Definitely Not Mel's Kid

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

:: The Bernie Tormé Band - Weekend ::

If I told you the other bands that this trio played in, you would think their attempt at powerfully popped punk would be perfectly putrid. Head man Bernie Tormé was an axe mercenary for Ozzy Osbourne, Atomic Rooster, Ian Gillan and scads of other kind of scary hard rock acts. Bassist Phil Spalding did time with Mike Oldfield, and even GTR. You know, the band that got the legendary SHT review in Musician Magazine. Mark Harrison is the cool kid, because he was briefly in the Nipple Erectors with Shane McGowan.

I had low expectations for this 1979 single, but it's actually quite good. The bass playing is furious and punchy, and reminds of cool old stuff like the Rezillos. The drums are locked in solidly. The guitar playing is probabaly a little too good for this kind of music, but it's a welcome thing to my ears. I just can't figure out how these guys ended up making this music.

One final thing I have to mention is that on the cover here, Phil Spalding (on the left) looks like he's posing for Prison Buggery Monthly.


And Now, Some Harmonica Pyrotechnics (He Really Blows)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

:: Alan Black, Karen Stewart & Al Caiola - I Wanna Go Skating With Willie ::

I picked this single up out of a dollar bin simply because I’ll pick up any record with the name Al Caiola on it. Caiola was a prolific studio session musician, whose talents were utilized by a lot of the big names during the ‘50s and ‘60s – Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Percy Faith are a few. He’s released quite a few easy listening guitar albums on his own, which are increasingly becoming my antidote to a brain-frying day at the office. Anyway, Caiola can also be found credited as bandleader on many recordings, as he is here on this novelty single put out by Epic in 1959. “Novelty” because it’s a conversation between the singer, Karen Stewart, and Willie, who is voiced by a harmonica, played by Alan Black. Half the writing credits go to Luigi Creatore, who went on to co-write a much better song, Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” “I Wanna Go Skating with Willie” was originally recorded by Patti “The Doggie in the Window” Page a few years earlier in 1954. A final note – this song’s producing credits go to Sol Rabinowitz, who formed the short-lived independent R&B label, Baton Records, in the early ‘50s. He tells the story of Baton here.


The Devil Is A Blabbermouth, So Jesus Knocked His Teeth Out

Monday, November 28, 2005

:: David Ingles - Paralyzed ::

Nothing like an unabashedly Christian tune to make me feel somewhat uneasy. Like that time I attended a Baptist church service with an in-law and was invited to step up in front of the congregation and accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior. I was like, "Sorry, I'm just not in the mood at the moment. Maybe next time.". Jesus!

Something about the way Christians are so damn cock sure about what they believe. I ain't saying they're wrong, I just don't know how anybody can be so confident about something you can't see or touch. I wish I had such blind faith, because I suppose it would give me peace of mind to know "the answer". Maybe someday I'll subscribe to the church of Jesus, or Buddha or Allah or something, but for now I remain skeptical. I'll probably never know the answers, until I die, and then I'll probably know less than I know now, because I'll be dead.

For now I find perverse joy (and slight unease) in listening to *some* Christian records. Hindu records don't seem to have the same effect on me for some reason. Probably has more to do with nationality than belief system. Paralyzed is very American, so I can relate from that perspective. And a little kid sings on it, so it's cute and therefore even more convincing.

David Ingles (Sr.) tried to make it big as a mainstream (secular) country singer, and was even signed to Capitol Records at one point. That kind of success eluded him, so he became The Lord's messenger and recorded for Dip Records instead, and found that singing Christian music meant that he could wear better suits than your typical shit kickin' country singer of the early '70s. And for that he was no doubt thankful. Clean living has it's advantages. And his apparent ability to paralyze Satan is fairly impressive as well. Oh, I'm sorry, I guess David didn't paralyze Satan. Jesus did. My bad.


When Your Heart's In The Air With Jesus...

