Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Spooktacular in Screaming Sound!

Spike Jones was a bandleader and musician specializing in satirizing contemporary & popular music in the time-period of 1940's-1950's, much of the time utilizing odd, purposely-juxtaposed or even non-musical instruments resulting in hugely popular de-compositions. Just in time for Halloween.

Download here:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Drop Dead!

Arch Oboler, born in 1907 (d.1987), was a nuclear blast of energy & ideas involving himself in movies, plays, television, directing, producing, screenwriting, writing novels, and had a long-running horror radio show by the name of "Lights Out" - one cut from the album being one of the episodes - and apparently made film history with his use of effects in two of his 3-D movies from the early fifties, and during the war years made anti-Nazi films that stars of the era (Joan Crawford one of them) lined up to be a part of, some taking pay-cuts for the chance.
Unfortunately, horror was to touch his life literally when his six year old son drowned in a ditch used for excavation that filled with rainwater on the site where Oboler's new house was being built in 1958.

Drop Dead!, with it's iconic cover, was released in 1962, and features in it's cast Mercedes McCambridge, a minor star of movies and TV of the era and who would later be cast as the wife in TV's long-running series The Coach in the 90's.

Track listing:
    A1 Introduction to Horror   
    A2 I'm Hungry (Movie-Type Horror)   
    A3 Taking Papa Home (Suspense-Type Horror)   
    A4 The Dark (Radio-Type Horror) 
    B1 A Day at the Dentist's (Comedy-Type Horror)   
    B2 The Posse (T.V.-Type Horror)   
    B3 Chicken Heart (Science Fiction-Type Horror)   
    B4 The Laughing Man (The Ultimate in Horror)

Download here:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lone Rager

Dunno why, but I pulled my entire Metal section from the shelves, all 300+ LP's I've held onto with a sick grasp since my early teens, and flipped through all of them, reminiscing on each individual cover art. Maybe it's that time of year, when things are getting all dark and spooky: a lot of metal falls into that bleak arena, if not for the music than certainly for many of the covers holding in the vinyl. Picked out some Venom and Danzig for the wall for the next few weeks, spun a few discs to make sure I hadn't grown up and actually still liked it all and then shuffled everything away again, with one extra exception.

Lone Rager's "Metal Rap" EP out of 1984 on Megaforce Records. Megaforce is a record label run by Jon & Marsha Zazula, formed early after Jon opened his record shop in New Jersey called Rock 'N Roll Heaven (legend has it that he was originally going to name it "Metallica Records", but a certain Lars Ulrich convinced him otherwise calling it stupid, and then copped the title for his recently-formed band) after getting Metallica's demo in the mail & deciding he wanted to release their first album.
And this Metal Rap release is Jon's loving ode to the genre he still promotes to this day. Now, there's no official evidence that the "Lone Rager" IS Jon Z, but as the back cover states: music & lyrics - Jon Zazula, Producer - Jon Zazula. So I think it's safe to say that the hefty boy on the front sweating through the pillowcase is Jon Zazula.
The music? Aheh. Um, well, it's exactly what it says it is. Doesn't get much more earnest than this. This is love, baby, love for metal. And if you hear tiny voices in the chorus it's not your ears ringing from the banging of the head, it's The Children of Steel Singers - a chorus of 15 kids aged 3 months (!) to 10 years old, including a Rikki Zazula.
The first side is the rap, the second side is the same tune minus the vocals which are replaced by a blistering (?) mass of guitar-soloing by Andy "Duck" MacDonald and they both clock in at 5:26. And, in case you're too busy swingin' that hair around (or giggling) to listen properly, here's the lyrics from the rear cover, clickable for readability -

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Etobicoke Accordion Youth Orchestra

Many kids feel the need to rush into adulthood, while many of us adults want to run screaming back into the carefree days of childhood, usually once we realize that that door has closed and locked solidly behind us. I mean, it doesn't have a handle or even a keyhole on the other side.
Hey! No one told me this grown-up world was gonna be so ugly, and now I can't go back?! Get up on your tiptoes, rub frantically on the grimy windowpane with your coat-sleeve and gaze back in before heaving a sigh, turning around, and waking up to an alarm-clock.
Reason being for bringing this up is that I could get more than 3-4 posts up a month if I were a kid again and wasn't collecting responsibilities like so many unwanted hockey-card doubles. Sure, I could quit my job, but crap doesn't buy itself, kids.

But while on the subject, one can sort of revisit kidhood in various ways, some ways being going through old school artifacts like yearbooks or report cards. One rather rare artifact of one's academic years is the school record album, most of the time a recording of the school band and/or choir. Personally, none of the schools I went to ever put out an album that I'm aware of, but that could be an indicator of the quality of the students' abilities. And judging from the others in my guitar class (that we all took just for an easy grade), uh yeah, we sucked.
Rarer than the albums themselves are the nuts who actually seek out and collect these things (me being one), which range in quality from "utterly tragic", to "so good it sounds like a normal band, which equals crap" - because who wants normal, anyhow? You wanna find something that stands out, screams incongruity, spells out "remember this" on a chalkboard with fingernails instead of chalk. "Adequate" is never memorable.
Then there are the good school bands that stick in your head out of the left turn they took, something like the rather famous Langley Schools Music Project, and something like this.

