Marti Barris Ahbe Casabe (Keen, 1958)
Oh! Much do I love musical fakery! Well, kind of. The endless river of bland post-teen mall-punk bands churning out faux-angst pop tunes is very tiresome, as are the shallow hacks who throw a hick accent on top of alt rock songs and call it "new country." Something about modern day fakery that leaves me cold. Perhaps not being alive when Marti Barris's Ahbe Casabe was made makes this song so listenable. Perhaps, but I tend to think it is the sound. Ahbe Casabe's production is perfect. In fact, it is the analogue created warmth that saves this from sounding like some crisp, commercial Anglo-Mambo. I am guessing that the failure to make this slick sounding has something to do with this being the B-side.
Marti Barris was an actress and singer. She was Peppy Mint on the Howdy Doody Show. Barris recorded a lot of pop songs in the late 50s and 1960s but never had a big hit. Her father Harry Barris was a songwriter, musician, & actor, who worked a lot with Bing Crosby. The most famous of the Barris clan is probably cousin Chuck Barris, known as host of the Gong Show, creator of the Newlywed Game, and self-proclaimed CIA assassin who went by the name of Sunny Sixkiller.
Two more instrumentals
The Dynamic Dial Tones "Boss" (Horizon, 196?)
The Super Dupers The Jungle Jingle (Cricket, 196?)
Here are a couple obscure instrumentals for you. I'm kind of screwed on time so you aren't going to get some ramble on why instrumentals are more profound than vocal songs because the artist seeks to eliminate the distraction of the voice in order to strike a more primal inner chord and a blah blah blah. Nah. I just like these two songs.
I know absolutely nothing about The Dynamic Dial Tones other than what is on this record's label. And what that tells me is pretty much nothing. This is the B-side to Blue Moon of Kentucky credited to Dick Haiman (at the organ) and the Dial Tones.
I also don't know much about the Super Dupers other than I do have their The Super Record of Super Heroes Played by the Super Dupers LP, on which they play songs about Captain Marvel Jones, The Green Hornet, Flash Gordon, and other caped crusaders. (I'll post some in the future.) They also play March of Tarzan, which is the A-side of this single. As you can see, this is on the Cricket label, which is a children's record label. The 45 originally came with a paperback book containing an Edgar Rice Burroughs story. Unfortunately I don't have the book. One interesting thing about The Jungle Jingle is that, even though it is supposed to (I assume) be about a jungle, it starts of with a car engine revving up.
Les Baxter's Teen Drums
Les Baxter Les Baxter's Teen Drums 7" (Capitol France, 1960)
Attempts by "old folks" to appeal to the young crowd often fall flat...or so we think. We've been told that rock & roll is the music of youth, that it was the first music created by young people by young people, and that it was the start of a youth revolution. Those words are the accepted history of Rock & Roll as told by the respectable in the form of PBS and Rolling Stone and the muttly in the person of your acid casualty of an uncle who can't stop about how "Woodstock saved a nation, man." Forget those words because they contain a big lie. Sure, the main consumers of rock & roll were young people, uh actually make that young White people..Black people off all ages were listening to rock & roll from the music's origins. As I was saying, yes, the main White folks consuming rock & roll were youth, but the people producing it, Black & White, were the old crowd, the over 30s and over 40s and even, gasp, the older 50s! Working musicians and the record industry saw a music and a market. They knew that as long as market was being served music packaged to appeal to that market the music would sell. Part of the packaging of rock & roll, one that worked was wrapping it up in youth. So groups like Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers and singers like Ricky Nelson were pushed up front, while their writing teams and producers, twenty years their elder worked in the back. Even the big stars - Elvis, Jerry Lee, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison - were at least ten years older than their White fans. And if we want to get to the origins of rock & roll, back to when rock & roll was Black and White working class, we find that the music's themes were definitely adult. Rock & roll was about working, paying bills, partying, blowing off steam, fighting with your other, and, most of all, fucking. The phrase rock & roll was slang for fucking. So if we go back to where the music started, rock & roll wasn't about youth or a youth revolution. It was about being an adult in a confusing, fucked up world.
But then we have the marketers and they wanted to make it the music of youth. Part of the marketing of rock & roll as youth music meant trying to figure out how to sell kids and what were the sounds that they would dig. The record labels tapped everyone for ideas. One of those people was Les Baxter. By the time Baxter made his first "teen" record, he was an old man of 32 years old and had already established himself as one of the princes of Exotica and a duke of easy listening. He had backed Nat King Cole & Frank Sinatra. He helped create Yma Sumac's classic the Voice of Xtabay. His classic exotica records, Ritual of the Savage and Tamboo!, were released. He was a success. Still, Capitol tapped him for a teen record and Les Baxter's Teen Drums was made.
Teen Drums comes off as a surf record. The cover shows two flat topped surf dudes in a classic car full of bongos (and congas) and girls (actually, school marms). The song titles are hip, full of the jargon of the day. Though if you leave aside the growling guitar, the sound is more bebop than rock & roll. And that is fine by me. What I'm gonna give you are two songs off a four song ep, culled from the LP, for French consumption. Barbarian has a cool fuzz guitar and a really nice lowdown line going though it. The topper for me is the funky drum/sax masterpiece, I Dig.
