Wednesday, December 27, 2006

PLO returns!

Hampton Grease Band - Music To Eat

The Hampton Grease Band was one of a fistful of bands from the early '70's whose very reason for existing was the wackiness of the Mothers of Invention. Unlike most of these bands, somehow these lucky bastards wangled a major label deal. Of course, they turned in a biscuit so utterly unmarketable that it was the lowest seller ever (supposedly, anyway) that Columbia ever turned out of their music division.

The problem with these Zappa influenced bands is that they confuse absurdity with cleverness. There are points on here where you just want the singer to shut it. Especially when he's reading from the back of a spray can, or reciting the Halifax section of the encyclopedia. But forget about that for a minute.

What really makes this band, and what might take you a few spins to catch, is that the instrumental interplay is phenomenal. These guys can play their asses off. Listen closely to the shifts in time by the drummer, for instance. He's all over the place, without seeming forced.

If you dig the B/S records by Alice Cooper, give this a try. The song construction isn't as tight, but it more than makes up for it with instrumental prowess. Another NWW favorite.

I've seen some of the reup requests, and will try to get to them. I'll be a bit sparse for a while, though. Work, etc.

Monday, December 11, 2006

An Extra E, Just For Class

Thee Midniters

Not The Midniters, but THEE Midniters. This LA soul band was the bad-ass shit, so step back. This may be the best '60's band you've never heard of in your classic rock radio universe.

There are essentially three types of songs on here. One, you've got your uptempo dance number. Land of a Thousand Dances, etc. You've heard a lot of bands do this, few as well. Then, you've got your belly rubbin' slow dance numbers. Think Temptation 'Bout to Get Me, even though they don't do that one on here. Again, they nail these pitch perfect, although I could have done with a couple less on this comp.

It's the third type that really gets me though. Stuff like Whittier Blvd and Love Special Delivery. On these tracks they slide into a nice Chicano / soul hybrid that NOBODY can touch. The closest I've heard is Charles Wright. If you like him, you'll loooove this stuff.

I got to thinking about this one today watching old SNL reruns last night. They had the Stylistics on in 1975, and they were smooth as ever. But they had this edge to them that was sorta punkish, sorta disrepuatable. It reminded me that doo-wop and old soul had a nastiness to it that has largely been lost. But here, it's found.

Viv Loses It

Vivian Stanshall - Sir Henry at Ndidi's Kraal

Warning: This is a largely spoken word album.

With that out of the way, this is where the Viv trail goes cold. No more albums after this. And like everything else he did, it's a damn strange place to end a career.

This record is a comedy sketch about an English colonial officer in South Africa. He's a dimwit, and a racist. Like with Lenny Bruce or Sasha Cohen, he'll push some PC boundaries here, but in the effort to make fun of his own people.

This isn't a perfect record, it meanders quite a bit, and even goes into fully incomprehensible from time to time. Still, it's a good use of three quarters of an hour. I'd venture that it holds up better than pretty much any of the big name comedy records that were so popular at the time.

Record is on Quicksharing, as it is too big for Rapidshare, and only a single track. That means grab it fast - it'll be gone soon.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Dazed and Confused, Baby

Watertown - Frank Sinatra

Add Frank Sinatra and the guy that wrote Dazed and Confused, and what do you get? The worst selling album of the great one's career. And a stone masterpiece.

Jake Holmes was maybe a surprising choice to write a whole song-cycle for Sinatra. Yeah, he'd had a couple of records out on Tower, but neither of them sold (they're genius, though, and finally back in print). He had also done the Genuine Imitation Life record for the Four Seasons, but they weren't Sinatra, for goshsakes.

I've heard this described as Sinatra's "rock" album, but this is no rock. Much more folk. Well orchestrated, as usual. Almost every song on here is a blockbuster. And none of them feel like a big stretch for Frank to sing. Think of it like Frank's Blood on the Tracks.