Found somewhat recently in the basement of a local Sally Ann, this was originally a product out of Etobicoke (k is silent) - once a municipality, but now a part of, Toronto (which if you'll check any map, is actually quite far from Vancouver) - and happily I more recently made contact with someone who actually played on this album, so now I can relate a little info attached.
Seems the album was conceived out of a need to raise money to fund a trip to Los Angeles for a battle of the bands competition in 1980, but after all the recording and studio costs were covered, they still had to fund the trip anyways. "Limited Edition", the title of the album, comes from the fact that only 1500 copies were pressed, maybe because that was the most the school could afford, but more likely it's from the fact that in 1980 accordian-based music wasn't setting fire to the Billboard (or any?) charts and expectations of shifting as many units as The Knack weren't really high or considered sane.
And the LP cover itself is unique: most if not all of the time on these things we either get a xeroxed copy of a photo of the kids in the band or some abstract art piece that was requested from what the art teacher thought of as the most gifted student in his/her class, but here we're given a shiny black cover depicting quite the classy hottie smoking a hell of a long cigarillo perched at a candle-lit Steinway knockoff, single red rose and bottle of champagne (I was going to guess Baby Duck, but it's Martini Spumonte) waiting for someone. Probably the drummer. I was thinking it was just a stock photo being used, but as my informant tells me, her name is Yolanda and she's actually the older sister of the (then) head music teacher who made the suggestion of making the album. Sad to say, guys, but last we heard, Yolanda married and moved to England in the 90's.
And while most of the performers here have most likely gone on in life to be accountants, firefighters, or won huge lottery wins straight after University, a few have stuck to music: lead guitarist Silvio Simone is currently in a musical called Rock of Ages (as well as being a regular session musician) and a Maureen Bynoe is a smooth-jazz singer with her own band.
Okay, now music-wise, I'd give this a boost up over many recordings I've heard, partially from musicality but also from inventiveness. Some standards on here sandwiched between a few 70's/80's modern tunes, definitely check out the cover of Peter Gunn, the effects-spattered Star Wars theme and the Saturday Night Fever medley - which starts out with seagull-sounds that were apparently manufactured in the studio.

And an extra big thanks to Maria for making contact and giving me some background!

Track list:
A1 Theme From "Peter Gunn"
A2 Liberty Bell
A3 Moon River
A4 Pennsylvania Polka
A5 Instant Concert
B1 Gonna Fly Now - Theme From "Rocky"
B2 At the Hofbrau House
B3 Star Wars "Title Track"
B4 Saturday Night Fever (Medley)
B5 Bandstand Boogie

Download here:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Sounds of Love, A to Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

It's 1985. You and your date have hidden in the mall til they shut the lights & locked the doors, you've creeped over to the arcade, dodging the security guards. Making out in the Sinistar booth-console is cool but uncomfortable, so you both roll to the low-pile carpeted floor that smells of sneakers and orange soda. Suddenly one of the games comes on. Scares the crap out of the both of you so you haul up the pants and get out as more and more games fire themselves up. Ducking around the corner, you watch as the machines seemingly jabber at each other, one of which has somehow recorded your prelude to lust and is playing it back as several arcade themes play, a fight breaks out between consoles, lasts about ten minutes, and eventually classical music pops out of nowhere as the playback continues.
That kind of sums up this very odd LP, a 1972 offering from Yorkshire Records out of Pennsylvania.
The first three cuts are originals, whereas the originality cut out after the first two. That's not me being snarky, that's you downloading these and agreeing with me. STILL, wow, who put this out? The insane genius with a synthesizer and a willing female accomplice? Were they one and the same? No information given anywhere, except that a Liza Condon took the photos - three more black & white pics much like the cover on the reverse - and Warp Productions took the project on. I have a feeling that if one scoured the '72-'73 issues of Playboy or Penthouse, one would find small advertisements for this hidden in the back.

I gave a slightly harsher approval of this LP some time ago in another forum, but after a second listen I found that there is some sense of musicality to the original tracks, so I'd have to guess that the first time out I was under the influence of maybe a chemical or two or something.
Both Scented Wind and Black and Blues are rather simple tunes, the 'love' part of the equation coming from the sounds emanating from we're led to believe the woman on the record jacket, and whether or not she's with someone with a tape recorder beside the bed or she's alone in a studio giving crazy lip service to the back of her hand I'll let you guys try to figure out.
I could be a complete bastard and tell everyone to crank the volume for Midnight Waterfalls, but I just don't have the heart, nor money to cover emergency room bills. Imagine Metal Machine Music on 78 using a swatch of sandpaper instead of a stylus cartridge and I'd say it's close. The rest of the album is classical music, taken from somewhere but not actually played by whomever released this flawed gem, three tracks fed through the synth for some extremely mild tampering (I guess nuanced would be the term, but I couldn't swallow using it here) and the oozin' ahs laid over top once more.
Enjoy, but please listen to in an altered state.

Track listing:
Fred Miller - Scented Wind 5:20
A2 Fred Miller - Black & Blues 4:36
A3 Fred Miller - Midnight Waterfalls 9:30
A4 Maurice Ravel - Pavane 5:30
B1 Maurice Ravel - Bolero 14:00
B2 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Piano Concerto No. 21 7:30 
Download here:

Monday, September 6, 2010

Isn't that near Spuzzum?

If those two words and a couple initials don't mean anything to you but a piece of weird syntax, you're far from alone. Is it a song about a nice hiking area? No! Trail is a small town in British Columbia, hidden deep in a valley and home to approximately 7500 people, and that's about all I know. Here's a map:

This promotional 7'' was put out at one point in time, but there's not a breath of it mentioned on the web. But judging from the style of jingle involved I'd wager c.1963. Radio station CJAT (around since 1931 and today is home to "adult contemporary" music, whatever that is) produced it to help boost tourism and business ventures, and must have helped the town a bit as the tune won't come out of your head without the aid of micro-surgery. The flip - Your Invitation to Trail, B.C. - has a narrative piece expounding the features and other neat stuff the place has on hand, basically reiterating with a little more flourish what the singy jingle-side already covered. And if the song at all sounds familiar, you may just own the Smash the State Canadian punk compilation released in 1994 by a Frank Manley, which features part of the song side of this 45 at the close of the LP's first side.