Friday, November 25, 2005

:: Michael Elley - Highway To Jesus ::

You know what doesn't sound like gospel, country, and especially gospel country? The wholly unholy comingling of slap-bass and recorder. Our jaws dropped when we first heard this one. Y'see, most of this album is extremely unremarkable. Dull, even. Then you hear this, which starts out like a Dead Milkmen song, and very quickly breaks into the silliest proselytizing ever. This came out in 1980, which means Michael Elley probably hadn't heard any Dead Kennedys, and definitely hadn't heard The Minutemen. Hell, it's nearly 2006 and he probably still hasn't. Yet I hear all these quirky 80's punk sounds in this song. He comes precariously close to sounding like the Christian Jello Biafra. I can almost feel the presence of Mike Watt. A really uncool Mike Watt. I swear this could have been on one of those SST comps, if the lyrics had the complete opposite message. The title could stay, because Highway To Jesus already sounds smart-ass to me. In the SST version, there would be a pileup in the shape of a cross caused by a trucker named Judas, or the pickup of a hitchhiking young succubus. Or maybe Highway To Jesus would just be unsavory slang for part of the human body. But I digress. I digress on purpose, because there's nothing else to really talk about here. Well, except the real reason I bought this. This is why I bought this:

A fucking cowboy shooting a laser from his eye. On the back of a Gospel album. I figured that for that dollar I was spending, at the very least I'd have a picture of a cowboy shooting a laser out of his evil, pitch black, soulless eye. This is why the record album is so much better than the CD. Album sucks? Hey -- no biggie, you've got a picture of an optical-laser-shooting cowboy! I bet you don't.


No Neck Blues

Thursday, November 24, 2005

:: Mr. Rogers - Nice ::

Yes, I have a Mister Rogers album in my collection, and I’m not embarrassed to admit it. Why, Fred McFeely Rogers taught me to be proud of my individuality, and probably taught that to you, too.

This album came out in 1968, the same year that MisteRoger’s Neighborhood gained national distribution through the NET, which later became PBS. I was kind of hoping that some of the characters on the album would be played by Mr. Rogers, but real actors were used instead. He did a lot of the voices for the puppets on his television show, you know, the characters in his “Kingdom of Make-Believe.” Those voices were pretty funny, when I think back on it – the haughty voice of the regal King Friday; the crinkly-throated Lady Elaine; the whiny and shy Daniel Tiger; and the “meow-meow-meow” of Henrietta Pussycat. The voices were corny, but I’m not deriding it. The love and respect for this guy transcends the human race, as you can see on this link. And, as a colleague of mine said recently, you can’t really make fun of a guy who created a character named, “Donkey Hodie.”

There’s no story credit given, so I’m not sure if he wrote it or not. Music credits are his and he narrates and treats us to a lot of that trademark xylophone playing. Lyrics were written by Josie Carey, the voice of Hazel Elephant. Carey was the host of the first kid’s show that Mr. Rogers worked on, “The Children’s Corner,” which ran from 1953 through 1961 on Pittsburgh’s WQED. That show is where much of those puppets found their origin.

The story here is that Josephine (Maxine Miller) has a short neck, a very sad state of affairs when you’re a giraffe. She ends up going to the “Westwood School for Growing,” where animals learn to feel good about themselves. We meet an assortment of animals helping each other solve their problems over the course of the album. In this snippet, Josephine meets an extremely shy boy giraffe, J.R. (Don Francks), who overcomes his shyness by helping her with her feelings of inadequacy. Sir Bulldog (Don Brockett) and Hazel Elephant, caretakers of the school, happen upon them and express their pride in the two. After the excerpt, they all join together and sing how glad and thankful they are the way that they are. Can you say, “Happy Thanksgiving,” kids? I knew you could.


Come On Mom And Give Me A Treat

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

:: The Voice of Marie Duvernay, The Prose of Gillian V. Nelson - Teenage Beat ::

Yep, another lame ass song poem record. I can't not buy one of these when I find them, even though I know it'll probably suck. This one sucks alrighty. Obviously produced in the '80s, every song features drum machines and synths. How much fun could it be recording a song poem album if the drummer doesn't get into a fight with the guitar player at some point?

