Sunday, July 31, 2005
It is with great excitement that I announce that, as in 2003, the Bubblegum Achievement Awards will get an extra injection of charm, mirth and je ne sais quois from the on-stage presence of Vancouver pop duo Canned Hamm, the Bubblegum Queen's twin consorts! Bubblegum music may never be the same...
label: Uniton Records
personnel: Andrej Nebb (bass, song), Bjorn Sorknes (gitar, organ), Sven Kalmar (drums, organ), Rolf Walin (trompet, flute), Anne-Marit Nedregaard (cello)
tracklisting: down in japan, warszawa, marmur, dwa portrety, niebeska patelnia, lad nada, wojtek, bells, buntowniki, planet of violence
some avant-garde rock (or is it goth or is it industrial) this week from a Norwegian band whose Slavic influences helped gain them a healthy Eastern European following during the eighties.
not quite the total doom fest of legend/ expectation, Holy Toy instead throws a number of inventive things into the mix of their debut album. most striking is the band’s use of reverberated and processed trumpet, adding to the haunting atmosphere of ‘Bells’ and the title track. elsewhere, the band explores everything from skewed pop (‘Lad Nada’ and the strange synth riffs of ‘Down in Japan’) to clattering industrial (‘Niebeska Patelnia’) to jazz (a undercurrent throughout). the only thing that lets this excellent album down is Andrej Nebb’s unpleasantly gruff voice, which actively works against the subtlety of much of the music. still, his deadpan warble does perfectly suit the highly charged punch of ‘Marmur’.
truly fascinating stuff.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
And thanks to the NY Daily News for running this blurb today:
SHOWBIZ GUMMYS GALORE
They've been chewed up and spit out by show business. Now some of popular music's least-appreciated artists will finally get their recognition Oct. 7 with the Bubblegum Achievement Awards in Los Angeles. Honorees at the event, tagged the "Gummy Awards," include Ron Dante (lead singer of the Archies) and novelty-song deejay Dr. Demento.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Now don't ask where you can get your copy of the shoulda been Almanac, because unless you're a book reviewer on the 33 1/3 press list, or work/shop at the Strand bookstore, you can't have one.
All the same, since some elite souls can now read an early version of the introduction and the chapter on Chris Bilheimer's cover art for Aeroplane, I'd like to share the latter will anyone else who's interested. I chose this chapter for the preview book because it was so self-contained, and I was fairly sure no last minute revelations would come along to require that it be completely rethought... something that seemed constantly possible with all the other sections. But you'll still have to pick up the book to see Brian Dewan's drawing of the Magic Radio, the lost companion to his iconic Flying Victrola.
And in case you're wondering, yes, I did see the original postcard which was adapted for the front cover--or, rather, a digital copy stored in Chris Bilheimer's hard drive. It's not reproduced in the book, both at Jeff's request and by my own preference (the former obviously trumping the latter). Trust me, though: on some level, seeing the drumhead lady's face spoils things. Not looking through piles of circa 1910 European seaside postcards to find a duplicate would be an excellent use of your time.
With no further ado, an excerpt from the book:
There are no great records without great sleeves, and Aeroplane’s is a stunner. The front cover shows a group of old fashioned bathers—though with the odd cropping it’s unclear if they are waving from the shoreline or drowning in the deeps. The central figure, a curvaceous lass in a gold-starred red costume, gazes out from a perfectly neutral visage, in place of her face an oversized, well-used drum head. That same drum is found on the back cover, strung round the tallest of the stilt-striding musicians who march across a pastoral stage-set unsuited to their blare. Externally, the name Neutral Milk Hotel appears only on the spine, and on a sticker that Merge applied to the shrink-wrap.
The record cover was a collaboration between Jeff Mangum and Chris Bilheimer, R.E.M.’s staff designer. But the first bit of art came from the pen of Brian Dewan, a visual artist, inventor, filmmaker, carpenter and musician from New York. The iconic line drawing of the enormous Victrola soaring above a smoky city is his. Brian’s first Elephant 6 collaboration came when Julian Koster asked him to provide drawings for posters to be inserted inside early singles by The Music Tapes. These singles had three-dimensional pop-up sleeves that Julian and his friends painstakingly cut out with x-acto knives, a fact Brian discovered when Julian asked if he could recommend a good die-cutter. Julian supplied Brian with words and drawings, and Brian adapted this material for the poster, which featured land- and waterscapes decorated with mysterious slogans like "March of the Father Fists" and "Every time you light a cigarette with a candle a sailor will not return from sea."
Not long after the Music Tapes commission, Brian got a call from Jeff Mangum, who identified himself as Julian’s housemate. Would Brian be interested in doing some artwork for his new record? Intrigued by the tape he received, Brian agreed to draw two things for Jeff: a flying Victrola and a magic radio. That Victrola would become a shorthand symbol for Neutral Milk Hotel and In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, but first it was just one in a stack of potential graphic elements that Jeff brought to Chris Bilheimer when it came time to design the jacket.
Chris Bilheimer was a fine arts student at the University of Georgia when he stumbled onto his dream job with R.E.M. in 1993. Grateful for the opportunity to make a living making art (and to make art on the best equipment “Losing My Religion” could buy), he was a notoriously easy touch for indie artists needing record covers or poster design. Chris had told Jeff to call if he ever needed help; for Aeroplane, Jeff took him up on the offer.
