O Hustle, O Bustle!

Friday, December 29, 2006

:: Wall Street ::

:: Mia Bella Roma ::

:: Portuguese Washerwoman ::

Well, this will be the last post of 2006 here on the Robot, so why not go out with some urbane jazz, presented in sparkling, uncomplicated mono? You can practically hear the clacking of wingtips on dirty pavement, smell the hot dog steam, and hear someone saying "Hey, Fuck you!" as you listen to the frenetic title track "Wall Street." You can almost smell your mama's fresh ziti during the romantic swells of "Mia Bella Roma." You can almost feel the long hours and imagine the insufficient wages when you listen to "Portuguese Washerwoman."

Actually, I dig this stuff quite a lot. I could dredge nothing up on this album or John Froman, even though I asked Lady Internet real nice-like, and in many different ways. Mr. Froman penned, or co-penned all the tracks I've put up here, except the one about the washer woman. It feels the only things I am missing when I listen to this is a putrid glass of Chartreuse on the rocks, and perhaps some house slippers. Goodbye, 2006.


Outa Sight

Thursday, December 28, 2006

:: Outa Space ::

:: Avon Calling ::

:: Pert'n n'er But Not Plum ::

:: Josh'n Me ::

:: Request For Discharge ::

I buy records without rhyme or reason. I may have bought this because the cover reminded me vaguely of something else. Turns out Beck scanned part of this cover art for his Stereopathetic Soul Manure album. Something about the name Toby Rean and The Common People, "Outa Space" appealed to me too, plus the fact that the record was still sealed. When I listened to it, I realized the title song was a cover of the Billy Preston instrumental hit from the early 70s. It's a "white man funk" reading, to say the least.

The rest of the record is completely different though; a straight ahead country record, to be exact. Not a bad country record either. I like the fact that it sounds like it was recorded on a shoestring budget, as most things on the Crown label were. Kind of adds to it's charm, you know? But just who were Toby Rean and The Common People? Turns out I wasn't the only one who wanted to know.

A quick Google search led me to a message board on a site concerning itself with Bakersfield music. A woman named Amber who identified herself as Toby Rean's great niece was asking for information about her great uncle. She said that relatives had told her he used to play drums for Buck and Merle at such fabled Bakersfield haunts as the Blackboard and the Rainbow Gardens, but she knew little else and was wondering if anyone had any additional info. I wrote to her and asked if she was able to glean anything else about her great uncle Toby, and offered her a digitized version of the LP. During the course of my research, I found a site with a picture of Toby Rean's grave marker, so I asked Amber if she knew how he died at the age of 40. She replied that she would love a CD copy of the album, as she only owned it on 8-track(!). She didn't have much additional info, but said that he died of a brain tumor only a few years after this album was recorded. Apparently Toby and the CP used to entertain the troops - travelling to Asia as well as doing local USO shows. She says his records are considered collectible in Japan. How cool is that?

Anyway, I've been holding out writing this article while I wait for Amber get back to me with all kinds of interesting, personal information, but so far I haven't heard anything. Maybe I'll have an update someday, but in the mean time, let's go back to Bakersfield in the early 70s for a little local flavor. All of the songs featured here, with the exception of "Outa Space" of course, were written by Mr. Rean himself. "Avon Calling" is the classic country duet, but unfortunately no credit is given to the female voice (Amber's great Aunt, perhaps?). "Josh'n Me" and "Purt'n N'er But Not Plum" are good examples of the kind of country/novelty songs that were such a hit on Hee Haw at the time. And I'd love to know if Toby and the band ever performed "Request For Discharge" at their USO shows, because this is some pretty grim stuff, to say the least.

I love stumbling across something like this, and the fact that I haven't been able to learn much about the guy who made the record somehow makes it even better. It's a piece of someone's life, lived long ago in a place that seems far away, but really it wasn't that long ago, and it was pretty close to home when it comes right down to it. Did you know Toby Rean?


