Gary Lucas' Bottom Shelf
One record I used to listen to frequently (well, semi-regularly) on acid
whilst in high school I only recently found out was by the one and only
Raymond Scott--it's a 78 rpm kiddie record entitled Rocket to the
Moon, and it is the most delightful sort of demented take on '50s
sci-fi, with narration, a vocal chorus, and honest-to-God actual lyrics like "Rocket Awaaaay! Rocket Awaaay! By Rocket to the Moon!
In just 6 minutes, the Earth behind us, looks like a giant ballooooon!".
Plus a tootling saxophone that reminds me of some of John Zorn's
contributions on my Jewish kiddie album Busy Being Born. Fantastic
stuff, I still laugh my ass off at the thought of this record and have
been pestering Raymond Scott/outsider music maven Irwin Chusid for a cdr
of it to play for Rockette Morton at the upcoming Magic Band reunion
rehearsals/recording out in the Mojave Desert.
credit: André Grossmann
Also in this vein, here's one I gave to Zorn as a gift after he invited
me and Walter Horn to play The Golem at his first Radical Jewish
Culture fest in Munich in summer 1992 - the one and only Beat of the
Traps, that collection of "Send us your money and we'll put your lyrics
to music" studio demos compilation that one of the guys from NRBQ put
together, featuring the golden pipes and way-off-the-wall arrangement
sensibilities of Rod Keith (Ellery Eskelin's dad!). Zorn later put out
more of this stuff out on Tzadik on a thing called "I Died Today"; let us
just say, I was the first to inflict this shit on him. "Do You Know the
Difference between Big Wood and Brush?" is my fave cut and boasts one of
the greatoff-the-cuff anti-Semitic throwaway lyrics ever ("Jew came
along /got into the house/got his clothes and was g one") describing a
cheating Jewish adulterer (ahem...). The most p otent remedy for depression
The coolest electronica album I've ever heard was the Electrosoniks
Electronic Music album on Phillips from 1960 or thereabouts. It's
actually by a sadly deceased Dutch avant composer named Tom Dissevelt and
his partner Kid Balkan (actually Dick Rajmakkers), and is an extremely
dense, erotic, tuneful, avant/pop mixture of tape-manipulated musique
concréte, some normal instrumentation (Willem Breuker told me he did an
arrangement for jazz band and electronic tape on this; probably "Twilight
Ozone"), ring modulators and electronic keyboards. Bits and pieces
floated up for years as background music on various '60s regional and
national TV programs (Chiller Theater- type shows - and I even once heard
a cue from this album on Red Skelton's program!). Fantastic action-painting album cover, probably by Karl Appel. If you loved the "White
Noise" album (David Voorhaus), you'll adore this. I used it for years on
Halloween mix tapes, which Walter Horn and I played back hiding over the
front doorstep of my house in Syracuse to astonish trick or treaters.
Best cut: "The Ray Makers". Basta are supposed to be releasing a Tom
Dissevelt compilation album later this year, and it's about fucking time.
Arch Oboler's Drop Dead album (Capitol) was the source of Bill Cosby's
"Chicken Heart" routine, herein not played for laughs. A collection of
eldritch and horrific spoken word tales, done in Oboler's infamous
"Lights Out!" radio-play style (think Suspense - anyone here old enough
to remember that one? Was on the Mutual Broadcasting System for years
through the mid-60's.). Arch Oboler invented 3-D (check out "Bwana
Devil"). He schooled and employed fabulous voices in his radio
productions like Mercedes McCa mbridge (the voice of Linda Blair in "The
Exorcist") and Hal Peary ("The Great Gilder slee ve"-- here featured in the
role of an avenging cuckolded dentis t who drills a hole in the head of a
patient he knows has been cheating on his wife). Another good 'un for
Halloween (or Walpurgisnacht).
Alfred E. Neumann's "She Got a Nose Job" is a cardboard flexi-disc that was included as a free Mad Magazine giveaway around 1962. Later compiled on
the Mad vinyl album compilation they put out a year later ("Mad 'Twists'
Rock 'n Roll"), to capitalize on the dance craze 'o the day with more
cheesy greasy rock 50's rock-type filler and snide lyrics (sample: "She
got a nose job/She got a nose job/ It's now turned up/ instead of hangin'
down/ She got a nose job/ She got a nose job/ and now she's the prettiest
gal in town!"). In a vocal arrangement reminiscent of The Ravens,
with a great basso profundo intoning "Nose Job!" ever now and then. But
most likely, an Italian doo-wop group. Righteous, Retro, and
Another Side of Jonathan Winters (Verve) is quite possibly the funniest
comedy album of all time (well, "The Weird, Wide World of Shorty
Peterstein" comes close...) He still cracks me up (he must be about 70 or
so today), and he's still certifiably out there. "Broadway Musical"
puts that genre in a blender and the result is corn puree ("We'll put
that STAMP on the aluminum!/ send that plane up in the blue!"- try
humming this one while we bomb Baghdad). "Prison Movie" roasts that genre
to a fine crispy crust. Winters' improv routines are the height of the
airiest wit, like the best jazz. Jonathan Winters - and Don Van Vliet as
well, also a superb humorist - both make me really glad to be alive in
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