Bryan Poole recalls that Jeff “was always into that old timey, magic, semi-circus, turn-of-the-century, penny arcade kind of imagery,” examples of which he’d find in thrift shops on his travels. Among the pieces that Jeff brought Chris was a vintage European postcard of bathers at a resort, and this was the image that Chris—working closely with Jeff—cropped and subtly altered to create Aeroplane’s front cover. The other source material included a book of historic circus posters, a clip art book of cloud formations, Will Hart’s Elephant 6 logo and Brian Dewan’s aerial cityscape.
Although Chris Bilheimer mainly works on computers, his aesthetic is more analog than digital. The disparate images selected for the album design ranged from Brian Dewan’s crisp new drawing to the slightly grubby old postcard. How could all these pieces be given a visually cohesive look? Chris solved the problem by scanning the back of the postcard, and using the foxed, spotted, off-white paper as the background against which all other images were screened. In this way, everything appeared to be about the same age and printed on similar paper, with the overall effect one of slow decay. Chris even left a splash of dirt on the postcard—just above the girl’s waving hand—a touch that’s easily overlooked on the CD cover, but obvious on the larger LP jacket. The CD contained a piece of art absent from the album, two reproductions of tiny human figures beneath dramatic clouds. These images appear on the back side of the single sheet of paper on which the CD cover was printed, with the mysterious numerals “205/6” a carry-over from the back of the vintage postcard.
Instead of a standard lyric sheet, Chris arranged the song titles, lyrics (which Jeff provided) and other information like a broadsheet. Every song had a title except the one that starts “The only girl I’ve ever loved/ Was born with roses in her eyes.” He asked Jeff what to call the track. Jeff said he was thinking about calling it “Holland,” or maybe “1945.” Chris suggested he combine the two titles, which is how he named what would become his favorite song on the album.
Chris: “I wanted to have a little bit of a ‘circus coming to town’ feel without an obviously circusy-looking image. And so I laid out this whole thing and printed it out and crinkled it up and then scanned it back in and laid it on top of old paper. I work really hard to make things look like they weren’t made on a computer. Even though I’m not using traditional graphic methods—it’s the same reason bands like recording with tube amps and recording to tape instead of to hard drive—it has that tactile warmth to it. That’s what I try to do with graphic design. Especially by designing something, printing it out, fucking it up and then scanning it back in.” Most of the fonts used came from old typography books and were set by hand, although the headline is set in an especially handsome computer font derived from Vineta, an inline shadowed Clarendon designed in 1973 by Ernst Volker.
Chris had agreed to help Jeff with the design prior to hearing the record. Once he did, he was “absolutely blown away by it. I thought ‘holy crap, this is the best record in ten years!’” While this made him excited about the project, it also stirred up unexpected emotional responses. For example, during the design process, he and Jeff initially worked up a different back cover based around the lower portion of the vintage postcard, showing the woman bather’s feet trailing off into the water. Chris was very attached to the image, but Jeff decided he didn’t want to use it. Chris: “I remember almost wanting to start crying. And I was driving home, thinking, ‘I really need to back off and not be so emotionally involved. It’s not my record!’ I learned a really good lesson about designing. And ultimately I think he made a good decision.”
Although In The Aeroplane Over The Sea is not the most famous record Chris Bilheimer worked on, nor the best-selling, it remains the design he’s most proud of, and it occupies a prominent place in his portfolio, where music industry people regularly exclaim over it. Once he was bemused to find someone selling “really crappy, kinda high schooly pencil sketch of the cover” on eBay, with a description claiming it was the original layout; he emailed eBay and got the auction pulled.
Even after the art was completed and the album released, Chris maintained a relationship with Neutral Milk Hotel, often seeing them play at house parties and formal gigs around Athens. Chris recalls, “There’s three times in a row where I saw them live and I started crying. It was something you really couldn’t put your finger on. The music was really beautiful, and the lyrics might have been obtuse and not something you could directly relate to, but there was something in Jeff’s voice, just the sound of his voice, that encapsulated so many different feelings at the same time. It was just incredibly moving. I think the goal of most art is to transcend your medium or your surroundings— and that just happened at every show, for me, anyway.”
Buy Volker's Vineta (aka the Neutral Milk Hotel font) here for $24.75.
or have something engraved with it here (maybe a gravestone for a beloved turtle?)
Saturday, July 23, 2005
title: Venitian Rendezvous
personnel: Anthe (synthi), Leigh (guitar), Phil (piano, synthi), Ralph (saxophone)
tracklisting: lampadina, pallini, sportello, canzona di una notta
→↑→ certainly isn’t the last band to use a symbol as a name, but it may well have been the first. this Australian experimental combo, lead by Phil Brophy, made their mark in more ways than one through a series of deliberately diverse records put out at the turn of the eighties.
