I Can't Title This Humorously Without Being Disrespectful [UPDATED]

Friday, December 17, 2010

UPDATE 12/10:

This little post ended up causing a few of Billy's biggest fans to become upset, and while I've tried to explain that this site is typically written tongue-in-cheek and expresses opinions, and that I actually enjoyed his music, it's kind of hard to convince someone who's never been to our blog before that it's really all in fun. Anyway, a nice thing that happens here sometimes is that people find other fans in the comment section, and we learn more about artists that precious little information was available for online. In this case, a lady named Ruth found this post and not only shared some stories but passed along a press kit from back in the day, which I am happy to share below. Thanks, Ruth!


So I won't. Are you as surprised as I was to learn there was such a thing as Billy ThunderKloud and the Chieftones? Sounds like something from The Simpsons. I was sort of expecting them to be a lounge act, and half assumed I'd find out Billy's real name was Alvin Schneiderman. Thankfully, as tacky as the name and their getups are, these are real Indians. Canadian Indians, in fact, who made country music. Representing the Tsimshian nation, these dudes had a minor hit in 1975 with the song "What Time Of Day." Something tells me that ThunderKloud is not a real name, and that it was in fact lifted from an Amon Düül song title.

This cover of the Bobby Hebb classic "Sunny," which has been covered by everyone, including artists as disparate as Percy Faith, Electric Flag, Cher, Frank Sinatra, José Feliciano, Eddy Arnold, The Walker Brothers, and the Boogie Pimps (Boogie Pimps?!?), appeared on their shamefully named 1974 album, Off The Reservation. It's actually a good rendition. The pedal steel, even though it sounds out of place at first, really sounds great. Towards the end it sounds like the guitar player was auditioning for Elvis' band, but seeing as it was 1974 Nashville, that's a forgivable transgression.

As far as I can tell, Billy is still around, and supposedly made the rather natural transition from cheesily dressed performer to used car Nashville.
Thankfully this was not true, and I'm sorry to have cast that upon him.


The Psychic Rubber Duck

Thursday, April 22, 2010

:: Columbine ::

:: Roses For Mama ::

C.W. McCall knows a hot topic when he sees one - he’s the man we can thank for bringing us “Convoy” and lesser-known gems like "'Round the World with the Rubber Duck" and “Kidnap America,” released during the Iran hostage crisis.  But this track was, for once, not an opportunistic grab at whatever was happening in the newspaper that week, considering it came out 23 years before the Columbine incident.  But it seems strangely fitting that even his less calculating numbers collide with topical themes eventually.

The A side is in pretty rough shape - somebody must've played it a lot - but you get the idea.  Shockingly, “Roses For Mama” went all the way to #2 on the Hot Country Singles chart of 1977.  I thought the chorus was hilariously unimaginative lyrically and musically.  [My apologies for the slightly off-center sound, I lost my 45 adapter and had to just eye-ball it into place.] 


And Now For Something Completely Dated

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

:: Ayatollah, Let 'Em Go! ::

:: Wings To Fly ::


Ok, I know, we've been sloughing off lately. We go for months without posting, then we come back and post 3 or 4 times, then go away again indefinitely. We've been doing this for years now. I mean, we had 2 or 3 really good years that make up the bulk of what we've done, and I'm proud of that, but when it comes down to it, Record Robot is like a shark; it has to keep swimming or it dies. Or does it?

We keep thinking we can revive it, and bring it back to some semblance of what it was before (a functioning audio-blog), but for the most part we're satisfied having a living, breathing digital archive available on the interweb for anyone who seeks it out. We love Google too. Google searches wield all kinds of interesting fodder for us to thrive on, so keep sending those comments folks. Don't get me wrong, we love Record Robot, it's just that it's a lot of work and we're not willing or able to do it most of the time.

Which brings me to this record. I bought this probably 4 or 5 years ago with the expressed intention of exploiting it on Record Robot. Any record called "Ayatollah, Let 'Em Go" By June Wade and The Country Congregation is dying to be exploited on the Record Robot, right? I had a chuckle upon my initial listening, then set it in a pile destined for Record Robot greatness sometime in the future. Apparently that future is (finally) now.

