Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tony Clifton at Uncle Dirty's

The Don Neal Collection - Dixie to Disco Dancin'

Here's a private press nugget recorded somewhere around 1977 at the prized Uncle Dirty's Sound Machine in Kalamazoo, MI. Like the other stuff I've heard from there, it is expertly recorded, and just a little wacky.

The Collection was a local lounge band with a wide repertoire. As the title suggests, they do go from Dixie(-land jazz, not country music) to disco. The band is more versatile than nimble, though, and there is a real and enduring amateurish vibe going on here. In particular, the horn section seems to sneak up on notes, sometimes missing by a fair amount.

There are two things that really sell this one for me, though. The first is the total Tony Clifton shtick of the singer. For those of you with short memories, Tony was the lounge club singer that used to open for Andy Kaufman's comedy act. He was a crooner and a ladies man, bracingly unfunky, and crushingly insincere. This singer has that character nailed. Try their version of After the Lovin' if you don't believe me.

Did I mention unfunky? You've got to hear the versions of Sir Duke and Night Fever to believe them. Easily the craziest mash up of midwest lounge jazz and black dance music ever made. These tracks will make your next party the social event of the season.

There's a subtle and incongruent Four Freshmen thing that sneaks in from time to time. In fact, they somehow managed to get an endorsement from one of the freshmen on the back cover. I wonder if the guy managed to listen to the album first.

Alert: a couple of the tracks on here (Glenn Miller Medley, I mean you!) cross a line into transcendently bad. If that's not your scene, you might want to ride the skip button. In fact, you might want to start with side two to get into the flow of the thing.

Track list:
glenn miller medley
bill baily
rock n roll medley
after the lovin
it’s a blue world
the hustle
sir duke
night fever
how deep is your love

Monday, August 27, 2007

Back From Vacation

New Sounds In Electronic Music

Back in the saddle again..... Disappearance due to deaths, illnesses, parties, syphilis, etc.

Here's a rare little biscuit offered as a hi how ya doin'. Known best, if at all, for being the source of the NWW referenced Steve Reich track, this is an early electronic music compilation.

1967 was the year electronic music broke. Moog synthesizers allowed the bleeps and blorps to come out of the academic labs and hit the major labels. So I guess this here is a last gasp of the old order.

Track one is Night Music by Richard Maxfield. To me, it's the least satisfying of what's here. Meant to mimic the noises of the insect kingdom in Central Park, and it sounds like it. This stuff was fast becoming obsolete by the time this record hit the racks.

Track three is Pauline Oliveros' piece I of IV. I kinda dig this one - it's sort of atmospheric in a way this stuff usually isn't. Still, I think I'd enjoy it twice as much at half the length. It's a bit of an endurance contest, this one.

The reason why you'll want this is track two - Steve Reich's Come Out. This is one of my all-time favorites of the genre. A forward thinking piece that sounds as modern today as it must have when it came out.

The piece starts with a kid in a NY jail telling the story of how he had to squeeze blood out of a wound to get medical care after a riot. A topical piece, then. Reich takes that simple bit of audio, repeating it just to the point of irritation, then pulling it slowly out of phase, watching the voices build into a chorus of phrases.

Then, about 7 or 8 minutes in, it surges into a prime electronic psychedelic wash. Deep and rich white noise. This is the kind of thing Lou Reed was going for with MMM, but with nowhere near the subtlety. No matter how many times I listen to this, that surge as the voices shift to phased noise gets me every time. Check it out.