Italian references to the contrary, ‘Venitian Rendezvous’ has no obvious anchor. a highly understated rhythm section – i.e. a soft rhythm box here and there - forces you to focus on the extremely original saxophone and one-fingered synth riffs that accompany tracks like ‘Lampadina’ and ‘Canzona di una notta’. totally charming throughout, →↑→’s debut sounds not unlike a very well mannered and relaxed hybrid of The Residents (circa ‘The Commercial Album’) and the childlike duo Renaldo and the Loaf in a jazzier mood. indeed, ‘nursery rhyme jazz’ is perhaps the best, the only, description that befits the music of this fascinating EP.
erik - www.cultwithnoname.com
much like their logo-cum-name, ‘Venitian Rendezvous’ is record that points in very much the right direction.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
You never know what groovy souls will make a cameo in an otherwise ordinary news story. Today in my "other" blog, the LA true crime calendar 1947project, there's an amusing cameo by one Albert J. Kallis, who on further perusal turns out to have been one heck of a supergenius. Find out why in a little story we like to call Marooned Travelers Make Rail Station 'Home'
The Friday Night Music Appreciation Society’s ‘Lost in the Grooves’ book launch with
The Orgone Box – special acoustic set from indie legend
When: FRIDAY 29TH JULY 2005, Doors: 7.00pm
Where: The Red Rose, 129 Seven Sisters Road, London N7 7QG (Finsbury Park Tube)
Cost: Tickets: £3 on the door
This very special event sees the UK launch of the book ‘Lost in the
Grooves’ with a special acoustic set from psychedelic indie legend The
Orgone Box (Rick Corcoran), plus Cult With No Name and Helen Fisher. As
well as live music, the evening will see talks from contributors to the
book, record collectors, with a smattering of
‘Lost in the Grooves - Scram’s capricious guide to the music you missed’ Kim Cooper and David Smay (Ed.), Routledge, 2005 For the past 12 years, the L.A.-based magazine Scram has championed the work of musicians who might otherwise fly beneath the mainstream critical
radar. Here, Scram editrix Cooper and longtime contributor Smay display the sense of fun that distinguished their previous collection 'Bubblegum Music Is the Naked Truth,' in an immensely entertaining, informative and sometimes exasperating encyclopaedia, in which more than 75 contributors offer over 250 entries (a series of "miniature love letters") about their favourite artists and albums. With praise offered for works by Captain Beefheart alongside the Cowsills, no single genre or artist is considered outside the sphere of the book’s
Upon a solid framework of Beatles inspired melodic inventiveness, The Orgone Box A.K.A Rick Corcoran, adds layers of pulsing psychedelia, new wave dynamism and a dazzling overlay of classic blazing-guitar rock. Most renowned for the classic 1994 EP Judy Over the Rainbow
(Chrysalis), the recent release of no less than three Orgone Box collections have helped to finally secure the OB’s rightful place in the definitive history of British guitar pop. Performing all new melancholic material alongside radically different versions of Orgone Box classics, this rare live appearance from Rick and friends will be a truly special event to behold.
"…blows your mind and stimulates the bits beneath". The Evening Standard
"…a giant in his field". The Sunday Times
"…lives way larger than the myth". Q
"…dripping with melody and inventiveness". Goldmine
Event Information: Erik Stein - firstname.lastname@example.org - 07790 381 773
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Also: feature stories on New England rocknrollers MIKE & THE RAVENS,
garage maniacs MOTTS MEN, Ken Keseys MERRY PRANKSTERS, THE CHECKMATES
from Singapore, and Sacramentos legendary 60s garage label IKON RECORDS.
Theres also exclusive interviews with 60s Brum Beat heroes MIKE SHERIDAN & RICK PRICE, French beat icon RONNIE BIRD and a previously unpublished conversation with the late, and totally bloody great, KEITH RELF of THE YARDBIRDS
Plus dig Argentinean beat chicks Las Mosquitas; Chubby Checkers lost psychedelic album; a tribute to Charlie Crane (The Cryin Shames, Gary Walker & the Rain); Christian beat group the Pilgrims, Michael Yonkers; and a Phil Milstein essay on Nervous Norvos and the Afterlife
of the One Hit Wonder. Lots more too, including of course our GIGANTIC review section, with a couple of hundred reissues covered, along with loads of cool music-related books and DVDs.
PRICES: In the USA: $9.00 (includes postage by Media Mail; for Priority Mail
add $2). In Canada and Mexico: $11 (includes fast shipping by Global Priority
Mail). Rest of the world: $16 (includes fast shipping by Global Priority
Mail). For multiple copies or wholesale rates email us at: email@example.com
To order, send check or money order payable to UGLY THINGS* at the address below.
Or ORDER NOW by Paypal safe, fast and convenient at: www.ugly-things.com
UGLY THINGS, 3707 Fifth Ave #145, San Diego, CA 92103 USA
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REGISTERED MAIL. Ugly Things cannot accept responsibility for lost or stolen mail. Paypal is the safest and quickest method for all overseas
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
A Radio Station for Pets? DogCatRadio.com Is Born! Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) July 14, 2005 -– Whether or not you’d like to believe your ears, Morusa Records, an indie music label in Los Angeles, has launched DogCatRadio.com – an online radio station just for pets.
DogCatRadio.com plays a variety of music ranging from classical to classics to soft rock and pop. The interesting thing is that the broadcast is aimed at pets. In other words, the DJ’s direct their dialogue to pets and not humans.
On one recent broadcast DJ Steve Harris said: “It’s 15 minutes past the hour, we’ll be kicking off another round of pet-friendly music, but first, the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) reminds you to drink plenty of water and try to stay cool during the hot summer season.”
