Friday, June 30, 2006


Enormous Echoes and Chipper Chicks

Jameson - Color Him In

Here's a nice slab of Sunset Strip folk-rock from 1967. Bobby Jameson was a local legend, known as much for his fashion sense and frequent suicide attempts as his live performances. In fact, when the TV networks came to the strip after the hippie riots, Bobby was the guy they interviewed for the evening news.

When anyone remembers him today, it is for the Songs of Protest and Anti-Protest album that was made under the name Chris Lucey. That's a good album, too, if clearly made on a tight budget.

This one, on the other hand, allowed him to pull out all the stops. It is a typical period Curt Boettcher production - good orchestrations, huge echoes on every instrument, sugary background vocals. Like a lot of other Boettcher productions, it can get a little cloying, but there's enough edge on his voice to keep things gritty.

Perhaps more than any other artist of the time, Jameson is under the spell of Arthur Lee. In fact, most of this album bounces in feel between My Flash On You and Signed DC from the first Love album. Not a bad place to come from.

If you dig sunshine pop at all, grab this one. It's not all that hard to find - you should still be able to find a copy of it for under $20. If anyone could post his second album (after his label fired him), I'd sure appreciate it.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Billy Joel - genius or gerbil?

Attila - Attila

Speaking of the whole worst-album-of-whole-time debate, here's one that ends up being spoken in hushed tones around that particular round table. I believe that anyone who'd maintain this album is among the worst ever has 1) never heard this record and 2) never heard Billy's more recent work.

This is a power duo record. I love duo's from this era - Population 2, Silver Apples, Suicide, the Carpenters. Something about the duo format allows the ego to shine through in truly inspired form. This one is a perfect example.

Billy is clearly under the spell of Hendrix in the same manner that Keith Emerson was. He's all over that Hammond organ, using delays and wahs and distortion and volume to coax balls to the wall obnoxiousness out of it from start to end. The drummer, the unfortunate Jon Small, pounds his hands to nubs trying to keep up. If this sounds ham fisted, it is, but not necessarily in a bad way.

This is Billy Joel, though. Some of the songs are pretty dire. But not in the way you might expect - there are remarkably few glimpses of the self-pitying and shrill Joel of the pop charts on display here. The only example I catch is the third song, where he goes off on some "KICK THEIR FACES IN" rant. More weird than anything in this context.

I think the cover of this album is a good metaphor for what's found in the grooves. Who ever thought that dressing the lads as Vikings in a meat cooler would symbolize an organ-led duo named after a Mongol conqueror. Similarly, who'd have thought to take a Long Island kid from a blue-eyed soul band (the Hassles) and make him into the American Keith Emerson? Of course, it fell on its face. If BJ hadn't have become what he became, it would be exactly the sort of forgotten mediocre slab of vinyl that passes around these blogs with attendant hyperbole.

They say in American life, there are no second acts. They were wrong on this one. After Billy broke up the band by stealing the drummer's wife (didn't she look at the pictures on the album? The drummer is the GOOD looking one. She must have been an uptown girl), he tried to off himself by drinking a bottle of some cleaning solution. Then, he got busy.

If there were a Nuremberg tribunal for crimes against art, Billy would be next to Patrick Nagel and Sandra Bullock on death row. I can't believe anyone ever listened to, and liked, such utter shit as Piano Man and that goddam "heart attack-ack-ack-ack" song. And We Didn't Start the Fire is almost certainly the bottom of the top 40 barrel.

Don't hold that against Attila, though. This is the high point of Billy's career.


You Cannot Petition the Lord With Crap!

The Price of Progression - The Toll

I've read a number of people writing their opinions about the worst album of all time. Usually, these types of things fall into camps. There is the people-with-no-business-in-a-recording-studio record (the Shaggs, for instance). The bloated rock star career killer ego piece is popular (Tales From Topographical Oceans). The past their prime embarrassment gets some mention (the Jefferson Airplane reunion album).

For me, the worst album has to be one that was launched by a major label act with every intention of being a big hit. It should have all the features above - ego, poor technique, embarrassment. To strike out perfectly, you had to have been swinging for the fences (sorry about the baseball metaphor for any non-US readers).

To call something the worst album of all time is a big stretch. And my ego ain't quite big enough to do it. But I will weigh in with my vote for the worst I've heard.

I humbly submit The Price of Progression by The Toll. This one came out in 1988 on Geffen with all the requisite promos, videos, airplay singles, et al. And it sank like a gold turd.

Whether you love or hate the Doors, you have to admit that those long spoken rambles like The End made an impression. Imagine a whole album filled with them. Made up on the spot. By a sixth grader. Backed by an '80's bar band.

My friends and I spent an entire summer listening to this album, gobsmacked by how weird it was. Our game was to quote snips of the poetry back and forth, trying to top the others for pseudo-profundity. "Who can hear one hand clapping in the murderous dawn?" Oh yeah, well "nineteenth Sunday, this is a rose, let it go." Fuck off, try "Catholicism preaches guilt and brings insanity and rain."

In my mind's eye, I can go back to alt night (Monday, natch) at the local bar in 1988. Fifteen people tops, and the Toll is acting like it's Cobo Hall. The singer looks like a 1969 Jim Morrison in 1967's leather pants. He's swinging from the lights, crawling under the stage, sweating like Richard Simmons. Even though it is probably not true, I picture the guitar player having one of those godawful Randall half-stacks with the tiger stripes. What a fun night.

If you listen closely to the last track, you'll hear guest axe-man Mick Ronson die of embarrassment. He must have owed someone at Geffen a hell of a favor for that. At least there is one track with a melody line more interesting than the root and fifth of the two chord vamp underneath it.

