Monday, January 9, 2017

Duck's Breath Mystery Theatre: Homemade Radio

From 1983 comes this very scarce early compilation of Duck's Breath radio work.

Ian Shoales: Mysteries of the Universe
Sesame Street Blues
Ask Mr. Science
Life Unearthed: Sponges
We Both Read It
Tech/Style: The Body Monitor
Dhandi
Ian Shoales: Advice to Young People
Naked People’s Court
Office Psychologist
One True Radio
Ask Mr. Science: Taste Buds
Sleepy Bear Minute Mysteries: The Silver Spoon
Neatness Counts
Ian Shoales: Art Grants
Office Psychologist: Hostage Files
Tech/Style: Ears
Minute Mysteries: The Backwards Clock
Ask Mr. Science: The Scientific Method
Heroes of the Future: Meter Maid
Pennsylvania Dutch Rub Massacre
Voices From the Past
Autoaerobics
Sensitive Male Hotline
Presidential Tape of the Month Club
Ian Shoales: White Lies

Cassette 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.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

High Wire Radio Choir

At the recommendation of David Ossman I picked up a used copy of this baby on Discogs, and it’s stone brilliant. San Francisco’s High Wire Radio Choir only existed for a late seventies / early eighties moment, but founding member Doug Ferrari later stuck it out on the road as a stand-up. For background don’t miss this post from The In Crowd blog as well as this 1992 profile of Ferrari from the Los Angeles Times.

Teenage Mutant Love
Big Bellied Woman
High Wire Hotel
K-Sell

7" 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.

Will Jordan: Ill Will

Here’s an excuse for me to plug Gerald Nachman’s essential history of pioneering stand-up comedians of the 1950s and 1960s, Seriously Funny – it contains a concise career overview of Will Jordan, one of the “sick” school of stand-ups and an inspired and technically brilliant mimic, who had his own special corner of purgatory carved out for him when other comics lined up to steal his best bits:


Jordan didn’t just invent the Ed Sullivan phrase “really big shew”, he invented “Ed Sullivan”, the caricature, more famous today – and more bizarrely endearing – than the real man. This is his stand-up LP on the Jubilee label from 1961, presented by Hugh Hefner. Jordan appeared on other LPs in the 1960s, including Tapped Wires with Rhoda Brown in 1963, but this was his only solo album. It’s surreal and really enjoyable – but I bought it, and you’re going to listen to it, because of THAT COVER, which is a gift that keeps on giving. In your waking hours. In your sleeping hours. For the rest of your life.

When I First Started in Show Business
Somewhere in South America
Ike on Television
All Rabbis Have Perfect Diction
Sammy Calls His Best Girl
Those British War Movies
The Pres. (of the Actor’s Union) Speaks
The Japanese Prison Camp
The German Teacher
Frankenstein
How Sir Ralph’s Picture Got in Lindy’s Window


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.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Space Art: Trip in the Center Head

Excellent synth-pop album from the band Space Art, released in France in 1977 (they got "classic 1980s synth-pop" about five years ahead of schedule!)



Speedway
Odyssey
Eyes Shade
Watch It
L’Obsession D’Archibald
Hollywood Flanger
Psychosomatique

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Christian Marclay: Record Without a Cover

Christian Marclay is a turntable terrorist, sculptor, and video artist. His cut-up album More Encores was one of the first albums made entirely from recycled materials, and along with John Oswald’s Plunderphonics is part of the bedrock of our cut-and-paste age. His art can be as awesome as it is goofy. His album cover cut-ups are legendary. His 24-hour movie The Clock is built entirely of clips from movies where the time of day mentioned in the original film plays out at the same time of day you watch the movie. A 1994 exhibit in Geneva called False Advertising consisted of outdoor paste-ups of five posters in different styles of five imaginary Christian Marclays – chansonnier with an autoharp, heavy metal shredder, folkie guitarist, classical violinist, and jazz saxophonist.

Many Marclay CDs are in print, but punishingly few of his records ever turn up for sale. You may never find the vinyl More Encores, or Footsteps, a 1000-copy run of records that lined the floor of a Zurich art gallery in 1989 as patrons walked on them for six weeks. That’s why when I walked into Exiled Records in Portland and saw Record Without a Cover on the wall, I grabbed it (how much did I pay? I demur). It’s Marclay’s first record, released in 1985, and you want to write him a million-dollar check just for the concept: it’s a single-sided platter, sold without a cover, with printed instructions on one side demanding it should never be stored in a protective sleeve. You put it on, it crackles away, and after four minutes you think "Did I just...hear something?" Noise is signal, signal is noise, you've been hearing it all along.

Sometimes great ideas beget low entertainment value, but this will transfix you. It’s a cousin to Bruce Conner’s Wavelength – what you think at first isn’t much of anything at all amplifies some aspect of itself until it feels like the whole world’s going to explode. Multiple minutes of a stasis of random record clicks and pops lulls the listener into thinking this is a gag record with a blank groove, until very gradually the records playing in the distance move to the front of the mix and the performance is revealed. It’s like locking yourself in a light-tight room and realizing after five minutes that Finnegans Wake is written on the wall in lumisescent ink, and it’s getting brighter. Or how an astronomer in 1995 pointed the Hubble telescope at an empty patch of sky for 100 hours and the final composite image revealed 3000 galaxies. When you listen to this, you will lean in!

