Thursday, June 7, 2007

A Tribute

I've just heard what might be one of the top ten worst albums ever. A stunning achievement in the so-bad-its-good world. I present Robert Callendar's Musee d' L'Impressionisme.

I've seen this listed as from 1972, but it's gotta be at least a couple years later than that. It's got the stink of '76 all over it. And if you've heard his great Rainbow or his so-so The Way, it's got nothing to do with that psych-lite fake mystical vibe.

No, this is a "concept album" about the birth of expressionist art. Set to music that bounces between the Love Boat theme and A Fifth of Beethoven. Picture a latin/disco groove, with a namby sounding lounge cat singing "he went on holiday/ with Monet." Note to Robert: singing "the impressionist movement" over and over doesn't establish a concept, and it doesn't flow. Fuckin' priceless.

The closest thing to the jaw dropping pretentious awfulness on display here that I'm aware of is "The Beat Goes On" by Vanilla Fudge. Sure, it was a different era, and the sound is miles away, but the intent was the same.

Feel free to cast votes for your favorite awful albums in the comments. Extra credit for good explanations and shares. You can find the Callendar record here (along with lots of other great stuff):

Your Old Crazy Aunt

Congress-Woman Malinda Jackson Parker - Tubman Goodtyme Songs of Liberia

I'm guessing a few of you might have an eccentric old aunt in the family. You know the one, she is unmarried, dresses a bit weird, maybe drinks a bit much at family get-togethers. I always tend to think of this as a Euro-American tradition, but it might just be a worldwide phenomenon.

As evidenced by the record at hand. I'm not honestly sure if Ms. Parker was a congress-woman, married, or even an aunt. If I were a gambling man, though, I'd answer no, no, and yes. Because she's a bit, um, touched (by the hand of mayhem).

Her songs have strange obsessions, usually with blood-sucking bugs and repeated words. They start with melodies, but turn into rants. If you think about Nina Simone at her most angry, you wouldn't be far from the mark.

But her songs also reveal talent with the madness, or else noone would remember this (OK, just crazy does have its own cult, I guess). She clearly has some training on the piano, and her sense of melody and dynamics is that of someone with an ear. She just doesn't deploy it like you might expect.

If anyone out there can shed some light on this one (not cut and pasted from other sources - I know how to use Google, too), please give it up.

Hey - who's got either of those Robert Pollard comedy records? Are they any good? Worth the crazy price tag they have?