Alive and Well in Argentina
Zalman Yanovsky Alive and Well in Argentina LP (Buddah, 1968)
Welcome to the greatest psychedelic punk bubblegum fuck off ever made by a pop star during his fall from grace. Zal Yanovsky started his pop career in the go-nowhere but historically significant Mugwumps. The Washington DC band was notable because it was the starting off point for the Mamas & the Papas (Denny Doherty & Cass Elliot) and the Lovin' Spoonful (John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky). It is Zal and the Spoonful who we care about here, specifically Zal. So there is Zal and John and some other guys and "Do You Believe in Magic" and a few years of success. And then Zal's life got turned around something serious. Cruising through San Francisco with fellow Spoonful Steve Boone, Zal was pulled over by the fuzz and he and Steve were busted with a trunk full of pot. After trying unsuccessfully trying to get their dealer to take the fall, the Man made Zal an offer, fink the guy out or get deported. You see Zal wasn't an American. He was from that the Great Red North, Canada. And, Zal didn't want to go back to Canada. He was making a nice living with the Spoonful here in the States. So Zal narced on the dealer and was set free. Unfortunately for our man Zal, his dime dropping didn't sit too well with his fellow musical longhairs and he was pretty much shunned by the music scene. One day, he was called over to Sebastian's house and told that he was voted out of the band. He made one solo record, Alive and Well in Argentina, and then split to Canada where he became, with his wife, a very, very successful restauranteur with Chez Piggy and later Pan Chancho bakery. He died in 2002.
Alive and Well in Argentina is an odd album. It is odd in that it is one of the few "I don't give a fuck" records made by a pop star (albeit on a sharp career decline) and that it was released on Buddah, which wasn't the most serious label at the time (their main truck was bubblegum) but it was a hit machine. Alive and Well.... contains no hits. Though some Wikipedia ass claims it "has hard rock and heavy metal influences" not only is his timing off, but his ears are full of shit. Zal's influences here are sarcasm, playfulness, scorn, and lots of dope. The songs range from the King Usziewicz worthy cover ("You Talk Too Much", "Little Bitty Pretty One") to brilliant psychedelic instrumentals ("Lt Schticnckhausen") and pretty much everything in between. Take it for what it is - a rock & roll album with no allegiance to or regard for anything - and it is a solid, nay, excellent record.
This record is brilliant. Grow a pair... of ears, that is.