Sunday, 31 October 2010

Deja Vu

A little lazy of me I guess; but I thought I'd re-post this gem, as it is a post that still attracts a fair bit of traffic and interest; and what with the time of year an' all....

So in case you missed it; or never bothered: this is well worth checking out; especially if you, like myself, are a fan of the original soundtrack, as this makes the perfect accompaniment.

Features new ad-free link. Enjoy!

[...] here is a wonderful collection of spooky beats that will go down well at any spooky gathering: Allhallows' Even or not.

Now deleted, this album really came about due to a renewed interest back in the late nineties of Jesse Franco's movies and in particular the way the soundtrack to Vampyros Lesbos was being used by many DJs as part of their sets (a wonderful piece of lounge/mondo jazz created by Hubler and Schwab back in 1968 - very available across the net: seek it out it's well worth it).

So this is not a soundtrack album, neither is it a remix of the original movie's soundtrack; but it's an album that was inspired by the movie and its original soundtrack.
With the likes of Rockers Hi Fi; Dr.s Rockit (no relation) & Israel; DJs Wally & Hell; and the wonderfully monikered Witchman, here are some fantastic variations and subversions of the original tunes all accompanied by downbeat, trip-hop and jungle beats mixed up with new grooves and original movie samples - including some wicked screams that create some really neat crescendos.
The album is dedicated to the memory of Soledad Miranda, who was Franco's muse.
She died in a car crash in 1970, not long after the release of this now cult movie, apparently en route to meet Franco about discussing a contract for a new series of films they were to make together.
With that in mind, this is a great album to drive to...
It certainly keeps me awake on those long motorway drives; the beats meet the white lines perfectly, and those screams make sure you don't find those lines too mesmerizing or hypnotic.

Various Artists - The Spirit of Vampyros Lesbos (1997)

Minus 8 - Spirit of Vampyros Lesbos
Higher Than God - Stroemberg
Rockers Hi Fi - The Lions and the Cucumber (bigga bush's Transylvania boogie mix)
Dr. Israel - Vampya Killa
Dr. Rockit - The Lion and the Cucumber (the doctor and the rockit remix)
Project Pollen - Frauleinsuppe
DJ Wally - Necromix
Witchman - Les Boss Electros (return of the big man)
Cristian Vogel - People's Playground (Soledad Mix)
DJ Hell - Nadine De Uskudar
Two Lone Swordsmen - Morpha
De Chico - Future Fruit
Alec Empire - The 6 Wisdoms of Aspasia

Get this collection of creepy beats here, includes CD artwork.
So whatever you do this Halloween: have a good one!
And for those real freaks out there: Happy Samhain!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Did You Hear Something...?

Here's one to drop in to your late night set or creepy mix.

Can't really imagine why anyone would want to download this for any other reason (although there's a heck of a lot of stuff like this out there in Blog-land, so I assume there's a demand...)... unless, like me, you like to sit back at the end of a tiring day, settle down with a gallon of something or other and tune in to the emulated sounds of decapitation, bones breaking, maniacs laughing, or, my absolute favourite: 'The Mad Gorilla'!

Pretty much what it says on the tin, really.
It's all done with vegetables, a meat cleaver, a solid lump of wood and a large wet-fish.
But you never know...
How would you?
BBC Radiophonic Workshop - Sound Effects: Death & Horror (1977)
Excellent vinyl rip @320kbs

I'm afraid I have only split the album up into the titled six bands; life's too short to turn a three second audio clip into an mp3; unless you're Napalm Death of course.
Get the horrors here

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Frank Expressionism

Not exactly a household name is H. K. Gruber, but please don't let that put you off (as if...).

I first encountered this 'piece' many years ago, encouraged to listen by one of those 'this'll really blow your mind' types.

I must admit he came close; but there was a little extra added assistance to my appreciation; which has always made me wonder as to how weird it really was.

So I was well-chuffed recently as BBC's Radio 3 broadcast the 'piece' live; narrated and performed by Gruber himself.
Now I could find out whether my tripped-out perception of the 'piece' was for real or merely reliant upon accessories.

It wasn't.
It isn't.

