Thursday, September 26, 2013


I love Frank Sinatra's music, got tons of his records. But anyone with a career spanning six decades has got to drop a few turds along the way, and even The Chairman of The Board is no exception. And that is what we are presenting here today: 15 examples of the worst, from the greatest.

There's the good-bad Frank, which is fun, e.g. finger-snappin' his way thru unlikely/inappropriate songs like Stevie Wonder's "You Are The Sunshine of My Life" (a staple of my Vegas road trips) or his hep-cat spin on Simon and Garfunkel; his groovy mod duets with daughter Nancy (sample lyric: "I'm lookin' out love-colored windows"); or when his take on "Mack The Knife" becomes a self-conscious history lesson on that oft-recorded classic.

And then there's bad-bad Frank. "Mama Will Bark," a duet with the now-forgotten Dagmar, a performer more known for her curvaceous figure than her singing ability, has been called the worst thing Frank recorded, and I would not argue. Literally, a dog of a record. Nothing else here is quite as cringe-worthy, but the unreleased (for good reason) disco version of "All or Nothing At All," or the appalling duet with that ghastly creature Bono come pretty damn close.  Yes, sometimes you can judge a book by it's cover: "Everybody's Twistin'" sounds exactly like you think it would. And has there ever been a good version of "Winchester Cathedral"?

This collection eases you in: at first, there doesn't appear to be anything particularly wrong with this version of "Some Enchanted Evening." The "South Pacific" standard should be a slam-dunk, right?  But it gradually becomes clear that Frank has no feel for the song whatsoever, as he's been hobbled by a terrible arrangement, and it just goes completely off the rails. Surprising that this one got out of the can. (Although I guess you could say that for most of these tracks.)

This collection come to us thru our regular contributor windy via his pal, another mad-dog record collector named MadJon, who conceived, compiled, and created the cover artwork (above) for this festering concoction. Thank (or blame) them! Jon's notes for each song below.

Frank Sinatra - "Come Suck With Me"

01some enchanted evening
02Everybodys' twistin
03 i whistle a happy tune
04mama will bark
05all or nothing at all (disco)
06winchester cathedral
07mrs robinson
08 feelin kinda sunday (w/nancy)
09 life's a trippy thing (w/nancy)
10 you are the sunshine of my life
11bad bad leroy brown
12ive got you under my skin (w/Bono)
13mack the knife (w/Quincy Jones; vibes: Lionel Hampton)
14the 12 days of christmas (w/Nancy, Frank Jr, and the rarely-heard Tina Sinatra)
15 my way

Some Enchanted Evening: The Richard Rodgers estate was very strict about licensing its songs for recording. Altho' Sinatra had recorded this tune in the past, on Columbia in 1949, they gave him a difficult time about it two decades later. Personal? Who knows, but when Sinatra finally got the rights, he made it personal and recorded this ridiculous, horrible version as revenge.
Everybody's Twistin': Sinatra craved hits as much as anyone and would lower his famous standards when required. Here, he takes an old song by Fats Waller called "Everybody's Truckin'." changes the title and imagines he has a twist hit. He didn't. In America it only went to #75.
Mama Will Bark: It's too easy to say that Mitch Miller forced Sinatra to record this. Imagine ANYONE telling Frank what to do! Sinatra puts his all into this record, and seems to be enjoying himself. The flip was the tragically beautiful "I'm A Fool To Want You" which he co-wrote. Both sides did well on the charts. It remains awful only because it's incomprehensible that he would have gone along with it.
All Or Nothing At All: Before the huge success of his Trilogy album, Sinatra was lost in the 70's, with the label he founded only releasing several singles between 1974 and 1980. Clearly desperate, Sinatra re-recorded two old hits of his as disco records in 1977, this and "Night And Day," but "All Or Nothing At All" was so awful it remained unreleased until the Complete Reprise box set in 1995.
Winchester Cathedral: Enjoying a surprise return to the Top 10 charts in the mid-60's, Sinatra decided that every other album would be "for the kids." Like the kids were waiting for this.
Mrs. Robinson: Reportedly, Paul Simon hated what Frank did with his song, as should we all.
Feelin' Kinda Sunday and Life's A Trippy Thing: Juvenile hippy crap. Worst, who could even imagine the word "trippy" appearing in a Sinatra title?
You Are the Sunshine Of My Life and Bad, Bad Leroy Brown: Both from the album Some Nice Things I've Missed (1974), it's another one "for the kids!" The latter song being a #1 hit in 1972, Reprise thought the kids would like Frank's version as a single two years later. It (#83), like the album (#48), did poorly, and so began Frank's lost decade.
I've Got You Under My Skin (duet with Bono): Inexplicably, the public made Sinatra's first Duets album a smash hit, even if it never sounded like Frank was ever in the same studio with his guests, as is most evident here. Frank sounds flat, while Bono's vocal is produced with his trademark ethereal sound. When their vocals are mixed together, their phrasing doesn't match.
Mack the Knife: Sinatra's last album, L.A. Is My Lady, produced by Quincy Jones, is almost entirely awful throughout. Here, Sinatra can't resist changing the lyrics as he salutes the members of the orchestra.
The Twelve Days of Christmas: Featuring his three children (only one of whom ever achieved success on her own) the repetition of the all-too-cute, terribly unfunny jokes quickly becomes horribly obnoxious. It is the one track on this compilation that I cannot bear listening to.
My Way: It would be easier to take if recorded by a better man with a lesser voice, but here Sinatra celebrates a life of bullying abuse which the public is well aware of. Additionally, it is ironic that at his own label, Sinatra cared less about the engineering of his records; on the line "For what is a man?" there is an over-saturation of the vocal on the tape, creating horrible distortion that technology can never fix.
I threw this collection together quickly one day, being too lazy to look for more, but I know more stinkers are out there, and perhaps in the future there will be a Volume Two.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Beat Writer's Got The Beat: William S. Burroughs Sings!