“Call it what you will, but if you’re like most Americans, your pet is part of the family,” says President, Adrian Martinez. “Sure, they get a kick out of taking a drive, or going for a walk but did you ever stop to think they might want to hear music while you’re away at work?”
“I think it’s a great idea -- a radio station we pet owners can listen to at home with our pets,” says Susan Hilton, who has already tuned in and has 3 dogs of her own. “Besides, I’d rather listen to comments regarding dogs and cats than the tabloid gossip that goes on in other radio stations.”
Band website/ordering info here.
Monday, July 18, 2005
And next Saturday afternoon at 3pm, Domenic will be joined by his Beach Boys buddies Van Dyke Parks, Danny Hutton and Tony Asher to discuss DP's new book "Smile: The Story of Brian Wilson's Lost Masterpiece" at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena. If you're lucky, there will be copies of the new Dumb Angel Gazette, too.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
We hope you'll join Steve, Dr. Demento, Joey Levine, Ron Dante, some rocking monkeys and a host of bubblegum fiends at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater in downtown LA this October 7 for the 2005 Bubblegum Achievement Awards. Visit the website to get on the mailing list and take the questionaire to reserve your seat now (no obligation, it's just a preliminary head count). And stay tuned for more fabulous announcements about the Gummy Awards!
title: Brute Reason
label: Island Records
personnel: Bernard Szajner (electronics, vocals), Howard Devoto (vocals), Michael Suchorsky (drums), Bernard Paganotti (bass), Chris Humbey (cello), Xavier Geronimi (guitar), Pierre Chereze (guitar), Joji Hirota (vocals and percussion), Kirt Rust (drums), Philippe Maujardo (bass), Schroeder (saxophone)
tracklisting: without leaving, snowprints, brute reason, Saracen cards, crash diet, deal of the century, domestic casualty, the convention, the snark
this much-revered Frenchman saw his electronic musical creation, the ‘laserharp’, stolen by compatriot Jean Michel Jarre and applied in much less appealing musical circumstances. and although ‘Brute Reason’ is not the most popular of Bernard Szajner’s albums, it remains perhaps the most interesting, if purely for a rare guest slot by the legendary Howard Devoto.
dramatic chord changes, with occasionally shrill melodies designed to create suspense, give Szajner’s albums a certain grandiose, cinematic quality. here, Devoto’s scowl gives the tense, cool electronics of the excellent ‘Without Leaving’ and slower ‘Deal of the Century’ an extra edge, although he is frustratingly low in the mix. throughout, the use of acoustic instruments to complement the electronics, take the album off in different directions, not all of which are welcome (the guitar veers dangerously towards progrock at times and the slapbass only serves to anchor the album in 1983). still, Szajner’s deft use of polyrhythms on more understated tracks like ‘The Convention’, marks them out as being most worthy of repeated spins.
more than enough (brute) reasons here to warrant further investigation.
Erik - www.cultwithnoname.com
Saturday, July 16, 2005
This just in from Lost in the Grooves contributor Jackson Del Rey:
Del Rey & The Sun Kings have just put out a limited edition postcard. Only 300 made and only 100 signed and numbered. These postcards are a collectors dream along with the art work that is simply fantastic in color and detail. There will be a different one every month. A total of 12! Start collecting yours today. You can go to myspace.com/thesunkings to request yours.
We've also still got a few copies of the Dead Boys Live at CBGB's DVD (also from MVD) and the amazing compilation of Denny Eichhorn true life comics from Swifty Morales Press, so there's no excuse for not subscribing now if you've been meaning to.
As supplies are limited, email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want us to hold one for you.
Friday, July 15, 2005
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Pop the box and you see an Egon Schiele drawing, an attenuated early modernist nude wearing her anxieties on her skin. It’s a fitting visual reference, for the Willowz are a nervous band, also a raw, ambitious, self-challenging, brilliant and perplexing one. They have great hooks, a gift for casually tossing off little bits of humor and beauty, and this timeless unselfconscious quality that’s easier heard than described. In the bland stew of indie rock, the Willowz are a toothsome morsel.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
I'd been looking forward to reading your book "Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth" for several years and finally got hold of copy and read it last month. I felt like I needed to contact (you) the editors, if only to express my major disappointment. Your book is advertised as a dark history of bubblegum music and I was looking forward to some sort of logical outline and readable history of bubblegum (a type of music I don't know much about). However, immediately upon reading the introduction and first few tentative essays, I could see it was going to be rough going. While planning the book, I'm sure you all thought it would be cute for your contributors touse as many kooky and coy references to gum, candy, sugar, sweets, etcas possible. While delving into your book, initially the candy references were annoying...then they became plain excruciating... and then painful. The painful candy references on almost every page made reading the book an almost impossible chore. But I'd paid good money for it, so I struggled through all the "gooey, chewy, yummy" references. Another glaring annoyance in "Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth" is the fact that there are NO color photographs inside...and what photos you do place in the book are all 2 X 2 inches and in gray-ish black and white. Oh, wait...I forgot...there IS a large forlorn photo of a Monkees lunch box... ...but why are all the other photos the size of large Puerto Rican postage stamps? A book about bubblegum music without color photos is beyond ridiculous. Something along the lines of a thick, colorful, well-written glossy would have been preferable and you may have sold a few more books. I'm sure by now your book as become the "textbook" on bubblegum music...however, it's clearly not. And I'm sorry I paid money for it...and I would feel guilty loaning it to friends or even donating it to my local library. Thanks for reading and better luck next time.
