Friday, October 29, 2004

something funky and haunted

To close out Halloween week, some awesome vocoder breakdance action from Whodini.

Coming out of the fertile early-'80s New York rap scene, Whodini were one of the first rap groups to add a straight R&B twist to their music, thus laying the groundwork for the new jack swing movement. The group consisted of rappers Jalil Hutchins and John "Ecstasy" Fletcher, adding legendary DJ Drew "Grandmaster Dee" Carter, known for being able to scratch records with nearly every part of his body, in 1986. Whodini made its name with good-humored songs like "Magic's Wand" (the first rap song to feature an accompanying video), "The Haunted House of Rock" (a rewrite of "Monster Mash"), and "Freaks Come Out at Night," and their live shows were the first rap concerts to feature official dancers (U.T.F.O. members Doctor Ice and Kangol Kid).

Whodini - Haunted House of Rock (Vocoder Version)

Thursday, October 28, 2004

dinner w/ drac at the monstermash

Everyone knows the Monster Mash and it gets blogged to death this time of the year, so what I offer today for Halloween week is the flip-side of the 45, Monster Mash Party- which really isn't all that different from the original. So as a bonus treat, we have John Zacherle's Dinner with Drac (which predates the Mash), as well.

Zacherle hosted Shock Theater with his sidekicks Igor and My Dear and reigned supreme on Philadelphia late night television in the late fifties. He also recorded on the Philadelphia based Cameo label. He had a Top Ten hit with "Dinner with Drac." The followup song "Lunch with Mother Goose" was less successful. On the record he was backed by Dave Appell and the Applejacks, the house band at Cameo Records. A sequel, "Eighty Two Tombstones", was cut but was not successful.

An interesting footnote to the Dinner with Drac recording was that the 1st presses had it flipped with a song called "Igor." However, Dick Clark, who owned part of the Cameo label, thought that the original version of "Dinner with Drac" was too violent for his "American Bandstand" show, which went network just about the same time as Zacherele started SHOCK THEATER. An alternate version was recorded and played on Bandstand. Problem was everyone wanted the Bandstand version. So Cameo had to quickly re-press the song with the original version on one side and the Bandstand version on the other. They were entitled, "Dinner with Drac, Parts 1 & 2."

According to his website, Bobby "Boris" Pickett is available year round and can be dug up to appear and sing a medley of his hit! Some Monster Mash history...

It was 1962 and teen-age America still did the Twist when Bobby Pickett emerged with the Boris Karloff spoof that has since become the rock 'n' roll anthem of Halloween.

For 40 years since, Pickett's goulish glee club has risen annually from the crypt of Golden Oldies with a fleeting bit of airplay for the ghosts, goblins and spirits of Allhallows Eve.

Over the years, Monster Mash has sold about 4 million copies, easily one of the most popular novelty records of all time.

His Karlovian imitation for Monster Mash was born when Pickett was 9 years old and spent time at the movie theater his father managed in Somerville, Mass. "I always did Boris," he said.

He used Karloff in his nightclub act in Hollywood in 1959 and 1960. And when he was part of the the group, the Cordials, he'd often slip in a few impersonations between songs. Boris was the crowd favorite. So one Saturday afternoon, he and friend Lenny Capizzi decided to write a song, putting the mimic to music. They dubbed themselves Bobby Boris Pickett and the CryptKickers and went to Gary Paxton, then lead singer for the Hollywood Argyles.

Monster Mash was released three times. It reached No.1 on October 20, 1962. It re-entered the Hot 100 eight years later, on August 29, 1970, and peaked at 91. Almost three years after that, on May 5, 1973, it made a third re-entry, and this time went all the way to number 10.

Bobby "Boris" Pickett - Monster Mash Party
John Zacherle - Dinner with Drac

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

lou miami's dance with death

I am not sure what I could possibly say better and more thoughtfully than was already done by DEmerson on his wonderful tribute page for Lou Miami. Lou played in the late 70s/early 80s in Boston. He was the uber-glam with his theatrics at the time. His band often shared the stage with an early Thalia Zedek (Come, Uzi, Live Skull) band, White Women and Mission of Burma.

Thalia Zedek says: "It was a very bizarre band. We were the weirdest people -- a tone-deaf bass player, Judy Jetson, who was lovers with the organ player, Dolores Paradise, an ex-music school teacher who was really into rhinestones and Lou Christie. We did a lot of Lee Hazelwood covers and never got a weekend gig. Dolores was the ex-wife of Lou Miami, whose group the Kozmetix was a strange, great band who did homoerotic versions of songs like 'To Sir With Love.' We opened for them a lot."