One of the most unlikely stars of the late '70s-to-early '90s punk/college rock days wasn't a musician at all, but a taciturn, elderly writer clad not in flannel shirts and Doc Martens, but a three-piece suit, hat, and cane. How a novelist with no musical background who began his career in the 1940s became so popular an alternative music figure that Kurt Cobaine backed him up on one of Cobain's last recordings is one of the odder, more fascinating footnotes in this otherwise heavily examined musical era.

William S. Burroughs is, of course, one of the most celebrated figures in 20th century literature due to his key participation in the "Beat" movement that essentially dragged American letters into the modern era, rejecting classical European/Shakespearean influences in an attempt to create a literature as unique to the U.S. as jazz is to American music. And, indeed, the cliche of the beatnik reciting stream-of-consciousness poetry over cool jazz is the first thing that pops to mind when considering the confluence of the Beats with music.

But Burroughs was never a beatnik.  He was a junkie and heroin dealer who accidentally shot and killed his wife, traveled thru Latin America and Morocco, helped popularize North African trance ritual music, dismantled literature via his "cut-up" method of chopping up and rearranging pages of writings, was put on trial for obscenity, saw his son go to prison, saw his son die, was gay in the pre-Stonewall days, and co-created a "dream machine" said to create somewhat hallucinatory experiences when activated.

In other words, he'd been thru some shit. By the late '70s, he was back in the States and started giving public readings in his now impossibly craggy, deep, world-weary voice.  This was to be his main source of income for the last years of his life. The downtown New York scene was receptive to both his writings and his voice, filled as it was with not only the weight and wisdom of a life you never led, but with an idiosyncratic rhythmic delivery. He left New York for Kansas in 1981, well on his way to becoming an icon of cool.

After a while, it wasn't enough to just listen to Burroughs read his own works, with increasingly elaborate musical backings, but to hire him to perform on other people's recordings. And that is what we have here: not Burroughs' own releases, but his various miscellaneous appearances on other bands' songs. Having Burroughs perform your music gave you instant hip cred, and gave a Bill a paycheck. As this article puts it, he was a rock star to rock stars. William S. Burroughs died in 1997, at age 83.

William S. Burroughs Sings

1. Star Me Kitten (with REM, from "Songs in the Key of X: Music from and Inspired by 'the X-Files'" - 1996)
2. Is Everybody In? (with The Doors, reciting Jim Morrison poetry, from "Stoned Immaculate: The Music of the Doors")
3. Sharkey's Night (with Laurie Anderson, from "Mister Heartbreak" - 1983)
4. What Keeps Mankind Alive (from Kurt Weill tribute album "September Songs")
5. 'T 'Aint No Sin (1920s jazz song, performed on Tom Waits' "The Black Rider" - 1993)
6. Quick Fix (w/Ministry, "Just One Fix" b-side - 1992)
7. Old Lady Sloan (w/The Eudoras, covering a song by a Lawrence, Kansas punk band from "The Mortal Micronotz Tribute!" - 1995
8. Ich Bin Von Kopf Bis Fub Auf Liebe Eingestellt (Falling In Love Again) - Marlene Deitrich cover, from "Dead City Radio" - 1988

Monday, September 16, 2013


I'm worried about zippyshare. It seemed to be working fine but I just had a request to re-post an album I had just re-upped in April. It had already "expired." Do I need to look for yet another hosting service?

Anyway, here it is again, the jazz-age harmonica novelty stylings of Borrah Minevitch and crew, as well as another request, for the EZ/creepy comp "Strange Interludes":

I heard an old Zappa interview recently (somewhere on youtube, don't remember what it was called). He was in New York for a spell, and he said how he wanted to find the Shaggs, and Borrah Minevitch and his Harmonica Rascals to appear on the bill with him.  Franks' love of the Shaggs is well-known, but I was startled to hear him mention Minevitch. I thought I had discovered him!  I should have known. Too bad that show never happened - how epic would that have been?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Thursday, September 12, 2013

SILLY 78s pt3

At long last! Count Otto Black's continued spelunking into the dark, forgotten caverns of music history has resulted in another overdue (my fault, not his) collection of funny, strange, suggestive, and/or offensive audio oddities from the first half of recorded history. The Count speaketh:

"Firstly, some bizarre examples of political incorrectness from days gone by (these are nowhere near the worst). "We're Gonna Have To Slap The Dirty Little Jap" is symptomatic of a more innocent age, when we apparently thought that wars could be won by giving the enemy a jolly good spanking. There were plenty of post-WWII jingoistic propaganda records, but after Hitler, it was generally agreed that the ideal way to cope with evil dictators involves death rather than spanking.

Moving swiftly on, I give you Helen Kane, a young lady who in 1932 attempted legal action on the grounds that, since for several years prior to the cartoon she'd been singing like Betty Boop, saying "Boop-boop-be-doop!" on a regular basis, and even looked like Betty Boop, obviously she was Betty Boop, so she deserved a slice of the vast profits that mega-successful character was generating. She lost when the prosecution demonstrated that she had herself pinched her entire act from an even earlier very obscure black performer called Baby Esther, and as for alleged resemblance, Betty could equally well be said to look like the much more famous Clara Bow. This didn't stop Helen Kane from spending the rest of her career implying as heavily as she could without using the actual name that she was Betty Boop, and cutting a great many records on that basis. I include one to demonstrate what I mean.