I would think it's fairly rare that an actual teenager would bother to write a song poem, and go through all the crap of sending it in and paying the big bucks to have it produced, but that seems to be what occurred here. Teenage Beat, although lame as it can be, is a pretty good time capsule. She likes to watch Dallas and Dynasty and half the kids she knows are hooked on coke. That shit rules!

Anyway, nowadays she's probably a 38 year old desperate housewife hooked on Diet Coke, Oprah and 80s nostalgia, and with any luck, music blogs. Are you out there, Gillian V. Nelson?


Hey, I Noticed You're Riding A Rainbow Across The Sky

Monday, November 21, 2005

:: Blind Owl - Rainbow Rider ::

Hi. I guess I could go on about this song, and all the ways that it's bad, and the shitty thrift store on Venice Blvd where I found it. Lord knows I couldn't give you any biographical info. But instead, I am going to request you simply listen to this big piece of fruit, and remember one phrase: CARE BEAR METAL.



:: Lil' Ronnie & The Carousels - Lil' Ronnie Twirl ::

Lil’ Ronnie and The Carousels are the product of “Polish Joe” Fiedor, a Pittsburgh-area Polka DJ and promoter of Polka music from the 50’s thru the ‘70s. He organized this merry band of youngsters, which consisted of his son, Lil’ Ronnie Fiedor, and his nephews. I guess, in a way, we can think of Mr. Fiedor as the Polish-American Maurice Starr. Much of the songs on this album are in Polish, though one track called, “Staro You Lookin’ for a Fight Waltz,” is in broken English with Polish accent, which is kinda funny (Tomorrow mornin’ ven I avake/I go vit partner, fish in de lake). I almost put that one up, but decided to go with “Lil’ Ronnie Twirl,” as it’s the focal point of the record and a bit weird with all the hootin’ and hollerin’ in the background. Plus, Lil’ Ronnie does his part to prove that not all Polka is “happy music,” as his delivery on it is about as exciting as a bag of stale paczkis.


Hustle And Bustle In Stereo Action!

Friday, November 18, 2005

:: Henri René - Manhattan Idyl ::

Stereo records were introduced to the public in 1958. Prior to that, people who considered themselves "audiophiles" had hi-fi sets which usually included a tube-fired integrated amplifier, and a large single speaker cabinet. Stereo was viewed sceptically by some as a gimmick. A way for record companies to charge more for LPs (stereo records generally cost about a dollar more than the mono option) simply so you could hear some of the instruments in the left speaker, and some in the right speaker. Big deal. Other audiophiles jumped at the chance to be the first bachelor pad on the block with a new, two speaker system.

As a way to entice people to make the leap, most major labels put out LPs made specifically to demonstrate the many benefits of the new technology. Over the years some of these records have become the standard bearers of Exotica/Lounge retro culture, mostly because of their inherent wackiness.

I grew up in a purely mono household. My dad was too cheap to invest in a stereo system until the early '70s, by which time mono records were no longer manufactured. His record collection was mainly comprised of 78s anyway, so he couldn't have cared less about stereo. You younguns could never understand what it was like to hear a stereo record for the first time, or see a color TV even! Well, I'd say it was probably at least as thrilling as watching Huell Howser in hi-def with surround sound for the first time. Maybe even more!

Going back now and checking into these early stereo records and imagining their original owners puffing contentedly on their pipes as the sound whirled around them is comforting somehow. The music is a far cry from the rock & roll of the day, which tended to not worry too much about hi fidelity, let alone stereo. This is music by and for adults, but rather than going for the typical easy listening banality, the orchestral arrangements are spiced up with odd instrumentation and other special effects to help demonstrate the clear advantages of stereo. And God love the LP format, because these beautiful nearly 50 year old recordings still sound great, despite the pipe smoke residue.