Dredd Foole says: We didn't go see Burma's first show. They played at the Modern Theater for a Lou Miami New Wave Showcase. It was Lou Miami's first show also. I can't remember why we didn't go. Then we ran into Clint and Roger with Lou Miami at the Paradise, seeing John Cale or something. Clint and Roger were like, "Why didn't you come see us? You don't even come see your friends?" Then Lou Miami came over and started abusing me because I'd started to grow my hair out again. He was like, "Oh, he's one of the enemy. He's not one of us." Lou was falling all over them. That was supposedly the night he tried to commit suicide. He was trying to get Clint and Roger into bed and he ended up attempting suicide. Clint and Roger were really embarrassed.

Lou died of a drug overdose in Los Angeles in 1995.

Lou Miami & the Kozmetix - Monster Mash
Lou Miami & the Kozmetix - Dance with Death

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

casper's groovy ghost show

oh snap. I forgot it is halloween week. that means I should be posting seasonal songs right?

well, here is what has been called the first hip hop record from Chicago. not much information to be found about this cut... it came out on AVI Records in 1980. Casper is a guy named Terry Marshall. It is also said that this is the same Casper who later brought us the track Cha-Cha Slide.

Casper - Casper's Groovy Ghost Show Pt. 3

RIP John Peel

Monday, October 25, 2004

bloc party blog party

yea yea every other band has the same post-punk influences these days. but I eat the stuff up. and Bloc Party actually sounds good. they have a new single called Helicopter out in the UK on Wichita Recordings. There is a video for it, too. here is a review from Drowned in Sound:

Hip gunslingers Bloc Party follow potential single(s) of the year (parts I and II) with a horizon-blazing, saddle-slashing blast from their debut album.

It sounds like… cowboys. Why cowboys? Why not? The shirts and boots are as hot right now as the BP boys who’re currently blowing up in all the cool corners of America and the ICE COLD chambers of Europe.

‘Helicopter’ is a rally cry, a call to arms against all those accepting fools sitting still. They’re shootin’ doubters at dawn and having breakfast with Scandinavian beauties. Sounding like yet more guitars tumbling into space. Fresh and inventive. Alsorts’a buzzing, vocal ghosts swooping and topped with big dollops of horse chase bass. Those oft’ off key, perfection back-tracking, backing vocals are cased in fuzz.
Are you happy for a new world?

Get your nodding dog head on, burn your MSP cds, discard your pretender-hipster yankie fad bands, and take this, and party. Yeehaw!

Its getting better with every play, and there is a great b-side remix of Tulips, too (purchase/download it here: War Child Music). people say the singer sounds like Robert Smith (!?) but I think he sounds more like Luke Sutherland.

Bloc Party - Helicopter
Bloc Party - Helicopter (Video)
Bloc Party - Little Thoughts (Video)

Buy and pre-order their upcoming album here

Sunday, October 24, 2004

puttin on the lips

oh my gawsh- who's a thunk that ashlee simpson is a fake!?

apparently she was scheduled on saturday night live last night and totally botched her second song... she would like to blame her band for playing the wrong song... but more likely is that SNL "accidentally" played the wrong lip sync track. whoopsie! more info from :

Ashlee's latest performance on Saturday Night Live (SNL) last night went horribly wrong!

Her first performance, 'Pieces of Me', went great and Ashlee was poised to rock the audience with 'Autobiography' when strange things happened!

First off there was a recording playing what sounded like the version of 'Pieces of Me' she did earlier and then the band started playing along. Ashlee danced around a bit obviously confused and then she ended up walking off the stage without singing a single note!!!

The band then continued playing 'Pieces of Me' for about a minute, without Ashlee who had left the stage, when the Saturday Night Live cameras cut away and the show went to a commercial!! How sad for Ashlee. I felt so sorry for her as a HUGE Ashlee fan.

The 'Pieces of Me' background track that played at the start of what was supposed to be 'Autobiography' could have been a mistake on SNL's part. They sometimes insist on having a background track playing and may have played the wrong one. But still.. (For further ranting check out the blog in a few hours.)

As the show ended Ashlee said, "I feel so bad, my band started playing the wrong song. I'm sorry. These things happen."  I think that Ashlee blamed her band when they weren't at fault and I'll be interested to hear the "official" explanation.

A video of the proceedings, with apology
or try this link
or this one...

be sure to go to and give your two cents on their forum.

oh, and be sure to read the high-larious commentary at stereogum.

Friday, October 22, 2004

dream it down

At times perfect pop like can only come from the down under area, at times dreamy shoegaze, at yet other times light electronic ambience.

