1) The Black Pope?! Not the head Jesuit, but this guy, tapes of whom have been circulating for decades: "In the early '70s a chappie calling himself The Black Pope hired himself out to diverse Texas/Louisiana radio stations. Like a fearsome gunslinger, the Pope would blow into Beaumont or New Orleans with contests like "Wear Out Your Favorite Dee Jay's Head," always warning people not to call him a dee jay.
"I been up and down the dial an' I ain't heard nothin' but a bunch of rootypoots!"... soon The Black Pope had everyone tuning him in. But the man was so egomaniacal that after a month, his ravings began to fry brains. He'd be shitcanned, forced to holster his rap, wander off to another town and save another station. Thus are legends born."
2) There were three '60s psych bands called Kaleidoscope so far as I know, one each in the US, Britain and Mexico, and against all odds all three were fantastic. This track is from the US band, recorded with soul greats Larry Williams and Johnny "Guitar" Watson, an awesome mix of psych and soul that works.
4) "Tinkerbell's mind is a crazy machine at the best." Britain, early '70s, Glitterhouse.
5) Erkin Koray is sort of the Turkish Elvis meets Jimi Hendrix. The Turkish rock scene grew out of a series of mid-'60s band competitions held by Istanbul newspapers which required covers of Turkish or Kurdish folk songs. Fortunately for the world this led to a series of mindblowing eastern takes on hard rock once the Led Zep cassettes started getting passed around. This is from 1973.
6) This Dave Miller Set tune is a great piece of Down Under psych about the Gunpowder Plot, of all things.
7) This Aardvarks rocker is from 1966 and appeared on Volume 11 of the '80s Pebbles compilations, almost all of which I own on vinyl, which is as close to a sense of accomplishment as some of us get.
8) "The Hobo" is by a band called The Good Rats, according to my source 1966 but this seems a bit ahead of the prevailing songwriting curve by a year or two... who knows. I know nothing about the band, other than that they are the second mammalian group in a row on this comp.
9) Dreamseller is an awesome 1969 album by October Cherries, who were from Singapore. Yes, Singapore. Yes, 1969. This could easily have been a McCartney composition on Sgt. Pepper. And you thought you knew Singapore!
10) A few years ago I was in a crappy neighborhood of Lima, Peru called Victoria (if memory serves), waiting for a bus into the Andes. Portions of my life read like the J. Peterman catalog, a topic for another day. There were some cassette and CD stalls near the (ahem) "station" and I asked around in my bad Spanish for any old Peruvian rock music. Pay dirt was struck when one guy had a bootleg CD of the mighty Traffic Sound, a semi-legendary psych band I'd heard of and was specifically hoping to find something by on the trip. The top track of theirs on said CD would have to be "Virgin", which in the bridge actually draws heavily from traditional Andean musical culture and drops my jaw in so doing. Behold the godhead!
11) Tartarex is actually a chemical which is used to remove tannic acid. For a German band called The Petards (as in "hoist by...") 40 years ago, however...
"Tartarex was the so called Rex Temporis, or if12) The Rattles were an awesome German band who had some commercial success in Europe around 1970. This track seems to have everything improbably mixed up front, and is quite the monster.
you prefer: “King of Time”. He lived at my side
from 112 a.C. until 1962. Then he left. Left me
standing in the eager sea of time trying to hold
my share of sand grains in the hand. But I realize
I won`t be able to save even one golden grain."
13) Most of what little I've pulled off the web of Cindy und Bert is early '70s German lite pop/Schlager schmaltz that we're better off without. This is precisely what makes the hard-charging, organ-heavy Black Sabbath cover with a lyric about Sherlock Holmes' demonic dog nemesis that much better - completely out of left field!
14) Danny McCulloch was the bassist of Eric Burdon & The Animals and released this prescient rocker of a track about not being able to smoke anywhere 40 years ago.
15) Dave Grusin is known as a smooth jazz artist and respected Hollywood soundtrack writer. Forget that for a second. Just for the moment, know that Grusin worked with The Byrds to concoct a psych soundtrack for one of the best movies you could ever watch with friends and drink to - Candy. Looking over that negative New York Times review gives you no idea of what exactly the movie is. Would it help to say that some of Hollywood's finest talent came together to drop acid and make a movie about an alien sex goddess (portrayed by Ewa Aulin, a recent Miss Teen Sweden) sent to Earth to enourage us to, as best as I can make out, drop acid and make a movie about an alien sex goddess? I swear I am not making this up. The soundtrack rocks, too. Rent it!