RCA's "Stereo Action" series of the early '60s showcased the label's vast stable of exotica/lounge/easy listening artists, with all new extra juicy stereo recordings, packaged in super heavy die-cut sleeves (so heavy I couldn't scan the outer sleeve). Enjoy "Manhattan Idyl" by Henri René, and I highly recommend you allow the tubes in your receiver to warm up to their optimum operating temperature prior to listening.


You Had Me At Mundo

Thursday, November 17, 2005

:: Mundo Earwood - Pyramid of Cans ::

Mundo Earwood. Man, I love saying that name. Enough so that I was compelled to pick up this album on the strength of his strange name alone. Well, that and song titles like "Let Your Body Speak Your Mind" and "Pyramid Of Cans." Now, I am by no means an expert on country music, but having gained quite an interest in it the past five years or so, I've begun to learn some things. One of them is that country music stopped being good somewhere in the early 80's. Not that it was fantastic during the 70's, but it hadn't quite started mutating into the dreck that now passes for country music. This album, which was self-titled, because who could resist an album called Mundo Earwood, came out in 1981. And guess what? It's not too bad. This track in particular grabbed me -- it's got hooks, and it's got goofy yet somehow wise lyrics, a hallmark of many good country songs. And it's about drinkin'. I love country songs about drinkin'. It kind of reminds me of some of the Mo Bandy/Joe Stampley stuff from around the same time. Ol' Mundo's got a solid country voice, and he shore looks fancy when photographed in soft focus just like a Playboy Playmate. And just so we can mention speech impediments two days in a row, this song also appears on a Mel Tillis album. Mel makes a guest appearance on this album as does Larry Gatlin.

Mundo is from the Houston area, and apparently was a regional hero who made a bit of a splash nationally. In looking him up, I ran across this anecdote on a guitar tab site. It may be the greatest note I've ever seen preceding tablature. Really the only other thing I found about him is that endorses Congressman Ted Poe. The mystery gets bigger with every empty can.


Going To Hell For Laughing, Part Sixty Five

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

:: Jr. Sasnett - The Savior's Hand Holdin' Mine No. 2 ::

I picked up this homemade record from 1977 over the summer, as I simply couldn’t resist Jr. Sasnett’s ugly mug gracing the front cover, as well as the equally unappealing visages of the backing band, credited as The Tennessee Ramblers, lined up on the back. The photos are creepy - each of these fellas look as if they might have lived in the town that Texas Chainsaw Massacre was filmed in. Perhaps anticipating that I and others like me might think this, each of the Ramblers’ has their hometown printed underneath their headshot. Underneath Sasnett’s name on both the front and back, it reads, “Just a Country Boy / Born on a Farm / Now Residing in / Las Vegas, Nevada / Born in Brent, Florida.” That’s just a small portion of the weirdness that this album encompasses.

I had given this record a brief listen when I first picked it up, but hadn’t really listened to it attentively, pretty much labeling it in my mind as a slab of suck. I put it on this weekend and gave it a proper listen, and my first impression pretty much holds. Most of the songs are Hank Williams religious-themed covers – played at a slow-pace, and somewhat depressing, with titles like, “Wealth Won’t Save Your Soul” and “Angels of Death.” It doesn’t feel like anyone was having fun recording this. It’s all filler for the one shiny nugget, the album opener and sole Jr. Sasnett-penned song, “The Savior’s Hand Holdin’ Mine No. 2.” I’m not sure what happened to Number 1. In playing this song, I jumped in my seat when I heard Sasnett sing, “When I crothed many mountain, with my Jethuth by my side.” Oh, shit, the guy’s got a lisp! Phrases come out stunted and strange when he slices off the “s” at the end of some words to avoid the lisping. Brilliant! And the song is pretty decent anyway, kind of haunting the way Sasnett howls throughout. The speech impediment isn’t as prevalent on the rest of the record, which is unfortunate. Not to come off as a prick, but this is the type of find that makes my day.


