Friday, July 11, 2008

Bobby & Betty Go To The Moon

A Lunar Adventure in the Year 1985

There may not be a record made that deserves its own time capsule more than the mid-sixties gem Bobby & Betty Go To the Moon. It's hard for a child of the 70's like me to fathom a society that would approve of this mix of gloriously cheesy sound fx, adventure, info-tainment, space loneliness, party music and sexism. This twisted little record perplexes me so much I sampled it for one of my own records years ago.

Side one is the narrated tale of two young astronauts, Bobby and Betty, and their preparations and lunar voyage as the first humans under the age of 21 to reach the moon. First off, what kind of adults-only shenanigans have been happening up there? Why is Betty, an astronaut, for cryin' out loud, so subservient to Bobby? Why does the the quarantine chamber sound so much like a white guy beatboxing? Who the hell could take a nap right after liftoff??? Side Two is a band of session musicians playing a mix of a couple of generic rock 'n' roll, souped-up children's songs and a barely-disguised cover of "I Got You (I Feel Good)" while someone goes apeshit on a delay-soaked theremin and looped crowd sound fx.

Listen to a sample from both sides below, and download the entire record from the link below.
Sorry about the surface noise. So it goes.

download zip

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Roy Henry Alexander Gover

My first post about RHAG generated a few comments, and I'd like to encourage people to share any information they have about him. I recently found out he is deceased.

After months of uncertainty I found the cassette I was afraid I'd lost forever, and I'm overjoyed to share it. It appears to be two sessions, the first from Feb 14, 1987, and one from Feb 27, 1987.

If this is your first exposure to Roy Henry, you're probably going to wonder what the hell's going on. This is normal. The text is stream-of-consciousness with muzak accompaniment recorded. It helps if you're acclimated to other English 'eccentrics' (a term that they all hate) like Vivian Stanshall and Ivor Cutler. As I've said before, it's very difficult to come by any historical information on Roy Henry, but judging from this music he lived his life as art, purposefully blurring the line between fact and fiction.

The Feb 14 session is a little better, so let's start there. He's been to a work related birthday/Valentines day partyand returned home.

The Feb 27 session is shorter and weirder. He has a vision of his parents and talks to his imaginary bandleader.

Download the Feb 14 session:
Download the Feb 27 session:

Friday, April 4, 2008

Like This Parade

Misawa Masanori (or as he's known in Japan, Masanori Misawa) is Tokyo's unheralded king of melody. Outside of a few compilation appearances you won't find his music in stores-- real life or online. The best way to get his music is to know him. He occasionally burns small quantities of cdr eps under the name Like This Parade to give to his friends. With names like CDR Feb 08, these eps are like a 'zine or a diary. Brian Wilson's fertile Smile period is one obvious reference point. But Misawa's music goes beyond stylistic imitation. He creates his own intricate and elegant musical universe. His pieces range from under one minute to just over two minutes in length. These musical miniatures are rendered using mainly toy instruments like ukulele and Casio keyboards employed with an adult's harmonic sophistication.

Misawa is also the keyboardist in the immortal Elekibass.

"Milk-bus to your dream" from CDR Jul07:

"The March of Bel*Air (Rough sketch)" from CDR Feb08:

"The March of Bel*Air" was written and recorded at my house!!!
Download CDR Jul07
Download CDR Feb08

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Allan Sherman- Music to Dispense With

In 1966 Allan Sherman was apparently as famous as Paris Hilton. Being negative eight years old I don't have very reliable memories of the pop culture gestalt of the time. But when I brought this record home from the flea market in 1998 I knew it was destined to become one of my favorite van-passenger testing tools. If you can hear the brilliance in this most silly record then I wanna hang out with you.

The Scott Paper Company commissioned Sherman to write six songs for them. They were handed a masterpiece of parodic songs concerning the effects of reforestation, technology, and economics on man and dog.

Did Scott flinch when Sherman declared their products made holy water 'somewhat holier' or made chicken soup taste 'twice as jewish?' And when was the last time a corporation risked being directly responsible for religious humor?