The innovative Underground Lovers are the premier group bridging Australian music from the traditional drums and guitar rock of the past to the technology and electronic-influenced music of the late '80s and beyond. Their second album Leaves Me Blind was released in England even before Australia, after the head of England's cult label 4AD happened to be Australia, heard the finished record and offered the group a one-album deal on 4AD's sister label Guernica. 4AD's spotlight led to strong import sales in the U.S. Americans assumed the band was British. The British thought the Underground Lovers were in tune with the burgeoning Manchester scene. The Underground Lovers knew they'd developed what they were based on: British influences like Joy Division and New Order and local Australian inspirations. The band's third album Dream It Down became their mainstream label debut, a lush record which almost gave the band a hit record with "Las Vegas."

Underground Lovers - Losin' It
Underground Lovers - Recognise

Thursday, October 21, 2004

all you need to make music

since I went to a record sale at an african-american culture center this morning, I thought this would be a perfect post in celebration of my finds... (Hoagy was born and spent a lot of time in this here small town) ((no, I sadly did not find this LP, though.))

As resurrected by the breakbeat archivists at Stones Throw, the Stark Reality appear not as an in-the-pocket funk band or agitated soul shouters, but as a group supremely talented at late-'60s fusion: half jazz-rock and half acid rock. Although a Hoagy Carmichael children's record from 1958 certainly has a low potential for reimagined flights of distorted frenzy, bandleader Monty Stark forced each of these compositions through extensive reharmonization, bringing them to the turned-on generation and, thus, making them sound hardly dated at all (at least, in 1970). The Stark Reality are most reminiscent of Larry Coryell or the early Soft Machine; they state a bizarre, barely tuneful theme, then spend a period of time making that theme sensible to listeners, and often insanely catchy, by improvising on it extensively -- worrying it to death with fuzztone guitar, distorted vibraphone, and nimble, scaling basswork. Stark's vocals, which only come in occasionally, are of the psychedelic hillbilly variety, a monotoned parody of his Oklahoma accent singing of the months in the year, cooking, making friends, and on the highlight "Rocket Ship," a ride into space. It's truly difficult to believe any child would know what to make of this without parental supervision -- unless any parents were visionary enough to expose their child to musical events like the Soft Machine's support slot for Hendrix during 1967 or the Miles Davis engagement at the Cellar Door in 1970 that produced Live-Evil -- but open-minded listeners during its second incarnation will undoubtedly prove more appreciative.

Stark Reality - Rocket Ship
Stark Reality - Dreams
Stark Reality - Too Much Tenderness

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

long live jandek

wow. jandek made an unannounced public performance!? no seriously, it's him!

It is now confirmed that Jandek played a live set at the Instal.04 festival in Glasgow on October 17. He sang and played guitar, joined by Richard Youngs on bass and Alexander Neilson on drums. The performance was not publicized beforehand or even identified as it happened, so many of the people in the room didn’t know until later whom they had seen and heard.

An mp3 from his performance. (#5 of 8)

other mp3s of his performance linked from teaching the indie kids to dance again. although I am not sure how one dances to jandek w/o hurting oneself...

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

invisible bird

Yea, I am a Mark Kozelek junkie. His music created with Red House Painters, solo, and now with his new incarnation Sun Kil Moon was the soundtrack of my 20s. He is one of the only artists that I have had the opportunity to talk to and been completely speechless, a slobbering buffoon. His voice and lyric are amazing. But this post is not about Mark. I got so into RHP that I had to sample everything even remotely related to their work. In the mid-90s, Kozelek and the rest of Red House Painters worked with a woman named Hannah Marcus on her early recordings. While most of the recordings weren't as heavily RHP-centric as I had hoped them to be, they were quite strong on their own merit. Today's cuts include one song where Mark K. produced, played guitar and even supplied some back-up vocal. I didn't even realise that Hannah had new material out until researching for this, so I think we should all do the favor and go check out her website and new recording "Desert Farmers" on Bar-None, which was recorded with members of the Montreal-based hipster demi-gods, Godspeed! You! Black! Emperor!

Born and bred in New York City, Hannah Marcus spent her childhood roaming the streets of Manhattan's Upper West Side, between Spanish Harlem and the Columbia University Campus. Her father was a cellist and often held chamber music rehearsals and recitals in their apartment. Her mother was a painter who would work late into the night in her studio listening to Leonard Cohen, Phil Ochs, the Supremes, Bob Dylan and Judy Collins.

Her older sister Melissa, was born with severe autism and it affected Hannah deeply. "She allowed me to empathize with states of mind and sensory perspectives that defy generalization - that challenge one's sense of who one is, of what intelligence and morality are, of what love is."

