Many of you may remember Mme St. Onge from the original 365 Days, where MP3-#009 (way back in January 2003) featured a somewhat frighteningly off-key French language rendition of the Beatles song "Help". Of course, what may appear frightening to some... sounds just right for the connoisseur of the strange and the off-beat. This LP came highly recommended as THE strangest Quebec recording made and (at least for us) it still holds that designation.
There can be no doubt that this is a send-off album, that it was done with a good sense of humour, and that those behind this recording had at least some idea of the existence of Mrs. Miller. (If you don't know who Mrs. Miller is, you may be listening in the wrong place right now). None of us have any idea who exactly was behind this recording and that mystery remains to be solved. Although we have not (as yet) sent the vinyl out for carbon dating, the references to 'Beatnick' clubs, where Mme. St Onge is purported to have performed, would place this somewhere between 1955 and 1975, though we guess it to be closer to the later of these dates.
For any amateur sleuths in the audience, along with the music, a few other clues are offered by the cover and record label:
Several of the songs are co-credited to the (recently deceased) Quebec singer-songwriter T(ony) Roman;
The only known photo of Mme St. Onge, found on the cover, looks suspiciously... er... masculine...
Slyly humorous liner notes (in French) with dedications to Mme St. Onge's neighbour 'Freddie Gagnon' and to 'amateur radio fans in south Labrador'!
If anyone has any information to solve this mystery we would all be pleased to hear from you.
And now, for your er... listening pleasure, we now present Mme St. Onge's ten greatest hits in all their vinyl glory.
Media: 33rpm - 12" vinyl record Album: Les 10 plus grands succès de... Label: Laval Records Ltée. Montréal, Canada (Distributor) Catalogue: ACM-701 (CT-34345) Credits: Tracks 5, 7, 10 co-credited to T. (Tony) Roman Date: None noted
Shakey (or Shakin') Jake Woods, a great storyteller and guitarist, a true legend of Ann Arbor, Michigan, passed away last Sunday, September 16, 2007, at the age of 82. Or maybe he was 106, you never really knew for sure with Jake. He didn't know how to tune a guitar, and sometimes his guitar had only one, two, or even no strings at all. But somehow this all didn't matter, he certainly had the spirit of the blues. Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Jake moved to Saginaw, Michigan, and finally to Ann Arbor after playing a hugely successful 5-minute gig at the Ann Arbor Blues Festival in 1973. If you have ever spent more than a few hours in Ann Arbor in the last 34 years, you have probably met Jake or heard people talk about him. Shakey Jake will be missed, but his legend lives on. Here are a few links for you to check out:
An older blog post I wrote with three MP3s from his one and only CD On The Move. Several people who knew Jake left comments.
Fun facts (all according to Jake himself): He was born a midget, but when the doctor left the room, he grew six inches; he traveled around the world dozens of times, but never in an airplane; and he wrote "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot".
We will let Jake have the last word: "There's 88 notes on the guitar. I knows 'em all."
Personally, I'm a Batman nerd. Specifically a devotee of the Batman television show starring Adam West and Burt Ward. The internet has been very good to us.
Robin and a Hooker in Kansas - I don't even know what to make of this footage. Here we have an interviewer determined to get the dirt on Batman and Robin's homosexuality and Robin producing a floozy to thwart off all suspicion. It's just too much - Burt Ward was obviously
trying desperately to retain his fame and popularity as we find him in the early seventies appearing at the Joyland Amusement Park in Wichita, Kansas. It also starts off with the song Boy Wonder, I Love You.
The Burt Ward Sessions - When I heard about this project - I couldn't believe I had not heard of this project. In 1968, Burt Ward as Robin collaborated with Frank Zappa - creating one of the great novelty songs of all time Boy Wonder, I Love You. It was based on actual fan mail addressed to the young Dick Grayson. Listen to that track and its equally perverse flipside, Orange Colored Sky, composed by the eccentric Milton DeLugg (the subject of a soon to be released article in this very spot) over here. You can also hear the alternate tracks, the instrumentals, the un-used tracks and everything else from this incredible session on the same page. Read what Burt Ward had to say about his Frank Zappa record making experience in his autobiography My Life in Tights at the bottom of this page.
