Saturday, July 28, 2007

Box Sets Suck 3: We Can Fly

Again, not a box set. Again, a psych series (five volumes). But this one is UK/Europe/Middle East stuff. And it's officially available from Past & Present Records. Sorry, I just can't get enough of the stuff lately.

The Best of We Can Fly

1. The Glass Menagerie: "Frederick Jordan"

Title character's married to a lovely white woman. But the child she's carrying belongs to another (one of many hooks: "Someone beat ya to it"). So he goes to get a gun. In the second verse (!), the narrator identifies himself as the best friend of Frederick Jordan who "laid the seed with his wife seven months ago." This pushes Mr. Jordan to more drastic measures: "Get me a stick of dynamite!" (another hook). The monomaniacal organ is much more prominent than the guitar and the drummer kicks some minor ass. I give it an A minus: it's got a freakbeat and you can dance to it.

2. The Peep Show: "Mazy"

This lovely stroll could pass for an outtake from The Velvet Underground & Nico if the drums were Moe-torvating and the singer were more deadpan as opposed to moaning for an extra minute in the bubble bath. But the guitars have that chattering metallic quality down pat while the bass makes little dabs of paint from high on the neck. Is this where Mazzy Star got their name from?

3. The Bunch: "Looking Glass"

I guess this one's about a dude who thinks Alice in Wonderland is his girlfriend and gets miffed when a man with a sports car steals her away (such men win every time, the singer informs us). Judging from the hyper, trebly sound (here's another bass played very high on the neck), the situation is making him nervous.

4. The Neat Change: "I Lied to Auntie May"

Apparently so named because they changed clothes during the middle of their sets. Peter Banks of Yes was in the band but I don't know if he's on this single. One of the Neat Changers looks like Jo Callis of The Human League. The string-laden "I Lied to Auntie May" was co-written by Peter Frampton and does McCartney proud. Great crybaby lyric: "I'm feeling so alone/Just me alone at home/Home all alone." (He lied to Auntie May by telling her he was doing okay.)

5. Sands: "Mrs Gillespie's Refrigerator"

Written by The Brothers Gibb. They took drugs.

6. The QPR Supporters: "Supporters Support Us"

The drums pound out the "Rockin, rock'n'roll radio, Let's go!" beat. Bass and guitar do the same. The voices chant first "Rangers Rangers Queens Park Rangers," then "Rodney Rodney We Want Rodney...Maaaaaaarsh," then "they're the greatest...teeeeeeeeeam." The beat never deviates. This is the closest I ever want to get to learning about English football.

7. Serendipity: "Castles"

The singer here sounds so much like Brian Eno it's uncanny. Someone please advise.

8. Shy Limbs: "Trick or Two"

There's something off-puttingly supper club about this tune probably because the singer overreaches like David Clayton-Thomas or Steve Winwood. But the bass and percussion are high in the mix lending both an odd frontality. And it's faster than the supper club norm (do supper clubs exist anymore?). Note: Greg Lake was in this band.

9. PUGH: "Love Love Love"

Sampled by DJ Shadow in "Mutual Slump." Pugh Rogefeldt was huge in his native Sweden. Sung in Swedish.

10. The Lords: "Don't Mince Matter"

There's every reason to believe that Faust heard this bit of single-mindedness before recording "It's A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl." But where Faust lock down their single-mindedness unto eternity, these page boys eventually rave up. And the singer deliberately stumbles over his words, pronounces "mince" like "meintz," and sings about Ginger Joe (is this where the Kersal Massive's Ginger Joe got him moniker?). Check out a video here in which nicely-dressed teens try in vain to dance to this proto-Krautrock.

11. The Julian Kirsch: "Clever Little Man"

Opens with the ominous Beethoven's Fifth chords. Ends with a sardonic jazzy bit. In between is three minutes of even more ominous piano hooks and foppy, traded-off vocals. From Brussels and one of the best cuts here.