Download here:
Wonderful Trail
Your Invitation

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Erotica: The Rhythms of Love

Fax Records out of Hollywood had a short run from around '59 through the early sixties with a few releases dotted out up to about 1970 or so, and all of them were dedicated to raunchy adult humor, including a few tied in with Stag magazine.
Their Erotica series is easily identifiable with the simple concept of the title in large jumbled serif letters with the nature of the album in smaller type underneath. (And pay attention when purchasing these, as later re-issues will have a different color-scheme, leading some to think it's an album of different material)
I have another under the Erotica heading subtitled "Songs of Pain & Pleasure", which was a ridiculously awesome find, until I played it.
Quite awful. 18th-19th century ribald songs played by an indifferent elderly couple sounding like the recording was getting in the way of their canasta game over at the Kuntzes.
This Lp, however, is an entirely different matter, being, as it turns out, a composite of overlapping recordings for an overall effect of fascinating entertainment, even if it sounds rather base at the start. 

The whole thing begins with snoring which is interrupted by a bongo-hit. We hear the man suddenly wake with a stream of what sounds like Hispanic-tinged gibberish and grunts as the bongos let out short riffs, then a mild interlude where you hear a sort of environmental change as a different recording gets mixed in, and this is where the loving starts.
After this, it's an insane 30 minutes of riding on a Mexican locomotive with an ADD stricken bongo player in the berth below and a couple across the aisle cracking the amyl in an almost non-stop backbreaker bout of passion.
You can't hear the proper man too much, but the female seems to be into it, and I have to assume that it isn't faked. I say 'proper', because I'm guessing what's supposed to be the fella here is also jumping in with "Hey!, What!?, Okay?, HA ha!" and other unusual heat-driven gutteral barks that are either dubbed in or the bongo-tapper in the room at the time was voicing his approval, and also asking them to repeat themselves. The locomotive-like noise comes from the nearly-unending mattress squeaking with occasional rhythmic banging that is either carpentry or the bed-frame smacking the wall.

The second side has less of the strange possible-third-party enunciations and more pronounced bongos, and is a tad more steamier.
Hilarious at times, then weirdly relaxing and occasionally arousing (I think it's just animal nature to hear the excitable progressions of a female and become affected, under any circumstances), all overlapping so often it's a confusing experience and you just can't take the needle off.
Now, while trying to find info on the label and their recordings, I happened on another blog hosting the album (knew I should've started this stuff ten years ago) that made the claim that the bongos and tribal-like emissions are actually culled from a track off of Chaino's Jungle Echoes LP.
At first my brain lit up as it was clearly reminiscent of the big C's work, as I just happened to grab a copy of that same album a couple months back. However, comparing the two, I have to disagree and conclude they are different things altogether. Chaino's drums are rhythmic whereas the Erotica-player's are all over the place, and the vocable eruptions littering the grooves are from a different set of pipes than Chaino's.
Now, turn down the lights...


Friday, August 27, 2010


So why doesn't 7-11 do things like this anymore? Besides the fact that these days they'd just hand out a card with a download link...
It's a tradition, I'm just carrying it on.

Songs Heard Through a Keyhole

Okay, well due to a paycheque screw-up at work I totally do not have a new computer right now, so I'm getting one in a couple months instead. Stupid teeth are breaking up due to old fillings done badly way back when. Molars shattering from eating toast, it's not good. Realized that I actually enjoy the act of chewing food, and if I don't get this over with soon I'll end up looking like Shane MacGowan in a few years. So, straightened out paycheque, dentist, then PC. That's the plan. The really boring plan.
Putting that behind me, here's Joel Cowan with Songs Heard Through a Keyhole on Walter "Dootsie" Williams' Dooto (once Dootone) Records. An acoustic guitarist who played in big bands in the 1940's, was part of the Al Russell Trio/Do Ray Me Trio from '42 to '50 before joining the Camille Howard Trio. Then went on to do session work and back up for artists in the 50's. And check out the LP cover -

That there is actress Cia Dave in a rather risky shot (for the time, 1959) and no doubt helped a few extra records fly out the door. Well, "actress" may be a stretch, as it was one role in some forgotten flick by the name of Two for the Seesaw a couple years later in '62.
The songs? Not really my bag. A few smiles here and there, but the bulk of what we're given here is 'ribald' songs much like what would come along from artists such as Oscar Brand and Ed McCurdy in a year or so and have its own small cadre of fans who were into the folk scene around this period in time. Nothing too lascivious, but you may recognize some of the altered covers he does, and he's quite an excellent picker.

Track listing:
A1     The Falsies In Brassieres    
A2     Tail In The Bedroom    
A3     Use Your Head    
A4     You Shall Not Ride Tonight    
A5     Dead Eye Dick    
A6     My Home Cooking    
B1     Thanks For Nothing    
B2     Pocahontas And John Smith    
B3     Cool Down Papa    
B4     The Freakish Death    
B5     My Old Dame    
B6     The Fairy Prince    
B7     The Two Dicks    
B8     Tacos For Two

Download here:
Joel Cowan

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Let's go farming!