(anonymous disappointed reader, CA)
Editrix Kim's reply:
I am sorry to hear of your disappointment with the bubblegum book, which did receive excellent reviews from most other readers. I personally find no fault in the use of candy metaphors and double entendres by writers addressing a genre that is packed with same, and this is something the writers chose to do on their own, with no prompting from the editorial department.
A large part of your unhappiness with the book seems to be the b/w illustrations--something that we editors had no control over, and something that suggests you purchased the book sight unseen. I apologize if you expected a glossy, price-guide type tome, which is not what our book was meant to be. Printing books is expensive, and at the time (2001) color was simply prohibitive for such a hefty book and for our indie publisher. There were of course 8 full color images on the back cover, which is better than none! We are now in our second printing of "Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth." It is the hope of our publisher, Feral House, to one day issue a revised third edition--with color pics now that there are cheaper printing options in the Far East.
The bubblegum book offers thoughts on bubblegum music and culture from nearly 50 thoughtful and talented writers from the zine, music history and comics worlds, among them Jake Austen, Peter Bagge, Chuck Eddy, Alec Palao, Domenic Priore, Metal Mike Saunders, Gene Sculatti, Greg Shaw and Dave Thompson (to name just a few), more than 300 pages of bubblegum lore and exploration, a thorough index and a ton of love for this neglected genre. I'm truly sorry it wasn't the book you were looking for, but couldn't be prouder of the book we wrote.
If you're ashamed to give it to the library, why not leave it on a bus bench? Or on top of your trash can--maybe your trashman digs the Cowsills?
In 1968, the genius factory at Together Records was churning along at full speed: Gary Usher dreaming up jaw-dropping production tricks, Curt Boettcher marshalling the players (late of Music Machine, Millennium and Sagittarius), vocalist Salisbury writing an eclectic set of terrific songs that skipped between genres with liquid ease. From the countrypolitan “I Just Don’t Know How To Say Goodbye” to classic vocal pop playfulness of “Come Softly” with its hint of Beach Boys harmonies to the steel drum love song to a missing doggy to the Raspberries-meet-4-Seasons radio rock of “Do Unto Others,” this never-released album (with bonus tracks) is a cornucopia of L.A. light pop pleasure, all tied together with Sandy’s sweet and boyish vocals. Pick hit: both takes of the infectious “Spell On Me,” a great lost bubblegum song if ever there was one. Version one is a horn-heavy Tommy James-style arrangement, version two pure garage rock lunacy featuring the Music Machine gang—though they both miss out by not using the obvious lyric “gimme a chance to get into your pants.” It’s okay: I hear it in my head, and so will you.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Those of you who join us at the Bubblegum Achievment Awards, on October 7, at the Bob Baker Marionette Theatre, will be in the company of one of the most gleeful musicologists ever to strap on a pair of headphones, our esteemed Gummy Award recipient and tireless promoter of silly music, Barry "Dr. Demento" Hansen!
more info and reservation details are here
LAist: LAist Interview: 1947 Project Part II
Listen, listening to these crisp, romantic Beatlesque band tracks, I started thinking: what if leader Emitt Rhodes had never recorded Emitt Rhodes and Mirror (we’ll leave the difficult, little-heard third album out for the purposes of this riff)? Stripped of the precursor-to-genius context, I imagine the M-G-R would be treasured as a great regional pop act, with appealing harmonies, strong and sometimes unexpected songwriting (the orchestral, cyclical “You’re A Very Lovely Woman” doesn’t sound like anyone else, in L.A. or elsewhere) and a sweetly sentimental side unusual for the era. What’s missing is the soul, which alone in his shed bubbled up out of Emitt and made his 100% solo recordings into something utterly extraordinary. But from the start he was an amazing songwriter and vocalist, and the Merry-Go-Round with its complement of Grass Roots, Leaves and Gene Clark Band alums was one of the finest acts on the scene. So this comp of the rare A&M album and Emitt’s fey faux-debut demo LP is delicious stuff in any context, and Rev-Ola’s package includes stories from ER and bandmates Joel Larson and Gary Kato, cool photos and a secret bonus track of the band and label owner Herb Alpert getting all Hawthorne Pride on “California Girls.”
Monday, July 11, 2005
Mr. Ron Dante, the voice of Archie Andrews himself!
Mr. Joey Levine, singer/writer of Ohio Express classics like "Yummy Yummy Yummy!"
Stay tuned for more honoree and performer announcements, and don't forget to reserve your spot at the Bubblegum Awards, at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater in downtown Los Angeles.