Frankenstein!! (1978) is the Austrian composer's 'Pandemonium', his own little monster mash-up in sound; and it lives: 'IT'S ALIVE!'.

All manner of creatures, and their creators, are conjured up, many instantly recognizable, all of them in their own way diabolical: all of them monsters.

The narrative is created by Gruber's spitting out, in a most sinister, and slightly lascivious manner, mutant styled nursery rhymes, which I must say seem to have the touch of ergot running through them; something dark; otherworldly; like Grimm's Tales: somehow of the forest; primeval; frightening.

As well as the narration Gruber plays double bass, all manner of percussion and bizarre instruments: his favourite being children's versions of instruments; although he plays a wonderful solo on what I think is a comb and paper, although it could be a carefully constrained kazoo.

But watch out for all manner of whistles, shouts, explosions, bangs, cracks and pops; accompanied throughout by a full orchestrated score; supplied in this instant perfectly by the BBC Philharmonic and the Manchester Chamber Choir.

So think 200 Motels x4.
Kurt Weill on acid.
And you're somewhere in the right area.

It's a hodge-podge, a musical cut-up, surreal, macabre, alternative, funny, surprising and challenging; but challenging only in the way that it doesn't necessarily conform to our expectations of what a 'piece of music' should be.
In fact, if it's allowed to merely be, it's incredibly entertaining.

Okay, okay.
It's not for everyone.
But I've never watched The Sound of Music.
And you know what.
I have no fucking intention to.

H. K. Gruber - Frankenstein!!

Performed by H.K. Gruber ('Nali'): voice, double bass, percussion and various sound making implements and paraphernalia,
The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra,
& The Manchester Chamber Choir.

Recorded at The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 22/10/10.
Immaculate Rip from DVD captured digital broadcast @320kbs.
30 minutes, includes info.
Give life to the creature here

I have included Radio 3's intro and outro to the performance; they're very informative and do create a sense of meaning, some anchorage in which to hang on to while you're trying to make sense of the piece.

But I do encourage you to take the plunge.
See what you make of it.
Listen to the intro and outro afterwards; compare notes, so to speak....
Anyway, hope you enjoy.
And if you're at all hesitant... go for it: after all, what's five minutes of bandwidth?
And hey. Listen with the lights out...

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Feel the Plea

Just to add a nice tasty topping to my Ruben/Doo-wop sandwich, here's part 2 of the Red Robin Doo-wop compilations.

Noticeable as to how dumber the lyrics really did get as the genre developed.
'I', the opening track exemplifies this; the clue's in the title, right; but in no way would it appear at all out of place on Ruben & The Jets: it really is one of the dumbest, over-sentimentalized piece of melodramatic, self-absorbed outpourings you'll ever hear.

And it's fantastic!

Various Artists - Golden Era of Doo-Wops, Red Robin, Part 2 (1994)

I - Velvets
Love Doll - Scarlets
I Walk Alone - Vocaleers
Go Back - Du-Droppers
How Could You? - Mello-Moods
Indian Fever - Scarlets
Will She Know? - Serenaders
Hurry Home - Vocaleers
At Last - Velvets
I've Lost - Scarlets
My Kind of Woman - Alan Bunn & Larks
Won't You Come Home, Baby - Topps
Is It a Dream? - Vocaleers
Evening - Rainbows
Why Can't You Treat Me Right? - Sequins
I Couldn't Sleep a Wink Last Night - Mello-Moods
Kiss Me - Scarlets
Will You Be True? - Vocaleers
I Want To Love You, Baby - Serenaders
What Do You Do - Topps
They Tried - Velvets
Come On and Love Me, Baby - Du-Droppers
Oh Where - Vocaleers
True Love - Scarlets

Cd rip to mp3s
Go Moo-Wah here

And for you real Zappa-heads out there, check out the Sequins' 'Why Can't You treat Me Right?'; you'll hear what I mean.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Doo Wot!

You're probably wondering why this is here; something that is seemingly readily available?
If not immediate within the Blogosphere then merely a click away from your favourite cyber-retailer.
Well, my reasoning is that what I'm posting here isn't readily available.
Not in this format.