Which brings me to another subject: The new year/decade. Jesus, it's another new decade!? Y2K seemed like it was a couple of months ago. If I'm still around in 2020, 2010 will feel like a week ago Thursday.

Obviously this record was recorded/released in 1980. Or at least I make a broad assumption based on it's subject matter. The sheer naiveté of the songwriter's intention is pretty dog gone funny. As if they were thinking the record might become a big enough hit that perhaps Ayatollah Khomeini himself might hear it be suitably impressed by the spirit and passion of the singers as to release the hostages, or something like that.

Oh, the b-side, "Wings To Fly" is much more along the lines of the kind of material JWaTCC was known for. I almost didn't include the B side because is munched. I think whoever the original owner of the record was, they preferred this side, and played it lots of times on a crappy turntable with a needle that ate the grooves in short order. Also, this song was mastered about 2 db below the A side, so I tried to compensate for it, but then more surface noise came to the top. It's almost worth it though. Hang in there. I'm tellin' ya, it's almost worth the slog.

So, Happy New Year Record Robot readers, and let's hope that in the next decade, Record Robot will be updated each working day with new music and insightful creative writing. Also it would be nice if there was like world peace and stuff. You gotta hold on hope. (and on a personal note I'll add:) It's the last thing that's holding me.


Record Robot Live, Mondays in January At The Mandrake

Monday, January 04, 2010

Hey all, if you live in the LA area and want to come out and hear myself and other Robot friends play some records, this is the month to do so. We're doing at least 3 Mondays at the Mandrake Bar near Culver City. Fun and funky little spot and you know the music will be tight. Happy New Year, and hope to see some of you soon!


A Singular Adventure!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The entire yule-log-lovin' album (ZIP)

(from liner notes)


If you are looking for something different in Christmas music - if your Christmas office parties or gatherings at home have been too much the same for the past few years, and you would like to introduce a refreshing new note into the proceedings - let pianists Ferrante & Teicher take you on an ADVENTURE IN CAROLS. The paths along which this talented team will lead you bear the old names which you are familiar - White Christmas, Jingle Bells, Santa Clause is Coming to Town, and others just as popular - but the names, plus the famous melodies, are the only things about this recording which bear any resemblance to any other version of these carols you many have heard. For this recording Ferrante & Teicher arranged the carols for two pianos - or should we say that they arranged two pianos for the carols? Actually, they did both - for, if playing conventional pianos in the conventional manner did not produce the effect the boys were after, they worked on both music and pianos until they got just what they wanted.

All over the country, of course, audiences for years have seen Arthur Ferrante or Louis Teicher rise from his bench in the middle of a performance and address himself to the innards of his Steinway - alternately muting, plucking, strumming and beating the strings. Nor does either of them hesitate to use his elbows, forearms or knuckles to elicit a desired chordal effect - not to mention an assortment of wooden and metal gadgets designed to give the pianos a new personality althogether (sic). These unorthodox and sometimes gymnastic doings are not calculated to amuse. They are an integral part of the team's very special arrangements. Their goal always is to achieve the maximum tonal contrasts and to simulate orchestral color as vividly as possible within the limitations of pianistic dynamics.

But no concert audience ever saw what Westminster's engineers saw - or ever heard what has been captured on this recording. It's not a single recording, to start with, but a double one - no pun intended. The boys played everything through once, then donned earphones and went over the same ground again, interpolating all manner of fancy figurations and fugal folderol. What with a profusion of microphones stationed over the keyboard, the gadget-laden strings and the paired celestas the results herewith are unlike any pianism, duo or otherwise , that you have ever experienced. It is as if Santa had, at last, discovered high fidelity. After so many years of hearing the same old tunes played the same old way, Old Nick undoubtedly would join everybody else in welcoming these new Christmas Sounds.


