The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The final blog of 2007

It’s (almost) Christmas Day On The Internet! (unless it's after Xmas day...)

Well, Hola, readers! How were your Xmas Eve Tamales? Sabrosos, Picante y Caliente?

The Ron Kane Files blog will be taking a rest over the next few days – as I go off in search of new and unusual LP’s & CD’s in Northern California – the San Francisco Bay Area, in fact – including San Jose, Santa Cruz, El Cerrito etc. So many record stores, so little time – no, wait…there aren’t that many record stores anymore! At least I get to go to some up North that I don’t get to visit as often as, say, Record Surplus or Amoeba Hollywood.

I’ll be back in early 2008 – full of hot air, as usual. Sorry for re-running so much stuff in December – can’t mine for gold without digging up some sludge! I want to personally thank each and every reader for reading my stuff.

“Our Man In Comments”, Mr. James S. Donato, thank you! Your comments are the single best thing about this blog, as far as I am concerned. We will meet in less than 8 months – after, what, about 25 years now??? Remember, RK50PDX808!

2007 rocked for me – Jury Duty! Tokyo! All my friends are turning 50! Solvang! S.L.O.! Agnes Van Anderson (aka ‘Peanut’)! DJ Doma Beer Market (2 times, that I can recall)! Weight loss! eBay Sales! My car is still running! Etc.

My ‘trends’ of the year – definitely #1 is going to Japan and buying tons of kami sleeve ( = little paper album cover) CD’s; finally breaking down and paying for re-mastered CD’s by Elton John and Cat Stevens. No ‘monster concerts’ in ’07 for me – no visits this year from John Lurie / Lounge Lizards, Hermeto Pascoal or Scritti Politti. Probably the best thing I saw play live in ‘07 was LCD Soundsystem. No 'record of the year', as yet. Really liking Bob Dylan & The Band "The Basement Tapes" - it only took me 32 years to play my double LP of it!

The cast and crew all need identifying and punishing, but most request their anonymous status; Thanx: Dorothy, Dana, Mott, Joe C., Bob G., Gary S, the aforementioned Jim D., Yael ‘n’ Laszlo, J.B., David Z. (& Liz), Ken H., Rick S. (& Michelle), Mark M. (& Barbara), Brian W., Chas ‘n’ Heather, Gilles Y., Pieter B., Ken G., Terry G., Frits J., the staff of “Rare” Nakano, Chabe, Hisayo, Hideki K., Osamu, Wes O., Cary, Tom, Warren & Marta, the staff of D.G.S., Karl; Steve & Liz = Peanut etc. and near countless pen-pals and sycophants all over the known universe. Better get a lawyer, you’re gonna need a good one to get you outta this one!

See you in 2008!


Ron Kane

Long Beach, California

(Pictured: Bob Dylan EP I bought in Portland, OR in '06 - I am still amazed!)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Birthday, Frank Zappa!

12-21-07 Happy Birthday, Frank Zappa!

There’s never enough I can say about how much I miss Frank Zappa.

By the way, thanks for putting up with me airing out my dirty laundry from 2002 over the last few weeks. Is Re-Venting a word? And this time up, the blogs get to be illustrated, something the original blogs weren’t. Also, I don’t think the “Comments” section existed, when I started blogging.

I periodically try to listen to lots of Frank Zappa – sometimes sticking to my ‘Verve’ favorites, sometimes stuck in the 70’s, 80’s…still don’t gravitate to “L.S.O.” much, however. Or “Francisco Zappa”. And it’s been ages since I played a bootleg LP of Mr. Zappa – they’re stored way down low – they’re hard for me to get to ‘em.

Probably the most fun in recent memory was discovering that his early 90’s CD mastering of “Sleep Dirt” had some vocals restored to some of those songs, effectively making them (real) “Hunchentoot” songs! So cool!

I think I figured out that I finally got as many of his Rykodisc re-masters as I absolutely needed – trying to replace Barking Pumpkin versions. It’s been a while since I got any interesting Zappa vinyl – it rarely turns up anymore. And it’s becoming prohibitively expensive (for rare stuff I do not already have).