Marcus wrote her first song in a dream she had at the age of five, in which a bust of Beethoven sat up in his coffin and sang " a kiss on the lips and I die if I will." This eventually became part of the lyric to her song Vampire Snowman. In her teen years she discovered Lou Reed and her songwriting took on the fevered angst of a New York City school girl but in college she abandoned music and only exploited her songwriting skills to whip up a quick Senior Thesis.

A move to San Francisco lead her back to writing. One night she caught Mark Eitzel with American Music Club in a Soma parking lot and knew she wanted to perform her own material (Tim Mooney from AMC would go on to co-produce her album "Black Hole Heaven"). Mark Kozelek of Red House Painters was a supporter, producer, and guest musician on her early recordings.

Hannah Marcus - Vampire Snowman
Hannah Marcus - Demerol

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

somewhere in the world there's a cowboy dancing

No, its not a Leonard Cohen cover, and though it sounds like it at first, its not Ministry's 'Work For Love', either. Its Blue Zoo, from 1982. I picked this up along w/ yesterday's post, Jona Lewie, in a big pile of 12"s that were 3 for $1 in Indianapolis. Which came first, the band or the largest walk-through aquarium of its type in Asia? Answer: the band.

Blue Zoo were an English pop wave/synth-pop/dance-funk outfit on Magnet Records, and no doubt an inspiration to Kajagoogoo.

Throughout their brief existence, the quirky British combo Blue Zoo juggled various musical styles with gleeful abandon. Formed in England in 1980, Blue Zoo released their first single, "I Shoot Sheep," under the moniker Modern Jazz. Featuring Andy O (vocals), Tim Parry (guitar), Mike Ansell (bass), and Micky Sparrow (drums), Blue Zoo shifted from post-punk gloom to jubilant synth-pop to offbeat funk on their 1983 debut album Two by Two, with only O's flamboyant, high-pitched vocals linking the tracks together. The vigorous dance song "Cry Boy Cry" catapulted Blue Zoo onto BBC TV, but tracks like "Open Up" and "Love Moves in Strange Ways" revealed the group's versatility. The mechanical rhythms and robotic singing of "Open Up" suggests the influence of early Wire, while "Love Moves in Strange Ways," a breakup tale told with ghostly keyboards, brittle acoustic guitars, and O's plaintive wailing, unearthed the band's darker side. Elements of the Associates, XTC, and New Order are tossed into Blue Zoo's stylistic soup on their lone album, Two by Two. The masses, though, were either largely unimpressed or deeply perplexed by Blue Zoo's schizophrenic mood swings. The group produced a final single, the relentlessly upbeat "Somewhere in the World There's a Cowboy Dancing," and then entered the obscurity file after splitting apart in 1985.

Blue Zoo - I'm Your Man

Monday, October 11, 2004

won't you detonate me?

While he wasn't one of the biggest names on Stiff Records, Jona Lewie was one of those irrepressible characters who gave the pioneering British indie label its utterly unique flavor. Born John Lewis, Lewie got his start in the early-'70s pub rock scene, playing keyboards for the Sussex group Brett Marvin & the Thunderbolts. Bizarrely, the group enjoyed its greatest success under the Lewie-helmed alias Terry Dactyl & the Dinosaurs, scoring a U.K. Top Five hit in 1972 with "Seaside Shuffle." However, subsequent releases under the name failed to duplicate that success, and Lewie departed the band. He resurfaced on Stiff in 1978 as a solo artist, singing pub rock and new wave tunes in a dry, deadpan, Ian Dury-ish voice. Most distinctive was his simultaneous taste for musical nostalgia (British music hall, skiffle, etc.), as evidenced on several cuts from his debut album, On the Other Hand There's a Fist. Lewie also participated in the 1978 Be Stiff package tour (the label's second). In 1980, Lewie scored a Top 20 U.K. hit with the self-effacing single "You'll Always Find Me in the Kitchen at Parties," which, according to legend, was backing vocalist Kirsty MacColl's first session for the label. Lewie trumped it several months later with "Stop the Cavalry," a strange blend of anti-war protest, brass band arrangements, and Christmas sentiment. Surprisingly, the single hit the Top Five and became something of a Christmas standard in the U.K., where it was trotted out every holiday season and featured on numerous Christmas compilations. Stiff rushed out another album, 1981's Heart Skips Beat, to capitalize, but lightning would only strike twice, and Lewie issued his last single in 1983. - AMG

That final single is this, Love Detonator. A weird, wild mix of world music, polka, cossack, recorders, new-wave, tabla and god knows what else.