Greetings and salacious apologies. Does everyone who starts a blog think they'll be pumping the web with awesome stuff from their brain every single day, only to realize by the second post that it just, it just doesn't happen, and they can't figure out why? "I should get an album up every day," I thought - "...maybe miss a day once in a while, but...".
Okay! Here I was all set to offer up Joel Cowan's 'Songs Heard through a Keyhole', but I looked in the folder I had just copied the album to from Adobe Audition, and it was just all blank n stuff. No, wait, no stuff at all. So I wasn't about to do the LP again right away and I know you're all sitting there thinking, "That bastard. He is just not dedicated to this cause. Is there no one around anymore who cares enough to struggle for what they believe in, no matter how miniscule and pissant the return is?".
How far off was I? Pretty close I bet.
The answer to that is farmers. I flet bad about not having anything up. And my friends can tell you how I feel about fletting. So here's a thing from 1975, from the John Deere company, giving their bread 'n butter a shot in the hoe so maybe American food corporations might put down their binoculars, turn away from the sea and towards the heartland, and say, "HEY!! Look! There's food right there! WTF, buddy! Dude... Let's start selling THIS shit instead!", and more farmer's could then have more cash to head down to John Deere and buy caps and overalls.

Download here:
The Great American Farmer

And now, adieu, as I won't be posting til I get another computer, one that isn't a 2003 Sony Vaio w/XP and a paltry 1Gb of RAM and doesn't make me wish I was being eviscerated with a rusty pen-knife in the hands of some Joan Rivers lookalike rather than wait the precious minutes for the uploading of every damn thing I do to take forever (which is minutes). Sure I could calmly read a book kept handily at my side for just such instances, but laughing under my breath at the demons that are obviously in charge of the ubiquitous "(not responding)" message as insanity licks away at my psyche like so much delicious Haagen-Dasz ice cream seems more satsfying.
Should be within a week, which is shorter than without me getting a new PC.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Family Band Vol. 1 & 2

God, I love summer. This heat, the unremitting shimmering heat, the great equalizer, making everyone a sweaty, grimy, stinky mess, no matter how hard they try to evade it. The beautiful look like crap, the downtrodden look like crap, and everyone smells the same since they took coconut out of sunblock because the upcoming generations swell up and explode when coming into contact with any nut substance...
Ever been to Saskatchewan? It's hot out there. In summer. Whereas it's colder than a witch's cucumber in winter. I've been to the Great Rectangle (more of a Great Rhomboid, really) many, many times... two, in fact - once driving there in a big blue van, the next time a fly-in (booorring! Rather use wheels), and it was scorching. And as flat as my current bank account.
The "Family Band" - or "The Heitt Orchestra featuring Donna Boser," we're not sure which - hails from a small town in Sask (you can call it "the Chew-On", but be prepared to find yourself at the wrong end of a grain elevator), Revenue, while Donna Boser comes from Reward. It's true - Reward and Revenue. The back of the Vol.1 LP tells me so. Both towns are edging towards the Alberta border heading right between Edmonton & Calgary, the towns separated by Ear Lake.
There's not a hell of a lot to do in small-town Saskatchewan, trust me. I have relatives in a place called Anaheim that has a gross pop. of around 200 and no Disneyland. Who needs Mickey Mouse when you've got dilapidated farm-houses to explore? While there we (I'll be flipping back 'n forth here for awhile so hold on) found my mom's old house where she was raised for a couple years til they shifted to Vancouver. Lots of furniture and things lying around, general decay, holes in the walls and ceiling, etc. like any good haunted house except with diamond-sharp sunlight fading everything in sight to a dismal pastel within minutes.

The Heitt's went and formed a band together: dad Frank on accordian, joined by wife Adeline since 1954 on rhythm guitar and further accompanied by sons Blane, 19, on bass, Glen, 15, on banjo and Larry, 13, hitting the pigskins. As of 1974 they needed a vocalist so they could play the bar circuit & cocktail lounges: in came Donna, and they were a hit, so much so that they would travel into AB to record Family Band Vol.1 on the Project 70 label.
Now, I've had the LP for a few years and only did some online searching lately, surprised to find the cover making a few "bad album cover" sites. Not surprised that it's there, as you can see in better detail by clicking the image below, but
surprised that such an obscure item has made a few rounds. While somewhat obscure, it probably isn't near as hard-to-find as their second outing, fittingly titled Family Band Vol.2. When I grabbed the album Vol.1 at an SPCA thrift, I found the vinyl for Vol.2 sitting inside. A couple years later I actually came across another copy of Vol.1, and nearly put it back before remembering the mix-up, checked inside, and went home with both volumes in my collection. While #1 was on an actual label, 2 was on the family's own imprint (Heitt Records, and recorded at Eagle Creek Studio in Rose Town, SK), and a Google search won't bring up any Vol.2 images. If anyone knows of a scan or image of #2, please send it on in... I'm dying to see the newer group image!) The label for the second album features an interesting printing error, if the info from the first LP is right: under 'featuring', they list a "Donna Heitt and Koreen Boser", so someone got the post-its screwed up, as I only hear Donna's vocals going at it, and another search reveals it is in fact "Donna Boser" - she has her own, albeit incredibly slight, entry in a Canadian music directory, listing her as residing in Unity and still singing.
And what singing. I can honestly say I've never witnessed the octavural trillery that emanates from Donna. And that's not bad. Does it mesh with the band's upbeat polka-rock? I like to think that maybe it does. Maybe.
Out of the two collections I've snatched three selections - two covers, and... another cover, as I think "...Beer" is traditional. I would call these the highlights, but if anyone wants more, I'll go ahead and get everything down & make it available.
So, get ready to add yet another file to your "Unlikely Beatles Covers" jacket and please, turn up the volume.