Joey Bishop: Shitkicker

Monday, November 14, 2005

:: Joey Bishop - Your Cheatin' Heart ::

Yes, Joey Bishop: Rat Packer, late night talk show host and all around classic '60s Jewish comedian, was also a country singer. Well not really. This record is one of those easy targets, tailor made for ridicule. So I won't say too much and will simply let the music do the talking. Still you have to ask yourself, why? And who would think a guy like Joey Bishop would even like country music? Maybe he didn't. Maybe this was a big joke intended to impress his Rat Pack buddies. Thankfully we'll probably never know for sure. Main thing is, Glen Campbell liked it!


Lopsided Love Affair

Sunday, November 13, 2005

:: Linda Scott - Lopsided Love Affair ::

Man, sometimes I am really glad when I decide to not put something back. This 45 almost didn't make the cut Saturday, and that would've been a damn shame. I had never heard of Linda Scott, but as soon as needle hit groove I was a fan. Perfectly executed Brill Building teenage pop, with chirpy organ leading the charge. There sure were a lot of heartbroken teenage girls back then.

I'll save rehashing most of the biographical information, as The Lively Set site has plenty of info. She was only 16 or 17 when this single came out in 1962. She retired from the pop biz in 1968, and like so many others, found religion. She wrote this song herself, which from what I can discern is the b-side. The a-side, "I Left My Heart In The Balcony", was written by the team of Jeff Barry and Art Resnick. If you've read the Robot much, you already know about Barry. Both songs are great, and you can find "I Left My Heart In The Balcony" on a hits collection that appears to be the only legitimate compilation of her work on CD. Looking at the track listing, you'll see she really had a thing for stars. I found mentions of a few other compilations, but they seem a bit dubious. Enjoy this extremely efficient slice of pop.


The Dulcet Tones of Condemned To Death

Friday, November 11, 2005

:: Condemned To Death - What's In The Basement ::

Condemned to Death came out of the Vats, the abandoned Hamm’s brewery in San Francisco, where bands like MDC and DRI squatted and rehearsed in the early 1980’s. They put out a self-titled seven inch in 1983, followed by this LP, “Diary of a Love Monster”, on Landmine/R Radical in 1984 before splitting up. C2D had contributed a song, “Garland’s Pit,” to the magnificent P.E.A.C.E. 2xLP compilation, which led to me picking up this album. I love the cover image of Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein’s monster, as well as this song about ‘mom and uncle’ being buried under the floor. The lyrics name check Robert Black and Faye McCabe who “got their kicks from shallow graves.” Do any of our astute readers know what the story is on those two? My intArweb skillz turn up nothing. Anyway, after the band split, everyone joined up with other bands – bassist Keith Chatham in Australia’s Vicious Circle, drummer Mike Bravo and vocalist Scott Ay in fellow Vat squatter’s Verbal Abuse, and Tim Omen went on to form the Serial Killers. Both of C2D’s releases were put on one cd, along with demos and live tracks, in 2002 through Grand Theft Audio. I’m starting to think that GTA is now defunct, so if you’re interested, buy it up before it all disappears again.


Unofficial 100 Sort Of

Thursday, November 10, 2005

This morning's post, according to my Blogger Dashboard, was #100 on the Robot. Now, some of those posts weren't actually articles, they were crap like this. But 100 is 100, and I'm sure we've put up about 100 songs so far. So on this nearly semi-momentous occasion, we'd just like to thank everyone for reading, and thank everyone who has given us additional information, love, and corrections when we needed 'em. I know that our style is kind of smart ass, and we give some of these artists and songs a hard time, but it's all in fun. I also want to thank all the folks in our Good Folks link section, they share the same practically unhealthy passion we do for this sort of thing, and it's really nice to feel like we're not the only obsessive nuts out there.