This is a vinyl rip of the album; and it really does sound very different indeed from the now available CD version.

When I first heard Ruben & the Jets on CD I couldn't believe it was being marketed as 'Remastered'; a more appropriate description would be 'Remixed'.

The 'lewd pulsating rhythm' is far, far lewder here, and there are all manner of pulses, reverberations, frequencies and sonics on the vinyl version that are completely absent from the digitized edition - and that's not down to my well-played hunk of forty-two year old heavyweight vinyl; those old Verve pressings have really stood the test of time, you know, and sound as rich and vibrant now as they ever did; and certainly in this case: so much richer and 'alive'.

So if you only know this in its CD format, check this out. Make the comparison for yourself.
I think you'll be mighty surprised.

And if you don't know the album... well, it is in a sense a Doo-wop album recorded by The Mothers of Invention.
They don't pretend to be Ruben and the Jets; for this in reality is an early concept album; they remain The Mothers of Invention, but as the album informs the probably at the time very confused listener:

"This is an album of greasy love songs & cretin simplicity. We made it because we really like this kind of music (just a bunch of old men with rock & roll clothes on sitting around the studio, mumbling about the good old days). Ten years from now you'll be sitting around with your friends someplace doing the same thing if there's anything left to sit on"

And also asks the question:

"Is this The Mothers of Invention recording under a different name in a last ditch attempt to get their cruddy music on the radio?"

Which of course it wasn't.
One of the most subversive things an artist such as Zappa could do in 1968 was revert back to the music that turned him on as a young teenager: the music of the early to mid-fifties.

Cruising With Ruben &The Jets is often described as a satire; or at best a parody.
It isn't. It's a pastiche.
There's real genuine reverence here; the album is all homage.
And because of that respect, this is played straight; authentic: real.

Just listen to Ray Collins' 'Anything' - a great example to compare with the CD, the space and reverberation created in this recording is gorgeous - the band really give it their all; and Collins' vocal is just so heartfelt, proving that he really loved this stuff, and also proving, if any proof were needed that he really was [one of?] the greatest vocalist[s] Zappa ever worked with.

The lyrics do seem overblown; exaggerated to a ridiculous degree; but it is in essence true to Doo-wop.
The lyrics may be dumb, but they're not really satirical, and compared to original Doo-wop lyrics, especially those of the later period, they're really not that hyperbolic.
Even the wonderful 'Stuff Up the Cracks', that includes what has to be one of my favourite opening lines:

"If you decide to leave me, it's all over".

Yes, totally self-absorbed, egotistical and vain beyond belief.
But hey, that's pop music, right; and it's most certainly Doo-wop.

I do recognise the paradox in offering this in the form of mp3s.
I mean, I'd like to invite you round so you could listen to my lovely vinyl version, but logistically that may be problematic...
But this is a 320 vinyl rip, and a carrot's as close a rabbit can get to a diamond as a slightly relevant musical genius once said.
So this will have to do.

The Mothers of Invention - Cruising With Ruben &The Jets (1968)

Cheap Thrills
Love of My Life
How Could I Be Such a Fool
I'm Not Satisfied
Jelly Roll Gum Drop
Later That Night
You Didn't Try To Call Me
Fountain of Love
"No. No. No."
Anyway the Wind Blows
Stuff Up the Cracks

Lovely vinyl rip @320kbs
Get into the groove here

As a footnote to my comment, it's interesting what Ben Watson had to say in his book about Zappa, The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play, about the ending of Ruben & The Jets; literally what occurs during the final bars of the album as the final track 'Stuff Up the Cracks' comes to an end:

"The guitar playing pushes the music out of its circular triteness, a flash of linear development, history, freedom: all the more poignant after the rest of the album's suffocating limitations."


Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Doo Doo Wop Wop

One of my secret pleasures (no more!) is my love of Doo-wop music.
I don't consider it a 'guilty pleasure', as I have nothing to feel guilty about - I mean, it's not as if I'm admitting to an adoration of Manhattan Transfer or the like - but my passion is secret because it is something I have always enjoyed in solitude - I've yet to meet someone who shares my passion.
Real shame in fact, as I think Doo-wop - the real lost genre, in so many respects - is thrilling, wonderfully executed, and most of all: fun.

