I Like Monkeys

:: Swollen Monkeys – Ghost In Hollywood ::

You know what? I like monkeys. And for that reason alone, albums by some bands that wouldn’t normally deserve my second glance instead get undivided attention, even when they are horribly named. You’d be hard pressed to come up with a worse band name than Swollen Monkeys, or a title less appealing than “After Birth Of The Cool”, but that didn’t stop me from purchasing this.

Thankfully, the album is chock full of interesting people, and horns. Lots of friggin’ horns; five horn players playing a kitchen sinkful of brass and woodwinds. Their ringleader was Ralph Carney, a prolific multi-instrumentalist who was in Tin Huey, The Waitresses, and has appeared on scads of other people’s albums, from the B-52’s to Tom Waits, in addition to his solo projects. The other eight members of Swollen Monkeys have various incestuous musical ties to each other, and all appear to have kept busy over the years, with the exception of Bill Ylitalo (Billy Litalo?), whose name I can’t find anywhere, and sounds like an alias anyway. Mars Williams went on to toot his horn with the Psychedelic Furs, and Mark Kramer would later just be known simply as Kramer, of Bongwater and Shimmy Disc fame. Here he’s credited with “noisy tape loops and some singing.” The album was produced by Hal Willner, a man possessing a long and eclectic list of credentials, among them putting together The Carl Stalling Project for Warner Bros., and a long tenure in the 80’s as music supervisor for Saturday Night Live. The latter might explain the appearance of Charles Rocket of all people on this album as a guest accordionist.

The track I’ve selected, “Ghost In Hollywood” captures their zany sound in all
its Muppety glory, and is probably the easiest listen on the album. To give you an idea what I mean, the cut just before it is entitled “Elephant Sex,” and is a series of flaccid and somewhat gross deep horn noises. See, coulda been worse.

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Thursday, August 04, 2005 12:36:00 PM

You’d be hard pressed to come up with a worse band name than Swollen Monkeys

Emma Gibbs Loves Badges. Or The Cranberries' previous name, The Cranberry Saw-Us.    

Tuesday, October 18, 2005 11:45:00 AM

Charles Rocket, RIP.    

Thursday, November 17, 2005 12:25:00 PM

hi this is Ted Orr, guirarist from Swollen Monkeys. Just so you know Billy Ylitalo (his real name) is also known as Otto Kentrol, and has been involved with many forms of music over the years.    

Thursday, November 17, 2005 12:43:00 PM

Thanks for the info, Ted! I was pretty sure all of you guys had kept busy over the years, at least more sure than I was that was Billy's real name.    

Monday, August 23, 2010 9:56:00 AM

That happens to me too. I only lead my attention to albums that have monkeys in the cover. It makes them look more attractive by fans.    

Monday, August 23, 2010 9:59:00 AM

It really drives me mad when people don't obey the regulations of not having wild animals at home like pets. How many times should that be said so people understand.    

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