Friday, October 30, 2009

A Go-Fidelity Halloween.

And now, a few terrifying tunes to complement your hellish Halloween experience.

First up is an enjoyably creepy Poppy Family song, "Where Evil Grows." That minor-keyed melody and disturbing subject matter should be just enough to make your skin crawl:

"Where Evil Grows" - the Poppy Family

Lavern Baker makes black magic sound downright appealing in this next track. The girl's got boogie in her bones:

"Voodoo Voodoo" - Lavern Baker

This is a zany Joe Meek production (weren't they all?) featuring fuzzy guitars and a multitude of graveyard sound effects. Like all great works of horror, this recording was followed up with a sequel, "Return of the Vampire."

"Night of the Vampire" - the Moontrekkers

Speaking of instrumentals, this rocked-up arrangement of "In the Hall of the Mountain King" is a true lost classic of the British Invasion - even the Beatles were fans. In fact, this band's horn section ended up on "Good Morning Good Morning." See if you recognize them:

"In the Hall of the Mountain King" - Sounds Incorporated

I'll leave you with a song that I consider one of the creepiest ever. Pat Hare's "I'm Gonna Murder My Baby" is so sonically disturbing that Robert Palmer (no, not that one) discussed its distortions in his essay "The Church of the Sonic Guitar." Lyrically, though, it's just as violent. We listen as Hare pleads his case, proclaiming that he's "gonna kill her tomorrow." The kicker? He soon went to jail for--you guessed it--murdering his baby.

"I'm Gonna Murder My Baby" - Pat Hare

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Believe it or not, I had never heard of a Scopitone before today. As you can see from the picture above, a Scopitone is basically a primitive video jukebox. There are a number of excellent sites on the web dedicated to archiving Scopitone films, but the best for novices (like me) is probably They're doing a fantastic job unearthing and posting these early music videos. Here are two of my favorites so far:

(In a just world, the Tornados would be as famous as the Ventures.)


Friday, October 16, 2009

Gankin' from the Godfather.

After the success of our last covers post, I figured we'd turn it into an occasional series. (BTW - if you've got suggestions, email me or leave a comment.) This week we are sharing a number of artists covering the Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown.

Just as we began with two covers of "Eleanor Rigby" last time, we're starting with two markedly different versions of JB's classic "I Don't Want Nobody." The first is by jazz guitarist Grant Green, whose laid back, muted version of the song pretty much exemplifies why he's a jazz-funk legend. In contrast, Randy California's version (from the aforementioned Kapt. Kopter & the (Fabulous) Twirlybirds) rocks hard. If Hendrix ever covered James Brown, I'm fairly certain it would come out something like this:

"I Don't Want Nobody" - Grant Green

"I Don't Want Nobody" - Randy California

Next up is the Blues Magoos' typically garage-y, blue eyed soulish take on "I'll Go Crazy." Structually, it's quite similar to JB's original. The prominence of the (Farfisa?) organ sets it apart, however, and the "you got to live" sections (with gang vocals) are particularly exuberant:

"I'll Go Crazy" - the Blues Magoos

The Kashmere Stage Band have certainly seen a revival of notoriety lately. Their material has finally been remastered and rereleased - deservedly so. Their version of "Super Bad" is brassy, fully orchestrated, but unrelentingly funky. Also, I love the organ solo near the end:

"Super Bad" - the Kashmere Stage Band

Gene Chandler's cover of "There Was a Time" is well known to Northern Soul fans and dare I say it, his amped-up version is even better than the original. Just try not to dance to this:

"There Was a Time" - Gene Chandler

And finally, we have Arthur Brown's manic version of "I've Got Money" (from 1968's brilliant--and vastly underrated--The Crazy World of Arthur Brown). Brown used to perform in a flaming helmet, but you don't need gimmicks to appreciate this:

"I've Got Money" - Arthur Brown

Enjoy and send me your suggestions for our next covers post!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Nasty Gal.

Here's some exciting news. After 33 years in limbo, feminist funkateer/sex goddess/all-around-badass Betty Davis' lost record "Is it Love or Desire?" is finally being released. You can download a free mp3 and order the record here.

Oliver Wang (of Soul Sides fame) wrote the liner notes. He's got a post on the album (and more free music!) here.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

John Cale & Terry Riley - "Church of Anthrax"

John Cale famously played violin and bass for The Velvet Underground before Doug Yule replaced him in 19 68.

Terry Riley was among the pioneers of minimalism (along with Steve Reich and La Monte Young). He published and performed "In C" in 1964. Many other versions would follow, and In C's mathematical approach to improvisation not only set the groundwork for minimalism, but influenced many other genres as well.

In 1971, Cale and Riley released this collaboration which somehow sounds like both musicians while being very different from what either had done before. At times, the music recalls later Soft Machine. "Church of Anthrax" is a unique, hard to find record.

strongly recommended.

download "Church of Anthrax"

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fuzzy Bubblegum Goodness.

And now - the versatility of the fuzz pedal, as demonstrated by three bands that only existed inside the teevee:

"Melody Hill" - The Archies (Tastefully utilized in a pop format.)

"I'm Gonna Find a Cave" - The Banana Splits (No one raves-up like four anthropomorphic animals.)

"Dark Part of My Mind (Part 1)" - Captain Groovy & His Bubblegum Army (Alright, so this group never quite made it to TV - perhaps the depravity of this cut explains why.)

Incidentally, "Part 2" ended up on the b-side of Crazy Elephant's "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'." You can hear it here.

Yeah, I'm doing research for a paper. Still awesome.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pre-fabricated awesomeness.

Here's a surprisingly funky tune from the kings of late 60s bubblegum:

"Creations of Simon" - the 1910 Fruitgum Company

(Well, at least until 1:55 or so.) Love the 6/8 breaks.

Also, because it's awesome: