Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Now That's What I Call QuizmasterChris, Volume 1: Overlooked music for sharp people

You didn't ask for it, and you got it!

This is the first of what I hope will be many semi-regular installments of the Now That's What I Call QuizmasterChris series of music compilations. I hear what they play in the bars these days; you need this. Trust me.

These will feature some commentary on my part on the blog so you get the background on what you're hearing. The method I'll use for posting these will be the method used by most internet bootleggers -
a zipped file containing one folder, itself containing a set of properly numbered mp3s, these in turn linked to cover art and track listings also contained in said folder. I'm going to use Microsoft Publisher to make the CD inserts; you can open that via a standard Office suite and print away.

If you unzip the folder on to a hard drive, then burn the mp3s as audio files on to your own blank disc, and print the cover art - voila! - you just downloaded yourself nearly 80 minutes of programmed entertainment. You can of course also do whatever you feel like with the mp3s. If this is too much to follow, get a third grader to help you, they've had a few years' practice with this technology already.

Now That's What I Call QuizmasterChris, Volume 1 is located at this link. Go get it.

The password to unlock the zip file is QUIZ. It will always be QUIZ.

In almost all cases the copyrights on this stuff ran out years ago, or are otherwise unenforced owing to obscurity and the fact there likely isn't any profit in attempting to enforce it. I like old, obscure music largely made by dead people, and you should, too.

This first compilation spans 1960-1986. It starts psychy/garagey and ends up punky. And you will enjoy it without complaint. Let me know how these work out for you in the Comments. Some track-based comments:

1) The Sex Machine nightclub was real, and really was here in Philadelphia. Track 1 is a WHAT radio ad of theirs from c. 1970.

The Rhythm Rockers were one of a bajillion instrumental/surf bands in the US. This track is from 1960, and is better than most.
Screaming Lord Sutch was Britain's Screamin' Jay Hawkins copycat/rockabilly pre-Alice Cooper horror rock madman and founder of the Monster Raving Loony Party. Sadly he took his own life, but years after his mid-'60s output such as this.
4) Apparently this British instrumental Austin Powers-type '60s go-go-a-rama wonderfulness by
studio "group" Mood Mosaic was used as a BBC radio show theme for a good number of years.
5) This demented Coral Reef version of Neil Diamond's first hit appears to have come out of 1966 or '67; no more can I tell you.
I pulled this track off of a website which had no info on the band at all.
6) Los Vidrios Quibrados were a Chilean band who released their heralded psych album Fictions in 1967. This is the first track. How many Chileans were sympathetic to a gay dandy in the '60s? My guess is not many. This track is a minor miracle.

7) The Zombies were one of the most talented British Invasion bands, and somehow ended up attached to Otto Preminger's film
Bunny Lake Is Missing, which had a gimmick of not admitting anyone after the film started. What you have here is the audio of the film promo run in theaters in the late '60s. Jay of Philadelphia's Secret Cinema fame has shown this clip a few times; it's a crowd favorite!
8) As I understand it, what we have here is a mid-'60s comedy single recorded in Belgium, in Flemish, about a bathtub. (Flemish sounds like a cross between the Swedish Chef and Klingon.) It happens to also be a thick slice of kick-butt r'n'b rave up.
9) Anyone who collects '60s music has multiple versions of "I Can Only Give You Everything", which I believe was first recorded by Them. This Tommy Scott cover is the best I've heard; dig that wall of layered sound!
10) Max Frost & The Troopers were a studio band who recorded songs for the crazy teensploitation movie Wild in the Streets. This is my preferred cut from the soundtrack. Eastern tonalities, anyone?
11) Hi-Revving Tongues: New Zealand, late '60s, lovely pop track that makes all the Kiwi '60s psych comps.
12) I don't know much about Five by Five. They had a couple of awkward tracks on the Turds on
a Bum Ride series of bootleg compilations, and I think they were Americans. This track rocks though...
13) The Cool Stove, from then-West Germany, apparently recorded this in 1969, although it sounds more '66/'67.
14) Hamilton Streetcar named themselves as a play on Jefferson Airplane. This track is better than all but a handful of Airplane songs. What happened to the band?!
15) Jimmy Curtiss was, or so I have read, James Curtis, a New York ad man who usually wrote commercial jingles. This 1967 single is poppy and silly in arrangement, but listen to that dark lyric! "I touch death... and it's soft and warm / It calls to me, come out of the storm..." This is a decade before "Don't Fear the Reaper."
16) One of the few albums you'll run into a lot in used bins and at flea markets that's worth your 25 cents both for kitsch value and actual moments of non-kitshcy enjoyment (although neither for more than 30 seconds at a time) is The Zodiac: Cosmic Sounds - Celestial Counterpoint with Words and Music. It's as if someone forced Rod McKuen and Iron Butterfly into a studio at gunpoint, and no one was allowed to leave, even to pee, until they recorded an album's worth of astrology material.
17) Melanie wails on a Rolling Stones cover. And you thought she was only fit for roller skate songs!

18) The Bugs - American garage band c.'65/ '66, this sounds like the song in their live act that got the kids on the dance floor.
19) Opus 1 was a strange band name in that era for a band that straddled the Beach Boys/ garage band line, and the result is better than that description.
20) Now, we hit the '70s, and the hard stuff. This lacivious track is an early Cock Sparrer effort. More "rock" than almost all the rest of their catalog.
21) The claim is that this 1978 "Ode to Johnny Rotten" was the first or second punk record ever recorded in Sweden. Could the vocalist, who reportedly became obsessed after Sex Pistols show, sound any more like him?! I give you Zeppo & the Zepp-Zepps.
22) This Softies track is from a British 7" from the tail end of the '70s.
23) "Nova Lust" - The Shades - 1980, catchy U.S. punk rock out the wazoo.
24) The Feederz were out of Phoenix and ended up in San Francisco. Singer Frank Discussion stole Jello Biafra's wife, and the band suggested stealing everything else on their records. The first
LP has a piece of sandpaper glued to both sides of the cover so you'll ruin the ones filed next to it. Their second album, from 1986, from which this Lewis Carroll poem set to calamity hails, bears a photo of the Space Shuttle blowing up.
25) Plastic Idols: Brilliant doggerel from the USA, 1980. Clocks in at less than 1:20!
26) The Inserts were a great Texas band from the early '80s. This track is from their 1981 7", a punk collector's dream.
27) Fearless Iranians from Hell were another Texas band. All of their songs - we're talking three albums and a 7" EP that I'm aware of at minimum - were about Muslim extremism. The vocalist was apparently an actual child of Iranian immigrants living in San Antonio. This track is from 1986.
28) The next time Dr. Cosby goes off on the loose morals of African-American youth these days, be sure to play him this track from his 1977 disco-comedy album Disco Bill.
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