16) San Francisco's Crime should have been huge. The futuristic proto-punk band even had an awesome cops and robbers look down pat. "Maserati" is my fave song of theirs, from a 1980 single.
17) The next three punk tracks have a mini-theme going, and you should hide the children. Elton Motello was a pivotal fellow in the early Belgian New Wave/punk scene, which is not a bad accomplishment for a British guy. "Jet Boy..." had its vocal track re-recorded with a French lyric unrelated to the original and became the international smash hit "Ça plane pour moi." Aren't you glad you now know that the original is completely depraved?
18) VKTMS were an awesome early San Francisco punk band who should also have been millionaires in a just world. "Midget" is about the punkest song imaginable. Once upon a time I had this on a 7", which is worth well over $100 now. What did I do with it?!
19) La Peste (yes, a reference to Camus' The Plague) were the best pre-hardcore Boston band, and this 1979 effort is the catchiest song I've heard by this strong band. Too bad singing along to this at work will get you fired, sued and arrested. In recent years demo tapes of their songs which never made it to vinyl have surfaced, worth a Google!
20) The standard narrative has hardcore punk splitting off into its own ghetto in about 1980, led by Black Flag, Bad Brains and one little-heard 1979 7" from The Middle Class, an obscure SoCal band. What to make of this 1978 (!) madness from Swiss (?!) art punk-freak Dieter Meier, years ahead of his time?
21) The Dickies got screwed. The L.A. band were the great-great-grandfathers of bands like Green Day, only with far more talent and personality. It never paid off in full, the world hating the trailblazer while trails are blazed. Florida's East Coast equivalent The Eat soldiered on into the mid-'80s and didn't even get what little The Dickies got in the way of recognition. "Communist Radio" sounds to be a live track - there was a slower, different arrangement on their full-length cassette-only release from about 1984 which is also strong. Another band that should have been huge, and likely never played to more than 100 (largely confused) people.
22) A song called "Assface" has no business being this catchy. New Hampshire's G.G. Allin was famous for naked sado-masochistic performances which often culminated in him letting loose on the audience from the massive amount of Ex-Lax he'd consume before shows. Allin claimed he was going to kill himself on stage during a Halloween show in 1993, but died of an overdose after a show before that could happen. If you like Eric Cartman, you'll love GG Allin. What's funny is how good the early releases are! I mean, if John Tesh is going to shove a mic up his bum between songs, tix will sell no matter how much he bores you musically, so it's a bonus that this act was churning out something hum-able on top of the schtick.
23) "Alles geht weiter" ("Everything Keeps Going" by my reckoning) by Torpedo Moskau is an example of the sort of mid-'80s tuneful punk Europe churned out in force. The song appears on the above-average Life Is a Joke, Vol. 2 pan-European compilation which I think came out of Germany in 1986. I know of no Vol. 1, which has internal logic.
24) In 1987 I was working on an irregular punk zine and solicited some music to review. One of the few bands to send me vinyl was Arizona's Sun City Girls, who responded with what I know now was their third LP. These guys weren't girls, and weren't family entertainment to put it mildly. "Pornoshop" is one of the least offensive songs on the album, a scatalogical Fugs-style take on Ed Meese's porn commission, McDonald's and the San Ysidro massacre, all as a platform for a broad slap at a society gone off the rails. Bassist Alan Bishop has gone on to a deep interest in the world's pop music, which has led to the creation of the coolest label for new international music, Sublime Frequencies.
25) In the mid-'80s, America was essentially on the side of white supremecist South Africa during the apartheid years. Ronnie Reagan and Jerry Falwell encouraged people to invest in the country and supported armed attack on the ANC. Let me repeat: one of the many reasons all good Americans should piss on the graves of Reagan and Falwell was that they literally supported apartheid, even into the late 1980s. You might be surprised to learn that one was sticking one's neck out a bit in 1986 or so to suggest that maybe Nelson Mandela shouldn't rot in prison. This is what makes this track from False Prophets so cool; a typical leftie morality play song from their second album (which I recall from at least one benefit comp released earlier) from these scary lookin' folks from the Lower East Side when that part of New York was still edgy. All of the people in suits were liars and cheats and it turned out that the freaks were the ones with morals. Good to remember.
26) We end with a joyful French take on "Istanbul", ripped from a 1940s 78. Is there another quizmaster in the time zone who offers such gifts?