12. The Tages: "Fuzzy Patterns"

Goddamn, there's a lot of "Waiting For The Man" in these songs. From Sweden. They became a band called Blond.

13. Los Brincos: "Passport"

Fascinating track from a Spanish group about looking at a girl's passport to find her real age. Brincos are now shoes designed specifically to help illegal immigrants into America.

14. Daddy Lindberg: "Wade In The Shade"

Peter Lorre-like vocalist mewls over a bass-and-drum track waiting to be sampled. At the end, the bass becomes very "Father Cannot Yell"-esque. 1:57. Probably a joke.

15. Pesky Gee: "Where Is My Mind"

Heavy fuzz which seems to be continually ending. Great non-intrusive use of horns.

16. Mick Softly & The Summer Suns: "Am I The Red One"

Proto-Matrix psych.

17. Los Canarios: "What can I do for you"

Three songs in one. The first cleans up the opening riff from The Litter's "Action Woman." The second features a mariachi band somewhat at odds with the beat a la Ricardo Villalobos' "Fizheuer Zieheuer" (hmmmm...). The third is a sweeter, harpsichord-infected section with an ensemble singing "Please let me go." Then back to song one.

18. Brut: "My Kind of Feeling"

Love how the Bollywood strings mimic the main guitar riff.

19. Neo Maya: "I Won't Hurt You"

Here's some quiet dementia from Episode Six, Ian Gillan's pre-Deep Purple outfit. I need to hear more from this band (see below) like the b-side to this one ("UFO") which "is just a list of UFO sightings read out over a drum pattern!"

20. Russell Morris: "The Real Thing (Parts 1 & 2)"

"An Australian rock classic," screams Wikipedia. Starts off as an inoffensive folk-rock number but Morris "ohh mow mow mow mow"s it into six minutes of phased-out apocalypso. Nuclear explosion included.

21. The Rokes: "When the wind arises"

Another song that sounds like it's constantly ending. From Italy.

22. The Mint: "Luv"

I have no shame.

23. The Iveys: "And Her Daddy's A Millionaire"

A catchy burner at "Paperback Writer" speed from the band that became Badfinger.

24. Episode Six: "I Can See Through You"

This doesn't really get going until the break when the guitar apes the way silent movie piano players conveyed rising tension. At which point it breaks into an elfin war march and goes out with a recorder-backed madrigal. They took drugs too.

25. Kim Fowley: "Lights"

Fruity vocals that anticipate Fred Schneider. The keybs hook and the beat pounds. Face it - the anti-master wrote some great pop songs.

26. The Loot: "Radio City"

Here mainly because they sing like droning bees.

27. Giorgio: "How Much Longer Must I Wait, Wait"

Probably the best song here and an object lesson on what to do with horns: make 'em riff! That's Giorgio as in Moroder.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Box Sets Suck 2: Psychedelic Archaeology

Ok this one isn't a box set. It isn't even available for sale. But as a sucker for psych, Pebbles, and the like, I had to have a go at it. This site explains what Psychedelic Archaeology is in detail. But basically, it's a labor of love courtesy of many psych fans aiming to compile cuts that have never been reissued. I listened to all ten volumes while writing the first chapter of my dissertation. That might explain the preponderance of novelties in the one volume condensation below given how much those type of songs mean to rape your earhole no matter what task you're simultaneously performing. But if you read my Pebbles Volume 3 post, you know I'm a novelty kind of guy anyway.

Still, some of my choices seem like the product of lazy listening. So to redress this error, I created a second volume of goodies. The first is still definitely the better one overall. But the second provides many pleasures even if that simply amounts to giving me yet another reason to laugh at the 1960s.

So here they are with justifications for Volume 1.

