Mostly You Just Never Can Tell

Friday, July 29, 2005

:: Space Monkey - Walking Through Wonderland ::

Does anyone remember the '80s? Of course, everyone fucking remembers
the '80s, unless you're like 16, and even then you've been subjected
to so much '80s nostalgia during the course of your life you can't
help being an '80s expert, fer Christ's sake. But does anyone remember
Space Monkey? No doubt somebody does. Walking Through Wonderland
seems like a pretty good example of what the '80s sounded like, just
in case anyone didn't know. Not bad actually. Kind of makes you wish
you were young again, and forced to listen to this kind of shit. It
was either that or the same old '60s and '70s crap (soon to become
known as "classic rock"), and fuck that shit. The '60s and
'70s are the reason why the '80s sounded like fucking Space Monkey.
Also, hair product advances made it possible for a man to look like
Pia fucking Zadora.

The brainchild of one Paul Goodchild, the band's name apparently had
something to do with his belief that man evolved from space aliens
(?). They were signed to Innervision Records in the UK (along with
Wham!!!), and MCA in the U.S. Space Monkey released a couple of
singles and an album before being left for dead on the scrapheap of
failed '80s commercial attempts. Since there's nothing but keyboards here,
it's no surprise that one of the members of Space Monkey ended up in
Mike + The Mechanics.

I chose the B side of this single only because I liked it and maybe
it's even more obscure than the A side ("Come With Me"). In any case,
Walking Through Wonderland stands as a shining example of something
that didn't click, during an era when what DID click didn't
necessarily mean it was anything more than gimmickry that connected
with the masses for some unexplainable reason. Hey, wait a minute.


Cha Cha Cha!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

:: Klaus Flouride - Gruesome Stains ::

Between 1982 and 1985, the Dead Kennedys took a break from recording, allowing band members to work on other projects. Bassist Klaus Flouride produced some Alternative Tentacles releases for other bands and recorded his own mini-lp, “Cha-Cha-Cha with Mr. Flouride,” which tongue-in-cheekly promises to deliver songs to “cha-cha-cha the night away” while giving us tracks that would be hard to tap your foot to, let alone dance.

Instruments consist mainly of cheesy synths, cheap sound effects, drum machines, and twangy country guitar goodness, with Flouride playing them all himself (except on the rockabilly, “My Linda”, featuring DK drummer, D.H. Peligro on drums and Ricky Sludge on piano). This is a simple, yet diverse and fun album, filled with sarcasm and humor. Standouts are a dry, insincere version of the country standard, “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky” and “Dead Prairie Dogs”, the ruminations of a cowboy who “tortures cows and tortures cattle” for a living, yet goes berserk when he sees dead prairie dogs on the side of the road. Most eerie is this Negativland-ish sounding cut, “Gruesome Stains”, an edited tape loop of outtakes for a cleanser commercial, set to dark synth tones, pulses, and slowed down voices for a sort of demonic result. Have a listen, but first make sure to slip into your best Latin dancing shoes.


Do The Bike Hustle

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

BeBe and Donnie Singer – “Bi-Cycle”

If any type of music ever exhausted its own resources and overstayed its welcome, it was Disco. The funny thing is that by the time the real Disco scene had all but petered out, the whole world knew what it was and you saw way more Disco crap than ever before. The disease permeated the airwaves, and even established bands that shouldn’t need a gimmick, like the Rolling Stones, were putting out Disco flavored albums. As long as there was cocaine and horny white people, Disco would not die gracefully, and it was the early 80’s before Disco finally coughed its last polyester breath. I’ve always maintained that the 70’s didn’t truly end until around 1982, and if you watch any movies or TV from that era, the wardrobe choices bear me out. I blame Disco.

So here is another terrible parasite that tried to suck some of the remaining lifeforce from Disco’s putrefying corpse. Since you could take just about anything and make it Disco, these two decided to combine the craze with… bicycling. No, it doesn’t make any fucking sense. The one redeeming part of the song for me is one B-52's quality "wo-ho," and you soon forget about that when your mind is choked by a heinous cloud of fluttery Disco flutework. But hey, it’s got its own Arthur Murray dance step -- that may have been some serious currency in 1978.