What other duo-painist (sic) can boast that they have played together since the age of six? Arthur Ferrante and Louis Teicher were fellow prodigies at New York's famous Juilliard School of Music, and even while students they appeared as a team. After graduation they gave a few joint recitals, then decided to take time out to prepare a really distinctive repertoire. Together they returned to Juilliard, this time as fellow members of the faculty, and spent all their spare hours for the next year or so working over the standard pieces and cleansing them of every last hackneyed cleche. Their professional debut as a team took place quite a distance from the concert hall, for they bowed in as popular piano duo at New York's sophisticated penthouse night club, Spivy's Roof. They were such a hit with the starlight crowd that they went on to more cosmopolitan boites like the Blue Angel, the Little Club and the Ritz-Carlton Terrace. Since 1947 they have been criss-crossing the country annually, winning laurels everywhere for what The New York Times called their "prodigious technical feats." Radio and television audiences know them for their guest stints on Piano Playhouse, the Firestone, Telephone and Carnation hours . . They have also appeared with leading symphony orchestras throughout the country. Their gift for blending the classic with the modern and the "heavy" with the "light" their extraordinary sensitivity, their technical perfection - these are just a few of the reasons why one stern Manhattan critic, echoing the national concerns, called Farrante and Teicher "the most exciting piano team of our time."

UPDATE (from Wikipedia)

Ferrante and Teicher ceased performing in 1989 and retired to Longboat Key and Siesta Key, respectively, both close to each other on the west coast of Florida. They continued to play together occasionally at a local piano store.

Louis Teicher died in 2008, three weeks before his 84th birthday. Arthur Ferrante died on September 19, 2009 at 88 (he said he wanted to live 1 year for each piano key).

Mikey Claus

One Christmas Catalogue

Monday, December 14, 2009

:: One Christmas Catalogue ::

:: Relax ::

We all know who Captain Sensible is, right? Well, then again, you may not. He was Co-founder of the British punk band The Damned in 1976. The Damned have the distinction of being the first British punk band to issue an LP (Damned, Damned, Damned 1977) and a classic it is. They went through a lot of personnel changes over the years, and disbanded quite a few times as well, but they're still together today (with Captain Sensible and founding lead vocalist Dave Vanian) and are no doubt coming to a venue near you.

Sensible left The Damned in 1984 to concentrate full time on his solo career which he had established some years earlier. Listening to One Christmas Catalogue it's hard to believe that Sensible is one of the founding fathers of British punk, but you know, by the mid-80s everything sounded like this. Still it's a catchy number an deserves more attention during the holiday season than it's gotten for the last 25 years.

The b-side is curious, to say the least. The good Captain's cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax" is a real "huh?" moment, especially as the flip side of a Christmas record. Sensible doesn't really bring anything new to the song save for some sampled film dialogue mixed in ala Big Audio Dynamite. But in any case, relax and enjoy these '80s nuggets.


This Time With Panache

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

:: Interlude ::

:: Sweet Music ::

:: Outside ::

:: Magic ::

The airbrushed van art quality cover lured me in, the shout out to the inmates of Sing Sing on the back notes sealed the deal. I would buy you, funky looking private label soul record presumably from some time in the early 80's, and I would give you a good home. I would even take you out sometimes when I DJ, though I have so far been afraid to actually put you on in front of strangers.

There is of course no information on the Internet, but this is the product of the sweat and soul of Freddie and Debra Thompson, and it was their first album. Was there a second? Well, I'll sure keep an eye out.

After listening to this whole thing a second time, I feel like side 2 is where the action is, or at least where the repetitive vibe on side 1 is shuffled off. So here it is for you, with my quick notes about the tracks.

Interlude wraps your skull in some silken electric piano chords that surely ought to remind a lot of people of DJ Shadow's "Midnight In A Perfect World."
Sweet Music is the song that is being interluded into, and were it blessed with some of the sweet brevity of Interlude, it'd be a lot more fun. Nine minutes might have been a weeeee bit too much, but there's some fun vintage dance floor sounds here and Debra does some kinda kooky jumps up to falsetto in mid-word that has me picturing Muppets. But what doesn't these days, really?
Outside is the soundtrack to the last go around on a cruise ship disco dance floor, complete with slightly dyspeptic horn lines.
Magic again starts with that hazy electric piano sound and shifts the record from cruise ship to cruisin'. You can almost hear face being sucked.