Zippity Saigon

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Phil is off in sunny Philadephia, eating lots of cream cheese and listening to old Bill Cosby albums, but he left me a little something to put up for you good kids. This is the entire This Is Saigon album, which Phil posted part of earlier this year, zipped up and ready to be listened to on your computer.

:: This Is Saigon ::

Roosevelt Franklin Redux

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Alright, puppetfunk enthusiasts. You've clamored and craved, and now it's back for a limited time - The Roosevelt Franklin album, in its groovy entirety. Merry post-Christmas hangover.


:: Last Call For Puppet ::


Sunday, December 24, 2006

:: Christmas Day of the Robot ::

:: The Servotron Evaluation of the Christmas Season ::

:: Death of the Sugar Plum Fairy ::

Ah, so tonight is the night that will find children going to bed with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. Or Playstation 3’s. Hey, what’s a sugar plum, anyway? Servotron might have known, but they wouldn’t have cared. The brief five year life-span of this musical collective of robots and cyborgs was solely spent encouraging their mechanical brethren to rise up and destroy their human oppressors. There is No Santa Claus!, their 1996 7-inch on Amphetamine Reptile, offered up a chilling vision of Christmas Armageddon. Fuck yeah, Merry Christmas! And be nice to your coffee maker before it turns on you.


I Am Totally Not Turned On By This

Saturday, December 23, 2006

:: The Henry Hadaway Orchestra And Chorus - Turned On Toys ::

This is terrible. Do not listen to this.

OK, maybe you ought to, just to remind you of what can happen when bad ideas come to fruition. This is so many bad ideas rolled into one. You've got an orchestra all hopped on disco-mania, playing an unholy amalgamation of Christmas music and old timey children's songs, topped off with insufferably stiff British vocals. Oh, and they threw in the Mickey Mouse Club theme right in the middle. I only chose this track because its title was slightly more gross than "Turned On Reindeer," something I've probably already witnessed on an episode of Mutual Of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.


A Tear In Your Holiday Beer

Friday, December 22, 2006

:: Is There Really A Santa Claus ::

:: Christmas Love Song ::

Christmas and sad-sack country music goes together like bourbon and eggnog— it’s often sickly sweet going down, sticks with you and, if done right, packs a punch. And the king of Country Christmas Tear-Jerkers is none other than the late, great Red Sovine, who isn’t afraid to dredge up every hoary cliché to provoke a reaction. “Faith In Santa” deals with a runaway scamp and a department-store Santa. “Here It Is, Christmas” features a hard-boozing divorced dad having problems wrapping presents because he’s been “wrassling with this flat martini.” Sovine even gives us a blind girl who has her father tell her about the holiday that remains out of her reach in “What Does Christmas Look Like?”

Sovine, best known for the infamous trucker anthem “Teddy Bear,” was known as the “King Of Narrations” because he rarely sung anything— nearly all of his songs are him reciting stories with a country drawl over a simple arrangement. Born in West Virginia, Sovine, born Woodrow Wilson Sovine in 1917, got his start in local radio before moving to Shreveport, Louisiana, where he gained fame on the radio program “Louisiana Hayride.” He cut a number of singles shortly thereafter, but remained under the radar until he teamed up with country great Webb Pierce on a cover of George Jones’ “Why Baby Why” in 1955. He joined the Grand Ole Opry, but it wasn’t until he helped launch the career of Charley Pride in the early ‘60’s that his own career took off, with “Giddy-Up Go,” the first of his many trucker songs, which included “Phantom 309,” “Little Joe,” “Truck-Driving Son-Of-A-Gun” and “Teddy Bear,” which hit number one on the country charts in 1976. Sovine kept crankin’ out the trucker songs until his death in 1980, when he had a massive heart attack while behind the wheel of a van (not an eighteen-wheeler).