Record 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.

Sandler & Young: The "In Person" Album

From time to time I’ll post something on this blog based on criteria that do not include “quality”. In the years when Real People was on NBC, and I was a dumb tween, our family would take one night a week and eat fried chicken as Dad powered up the Zenith Allegro and played side two of Sandler & Young’s “In Person” Album.

Singers Tony Sandler (born 1933 in Lauwe, Belgium) and Ralph Young (born 1918 in the Bronx) met in a revue in 1963, and the two baritones became a double act after a successful 1965 gig in Las Vegas. They recorded more than 20 albums together, ten of them for Capitol Records. In 1968, the year Capitol released The “In Person” Album, they became Las Vegas headliners, eventually winning multi-week gigs at the Sahara, the Dunes, the Flamingo, and Caesars Palace.

This record sounds exactly like what you’d expect from talent weaned in a casino environment: well-practiced patter, a crackerjack backing orchestra, an audience that applauds for a held long note in “Malaguena Salerosa”. And then there’s side 2: “Bill Bailey”. In twenty minutes they sing eight arrangements of “Bill Bailey” in various international styles – French can-can, Swiss yodel, Italian grand opera, etc. Sandler, who’s fluent in English as well as French, German, Dutch, and Italian, does most of the heavy lifting for the polyglot lyrics. He plays straight man to Young as they deliver short comedy bits between musical phrases. And then there’s the next-to-last track, straight from Tel Aviv, wherein Young puts on a Yiddish accent and tells three shaggy-dog jokes while the band impressively vamps a single-bar phrase for five minutes, until finally band and singer join in a rendition of a faux-Israeli version of “Bill Bailey”:

    Bill bubbe won’t you please come home, you’re driving me to ruin
    I think that I should tell you that I know what you’ve been doin’
    My cousin is a lawyer from New York and he just flew in
    He told me not to wait, so in the morning I’ll be suin’

This is…what it is. In form and function, The “In Person” Album remains fossilized in its original state, and will have no category beyond Thing That Tourists Agreed To Call Comedy In The 1960s. The production values are extremely high. A close listening reveals that the band and vocalists were both recorded live but for many songs the live vocals were replaced with new studio takes (almost, but not quite, covering the faint sound of the original live vocals captured by the band’s mikes). And some of the humor still cracks expectations nicely – the fact that many in the audience have been playing Keno all day is exploited nicely when Sandler prefaces the opera version of “Bill Bailey” by saying “Opus cinquemila cinquecento cinquanta cinque… (beat) You lose again.” Some of the tunes, stripped of their explanatory introductions, would work well dropped into a mix as a moment of happy WTF. But yes, it’s still a choke-on-your-borscht yuk fest full of lines like “My andante got tangled around my pizzicatta”, and a joke about a condominium ending with the punchline “If I was you, I would still take the pills.” It’s what I grew up on. It’s not recommended. You have been warned.

A footnote: “Bill Bailey in France” opens with Young scatting up a storm in a pinched falsetto, singing “Chee chee, boint boint chee chee, oh oh oh oh oh oh…what the hell ever happened to her?” Nine-year-old me never got the reference. Viva Rose Murphy!

Opening Number
Watch What Happens
Mr. Boom Boom (Mr. Bass Man)
Love Is Blue
French Lesson
Malaguena Salerosa
Sweet Georgia Brown
Bill Bailey: In France
Bill Bailey: In England
Bill Bailey: In Switzerland
Bill Bailey: In Nashville
Bill Bailey: In Italy
Bill Bailey: In the Time of Johann Sebastian Bach
Bill Bailey: In Tel Aviv
Bill Bailey: In the U.S.A.

Album audio & artwork

Friday, November 4, 2016

Dwight Fiske & Nan Blakstone: Tongue With Cheek

Jazz-age cabaret artists Dwight Fiske and Nan Blakstone meet in this split LP on the Jubilee label from 1959. If you don’t agree this is one of the best LP covers ever printed, I can’t help you. (And yes, Jubilee has misspelled Nan’s last name everywhere in this album’s artwork; there should not have been a “c” in “Blakstone.”)

Dwight Fiske: Senorita Margarita Del Campo
Dwight Fiske: Case 142
Dwight Fiske: The Fourteenth Wedding Anniversary
Dwight Fiske: Mrs. Pettibone
Nan Blakstone: Life on Donkey Island
Nan Blakstone: Let’s Fall in Love
Nan Blakstone: He Should Have Been a WAC
Nan Blakstone: Blakstone’s Secret Passion
Nan Blakstone: Blakstone’s Torch Song
Nan Blakstone: My Boy Friend Elmer

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.