They look like nice enough folks, but I refuse to learn anything about the people responsible for this record. Perhaps they were later mauled by a Disco bear on a Disco camping trip. More likely they are somewhere in the San Fernando Valley teaching dance, and made a small fortune when the whole Swing thing came back -- I’m sure they could have adapted this song into the Bi-Cycle Zoot Daddy Swing. In closing, I’d like to compliment the 10 year old that drew the Bike Hustle logo. Great job!

Update: OK, my curiosity got the best of me, and I Googled these two Disco wizards. No info on BeBe, who probably has a different name by now since very few marriages span from the Disco age to the reality TV age, but Donnie is apparently tickling the ivories every Friday night at the Hyatt in Huntington Beach.


Feel The Tingle, Right After A Swim

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

:: The Four Freshman - Holiday ::

You've probably heard of The Four Freshmen. You know their jazzy
harmonies influenced Brian Wilson. Well forget all that shit, we're
talkin' "Holiday", motherfucker! The fact that this song was done by a
band I admire makes it hard to make fun of, but Jesus Christ, you
can't not make fun of this record. It's an easy target and a cheap laugh, but it keeps getting better as it goes along.

The Four Freshmen were a great, innovative vocal group. And on this,
their first album, they did all the instrumentation as well.
"Holiday" was probably something from their live act; the part of the
show where the individual members got to take solo turns. I don't know
which freshman this is, but WOW! And those lyrics! I think these fresh
guys might have influenced Mel Brooks more than The Beach Boys or the
Manhattan Transfer.

I recently attended the dedication ceremonies for the Beach Boys
California State Landmark, at the site of Brian Wilson's boyhood home
in Hawthorne, CA. We were honored by the presence of Bob Flanigan, the
original high voice of the Freshmen, whom Brian emulated. I certainly
mean no disrespect for The Four Freshmen, but this is some funny shit.


Going To Hell For Laughing, Part Sixty Four

Thursday, July 21, 2005

:: Gary S. Paxton - The Big "A" = The Big "M" ::

Prepare to have your mind blown. I will never forget the first time I slapped this on my turntable. I had wracked my brain trying to guess what the hell the Big A and the Big M were, and why they equaled each other. I won't spoil it for you, just listen to the song. Me? I literally fell on the floor about 30 seconds into this beauty.

The artist is Gary S. Paxton, who at one point was in a band called The Pledges with future Byrd and Flying Burrito Brother of the Purple Sage, Skip Battin. (They later performed as a duo with awful monikers like Chuck and the Chuckles, Clyde Gary and his Orchestra, Gary and Clyde, and Flip and Skip!) After those zany halcyon days ended, he was one the of the Hollywood Argyles, singing their hit paean to a comic strip neanderthal, "Alley Oop." He also did some producing and engineering for artists like The Association, and even studio vocal work for Ernest Tubbs, Charley Pride, and Waylon Jennings. Perhaps most importantly, he ran a few record labels, the pharmaceutically named Garpax Records (where he conspired with Boris Pickett to make "Monster Mash" a graveyard smash) and a tiny but important country label called Bakersfield International.

At some point in the early seventies, he found God. Or maybe he was already religious and was hit in the eye by a laser at a Blue Oyster Cult concert, pushing him totally over the edge. It was around this time that he started a new label, called simply Pax, and started putting out records like these. Thank God. Though this is most assuredly a Christian record, he manages to tip us off that he's a Republican as well. I still can't believe this is on red vinyl, and I also can't believe that in 1978, of all years, this born-again huckster didn't notice that the logo on the sleeve looks like little Space Invader naughty bits. Sadly, the phone number below them does not ring through to Gary Paxton, or to God, unless He lives in Kansas City, Kansas and goes by Bob.


The Shiny Gem In The Poo

:: Hüsker Dü - Erase Today ::

SST was one of my favorite labels back in the day, sporting a terrific roster of bands, though that roster is hardly evident or interesting on “The Blasting Concept, Volume II.” The album is truly a chore to get through in one sitting. Most every song is uninspired, be it Minutemen’s cover of Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love”, Meat Puppets painful version of Willie Dixon’s “I Just Want to Make Love to You” or “I Can See You” by Black Flag, who were in the process of weeding out. The one shiny nugget that makes the album worth the whole $3.49 I paid for it is Hüsker Dü’s, “Erase Today.” It’s got all the components that made Hüsker Dü essential - slashing and distorted guitar, tight rhythm, and relentless lyrics that charge along, lashing out at you by song’s end. It’s a New Day Rising outtake, and I’ve often wondered how this song didn’t make it onto that album, while “How to Skin a Cat” did. Not that I’m complaining; New Day Rising is still probably one of the most important albums to come out of the ‘80’s.