(EDIT: have just added the remainder of the two LP's - minus the three tracks listed - due to request. 1-16 are Vol. 1, 17+ are V2)

Track listing, sorta:
    A1 Searching
    A2 Wedding Waltz
    A3 Help Me Make it
    A4 In Heaven There is No Beer
    A5 Never Ending Love
    A6 Boogie in 'A'
    B1 Blue Skirt Waltz
    B2 Beautiful Sunday
    B3 Love, Love, Love
    B4 Just Another Polka
    B5 Did She Mention My Name
    B6 O Bla Di O Bla Da

Download here:
In Heaven There Is No Beer
When I Saw Her Standing There
Rock Around the Clock/Blue Suede Shoes

Friday, July 16, 2010

Spaghetti Western New Years Eve at the Beach!

Some mystery EP from China, circa late 60's, found at some thrift. Nothing about this leaped out at me. There wasn't one persuading factor which ignited my crate-digger-geek-sense into a frenzied, palpitating, deep throb somewhere south of where a belly-button should be. But I bought it anyway. And if it was crap, it was a quarter lost, so no big problem. 

A trebly guitar is partnered up with an organ for a voiceless rendition of "Come Back to Sorrento", a tune dating back to 1905 and covered by just about everybody and their grandma including Placido Domingo and Meat Loaf. A nice relaxing number. For some reason we're then ringing in the new year (1968 I believe) with reverb and one of those ratchety-things you play with your hands... as opposed to an instrument that isn't played with one's hands... um... and note the D instead of a G. Flip side! Clint Eastwood! No, not the Gorillaz tune, but two cuts from the soundtrack of For a Few Dollars More.

A slightly-surfy mystery disc. Until someone comes along and translates this so I can credit it all.

Come Back to Sorrento
Auld Land Syne

Monday, July 5, 2010

Charlie Uber Alles

God how I hate work: spend the first part of the day dreaming about all the whatever you're going to do when you're set free and past the parking lot on the way home, the second part of the shift just trying to retain a hold on that slender thread of sanity that remains, and the idle time at home between getting off work and going back the next morning? So physically and/or mentally exhausted/extinguished that you can hardly muster the drive to even strip the wires for the homemade explosive you've got going for the company's summer party, let alone haul any numbing alcoholic beverage up to your zombified mug in order to wind down smoothly.
With all this in mind I'm going to throw my stupified carcass in the direct line of sunlight streaming into this room (I'd throw it outside but, living in an apartment, I'd be strewn over dying evergreen shrubs and gravel an inch or so from the sidewalk and probably be used as a stoop for a couple local nodders to shoot up on) right after offering up yet another quick 7" over guilty feelings of not posting in quite a while, with no steam left over from the 8-hour corporate chain-gang I mistakenly joined ten years ago to do up a full album complete with research on the brilliant mind/sad, sad freak I'd be honoring.
So here's Charlie. A perfume who's advertising campaign left no mind untrespassed-upon. Shilled by an ex-Charlie's Angel. Charlie. "Charlie's Tune with the new Charlie Beat is HERE." From 1974 (the Year of Charlie). And no, I'm not making any of this Charlie up. Performers? Sung by Charlie's Men.

And click the image to read your own very special ho.. Charliescope.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hockey is a lover's game....

"A base, aching loneliness, quelled neither by drink, nor TV, nor XBox, nor fitfull sleep... His haunted exis..." What! Oh, hello, dear reader! Listener... whatever! Once more we comb the cobwebby depths, the rank, putrid cellar, the... the... Wait, is this my bedroom? Once more we comb my bedroom for rank, putrid oddities, the likes of which have never been blogged before. Or several times! Either way, dig in, muchachos, it's all I got.
Today we're expressing love for that game that speaks for the working class, the game every Canadian kid played until videogames came along, the game that is basically millionaires bumping into each other on a cold surface while slapping a hard black thing around for awhile until it crosses a line on said surface. The game? Called hockey for some reason. The love? Just kidding! Loyalty died the same day player's were more concerned with the amount of zero's in their contract than with the city they were playing in. I should be cheering rich people to make more money?!
Once, a very, very long time ago, hockey players considered themselves just average working joe's. They worked hard, got stitched up from pucks smacking their faces open, and got stitched up from taking their working class anger out on the defenseman. Sometimes the defenseman on the other team. They earned more than the average lunchpail working on the Chrysler building, but just a little. Sometimes some of the guys got paid a little extra, because they had some supernatural gift with the stick. Or something. One such dude was Bobby Orr. I could get all superfluous adjective and pronoun on ya, but less time would be taken opening up a new tab & searching Wikipedia on the guy.
That said, here's somebody who loved Mr. Bobby Orr. Maaaaybe just a little too much. Alan Thicke. Yes - the "Growing Pains" dad. (Thanks Rob!)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Smile, damn you!

A very strange and enigmatic find, this. Badly-drawn happy face, a take on a soap-opera title, and a command to be grinning. What to make of it?
It's all so self-evident, after hearing it!

Well, actually no, it isn't.
Turns out it's a circa-1970's promo for The Bay, a Canadian department store.
You can wade through this mess for a better description.