We're hoping to do some new things here in the not too distant future, including a cover gallery for things we pick up because they look hilarious, but turn out to be so awful that they don't even merit a write-up. Think how bad or boring you'd have to be to meet that criteria. We've also been talking about t-shirts and stickers. Actually, we've been talking about that since before we launched the site, because our good friend Matt Tragesser has done such a great job with our Robot. I want to thank him for taking all my last minute requests, and making us look more professional than we ever deserved to. Since that last sentence sounded like a eulogy or an awards show acceptance speech, I'll shut the hell up now. Well, I'll almost shut the hell up. One last thing -- I gave the Record Robot a MySpace account, because I felt that would really, you know, complete us. So be our friend, if you are into that sorta thing. Only it's not working right now, so I'll post that info later. I hope this doesn't have anything to do with me initially putting down that the Robot is only 5 months old. It's nice that they want to protect us from becoming a sex baby, but come ON.


Macs N' Cheese

:: The Merry Macs - Pop! Goes The Weasel ::

I didn't know who the Merry Macs were when I bought this. To me it was just another '50s era Capitol record, and that was good enough for me. Turns out I've heard the Merry Macs many times during my childhood as my Dad owned a few of their 78s from the '40s. They were a vocal quartet, originally 3 brothers (Joe, Judd and Ted McMichael) and a woman named Cherry Mackay, who up with their name similarly to how Fleetwood Mac got their's. What a rip. Their close harmonies were a model for the Manhattan Transfer, but I'm not suggesting you should run out and buy a bunch of Manhattan Transfer records.

The group started up in the mid-20's, and hit their stride in the '40s with songs like "Mairzy Doats" and "Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition!". Cherry left in the mid-30's and was replaced by a series of female vocalists, settling in 1941 on Marjorie Garland. By the '50s, their style was passe and brother Joe had passed away. Marjorie married Judd, and the group stayed together until finally retiring in the mid-60s.

I love the picture on the cover of this record. For one thing, Marjorie looks kinda hot with her stylized silver hair, and the guy on the end, Dick Baldwin (who took over for Joe) looks kind of gay. Also, you can't see where Judd's hands are, which is apropos considering he's Marjorie's husband.

The conductor on this album, Frank DeVol is a bit of a hero to me. For one thing, he wrote the themes to My Three Sons and The Brady Bunch, among many others. DeVol did bit character parts in films and TV as well. In the late '70s, he appeared on the nightly talk show parody, "Fernwood 2 Nite" as Happy Kyne, the show's bandleader. This is where I first became aware of him. He was hilarious as the clueless, hopelessly square leader of "The Mirthmakers". The band consisted of top L.A. session dudes such as Tommy Tedesco who shredded on guitar night after night. Happy owned a fast food restaurant in Fernwood called Bun n' Run, which show host Martin Mull made fun of but the jokes went straight over Happy's head. I've got a Frank DeVol record from the early 60s, but it's just kinda muzaky. But anyway, he rules.

I think most of the songs on this Merry Macs record are re-recordings of past glory moments. A lot of the titles are downright nonsense, like "A Ruble A Rhumba", "Vol Vistu Gaily Star" and "Ho Sa Bonnie", and some of those are among their big hits. I have to say I like Frank DeVol's arrangements which are mostly spare with lots of vibes and percussion. You might think this is cornball smiley face crap, and it is, but I like it. So there.


Real Badasses Wear Velour Blazers (And Fitted White Slacks)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

:: The Wild Ones - Mercy, My Love ::

I wasn't sure what to expect before I plopped this on my turntable, but I was pretty sure it wasn't going to be wild. First thing I noticed is that the vinyl, although not in the best condition, sounds great. I often hear that Japanese pressings are better, and this furthers that notion in my mind. The a-side, Bara-No-Koibito, didn't hold my attention much, but this track is pretty damn cool. It bounces from 60's chamber pop to slightly garagey to a full on psychedelic skating rink section towards the end. Most of the lyrics are in Japanese, save for the parts where they repeat the title of the song, and even then it sounds like Mussy, My Love. The drum sounds are great, the harmonies are just haunting enough to give it some edge, and the strings are arranged perfectly. I love this freaking song.