A year ago or so, I lucked into a lovely FZ duplicate – a stock copy of the US Reprise “Dog Breath” single at the PCC swap meet, for 25 cents. I remember when the guys from Europe came to my house (Late 80’s / Early 90’s), they saw my 500+ Zappa LP’s and weren’t impressed (even with a near-full set of Japanese LP originals) – but they freaked when I showed them how many FZ singles I had – well over 100.

I have greatly enjoyed some of the mail-order FZ CD’s that one can get from the Zappa Family Trust – the pricey “MoFo” 4CD set is very nice indeed – but I hated the ‘polyvinyl-plastic’ packaging – I immediately removed the discs from it, putting them into paper envelopes that would NOT ‘interact’ with the discs. I learned my lesson long ago, “If you can smell the plastic, likely it will interact with vinyl” – I once had some really nice plastic 45 sleeves ‘cloud’ a bunch of nice 45’s – I still remember the smell of those plastic bags.

But it’s impossible to keep up with all of the ZFT releases; they’re not inexpensive, either. Still…bring on the 4CD sets for “Absolutely Free”, “We’re Only In It For The Money”, “Lumpy Gravy”…and a not-remixed “Cruisin’ With Ruben & The Jets” CD, my friends at the ZFT!

Happy birthday, Frank. We love your music – and (your) Music Is The Best!


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ron in the 70's

Firesign Theatre poster - '75? Zappa, Andy Newman, Peter Gabriel / Genesis - gee, this must be pre-'76. Looks like near the end of high school.

From my better self - likely in the mid-70's. Another one that my sister sent along. Pictured are the two reel-to-reel decks I recorded almost all of our albums on. I see the pictures from Faust "So Far" stuck up on my Firesign Theatre giant record (which I still have). Note the bottle of isoprophyl in front of the lower reel deck - gotta clean the heads!


Spandau Ballet

12-20-07 Spandau Ballet

(re-run from Aug. ’02)


GENRE: Early 80’s British New Romantic synth pop with hair tonic

This is my favorite Spandau Ballet record. That is it their debut 45 is somewhat telling – as far as I am concerned, it was all downhill after this. The LP it ended up on was a bit of a disappointment (“Journeys To Glory”)…they made a few more good singles, but…never anything as good as this ever again. The vocals are over-dramatic – but the sequenced synth was catchy, the programmed drums were full-on…didn’t they wear togas or something? They didn’t put their picture on the picture sleeve of this single (maybe only on the Australian issue or something).

Remember the “New Romantics”? This was that. Or one of ‘em anyway. It wasn’t punk rock.

This single didn’t even have a B-Side! The B-Side was a ‘version’ (i.e. dub mix). Even the 12” didn’t have a B-Side – just longer versions of the one song.

Because they weren’t going to be touring for the foreseeable future, when the debut LP came out, the record company (Chrysalis/Reformation) decided to ‘tour’ their videos in nightclubs! What? You want me to pay money to go into a nightclub and watch music videos? I think I’m busy that night…

Kind of like watching Harry Connick Jr. portray a serial murderer (I forget the name of the movie), I enjoyed seeing the Kemp brother portray the evil British hoodlums “The Kray Twins” in the film of the same name. As far as I know, they didn’t star in any other films.

Their 2nd album (“Diamond”) was issued as a box set of 12” singles – the first time that kind of thing was done, I think.

I still have UK LP’s for the first 4 x Spandau Ballet full-length releases, and a few 7” singles (“Paint Me Down”, “Diamond”, “Chant No. 1”)…but I never had any use for songs like “True”. Also in the vault is a video (or three) of live shows from the 80’s.

I am still amused by this single – but, when placed next to some of it’s contemporaries, it has a poise, a style, a certain smugness…I have a bit of a hard time taking it too seriously.

…to cut a long story short I lost my mind!