And we could all do with a bit more of that, right!

There are many intesting similarities, historically and culturally, between the Doo-wop genre and the beginnings of Hip-hop culture in the nineteen-seventies.

Artists of both genres originally performed on the streets; they both tended to be inhabited by those who came from poorer ethnic groups: Black Americans, Jewish and Latino kids; mainstream media wouldn't initially touch either genre with a barge pole (not until those nice mediated versions of each came along: rock n roll in the case of Doo-wop and Rap in the case of original Hip-hop); vocalization was at the heart of each genre; and in both cases a capella was the adopted means of expression - well, instruments were expensive: vocal harmonization and beatboxing costs nothing.

(Many Doo-wop outfits only married their harmonised vocals with accompanying music when they were eventually allowed, or enticed, into studios - and even then, there's something evident in early recordings that suggest the house band probably spent all of ten minutes rehearsing before they recorded, as most of the accompaniments are merely subtly stretched chords and textures to underpin the voices - which is kind of what you want when it comes to vocal groups really.)

One of the most important labels in the promotion of Doo-wop music was the Harlem based (another association with Hip-hop) Red Robin Record label, owned and run by Bobby Robinson and younger brother Danny; and despite the company's brevity (1951-55) they released what I think are some of the greatest Doo-wop records ever to have been recorded.

Everything here is pre-54, , so does effectively pre-date rock n roll; but it doesn't take long for the discerning listener to recognise that Doo-wop is rock n roll.

Remember, 'rock n roll' was originally an euphemism for sex; and Doo-wop, if it's about anything at all, it's about sex.
And like the majority of things associated with sex, extremely pleasurable.

Various Artists - Golden Era of Doo-Wops, Red Robin, Part 1 (1994)

Darling I'm Yours - Scarlets
Love You - Vocaleers
I've Got a Feeling - Topps
I Cried - Velvets
Can't Do Sixty No More - Du-Droppers
How Soon - Vocaleers
Dear One - Scarlets
She's Gotta Grin - Velvets
Where Are You (Now That I Need You) - Mello-Moods
Angel Face - Vocaleers
True Love - Scarlets
Everything - Rainbows
Lucky Star - Charles and Carl
Lovin' Baby - Vocaleers
Chain Me Baby (Blues of Desire) - Du-Droppers
Cry Baby - Scarlets
Tell Her - Velvets
Don't Fall In Live - Sequins
Tippin' - Topps
Be True - Vocaleers
And You Just Can't Go Through Life Alone - Mello-Moods
Mary Lee - Rainbows
One More Chance - Charles and Carl
I - Velvets

CD rip to mp3s
Good digitized copies considering their age.
Go bop-bop-sha-doobie-doobie here

Monday, 18 October 2010

Acid Hit

Here's a typically eighties' styled stretchhhhhhhhhhhhhed 12" version of an early Gaye Bykers' track.

Alex Fergusson's arrangement and production is somehow reminiscent of a Foetus-styled recording - big beats, samples, touretteic-like vocals accompanied by a bombastic faux orchestral back track - yeah, Foetus-like.

But this recording is probably of more interest for its original B Side.
Two live tracks, very well recorded, capturing some full-on early nuggets from the tripped out arty musos.

The spirit of Dr. Feelgood hovers heavy, as does echoes of The Seeds, The Sonics and all manner of psyche, pub-rock, garage type influence.

Of course it didn't last long; their sound was driven by the zeitgeist; electonica and glow sticks lured them into new territory; but this recording only goes to prove that the Gaye Bykers could play some mighty fine boogie.
Full tilt!

I wonder if Albert Hofmann, had he heard this, would have wished he'd been a watchmaker?
You know, like that other Albert-dude...

Gaye Bykers on Acid - Git Down (Shake Your Thang) 12" (1987)

Git Down (Shake Your Thang)
Tolcchocked By Kenny Pride
Go Go In Out, In Out Garotschka

Immaculate vinyl rip @320kbs
Trip out here

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Ant Agonist

The first time I encountered the voice of Antony Hegarty it completely blew me away.
It was definitely a case of 'What the...? Who the fuck is that...!?'