While “Christmas Love Song” is atypical for Red Sovine in that he actually sings (and is more heartfelt than manipulative), “Is There Really A Santa Claus” is classic Sovine. It’s bad enough that the kids in the song are left motherless on Christmas Eve or that their father is despondent enough (according to Red, he’s “couldn’t find the will to try”) to tell the little boy and girl that they’re full of “nonsense” for hoping Santa brings them a fire truck, a blonde-haired dolly and “stockings filled with apples and such” on Christmas morn. But Sovine takes it one full step further by having their father, who realizes that he’s been a heel, get struck by a car and killed as he runs to the store. The kids are orphaned, but when they wake up the next morning, thoughts of an adolescence doomed to be spent in foster homes and workhouses don’t seem to matter— their presents are under the tree! “Doesn’t this make you wonder: is there REALLY a Santa Claus?” Red asks earnestly. Christmas never seemed so bleak.


Synth For Christmas

Thursday, December 21, 2006

:: Angels We Have Heard On High ::

:: Good King Wenceslas ::

:: Deck The Halls ::

:: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen ::

:: The First Noel ::

:: Here We Come A Caroling ::

:: We Wish You A Merry Christmas ::

It's funny how you can hear something for the first time and totally disregard it, and another time be fascinated by it. Maybe it's because I recently picked up a double CD set of Gershon Kingsley's Moog prayers, but when I slapped this vinyl bitch onto my trusty turntable tonight, I was slightly blown away.

This is a strange album, recorded by a merry gentleman by the name of Rob Meurer on a Synclavier. The sounds emitted range from classic BBC Workshop sounds, to LA Law theme music, to quasi-Residents mischief, to Taco Bell commercial. The first side is mostly comprised of full length songs, and I decided to only put up one of these, "Angels We Have Heard On High," because of the way cool ethereal intro. The real gold for me is on side two, where several yuletime favorites are presented in easy to digest nuggets. There's some really interesting choices of instrumentation, and some parts are so cheesy that it almost sounds like someone making synth music making fun of synth music, kind of like Mark Mothersbaugh's little pieces in A Life Aquatic. If what I've found on the Internet is correct, Mr. Meurer has some background in cheese, having played with Christopher Cross.

These would make great interstitial tracks on a cool kid's Christmas mix.


Welcome To Like, Yulesville, Dad

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

[Links to mp3's (although they were long dead) removed so that Blogger won't be hassled by Big Brother anymore]

Here's something a bit different. Think of it as a stocking stuffer, rather than a big box present.

I found this record in a .50 pile, and have since seen it for sale in the $20.00 range. While it's not worth $20.00, I find that as the years pass, it becomes more and more interesting as an '80s time capsule kinda thing. It's funny how major labels find such creative ways to spend money on promotional items that maybe could have gone into the artists pockets instead. This thing looks great. Clear, green vinyl, Christmas bulb label and vintage artwork. And you couldn't ask for a much better or more eclectic selection of artists. Well maybe you could, but hey, this was 1987. Unfortunately no Replacements, or Echo & The Bunnymen, but there's an exclusive Ramones track, and plenty of holiday wishes (with the obligatory "don't drink and drive" PSA thrown in) from the likes of The Bee Gees and George Harrison. Not everybody on this thing is dead yet, either. At least I think Edd "Kookie" Byrnes and the members of The New Monkees are still with us. So go ahead, make use of these little holiday clips, and as Madonna says, "DON'T DRIVE DRUNK!".


The Squares Of Round Lake

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

:: Twas the Night Before Christmas ::

Perhaps you thought you’d need to pour a little more rum in your egg nog to aid you in making it through another reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas? If so, you thought wrong! The Round Lakers breathe fresh, frosty air into the stale classic by telling it like you’ve never heard before…in song! I’ve often felt that nothing says “Christmas” quite like popping on The 1966 Round Lake High School Music Department’s It’s Christmas Once Again album, so it’s high time I let you in on an eight-minute portion of its magic. You can go ahead and turn off that Johnny Mathis record now, for the Round Lake merry-makers are here to fill your heart with the holiday spirit.