What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love & Understanding?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

:: Bruce Kosaveach - Mr. Blue Jeans ::

I have to thank my friend Alec for turning me on to Bruce Kosaveach.
He found this LP in a thrift store, and immediately
fell in love with it. "Mr. Blue Jeans" is one of Alec's favorites, and
it kind of sums up what Bruce is all about.

Mr. Blue Jeans is like an old, homeless dude. He had a guitar
"strapped to his back",but "people could hear his music, and he didn't have to play loud". Bruce miraculously also crammed the line "love, peace and
understanding" into the mix.

The credits make it clear this was no minor effort. Recorded at
location, Burbank, Cal. in 1975, a keen eye spots Toto's Jeff
Dad Joe on drums throughout.

Bruce Kosaveach runs deep in my neck of the woods. Big thanks to my
friend Mikey, for obtaining this copy of TTA for me.

"Essential, essential listening" - Victor Lundberg

El Boogie Rock

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

:: Crater - Narciso ::

So it’s come to this. I’m sitting down about to write about Spanish boogie rock. Well, I had no other plans tonight anyway. I picked this up from the now sadly demised Record Rover on Venice, which had a stunning collection of odd vinyl that seemed to get even odder when you started going through the 45’s. Obviously once again the cover sucked me in.

I don’t know which I saw first -- the logo, which looks like the lesbian symbol imprisoned in a wicked Tonka chastity belt, or the band photo. Either way, the stoner Han Solo and the gentleman on the far left who is the unfortunate melding of Mick Fleetwood and Inspector Clouseau were just too much to pass up.

The A side, “Rock Mama”, has a title that only Dirk Diggler could love, and is just bad, bad rock. “Narciso” however, cooks. I don’t care much for the singer, who sounds like a bar band belter at worst, and Lenny Kravitz at best, but it pretty much matches the music. Other than the rather tired device of starting off the song like it’s the ending, and the few parts during the verse where the bass skitters off into spastic disco-era ELO territory, it rocks all the way through. Just when the clomping, stomping beat might start to lull you a bit, a nice change in the chorus with almost Zappaesque riffing over a stop-start drum part jerks you back awake. The solo is hot and sloppy, and unlike most hot and sloppy things, doesn’t overstay its welcome. Narciso is just Spanish for Narcissus, which means it's either a song about someone in love with themself,'s a song about a daffodil.

The only info on the band I have comes from the single itself. There's a pretty ridiclous press release included that at the very least tipped me off to the fact that the Spanish language has its own dumb rock cliches. It came out in 1979 on Chapa-Discos (check out their awesome Crumblike Coca-Cola bottle cap logo above), which evidently was a hard rock and prog label.


Ladies & Gentlemen: The Nashville Moog

Thursday, July 14, 2005

:: Gil Trythall - Nashville Moog ::

I've been buying an inordinate amount of records lately. I've probably
acquired a thousand LPs since the beginning of the year. I'm going for
quantity more than quality. I'm not going for the big ticket items,
but along the way you happen to pick up some anyway. This isn't one of
them, but I had to own a Moog album, so this is it. The album's called
Nashville Gold - Switched On Moog - Featuring Gil Trythall, but this
track is called Nashville Moog. It's not even listed on the back
cover, only on the label (oh, and the front cover). But it's there,
and I found it dammit!

Nashville Moog is the only original composition on the album. The
other tracks are all covers of stuff like King of The Road and Poke
Salad Annie (you know, Nashville Gold!). So on Nashville Moog you get
to know the Artist hisself; Gil Trythall.

Not much is known about Gil Trythall, not by me anyway. The caption
under his picture tells more about him than can be found anywhere
else. He was like this dude, who played country music on a synthesizer
in the early '70s, so he was like a pretty cool dude I guess. At the very least, this track will teach people how you actually pronounce Moog.

Great. Now I wanna see his underground movies.