However, she had nothing to do with the cartoon - almost all of the classic 1930s films were voiced by Mae Questal, who lived to be over 90, and was still doing the Betty Boop voice whenever it was needed right up until the end - amazingly, that's her in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. To provide a useful "Battle of the Boops" comparison, I've attached an incredibly strange record by her, which seems to be about a rag-doll who dies of cancer. Who thought this was a good idea? And if it somehow is, why aren't there any Skooby Doo AIDs records?

Continuing the theme of cartoon characters singing about death, there is, however, an Elmer Fudd road safety record! Though once again, the vocalist "Waymond Wadcwiff" is not the real voice from the cartoons (according to Wikipedia, the only famous Raymond Radcliff was a basketball player, but I think this must be a different one), so the name "Elmer Fudd" is not used - it's all rather confusing, really. Presumably that's why "wabbits" are never mentioned, and a goose is run over instead.

You may be familiar with "I've Gone And Lost My Little Yo-Yo", though this is a lesser-known version by Leslie Holmes (50% of the Two Leslies). At one point every version was banned by the BBC for being far too filthy! Then Ruth Wallis came along a few years later and obsessively carried on with the rude yo-yo theme in a way that makes Chuck Berry's notorious "ding-a-ling" sound quite innocent. So here's a trilogy of increasingly filthy yo-yo songs - how specific can a genre get?

Continuing with the mild innuendoes that seemed terribly daring at the time, the Pearl Boys discuss female absentmindedness in large hotels, and the Milt Herth Trio protests about how carelessly policemen handle fruit. But the reflections of the Deep River Boys concerning the culinary shortcomings of underage poultry are by today's standards downright creepy... I think I'd better take the curse off it with another merry and totally innocent Hadacol song completely different from the previous one - clearly the stuff was popular!
Just for jolly, I've added an utterly incomprehensible song about the Stellenbosch Boys, and how they coped with Germany's terrible baboon problem (or something), and of course "Take Out Your False Teeth, Daddy" - surely a neglected classic?

I also include both sides of a record which proves that Gefilte Joe and the Fish, one of the numerous one-note "comedy" acts of very dubious merit promulgated by Rhino Records, did not invent the concept of parodying popular songs in an excessively Jewish manner for comic effect. Mickey Katz & His Kosher-Jammers were doing it decades previously! They weren’t Spike Jones and his City Slickers, though Mickey Katz did play with Spike’s band for a year. He was quite prolific, and cut numerous tracks that were controversial even among other Jews, some of whom felt that in the wake of WWII, this kind of cartoonishly exaggerated Jewishness was doing them no favors. Anyway, I attach what seems to have been his greatest hit, “Yiddish Square Dance”. It’s a very lively number which may well have hilarious lyrics, though if you don’t speak Yiddish it’s hard to tell.

Wendell Hall retains his dignity and wants to know “Who Said I Was a Bum?” Meanwhile the Pearl Five’s “Golfin’ Papa” somehow manages to make golf sound naughty - and now I think about it, “niblick” does sound as though it ought to be smutty. And we can't not have another one from at least half of the Two Leslies (Leslie Holmes is the tall one with the glasses).

Moving swiftly on to Frank Marvin’s “Yodellin’ Rambling Cowboy”. The odd thing about yodeling records is that, although it’s absolutely impossible to sing about anything the slightest bit serious if you’re going to yodel in the middle, some people insisted on trying. This is the surprisingly merry tale of a misogynist psychopath who married a nymphomaniac and ended up committing murder and going to prison for life. Yodel-ay-he-hoo! And now it's time for the scratchy old Count to go back in his box..."

I once again offer my thanks to Count Otto Black (and so should you!)

SILLY 78s pt3

1. Todd Rollins Orchestra & Chick Bullock "The Boogie Man"
2. Nellie Lutcher "Chest X-Ray Song"
3. Denver Darling "The Devil And Mister Hitler"
4. Pearl Five "Golfin' Papa"
5. Bill Nettles "Hadacol Bounce"
6. Mickey Katz & His Kosher-Jammers "Haim Afen Range"
7. Helen Kane "He's So Unusual"
8. Mae Questal "I've Got a Pain In My Sawdust"
9. Leslie Holmes "I've Gone And Lost My Little Yo-Yo"
10. Ruth Wallis "Johnny Had a Yo-Yo"
11. Ruth Wallis "The New Yo-Yo Song"
12. Oscar Quam "Oscar Quam Calling Ducks"
13. Milt Herth Trio "Please No Squeeza Da Banana"
14. Pearl Trio "She Had To Lose It At The Astor"
15. Waymond Wadcwiff "The Silly Goose"
16. Leslie Holmes "The Squire's Wedding Day"
17. Josef Marais "Stellenbosch Boys"
18. Margie Day "Take Out Your False Teeth Daddy"
19. Monroe Silver "That's Yiddisha Love"
20. Deep River Boys "That Chick's Too Young To Fry"
21. Al "Jazzbo" Collins "Three Little Pigs"
22. Carlson Robison "We're Gonna Have To Slap The Dirty Little Jap"
23. Wendall Hall "Who Said I Was a Bum?"
24. Mickey Katz & His Kosher-Jammers "Yiddish Square Dance"
25. Frank Marvin "Yodellin' Rambling Cowboy"

Thursday, September 5, 2013

More Re-Upping: Paul Super Apple & Hardcordian

Got another request for a re-up, and tho I said I wanted to get back to posting new things, this is a classic: outsider legend Paul Super Apple:

Also had a request for the brilliant Ed Cox accordion-goes-techno EP "Hardcordian," but strangely I can't find one song from it, the strangely-named "Dance of the Otter Droppings." Can anyone mail me the mp3? UPDATE 9/6: Got it!  Mucho thanks to Professor Elliot.

