Here’s a mix for your Halloween festivities or for just walking around looking at the changing leaves. I cut out a lot of metal on this one, so maybe I’ll have to do another one (or is that too easy?). I should also point out that this year’s mix was spiced up by the discovery of the album Okkulte Stimmen, a three-disc set of possessed voices, ghostly rappings, and one of my favorite recordings of glossolalia ever. Mashups, bits, and straight-up songs is what you’ve got here. Happy halloween everyone!
* “Voices from Possessed Children, January, 1978”
* “Halloween” Donald Rubinstein (from the Martin soundtrack)
* “Caleb Meyer” Gillian Welch
* “Paranormal Voice on the Answering Machine”
* “Willow’s Song” Magnet written by Paul Giovanni (The Wickerman soundtrack)
* “Graveyard” Leroy Bowman (partial)
* “Au Gre De Souffle, Le Son S’envole” Bernard Parmegiani (partial)
* “Zombie Warfare” Chrome (partial)
* “The Pursruck rappings, Germany, 1971” (throughout)
* “The Call of the First Aethyr, c.1920” Aleister Crowley
* “Bumps and Guys” US Saucer
* “Lonely Teardrops” Kali Bahlu
* “Casket Vignette” Bobbie Gentry
* Leroy Smith interviewed about recognizing Richard Speck
* “Dead Man’s Curve” (instrumental)
* “Glossolalia” Church in Oklahoma
* “Paranormal Voice on the Phone”
* “Love With Fun” Riz Ortolani (Cannibal Holocaust soundtrack, partial)
* “Operatic Voice on Radio” (partial)
* “Sinner” Freddie and the Hitchhikers
* “Electric Chair” Thinking Fellers Union Local 282
* “Mad Witch” Dave Gardner
* “Tuwin Shaman, 2006”
* “Bloodstains” Agent Orange
* “Undertaker” Thinking Fellers Union Local 282
* “Spooked” Big Spider’s Back
Oh man, with all that I’ve been busy with I hadn’t realized that it was Halloween time again. Hooray! So if you missed them last year, here’s a few mixes from last year while I work on something new. Also, here’s a great Ub Iwerks (who has one of the greatest names ever) cartoon called “Skeleton Frolic”:
When I was a small kid in Toronto in the mid-1970’s, we had the 45 single of Dionne Warwick’s hit of the Burt Bacharach song, “Do You Know the Way to San Jose.” My Dad was a young lawyer at IBM and he’d gotten the record a few years earlier at some sort of conference or business trip in San Jose, California. I guess they gave everyone a copy in a nerdy corporate lootbag or something, thinking how clever and hip it was. It was a worn out 45 with a colourful rainbowy label that had a gold stamp on it which said “SO and SO IBM CONFERENCE, SAN JOSE, 1970.”
My older brother and I used to play 45’s on this giant credenza stereo piece of huge furniture thing, seriously the size of a small boat, in our living room. Mostly we’d just be goofing around, dancing around like idiots, acting out songs or just laughing at stuff. But the biggest hit was always playing the “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” 45 and slowing the speed down to 33 1/3.
We would be howling on the floor, laughing, at the slow, moany, “whoah whoah whoa’s” and then we’d just fucking lose it when the shaky, mannish Dionne started singing. I don’t ever remember getting through the whole song, we’d just put it back to the beginning and start again. Whoah whoah whoah whoah…Eventually we’d get bored of that and go do the same thing with the “ooga chugga’s” on the “The Night Chicago Died” 45.
So for years “San Jose” was just this jokey song to me.
Some time in the early-to-mid 90’s, (after a hard-fought 1980’s filled with my mom’s eyeliner, bad synth bands and later, a bit of an intense neo-psychedelic hippie period) I got heavy into a Bacharach phase. “Say A Little Prayer” or “This Guy’s in Love with You” or “Walk on By” or “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” whatever. I was a slave to anything with those farting trumpets and those 1965-California-single-people-in-their-30’s kind of storylines. Maybe it started out as kitsch or nostalgia; my being an avid thrift store, Salvation Army and yard sale record-bin scourer (where I’d find precious Herb Alpert and the Tiujuana Brass or Klaus Wunderlich Hammond Pops albums, filling gaps and completing the collections I’d inherited from my really-square-in-the-60’s parents.) But when you’re childless and in your late 20’s, drinking too much and spending too much time listening to records, you start attaching a seriousness and an appreciation to things. And music in the 1990’s had gotten so insanely boring. With a few rare and great exceptions, most 90’s music seemed to be bad techno that sounded like galloping or LOUD-then quiet-THEN LOUD bands with manufactured intensity.
In 2000, my wife got a job with Yahoo, as they’d opened an office in downtown Toronto. I’d been in full-time househusband mode for 3 years now, and at this point we had Olivia, our 3 year-old, and Lily, who was 1. Yahoo gave my wife a giant cellphone and told her she’d have to go for training in California for a month. In San Jose. They were cool about us all going, as long as we paid for the extra airfare for me. We ended up staying in Santa Clara at the Biltmore Hotel, right beside the 101:
At night it said BILTMOE because the R was burnt out.