It's pretty hard to research this band unless you read Japanese. Fortunately, I am fluent thanks to my beautiful Japanese wife. OK, I made that up. A boy can dream. So, anyway I can't read all the juicy info that appears to be out there, but one of the members of The Wild Ones, Kunihiko Kase, was in a few other bands with names like The Spiders and The Tigers, back in a time when evidently lots of bands names were still available. Speaking of time, I couldn't even find out when this 45 came out. My guess is 1966 or so. What I can say definitively, however, is that I can totally see George Takei lip-syncing this song in a mirror using his sister's hairbrush for a microphone. Mercy!


Maybe Frankenstein Is Here

:: Highlights From The Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Chorus ::

When I found this record recently, sealed for about $3.00, I thought what the hell. A relic from the '60s, might be pretty good, or at least wacky. But there were some confusing things about it. What the hell is a Kasenetz-Katz? Why does it say "Original Cast Recording"? What do groups like the 1910 Fruitgum Company and J.C.W. Rat Finks have in common with each other?

Unfortunately it's a pretty mundane record. Bland covers of Beatles songs and stuff like Hey Joe and You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling. It's supposed to be 8 different bands all playing together at the same time and thus becoming a "Singing Orchestral Circus", but in reality these 8 bands didn't really exist to begin with.

Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz were a production team credited with inventing Bubblegum music. With the help of label exec Neil Bogart (later of Casablanca Records infamy), "Super K" gave us songs like "Little Bit of Soul" by the Music Explosion, and "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy" by The Ohio Express. The 1910 Fruitgum Co. had a string of hits like "Simple Simon Says" and "Goody Goody Gumdrops". If these titles don't ring any bells, it's probably because they were frankly very lightweight, and intentionally so at that. You've probably heard these gems before on oldies radio, but let's just say they don't leave much of an impression. In other words, they were perfect AM radio fodder, and Kasenetz-Katz rode that wave for as long as they could.

The "bands" on this record represented Kasenetz-Katz' entire stable of hit makers. Funny thing is, they weren't really bands at all, just a bunch of studio musicians going by different band names as a way of selling more records. The guys on the cover were probably musicians sent out on the road to play teenage fairs and mall openings dressed in animal costumes as the "1989 Musical Marching Zoo" (which has a nice ironic touch when you think about what a crappy year for music 1989 turned out to be).

I put together a little compilation of the in between tracks on the album. I like how they try to make it sound like they were "live" in front of an "audience", but it couldn't be more lame. Anyway, believe it or not, this is the best stuff on the album. Oh, I almost forgot to mention, the album came with a sheet of stamps featuring a picture of each member of each band on each stamp. It's totally pristine and it almost makes up for the shitty sounding record.

A couple of weeks ago I was in a record store and this record was on the wall and they wanted like 50 bucks for it, and it wasn't even sealed. Hahahahaha!


Oruy Imit

Monday, November 07, 2005

:: Timi Yuro - Satan Never Sleeps ::

I picked this one up for a buck thinking that the song, “Satan Never Sleeps” might be a hoot, ‘cause, you know, a lot of Christian-themed stuff makes me laugh. There’s nothing funny going on here, though. I should have known that the music would make me cringe, as that’s pretty much the reaction I had from the cover. Yuro has sort of a Liza Minelli approach throughout each of the standards here, just overpowering me with loud abrasiveness when she belts it out. I don’t imagine it was easy for anyone to sleep, let alone Satan, with this stuff on the radio. I’m being overly harsh, of course, but this record hurts me. On her Wikipedia page, both Elvis and Morrissey are listed as fans, so go figure.