Bob Azzam Mustapha 7" (Barclay, 1960)
I wish I could find more on Bob Azzam because the outline of his career really intrigues me. Born of Arab Jewish parents in Egypt, in the 1960s, Azzam helped fuel a Latin dance craze in his native country with his song El Mambo da taliani...El Mambo fi kayani (The Cuban Revolution lead to a big Latin music craze in a lot of "Third World" countries, as well as Europe). Azzam was to hit it big in France, where most of his records were released (and where they are quite common. In 1967, he tapped into the Brazilian sound and recorded the classic Batucada Por Favor.
Rewind back to 1960 and we get Azzam's first hit, Mustapha, which is the title cut on this ep. Rather than giving you the hit to listen to, I've chosen two others. Tuuu!!! Tintarella di Luna has a poppy near beat meets Euro 60s pop sound to it. Padrone do'Mare is a very, very cool cross between haunted pop, exotica, and Latin music.
Dogtroep s/t LP (Dogtroep, 1984)
A couple weeks ago I was in Paris, stolling down the streets of the Left Bank, beret on my head, cigarette in one hand, a volume of Verlaine in my other, stopping on corners to shout out some lines of spontainous verse, when I spotted a record store. "Oo la la," I thought to myself, "Zis iz vat I needz." So I walk into the store and start at the bins. Lots of good stuff and like most record stores in Paris the good stuff has a price. The record sellers of Paris aren't rubes. They know that 'mericans like moi are looking for Ye Ye and 60s garage. They know that they can get some good euros for Magma and Brigitte Fontaine. That is fine by me. While I would love to find a stack of mint Jacques Dutronc 7's for a euro a pop, I am content to do what I do wherever I go: Look between the cracks...or in this case, on a box on the floor.
Actually, I did not go into this store blind. When made a trip to Paris last year, my friend Jacques Volt gave me a list of record stores to visit and this place was one of them. Last Spring I brought two lists with me, one was of musicians/bands to look for and the other was full of phrases like "disques diction" (spoken word) and "disques obscure" (strange records). When I muttered those two phrases to the guy behind the counter last year, he lead me to a shelf under a bin where I was to find a copy of "Les Maladies Sexuelles Transmissibles," a spoken word album on venerial disease in an illustrated gatefold sleeve. Number three in the "La Candidare Uro-Genitale" series, I had to pick it up, even if I had no idea what the words meant. "Look dad! A French record on the clap!" "Great son, and for this I sent you to college?" (Actually I paid for college myself, cheap old......) Anyway, last year's score told me that I'd find something special this year. And I did.
In a box, tucked away in a corner, I found this record by Dogtroep. The back told me that the band was a street band that played in front of art galleries, at bonfires, and in the streets of Paris, Berlin, & Amsterdam. The notes also said that they drew from "African, Balkan and fair-ground music," as well as free jazz. The record was released by the band, so that was a good sign but what sold me was the record cover. Look at it: A strange fish is about to attack a man in a barrel, shooting a laser out of his mouth. At eight euros, you do not pass something like this up. So I buy it and after a long trip home, I play it.
Gay pairie! What a great record! The liner notes were right on with the African, Balkan, fair-ground, free jazz fusion. I hopped on the computer and looked for more info on the band. From what I could find, this is the one and only record they did. Shortly after this record they morphed into a performance group and became quite well known in Europe.
This record was recorded at various locations and between 1979 and 1984. The record is edited so that songs from different recordings run right up against each other. It creates a cool collage. I've chosen three five tracks. The first is a tune by Count Ossie recorded in November 1982. Dance of 220 Volts was writen by Dogtroep and recorded March 1982. Jajaja was written by member Jos Zandvliet and is one of the few studio recordings, done April 1984. Heartbroken Crocodile is another Dogtroep original, recorded January 1984. Ma Fleur was recorded April 1979 and is a traditional Chinese folk song. The African influenced Ome Joop was written by band memberRon Peperkamp and recorded March 1984. So here you go: Five songs off of a great and very unique album.
Sierra Altoids Krosskut Sawwwwww 7" (Nevada County Dept. of Social Sciences, 1983)
Though this record was recorded and released just 50 miles north east of Sacramento, in the Nevada County, Sierra Nevada foothills town of North San Juan, I don't know a whole hell of a lot about it. One of my best friends is from up in thems hills so I queried her and her reply was that the people who did the record were pretty hardcore partiers and she wouldn't be surprised if they were either 1. Dead, or 2. Living in their cars. Whatever the case, this one shot four piece had enough ______ in them to turn out a great one-of-a-kind song. I've heard all kinds of music and tons of novelty songs but this is the only song I know of where the lead instrument is a chain saw and one of the few that was recorded in a parking lot. The one name that appears over and over in the credits is Mike Meals (whose father has written two fantastic guides to the Yuba River) so I assume that Mr Meals was the one so obsessed with this song that he made damn sure that the world heard it. I don't know how many of these were made or how many got out of Northern California. The only reference I found online was a playlist for a radio show on KDVS, a Northern Californian college station.