was perhaps
a taster to encourage would-be students to sign up to the full singing course
that is advertised in the 24 page booklet that accompanies the record.
MORE ABOUT BOB ANTHONY AFTER THE JUMP (with more mp3s and images)...
The loss of Max Roach this past week certainly sparked off a mass of worldwide radio tributes, so I have to commend Doug Schulkind for the fact that his initial tribute to Roach came months ago, celebrating the man during life as opposed to the shows that invariably happen when the greats go away. So what better time to reflect on some of the masters who are still very much with us and keeping the Free Music fire burning? You have a very fine opportunity this weekend if you're in or around New York City, as the one and only Cooper-Moore will be playing a free set at Zebulon, 258 Wythe Street in Brooklyn, Sunday at 7:00 PM.
Transplanted from Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains to New York via Boston in the early 1970's, Cooper-Moore established himself a vital force in the very interactive visual art/dance/music scenes of the city, leasing a building on Canal Street to house and support such activities. He toured mostly as a free jazz pianist, but his identity overall has morphed through the years into a true practitioner of all kinds of free music, still interacting with multiple scenes. He's built a myriad of handmade percussion, string, and mouth instruments (I saw one amazing diddley-bow set at the AUM Fidelity house in Brooklyn some years ago) and has performed with the likes of William Parker, Jospeh Jarman, Assif Tsahar, Susie Ibarra, David S. Ware and more. Solo, however, the man is a dyamo, so get on down there Sunday night.
There are many nude rock impulses I can understand: sexy singer, looks good naked (Bow Wow Wow, Boss Hog); fashion (Prince, Buckingham / Nicks); defiance (Slits); unemployed tube sock (Chili Peppers); transgression, shock, titillation, art, and whatever Herbie Mann was thinking. Then there's what these bands are doing. In some cases, it looks like a defiant over-identification with hippiedom, like "we are your children and we are unclothed!"; but what are Orleans, Pablo Cruise, Steam, Styx and Man trying to say? My best guess: "Bros Before Hos".
Update: all the links above now work - sorry about that former plethora of suddenly dead links!
While working on the MP3 posts lately, I've been gathering scads of music videos, movie clips, old commercials, and other random visual excitement. So, in addition to the MP3 Truffles posts I've been doing, I'm adding an all new chapter: Video Truffles. Note: all links in these posts will be to relevant video share sights or embedded video blog pages.
There are a ton of video links after the jump. But first, let's head back a week or so ago to when I stopped into a hipster dive bar in Denver to discover that every TV screen was playing the much maligned Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. Now, I'm not going to defend this film or anything (and let's not even mention the overused punchline of the subtitle). It's a piece of crap that sometimes decends into utter lunacy, which does make it fun to watch in a bar full of half-drunk patrons. But what really excited me was the song buried in the midst of this crappy film: George Kranz's "Din Daa Daa" (or, as it was originally called, "Trommeltanz").
Check out the non-movie-tie-in music video for the song. It's a mind blower.
The song was a huge hit both in the clubs and with the B-Boys, rocketing up the dance music charts in 1984, coming out again in the 90s, and of course being sampled to death (most recently by the Ying Yang Twins). A pretty impressive feat for a German studio producer/drum player who is, let's face it, really dorky. I mean, the premise behind the entire song is that he is singing the drum beats. That is simultaneously the coolest and lamest idea for a dance song one could have. And that is why it works, no?
And here's another George Kranz composition, the title song to the film Magic Sticks. How come I have never before heard of this 1987 craptacular? There's not even much on IMDB. Anyone got the story or at least a fever dream memory of this film?
Ready to blast off with some children's records? Well, fasten your mouse, get ready to click... and away we go!
Most of these recordings are highly enjoyable for all ages. However, recordings such as Charlie The Hamster should never be played for children as serious mental trauma could become apparent at a later age. And for you teenagers we have included an album to help you cope during your first year in High School.
We've been talking about adding a flash button to help people preview mp3s on the blog for awhile now so through the magic of delicious tagplayer we're going to give it a go. Leave a comment if you run into any problems. While I'm at it I'll use this an excuse to post a random selection of some of my favorite tracks from this summer:
These first two tunes are some cracking african-inspired electronic tracks that might work well played alongside the likes of Konono 1. Nouveau Noise are two chaps from Dublin who mix live percussion and various string insturments with lots of programmed goodness. I'm not sure if they have a proper album out yet. Lukid is a guy out of London whose Onandon CD on werkdisks came out earlier in the year and is well worth checking out. He namechecks Can and J Dilla as influences which initially got my attention.
