Keen, swell: American troop casualties as of May 20, 2008: 4,080.
Keen, swell: Iraqi troop and civilian casualties as of May 20, 2008: Who the hell knows.
Jim Bob Northcutt of beautiful Winchester, California--take it away.
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Keen, swell: American troop casualties as of May 20, 2008: 4,080.
Keen, swell: Iraqi troop and civilian casualties as of May 20, 2008: Who the hell knows.
Jim Bob Northcutt of beautiful Winchester, California--take it away.
For some reason or another, a lot of my recent research into current music has led me to England. Besides all those doom bands from Sheffield I recently wrote about, I’ve used Gwilly Edmondez as a springboard to a surprisingly huge English experimental scene. I’ll start with Andrea Rocca.
Not that Andrea Rocca, Andrea Rocca has got to be the only ReR musician without any plays on WFMU, and surprisingly so, considering Irwin’s impact on the exotica scene: Rocca’s exotic grooves are accompanied by high pitched whirrs and bleeps only a talented acousticelectrician would know how to make. It’s like if Chris Cutler joined Combustible Edison. You can stream tracks from Andrea’s upcoming CD Bad Vibrations on his Myspace page - highly recommended. Below is an incredible short film by Edoardo De Falchi with an avant-lounge, plunderphonic soundtrack by Rocca...a 'music video', if you will...
God works in mysterious ways, and here's a pair of MP3s showing one of his strangest: a Christian comedy routine about an average Joe getting a phone call from The Man Upstairs. Although the concept sounds like it might be a Christian version of Bob Newhart stand-up, it's not exactly chock full of yuks (the high point is when the feller recalls what he said when he got his thumb caught in the linen closet, a joke which the canned laughter finds extremely amusing).
What struck me most about these two versions of the same routine is that they're almost exactly the same. The pacing is slightly different between the two, but Jerry Jordan and Ray Reeves deliver EXACTLY the same monologue, as if they're reading from the same script. To prove my point, here's a stereo mix of the two versions (13 MB mp3), with the recordings pretty much synced up throughout. It's sort of like a Christian version of Claude and Clyde, the McBeeBee twins from old Bob & Ray shows (if you remember them, and being WFMU listeners there's a good chance that you do).
Good morning everyone! Got any exciting plans for the long weekend coming up? If fate, or a big military boat, places you in New York City today, you should know that the place to be at 3pm this Friday afternoon is downtown at the Knitting Factory (74 Leonard Street). Jump ship early and join the fun as Billy Jam, Clay Pigeon, and Station Manager Ken broadcast freeform radio live, for free!! Special guests will include Bisc-1, Broke MC, Jim & Karla Murray, Kid Lucky, DJ Thanksgiving Brown, plus DoseOne and Jel from the Oakland band Subtle who are all working a double shift at the Knit today as they have a show this evening as well. Station Manager Ken has promised free WFMU t-shirts to any one who is or comes dressed up as a sailor, so it's time to pull those bellbottoms out of storage, and go have a good time witnessing the shenanigans, which will include live music, on-street mayhem, and god-knows-what-else. You can catch what is sure to be a memorable radio experience live at 3pm today, or check Billy Jam's archives to relive the magic.
91 year old Ernest Borgnine was a featured guest at the most recent Chiller Theatre Expo that was hosted at the Parsippany Hilton. I managed to get a sliver of time with him - enough to get a station ID! (MP3) While standing in line to get this photo signed - him in 1955 after receiving an academy award for Best Actor in "Marty", I could hear him saying to people "I bet you thought I was dead!" The man was hilarious, in great form- although I hoped to see his lovely wife (and beauty product mogul), Tova in attendance, he was flying solo. Check out the WFMU Aircheck program that featured ONLY station IDs (Real Audio)! Others who WERE in attendance: Elvira, Barry Bostwick, Brigitte Nielsen, Richard Kiel, Lou Ferrigno, Joe Pantoliano, William B. Davis, William Forsythe (pictured left with moi), Stella Stevens and Mickey Dolenz among many others. I've been collecting autographs for years. I'll tell you the story of one of the first autographs I ever got.
David Hevel creates wonderfully gaudy sculptures of pop star divas by combining taxidermy forms and chaotic heaps of plastic flower arrangements. The divas cannibalize each other in a mad torrent of spurting jewels and whispy blonde wigs.