His voice, if you haven't encountered it for yourself, well, all I can say is that it's pretty unlikely you've encountered anything like it before.

Unique it is; but if I was forced to find a simile, I guess I'd describe it as the bastard mutated child of a marriage between the voice of John Martyn and that of Nina Simone.

Interesting that I could only find similarities with artists no longer living.
Apt really.
As mortality, the concern with death - death of self; death of identity; death of gender - is at the heart of much of Antony's material.
In the true metaphysical sense - and I do believe there are many comparisons that can be made with what is identifiable as 'metaphysical' in Antony's work - mortality and the concern for the soul is essentially his muse.
The result; the expression, can be heavy: deeply affecting.

I have heard his music described as truly soulful - again in the metaphysical sense - it is, absolutely.
It emanates from his soul.

His song structures often ascend, dramatically, breathlessly, delineated brilliantly by the building intensity of the music and of course that voice.
'Hope There's Someone' is undoubtedly the finest example of this, but it's noticeable in so much of his work.

He's quite painful to watch.
Too much, perhaps. Too authentic; too revealing.
But it's never forced; never sentimental, and never reverts to pathos.
It's just real.

While listening to him, he raises an inner conflict: you don't know whether you want to give him a great big cuddle, or bludgeon his brains out to bring an end to the poor devil's suffering...

But hey.
It's only music, right.

Captured at the glorious LSO ST Luke's in the East End of London, this was originally filmed and broadcast by the BBC in 2005, catching Antony & the Johnsons at the tail end of their first major UK tour after winning the Mercury Prize with the stunning I Am a Bird Now.

It's an excellent performance and works really well as a live audio recording.

Antony & the Johnsons - Live, London, 2005.

My Lady Story
For Today I am a Buoy
You Are My Sister
Fistful of Love
Hope There's Someone
I Fell In Love With a Dead Boy
The Guests
Bird Gerhl
Candy Says

Excellent Rip from DVD captured broadcast, BBC4, 2005, @320kbs
Get deep here

Ant Music

Beautiful collection of songs to supplement the live show.

Very downbeat e.p. in the main; lifted only by the curious 'Shake That Devil'.

Not something to play if you're feeling at all fragile; but then on the other hand...

Antony & the Johnsons - Another World (2008)

Another World
Shake That Devil
Sing For Me
Hope Mountain

CD rip to mp3s
Get deeper here

Wednesday, 6 October 2010


Back in 1993 the BBC during part of their late night arts slot The Late Show, broadcast a short autobiographical musically interjected film by Vivian Stanshall.
They titled it Vivian Stanshall: The Early Years; Stanshall titled the confessional performance Crank.
Short and to the point. But like all connected with Vivian Stanshall, ever ambiguous.

As an audio rip this piece works exceptionally well; in fact it does sound very much like a radio doc; especially as much of the film is made up of musical performance.
The narrative is told directly to camera; compelling to watch it may be, but really it's Stanshall's voice and what he is saying - and the way he says it - that is truly compelling.
His diction is perfect; his annunciation superb; his wit, as always, masterful.

True to autoboiography he tells his tale chronologically, concentrating primarily on his childhood and the tricky relationship he had with his father.
Interjected throughout by musical performance, almost in a this is what happened to me as a kid so that inspired this piece of music kind of way, Stanshall covers his genres (accompanied by Mr. Slater on wind and Danny Thompson on bass; unfortunately I don't know who the other musicians were; hard to find any info about this show): old time jazz pastiche,

rock n roll, some great solo numbers from Teddy Boys Don't Knit (what must be his greatest solo work; including a performance of one of his finest ever songs 'Ginger Geezer',

a song important enough in my life for me to have named my youngest hound after it.

Hi, Geezer. Good boy, etc....),

some very cool blues, and even an astounding, satirical spiritual number, that'll have you humming its refrain for days.