The Best of Psychedelic Archaeology Volume 1

1. Rochelle Rosenthal and the Kickball Queen: "Lottery"

Over creepy organ (is there an uncreepy kind?), Rochelle explains a yearly television show in which men 19 - 26 get sent to Vietnam. Then the band kickballs into a track reminiscent of Shocking Blue's "Send Me A Postcard," in sound and sarcasm. Last couplet: "And if the killing gets slow (through?)/Then you can work on your tan." A fine start.

2. The Sandals: "House of Painted Glass"

More a Middle Eastern pastiche than a Far East one, despite the prominence of sitar in the mix. The harmonies swarm like a sandstorm in the Sahara. The opening winds could charm the snake off ya. And the singer sounds like he was born somewhere very far away from Riverside, California from whence this band hailed. Apparently, they took this song as a novelty item which might explain those inexplicable Creature Feature laughs after each chorus. But I'd be stunned to discover they topped it with their more serious songs, assuming they had any.

3. Jefferson Lee: "Pancake Trees"

This one begins exactly like the phat Fat Albert theme which soon gets bejeweled with mysterioso guitar and lush strings completely antithetical to the goofy beat. But that's psych for ya - the clash of supposed opposites rather than mere acid damage (well, good psych, that is). Then after a few relatively straightforward measures acknowledging the existence of the title wonders comes a scaling, scary section mirroring the flight of said trees: "Pancake trees floating in syrupy skies/In maple and butterscotch blowing your mind." Probably another joke, especially given that this track comes from 1970. But it has genuine ookability.

4. The Mission: "Calmilly"

Googling "Calmilly" turns up almost nothing but references to this song. No one knows a damn thing about the group perhaps including the group itself. The singer states a very fetching melody calmly yet briskly (hey - could "calmilly" be a misspelling of "calmly?") over an organ that has replaced the traditional guitar (although a bass dances below). There are some vaguely prog touches in the keyb solo with even vaguer, unsettling "ooh"s in the background. It all seems to be about a Mr. and Mrs. D(evil?) sitting down for dinner. The flip is coming up and is even nuttier.

5. She Trinity: "Climb That Tree"

Quite possibly the greatest single of the 1960s. I will say no more...for now.

6. Oracle: "Don't Say No"

I hemmed and hawed about including this Verve b-side produced by Curt Boettcher. A bit wussy overall. But for a day or so, the trebly chorus wouldn't leave my head. Plus I love how the one solitary bass note at the beginning seems to set off the entire windy wall of psych. Wind effects included at the close.

7. The Mission: "Gailing Made It"

It's The Bendedictine Monk Variety Hour! More organ this time but most of the meat is in the voices. Starts off with some choice chanting and then moves into skippy outer space shape note singing or maybe just pure gibberish. I can make out "gailing made it" and even a "scoob dooby doo." Perhaps on The Mission's planet "gailing made it" is some sort of root that helps form different words. Witness:

Gailing made it-ah
Gailing made it-doobay
Nooting saw

One echoey brother is definitely not taking his role seriously what with his monkey sounds and goofy "ha ha ha"s. I hope Gailing made it okay wherever s/he was going. A classic single.

8. Fenwyck: "I Cry"

Rather generic. But the whizzing guitar commentary after each line wants to break out into a better song, preferably one without such a crybaby singer. In this respect, it kinda reminds me of Jimmy Page's work on The First Gear's "Leave My Kitten Alone" although the anonymous guitar god here doesn't reach such heights. Thankfully everything moves pretty fast. But in retrospect, I probably should have traded this one out.

9. Owl: "Spirits"

A tough folksy-rock itch. The nerve-wracked riffs wash their hands repeatedly. The singer comes to you from underwater on select verses which is okay since he's definitely the weak link. And best of all, there's a nasty Creedence-like guitar solo about a minute in which promises no swampy good times.

10. Alexander Rabbit: "Malaguainia" (sic)

Apparently these cuties were slotted to perform at Woodstock but their manager backed them out for fear of derailing their college education. From the evidence here, they would have fit in perfectly - nearly seven minutes of speedy, earthbound Santana.