There's a musty old box under the card table at the MagnaPhone stand out at the parking lot flea market. There's a lot of good records there. Here's one:
Stained Glass-Aurora (Radioactive)Open up any comic book from the late 60's and early 70's and you'll see a lot of repeat images. The stars and stripes in the shape of a hand making the peace sign, the Woodstock bird, the pollution man, the keep on truckin' trio etc. Whenever I see these images a certain hybrid of music enters my head. A sort of Blood, Sweat and Tears or Rare Earth meets Moby Grape. I have never found that sound on an actual record until now. From the kick-off "Gettin ons getting rough" which features a very soulful rhythm section, way ahead of its time, through "The Necromancer" this record has a groove. Like the images I mentioned it's not a dangerous thing, it's a mellow thing. It's an afternoon in a field in the country with some buddies, some beer and a Frisbee. This has become my favorite summertime record. Although these guys from San Jose started out doing a Beatles-esque Mersey beat thing, they evolved into this, and like so many bands that had one or two underground records and split on us, I cant help but think, "What if?"-Greg Trout
Read about more lost classics at MagnaPhone
Bubblegumfink just posted about the nutty Japanese Psycho-Ceramics line (= "cracked pots," geddit?)--which were popular novelty gifts for hospital patients in the '60s, hence the glut of "did I tell you about my operation?" hang tags and exaggerated injuries on the hideous little critters.
Fun fact: the very first Scram had a cover drawing (by Andrice Arp) of a Psycho-Ceramic, a little fellow we like to call Uncle Scram.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
MINA. In 1961, a lovely ballad by the Italian singer Mina called "Il cielo in una stanza" scraped the bottom of the Billboard Hot 100 for exactly one week at #90, whereupon Mina disappeared from America forever. So what? Why should anyone care? Because Mina happens to have been one of the greatest singers of the 1960s, that's why. She combined the best vocal qualities of Lesley Gore, Dusty Springfield, Petula Clark and Barbra Streisand - only Mina was cooler, she was sexier, and she was a bad, bad girl. Unfortunately, the English language was an obstacle she could never quite overcome (unlike Rita Pavone), so the U.S. missed out on Mina, even though she was singing in pure pop.
In 1959, the sneering Italian press labeled 19-year-old Mina Mazzini the queen of the "screamers" (i.e., rock 'n' roll singers), but they couldn't ignore her overnight success in music, TV and movies. Her first recordings were clumsy imitations of U.S. records, but she eventually revealed that she was a true rock chick extraordinaire: check out "Pij di te" (1965), her stompin' cover of Tracy Dey's "I Won't Tell," or "Ta-ra-ta-ta" (1966), an exhilarating transformation of Bernadette Carroll's "Try Your Luck," or "No" (1966), an electric-12-string collision between James Bond and "Ticket to Ride."
(click the link to continue reading Neal McCabe's article at the Catalog of Cool)
title: Circus Maximus
label: Él Records
personnel: Nick Currie, Neil Martin (emulator 2), Jane Davies (vocals)
tracklisting: lucky like st. sebastian, the lesson of sodom (according to lot), john the baptist jones, king solomon’s song and mine, little lord obedience, the day the circus came to town, the rape of lucretia, paper wraps rock, rules of the game of quoits
once described by Mojo as ‘England’s greatest living artist’, Nick Currie prefers to describe himself as someone who churns out ‘scruffy electronic pop for shy Japanese girls’. an obscenely talented and consistently controversial Scot, Currie’s debut was, however, as far from electronic pop as Lands’ End is from John O’Groats.
highly literary and beautifully melodic, ‘Circus Maximus’ is a breathtaking mixture of gentle acoustic guitar and varied keyboard embellishments of largely acoustic sounds, thanks to the use of the emulator sampler. Currie’s fragile, melancholic voice is the perfect vehicle to explore the gamut of tragic biblical and historical figures referenced here. particular highlights include the haunting ‘St. Sebastian’ and chanted chorus of ‘Little Lord Obedience’, alongside much lighter moments such as the folky ‘Quoits’ and ‘The Day the Circus Came to Town’, which introduces an ongoing interest in cabaret (and chanson) stylings.
considering how timeless and homeless much of Currie’s work is, Momus may well indeed be England’s greatest living artist.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Full ticket price, honoree and performer details are still to come, but if you'd like us to put your name on the reserve list, please answer the brief Q&A below and we'll hold your seat(s). There's no obligation, but this will give us an idea of how many people want to attend, how many guests we can accomodate, and if we have enough out-of-town guests to arrange discount hotel rooms. Most of all, it will make sure YOU don't miss out.
This promises to be an amazing night of fun and fancy, and the Bubblegum Queen and I very much hope to see you there.
BUBBLEGUM GUEST QUESTIONAIRE
1) your name ___________
2) number of tickets requested ___________
3) will you need a hotel room? ___________
4) do you prefer chair seating, or intensive marionette experience floor seating? ___________
Blasting Off with Zolar X
Of all the stars that shone brightly in the brief but beautiful night sky of Glam Rock in the 1970's, one of the most brilliantly luminescent was Zolar X. On any given day in Los Angeles after 1973, you could possibly have encountered this merry band of Martians walking down the street or at the grocery store or laundromat. Complete with antennae and sound effects, they never appeared anywhere dressed as earthlings, and most likely weren't anyway. Using the legendary Rodney's English Disco in downtown LA as mission control, Zolar X began their career rubbing shoulders with the likes of Jobriath, the New York Dolls, and Iggy Pop.
