Sunday, April 12, 2015

Duck's Breath Mystery Theatre: Senseless Cruelty & Other Comedies

More brilliance from Duck’s Breath. This 1989 cassette includes the title track, a half-hour Western featuring five bad men, a little bit of gold, a lotta orphans, and too much lead.

Album audio & artwork

DISCLAIMER: To the best of my knowledge, this work is out of print and not available for purchase in any format. If you are the artist and are planning a reissue, please let me know and I’ll remove it from the blog. Also please get in touch if you’ve lost your art &/or sound masters and would like to talk with me about my restoration work.

Peter Cook: Here Comes the Judge

Peter Cook (with help from Not the Nine O’Clock News writer and BritComedy kingpin John Lloyd) produced this album in 1979, a look into the astoundingly lurid trial of Liberal party leader Jeremy Thorpe. For non-UK readers, here’s a primer. A powerful politician! An old gay lover! Threats! Recrimination! Blackmail! An antique gun dealer! A disused mine shaft! A dead dog! And possibly the most egregiously biased summing-up from a judge in the history of funny wigs. It’s very topical, but the standout bits, “Entirely a Matter for You” and “Rad Job”, will stay timely forever. (Note: the last track on the album, “Rad Job”, which takes the form of a taped phone call, ends with a fast tape-wind. I slowed down that tape-wind to regular speed, and include it here as a bonus track.)


DISCLAIMER: To the best of my knowledge, this work is out of print and not available for purchase in any format. If you are the artist and are planning a reissue, please let me know and I’ll remove it from the blog. Also please get in touch if you’ve lost your art &/or sound masters and would like to talk with me about my restoration work.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Del Close & John Brent: How To Speak Hip (1966 reissue)

Here's the 1966 reissue (so beloved of Brian Wilson around the time of the making of Pet Sounds).

LP artwork

DISCLAIMER: To the best of my knowledge, this work is out of print and not available for purchase in any format. If you are the artist and are planning a reissue, please let me know and I’ll remove it from the blog. Also please get in touch if you’ve lost your art &/or sound masters and would like to talk with me about my restoration work.

Del Close & John Brent: How To Speak Hip (1962 version)

It occurred to me recently that I’d never posted artwork for the LP that got me into this whole fershlugginer restoration obsession in the first place – so here it is! John Belushi considered this the greatest album of all time, and it’s not hard to see why; it’s not just hilarious, it’s righteous. Close & Brent knew whereof they spoke, you dig, and this album isn’t just a series of pot-shots at hipsters, it’s a deep dive into the philosophy of the bohemian “other” in a time of heavy conformity.

The original stereo LP from 1962 was a deluxe package, complete with an 8-page booklet in the gatefold with essays, test questions, a lexicon, and a dictionary of 177 Hip words & phrases. With such a surfeit of text, of course, it was inevitable that the art directors would make a few mistakes, and a comedy fan named John Scialli sent me a photocopy of his personal copy of the booklet to which Del Close had applied some handwritten corrections. The dictionary hadn’t quite been alphabetized completely; there were some typos and line doublings; there were misspelled names and one or two easy-to-miss word substitutions (“fuss” where it should have read “fuzz”); and there was at least one thing that only Del would ever have known about (Lord Buckley didn’t say “illiterate, cruddy amaze” but “illiterate, cruddy smaze”). All those corrections have now been integrated.

LP art (1962 version)

DISCLAIMER: To the best of my knowledge, this work is out of print and not available for purchase in any format. If you are the artist and are planning a reissue, please let me know and I’ll remove it from the blog. Also please get in touch if you’ve lost your art &/or sound masters and would like to talk with me about my restoration work.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

MAD linguistic adventures: You say Potrzebie, I say Δᴓʎʎ•


I'm finally reading the original Kurtzman-era MAD comix for the first time (via The MAD Archives, volumes 1-4, in hardcover from DC). In issue #11 Kurtzman introduced the concept of detournment to millions of Americans with "Murder the Husband! / Murder the Story!", in which he recycles a three-page potboiler from a different comic book, then runs it a second time with completely new dialogue. Yes, it was basically a cheap way not to have to draw six new pages of art. It's still genius. In the improved version of the story, the lead character has some much more interesting motivation ("Say, Melvin! How about rowing out to that bottomless spot on the lake?... I'd like to build a BOTTOM on that bottomless spot!") and his friend/victim retains an impressive air of mystery through his use of foreign-language gibberish ("της τελε. ής προεξήρχεν όΣεϐ...КИТАЯ В СОСТАВ ПРОТИВ ДУШEHИЯ Indian gum tickets?")