Download here:
As the Bay Turns

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Come a Little Closer

Alright. Just about everybody loves the "wacky Christian record", usually and almost always something done completely diy on the person's own label but also found on occasion on something like Word Records out of Waco, Texas and/or Vancouver, Canada.
Most of the time it's mere imagery that gets the laughs: the soloist in a purple turtleneck with some expansive haystack-pompadour, the insane-looking couple who absolutely must be spending too much time alone together, or the group-shot with members all in the same outfit (or the opposite, with wildly-conflicting dress issues) in a style that was never a fashion-trend anywhere in the world at any time in history.
All of which is incredibly cool, still. Irreligious and in disagreement with the artists' beliefs or an adamant church-goer - either camp simply has to admit that it takes any kind of guts to pile on the 'higher-the-hair, the-closer-to-God' homemade 'do for a Kodak-moment that'll be lining the store shelves for everybody to judge.
And accompanying the odd unfortunate choice of cover-pic is The Bad Album Title.
"He Touched Me", "Come Unto Me", and "Jesus Use Me" are prime examples (and often used more than once by different artists). The sexual connotations are blindingly apparent in today's society, and surely must have eked a few giggles out of more than a few back at the time when these were first issued.
The people in question, however, obviously hadn't a clue to how the religious jargon of their gospel translated to the masses oblivious to how the Bible stated its verse. On the opposite side are The Doomies: "The End is Near", "Take My Life", "We're Going Up That Way!", "Goodbye, World!" etc. and there's always clouds and someone incongruously happy under the title.
And lastly there is The Message. The actual songs on the album. At one of my favorite record-hunting spots lately I flipped past my 100,000th (I'm counting) abandoned copy of Anne Murray's There's a Hippo in My Tub album (and I have to wonder if Ms. Murray is as ubiquitous in the States as she is in her home country? If not, she's the equivalent of, say, Barry Manilow in amount of thrift-cloggery) and chanced on Wesley L. Moore and the Musical Moores album "Come a Little Closer" on Christian Action Records:
I plucked it out: the cover, not really too out there, pretty borderline. If I'd never seen a homespun religious album I'd probably snatch it up in doubletime, but it's really nothing remarkable. Some high hair, a bunch of too-young kids, but...
Dunno why, but I flipped it for track titles and BAM! there we go, home run, maybe with a guy on first: track five, first side, "Communistic Co-Existence Lie". Completely awesome. 75¢ worth right there. A scan of the rest of the titles in anticipation brought up nothing but the usual suspects of Christian recordings, excepting the enigmatic "It's Bubbling" popping out on the second side, but it was a keeper nonetheless.
I get home, adjust the kink in my back resulting from humping an inordinate amount of records of questionable taste for a couple of hours and fish out the album of the day, flop it on the deck and sit down for a gander at the liner notes. As it turns out, the kids get to play some of the instruments: 10-year-old David plays upright bass, drums and harmonica, and Steven also has a hand at the bass and blows on the melodica, while the two girls ages four and two join in the singing.
Side one is all Dad's, though, singing-wise (he also plays guitar while his wife accompanies on the organ): he's plenty happy about it all, gives a back-story at least once before a tune, and the anti-pollution track "Pure, Clear Water" seems to be a re-working of the country-standard "Cool Water".
And then the aforementioned cut I've been waiting for, and it's just as good as I'd imagined. A slight change of lyrics with 'Communist co-existant lie", and he calls it 'Markist' instead of Marxist, and the message is of wholesome American rejection of the then-Soviet Union way of life.
That was as much as I'd hoped for, but side two pushes it up a notch by having a Dad-free cluster of anthems sung for the most part by the children. In "I'm Gonna Rise", we hear David straining out, "I'm gonna rise as Jesus comes through the air", and Peggy Sue (the four year old) doing the Bubbling song.
As a bonus, tucked inside the jacket was a 7-inch with eight tracks on it, some making a repeat appearance on the full-length, BUT - these EP tracks are different recordings, apparently done a year earlier. Make sure you compare the two versions of "It's Bubbling"!
(Note the 'doomie' track) None of this I can make fun of. The kids are more or less inept at their chosen instruments (as you'll hear on the one instrumental track somewhere in there), the homespun lyrics and the vocals - with the exception of the elder Peggy who has quite the pipes - , well... back ten years or so my younger, more caustic self would have had a snide and ugly field day, but this is just so earnest, and really, so cute (in a non-patronizing way) I can't bat a bad word at it.

Track listing (LP):
    A1 Come a Little Closer
    A2 Don't Forget to Pray
    A3 In the Land of Beginning Again
    A4 Pure, Clean Water
    A5 Communistic Co-Existence Lie
    A6 Sing-a-Long
    B1 I Will Never Be Lonely Again
    B2 I'm Gonna Rise / Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
    B3 It's Bubbling / Somewhere Working for My Lord
    B4 A Talking We Will Go / With Christ in the Vessel
    B5 He's Got the Whole World / Hallalu, Hallalu
    B6 God's Miracles

Download here:

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Ten Minute Long Quickie

Several years back, around '92-93, I was on an inner-city bus - either the #10 or #20 - with a man in the seat right in front of me talking quietly to himself. I had my tape-recorder on me & decided to get it down.