By day my wife would go and train at Yahoo in Santa Clara, minutes from Google and Apple and countless other computery places. And I would pack the kids into the rental car and drive to San Francisco or up into the Santa Cruz mountains to try and find Neil Young’s house. And every day we’d head into San Jose for lunch or to go to the museum or to eat dinner. But the whole time, “Do You Know The Way to San Jose” was playing in my head. It was cool to hang out in this place that I only knew about from this song.
Really, it’s kind of a slow town, though. And the song is more about NOT being in the “great big freeway” that is L.A. than it is about anything to do with San Jose, except to say that you can really breathe there. And (sorry) we conceived our son in that San Jose hotel room with the burnt out R. My wife had to return from the training for this brand new job and tell them a few months later that she was pregnant and would soon be going on maternity leave for a year. They were pretty unthrilled.
And then, almost immediately after our son George was born, Yahoo laid off most of the Toronto staff when the internet bubble finally burst.
I’m getting back to The Kinks soon, but was saddened last night to find out that Peter Quaife, original bassist for the band, had passed. Thanks for all the music and for being a wonderful human. We will always love that meandering bass line in “Wicked Annabella” among many others.
Hey, yeah, I’ve been busy… still. And will be for the coming couple of months with a lot of playing shows, so here’s a little summer mix for you. It’s a lot of instrumental, West Coast sun pop, and African stuff, sure to help out in these early months of the sun.
“That’s Cool, That’s Trash” The Street Cleaners
“Untitled 7” The Frosted Ambassador
“Happy Go Lively” Laurie Johnson
“Sparkle Up” The High Llamas
“Never My Love” The Association
“Staring at the Sun” Lois
“Himno” Aziza Brahim
“Masenqo” Mulatu Astatke/The Heliocentrics
“Metronomic Underground” Stereolab
Living is fantasy…
Making up tunes in hotel rooms
‘Bout places I’ve never been to. –Kentucky Moon (song not used on Muswell Hillbillies)
I’ve always had a soft spot for the commingling of cultures. This happens a lot in music, or at least in the music I listen to. The Tropicália movement and subsequent use of rock and roll in Brazilian pop, garage rock from Cambodia, Bollywood musicals, etc., etc., etc.
So it’s interesting on The Kinks album Muswell Hillbillies that Ray Davies has written a sort of metacomment on living in fantasy while using a Broadway-esque ‘country’ tune.
There’s nothing authentic about the tune “Oklahoma USA.” I can’t imagine anywhere in Oklahoma having a surrey with fringe on top (maybe a tourist trap or oil-rich Tulsa). Of course, the Oklahoma of the song is based on the musical Oklahoma and as the protagonist of the tune dreams of Gordon MacRae and being Shirley Jones on her way to work, she leaves a broken-down house and a working class life. She dreams of Oklahoma/America as the land of dreams in an immigrant’s fever*, not the Oklahoma of tornadoes, economic strife and other social ills (Oklahoma was the end point for the Trail of Tears), and now superfund sites. It’s the idealization of America that comes up in songs by Ray Davies like the earlier and more ironic “Holiday in Waikiki,” “Muswell Hillbillies,” or “Jukebox Music” (from Sleeper). But even in this cloud of fantasy, Davies returns to the essential question of anyone who has to work to live, whether in the UK, the US, or Uganda, “all life we work, but work is a bore/if life’s for living what’s living for?”
The song “Oklahoma USA” comes as a respite from the paranoia of the rest of Muswell Hillbillies. The music itself has a dreamlike quality, floating without Mick Avory’s drums across imagined prairies and stands as a beautiful paean to the dreamer even as Davies reminds us that life is not all movie stars and fantasy.
Hiram’s pal Ray Barker sent over this review of ABBA’s Gold, possibly to make us fall in love with him, but mostly because ABBA rules.
“Dancing Queen” ABBA
ABBA–Gold. The Swedish band ABBA (an acronym comprised of the band member’s first names) actually sold more records in the 1970’s than any other band, surpassing decade juggernauts like Queen, the Eagles, The Who, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. Listening to this 19-track collection, or any of the many compilations and individual releases available, and you can hear why.
Certainly the band capitalized on the growing popularity of disco, but regardless of the genre, they had a near genius-like ability in composing unforgettable melodies. Trying to get the sugary hooks from their singles (“Mama Mia”, “Knowing Me Knowing You”, or “Waterloo”, for example) is as easy as getting stuck bubblegum out of your hair.
All of their most popular songs are both exuberant and sad, expressed in the ebullient female vocal harmonies. “Dancing Queen”, perhaps the most famous track here, details (essentially) the pinnacle of a young woman’s life in the disco, a joyous celebration of youth and innocence, vanishing as the night wears on.
Hearing ABBA’s music as a child (“S.O.S.”, “Fernando”, “Name of the Game”) I felt the wistful longing for a lost love, even before I was of an age to have a lost love.
ABBA’s music, in a way, is deceiving. On the surface you’re pulled in by the disco dance floor giddiness, the promise of mindless fun and ecstasy. But lurking behind the thump of the bass and whirlwind strings lays a tender sadness, a bittersweet melancholy that informs the listener of the fleeting and ephemeral qualities not just of love, but of life, too.
As the 70’s came to an end, so did ABBA’s decade-spanning career. Additionally, the two marriages within the band dissolved as well. By 1982, the beautiful romance was over.