Brazilian masters of funk carioca (or Baile funk as people tend to call it here) Bonde Do Role stopped by to record a live session for Liz Berg's show last week while on break from their tour with The Death Set. Miami bass, heavy sampling and manic high energy were all in full effect for this brief 4 song set.
Also included is an interview where Shooby Taylor, Elijah Wood and Diplo were all discussed but I'm really just putting it up so you can experience DJ Gorky's highly listenable vocal delivery. Somewhere in a parallel universe this guy is a voice-over star.
Thanks to Bill Bowen for engineering.
Photo Credit: Ryan Muir who photographed the band during their show at the Bowery
The first computers (a 25 min overview):
The first internet:
Early computer gaming:
The history continues as we enter the heydays of home computing after the jump...
Kicked Off the Tower - by Ken Freedman and Liz Berg
One day in 1969, an unidentified WFMU DJ aired the uncensored version of the MC5 song “Kick Out the Jams” (which begins with vocalist Rob Tyner screaming “Kick out the jams, motherfucker!”). An offended listener filed a complaint to the FCC, angering the Upsala College administration along with the local christian FM station who lent WFMU space on their radio tower for our antenna. In fact, this christian station was so upset about the incendiary lyrics that they excommunicated our lifeline from their mighty tower, forcing WFMU to transfer the antenna to a state-of-the-art pole in the ground. When the station became more financially stable in the 1970s, we built our own motherfucking tower.
Illustration by Lorna Miller
* WFMU DJ Danny Fields managed the MC5 and was responsible for signing them to Elektra Records. Radical yippie DJs Dennis Frawley and Bob Rudnick (of “Kokaine Karma” fame), booked the MC5 in New York for “the people’s concert” (the band arrived to the show in a limousine, prompting a near-riot and disillusioning many fans).
While it's a fact WFMU may tend to dabble in the realm of the musically obscure, it should be noted that we've actually had some #1 charting Billboard acts in our hallways and on our airwaves, and some of them didn't even take a wrong turn looking for Z100 or KTU down the street (we do get some kind of cred though for being on the same block Mariah Carey had her breakdown on some years ago).
The first-posting identifier of the three #1 charting Billboard artists in the list below that have *not* been on our airwaves as guests gets a free WFMU nightlight. Keep an eye on the comments section to see if you have won. Yes, all of the below have charted #1 singles on Billboard, but three people on this list have not appeared as guests on our airwaves. The rest have. BONUS: If you identify the #1 artist below who got kicked off a DJ's show here you'll get a couple bumper stickers. Got it?
Clem Burke (Blondie)
Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie)
Ray Manzarek (Doors)
Michael McDonald (Doobie Bros.)
Question Mark (the Mysterians)
In the meantime, you can enjoy would-be #1 hits chosen by WFMU DJ's, not Billboard, on Michael Shelley's show weekly.
A funny thing happened when iTunes was on shuffle the other day. I heard the familiar opening bars of a favorite song, then a familiar singing voice, then some very unexpected lyrics. Turns out that I've got three different versions of the same song, each of which offers a small clue to its origin.
These two versions, along with Duluth My Home Town, which was part of the original 365 Days Project, were part of a 1960s radio imaging package that landed in several markets across the country. "Portland" credits the song to "The Lobsters with Miss WLOB," "Austin" credits it to the PAMS Jingle Singers, and "Duluth" credits it to Claire Scott.
In 1968, Louis Armstrong received a Papal medal during a personal audience with Pope Paul VI. According to legend, when the pontiff asked whether the guest and his wife, Lucille, had any children, Armstrong answered, "No Daddy, but we're still wailing." While this story is apocryphal, there are other oddball facts about the great artist that are not in doubt. For instance, did you know that Armstrong signed his personal correspondence "Red Beans and Ricely Yours"? Or that he never traveled anywhere without both a coffee tin full of cannabis and a handy pocket stash of Swiss Kriss herbal laxatives (which, supposedly, he once raved about to the Queen of England). Or that he liked to relax during down time by penning pornographic short stories?