Recently I've been devouring everything I can get my hands on by Celestine Ukwu, a giant of Nigerian highlife music whose work is criminally out of print here in the US (save for the odd track or two on various highlife comps). I first heard Ukwu on a community radio station in DC awhile ago and after waiting what seemed like a really long time for a dj to announce the music, I ended up calling the station to figure out who was responsible for the sounds coming out of the speakers: very mellow (yet intense) percussion that at times sounded almost gamelan along with pedal steel guitars and saxophone. Ukwu's music is completely unique and essential.... someone really should give his albums a proper reissue. A full discography can be found here.
Charlie Alex March specializes in short, lush tracks replete with strings, vibraphones and other plunky things. He aptly covers Daniel Johnston's "True Love Will Find You" on his recent ep along with three instrumentals, one of which sounds quite a bit like Neko.
His music is out on a label called LOAF which I had never heard of but was surprised to find is an off shoot / sub-label of Jon Tye's excellent Lo Recordings. They have very nicely put up full length flash samples of all their tracks on their site which inevitably led to a long internet time sink (Note to other labels: this is a really good idea! Unless you prefer people turning to P2P and sharity blogs to hear what your music sounds like).
Other LOAFers worth checking out include Barbed and Batfinks who at times sounds like Ariel Pink channeling rave music (I mean this in a good way but I could see how it might make some people run for the exits)."Im Ylearning" covers a lot of ground in seven minutes... the last few minutes are great.
I believe all of the songs featured are out of print but I could be wrong in some cases. I left out notable songs by Bob Moore, Henry Mancini, Herb's early cuts as Dore Albert and Perrey & Kingsley (because the music is available on CD), and a whole ton of boring copycat versions of Herb and the Brass' hits. Tracks by Johnny Mandel, Claude Bolling, Killer Watts and The Unocal Song came from sites online, but I'm not sure where (I completely forget), so thanks to the site/blog owners for sharing these songs, they helped to make this collection to share with others. Thanks to Pea Hix for Optiganally Yours and Derrick Bostrom for The Going Thing.
The majority of cuts are from vinyl I've picked up in various thrifts, shops and gutters over the years. Listen to that Tijuana Brass Pop, Crackle and Hiss! Embrace it. And then there are songs I have no clue how they landed at my pad, and why, and from whom, and at this point... I just stop questioning and keep listening as drowning ones self in hours upon hours of that brass sound, well, I'm not going nuts if that's what you are thinking. I'm actually loving it and I find myself extremely happy listening to this music.
There are so many songs out there that a 20+ CD box set could be compiled. Here my friends are 100 tracks to burn on 4 discs to play at your next social gathering.
I have written about music from the former GDR before, but somehow I missed out on the most profoundly retarded punk anthem ever recorded in the German language. Released in 1983 by the band Keks (Cookie), it shows once again what socialist societies were capable of. By the way, only two years later the band was officially outlawed in East Germany. Maybe they were just too far ahead of their time. Listen at your own risk: Keks - Hasch mich, Mädchen (MP3)
The song title roughly translates to "Catch me, girl", and the lyrics consist of countless repetitions of the song title, mixed with unintelligible gibberish. The picture to the right shows Keks in 1979, when they hadn't yet turned into subversive retard-punks.
I feel enough time has passed that I can make a rather shocking confession. Who it would shock I am not sure. I've been living a Beware of the Blog lie for the past several months. Back on April 29th I posted the most elaborate item ever written about the psychedelic hippie (or hippy) flick You Are What You Eat (1968). If you missed it, you can still read it here. Now despite having given the history of this weird and often headache-inducing film, offering my opinions about its best and worst parts (and its absolutely fantastic soundtrack LP that you can listen to here), I need to come clean.
I never saw the movie.
As I stated in the original piece, You Are What You Eat is rather obscure - and nearly impossible to find. I owned the great soundtrack featuring The Electric Flag, Tiny Tim, Peter Yarrow, Rosko, The Band, and of course John Simon's My Name Is Jack, and had always wondered about the movie. I figured many other WFMU listeners did too.
I confess this now because my local Cinematheque had a (bootleg DVD) screening of the picture this past week. I was one of only five people in the audience - and the soundtrack remains superior. If you follow the link to that old article it has now been revised - as you might expect. I wonder if anyone noticed I was talking out of my ass back in April? It also makes me wonder how many film critics out there review movies without even bothering to watch them (Leonard Maltin - a measly two stars for Taxi Driver!?).
These songs come from a series of 45's from the Playhour children's record label. I don't know the date on them, but the early 70's would be a pretty good guess.
The records are very scratchy, and a couple of them are also hissy. The songs have been filtered so that the quality would be as tolerable as possible with these records.
The records deal with different categories, such as "Neighborhood / House Record", "Clothing Record", and just wait till you get to the "Social Development Record"! They consist of a cacophony of different musical styles, from standard "kiddie" fare to country to "groovy" 60's rock.
In 2003 on the first run of the 365 Days Project there were a lot of contributions that did not make it online. Now in 2007 we are compiling those tracks into volumes for your download. This is the first in a series that will be featured over the next 4 months.