Download here:
Man On Bus

Saturday, May 22, 2010

An Addiction

Swap meets (aka flea-markets) are in my blood. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of tramping along with the mom & dad through mazes of asphalt aisles of assorted old tools, traumatized toys and extraneous misguided household notions in the soft sunshine of summer mornings too many years ago, and thinking my parents were always saying, "swat meat", looking for a flyswatter hitting a steak on the signs outside the place. And for those who don't know what one is or have never been, they usually take place on the grounds of what used to be drive-in theatres, large parking-areas of fairgrounds, or in huge rented-out warehouse buildings. People gather up all the junk they'd reserve for a garage-sale & bring it in, pay a small fee for the space, and haggle with people for several hours.
All the strange faces & ethnicities in the mix-up of people selling off clutter from their attics & basements. Old people, young people, multi-cultures, sub-cultures - my little suburban eyes were poppin'. The smell of french fries carried in the breeze from the snack bar off in the unseen distance, the gentle cacophany of bartering from old men locked in precise battles of wordplay to get the price knocked down two bits or so (with the wife sometimes close behind with irate switchblade remarks of either "You don't need that..." or "He can go lower, it's not worth that much. He just doesn't want to sell, that's all..."), and the sheer volume & variety of jettisoned once-essential household flotsam a little kid could never see in a boring department store or mall.

The atmosphere's the thing. Like an old-time marketplace. In your average mall you have roving ganglets of sold-out youth trying to out-hip each other in the latest trademarked apparel, the strange-feeling recirculated air, and that surreal echo-chamber soundtrack of a large enclosed area filled with the relentless murmur of hundreds of simultaneous conversations - not to mention the lack of variety in clothes as well as the same in books & general useless ephemera. It's all copy-righted & cloned, carefully market-researched for the lowest common denominator - stale, boring, predictable, claustrophobic. 
Now, you just try and look good at a flea-market. These are grounds for the terminally un-hip; a place to silently mock the trendy as one non-uniform group, a place where you can walk about in a bathrobe & slippers and feel like you're at home (might be just me - my apartment looks like a used Volvo carrying a garage sale slammed into a thrift store 18-wheeler at 70 clicks). And the only reason you're there, basically, is to root through someone else's garbage. You're one of a thousand or so complete strangers of all ages & races mingling together - with no mental competition except in how to get that set of jumper-cables for fifty cents cheaper. 
Places: underneath The Brussels Chocolates factory on Terminal Ave., across & down from the Red Barn (another weekly swap). There's a driveway outside that sloped down dramatically to loading-area glass doors that served as the entrance. Go inside, and you entered a pinwheel labyrinth, wandering smooth-cement floors in a constant circular-motion in towards the center. All the while you're thinking, "Aw, now I gotta go past all the same junk on the way out.". But you unknowingly went through a small kink in the center, and head out past all-different people & things as you unwind the pinwheel. Very trippy. Unfortunately, that was the last year they held meets there, and it's now a car wash/public storage facility/dog-daycare 3-way split.
My favourite place, though, was the Loughheed Drive-In in Coquitlam. My dad would park the Pontiac in the lot across the street and if I was lucky I might've gotten a small chocolate milk at the lunch-wagon parked at the entrance, and then it was off through the tree-lined chain-link gate and into this whole other world.
A world fulla crap. The monstrous movie-screen, five stories of sheer flat white with equally-tall, maybe taller, trees dwarfing everyone; the grey speaker-posts lined up in orchard-rows, half of which slightly bent and some flattened to the ground from inexpert drivers and others with their speakers - looking like robot-earmuffs - torn right off. If my older brother was with us, he'd split on his own right off the bat after initializing and closing negotiations on his regular allowance (he was on a different level than most when it came to swap-meets; leaving our home in Port Coquitlam at one A.M. to take the last bus out, he'd walk from the highway down the side-street to the drive-in, and sleep on the neighbor’s roof across the way until the meet opened up around six, just to get loads of old comics that he’d turn around and sell for 20 - 200X what he paid - and this when he was only like 13 or so. One weekend there, by himself, my brother found an old lady selling ten or so paper shopping bags of old comics which he bought up, cheap. He sold them a few years later for a bundle. Knowing now what they were, if he'd only kept them all until today, he could've easily retired on the profits). 
After the initial perusal, we'd start at the bottom underneath the screen and work way up to the back dark green wooden fence separating the theatre from the freeway, with its perpetual giant painting exposition of nature scenes and maybe some ugly abstracts hanging all over it. Usually with an artist there leisurely going at some pine-trees 'n mountains thing. But back at the bottom, it was all grass for the first 20-30 feet from the screen til you hit the asphalt parking lot for the cars, the walk-paths between the tables unlucky enough to fill this area being made up of wood planks covering the ground all turned to mud from the cars tearing it up getting parked in the pre-morning dew. This part was especially cool when it was raining: tight, crooked paths through old junk-strewn cars & pick-ups presided over by mac-wearing, fedora-topped grumpy old guys while mud squished up through the boards as you walked by old tin coffee cans filled with nuts and bolts, dad fishing maniacally through decades-old crates brimming with metal whatsits looking for who the hell knows what; it was like walking through a shanty-town scene in IRONWEED or something. ...passing an old maroon VW van with colorful tapestries & mobiles all over it, the radio blasting "It's my party & I'll cry if I want to" while the 30-ish cross-legged hippy-lady sang along with it, seemingly oblivious of everyone around her... ...finding an unopened Revell "Lunar Landing" model kit right from 1969 a few years later in my early teens. I still find the occasional piece from the quickly-assembled/quickly-smashed thing in storage boxes.

The place was huge to my little feet, and, I suppose, always will be, as it closed down when I was around fourteen or so; while a regular-sized drive-in theatre area, it'll always be tremendous in my memory, never having seen it as an adult.

Large outdoor events like this have pretty much passed into dust - most were held in the asphalt field during the day when no flicks were shown, or after the place went out of business and the owners were just killing time waiting for an offer to turn it into a strip-mall, insurance office block or parking lot. Yeah - all you stay-at-home-watchin'-rentals, let's-save-$-on-gas fools had to stop going to drive-in movies for some horrible selfish reason and look what happened. Another step towards a living hell, that's what happened. One less piece of unique variety to enliven your pathetic existence, snuffed. I - quite simply - despise all those to blame. Bitter? Why yes, yes I am. 