A Souvenir From Heidnik's House Of Horrors

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

:: Serial Killers - Heidnik's House of Horrors ::

:: Serial Killers - 20th Century Cannibal ::

Back in the summer of 1988 I was flipping through the stacks of vinyl at the Philadelphia Record Exchange, and overheard a guy (who turned out to be a member of Philly gore-punk band the Serial Killers) laughing and telling the guy behind the counter, “…yeah, the other night we dug up a trash bag full of dirt from Gary Heidnik’s yard. We’re going to include a baggy of it with each copy of our next 7 inch.” My ears instantly perked up with morbid fascination and I made sure to grab a copy when it came out.
Gary Heidnik - torture killer, self-proclaimed bishop of his own church, paranoid schizophrenic, rapist, and cannibal - had become infamous, at least in the Philadelphia area, the year before when one of his victims had escaped and led police to his house and the three remaining sex-slaves chained in his basement. Police also discovered an industrial meat grinder, a pot of cooked, ground up human remains, and a fridge stocked with human limbs in his kitchen. Heidnik’s behavior and his dungeon-basement were later used as a model by Jonathan Demme for the character of Buffalo Bill in “The Silence of the Lambs.”
Pressed on blood-red vinyl, only 1000 copies of this sucker exist (mine is #209). Each did indeed come with a bag of dirt from Heidnik’s front yard, stapled to a Statement of Authenticity.

“Heidnik’s House of Horrors” is an ode to a madman, and though I shouldn’t, I can’t help but laugh with lyrics like “He had a basement straight outta hell/Marquis de Sade would think it was swell”; “Hung some girls up from the rafter/Good, clean sex isn’t what he was after”; or even, “Cruising the city in a Cadillac/Some poor ho tied up in the back.” There’s demented comedy to be found here, though you must first dig through the rudimentary melody, double-bass drum attack, and excessive guitar solo. Side two is, “20th Century Cannibal”, complete with knife sharpening sound effects and a brighter chorus than side A, “I’ll drink your blood and chew your bones/Girl I know just when you’re alone.” Yeah, um…sing along. Just don’t let the neighbors hear you.


If You Can't Come Yourself...

Friday, July 08, 2005

:: The Dynamic Superiors - Don't Call Nobody Else ::

When I see a dude who looks unnervingly like the housekeeper from The Jeffersons on the cover of a bargain bin album, I am just gonna have to pick it up. This Motown act from Washington D.C. scored a minor hit in 1975 with the song "Shoe Shoe Shine," which you can find on a few Soul compilations, as well as on this eponymous album. It was their first effort, and it sure didn't hurt that the star writing team of Ashford & Simpson penned all but one of the songs. Frontman Tony Washington was openly and glamorously gay in a way that David Bowie only wishes he could have been back then. His impassioned, sassy falsetto set against the other lead's sugary tenor is just one part of what makes this track cook. This is most certainly some Motown flavor, and both this and the other track on this record arranged by Arthur Jenkins make me want to get up, get my groove on, and embarrass myself. None of the Dynamic Superiors 70's albums are in print, or ever appear to have been released on CD, but they damn well should be. I also wonder whatever happened to the fabulous Mr. Washington.


The Noisiest BJ Ever

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

:: "Z" - Climax One (Merciful Edit) ::

This one's short but sweet. I couldn't resist the scandalous red
cover, the anonymous "artist" name, and the obvious, grotesque sexual
references. I knew it was gonna be good. But in reality, it's not that
good, in any way. This is a very short snip of a 13 minute track; all
of side 1, "Climax One". Guess what side 2 is called? I chose this
portion because it's the head job section. Enjoy.


Note from Tony: This is about as sexy as Neil Hamburger's "X-Rated Hot Dog Vendor" skit. It sounds like someone misusing a saliva ejector in the cheesy keyboard circle of Hell. Yuck!

A Real American Hellbilly

Monday, July 04, 2005

:: Elvis Hitler – The Ballad Of The Green Berets ::

This American chest-thumper is brought to you by the defunct Detroit psychobilly band, Elvis Hitler, off of their out-of-print 2nd LP, Hellbilly. It's a cover of the 1966 smash hit, "The Ballad of the Green Berets", written and recorded by a true hellbilly, Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler.