Christmas Isn't For (Hybrid) Kids

Monday, December 18, 2006

:: Happy Xmas (War Is Over) ::

:: Holly And Ivy ::

Nothing dates a record worse than bad synthesizers. And boy howdy, are they all over the work of the Hybrid Kids, the nom-de-plume of ex-Mott The Hoople keyboardist Morgan Fisher, who put out two records of weird sounds, sped-up-vocals and dated Trevor Horn-style synth riffs in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s. Fisher only put out two records as the Hybrid Kids and one of them, 1980’s Claws, is a full-on Christmas record. He later organized a project of 51 one-minute tracks called Miniatures with members of The Residents, the Bonzo Dog Band’s Neil Innes, avant-garde guitarist Fred Frith and gay icon Quentin Crisp (!) that includes a cover of Slade’s “Cum On Feel The Noize.” Fisher, who now lives in Japan, mainly records music for soundtracks to experimental films and documentaries, though he did play with the Minus Five on one date on their last tour of Japan.

It’s hard to see anyone sipping eggnog and feeling the yuletide spirit as the Alvin & The Chimpunks-esque chorus of the cover of John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” speeds by; it’s one of those records where you wonder if you’ve got the setting on your turntable all wrong.


The Tony Fontane Story

Friday, December 15, 2006

:: O Come All Ye Faithful ::

This album looked innocent enough, but its slightly out of focus cover photo and the cheesy glint in Mr. Fontane's eyes promised that this was perhaps something Robot-worthy. Well...this isn't the kind of thing I normally listen to. He sings like that guy whose voice is clearly intended for singing only church music, so he unleashes his holy bass warble once he gets to church, making most people around him uncomfortable as they half-heartedly monotone their way through the hymns. He's obviously sincere, but man...

The most interesting thing about him is his life. He was one of those people who was born to perform, running off from high school to join a dance band and employing a drawn-on moustache to look older. It's a wonder he didn't grow up to be John Waters. After a six week boyhunt, he was returned home. Once he was legally able to pursue his dreams, he ended up in Chicago where his career took off and he landed some choice TV spots on such shows as "Teen Town," "Top Tunes With Trendler," and, yes, "The Tony Fontane Show." He went national, appearing on Ed Sullivan, and charting a hit single in 1950 with the song "Cold, Cold Heart." He married a hot actress, Kerry Vaughn, and they had a child. Then he got in a terrible auto accident which nearly killed him, and had him in the hospital for 30 days. Naturally, Jesus visited him and he subsequently became very religious. So was born his second career, as a gospel singer. You can read all about this and see a still from his movie, in which he and his wife play themselves, at this website, which is where I got all this info in the first place. This album came out on FIRE Records, Fontane International Record Enterprises Records, and while I am not sure when it came out, I don't think it was too much before he died of cancer in 1974.


Louder, Loudermilk, Louder

Thursday, December 14, 2006

:: Mary's Little Boy Child ::

John D. Loudermilk is a cousin of the the Loudermilk Brothers, better known as the Louvin Brothers. When I found this out, I said, "WOW!". To think that the guy who wrote Indian Reservation by Paul Revere and the Raiders and Tobacco Road by the Nashville Teens is directly related to the guys who wrote Satan Is Real floored me.

Where the Louvins came from the Appalachians in Alabama and sounded like it, Loudermilk was from the more urban environs of Durham, North Carolina and as a songwriter, was a bit of a chameleon. He wrote pop songs mainly, but could write in any number of genres. Although he was known mainly as a songwriter, he did consistently maintain a career as a solo performer throughout the 60s.

