Saturday, February 7, 2015

William Malloch & R.C. Raach: The Stars and Stripes and You

As the short blurb on the cover indicates, the material heard on this 1971 private press album was gathered by Richard Raack, a history professor at California State College Hayward, and it was collaged by William Malloch, then a radio producer at KPFK-FM in Los Angeles. It’s an Over The Edge-style documentary piece about the United States’ involvement in the Great War, 1917-1918, and it’s based on the second hour of a two-hour radio program all about the war called “The Magnificent Nonsense”. All the texts heard on the record are speeches, poetry, newsreels, and literature contemporaneous to the period, either actuality audio or new recordings performed by actors that Malloch knew. Firesign Theatre fans will recognize the voices of David Ossman, Phil Austin, and Annalee Austin among the readers.

In technical terms, this isn’t the most sophisticated thing out there, not even for 1971 – but this is still a really good standalone work. It’s acidly funny and moving at the same time. I’d not heard most of this found material before now, and it’s a creepy peek into the id of a country at a time when it was basically owned and operated by a lot of really friendly white supremacists.

These sound artifacts still feel contemporary a century later because they’re another sad reminder of how we think we know the world, but really most of us only know it by what we’ve seen and heard through the media; and when a country is getting ready to go to war, everything – EVERYTHING – that the media feeds us about that war is a myth propagated by people who will not be fighting in it. The Great War is one of the big turning points in the history of the human race, something everyone’s going to be thinking more about in the next four years as we approach the centenary of WWI and our involvement in it.

  1. Dies Irae; Star-Spangled Banner; We Take Our Hats Off To You, Mr. Wilson; Meester Veelson; I Didn’t Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier; Poem of a Canadian Pacifist
  2. Let’s Bury the Hatchet in the Kaiser’s Head; America, Here’s My Boy; A Mother’s Answer to a Pacifist; When We Wind Up the Watch on the Rhine; Kaisermarsch; 501,000 lamp-posts
  3. Don’t Bite The Hand That’s Feeding You; America, I Love You; Our Country’s In It Now; For Your Country and My Country; No animal that bites and kicks and squeals
  4. How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm; Your Old Uncle Sam Is Fighting for Liberty; Johnny Get Your Gun; It’s a Long Way to Berlin; Indianola; The Colored Recruit; Your Lips Are No Man’s Land But Mine
  5. Submarine Attack; The Yanks Are At It Again; We’ll Knock the Heligo Into Heligo Out Of Heligoland; Singing Soldiers; Tell That to the Marines; The Americans Come
  6. Arrival of American troops in France; Battle in the air; The Singing Soldier
  7. William Jennings Bryan and Henry Ford
  8. A Victory Ball; Everything you hold worthwhile is at stake; Labor’s war; The Fundamental trouble with civilization; His father’s God; Force to the utmost; At war with the devil; Hindenberg’s brutality; Bonds Buy Bullets
  9. I May Be Gone for a Long Long Time; A Mother’s Answer to a Pacifist; Over There; The Singing Soldier; The man who swallowed the spoon; Are We Downhearted?; Five shots a penny; He can’t stir; Hanging on the old barbed wire; The Last Zeppelin
  10. Hostilities will cease; Der Kaiser hat abgedankt; Everything for the people; The Word American has a new meaning
  11. The body of an American; The impressive spectacle of thousands of dead; Dead Man; 100,000 sorrows; High Wood; Here Dead We Lie

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.

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