2007 Addendum: Pictured is "Journeys To Glory", their debut album.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ron in 1981

My sister Marilyn shared this amazing old photo of me in 1981 recently. I can date it at 1981 by The Damned "Friday The 13th" EP. All those cassettes! Looks like I pasted a Kate Bush poster over a Family poster. I see the extra XTC "Go 2" insert; a Lucio Battisti poster for "Images"; I wish I could see all the records more clearly - the 'flaw' in the photo is in the negative, alas. Looks like the Albert Goldman "Elvis" book stuck up there in with the LP's. By this time, I was going to New Zealand...I would be approx. 23 years of age in this photo. More than 1/2 of my life ago!

Judas Priest

12-19-07 Judas Priest

(re-run from Aug. ’02)


GENRE: Hard Rock from England, circa 1977

Whoa, Judas Priest…DUDE!

How can I defend owning this LP? Uh…it’s a band from England…it was 1977 and I was 19 years old and didn’t know what I was doing? The cover version of “Diamonds & Rust” (Judas Priest doing a Joan Baez song???) was amusing…

In 1977, I was working full time in a record store. I probably heard this being played in the store. Perhaps it made me look up from my duties of cleaning out the ashtrays? When the Columbia LP promos were handed out, I asked for one of these (which is why my copy has a timing strip and promo insert). So it didn’t cost me anything. As a younger teenager, I did embrace the hard rock of the day – Deep Purple (In Rock, Machine Head), Black Sabbath (the first 4 albums) So, by 1977, let’s just say I hadn’t forgotten what ‘real’ hard rock was like. No matter that the mode of the music was changing…

And, as hard rock albums go, it’s pretty darn good. I remember the aforementioned “Diamonds & Rust” as well as “Sinner” and “Raw Deal” favorably. The guitar playing was decent and the singer was…ridiculous (in a good sort of way).

I would be mistaken if I said that my association with Judas Priest ended at “Sin After Sin”. In the video age, I did, in fact, purchase a 12” single of “Freewheel Burning”, after seeing the video. In the Culture Club sewer of 1984, it was like a breath of fresh…aging British hard rockers. I also recall being given free tickets to see Judas Priest at the Long Beach Arena at some time in the late 70’s or early 80’s. My mind does contain a visual record of seeing Rob Halford (the singer) ride onto the stage on a motorcycle etc.

And unlike my Black Sabbath and Deep Purple LP’s, I never threw away my Judas Priest LP (yes, I had only the one) in the compact disc age (1985 – 1999). I mean, I only had the one and what would I have gotten for it anyway? During those years, whenever inappropriate or disparate cover versions were discussed, I trotted out my copy of “Sin After Sin” to win the argument for what was the ‘furthest stretch of a non-facetious cover version’.

Aw, c’mon! We all have some skeletons in our closets. This is one of my many British skeletons.

2007 addendum: How ‘bout a re-mastered CD of “Sin After Sin”? OK! And I’ve added a few more Priest titles to the big list. But how do the fans feel about Halford being gay?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Now Playing

UZEB "Uzeb Club" - somewhere between 'production music' and dexterous Quebecois jazz-rock, I always pick this stuff up when I see it. Unfortunately, that isn't very often. I got "Uzeb Club" in Sam The Record Man on Yonge Street in Toronto, Ont. in '05. I first heard / saw them on MuchMusic (or was it Musique Plus?) - and I easily found their sole (?) US CD, "Noisy Nights". They have about a dozen CD's - and I've only turned up about 6 or 7 of them. Alas. Something to look for! (But I didn't see any in Tokyo - but, then again - I wasn't exactly going in jazz places in TYO).

Eric Burdon & The Animals

12-18-07 Eric Burdon & The Animals

(re-run from Aug. ’02)


LPx2 1975? 17 TRK Collection


From Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, the world warmly received the white R&B vocalist Eric Burdon at the height of Beatlemania. To this day, his version of “House of The Rising Sun” is widely considered the definitive version. The initial incarnation of The Animals was rather overall R&B-oriented (a la early Manfred Mann) – material of that nature is largely contained on their EMI releases. This double LP boxed set from MGM / Polygram Germany covers Phase #2 – Eric Burdon & The Animals go psychedelic!