Read the exclusive interview here.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
But among notices like Magnet’s (“a stone gas… like a midnight bull session with your inner, ADD-afflicted rock geek”), Fufkin’s (“inspired”), Eye Weekly’s (“carefully written… recall[ing] Creem Magazine at its most prickly and acid”), the Times of London’s (“exemplary pop writing”) and Ear Candy’s (“the perfect book for the advanced record collector/music fan”), a turd was just dropped into the punchbowl, in the form of a 2-star (of 5 possible) review in an e-zine called Curled Up With a Good Book, by one Steven Rosen, Spirit Fan.
As is my custom with all reviews of LITG that I come across, I shared this with our contributors, and asked if they thought something like this should be included on the page of compiled reviews. Most of them who replied thought not.
But there seems no reason not to reference the pan here, at least as an excuse to reprint a few of the contributors’ interesting responses to it.
Any of us who plays in the geeky record collector world runs into these narrow-minded souls, and knows how to tune ‘em out. It’s sad to think that of the nearly 300 albums celebrated in Lost in the Grooves, one weighed so heavily in his psyche that he would devote 400+ words to rebutting Ron Garmon’s essay… thus missing the point of the book itself, which is the joy of discovering great, unknown sounds. As we say in the introduction, “somewhere in the cut-out bin of a record store in Tulsa is your favorite record and you’ve never even heard of it.” In Mr. Rosen’s case, he stuffed cotton in his ears and went “na-na-na-na-na” to make quite sure he missed its siren call.
My rock and roll love letter prescription for our rigid reader: another gorgeous circa 1970 LA album picked by Ron Garmon, Sound Magazine by the Partridge Family. But you just know he’d never let himself enjoy it. (psst! bubblegum isn't a dirty word anymore.)
A bad review should be an opportunity for reflection and improvement on the part of the reviewed, but this one fails in that aspect. I wish he had tried to prove his blanket statement that “Anyway, the writers here have a lot of this wrong. And most of this is so obscure, they could make up anything they wanted anyway.” That might have been fun to watch. I’ll just note that Mr. Garmon wrote the liner notes to the newest Best of Spirit compilation, interviewed every surviving member and devoted an entire (now sold out) issue of his magazine Worldly Remains to the band… which suggest some level of expertise, perhaps worthy of Mr. Rosen’s mentioning his name in the course of trashing his critical appraisal.
As for the suggestion that as a semi-hit record, Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus doesn’t belong in a book of this nature, as editrix, I take full responsibility for its inclusion in LITG--and it is hardly the only best-seller that we deemed worthy of reappraisal (Whipped Cream and Other Delights, anyone?). I love psychedelic pop, and I'm especially interested in LA bands. Spirit blew me away when Ron Garmon played them for me. But I did not listen to FM radio in the '70s, and I doubt many under 40 did. I looked at those freaks in the vinyl bins for years and never thought about picking up an album. I know I'm not alone. Lost in the Grooves, absolutely.
Or as the writers said it…
Tosh Berman: It's a stupid review – but it doesn't matter because it still makes the book sound interesting. It is sort of the school of 'say what you want, but don't ignore me.' Your type of book is the type for people to argue about - it's the great nature of Lost in the Grooves. For instance Jim (fellow Sparks fan) and me have an on-going argument about Sparks later records - where I think they never really ever made a bad album. So your book is a lot of fun - and of course there are bands missing or not missing. I don't think that is the point. The point is for people to discuss and think about the music they like and hate. Very simple and very effective!
Ron Garmon: I've been misread before, but that little Nazi gimp takes the fuckin' cake. I can't even write a rave review of an old album without some fanner-than-thou imbecile taking umbrage.
Jay Ferguson is characteristically modest about his "charisma" but has no reason to doubt the title "genius songwriter with a truly awesome voice." I've interviewed him twice and he would be the first to tell you he's no Tom Jones. Moreover, the band didn't want one overpowering presence, since the act was about sound and nothing else. Spirit had more than one voice, as fans of the late Randy California (author and singer of "Nature's Way") would be delighted to remind this idiot once they got up off his face.
As far as the band breaking up, I've talked to all four surviving members and there are three different stories.
As one who referred to the band as "the American Pink Floyd," (liner notes to THE BEST OF SPIRIT reissue), I can be trusted to know their catalog and appreciate this unjustly neglected act at full value. Spirit fans don't like how obscure the band is. I'm one, so I know.
Domenic Priore: "Jay Ferguson was a beautiful, blonde canyon boy with the voice of an angel and a stage stance that pre-dated a lot of the ensuing Sunset Strip rockers."
Yeh, well, pretty stupid review, basing the whole thing on Spirit... This is just the problem with Classic Rock idiots... they can't handle more than several superstar entities and that's it. Obviously, the guy only wants to read about what he already knows, which is counter to the point of LOST IN THE GROOVES. That said, the above sentence, pulled from his review, is 100% off, because in reality, Spirit did not pre-date any Sunset Strip "rockers" unless he means hessians from the '80s... which Jay Ferguson does not resemble (and Jay certainly doesn't resemble anyone in the Screamers, X, Eyes, Germs, Weirdos etc... my personal era of the late '70s Sunset Strip).