Friday, August 30, 2013


Have had requests for the mother-lode of audio oddities that reader Chris Swank compiled few years back. Chris asked that I don't reveal the exact contents of the 4 volumes, just let 'em hit like a radio show where you don't know what's coming next. Dig in:

(Hope to get back to posting new stuff soon, not just re-upping oldies, e.g.: more "Silly 78s," new releases...)

Saturday, August 3, 2013


UPDATE 8/10/13: File is back up.  I'm a little worried that it disappeared as I haven't had any trouble with zippyshare...yet...
Yet another batch of strange and wonderful covers of Western pop songs performed by people of other lands on ethnic instruments in various exotic styles. Some real mind bogglers here, e.g.: Jamaican senior citizens playing Iggy Pop, Joy Division goes calypso, surf music on sitars, Bowie's "Space Oddity" turned into a Mexican comedy routine, but the gamelan orchestra recorded "in the field" in Indonesia performing a song by the late '70s British marxist art-punk band Gang of Four truly takes the cake.  What the heck is the story behind this? I couldn't find out, and maybe that's just as well. There are still some mysteries the universe is not willing to share with us...

1. Los Miticos Del Ritmo [Columbian cumbia] - No Pares Hasta Tener Lo Suficiente [Jacko "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough"]
2. Zia [Iran] - Man Kiam? [Monkees "I'm A Believer"]
3. Surf Champlers [Japan] - "James Bond Theme"
4. Willie DeVille [US/Mexican mariachi] - "Hey Joe" [Jimi Hendrix]
5. Luna Lee [Korea] - "Voodoo Chile" [Jimi Hendrix] video below
06 The Jolly Boys [Jamaican mento] - "The Passenger" [Iggy Pop]
07 Sekar-Melati [Indonesian gamelan]- "Not Great Men" [Gang of Four] video below
08 Louis Brennon [France] - "l'anarchie pour UK" [Sex Pistols]
09 Grupo Falso Baiano [Brasilian samba]- Irmaos Super Mario [Super Mario theme]
10 Hermanos Calatrava [Mexico] - "Space Oddity" [David Bowie] UPDATE: a commentor on WFMU's twitter feed claims this is Spanish, not Mexican
11 Steel Harmony [UK/Caribbean steel drum] - "Transmission" [Joy Division]
12 Caetano Velosa [Brazilian bossa nova] - "Billie Jean/Eleanor Rigby" [Jacko, Beatles]
13 Banda Plástica De Tepetlixpa Mex. [Mexican brass band] - "Yesterday" [Beatles]
14 Kumbia Queers [Latin American cumbia] - "Luci, Fer y Sam [Pink Floyd "Lucifer Sam"]
15 The Draytons Two [Barbados spouge] - "Blueberry Hill" [Fats Domino]
16 Wganda Kenya [Afro-Columbian] - "Combate A Kung-Fu" [Carl Douglas "Kung Fu Fighting"]
17 Rita Chao [Singapore] - "Proud Mary" [Credence Clearwater Revival]
18 The Bombay Beach Boys [US/India] - "Pipeline" [The Chantays]
19 Ondatrópica [Columbian cumbia] - "I Ron Man" [Black Sabbath "Iron Man"]
20 Jimmy Sturr [US polka] - "Fun Fun Fun" [Beach Boys]
21 The Soul Fantastics [Panama] - "Ain't No Sunshine" [Bill Withers]
22 Funk Como Le Gusta [Brasil] - "16 Toneladas (Sixteen Tons)" [Tennessee Ernie Ford]
23 Shang Shang Typhoon [Japan] - "Let It Be" [Beatles]

Monday, July 22, 2013


Hey losers! A while back I posted a "charm school" album for girls, and now it's the fella's turn. From 2000 comes this curio:

"Pheremones are in the air ... and San Francisco's nationally known spoken word/music group the Apes of God have a new CD release, How To Pick Up Girls!. The bemused recital consists of twenty-six pick-up lines (fifty-two in total) from a 1970's book The Hundred Best Opening Lines, a manual for perplexed bachelors by Eric Weber. In the background, a piano solo from an jazz instructional ear-training tape hauntingly meanders up and down various modal and diminished scales to the lonely ticking of a metronome. Synthesizer noises gurgle and glissando deep in the sonic substratum, and are later re-edited into an eleven minute musique concrete sequence called Making Love The Right Way - suggested listening for the date won by the lines once thing settle into the comfort zone."

The Apes of God - "How To Pick Up Girls"

Let me know how it works, okay, studs?

I'm still kinda on summer vacation, but the requests you-all have been sending in will be met eventually: The "Music For Weirdos" series, the '60s Mexican garage comp "Ya No Hay Beatles," The Everyday Film...I'll get to 'em all, I swear.  And more 78rpm strangeness from Count Otto Black. Gotta give you something to look forward to in life, right?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Count Otto Black has been sending us an amazing smorgasbord of shellac lately, including these three seasonal numbers, just in time for these hot, humid months.  The Count sez: "here's a 78 which has to be the WORST seasonal release ever! It's a sermon rather than an actual song, which is a pity, because a song with a title like "Death May Be Your Christmas Gift" would undoubtedly have been covered by the Smiths, and/or possibly Joy Division. In fact, it's so depressing that I'd better add another Xmas 78 which is a little bit more seasonal...another of Spike Milligan's Goon Show spin-off 78s, "I'm Walking Backwards For Christmas". Spike, incidentally, is playing a regular minor Goon Show character called Webster Smogpule, and his pianist (Peter Sellers) is credited as "Reuben Croucher". Merry Christmas, everybody!