Twofer Turks Friday

Friday, November 04, 2005

:: New Bomb Turks - Youngblood ::

:: New Bomb Turks - All The Right Places ::

The last time I was in a really good and nasty mosh pit was at a New Bomb Turks show, way back in the days at Spaceland when the stage was on the other side of the venue and what's now the futuristic smoquarium was little more than a glorified rec room with a pool table and payphone. I emerged from the testosterone circus still drunk, missing a button off my shirt, and with a few nice bruises. Oh, and a souvenir t-shirt. I was never really punk, and I never really moshed; but something that night compelled me towards self-abuse and the abuse of other willing self-abusers. It was the furious trainwreck sound of the Turks. I had heard them on record and dug their sound, but it really hit me live. In the ribs, in the head, all over.

They are from Ohio, they've been around a long time. I'm not sure if they're still really together, though says they did a "reunion" tour this past summer. These songs are from singles released 6 years apart. Youngblood is a suitably in-the-red Billy Childish cover from a 1993 7" on Damaged Goods that Billy himself recorded (in his kitchen.) All The Right Places is from a 1999 split with Scandinavian rock heroes Hellacopters, and has my favorite front cover of all time. If listening to these songs doesn't make you feel at least a little bit aggressive, it might be time to check out this dude named Yanni.


Turtle Beat

Thursday, November 03, 2005

:: The Turtles - Too Young To Be One::

Ok, so this isn't very obscure. Basically, it's classic rock, or maybe pre-classic rock. In any case we've all heard of The Turtles. At least I'm not going to subject you to "Happy Together".

"Too Young To Be One" is a nice little tune by a tuneful little band. The Turtles hailed from my home town of Westchester, CA. When I was five, I started taking drum lessons at Westchester Music on Sepulveda Blvd. just north of L.A. International Airport. My teacher, Kay Carlson (yes, a chick drum teacher in the early '60s) didn't think much of that whole rock & roll thing, until one of her students, a guy named Don Murray hit the big time as drummer with the Turtles. Suddenly I was assigned to learn how to play the "Turtle Beat", which Murray supposedly invented and which was prominently featured on one of their early hits, "You Baby". This turned out to be a very valuable lesson indeed, and that very same beat is still widely over-used today. A more contemporary example of it's use can be found on a little song you may have heard of called "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Dave Grohl, meet Don Murray.

Don called it quits by the time the band went into the studio to record their biggest hit (Happy Together), and was replaced by Johnny Barbata who went on to play with Neil Young and Jefferson Starship, fer Chrisake.

Many years later, I worked with Turtles lead singer Howard Kaylan's brother Allan, who still lives in the family home within earshot of LAX in Westchester. Allan has many great stories of his big Brother's exploits in the rock & roll meat grinder, including a stint in the Mothers of Invention, a career in radio with Turtles partner Mark Volman as "Flo and Eddie", and as a background vocalist session man extraordinaire for numerous recording artists over the years. Today, Howard and Mark still tour the oldies circuit as The Turtles, and their current drummer plays the Turtle Beat every night.


You Are Trash

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

:: Faith Or Fear - Punishment Area ::

Combat Records gave birth to a lot of Metal Giants during the 1980’s – bands like Megadeth, Nuclear Assault, Exodus, and Robot favorites, Venom – their first albums all came out on Combat before they were snatched up by bigger labels. South Jersey head-bangers Faith or Fear’s first album was birthed by the Combat label in 1989, but they disbanded before they could grow into Titans of Rock that they could have been. I saw them play once at the old Empire Rock Club in Northeast Philly. It was the only time I ever went to that place, as it usually booked glam-metal acts and was home to Philly’s most heinous of bands, Heaven’s Edge. Those ballad rockers were heroes to every boy and girl in town who liked to have a good cry with their music in those days. Anyway, I don’t remember a damn thing about the Faith or Fear show; it’s a hazy mixture of hair, leather, and flapping necks at this point. But I’m sure it rocked, and rocked mightily. Here’s the title track off of their album. It contains all that one needs from their heavy metal – not one, but two obligatory guitar solos, a demonic and foreboding voice pumped in at key moments, and most importantly, violent and aggressive lyrics spit out of lips unvarnished by lipstick.