A lot of people credit Alan Price (keyboards) for some of the success of the early Animals records – which may be true…but it wasn’t until Price left the group that they made some really ‘interesting’ records.

While some may grimace at the thought of “San Franciscan Nights”, at least Eric sounds sincere. In an hommage to his psychedelisizing, the song “Monterey” does it’s job telling the story of the weekend in 1967 that changed his life. I may be the only person who actually prefers The Animals’ version of “River Deep Mountain High” to that of Ike & Tina Turner – but, man, The Animals could rock when they weren’t busy dispensing hippie-dippy stuff!

But, there’s some truly solid moments in this box set of latter-day Animals – “White Houses” is great, as is “Year of The Guru” (both from the wonderful “Every One Of Us” LP / CD). For a real hippie revelation, I can’t recommend “The Twain Shall Meet” (now that’s optimism!) LP or CD highly enough. This is where you can easily find “Monterey”!

And who could forget “Sky Pilot”, the anthemic anti-war song? As far as I know, the single (short) version isn’t on LP or CD – but this box set has the lengthy full original version (nearly 8 minutes long!) – again, found on “The Twain Shall Meet” (pictured)

Of course, right after the psychedelic Animals records, Eric went on to participate in Eric Burdon & War – giving the world the hit “Spill The Wine”. Was that the last time he visited the Billboard charts?

And, of course, though not on this set, Alan Price did go on to make some amazing stuff, notably the original soundtrack to the Lindsay Anderson film “O Lucky Man!”.

2007 addendum: Very soon, I hope to lay my hands upon the kami sleeve ( = little paper album cover ) CD’s of the 4 x psychedelic Eric Burdon & The Animals albums – replacing my German 80’s issue CD’s.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sammy Davis Jr.

12-17-07 Sammy Davis Jr.

(re-run from Aug. ’02)


LP 1965 11 TRKS stereo


What can I say about Mr. Entertainment that hasn’t already been said a million times before? Sammy was the consummate performer, in the ‘old school’ sense of the term. He sang, danced, did impersonations, cavorted, acted – everything. And he was amazingly good at some of it.

In the personal decision department, Sammy may have been a few sandwiches short of a picnic at times. But some of his records!! Some of his TV / films!! What a man! If you’ve never seen his performance in The Name of The Game’s “Billy Baker” episode (1969? 1970?), you have a treat in store!

A few years back, I got his Rhino Records 4CD box set (pictured) – a truly amazing piece. I was surprised that it was as listenable as it was – why shouldn’t it have been? If you’re skimming the ‘Sammy cream’, there’s some damn good stuff on record. This LP, “If I Ruled The World” (not pictured) is no exception. Sammy at the height of his powers? Some would argue, but in my humble opinion, at this time (1965) he was still riding the crest of the wave that started with “The Shelter of Your Arms”. “I’ve Gotta Be Me” was a few years away. With his autobiography, he had already said, “Yes I Can”. A true ‘man of music, man of words’.

I remember going to see Sammy live, sometime in the mid-80’s in L.A. – my crew and I were the youngest people there. The event prompted me to draw a panel cartoon “This is Young America – Sammy Davis Jr.”, tongue firmly planted in cheek. Sadly, the ‘lounge nation’ that would eventually embrace Sammy wasn’t going to emerge until after he passed away.

That’s another thing that bugs me to this day – I was out of the country, living in England, when Sammy died in 1990. It made the TV news there, but Jim Henson (the ‘Muppet guy’) died on the same day and, as Jim D. would say, “stole some of Sammy’s thunder”. Thanx to Warren B for taping me some real L.A. TV news about Sammy’s death.