1. Unknown Creepy Preacher - Death May Be Your Christmas Gift
2. Gayla Peevey - I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas
3. The Goons - I'm Walking Backwards For Christmas

(UPDATE 7/18: I think the preacher is Rev. A.W. Nix. )

Friday, July 12, 2013

Le Enfant Terrible: Music Made from Pots, Pans, and Toys

Manchester band Le Enfant Terrible sent me a link to their new album, describing it thusly: "It's effectively 'World Music' but not quite. It's music made from pots and pans, and toy instruments bought off street venders around the world." I thought: no way. But the opening moments of the really good tune "jucomeba comebi chi" convinced me otherwise.  Still, that description may not be entirely accurate, as there do seem to be some "proper" instruments on these somewhat exotic, mysterious, percussive instrumentals, but maybe they just really know how to play their toys. Recommended for fans of the Forgotten Fish Memory Orch. Picks To Click: "jucomeba comebi chi", "wasashi tono cupora."

Name-your-price/listen/purchase here:

Le Enfant Terrible: daeli cane

(Apologies if this blog is getting a bit neglected: trying to catch up on work, summer holidays, etc. Many more silly/naughty/filthy old 78s coming soon!)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Re-Post: The Korn Kobblers

Dan Knudsen Won't Hurt You

Another great outsider musician named Daniel, Dan Knudsen is just as sincere, child-like, likeable, odd and God-fearing as D. Johnston, minus the mental-illness related drama and trauma (so far as I know). In spite, or maybe because of the fact that this janitor at a YMCA couldn't be more different from other Portland, Maine punk/industrial/avant artists, he's championed by this small-but-tightknit scene, doing shows with him after he started appearing at open mics, backing him live, even putting together a tribute covers album.

Knudsen's many wonderful releases are now up for free streaming/buying, all featuring his cheap xeroxed album covers, his acoustic guitar (and some rinky-dink electronics), and his high 'n' homely voice. They can be addictive - I've found myself playing one of his EPs after another. 

The six track "Beaches and Zoos" from 2005 is as good a place to start as any - in the somewhat creepy sing-along opener, Knudsen insists that he won't hurt you ("Your face will never be black and bluuuue! Aren't you glad, aren't you glad?"); both "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "The Lord of The Rings" are summarized in song; the Jonathan Richman-like title track promises numerous visits to, you got it, beaches and zoos, with some truly unique lyrical rhyming (e.g.: "USA" and "Flori-day"); and when you do go to the beach, once again, you have nothing to fear: "The Sharks are Gone!" Few performers could so unselfconsciously sing lines like: "I'm well-trained and skilled in aquatic safety," but Knudsen makes it all seem so natural.

The Dan Knudsen story began with 2000's lo-fi "Sunsong," six painfully sincere tales of love and heartbreak. "Grass, Grain, and Appleseeds" from 2002 has one of my favorite oddities from the Knudsen oeuvre, the spacey "We Are Not Alone." The beautiful title song sums up life as well as any. The chorus of "Rockin' On The Railroad" sounds a little too much like Neil Young's "Rockin In The Free World" to be a coincidence, just as "Rain Falls Outside My Window" appears to be a bizarre re-write of John Denver's "Sunshine On My Shoulder" ("If the rain falls thru a hole in my roof, it will make me drown...") [UPDATE 7/9/13: re "Rockin' On The Railroad", got an email from a reader who noticed "If you listen to the guitar riff, it sounds very similar to the Traveling Wilbury's "At the end of the line". And guess what is featured in the Wilbury's youtube video of the song?? They are singing the song while riding on a train.  Coincidence?!]

The catchy title track to 2011's "Lost Airways" finds him taking a flight, looking forward to seeing family and friends, worrying about terrorist attacks, and singing: "It's almost a six mile altitude/the roar of the engines sounds real rude" over guitars and cheezy Casios. He also points out that "We All Make Mistakes."

Advanced students may want to move on to "Outer Space," a sci-fi fantasy that's pretty out-there, in all senses of the phrase.

Sweet and guileless, utterly without pretension or show-biz posturing, with a slightly ominous undercurrent that keeps it from being too corny and wholesome...count me in as another "DanFan."

Dan Knudsen's Bandcamp page

Friday, June 28, 2013

Silly 78s pt2

Count Otto Black returns!  With a further batch of awesome audio oddities and atrocities from the first half of recorded history. Perhaps even more spectacular than part one. The Count sez:

Firstly, for no reason at all, Oscar Quam the professional bird impersonator demonstrates in all seriousness that he can convincingly call crows. Why would anyone go to a lot of trouble to learn how to attract crows? Are the edible? Anyway, Oscar Quam could do it. Perhaps he was a sort of anti-scarecrow who made a living standing a long way away from the crops decoying crows? Who knows!

And now for something completely different. I haven’t the slightest idea who Mister Goon-Bones was, except that he plays a mean set of spoons! And it’s not often that you encounter a band consisting of spoons, piano, banjo and organ.
Moving swiftly on, Irving Aaronson and his Commanders go very convincingly insane over “Wimmin Aaah!”,  and Kenny Roberts telling us how "She Taught Me To Yodel" because - well, just listen to him! - why was a vocal style this bizarre every popular, however briefly???

Ever onwards and upwards - here's a very ancient recording from the Van Eps Banjo Orchestra, who give us "My Hindoo Man" - obviously nothing evokes the Mystic East like massed banjos and loud mysterious scraping noises. And we can't not have another one from at least half of the Two Leslies (Leslie Holmes is the tall one with the glasses).