Jona Lewie - Love Detonator

Friday, October 08, 2004

favourite fallen idol

Adorable's first single, Sunshine Smile, is pure shoegazery bliss-out pop goodness. The perfect mix of pretty and gritty that could only be found in the early 90s. This is the kind of CD that you could find in just about every used bin in America during my undergrad years, but has now sort of disappeared. The typical problems with british bands on U.S. labels. Wasn't SBK the label that screwed Slowdive, in a manner of speaking, as well? The second track I choose, Breathless, is a personal favorite of mine from the land of romantic mixtapes past.

Adorable arrived when the shoegazer scene in England was starting to fade away. Formed in Coventry, England, in late 1990, Adorable was comprised of Piotr Fijalkowski (vocals, guitar), Robert Dillam (guitar), Wil (bass), and Kevin Gritton (drums). The band's wall of shimmering riffs drew comparisons to shoegazer icons such as My Bloody Valentine and Ride; however, their most noticeable influence was Echo & the Bunnymen as Fijalkowski has a harrowed, melancholic voice similar to Ian McCulloch's. The group didn't deny its Bunnymen worship in the U.K. press, either, as Fijalkowski stated in one interview that the Bunnymen were even superior to the Doors. Adorable recorded their first single, "Sunshine Smile," in 1991. However, the 800 copies made of it were never released. In January 1992, the band met Alan McGee, the owner of the British independent label Creation Records, at a pub in Coventry. The group signed with Creation and "Sunshine Smile" finally appeared in April of that year. The record was voted Single of the Week by the U.K. magazine NME and hit number one on the indie charts. But the band's cockiness -- which separated the group from faceless shoegazer acts -- began to annoy critics. Adorable's first album, Against Perfection, was released in 1993. The band then toured America for a month; however, Creation and the group's U.S. label, SBK, were bickering, throwing Adorable into the crossfire. Although it made the Top 75, Against Perfection didn't sell as heavily as it should've and reviewers -- perhaps still turned off by the band's arrogance -- were not impressed. After Sony took over Creation, Adorable felt pressured in recording a follow-up LP that would keep them with the company. Unfortunately, 1994's Fake didn't have the snotty self-confidence of Against Perfection, and it flopped. Consequently, the group was dropped from Creation; a year later, they split up. - AMG

Upon gazing upon the impressive listing of producer Pat Collier's resume, my record collection makes a little more sense. Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians, The Wonder Stuff, Darling Buds, House of Love, Primal Scream, Soft Boys, Method Actors, etc.

Adorable - Sunshine Smile
Adorable - Breathless

Thursday, October 07, 2004

live from punk ground zero

Once again, I choose to appropriate instead of write my own words, teachers rarely use their own textbook right? Spawned in part by 20jazzfunkgreat's Pere Ubu post, I had to post some of this. The new version of RFTT steamrolled through my town and while I knew going in that it was going to be a historic show not to be missed, I had no idea it was going to be as good as it was. Much less that Richard Lloyd of Television would be filling in on guitar...

Cleveland's only real legitimate claim to house the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame is a band that will never be inducted there. In fact, it is more than 25 years after the group broke up that a legitimate album of their material is now available on Smog Veil. This was Rocket From the Tombs--the mutant daddy to Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys. Originally, singer David Thomas started the band in May 1974 as a kind of comedy act, though later the group would have a good grasp of theatrics. A gifted guitarist/writer named Peter Laughner showed up at some of these farce-filled gigs, jammed with the band and joined soon after that. Thomas and Laughner would make a new more musical lineup that included Gene O'Connor (AKA Cheetah Chrome) (guitar), Craig Bell (bass) and Johnny Madansky (AKA Johnny Blitz) (drums). Somehow this disparate crew got opening gigs ranging from Iron Butterfly to Captain Beefheart to Television (who Laughner actually joined briefly). Without Rocket From The Tombs, the world may have never heard “Thirty Seconds Over Toyko”, “Final Solution” , “Ain't It Fun”, “Sonic Reducer”, and “Down in Flames”--all Rocket’s originals, and all contained on this release, along with 14 other tracks culled from archival live recordings, some of which have never previously been bootlegged. Comprehensive liner notes and never before seen photos are jam-packed in this complete retrospective that showcases the true inception of the Cleveland underground sound.

RFTT - 30 Seconds Over Tokyo (Feb 18th, 1975 - RFTT Rehearsal Loft)
RFTT - Amphetamine (July 24th, 1975 - Piccadilly Inn)
RFTT - Final Solution (July 24th, 1975 - Piccadilly Inn)