I'm not sure if I was aware that "Finnegans Wake" had been made into a movie when I came across this soundtrack, but I knew I'd better grab it. I found it in the cut out bin at the Happy Tunes record shop on West 8th Street in Greenwich Village, almost directly across the street from Electric Lady Land, in 1973 or 4. It was $1.99. All the cut outs were $1.99. It's the only copy I've ever seen.
This is, in a way, a real Old School soundtrack LP-not just the music, but dialogue and sound effects. This was pretty common in the pre-VHS days when owning the soundtrack was as close to owning the actual movie as you could hope. "Finnegans Wake" takes this to a remarkable extreme, with the mostly Irish cast singing and gabbing away in Joyce's artificial dream language for more than 50 minutes. I'd never heard anything like this.
The music is pretty terrific, and it's by one Elliot Kaplan. According to the IMDB he also wrote the theme for the old Raymond Burr "Ironsides" TV show, and the music for the Babette Bardot softcore porn "I, the Marquis de Sade," and orchestrated the score for "The Rocketeer" in 1991, but I'm not as sure as the IMDB that all this is the work of the same Elliot Kaplan. A 15 or 20 year gap in the resume and a total lack of biographical details suggests to me we may have multiple Elliots at work.
One of my very favorite things from Word Records. A recorded version of the 1960(?) film Teenage Diary starring Vonda and a very young Marcy Tigner (better known as the woman behind the voice of Little Marcy). I am guessing that this recording was released in 1965 to coincide with Vonda being crowned Miss America.
I one day hope to see the film. In the meantime, here is a great review, "...a color Christian propaganda short geared to scare teenagers out of their sinful ways, and featuring a complete cast and crew credits sequence! Penny is a beautiful teenage girl going to the senior dance with Brad, a good Christian boy. For some reason, the high school dance takes place at a garish tiki bar (?!) with Duane Eddy-style guitar music and an exotic floorshow. At home, Penny’s dad goes to the bar and leaves her mom pining by the fireplace. Penny and Brad cavort by the ocean until drunk Dad shows up to pummel Brad for being forward with his daughter. The two young lovers find sympathy with Brad’s parents, but Penny’s dysfunctional family forbids her from socializing with her true love, leading her to go to Mexico with a hothead in a convertible, get drunk, and get into a fight with the folks! All these issues contribute to Penny’s eventual suicide attempt before she is saved by her local pastor and the scripture. This is a very stylish little short subject, with accomplished cinematography, atmospheric gel lighting, and surprisingly good performances, especially from Vonda Van Dyke as Penny (a future Miss America 1965 who later released a Christian inspirational album in 1972 and now currently resides in Laguna Beach)".
Named for Fritz Lang's Dr. Mabuse, this UK ensemble started up in 1991 and shortly thereafter created an LP for Kramer's Shimmy Disc imprint of some heavenly and uniquely twisted pop songs. To say the Mabuses were a psychedelic outfit would be appropriate, but a bit incomplete in description. They certainly took their cues from the trippier sounds of the 60's (though Kramer's trademarked neo-psych reverb production is interestingly at bay here in comparison to his projects with Galaxie 500, Bongwater etc.); elements of some well-referenced influences like Barrett and Soft Machine dwell within. But on their debut LP The Mabuses, one hears a completely inventive collage of ideas as filtered through the mind of leader Kim Fahy; slices of the Monochrome Set or Wilder-era Teardrop Explodes, sea chanties and kid-friendly choruses, some truly eccentric guitar figures, harmonies, all exhuding a joyful vibe with a certain undercurrent of darkness/weirdness. My friend Andee visited in July and we talked about how great and overlooked they were, which made me dig out the old Shimmy LP and I found it to be as hooky and compelling as I remembered it. In some ways the Mabuses also brought to mind stuff like the Moles' experimentation and even Go-Betweens literate pop vibe, but in songs like "Cubicle" (MP3) everything is so compressed and streamlined that it almost takes a few listens to fully absorb the richness of what's going on here. Well, no sooner did Andee split then lo and behold a brand new Mabuses album appeared called Mabused (they had a 2nd album in the 90s as well which I never checked out) and the band announced an actual New York date, tomorrow (September 22) at 7pm at the Knitting Factory.You can stream Mabused in its entirety at Stereogum, and the band kindly offers up an unreleased new MP3 for Beware of the Blog called "Dots In Trouble." Be sure to check out their wild site as well.