Moving swiftly on, the Milt Herth Trio inform us for no particular reason that "The Monkeys Have No Tails In Pago Pago", and in a throwback to a much more innocent age, George Beaver solemnly explains that he likes to ride a camel because it goes bumpity-bumpity-bump.

"The Laughing Policeman" is sung by, of all people, Paul Robeson! (Given his commitment to fighting for the rights of black Americans, I can't help feeling that there may be a certain amount of intentional irony involved...)

The original version of a record which I presume must once have been a big hit, since it was parodied by Spike Jones as "Hawaiian War Chant". I don't speak Hawaiian, but it sounds to me as though it wasn't terribly serious to begin with, and may not be in any language at all. [Indeed, every other Hawaiian and exotica record of the '50s had a version of 'Hawaiian War Chant' - MrF]
And another one from the Two Leslies. This was a big hit for them, and spawned a catch-phrase that was still around as late as the 1980s, when on the occasion of the sinking of the General Belgrano during the Falklands War, British tabloid The Sun printed the magnificent headline "Umpa, Umpa, Stick It Up Your Junta!"

"You Gotta Go Owww!" was the first and most obscure of the singles released as Goon Show spin-offs, and was sung by Spike Milligan.

And of course the song with possibly the best title ever: "Who put the benzedrine in Mrs. Murphy's Ovaltine?"

Silly 78s pt2

1. Leslie Sarony - Ain't It Grand To Be Blooming Well Dead (Side B)
2. Rex Stewart - B.O. Blues
3. Nora Bayes - Cheer Up, Eat, & Grow Thin
4. Mr. Goon-Bones - Crazy Bone Rag
5. Basin Street Six - Everybody Loves That Hadacol (Side Two)
6. G. H. Elliott (The Original Chocolate-Coloured Coon) - The Ghost Of The Yodelling Coon
7. Helen Kane - Hug Me, Kiss Me, Love Me
8. Mr. Goon-Bones - I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles
9. George Beaver - I Love to Ride a Camel
10. Paul Robesonn - The Laughing Policeman
11. Harry Champion - Little Bit Of Cucumber
12. Al "Jazzbo" Collins - Little Red Riding Hood
13. Milt Herth Trio - The Monkeys Have No Tails In Pago Pago
14. Van Eps Banjo Orchestra - My Hindoo Man
15. Ozie Waters - Old Man Atom
16. Oscar Quam - Oscar Quam Calling Crows
17. Three Earbenders - The Parade Of The Little White Mice
18. Kenny Roberts & The Pinetoppers - She Taught Me How To Yodel
19. Andy Iona & His Islanders - Ta Hu Wa Hu Wa I
20. Helen Kane - To Have You
21. Two Leslies - Umpa, Umpa (Stick It Up Your Jumper)
22. Bertha Willmott - Up Aroun' The Ole North Pole
23. Harry "The Hipster" Gibson - Who Put The Benzedrine In Mrs. Murphy's Ovaltine?
24. Irving Aaronson and His Commanders - Wimmin Aaah!
25. Count Jim Moriarty - You Gotta Go Owww!

Part 3 coming soon.
Much thanks once again to Count Otto Black!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

RE-UP: Strange Instruments For Jesus

If today's Scientology post isn't your cup of religion, try the Musical Betts:

Much thanks to the blessed Maniac who sent us this!

L. Ron Hubbard & Friends "The Road To Freedom"

We interrupt our usual assortment of good music for this...this...well, it's a Scientology album, whaddya expect?  Clunky amateurish lyrics, horribly dated '80s wimp-pop that makes Toto sound like the Ramones, vocals by b-list actors, brothers of celebrities, washed-up child stars, never-made-its, a children's chorus, and John Travolta...yep, it's another musical pep rally/indoctrination tool from America's wackiest cult, with a truly jaw-dropping vocal from El Ron himself. If you've never heard one of these Scientology albums, you should check one out, at least once (in fact, once is probably all you'll be able to take!) to really experience how far over the edge seemingly sensible people can go. As Travolta sings: "Reality is me, reality is you, yeah yeah yeah..."

Listen with horrified fascination here:
All songs written by L. Ron Hubbard.
1. The Road To Freedom (w/Frank Stallone, Leif Garrett, John Travolta)
2. The Way To Happiness (w/Leif Garrett)
3. The Worried Being (w/failed soul singer Amanda Ambrose in a laughable approximation of funk)
4. The Evil Purpose (w/Frank Stallone)
5. Laugh A Little (the sound effects get disturbingly psychotic; I'm pretty sure that was not the intention)
6. The Good Go Free (Bang yer head! This one "rocks 'n' rolls" like John Tesh trying to go heavy metal.)
7. Why Worship Death? (jazz/prog with Chick Corea; Julia Migenes unleashes hair-raising operatic vox that will send animals scurrying)
8. Make It Go Right
9. The ARC Song (w/a straining John Travolta really trying to, y'know, emote; and Karen Black)
10. L'Envoi/Thank You For Listening (w/L. Ron Hubbard)
Much thanks to ma main Thetan Rich, from KillUglyRadio!

Friday, June 21, 2013


A hardworking, generous Maniac known to us commoners as Count Otto Black has bequeathed unto us an old wooden chest crammed full of mp3s. As I picked each one up and blew the virtual dust off them, my eyes grew wide: 'twas a treasure-trove of bizarre and funny antiques from the shellac era, including a few I was going to include on my own 78rpm strangeness collection (that I never got around to completing, but this is inspiring me) and plenty that were new to me. A plethora of British and America music hall/vaudeville, hillbilly and jazz hepcat novelties. I'll let His Countship tell the tale of a few of these gems:

"here are some very silly 78s, including the banned gay cardboard record, "Let's All Be Fairies"!