11. Beautiful - "Shadows in the Sun"

Kim Fowley-produced. Sort of a baby brother to his "Strangers From The Sky." Might even be him on vocals. Liners say this is a carbon copy of Soft Machine's Fowley-produced "Feelin' Reelin' Squealin'." True? Another one I probably should've traded out.

12. Sagittarius: "Virgo"

Hated it at first. But I wanted something like a transitional cut on an album rather than a single shining forth and this instrumental served that purpose. Then I grew to dig its mildly enervated quality, largely due to the Dragnet-like bass line undergirding the monsoon of harpsichord, bells, and pot-stirring geetar until it all spazzes out at the end.

13. Delicate Balance: "Night is Almost Gone"

Traded this in at the last minute since the Shy Limbs song that was originally in its place is on another collection I intend to winnow down (and in much better sound quality). "Night is Almost Gone" is a simple, tight nugget with a nice breakdown two minutes in. Fruity vocals, a great buzzing drum intro and it all gets sucked into an interstellar vacuum cleaner at the end.

14. Giant Crab: "Listen Crab"

Hyper geeks looking for a spot on one of Zappa's early albums. They have that one-singer-normal-the-other-helium-cured duet style down pat. The drummer practices rolls on his snare. Everyone throws light bulbs at the fade out. Freak out!

15. Conception: "Babylon"

The main riff here is so archetypal that I can't believe it's not a ripoff. Maybe it is and I just can't place it. Still, most cruncheriffic. Most.

16. Le Cirque: "Land of Oz"

Featuring Leon Russell and Marc Benno, this is probably the worst song on here. Too twee, too "quit fellating those damn helium balloons!" But the tape speeds up towards the end and keeps speeding up for a few measures until all the munchkins are fired off into the stratosphere and I cannot stop laughing.

17. Changing Colours: "Da Da Da Da"

More helium. Was this a cheap high for those who couldn't afford LSD? Together with the Le Cirque and Giant Crab songs and The Raven(s) one below, this would make for the most irritating EP in history.

18. UK Baby: "Michael's Daughter"

McCartneyesque, piano-hooked razzmatazz that is actually a 12-or-so-bar blues in an English music hall stylee. Missing that "interesting story in the lyrics," though, that the liners mention.

19. The Raven(s) (sic...but why?): "Calamity Jane"

Here mostly for the obnoxious telegraph beeps that play non-stop for the first and last thirty seconds. And the song's the shortest here at two minutes exactly.

20. West Coast Natural Gas: "Jumping Frog"

Grass grows alongside the highway, people die from eating cranberries, husky eagle scouts are disguised as the title amphibian, a plastic doll talks like the singer's brother (see more brother paranoia below), a drag queen masquerades as his mother - but none of it can fool him. I'd call this folksy, über catchy ramble a paean to hippie authenticity if it weren't so laid-back and good timey. Have Moicy! fans, take note.

21. These Vizitors: "Rippling Road"

Kinda like a punky Fairport Convention. Actually, this reminds me most of The Meat Puppets for the hardcore get-up that motrovates these vizitors down the road. Not at hardcore speeds, mind you. But the one-two one-two one-two spirit is definitely there. Seriously - this wouldn't sound all that out of place on II or Up on The Sun.

22. Troyes: "Morning of the Rain"

The riffage here moves past archetypal to primordial. These boys were dragging some serious knuckles. Message: drugs kills brain cells.

23. The Paper Train: "Brother"

Entire lyric: "Walks like a lady. Talks like a lady. Cries like a lady. Smiles like lady. Too bad it's my brother."

24. The Electric Duck: "Most People Get Happy"

The gushingest song here. Sounds like a countercultural revival meeting. The choir response vocals should please fans of The Edwin Hawkins Singers and The Polyphonic Spree. But this one really frugs out with congas and wah-wah guitar running and jumping on golden clouds. And it was nice of them to acknowledge that not everyone gets happy.