Well another lesser-known fact about Armstrong is that, along with the medicinal supplements stowed in his carry-on, he toted reel-to-reel recording decks with him everywhere. With them he committed to tape concerts, conversations, his own playing and talking, audio flotsam from the Satchmo Universe. Even more impressive, Armstrong adorned the audio tape boxes with alluring and vivid Romare Bearden–esque collages layering photos, news clippings, concert programs, handwritten captions and other graphic elements. Armed with scotch tape and scissors, Armstrong spent countless hours entertaining himself, squirreled away in the den of his home in Corona, Queens, making visual music. Here is a sampling of the maestro's handiwork:
More than a thousand such collages reside in the Louis Armstrong Archives, which are housed at Queens College in Flushing, New York. For more details on Louis Armstrong's remarkable forays into the graphic arts, see the article in the Spring 2008 issue of The Paris Review. For a copy of Satchmo's recipe for Red Beans and Rice (with a Swiss Kriss chaser), go here.
A couple weeks ago we explored the improbably wacky world of country tango and rhumba songs, which functioned as a follow-up to a previous post about hillbilly mambos. We now turn our attention to country twist songs.
The Twist officially came to life in January 1959 when King records released the song as a Hank Ballard & The Midnighters B -side. The A-side, Teardrops On Your Letter, reached #4 on Billboard's R&B charts. The Twist also managed to claw its way onto the R&B charts, stalling out at #16. Chubby Checker's version of the song, recorded about a year and a half later, was given a colossal boost by Dick Clark who gave it considerable airtime on his American Bandstand program, resulting in a #1 song on the pop charts in 1960. It eventually faded from sight only to return to #1 again in early 1962, making The Twist the only recording to ever accomplish the feat of reaching #1 twice.
As a bona fide case of twist fever swept the world, countless twist-sploitation records were released in an effort to capitalize on the craze. Not surprisingly, some of those efforts were country 45's and those are the ones we're saluting today.
Hardrock Gunter & Buddy Durham - Hillbilly Twist (2:07) This masterpiece came to my attention via the LP compilation Twistin' Time Vol. 2 (Knight Records). Not everyone enjoys it though: in Nick Tosches' Unsung Heroes Of Rock 'n' Roll, he dismisses it as a truly singular atrocity. Normally, I'd probably hold a grudge, but elsewhere in the Hardrock Gunter chapter he describes another failed effort as follows: "Even though it was a bad record, it failed to sell," which is pretty damn funny.
Al Sherron & The Blue Sky Rangers - Twistin' Is A Funny Thing (1:37) Al Sherron takes care of business quite efficiently here, in just over a minute and a half. And he works in some yodels so what's not to like?
8 more hillbilly twist excursions after the jump...
Just over a year ago I posted an article about the elusiveness of the background music from the late nineteen sixties Spiderman cartoon that was produced by Grantray-Lawrence and Krantz Films (and sometimes featured Ralph Bakshi as a director). It has gone through some serious revisions since then and you can read it here. The program enjoys cultish adoration due primarily to its incredible music score. Anyway, the basis of that article was all about how awesome the music from the show is and how impossible it seems to be to track down the original masters. Well, that problem, I am happy to say, has been solved - at least in part. The second and third season music tracks come from the KPM music library in England, they still exist, and they sound great. I did a podcast today pitting the muddy sounds of the music as it sounded beneath the dialogue and sound effects of the original show against the crystal clear master copies of the background music. The podcast also features some reminiscence from the man who provided Spiderman's voice in the series, Paul Soles.
Perhaps the most revelatory piece of information that the discovery of these KPM masters unearthed is the name of the tracks themselves. Since the music was recorded for generic purposes to be used by anybody for any project or production, the sounds do not possess Spiderman related titles. However, if you've ever had the frightening experience of watching the notorious episode Revolt in the Fifth Dimension, you likely felt that it was a psychedelic cartoon made by animators high on acid. Turns out that the title of the crazy music in that episode was, indeed, titled LSD!
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of taking an introductory workshop at the Gestalt Center for Organization & Systems Development in Cleveland. The workshop was run by one of the preeminent figures in the evolution of Gestalt OSD, John D. Carter, along with his wife Veronica Hopper Carter, and, as I sat in the room throughout the weekend looking over at his name tag, I kept hearing clarinets! Of course, John Carter was also the name of one of the greatest clarinetists of the last 50 years.