Discovering this album in a thrift-store was one of the most startling experiences of my record-hunting life. Hearing good ol' Johann Sebastian performed on the likes of snare drums, woodblocks and tom-toms had me completely bewildered. The New York Percussion Ensemble didn't cheat by using melodic percussion instruments like xylophones or marimbas - the list of instruments on the back include, apart from the ones I just mentioned, tambourines, cymbals, maracas, castanets, bongos, claves, triangle, cowbell, tympani, boobams, and sleigh bells.
The sound lies closer to traditional African music then to classical. To quote a Time magazine review: "The result has the effect of an X-ray photograph of a flower — barely recognizable, eerie and oddly fascinating." We make available three of the album's four cuts - the first track, a version of "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor," had a nasty gouge in it, but don't worry, it wasn't as good as the other three tracks.
This was no joke. Arranger John Klein's credits on the back cover are extensive - an early classical training, numerous classical and pop credits, and authorship of a "monumental two-volume work entitled 'The First Four Centuries of Music.'" I have no idea what this means, though: "Mr. Klein has composed music for no less then 137 dramas for the United States Treasury Department NBC Transcription Series..."
In an overwhelmingly image-conscious grind scene, Will Killingsworth stands out as a major player who hasn’t relied on flashy rhetoric and gimmicks – he’s talented and tasteful, that’s all. Perhaps best known as the guitarist of Orchid, Will’s contributions to the common good are extensive. His current band Ampere has put out excellent emotional grind for about five years now. Ampere’s newest release is a split with Funeral Diner, coreleased by Electric Human Project and Killingsworth’s own Clean Plate Records. I recently had the opportunity to see Ampere at Tribeca’s perennially broke mold factory/show space ABC No Rio and…well…you know…asked him a few questions…
You’ve been doing grind for over a decade now. What is it that keeps you interested with this? How has your music developed over the years?
Well, there are definitely similarities in all my bands. I’ve done four main bands in the past ten years. I think Bucket Full of Teeth was the largest departure from Orchid in terms of doing more experimental stuff. I don’t even mean experimental in terms of doing things no one has ever done before, just experimenting for us. Ampere was supposed to be more of a fun band with friends. I think it ended up being a combination of Orchid and Bucket Full of Teeth. It uses things that I’ve learned from both and puts them together. There are times where I wonder if Ampere is too similar to Orchid, but I’m not really one of those guys who go back and listen to their own records. And when I do go back to my older music, I’ll sometimes think that old and new are related to an extent, but very different in terms of playing and song writing. But I think if anything, Ampere is the most focused, hard working band I’ve done so far in terms of honing a specific song writing agenda.
What is that songwriting process like?
Usually it starts with me spending hours writing and rewriting a guitar riff, working on riffs either in isolation or putting them together into a song, and then presenting it to the band. Then comes a long process of planning everything exactly how we want it. We don’t really skip over any detail and it’s all for a forty second long song. We’ll spend four or five practices, each one being like five hours long, just to get to the point where we’re all happy with a song. Everybody brings something to it. And usually I try not to be a stickler with my original idea, as longs as it works or sounds like what I’m looking for. It’s kind of a ridiculous amount of work and it seems outlandish but if I’m happy with the end result then it doesn’t seem like a waste of time.
Yeah, you guys played a really short set today. You probably played for a shorter time than the opening band.