The Durium Dance Band were a curious ensemble that existed purely to promote durium, a form of liquid bakelite that never really caught on. The best use they could think of for it was to impregnate cardboard with it, making it tough enough for records to be pressed out of the stuff. The idea was that music magazines could print records on their covers, and this was actually done for quite a while - there was even one by the Monkees! You can instantly spot durium records (many of which are by this band) because they're an unfortunate shade of brown that suggests they may be made of poo...

You probably know "Serutan Yob", but if not, the Unnatural Seven are actually Red Ingle's Natural Seven - a spin-off from Spike Jones' City Slickers - and this is the B-side from their somewhat better-known hit "Cigareets and Whiskey and Wild, Wild Women".

Al "Jazzbo" Collins' quartet of Hipster Fairy Tales are surely unique - who exactly were they aimed at? People who wanted their children to grow up to be beatniks? Anyway, I'm pretty sure that these four sides are the genre in its entirety!

I've added a merry comedy number about eating disorders...[and]...both sides of a record officially issued to promote Hadacol. [side 2 will appear on "Silly 78s pt2" - ed.] You'll notice that the claims made for this substance are so ludicrous that even the manufacturers don't seem to take its medicinal virtues seriously - but they do mention several times that it contains alcohol and honey, implying that it's a legal way to get drunk during prohibition (true) and it tastes jolly nice (false). Shades of Lily The Pink!

A comedy song about the Scopes Monkey Trial, though your guess is as good as mine whether the composer was rooting for Darwin or God - personally I think he's just having fun!
Also, a couple of numbers that at the time must have seemed daringly risqué, a cautionary tale about the marital problems faced by circus performers, two howling failures in the political correctness department, a desperate attempt to write a comic song about the latest developments in Egyptology..."

Silly 78s - pt1

1. Leslie Sarony "Ain't It Grand To Be Blooming Well Dead (Side A)"
2. Cactus Pryor & The Pricklypears "Cry Of The Dying Duck In A Thunderstorm"
3. Basin Street Six "Everybody Loves That Hadacol (Side One)"
4. Leo Teel and his Teel Billies "He's Gazing At Daisy Roots Now"
5. Carol Chapell "I Married An Acrobat"
6. Two Leslies "I'm A Little Prairie Flower"
7. The Jesters - "I'm My Own Grandpa" [anyone know who does this version? UPDATE: thx to Our Pal Doug for identifying the band]
8. Four Lads "Istanbul" [yep, the tune They Might Be Giants scored with]
9. Al "Jazzbo" Collins "Jack And The Beanstalk"
10. Bob Pierce "King Of The Bungaloos"
11. Durium Dance Band "Let's All Be Fairies"
12. Two Leslies "Miss Porkington Would Like Cream Puffs"
13. International Novelty Orchestra with Billy Murray "Monkey Biz-ness (Down in Tennessee)" [GOTTA have some Billy Murray in any survey of 78s- he was the early 20th century's biggest recording star, and certainly one of the most prolific]
14. Edith Clifford "No Wonder She's a Blushing Bride"
15. Billy Jones & Ernest Hare (The Happiness Boys) "Old King Tut"
16. Winnie Lighter "Pingo Pongo"
17. Comedy Dance Orchestra "Rambling Wreck From Georgia Tech"
18. Unnatural Seven "Serutan Yob"
19. Carol Chapell "She Lost It"
20. Al "Jazzbo" Collins "Snow White And The Seven Dwarves"

Part 2 coming soon.  A thousand thankyous, good sir Count!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Forgotten Fish Memory Orchestra

It took me a while to track down some albums by this very obscure group, but it was worth it - The Forgotten Fish Memory Orchestra is as wonderfully strange and unique as its name. They are (were?) apparently based in Amsterdam, tho I'm not sure about that.  I'm not sure about anything with these guys, except that they are a fairly large ensmble that utilizes unusual and invented instruments to create exotic, dream-like instrumentals. There's a large Asian influence, Eastern European/gypsy touches pop up as well, but it's all too surreal to approach 'authenticity.'

Here's a seven song sampler of tracks from the three albums of theirs that I do have. It looks like their site is gone, but bandleader Makmed the Miller is selling CDs on his site. "Atlas" sports some exciting ethnic pounding percussion, but "The Devil's Fishwife" is a sad waltz for accordion and toy piano. Songs like "First Japanese Landing on the Moon" and "Mexican Day of the Funeral" actually do sound somewhat like their titles. Just when you think that you're in some cloud-shrouded ancient land, the title track to "Our Tin Tribe" delves into - surprise! - electronica.

Their many videos attest to their highly developed theatrical sense. The "Performances" section of Makmed's site seems to include a video from every show they did. Visit America, won't you, fine Fishies?

Forgotten Fish Memory Orchestra sampler

Atlas                                                 (from "Our Tin Tribe")
The Devil's Fishwife                           (from "The Bicycle Lesson")
First Japanese Landing on the Moon   (from "Iron Shoes")
Hu Dy Da                                           (from "The Bicycle Lesson")
Mehmed's Your Uncle                              (from "Iron Shoes")
Mexican Day of the Funeral                (from "Iron Shoes")
Our Tin Tribe

Thanks to outaspaceman!

