Bad Ass Japanese Cop Show!

Posted in closet favorite, easy listning, ineffably poignant, whole weird world on July 10, 2010 by jonathanghess

Can’t tell you a damn thing about this LP because I don’t read the lingo. Just another delightful Asian instrumental rock record in the dependable HK tradition, this one with a lush seventies sound. This is a great-sounding recording, by the way- I can picture a nicely-equipped studio full of that excellent Yamaha gear of the day. Really the peak for analogue recording, those days, and this record sounds particularly nice on a record player. Phat, etc.

cop show phasor mp3

cop show blues mp3

cop show disco mp3

I have tons more records like this that I’ll be sharing with you. Great stuff!

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Mort Garson- Plantasia

Posted in closet favorite, drum machine, easy listning, home recording, ineffably poignant on July 10, 2010 by jonathanghess

Plenty has been written about Mort Garson, who passed away not long ago, in 2008. I’m not going to recount his full, creative musical life here, except to remind you that he was the composer of the music for one of the coolest cod-psychedelic LPs ever, “The Zodiac: Cosmic Sounds“. If you don’t have it yet, get it, love it, live it.

“Plantasia” is Mort’s final LP, released in 1976. It was one of a covey of media purporting to connect a plant’s health with the environment around it, a concern that now seems quaint and unique to the era (environmentalist sarcasm). One suspects an exaggerated communion of hippie and houseplant facilitated by something else, something herbal in origin. At any rate, Mort’s credentials are beyond reproach, and the sounds he gets from his synth, echoplex and drum machine are way ahead of their time.

The first example, “Symphony for a Spider Plant” sounds for the world like the melodic cousin of Eno’s “Somber Reptiles”. The second track, “Swingin’ Spathiphyllums”, has an analogue delay breakdown that is phrased exactly like those in Dub reggae. Both have a moody, melancholy feel that evokes pure yet brainless life energy, pulsing up through the dark soil for no goddam reason at all.

symphony for a spider plant mp3

swingin’ spathiphyllums mp3

King Richard’s Fluegel Knights- Dessert

Posted in closet favorite, easy listning on July 10, 2010 by jonathanghess

Comin’ ‘atcha this week is some hard-core easy listnin’! King Richard (Hollywood  trumpeter & arranger Dick Behrke) leads his Fluegel Knights through a swanky Herb Alpert-esque hip-shaker and then a poignant ballad, in the same leadoff/second tune order as the LP. I’ll bet you the next cocktail these studio pros sight read the tune’s tricky turnarounds and recorded it in one take.

KRFK dessert mp3

KRFK like to get to know you mp3

Technical note: I apologize for the poor photo quality. I have yet to learn to use my camera properly.

Luciana- Soy Madre Soltera

Posted in my favorite song, whole weird world on July 4, 2010 by jonathanghess

Poco Hombre!

The internet is a mixed blessing, isn’t it? I’m enjoying having this medium for sharing my favorite music with you in this unique, immediate and multi-media employing way (although we did, and can, share home-made mix tapes and write letters or- gasp!- speak in person about the music we love). But, damn it, some of the mystery is gone now that we can go on Google and know everything about everyone! The spaces our imaginations would fill- how the performers looked; the performance; the cultural context- all are now packed with this easily-available information. There’s something really sad and spiritually impoverished about this to me. I miss the mystery behind the music, and the exercise of my own imagination, which I can literally feel atrophying.

Luciana- Soy Madre Soltera mp3

This makes me appreciate the lack of information I can offer for today’s selection. I found the song on a cheap used CD. The only online photos I can find of Luciana are the badly foreshortened photos you see here, “grabbed” from the YouTube channel of one MrFubarito (get a load of what comes up when you try a Google Image search for “Luciana”). Web information is refreshingly skint; a single badly-translated paragraph which, in the spirit of pre-‘net mystery I will not reproduce- except to pass on that Luciana died young, in 1980. An early end seems somehow appropriate to the possessor of this wildly passionate, even demented voice- pacing, pausing to glare at the audience, and then continue telling her tragic tale (“I am a Single Mother”), a three-way interaction between her, those gorgeous, soulfully harmonizing trumpets and that bulbous, colonic electronic organ.


Update (21/12, from Raglan, New Zealand)

OK. I take it all back, re: the internet killing the sense of mystery. Just found these videos of Luciana, and now the question is- how did this reality enter into my imagination prior to exposure? I’m not kidding. From the choreography of the musicians, to their Andy Kaufman-esque looks, to- my god- her, and her performance style- this is exactly what I imagined. Hoped for. Weird, wonderful.

The whole performance is fantastic, a sensory overload of perfection, but I can’t for the life of me take my eyes off her tits!



East-West Pipeline “Bury Me An Angel”

Posted in closet favorite, dirthead rock, distressed on July 2, 2010 by jonathanghess

Ass, gas or grass- no one rides for free!