Sadler led a thoroughly interesting American life, which I'll try to recount here briefly. Born in New Mexico to a broken family, he moved around a lot throughout the Southwest, his mother taking work where she could. At the age of 12, he was living in a logging camp and being exposed to Mexican and Western songs, began to teach himself to play the guitar. He dropped out of high school and hitchhiked around the country for awhile until enlisting in the Air Force and later re-enlisting in the Army, earning his green beret after being recommended for Special Forces.

He was injured in 1965 by a Vietnamese punji stick while leading a patrol in Saigon. Recuperating in the hospital, he sang and wrote songs for fellow wounded soldiers. A television news crew happened to film him one day performing, "The Ballad of the Green Berets", and aired it back home. It became a huge sensation, tapping into the consciousness of those who were sick of the dissent surrounding Vietnam and yearning for confirmation of American valor and heroism. RCA signed him and he recorded a full album of soldier songs, quickly selling two-million. After donating much of his royalties to fund Vietnam casualty charities, Sadler acted in a film, became a bar owner, then moved to Nashville in an attempt at becoming a country singer. In the mid-1970's, he shot and killed a man outside of a bar (the man had threatened him inside) and was convicted of second-degree manslaughter. Undeterred in the late 1970's, he began a successful series of 24 novels based around the character of "Casca, the Eternal Mercenary", a Roman soldier who stabbed Christ with a spear and was cursed to walk the earth until the second coming. In the early 1980s, he moved to Central America to train and supply arms to the Nicaraguan Contras. After a night of carousing in Guatemala in 1988, he was shot through the head in either a mishap with his own gun or an assassination attempt by drug-runners looking to steal his cache of firearms. This event remains shrouded in mystery. He was flown back to the United States by the editor of Soldier of Fortune magazine, where he remained bed-ridden and brain-damaged until his death in November of 1989. You couldn't make this shit up! For better or for worse, Sadler's life says much towards what being an American, and America itself, is all about.


Three Cheers For The Red, White, And Blue

Saturday, July 02, 2005

:: Everett Dirksen – Columbia The Gem Of The Ocean ::

To continue our tribute to the United States, I am going to exhume another patriotic old man’s vanity project. Now if your grandfather voted for Goldwater, he might not have been Everett McKinley Dirksen’s biggest fan. See, Senator Dirksen, of Illinois, was key in getting the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed, a landmark piece of legislation to protect the rights of blacks and women, and something Goldwater voted against. Anyway, Mr. Dirksen was a pretty important politician, but still found time for a little sonorous oration over some true-blue anthems. “Everett Dirksen’s America” was not his first album, but it was most assuredly his last. He died shortly after it’s recording.

I can’t for the life of me imagine anyone sitting down and listening to an entire album of this man talking over this sappy music and actually enjoying it, but maybe some people love their country so much that they’ll do virtually anything. Taken out of the mind-numbing context of an entire album of this stuff, one track makes an interesting slice of cheesy patriotic pie. He’s kind of the square version of Ken Nordine. The singing is pure V-neck sweater brigade sweetness, and the arrangement wouldn’t seem out of place in a high school recital. The song itself is an old chest-sweller that was popular in the Lincoln era, and evidently also a blatant rip-off of a song called “Red White and Blue”, which was about another ship entirely, The Brittania. Please enjoy this allegiant number from a dude who looks like Rick Moranis' granddad. OK, OK, just listen to it.

I Cannot Tolerate A Shirker

Friday, July 01, 2005

:: Victor Lundberg – Dear Neighbor ::

To some of you, Victor Lundberg may be the spitting image of your
Grandfather, if your Grandfather voted for Barry Goldwater in the '64
election. Sure, we laugh and probably figure this guy's a "square,
man", but compared to what passes for a political conservative today,
Mr. Lundberg nearly qualifies for a job on Air America. They don't
make records like this anymore, but I wish someone would. I chose this
cut because of the Viet Nam references and how it relates to the
current war debate. It doesn't. After you listen to this imagine
listening to a whole album - 10 tracks of this thunderous monotone.
You can almost smell the bourbon that inevitably stained the cover.
This is some very heavy shit, dude. What little research I did
revealed that Victor was a news reader at a radio station in Grand
Rapids, Michigan, and apparently a registered Libertarian. If you ask
me, he was a pretty cool guy, I'd just hate to be locked in a room
with him.