I think the longest we’ll usually play is fifteen minutes. To me it’s really cool to see a band when I’m uncertain if they’re done playing or not but still really enjoyed what I just witnessed. As opposed to bands that are like “two more songs!!!” and I’m like “…uh…really?” I’ve been really influenced in terms of wanting to be fast or quick…I don’t mean fast tempos, but fast as in brevity. I guess with a lot of music I have a short attention span.
The Dovells were an important part of Bernie Lowe, Kal Mann and Dave Appell's Cameo-Parkway juggernaut, which included Chubby Checker, Dee Dee Sharp and Bobby Rydell. Hitting hard and fast with classic records like "You Can't Sit Down" and "Bristol Stomp," the quartet survived lineup changes, the departure of their original lead singer Len Barry (famous for "1-2-3") and their eventual diaspora from the top ten.
The Dovells worked the live circuit for more than a decade, orignally as a quartet, then as a trio, then finally as a duo. In the early 70s, in an attempt to forstall the inevitable metastasis into an oldies act, remaining members Mark Stevens and Jerry Gross hit on the idea of transforming the act into a comedy routine and moving the show into the lounges of Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas. Their 1976 album, "The Dovells Live On Stage" is a document of that unfortunate decision.
This is the prize-winning "Chisai Benjo" ('Small Toilet'), by Takahashi Kaito of SSI Nanotechnology, Inc. The object is magnified ~15,000X, using an SMI2050MS2 (of course). It recently won an award at The 49th International Conference on Electron, Ion and Photo Beam Technology and Nanofabrication Bizarre/Beautiful Micrograph Contest, all of which can be seen here.
Wish I knew more about this album and the man who made it. I found it in the collection of a small town radio station in Alabama where I was working in 1981. Then and now it strikes me as quite possibly the most misguided tribute to The Beatles anyone has ever attempted (I haven't seen the new film "Across the Universe" yet, but I suspect that might be worse). The album contains cover versions of eleven popular Fab Four songs, with an aria by Puccini thrown in for good measure. I'm pleased to report that Mr. Valley is equally not at home with pop and classical material. He sounds a bit like Buddy Max's citified cousin but lacks Buddy's charming Ukranianness and impressive beard mass.
I took the album home from work with me one night and made the cassette copy heard here. Wish I'd been bold enough to keep it while I had it in my hands because I've never seen another one. I've searched in vain for many years for an original vinyl copy, but it continues to elude me. Even information about the artist is impossible to find--aside from references to the appearance of "I Saw Her Standing There" on the UK compilation CD 'Exotic Beatles Vol. 2,' I've not found a single bit of information about Valley in eight years of Web surfing.
Anybody got a spare copy of this LP? I'm still looking.
Here are a couple of 45s, from Czechoslovakia (the now 'Czech Republic'). First a great rendition of Jezebel (a song made famous by Frankie Laine), sung in Czech by Karel Gott and then "Love Is A Many Splendored Thing" (again in Czech).
Then i have some rock'n'roll... a cover of "Orange Blossom Special" (Spotnicks version) played by Petr Janda and backed up by (i love this name) "Big Beatova Skupina Olympic". Side 2 is a rockin number sung by Yvonna Prenosilova, who sounds alot like Wanda Jackson, backed up by the Big Beatova band once again.
I found this tape a few years ago at the local natural foods store in my hometown of Rochester, NY. The speaker is owner of a business devoted to high-fiber supplements and fancy enemas. The winning combination of the subject matter plus Ms. Watson's charm, sales pitch and Florida twang make this tape unusually entertaining. Among the topics discussed are whether or not stools should sink or float, and what the proper position is for defecation. If nothing else, it makes a fun source for cut-and-paste fun with a sound editor. (MP3: "Bowel Movements.mp3")
I present this recording for entertainment purposes only; while I am not a doctor, I approach the subject matter with a degree of skepticism. For further information from a more conventional medical perspective on this topic, see this website. Also worth looking at would be a review of one of Ms. Watson's books.