Monday, June 10, 2013

EVERYBODY DANCE WITH MEEEEEE! MusicForManiacs Returns To Radio Misterioso

I once again guested on Spacebrother Greg's crucial show Radio Misterioso recently, and I think it was one of our best ones yet. As Greg wrote on his site: "The wonderfulness began with a piece which incorporated audio from early UFO “abductee” Herbert Schirmer. We followed with such nuggets as a five-year old singing about why “You Make Me So Crazy,” a refreshing ripoff of “In A Gadda Da Vida/ Wild Thing” by a Bollywood singer, and a song about sex with hamsters. Of course William Shatner makes an appearance covering “Silver Machine,”a 1967 composition by the Brit hippie band Hawkwind." Yep, plus Spike Jones goes musique concretesinging saws, "singing" dogs, Black Sabbath goes Latin, song poems, 78 rpm novelties, music for "furrys," a really bad female Elvis impersonator, one of the most offensive records ever, and Greg's field recording of a pipe organ built into a cave. An animal theme ran throughout, tho not on porpoise, er, purpose.

M4M on Radio Misterioso

Hugo Montenegro "Rocket Man"
Richard Pickman "Me Again"
voice of UFO "abductee" Herbert Schirmer
Da Hip-Hop Rascalz "I Don't Want You No More"
from "Running In Place", a collection of locked grooves from WFMU (other cuts occur throughout the show)
Bappi Lahiri "Everybody Dance With Me"
The Miracles "Ain't Nobody Straight In LA"
Ellery Eskelin/Rodd Keith "Green Bermudas"
Spike Jones "Memories Are Made of This"
K-9 Fusion "Dirty Dog Love"
Caninas "Brindle Is As Brindle Does"
from "Running In Place"
Tiger Lillies "Hamsters"
Bucktown Tiger "Throw Your Paws Up"
Ondatropica "I Ron Man"
Amy Beth and the Hound Dogs "Heartbreak Hotel"
the Stalacpipe Organ: "A MIghty Fortress Is Our Lord"
Jim "Supersaw" Leonard "Bye Bye Love"
Rudy Vallee "Kitty From Kansas City"
Tennessee Madonna and the Full Life All-Stars "I Wish I Was In Tennessee"
Ernie Brookings/Victor Banana "Wizard of Oz"
Dick Kent "Octopus Woman Let Me Go"
One Ring Zero "Lip Dog"
Collins and Harlan "Bake Dat Chicken Pie"
Michael Hearst "Honey Badger"
Hoosier Hotshots "Washboard Stomp"
Tiger Lillies "Flies"
Irving Aaronson "I'm Just Wild About Animal Crackers"
Jan Terri "Fax My Love"
Gary Wilson "6.4=Makeout"
Harp Twins "Star Trek theme"

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


The New Age pseudo-Hindu bluegrass album Hindu Kush Mountain Boys is back up, by request. I say! Does anyone have: The Full Life All-Stars, "Ya No Hay Beatles," The Musical Betts, March Fourth 2012. They were requested and I cannot find them - they sank with both my hard drive crash and the heavy-handed Mediafire/Rapidshare take-downs. Muchos grassy-ass! And now let's listen to a dazzlingly talented Australian boy/girl team who play "music from 'the golden age of the xylophone,' classic jazz and pop standards from the 1930s and 40s and novelty hits from all time periods!":


The 78rpm roots of the Sticks and Tones sound can be found in the intimidatingly vast archives of the US government Library of Congress' National Jukebox project: dozens of sides by xylophone legend George Hamilton Green, Master of the Marimba (aka the 'mellorimba'), streaming for free under his various guises, to whit:

Green Brothers Novelty Band

or over 60 (!) recordings with various groups, mostly the All Star Trio:

George Hamilton Green

Many more antique oddities and novelties coming your way soon, courtesy of Yours Truly, and a fine Maniac with a large assortment of bizarre vintage recordings. Am still organizing our collections, but hopefully in the coming weeks the 'Silly 78s' project will get under way. It should be simply ripping!

Friday, May 31, 2013


Back in 2008, I wrote: "One day in the early '90s, I was looking through one-dollar records in a thrift store when I came across one called "Gay Name Game." With a song entitled "Lesbian Seagull" listed among it's contents, how could I resist? The album is a typical sensitive singer-songwriter acoustic relic of the '70s, though the out-and-proud lyrics certainly set it apart from, say, James Taylor.

So imagine my surprise when in 1997, in the middle of a mainstream Hollywood film ("Beavis and Butthead Do America"), one of the characters starts singing "Lesbian Seagull." And legendary crooner Engelbert Humperdinck sings it over the closing credits! Eh, what?! I guess Beavis and Butthead creator Mike Judge must have stumbled across this record, too.

Thus, a strange curio from the original gay-rights movement enters the mainstream. It is an amazing tune...Caw, caw, caw!"

By request, here's the whole album.  "Lesbian Seagull" is the classic, as singularly odd, funny and heartfelt as you would expect from that song title, but the whole album is quite a good listen. The way-ahead-of-its-time subject matter certainly holds one's interest, and the witty songwriting of tracks like the title tune rival master satirists like Tom Lehrer (Wilson even outs J. Edgar Hoover way before that hit the mainstream).

This was Wilson's first album of a still-going cabaret/musical career. It has never been digitaly reissued.

TOM WILSON - "Gay Name Game" (1979)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"Percussion: Playful And Pretty"

is now back up, by request: 

And I'll be guest dj-ing once again THIS Sunday, June 2nd, 8pm PST on Spacebrother Greg's "Radio Misterioso," (sorry for the earlier erroneous announcement) for another two hours of wild sounds that have mostly not been featured here. Listen live at so you can call in and/or go on Greg's facebook page and leave comments 'n' stuff. It's always a treat to visit the killradio studios in an extremely sketchy part of L.A. Will once again Greg drop a mic out the second-story window to eavesdrop on homeless guys fighting down on the street? Tune in to find out!