I'm amazed that this is out of print currently. For me, it's the best Sinatra record from top to bottom that I've heard. I'm particularly a fan of "What a Funny Girl (You Used to Be)". Leave a comment on this one. I'm curious if others love this one like I do.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Re-up requests

Fred Lane:
Richard Pinhas:

Friday, December 01, 2006

Cpl. Pepper

Peter and Gordon - Hot and Cold Custard

At the butt-end of the 1960's, the beat groups were having the damndest time trying to keep up with changing times. Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper, Marshall stacks, what were a poncey-ass duo like Peter and Gordon supposed to do?

Right, they were supposed to make a psychedelic album. If Sgt. Pepper was the Beatles jumping headlong into the brave new world of experimentation, this is Pete and Gordo sticking a cautious toe into the same pool.

That pull between early 60's pop hooks and goofy never-been-experienced-psych-pop makes for a pretty unique record. And pretty weird. And, of course, it sank like a stone. This record is damn near impossible to find.

Miss Jo Anne Lucas of Belknap Dr in Grand Rapids MI, if you are reading, I've tried to contact you about joining the P&G Fan Club, but I've gotten no response to date. C'mon, I'm beggin' you...

An Unconventional Covers Band

Sun City Girls - Def In Italy

This is a cassette tape released by the band in 1984, the year the world ended. I think it is a good introduction to what this band does, because it starts with a semi-recognizable frame of reference. Needless to say, their covers of Black Magic Woman and Precious and Few are pretty far from straight readings. Dark Star, Ghosts, and the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly are closer to the SCG heart.

If you've not heard the 'girls, they maybe the most out-there American band of the last 20 years. They cover a lot of bases - free jazz, ethnic music, punk rock, psychedelia, pure noise, comedy. No surprise, then, that they didn't catch the alterna-rock wave of the late 80's.

Seriously, if you ever see anything by this group pop up at the local record shop, grab it. All of the SCG work, whether original records or CD's or their ethnographical field recordings, are short run releases. You'll probably not get a second chance.

Oh, and grab the other SCG file on the site. It's really brilliant, and I'm disappointed how few of you checked it out. Sorry to proselytize here, but this is music you shouldn't miss.

Track list:
Side 1
1) Black Magic Woman
2) Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo
3) Let the Night Roar
4) Shango
5) Kal El Lazi Kad Ham

Side 2
1) Precious and Few
2) Ghosts
3) Spirit In the Sky
4) Dark Star
5) Jungles of Marines on Acid
6) We Will Play One More


A Morsel of Corn In a Pile of Shite

The Pastels - Truckload of Trouble

The period between about '89 and '94 (a couple years in either direction might work, too) are my least favorite years of the recorded music era. That's the period between the changes in sample legality and a real American underground revival. Unless you *really* liked that Pixies shtick, records of that time mostly sucked. Even some of the stuff from that time that I liked (Shimmy Disc, later rap music, bop revival jazz) doesn't hold up so hot today.

There were a couple of winners from then, though. And this is one of them. The Pastels didn't really fit with the time - they make a lot more sense ten years down the road. That's because a lot of the bands from the late 90's learned a lot from them. Yo Lan Tengo and Wilco come to mind.

This is a compilation that starts at the beginning and goes through a bunch of lineup changes and style shifts. Through it all, they have a real easy-going shambling feel and a good way with a pop hook. I'm curious what others think about this one, so do leave a comment.

Potty Mouthed Drunks!

Derek and Clive - Ad Nauseam

Derek and Clive are really Dudley Moore and Peter Cook (or is it Peter Cook and Dudley Moore). They made a string of these improv comedy records during the late 70's while Dudley got famous and Peter got drunk.

Of course, they are both drunk from the beginning of this record to the end (or at least faking it). The sketches on here are all gloriously filthy, whether they are talking about being raped by the school headmaster or calling a horserace.

A little of this goes a long way. You'll probably like it better if you listen a couple of tracks at a time. On the other hand, these make great additions into those mix CD's that you make for your friends at the holidays. Nothing says "Happy Birthday Baby Jesus" like naughty drunken comedy.

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