There is a second Toll album. If I remember correctly, it is all songs, no narrations, and to be avoided at all costs.

Bottom line, any hipster jackass can put out a mediocre indie record. To put out a piece of work this pretentous and silly takes some really twisted individuals. My hat's off to them, long may they rock.

Monday, June 26, 2006


Comedy music eats!

Jeff Simmons - Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up

This here platter is one of the rarest on the Bizarre / Straight labels. And that's saying something, because nobody bought any of that stuff. They must have pissed away a bowl full of money over that concept.

A fun concept it was, though. I love almost everything on that label - the kindly captain, Judy Henske, Tim Buckley, Alice Cooper (when that meant something), Wild Man Fischer... but you all know these records backwards and forwards.

I'm not sure why, but this record seems to get slagged off as crap compared to those others. Sure, it's got a few fillers, but it's got some killers, too. A couple of them were so good that FZ had to pinch them to round out his later albums - and they were the best tracks on there.

Zappa plays on a couple of the tracks credited as LaMarr Bruister (probably a high-larious inside joke to be had there). The other tracks feature a guy named Craig Tarwater from LA band Sons of Adam. Craig has a Zappa-like feel with the amp tone and note cramming style. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between them without the liner notes, IMHO.

If 200 Motels is a credible source, Jeff quit the Zappa clan to get away from comedy music. Too bad, he was pretty good at it.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A friendly racket

Quartermass - Tod Dockstader

This record came out on the Owl label in 1964. It is really hard to find, and other than the one I bought, I've never seen another copy. Oddly enough, there didn't really seem to be a mass market for classical pieces built from manipulated tape loops at the time. Nowadays, it is probably Billboard material.

Unlike the vast majority of the electroclassical records I've got, this one has a real musical feel to it. It might take a couple spins to catch it, but the pieces build and flow like modern minimalist compositions. Also unique among these type of records, it doesn't have any obnoxious place where the composer goes for some overblown industrial machinery feel. This is a cliche of the genre that Dockstader does a good job of avoiding.

Still, this ain't the Cowsills. I can chase my wife out of the room in five minutes with this record. (The Cowsills would do that too, but I digress.) If you came to Dockstader via his newer Aerial pieces, you'll be a bit surprised by the heavy dynamic range here.

Sorry for no picture, but the cover isn't so exciting, anyway. Standard '60's public library issue. The burn is from a rough vinyl copy, but it wouldn't sound right any other way.

Monday, June 19, 2006


Journey to the East

Bill Plummer and the Cosmic Brotherhood

This is one of my favorite sitar albums, and I've got a hell of a lot of them. Unlike the lion's share of said records, this one features a guy who knows a little something about how to tune and play one. Also, he does a better job than most of incorporating the instrument into arrangements in a way that is as musical as gimmicky.

That said, this one follows the formula to a T. It leads off with the obligatory (and really cool) talk-sung drone piece. Essentially, this is the same way Gabor Szabo kicks off Jazz Raga. I'm sure it's just coincidence.

From there, there is the requisite cheesy Bacharach cover (The Look of Love), a rock number (the Byrds' Lady Friend - nice choice), and a fist full of jazz / raga fusion numbers. Other than the Look of Love, they all hit the spot for me.

This is the only record under Plummer's own name I've been able to find. He does pop up credited on a few other records I've got (including a Szabo or two), and probably uncredited on a bunch more. Too bad he didn't follow this one up, though. Nice cover, too.

Warning: this is a vinyl rip from a good, not great copy. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


JC is where it's at!

Silhouette Segments - John Rydgren

This lp is made up of short radio promo segments (hence the name). Each segment is basically the same thing - unhip loungy instrumental music with a basso profundo rap about how cool the Nazz happens to be. And when yer rappin' about the Nazz, you got to have lots of reverb. Ol' Rydgren's got reverb up the Wazoo.

Sample rap: Groovin'... On a Saturday night... There's been a battle over here.... Men have hurt men.... With groovy threads.... Oil on my rifle mixed with the dead.... Someone's makin' coffee, I can smell that too. Far freakin out, man.

Special bizarro note: the guest rockstar who tells us that the kids are turning to the lord and away from dope OD'd and died about three years after this came out. Of course, five years in the Association might have made a junkie out of the most hardy of us.

Note: this is a vinyl rip, and my edits might be sloppy. If you can, burn without space between tracks.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


We're off to see the Wozard!

The Wozard of IS, by Mort Garson

This record came out in 1968. A year the world was in turmoil. People getting shot, riots over wars, Nixon, blah, blah, blah. What else to do then, but get out the Moog and make a record about a psychedelic Dorothy looking for the wizard.

Er, wozard. Get it? The wozard is! Such profundity is all over this record. The lyrics are more laugh at than laugh with, but that only adds to its primitive charm.

Nobody really knew much to do with a Moog at this point but make some weird swooping noises and farting bloops. So, needless to say, you'll get a lot of both on here.

The thing that really saves this one from execrable cheese is Suzy Jane Hokum. I read in some places that she is a pseudonym for Nancy Sinatra. Come on - listen to her voice, not even close.

This is the first one I've tried to post, please give me a comment if I did it wrong (or right).

Hello. I am going to start a little blog thing to share some of my favorite records. Probably a lot of early electronics, eccentric stuff, obscure psychedelic stuff, hard rock, free jazz, soul and funk. We'll see how it unfolds. Thanks for coming. Please add me as a link to your sites, if you do this, too.

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