And now for An Aside: I'm guessing most people reading this will most likely never have seen a movie at a drive-in. Personally, I've seen two. Maybe three. The first was when I was maybe around four, probably at the Lougheed. All I remember is being in my pyjamas & sitting in the back seat looking between mom & dad, and the Woody Woodpecker cartoon shown first (um, Woody on top of a wood cabin trying to get in, probably to bug some guy inside). The movie itself, I remember a scene in a hallway, a woman with blonde hair stopped in the foreground, then entering a dark door or stairway while some guy was behind her. A completely illogical scenario like that must stick out in somebody's mind, so any clues are most welcome.
The last one I saw was "E.T. THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL". I was 13 or so with my friend Chris Sabourin and his ex-babysitter Cindy (something like that), who he had a crush on and always told me about. She brought her friend. They were in the front, we were in the back. Cindy pulled a prescription pill bottle out of her purse, opened it, and told us to smell it but not look inside. I can't recall the smell, but I peeked down & saw some black shiny things, and it didn't even smell like anything, really. To this day, I don't have a bloody clue what that was about.
Halfway through the flick, Cindy asked to hold Chris's hand, holding it through the middle partition between the seats. Seeing this, her friend asked for mine a bit later on. She was maybe one of the most aesthetically and socially unpleasing people I've ever known, and had the mouth of two very unhappy, disturbed sailors. That's harsh and I'm sorry, but it's just a fact. So no - nothing sexual happened. What did happen was that my arm first went numb, then became painfully inert from being tugged at from the front seat for 45 minutes. I would've asked for my arm back, but the two of them were crying so much over that little puppet getting hassled by The Man that I just didn't have the heart to snap them out of the moment. Chris was in heaven. 
All this has to do with me at the Cloverdale Swap several years back when I encountered an old mid-century couple sitting quite comfortably outside their big hand-painted blue summer-camper with a few wheelbarrows full of this 'n that's hauled out of the cellar, dust and cobwebs somewhat intact. At about face-level, propped against like a few hubcaps on a warped card-table, was a single record album: The Addicts Sing (still partially in shrinkwrap), one of vinyl-geekdoms most cherished finds. Not another record in sight. Sheer willpower kept my eyeballs safely tucked in my skull and I had to haul out the reserves to keep me from screeching like a front-row Beatles fan at Shea Stadium when she replied "25¢." to my tremulous query of how much they wanted for it.
And while not necessarily a rare thing, it is definitely a beautiful thing as you may see here -

- a startling image to anyone who's used to only seeing, say, top 40 albums which usually have naught but a preening close up of whoever is popular at the moment. Go ahead - click on the picture and see it magically appear larger for closer scrutiny.
Musically? Well, I listened to this a second time after a few years of passing and like it a fair bit better. If they tightened up the hollow chamber sound and put in a few finger-snaps and ooh-wah's this could be some damn sweet doo-wop gospel, and occasionally a fine soloist breaks from the pack and almost has me expecting them suddenly shifting into “Silhouettes” by The Rays. As it is, in their earnestness they have nothing but a cavernous piano and the occasional jarring organ backing them up in what seems to be a recording done inside a high school gym. It's a bunch of ex-heroin addicts with no formal training, so one may find a wayward off-note in the harmonies, but if you can take eleven Christian tunes - in what I believe are their own compositions - have a go. And check out the wild back cover while you're at it -

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Voyage into Magic Feeling Sense with Sunshine Bus

We are all wrong.
Some of us, like Hitler (Adolf), are very, very wrong, but the vast majority – while not evil incarnate - are still incredibly wrong and don't know it, don't even suspect it.
But this isn't a blog to point out the ugly bad-wronglyness of the masses: that's readily apparent and neatly summed up in the first empty McDonald's soda cup blowing by your feet (you've got eight articulated points of bad-wrong right there).
This is a blog celebrating the ur-right of the select and profound good-wrong.

A creature rare and magnificent and sometimes uncomfortable with their beauty, the good-wrong is a beast bounding about the wreckage of mainstream society, ducking through an onslaught of upturned noses and disapproving glances and leaping with the grace of a gazelle over snide remarks. Scarred-over superficial wounds from the machine-gun-fire of corporate branding and the occasional run-in with fashion police are present, but this easily-camouflaged uncageable being is relentless in its quest to

We are this animal. So let's run.

The Sunshine Bus seems as good as any place to start. A single album entitled "Voyage Into Magic Feeling Sense" released completely under the DIY ethic (long before the ethic had this annoying acronym) with absolutely no other information available anywhere in the packaging; neither encrypted in the back-cover's sprawling scrawl of beat-hippy-influenced philosimaphizing nor on the self-printed label that reads, “give a natural treat that can't be beat! It's what's happening now, baby....”. I have a friend, however (it's true!) that confirms that the man (of the male/female trade-off occurring on the recording) is from that magic city of Burnaby - birthplace of Michael J. Fox and a big suburban right arm of Vancouver.
And so it remains a mystery. A mystery, wrapped in a... wrapped in a piece of Glad garbage bag and left in the mouth of one of the Chinese dragons at the entrance of that place on East Hastings...
Light it up, inhale & you may find the answer.
And if the persons unknown are still with us: behold, brother - where art thou?!
Your first assignment: EMBRACE YOUR BEING WRONG.
This couple did.

Download here:
Sunshine Side Two