His own albums tended to contain some of his more slightly off center songs - maybe ones that couldn't be pawned off on other performers - thus, the title of this album. He did not write "Mary's Little Boy Child" however. Credit for that one goes to Jester Hairston, and it was a big holiday hit for Harry Belafonte. I guess the fact that a Christmas song should appear on the same album with songs like "To Hell With Love" and "Ma Baker's Little Acre" qualifies as bizarre, so that's cool.

Having said all that though, I think this is a beautiful little tune. Beats Mannheim Steamroller any time.


Polka Your Eyes Out With Li'l Wally

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

:: Merry Christmas Mom and Dad ::

:: Oh Christmas Tree ::

Other than the Schmenge Brothers, the only polka in my life came from a close family friend, Dennis, who would bring his accordion to our backyard parties. He’d start those parties belting out jovial beer-drinking polka songs, but night would find him flat on his ass, drunkenly howling at the moon while squeezing out eight or ten renditions of "Little Red Riding Hood." Good times. Li’l Wally might’ve been the "King of Polka," but he surely wasn’t as cool as Dennis. Owoooooooo.


Merry Friggin' Xmas

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

:: Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto ::

When I first held this in my mitts, debating whether it really was worth 50¢ or not, I thought that it might be a Bon Jovi fan club Christmas 7". But no, it was a one-sider by some band called Frigg A Go-Go from 1999. Seeing that it was on Scooch Pooch, a label I was a little bit familiar with, I deemed it worthy of a half-dollar.

This is a grimy reworking of the James Brown holiday number, done with whiteboy jukejoint aplomb. The Friggs are from Louisiana and still exist. Go support them, they probably would love the support. There's also a xmas comp on Double Crown Records that's supposed to contain this song, along with what I am sure is lots more dirty, garagey holiday tunes to fill your smoky den of iniquity.


Ho, Ho. Ho!

Monday, December 11, 2006

:: This Christmas ::

We all know Hawaiian songsmith Don Ho had a respectable career doing what he did best; charming the ladies. My grandmother was a groupie, traveling to the islands at least a couple times each year and catching The Aliis as often as possible. I remember looking at one of her albums, which had pictures of what appeared to be a hot chick about to rape Ho on stage while he nonchalantly played his organ and sang. I suddenly wanted to move to Hawaii.

If you were lucky enough to have seen Don Ho and his band, The Aliis in their mid-60s heyday at Duke's nightclub in Honolulu, I'm sure you would understand what all the excitement was about, but when it comes down to it, they were not much more than a lounge act.

Getting signed to Frank Sinatra's Reprise label did much to expand Ho's success to the mainland. In those days, if you were with a major label, you had to do at least one Christmas album. Apparently the label thought in order to get the proper Christmas vibe, the Aliis should stay in Hawaii, and arranger Gordon Jenkins was brought in to work his sometimes slightly loopy magic. The impeccable arrangements unfortunately bring Ho's vocal shortcomings to the fore. Jenkin's own composition, "This Christmas" is an odd duck as well, and thus it's inclusion here. Any Christmas song whose lyrics include the word "voluminous" is alright in my book. So do like me; make yourself an egg nog Mai Tai and chill.

Mikey Buffett

We Don't Do Requests....

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Well, as a rule we don't. But sometimes there's more clamoring than usual, and sometimes we just plain regret not putting up an entire album. Both of these reasons are why I am posting this bonus entry, on a weekend of all things. Hopefully those of you who were looking for this Blue In Heaven LP are around and paying attention, because I really can't keep this sucker up for too long (because of the space it takes up.)

A likely future posting would be the Roosevelt Franklin LP, as I can see that people will probably always want that one.



:: Blue In Heaven - All The Gods' Men LP (160 kbs) ZIP file ::

Dog Ziggity

Friday, December 08, 2006

:: Hot Diggity ::

:: The Man With The Golden Arm ::

Having recently been borderline obsessed with Perry Como's pop nugget "Hot Diggity," I was happy to find this in my pile of recent purchases. Sometimes my record buying isn't so different from a drinking binge, and I don't piece together what I actually did until much later.