Not that long ago (2001?), Warren called me and said he’d spotted ‘something interesting’ – a junk shop on Abbot Kenney in Venice had Sammy’s record collection for sale (!). We went to take a look – as I sifted past Michel Polnareff and Mamas & Papas records, we heard some talking in the front of the shop – it was Sammy’s widow Altovise and someone who looked / acted like a lawyer. It kind of freaked us out, so we left in a hurry before we could go through anything else really closely.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Cruel Sea

12-14-07 The Cruel Sea

(re-run from Aug. ’02)


514870.2 CD 1993 13 TRKS

GENRE: Late 80’s/Early 90’s, Australian swamp rock

Another group that I was introduced to via the magic of “Rage”, the Australian music video show. Thanks, again, go to Ken G. in Australia for providing me with many hours of the ABC’s “Rage”! It’s easily the #1 music video show in the world.

Apparently, The Cruel Sea came out of a band called “The Beasts of Bourbon”, who always sounded a tad Birthday Party / Nick Cave-ish to me.

“The Honeymoon Is Over” is The Cruel Sea’s 3rd album, I think. And it’s a good one. It was a huge hit in Australia. I recommend it to anyone who wants to hear Australians interpret (U.S.) swamp rock. My favorite aspect of The Cruel Sea is that their CD’s always include a nice dose of ‘swampy’ instrumentals (think Tony Joe White, Jerry Reed – slide guitars, Booker T-‘beats’ etc). On top of those references, please take into consideration that Australian bands usually work very hard and are very tight (Models, INXS, Divinyls etc).

I had the good fortune to see The Cruel Sea live in L.A., at The Troubador, about 1996 or so – probably because this album had received a U.S. release via A&M Records. They were excellent – the lead singer (Tex Perkins) was barefoot, and put on a hell of a show. The guitarists all had a lot of eye-contact with each other and the audience, it was fun to watch. They were huge in Australia, but, as usual, very few people in L.A. had ever heard of them. It must’ve felt weird for them to play such a small venue. To my knowledge, they never came back to L.A. They were a great live band.

For me, their best single is called “Better Get A Lawyer” (which comes from the album after “Honeymoon” = “Three Legged Dog”), the funkiest thing I ever heard come out of a Louisiana swamp, well, an Australian-Louisiana swamp. It described in amusingly lurid detail the fun one might have at the hands of the authorities in Australia. Good video, too. “…you’re gonna need a good one to get you outta this one!”

One of the sad things about liking non-US/UK bands on major labels – if they don’t get US/UK releases, you might never hear of them, even when they have a huge success in their home country. So, after “Three Legged Dog”, The Cruel Sea may have had another #1 album…but I won’t have heard of it unless I see it on “Rage” (which, sadly, I receive somewhat infrequently these days). This same formula goes for French, Dutch, Japanese music etc…it’s a lot harder to follow the mainstream than it is the ‘indie worlds’ of these countries!

2007 addendum: C’mon back, boys! All is forgiven!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Zombies

12-13-07 The Zombies

(re-run from Aug. ’02)


LP 1968? 12 TRKS

GENRE: UK mid-to-late 60’s pop/rock

Here is the best record (their swansong) by a rather minor (only two ‘hits’ before this album came along) UK late 60’s group. The singer is Colin Blunstone and the keyboard player is none other than Rod “Hold Your Head Up” Argent. I suppose this group & LP answer your prayers if you have OD’d on The Beatles when you’re a young adult or something. But I do understand that it is a very highly regarded group/album – in short, I find it a bit over-rated.

I have known at least 2 people in my lifetime that The Zombies were their favorite group. Me? I prefer LP’s like Family “Music In A Doll’s House”, Manfred Mann “As Is”…every band has their fans. Let’s just say that I’m not someone for whom the Zombies CD box set was created.

Whether or not you can bring the name ‘Zombies’ to mind, you will have heard their 3 charting hits, “She’s Not There”, “Tell Her No” and (most famously) “Time Of The Season”. All are good songs that the local oldies radio station plays too much (a la Manfred Mann’s “Doo Wah Diddy”).

I have always felt compelled to own “Odessey and Oracle”, largely due to the opening cut, "Care of Cell Block 44". There’s even some mellotron on there!