Like John D. Carter, John Carter embodies a dual legacy as an educator and as a master of his field, a mastery that was actualized with his topical five album mega work on the African American experience called Roots and Folklore: Episodes in the Development of American Folk Music begun in 1982. The licorice stick is primarily associated with pre-war music, from dixieland to Johnny Dodds to Benny Goodman's swing before it was pretty much outmoded by the lower register of the more "modern" saxophone. John Carter's position as the jazz clarinetist of the new thing is rooted in a deep sense of the instrument's history. Nestled within his taut compositions are dusty folk melodies, African elements, and constant references to the jazz past along with passages of free playing and typical '80s synth investigations. Like Muhal Richard Abrams or Jaki Byard or George Lewis, Carter's outside experiments acquire meaning and substance because of the hundred or thousand years of culture winding its way through his instrument with each breath.
Coincidentally, I've also been making my way through recordings from jazz critic Gary Giddins' "Post-War Jazz: An Arbitrary Road Map" a piece written for the Village Voice Jazz Supplement back in 2002 in which Giddins picked one representative tune from each year from 1945-2001. It's a decent summation and, if you can assemble the playlist, a pretty interesting auditory journey through the last half of the century. John Carter represents 1987 with a starkly intimate and technically nimble tune called, "No Country Home" from his album Fields, that begins like musique concrete and ends with a bluesy harmonica solo.
John Carter - On a Country Road (from the Fields LP on Grammavision, 1987)
John Carter Octet - Dauwhe (from the Dauwhe LP on Black Saint, 1982)
There's lots of info out there about Carter's early Texas affiliation with Ornette Coleman, his switch from saxophone to clarinet, his longtime association with great trumpeter Bobby Bradford, who shares a similar sense of total musicality. The excellent blog Destination: Out featured Carter twice last year with tunes from Dauwhe and his Castles of Ghana album, and while the tracks are no longer up, if you're interested in this stuff, the knowledge is worth peeping.
I recall back in the 1980s having a conversation with a young woman who was in a '60s-style garage band who told me that she didn't care for the Beatles. Pushing aside for a minute that to my ears that's like being a baker who doesn't like bread, i do recollect that she did cop to enjoying one Fab Four song: "Tomorrow Never Knows." A revolutionary recording in so many ways, this number, basically the Tibetan Book of the Dead marinated in LSD, is still the go-to Beatles tune for those music types normally too cool for that "yeah-yeah-yeah!" teenybopper candy. And if we've learned anything in these Fake Beatles posts, it's that distinctive means easily copied. (All songs MP3)
Los Shakers: "Espero Que Les Guste 042" The title of this track from 1966's Shakers for You LP translates to "I hope you like it 042" (and no, they probably don't know what the 042 refers to, either). As for the Fabuloso Cuatro de Uruguay, i've been gathering Fake Beatles for about 30 years, and Los Shakers are, hands down, the greatest synthesizers of both the early Fabs and the later psychedelic era. Surely done with a tenth of the time and budget expended on the original, "Espero," thanks to Los Shakers' Spanish-accented English lyrics, comes off as just as lyrically obtuse as those mystical insights John Lennon cribbed from a book whilst tripping.
Matthew Sweet: Lost My Mind From 1995's 100% Fun album, this bit of neo-psych musing from this pop prince has all the requisite trippy trappings. That includes lyrics such as "We follow the same sound / Standing on the ground," which would mean less than nothing if you've never had a Love Special Delivery from Alice Dee and didn't spend your £sd to acquire a London Social Degree.
Squire: No Time Tomorrow This '80s mod revival band, as befitting the resurrected '60s genre, worshiped all things Who and Small Faces. Yet leader Anthony Meynell also displayed a serious Beatles hankering, with songs veering from the "Please Please Me" rewrite of "The Face of Youth Today" to 1982's "No Time Tomorrow," on which his phased vocals and droning guitars and McCartneyesque bass line justifies the tipoff word "tomorrow" in the title of this tune that doles out about 25 percent to the "Taxman" as well. Extra points for the Beethoven's Ninth intro; points deducted for introducing too much melody (and a bridge) into the track.
The Rutles: Joe Public Of course, Neil Innes had to introduce a little Ron Nasty-ness into the mix. "Joe Public" is an Innes solo composition that he Rutle-ized for 1996's Archaeology comeback album. A lovely and lovingly rendered addition to the Pre-Fab Four canon, the song's lyrics are of a soicopolitical instead of metaphysical bent. More funny-peculiar than funny-ha-ha, "Joe Public" carries on the Rutles' winning streak and marks Innes' completion of every Beatles archetype.
