The Freelance Mentalists.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Top Ten Tracks Of The Week From The Top Ten Compilations, Reissues, And Best-Of Albums Of The Month. As Of Today. None Of Which Are New Or Guaranteed To Be In Print Or Easy To Find.

Kim Fowley - Underground Animal (Dionysus/Bacchus Archives) - Genius or charlatan? I say genius. If there had been a market in the 60's for teen polka instrumentals, Kim would have been on the phone with a guy who knew a guy who could play the accordion in a heartbeat. He was quick, shameless and weird. Three attributes that come in handy when your calling in life is the novelty record market. This comp has some great quickies on it from Boystown, Ason Martin & The Moon Discs, The Bush, The Doll House, and Vito & The Hands. What's your pleasure? Ersatz girl groups, ersatz surf, ersatz Beatles, ersatz psych? There is something for everyone. My pick is "Astrology" under Kim's own name. A struggling Bo Diddley beat, back-up vocals courtesy of the Mermaids and Kim's inexplicable Count Dracula vocals help push this ode to astrological charts and their efficiency in determining one's significant other over the top. My guess about Kim's vocals: He took what was basically a 50's-style girl group pop tune and added a little ghoulishness just in case it got mistaken for the next "Monster Mash". It didn't, but hey, you never know!

Johnny Dodds - "Spirit Of New Orleans" 1926-1927 (MCA) - Whether with Jimmy Bertrand's Washboard Wizards, Jimmy Blythe's Owls or with his own Black Bottom Stompers, punk clarinetist Johnny Dodds always took Nawlins jazz out back for a thrashing. He didn't mess around! A seriously emotive trudge thru "Wild Man Blues" by Earl Hines and a moonlighting Louis Armstrong nearly steals the show on this set, but top tune for me would have to be the barnburning "Joe Turner's Blues". Great orchestration and swinging solos all around. This is vital stuff. Also of note: "Clarinet Wobble", the vocal take of "After You've Gone", and the faultless structure of "When Erastus Plays His Old Kazoo".

Fast Product - Mutant Pop 78/79 (PVC) - This is one of those comps of post-76 new wave excitement that still holds up nicely. The faves for many would be Mekons "Never Been In A Riot", Gang Of Four's "Love Like Anthrax" or maybe Human League's "Being Boiled". And rightly so. But today it's a toss-up for me between "Adultery" by Scars (those groovy drums kill me every time. Shake those sticks, Scars drummer-dude!) or "After Dark" by Flowers. "After Dark" has that breathless immediacy that spells excitement the first time you hear it or anything like it. I probably felt the same sense of discovery when I first heard Siouxsie. And maybe you felt it when you first heard the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Hahahahaha!!!! I'm sorry. I'm not laughing at you, I'm laughing WITH you! What do you mean you aren't laughing? If it makes you feel any better, I'm an old fatso. Sheesh, the difference between Mekons of October 29 & 30, 1977 and Mekons of November 29, 1978 is surpassed only by the difference between the sound of the music Mekons were making in late 1977 and what music sounded like when this comp appeared in 1980. It was a whole 'nother world by then. Hell, I was gearing up for an ant invasion by 1980. What a difference a little over two years makes.

Girls In The Garage Vol.4 (Romulan) - Everyone should own the entire Girls In The Garage series. Essential stuff. The best track on Vol.4? Hmmm, another tough one. "Ringo, I Love You" by Bonnie Jo Mason a.k.a. Cher? "Me & My Miniskirt" by Minnie & The Kneebones? "Surfer Stomp" by Kay Bell & The Tuffs? (For the record, surf music sung by gals is 1000 times more adorable than anything has a right to be. If the ladies had taken over the scene, it would still be a viable genre today.) "Mr.Genie Man" by Society's Children? (Solid fuzz, tough garage vocals. I would kill to hear more from this group.) And the winner is: "Fraternity U.S.A." by The Ladybugs! Faux British accents, faux Beatle beat, and multiple shout-outs to all the Greeks on fraternity row. But really, it's the faux British accents that make this record indispensable.

Best Of The Gap Band - Gap Gold (Total Experience) - I'll go with "Shake" this week. I've been mainlining disco drum & bass lately. The tighter, leaner, and meaner the better. Percussion breakdowns in the middle of a song are a plus right now. Cowbells optional.

The Bee Gees - Rare, Precious & Beautiful Vol.2 (Polydor) - "I Was A Lover, A Leader Of Men" has that great aussie Beatle twang guitar on it. As simple as outback dust. And the cool creepy organ coda. "Claustrophobia" has the deathless line: "But I get claustrophobia, cuz there's too many boys on your mind". "Theme From Jamie McPheeters" is a great aussie wagon train anthem about California. Maybe. "Could It Be" is great aussie Dave Clark 5 jangle. But "To Be Or Not To Be" has a slamming drum beat and valid notions of what a rave-up should sound like.

Fuzz, Flaykes, & Shakes Vol.4: Experiment In Color (Dionysus/Bacchus Archives) - The Rock Shop can't stand the pain any longer. His Majesty's Coachmen don't want to see you. The Trojans Of Evol ask: Why me? The Canterbury Fair are worried about the man with the glove in his hand. The Soultans wonder how anyone could even exist without soul. The Blues Company don't care where you live. The What's New ain't got no use for anything. Jeez, so much for peace & love. Buncha downers. So why beat around the bush. The track to beat is unknown Sonny Villega's "I Cry". Punchy organ, snappy, twisting, fuzz guitar-work, and Sonny's utter resignation and acceptance that he has blown things big time. Wait, I lied. The track to beat is "If You Want Me" by The Menaces. So tentative, sad, and downbeat you could kill yerself to it with a smile on yer face.

Jackie Cain & Roy Kral - Jackie & Roy (MCA) - They made it look so easy, didn't they? Man oh man, the way their voices intertwined and rode and surfed the rhythms and melodies. Like something graceful in flight on a clear day above the clouds. A bird? A balloon? A plane? A kite? Maybe a bird. Jackie solo is a dream. ("Angel Eyes" is such a great song. I'm gonna have to dig for some solo albums. She must have made some. Never thought to look. Just as I can't get enough of Keely sans Louis, I could go for some straight-up Jackie. Not that I don't love Roy! I love Roy! He's the coffee in her cream. The cat in her pajamas. They're "Two Peas In A Pod"- which gets my vote for Jackie & Roy tune of the week. But there is so much to choose from. Where's my Bear Family boxed-set!?) "Like Tweedledum & Tweedledee, my pal, you're lost without me"....

The Poets - The Poets (Immediate) - They were poets! And they knew it! They were Andrew Loog Oldham's next big thing and they did okay in the beat group sweepstakes even if not many remember them now. I say pick this up if you see it. Some wonderful melancholy tunes in a Scottish mood. Their frilly shirts masked the hidden depths of brooding loch dwellers. "Now We're Thru" has that great percussive acoustic guitar that beats down like a hammer. It truly doesn't sound like much else around at the time. There were literally thousands of bands in the 60's that had one or two shining moments in the sun. The Poets had 5 or 6 of them.

MC5 - Human Being Lawnmower (Total Energy) - I buy most MC5 odds & sods collections that I see cuz I'm silly that way. Apparently, there just aren't enough unreleased live cuts, studio outtakes, and assorted ephemera to satisfy me. They are always fun to hear. The live "Motor City Is Burning" on here is only beaten for sheer sweat and energy by the live "I Believe To My Soul" which is only toppled by the instrumental alternate take of "Looking At You" which is get the picture. Rama la fa fa fa, motherfucker! Oh yeah, um, the live "Rama La Fa Fa Fa" is tops on this set.

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