I'm not even sure if many of the songs he performs throughout the piece have ever actually been recorded or put out as product; but from what I understand there's a ton of stuff that Stanshall created: music, visual art, sculpture, and all manner of whatnot; whether it will ever see the light of day; ever become available, well, who knows...?

This film, made in conjunction with the BBC, was all part of Stanshall's gradual movement back into the entertainment business after a state of semi-retirement due to mental-health problems.

You are left at the end of the performance with the sense that Viv Stanshall wasn't always comfortable being Viv Stanshall, which kind of goes against the more dominant ideas associated with artists and those creative types in the public eye. But it did seem for Stanshall that creativity was often a bit of a burden; a burden because it became a compulsion; an obsession; not necessarily something he wanted to do, but something he just couldn't help doing.
But when one is an artist, madness becomes legitimate. Acceptable.
But madness, in any form, is never easy to live with.

I remember Stanshall appearing on Jools Holland's TV show Later... about a year after Crank was shown.
He wasn't performing, he merely sat in the audience. But Holland announced him anyway, and with a genuine admiration - unusual, as I usually find him terribly sycophantic - stated how pleased he was to see him; as we all were.

But then he was gone again.

For good this time.
Dying in a house fire in 1995.
He was fifty-one.

But his art lives on; the recent revived interest in The Bonzos has created more curiosity, leading to the CD release of Men Opening Umbrellas Ahead, and as I said earlier, who knows what else could be released from the vault?

It's just such a shame he wasn't able to create a nice concrete conclusion to his career; something that tied his eclectic and enormous body of work together.
But at least there's stuff such as this, and believe me, this really is as close to the audience an artist like Stanshall can possibly get.

But ambiguous as hell.

Viv Stanshall - Crank (1993)

Fifteen minute audio rip from VHS to DVD captured broadcast @320kbs.
Sound quality is pretty damn good, considering how much its been bounced around.
Revive Viv here

Saturday, 2 October 2010


It was another recent BBC radio broadcast that reminded me of one of the most absurdest recordings in my collection.

This strange little gem I inherited from my Grandfather, who would readily quote from it, in an impersonating manner, whenever an appropriate moment occurred; and considering the songs are about smoking, women and bonking your nut - a particular activity I must have performed often, as it seemed he was forever singing it at me - he had endless opportunity to do so.

The Singing Postman, aka Allan Smethurst, had a brief spell of popularity before the swinging sixties got going; tacked on to the end of the fad for folk, he adopted the most over the top of Norfolk accents; the most hyperbolic of dialects you'll ever hear to deliver his curious little ditties.
This is twisted folk like you've never heard before.

It's odd, there's hardly any trace of him now.
He has very little music available, and there seems to be hardly any retro interest.
I mean, compared to someone such as George Formby, who has endless amount of product available, or to make a comparison with a contemporary artist, someone such as Ivor Cutler, you'd think people would be crying out for this sort of thing; but the poor old Singing Postman doesn't seem to get a look in.

My theory about his unpopularity and lack of interest is not one that is strictly due to him being out of fashion, as the documentary kind of suggested - or, you may be thinking, due to him merely being shit - but, due to his songs being incredibly un-PC.
Just take the refrain from 'Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy?' as an example:

Molly Windly
She smokes like a chimley

but she's my little nicotine gal.

And if there's one thing left in our often immoral but terribly judgmental world that is so wrong, so morally reprehensible to be absolutely, without question, entirely forbidden, then it's admiring and adoring someone because they smoke; because they have a tobacco habit.

Smoking just ain't sexy!
Right, kids....

He was thirty-eight when he cut this record - that's when thirty-eight really was middle aged - and despite it being his biggest seller, it wasn't long before he faded, and soon retired from the music business.

He became a rather tragic figure in his later life.
Having pissed all his money away, he for some reason refused to accept any more; turning down any royalties EMI tried to pay him.

He died in a Salvation Army hostel in 2000.

Here's a rather twee sleeve note that accompanied this release:

A don' moik em loik is anymoo

The Singing Postman - First Delivery (1966)

Come Along A Me
Moind Yer Hid Boy
Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy?
A Miss From Diss

A rather crackly but well listenable to rip from vinyl @320kbs
Get Posted here