The Chemical Brothers: Setting Sun and The Chemical Brothers: Let Forever Be If you held a Revolver to their temples, this electronic music duo would be forced to admit to owing their entire existence to "Tomorrow Never Knows." Therefore, it's unsurprising that they have turned off their minds, relaxed and floated downstream on two separate musical occasions. It also surprises no one that they employed the vocal assistance of one Noel Gallagher, a man who surely knows a thing or two about faking the Fab. "Setting Sun," from 1996, got them sued by Apple, who mistakenly accused the Chem Bros. of sampling the original. How did they celebrate their victory? By going at it again with 1999's "Let Forever Be," once again using the Oasis leader to season their song.
Apologies to all my close associates and people who listen to my show regularly, because you're already sick of hearing me talk about how freaking great this compilation CD Downer Rock Genocide is. It came out on Audio Archives in Sweden in 2000. My friend Mark initially gave me heads up about it a while back, I then found one place that sold it in the UK and my order promptly disappeared over the Atlantic somehow. In the meantime I had a burn of some MP3s while every one of my friends I raved about it to managed to secure their copies (argh). Man, this thing is king on so many multiple levels; I'm not a huge fan of rock compilations in general (if anything I'll rip a few songs here and there that I like), but this one is a big exception. For those of you who aren't so into 1970s prog and metal, this is the most punk prog/metal comp you'll hear. Badass, Marshall-stacks wielding apes like the Iommi-produced Necromandus, Iron Claw, Hackensack and more all laying holy riff waste. There's Judas Priest's Glen Tipton in his old Flying Hat Band, another band called Iron Maiden (no relation), and unbelievable song "Dog Man" by Monument that I put on my Marathon metal premium CD this year. It's a horror-Goblin style story about a guy who bites women and drags them underneath the city, it's so demented that it makes Arthur Brown look like mere showbiz. The band Egor, who apparently opened for Sabbath, present a scuzz-fidelity live cut that starts with ungodly frayed-cable feedback and burns like a boogie-metallic "Sister Ray" more than anything. The disc winds down with a Writing on the Wall track "Lucifer Corpus" that has a guy doing an Iggy impersonation cackling how everyone's "all gonna die" as the second half of the song swirls into oblivion. Then the compilation ends with the sound of bombs and tank artillery for a minute and it's over. Completely nuts. And based on the cover, I can't wait to have a proper copy to check out the rest of the artwork; unfortunately for anyone who wants to buy it, imports are $36 and up. But if you're at all interested in proto-metal, proto-punk, the Vertigo discography, Sab influence pre-MTV metal, or just top grade, doom-laced rock in general it's a must-have.
There's a few other tunes floating around in WFMU's archives you can listen to on Real Audio.
Why do I love Merzbow's music? Total, uncompromising sensory envelopment. The sheer aural bombardment and crafty sonic layering of Masami Akita's finest recordings seek and destroy in the darkest corners of my psyche, wiping clean my floating anxieties and pettiest earthbound concerns. There's simply no room left for bad thoughts. While many a listener is sure to find this music to be one long bad thought, I (and I suspect a great many others*) find sanctuary in the bleeps, crashes, blasts and buzzes—the explosion of sound that is Merzbow.
As promised in my last post, here are some of my Merzbow singles, not all of them (apologies to those expecting the mother lode; much of my vinyl sits in storage) but the essential two I keep at the ready to listen to any time. Masami Akita has typically demonstrated a reverence for the 7" format (especially considering his style of not-necessarily-singles-ready music) such that both of these discs are zingers that make the most of the allotted space/time. That said, one of the singles, SCUM - Steel Cum is available as disc 35 of the Merzbox** in a presumably full, expanded form, broken out into individual tracks. Personally, I prefer the condensed wallop of this 7". The other, Music for 'The Dead Man 2: Return of the Dead Man' has never been digitally reissued anywhere. Curiously, when preparing this post, I realized that both discs were release number 7 for their respective labels, and that both are pressed on see-through bright yellow vinyl.
Music for 'The Dead Man 2: Return of the Dead Man' (Robot 1994)
Side A (Fire; Burning Building of Waco, Texas; Taxi in the Car Wash)
Side B (The Beach)
(Be careful when clicking on the thumbnails of the sleeve artwork; some images are nsfw.)
*Just take a look at this list from OkCupid.com of "Singles Interested in Merzbow." Quite impressive, as never once in my single years did I consider my interest in Merzbow a potential springboard to dating.
**Incidentally, Merzbox 37 is Newark Hellfire - Live On WFMU, 1990.