Today’s post contains two selections  from the 1972 Roger Corman production Bury Me An Angel.  The film is- er- what it is- a pretty tedious exploitation film; an excuse to listen to roaring hogs, watch greasy bikers brawl and smoke reefer, and to oogle soft-focus shots of lead biker Dag’s jugs (Daisy Peabody, whose resume also includes the film “Night  Call Nurses”). What I really grooved on was the badass soundtrack featuring the obscure Colorado band East-West Pipeline. They didn’t release much- this, and the soundtrack to Angels Die Hard are their only known recordings, and as far as I know, BMAA never got a soundtrack LP release.

These two tunes were copied onto cassette tape off a rented VHS tape back in the mid-nineties (as of 2010, the film has not had an official DVD release). Track one, a hammering sludge-rock riff, accompanies the opening scene, a particularly tawdry biker party in a garage- reefers being blown, cheap wine being swigged, denim-clad mamas puttin’ out for hairy, randy rebel brothers. It’s a damn near perfect marriage of image and music- you feel soiled just watching it! Track two is repeated throughout the film, making it, I suppose, the theme tune. It’s great, with a wonderful melodic, repetitive circular motif- a rather lopsided arrangement for a stand-alone piece of music, but fine in the context of the film, where the miles roll past hypnotically (like hours spent/lost watching trashy movies)…

Bury Me An Angel 1 mp3

Bury Me An Angel 2 mp3

Henri Salvador- Hello Mickey!

Posted in cartoon music, drum machine, home recording, ineffably poignant, my favorite song on June 24, 2010 by jonathanghess

I won’t go into a big introduction for Henri Salvador; if you aren’t familiar with him already and you want to know more, click here. Needless to say, as you can see by the cover image above, he exudes fun-loving charm.

Until this beat-up LP arrived in the store, I hadn’t heard of him. The major joy of working in a record store was having the opportunity to explore just such relics (because there’s few better words to describe a physical artifact like this), and discovering magic!

Hello Mickey! mp3

The crazed sound of this tune is a result of enormous talent, personality, and the fact that Henri played all the instruments and produced the recording himself, at home. Not many musicians were doing this in 1970! When one player calls all the shots, the sound is pure personal expression- and very, very few one-man bands that I’ve heard express such positivity mixed with a unique, ineffable poignancy as Henri Salvador. Why would a song about Mickey Mouse’s Birthday slip into a minor chord b-part? Only a Gallic genius of the highest magnitude would know, and he’s passed on…. The whole record is great- I’ll transfer more of the LP later and post more here.

This particular LP sleeve is pretty special, too. It belonged to the French American International School of San Francisco, which at the time was located around the corner from the shop (this is a prime example of availability directly corresponding to regionalism, something record buyers come to anticipate). The LP bears the marks of innumerable childrens hands, and it’s pleasing to imagine how many little listeners have been exposed to the sounds on this record over the decades.

Something about the layout and artwork on the back cover just slays me- some quality of melancholy, like a broken toy (ah, the Frenchness of it all!).

Click to really see…


The Bowen-Jenkens Band: Pretty Senorita

Posted in closet favorite, easy listning, ineffably poignant, my favorite song, real surf music, sad grandma music on June 24, 2010 by jonathanghess

The Homegrown compilation series are the work of San Diego radio station KGB AM/FM. Apparently, five separate editions (and one “best-of”) were released. These records are comprised of the winners of an annual  competition for submissions of original music with the binding theme of… San Diego! (and environs). Sample titles include:

Spring Valley Lady

Can’t Go Back to Cardiff

My Home in La Jolla

…and so on. Listening to a whole LP of such stuff (I have three) is a mildly disorienting experience; suddenly you’re in an alternate universe where one soft-rock tune after another is about one thing and one thing only (…). No other aspect of the human condition need be expressed.

Pretty Senorita mp3

This bouncy, gently racist little tune would not leave my head; like a junky parched for his skag, I needed to hear it over and over, returning the needle to the beginning again even as the last plaintive notes were dying away. So many of the little hooks tugged at that ineffable confluence of sound, emotion and temporal context… the way Bowen (or is it Jenkins?) spits out “PURtee senorita”; the way Jenkins (or is it Bowen?) chimes in with her “dew-it, dew-it”‘s- well, in this particular case, that’s what I was getting at by temporal context: we just don’t use the term “do it” in the same way in 2010 as we did in 1975. The chord progression in the chorus seems to me particularly keening and wistful, especially because I consistently mis-hear the repetitious “Muy Bien” lyric as the more poetically meaningful “More Again”… According to the liner notes (which you can double-click to legibility if you’re truly bored), the group  was “in the midst of recording 12 new songs for its own album”. Believe me, I’ve  searched, but this fine tune and only one other (“This Boulevard”, from Homegrown IV, which I haven’t heard) appear to have made it to vinyl.

Back cover (click to enlarge)

Greatest Hits (sic)

back cover (click to enlarge)