Kurtzman took the concept and ran with it in his series of "Political Analysis" one-pagers in later issues: announcing in dour prose that the magazine was about to take a turn into sober commentary on important world issues of the day, then dumping the reader into an untranslated page of foreign-language text (Greek in issue #13, Hungarian in issue #14, and Chinese in issue #15). 

 MAD #13 (July, 1954): "Political Analysis - Greece"

MAD #14 (August, 1954): "Political Analysis - Hungary"

 MAD #15 (September, 1954): "Political Analysis - China"

I was curious whether there might be anything of interest there, so I scanned those pages and did optical character recognition. Thanks to Google Translate, I can confirm what we've suspected all these years, that this word salad is all random shit that Kurtzman surely clipped from whatever foreign-language periodicals were at hand in the newsstands of New York City. (The Greek text mentions Truman and the Laity Congress; the Hungarian text is about conductor Fritz Reiner; and the Chinese text is something about military blockades, smelters, and Pearl Buck.) Naturally readers picked up on this and started writing to the editors in foreign languages.

MAD #15 (September 1954), letters page: "I live in ancient Rome, so MAD is often hard to find.")

I got particularly hung up on issue #14 (August 1954) where there's a creature of an entirely different cryptographic stripe: in the "Mad Mumblings" section there's a letter from a reader written entirely in a symbolic cipher. 


The author, "Gene Kelly" of Wagoner, Oklahoma, signed the letter in both ciphertext and plaintext, thus giving away the ciphers for the letters G, E, N, K, L, and Y. Assuming it's a 1:1 alphabetic substitution cipher (which indeed it is), that's more than enough clues to decipher the full alphabet, which the editors clearly did, since they respond to Gene in his own cipher. It's hard to Google the ciphertext since the characters are mostly not available in ASCII, so I went ahead and deciphered the letter (plus some additional letters printed three months later in MAD #17, in which three smart-alecs wrote in using Gene's code). I can't believe no one's put this on the internet yet, but apparently such is the case! So, for the curious, here's the ciphertext and plaintext versions of all the letters:

The cipher key (the letters J, Q, X, and Z were never used)

MAD #14 (August, 1954)

MAD #17 (November, 1954)



Sunday, February 15, 2015

Duck's Breath Mystery Theatre: Greetings From Duck's Breath

1985 cassette compilation of some of their radio work. They had at least two more (now very scarce) cassette releases in the 1980s - I'll post them too if I can ever find them.

Ian Shoales: Around the World in 80 Seconds
Mickey Bank 
Ask Dr. Science: Origin of Pretzels
The Ford Years: A Miniseries
National Acting Leson
Stump the Stallion
Ian Shoales: Zen Bloopers
Life Unearthed: Poisonous Skunkupines
Success with Michael Cordon: Beepers
Dale Blisterproof on Hard Work and Persistence
Ask Dr. Science: Four-color Pens
Coming Up This Week
Ski Police
Dangerous Nation
Randee of the Redwoods: Giant Spoons
We Both Read It: The Big Book
Stump the Stallion: Number One Fan
Ask Dr. Science: World’s Biggest Bird
Rambo Meets Dumbo
Taxman
Ian Shoales: Record Ratings
Jerry & Charlie
Sensitive Male Hotline: Women and Emotions
Mr. Fidget Goes Christmas Shopping
Baby Boomers!
Sleepy Bear Minute Mystery: Case of the Missing Tool Box
Ask Dr. Science: Boneles Chickens
The Ponderosa Spies
Ian Shoales: Bulk Rate
eMpty TV
Divorced Men’s Diner
Ian Shoales: Our Nude Madonna


DISCLAIMER: To the best of my knowledge, this work is out of print and not available for purchase in any format. If you are the artist and are planning a reissue, please let me know and I’ll remove it from the blog. Also please get in touch if you’ve lost your art &/or sound masters and would like to talk with me about my restoration work.

Ian Shoales: I Gotta Go

Not to be confused with the excellent 1997 CD of the same name on Henry Rollins' 2 13 61 Records, this is the 1985 cassette compilation from Newman Communications.

New Wave Manifesto
History of Comedy
Single in the ’80s
Nostalgia
The New Survivors
Generic Letter to the Editor
Herpes and the Time Magazine Empire
Hobbies
Hearts on Bumperstickers
What I Like
White Lies
The Big Chill Generation
What Bugs Me
Fast Food & Politeness
Reggae and Our Culture
Temp Work
Commencement Address
Russia & the Cold War
Grand Illusions
Weddings

Album audio & artwork

DISCLAIMER: To the best of my knowledge, this work is out of print and not available for purchase in any format. If you are the artist and are planning a reissue, please let me know and I’ll remove it from the blog. Also please get in touch if you’ve lost your art &/or sound masters and would like to talk with me about my restoration work.