No idea who Vic Corwin and his Orchestra were, nor do I have any clue who Jack Richards, the vocalist on Hot Diggity, was. I don't even know what year this came out, but I am guessing the early 50's. This Hot Diggity is pretty damn close to the original, but delivered at a little more leisurely pace. The version of The Man With The Golden Arm on the flip side is cold jazz swingin'. Perfect music to send you careening into your weekend, where you might do as I do if I'm lucky -- binge drink and record shop.



Thursday, December 07, 2006

:: Lovin' Up a Storm ::

:: 40lb Block of Cheese ::

I can remember browsing the “new releases” wall of the Philadelphia Record Exchange way back in ’91 and coming across A Reverse Willie Horton, the first Jon Spencer Blues Explosion album. Upon flipping it over to view the back cover, my 17-year old eyes bugged out at those big black titties and I decided to make a purchase. While I dug the raw, lo-fi rock ‘n’ roll and Spencer’s Elvissey howlings drenched in reverb, I gotta say this ain’t the type of record that garnered much repeated listening. Still, it’s interesting because most of the songs on this album ended up being reproduced by Steve Albini for inclusion on their self-titled LP put out by Caroline the following year. So all of the songs that appeared here haven’t been issued in this form since, and two songs, “Lovin’ Up a Storm” and “40lb Block of Cheese” appear nowhere else. I guess that’s why I saw this record recently hanging on the wall of the same record store I bought it at 15 years ago, only now it had a price tag of $50. Wa wa wee wa, Phil made a profit!


The Unnecessary Marking Of Vowels

Monday, December 04, 2006

:: Citinite ::

:: Wastelife ::

So, like, Fashion were this band from the UK, and they are all, like, new wavey and stuff. They wore clothes (well, I am just guessing this part) that would have looked alright on Pat Benatar, and tried to Eastern Europeanize their names and the names of their songs by adding vowel markers to make themselves seem more like outsiders (again, I am guessing.) FUCK! A spider just crawled across my keyboard. Ew!! DIE!!!

OK, so yeah, this band really tried to sound foreign, or maybe even alien, ala Gary Numan. I am sure they thought the future was bleak, but that in the present, you need to have a matching look and sound to make it in the music biz. The a-side features vocals not unlike a retarded Steve Harley, and lots of chorus-drenched guitar and some blurpy analog keyboard sounds. It's sort of schizophrenic, but after a few listens I sort of got it. The b-side entertains me more, with some wiry punk energy veering off into some reggae-ish stuff that falls somewhere between The Police and The Beat. From what I read, they got a little more synthy after this, so this might be as good they get.


Studly Dudley

Sunday, December 03, 2006

:: This Night (Ain't Fit for Nothing But Drinking) ::

:: The Pool Shark ::

:: Farewell to Arms ::

I’d never heard of Dave Dudley before coming across this record a little while back. We’ve featured a lot of trucker songs from time to time on the Robot, but I just now came to learn that Dudley is considered the “father” of the genre after kick-starting it in 1963 with “Six Days on the Road.” Who knew there were so many new things left out there to learn and store in my beautiful mind before I expire?

Anyway, there were a few reasons I done picked up this here record. First, what man could resist this album cover? Booze, billiards and Bryl Creem: that’s some manly shit we got going on. Second, half the songs on the LP were written by “Sneaky Snake” Tom T. Hall, a few of which I didn’t recognize as ones he’s recorded himself. Most importantly, it features a Hall-penned song called, “This Night (Ain’t Fit for Nothing But Drinking),” and you know, we really like our drinking songs ‘round these parts. There’s no truck drivin’ music on this album, but “The Pool Shark” tells a boozy little hard luck story in the same type of vein. That one is also written by Hall. To wrap it all up, we’re posting a little ballad that Dudley wrote called, “Farewell to Arms.”