These mp3 files are taken from a vinyl rip. The vinyl source was in poor condition, so I did the best I could to de-click the thing. It may not be the audiophile treasure of the year, but if you care that much you're missing the point.

Makin' Coffee (Makin' Whoopee)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Brazil Classics 1: Beleza Tropical

At the tender age of 17 my best friend and I were looking at colleges in Washington D.C. We found time one evening to take in an animation festival. The first clip in the festival was this:

We arrived in NYC a few days later on the same college campus tour. His godmother took us to Tower Records where I somehow located this cassette. There hadn't yet been a tropicalia renaissance, no hipsters constantly praising Os Mutantes, so finding the album without much information wasn't hard. I remember there only being one shelf of world music cassettes.

Brazil Classics 1 was compiled by David Byrne and in 1989 was the first release by his then new label Luaka Bop, under the Sire Records banner. It stands as one of the finest compilations I've ever heard. It could be argued that it did for tropicalia what the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack did for country. This is not one of my rarer picks. BC1:BT is relatively popular, and being released through a major label means its not hard to find. You can purchase the mp3 album on Amazon. I'm only adding my voice to the choir of listeners in love with this album. It's one I always take on tour. More serious students of Brazilian music may tell you this compilation is obsolete and says nothing about the state of music today. I don't have many tropicalia albums, but I can tell you if you're craving a couple dozen indestructible melodies this is the album for you.

Lô Borges- Equatorial

Jorge Ben- Ponta de Lanca Africano (Umbabarauma)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Renaldo & the Loaf - Arabic Yodelling

Renaldo & The Loaf- Arabic Yodelling

My band is about to board a plane for Japan to play pop music, eat udon noodles and speak slowly with our friends over there. So I can't go on too long right now.

All you need to know is this: Renaldo & the Loaf is pop music. Really, really weird pop music. Just about as far out as you can get while maintaining any semblance of a verse-chorus-verse dynamic. Like many, I first heard their music on the Residents'
Video Voodoo compilation.

How does this make you feel?

It makes me scared, but aware of beauty. I can think of very little else in the art world that does that to me? True, much of that reaction comes from the video, not the music which is what I'm supposed to be writing about. But without the slightly disturbing yet whimsical video the music still makes me feel lost and bewildered.

RatL have been written off in the Trouser Press guide as "weird for weird's sake." Sounds like a cop-out. Music either connects with you or it doesn't. Maybe you just don't like it. But for those of us that like feeling something harmlessly strange Renaldo & the Loaf are magic, like Harry Partch making dance music.

Their second release on Ralph Records
Arabic Yodelling is less aggressively weird than the music in the video, which is from their first album, Songs for Swinging Larvae. It's downright pastoral at times.

Okay, I've gotta go. I've got to make sure I've packed my purple lamé pants, so read this webpage, listen to the tracks. I find their music rewarding upon repeated listens.

"Green Candle"

"A Critical Dance"

Thursday, January 31, 2008

It's Time For Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers

It's Time For Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers

Respectably underproduced by our new fave rave Andy Paley, It's Time For is another album-- like Jonathan Sings! and Rockin' and Romance-- that Jonathan doesn't care much for but is nonetheless stuffed full of gems. More than most Jonathan Richman records this one has tunes that aren't too idiosyncratic for a big label artist to cover, "It's You" and "This Love Of Mine" being two prime examples. It's Time For was released on Rough Trade in 1986 and never rereleased.

It's not very rewarding to write about the songs. This is probably the reason Richman is slightly stand-offish in his rarely granted interviews. His songs speak for themselves like no one else could. They draw up strong, specific emotions using everyday language, and expounding on them is redundant. Suffice to say, if you like Jonathan (aka Jojo) and his take on the ideal American beach party with the ideal American girlfriend you need this record. If you don't know what I'm talking about you need it even more. And if you need a recipe for a double chocolate malted, Jonathan's got that covered for you, too.

"It's You"

"This Love Of Mine"