No, the Doors, the Mothers of Invention, the Byrds, the Electric Prunes, the Merry Go Round, Buffalo Springfield, the Turtles, Love, the Leaves, the Music Machine, the Seeds, the Bobby Fuller 4, the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band, Kaliedoscope, the Standells, Sonny & Cher, Jackie DeShannon, Brenton Wood, the Afro-Blues Quintet + 1, the Chambers Brothers, Dobie Gray, the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, Canned Heat, the Bees, the Humane Society... hell, EVERYBODY emerged before Spirit on the 1965/1966 Sunset Strip scene. I don't see them listed playing anywhere in Hollywood until early 1967 at Bido Lito's... Spirit weren't even around when it was all happening... by the time they came out, it was pretty much over for that scene. The way I like to put it is that after the Pandora's Box riot in November of 1966, that is the landmark moment when opportunity in L.A. really diminished tremendously... and in early 1967, Charles Manson was let out of Alcatraz and fed on the desperation in the air. Spirit, the Nazz (ne: Alice Cooper), the Stoned Ponies (as their first Troubadour ad read) and a few others actually emerged in 1967 for the first time, but for the most part the moment had truly passed... Spirit was so far from "before" any of this stuff, but then again, for Classic Rock idiots, nothing matters until 1967... and ROLLING STONE... turned the page into a new, less thrilling, less creative era.
Canned Heat also preceded Spirit in Topanga, specifically, recording with Johnny Otis in 1966, and coming in to Hollywood to play at places like Pandora's Box and the Ash Grove.
Kelly Kuvo: Oh, come on. YOU MUST INCLUDE ALL REVIEWS! There is no such thing as bad press, remember? Bad reviews are funny!
Besides, the bad reviewers of LITG make it SO obvious that they are aging imbittered lonely record dorks that can only reflect themselves in their own reviews. This guy who wrote the "2 stars" review is mad that he wasn't included in the book and obviously thinks he deserved to write about the band Spirit since he is so much more worthy since he thinks he knows so much more about the band.... I mean... what is he complaining about? What was he reviewing? It wasn't even about the MUSIC. If he really cared about music he would be happy that Spirit was included in the book. Period. I've never heard Spirit. Why should he assume that everyone has heard their music? Because his head is up his ass. HE's heard Spirit. Therefore HE's all that matters. He's didn't read the book to learn something new and get excited about trying to discover a cool hard to find record. He read it to find something to bitch about. He did and he bitched and I hope he's no longer constipated as a result. This review has nothing to do with the book and everything to do with the reviewer.
Monday, July 04, 2005
buy Hazel Eyes, I will lead you from Amazon
Sunday, July 03, 2005
label: Hi-Tech Records
tracklisting: derive, nouveau primitif, acier, noel tombe un jeudi, intervention d’un element neuter dans un ensemble vide, alerte chantee, alerte instrumentale, just, tube, afrique, bali, off-shore, feedback-fillmore
little is known about the trio of Parisian musicians that were behind ‘Clima-X’, other than the fact that Art et Technique’s only album remains one France’s most notable industrial discs.
to quickly dismiss ‘Clima-X’ as being a derivative of the likes of Throbbing Gristle would be a mistake, although the metallic drones of tracks like ‘Acier’ and ‘Bali’ are broadly reminiscent of the much under-appreciated Dome. like Dome, Art et Technique neatly avoid the clichéd notion of creating harsh and aggressive mechanical textures and instead offer up a dreamy and surprisingly warm album that, in places, leans in the direction of a gently distorted krautrock ambience. defining the sound in particular, is the delicate use of white noise and rumbling low-pass filters, making the whole listening experience somewhat similar to being trapped in a semi-musical wind tunnel.
x-treme and x-ellent.
erik - www.cultwithnoname.com
Saturday, July 02, 2005
Sesame Street Fever (1978): I’ll start with the cover, because it’s the best album cover ever. It looks just like the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, except that isn’t John Travolta disco-dancing in a white leisure suit — it’s Grover. And those aren’t the Bee Gees posed behind him — they’re Ernie, Bert and Cookie Monster.
The album includes one actual Bee Gee as well, Robin Gibb, who sings a disco version of “I Love Trash.” The record, produced by the versatile Mr. Raposo, is filled with disco covers of Sesame Street standards, among them “Doin’ the Pigeon,” “Rubber Duckie” and “C Is for Cookie.” When appropriate, the words are changed as well: In the original “Has Anybody Seen My Dog?,” Grover is happy simply to mistake a duck for a dog, but in this one he points out that the creature is “getting funky with Cookie Monster!”
Born To Add (1983): The second-best album cover ever: a Born To Run parody, with an earringed Bert as Bruce and Cookie Monster as Clarence Clemons. The title track is a knowing satire not just of “Born To Run” but of Springsteen’s entire oeuvre: It’s about a bunch of kids roaming the Jersey shore and . . . adding things. “One and two and three police persons spring out of the shadows/Down the corner comes one more/And we scream into that city night:/Three plus one makes four!”
The album, produced and mostly written by Christopher Cerf, parodies everyone from the Beatles to Barry White. The band plays tight, straightforward approximations of the appropriate genres, while the lyrics roam farther, alternately instructing the children and winking at the parents. Since I began by bemoaning the corruption of Cookie Monster, I should confess that he makes it through “Hey Food” (a track mysteriously missing from the CD reissue) without invoking a single sweet: “Hey food, me in the mood/for fish, meat or cheese called cheddar/Me eat them all before me am done/’cause not know which one/that me like better.” Sounds surprisingly healthy.