No, I haven't read it yet — it arrived in the mail yesterday — but Robert Scotto's long-awaited biography of the idiosyncratic music visionary Louis Hardin (1916-1999), better known as "Moondog," is now officially between covers. Subtitled The Viking of 6th Avenue, the book includes a 28-track CD. Publisher Process Media's site says the book's coming out in October, but Amazon.com, which lists the book with a November pub date, has it in stock.
Scotto appeared on my program twice in commemoration of Moondog's birthday. Hear the interviews and music, and view the playlists:
I apologize in advance for the scratchiness and occasional skippiness of some of these tracks, but they're (mostly) worth it.
At some point in the early to mid 70s, famed budget children's label Peter Pan Records issued a series of themed compilation 45s with four songs on each, two to a side. The title track was always a cheapo cover version of some recognizable song; the other three were original songs on the same basic theme - usually scrounged from Peter Pan's back catalogue. The cover tunes were nothing special, and I haven't included them here. However, some of the original songs were quite delightful. Most of the songs in this selection seem to be the work of an uncredited group known as The Caroleers.
Throughout the nineteen sixties, seventies and eighties, most issues of Archie Comics featured a two-page spread titled Archie Club News. The banner at the top of the page announced, "ARCHIE CLUB MEMBERS send in your reports and be eligible to win cash prizes in the Archie Series Magazines." The results of this venture were generally irrelevant notes sent in like, "Dear Archie, I want to tell you about my infection..." Often what was sent in appeared to be part of a class project. Elementary school children were in the process of learning how to write letters and encouraged by a teacher to send something Riverdale way. Sometimes the letters were weird or even profound and other times prophetic or just silly.
The following letter originally appeared in Reggie & Me #42, July 1970:
I would like to tell you about my project for the year 1970. The project is raising money for my mother's and father's anniversary gift. My goal is $8.00. I am going to raise this money by doing odd jobs around the house and not spending any money on candy. These are some tips if someone else is trying to raise money.
5905 Electric Avenue
Berkely, Calif. 60163
Deborah was two dollars closer to her goal when she won the third prize for her letter this issue. Any punctuation or spelling errors are recreated here just as they appear in the actual comic book.
KPFK is a good radio station, but prior to the management's purges in the early '90s it was an excellent radio station. Back then it had three unusual music programs, the Tom (Recchion) and Tony (Mostrom) Show, Jackie Apple's Soundings, and David Porter's Genesis of a Music.
Once a month Porter would stop the music and invite one Bill Mitchell to expound and sometimes rant about politics for an hour. And one particular Sunday morning Mitchell invited one Lud Aarons. This is my recording of that portion of that broadcast—the transition between the two parts is awkward because I had to turn the cassette over. It gets good about 11 minutes in.
I've searched for references to Aarons on the 'net to no avail. I'm not even sure I have his name spelled correctly (I've searched variations). But I think his voice is one of those sampled by Negativland in their "The Bottom Line."
Not too long after this broadcast, Mitchell called Bill Clinton "just another fascist son of a bitch" on the air. Not too long after that the program was cancelled, as were the Tom and Tony Show and Soundings.
The Future of Music Coalition is holding their annual Policy Summit at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. next week, as I mentioned previously. Not only will this be an amazing confluence of record labels, radio stations, webcasters, policymakers, academics, lawyers, and trade groups, but now a bunch of cool musicians are slated to speak as well (see the full list of panelists here).
Lady Miss Kier of Deee-lite will discuss sampling, Charles from the Wrens will tackle broadband policy/net neutrality, Franz from the Hold Steady will talk about the state of music retail, Jon and Nick from the Spinto Band are rounding up the DIY Music Licensing Panel, while Mac McCaughan from Merge/Superchunk and Bob Mould will chime in during FMC's State of the Union panel, kicking off the event on Monday, 9/17.
Peter Alyea from the Library of Congress is also on board to discuss a new toy called IRENE, a laser beam that scans the surface of old records, digitally mapping out the audio (and simultaneously editing out dust and scratches), without ever using a needle.