25. Flower Power: "Stop! Check It"

The fastest song here. So fast, in fact, that I initially took it for a more contemporary throwback from Redd Kross or The 5-6-7-8s. Entire lyric: "Stop! Check it! Yeah!"

26. Frosty: "Organ Grinder's Monkey"

Beat miners, listen up: there's a great break here that gets even greater with the introduction of rubbery bass. Very danceable bubblegum although a bit harder and psychier than the 1910 Fruitgum Company norm.

27. Think: "California (It's Getting So Heavy)"

Well, this track is already there. The drums detonate in a cavern, the singer yells the whole time, the guitar blows King Kong farts. And yet there's still a safe Howard Johnson's feel to it due to the echoey 5th Dimension-style scatting underneath and a section of suburban garage horns. A very clean, safe garage upholstered with fun fur and a fake polar bear head.

28. The Fastest Group Alive: "Bears"

A dumb public service announcement warning us that bears don't care who they scare. But why is there a dude making puking sounds every so often? The b-side is "Beside." I wanna hear it.

The Best of Psychedelic Archaeology Volume 2

1. Kim Fowley: "Strangers From the Sky"
2. Sound Sandwich: "Zig Zag News"
3. The David: "People Saying, People Seeing"
4. Gregorians: "Dialated Eyes"
5. London Phogg: "The Times to Come"
6. Barry Mann: "Young Electric...Psychedelic Band"
7. Lexington Ave. Local: "Along Comes Mary"
8. Sweet Smoke: "The Great Evacuation Of Haight"
9. Sixth Day Creation: "Cherry Pie"
10. Epic Splendor: "Cowboys and Indians"
11. Ronnie James Reincarnation: "Is This The Only Life You've Ever Had"
12. Bill Soden: "My Mermaid and Me"
13. Epitome: "Sleep #9"
14. Five By Five: "15 Going On 20"
15. City Zu: "Too Much, Too Soon, Too Fast"
16. The Sun: "Soul Sync"
17. Gas Light Village: "I Am Afraid"
18. Ry Cooper: "The Game of Life"
19. Ry Cooper: "1983"
20. Fourth Dimension: "Mr. Blake"
21. Luv Lites: "Born in Chicago"
22. Peter B‚s (Aka Peter B's Looners): "Jodrell Blues"
23. Village: "Long Time Coming"
24. Merriday Park: "Went Home Today"
25. Revelation: "Wait and See"
26. MC2: S.S.T."
27. Dr. T. & The Undertakers: "Blue Blue"
28. Chicago Loop: "Richard Corey"

Monday, July 09, 2007

Best jokes from Neil Hamburger: World's Funnyman DVD

1. Why did Madonna feed her infant baby dog food?

Well, she had no choice - that's just what came out of her breasts.

2. Why did Al-Qaeda under the direction of Mr. Osama Bin Laden burn in a public town square in Kabul, Afghanistan over 10,000 copies of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of The Moon album?

Cuz it's a terrible album.

3. Why did Paris Hilton absolutely refuse to sit on the toilet seat at Courtney Love's house?

Well, she couldn't - Courtney was already dead on it.

4. What does Sir Paul McCartney's wife, Heather Mills, have in common with The Dead Kennedys musical group?

Well, both of them only have three original members.

And the best...

5. Why did Bilbo Baggins cross the road?

To depress those of us who don't find those sorts of characters at all amusing.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Porn paranoids, y'all ruined my blog!

OK I caved in to pressure to put up a photo more suitable for the workplace. I have no problem with that. But you non-workplace porn paranoids who complained better help me figure out why that line is going through this lovely photo of the great Owusu & Hannibal. The pic is less than 50k as per Blogger requirements. And I tried/tired tinkering with the template to no avail. So porn paranoids, you want a cleaner internet? Fix this!