Is the ‘obscurity factor’ at work, as regards this album? (“It’s obscure. It’s my secret. You won’t ever know about it. I love it!”). Don’t get me wrong, this is an album that definitely attracts superlative comments from many. Nowadays.

I understand why Al Kooper wanted to make sure this LP got heard at the time… but nothing else was ever going to come from The Zombies. Odessey And Oracle, good record” – End of story, for me anyway.

2007 addendum: I still see this album name-checked all the time. I recently bought a kami sleeve ( = little paper album cover ) CD of it in Japan – with sporting both the mono and stereo versions of the album. They even re-produced the “Stereo” sticker on the rear cover! Now a favorite of revisionist historians – a la Love’s “Forever Changes” – people who claim to have loved it for decades who only heard it in the 80’s for the first time – well, I guess that is decades, huh?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Etienne Daho

12-12-07 Etienne Daho

(re-run from Aug. ’02)

GENRE: French 80’s ‘nouvelle vague’ (new wave) male vocalist

I think I first ‘tried’ Etienne Daho merely because he was on Virgin France Records. Virgin UK was pretty darn good in the early 80’s, so I figured that Virgin France would have their stuff together. My hunch was correct. Etienne Daho was (and is) a formidable artist.

“La Notte, La Notte” (his 2nd LP) is the title I started with. Daho has a pleasant voice, seems to be a decent songwriter – the backing is rather good electronic 80’s pop, but still has the sound of a cohesive band (O.M.D. with a better singer comes to mind). Daho’s longtime collaborator Arnold Turbost is responsible for the swinging grooves.

Along with Charlelie Couture, Etienne Daho was one of the artists that I ‘escaped’ the British new wave with. Just as Serge Gainsbourg teaches the world that “France had a 60’s”, so Monsieur Couture and Etienne Daho can teach us that “France has (had) an 80’s”. A rather good 80’s, i.e. better/ more interesting to me than the US 80’s pop scene.

And, no, my French language skills are not great. I took French for ages in school (“S’il vois plait, je voudrais voir le disques Francais”) – let’s just say that I have “high school French”. I may not know what all of his stuff is about, but the superb productions and talented singing keeps me coming back (for over 20 years now!).

However, I don’t find Daho strictly time-locked in the 80’s. To this day, I buy his new CD’s; his 90’s work is every bit as valid as his 80’s output. Maybe even better. Try “Eden” (1995).

Daho has found himself working along side some interesting folks – Astrud Gilberto, ex-Comateens members, Chris Isaak, Lio, Bill Pritchard etc.

“Tombe Pour La France” is a good single, too. And the video for it is great. Nice electronic beat, with some ‘big’ production.

If Etienne Daho hasn’t already crossed your path, check him out. The 80’s stuff is excellent and the more recent stuff is about as contemporary as I get.

If I have a criticism for Etienne Daho, it’s that he’s never come to Los Angeles for a concert…or if he did, I was out of the country. If Jean-Jacques Goldman and Les Rita Mitsouko can come to L.A. for a gig, Monsieur Daho can too!

2007 addendum: I don’t have his newest CD, but I’m gunning for it when I hit Amoeba San Francisco in a few weeks!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Stranglers

12-11-07 The Stranglers (with Hugh Cornwell)

(re-run from Aug. ’02)

STRANGLERS, THE 10 EPIC UK 466483.2 CD 1990 10 TRKS

Very fitting – I just got the recent Hugh Cornwell book about The Stranglers (where he actually discusses what the songs are about!) when I visited Berkeley last weekend. This is the last real Stranglers release (i.e. the last one with Hugh). It’s not my favorite Stranglers release, but it is still pretty good.

I don’t remember if I knew that this was the final Stranglers album when I first got it. Even though it was released as an LP, by 1990 I was only buying compact disc versions of things. If I could find a decent UK copy of this LP, I would buy it today (’07: which I did!) The singles from this album had great B-Sides, but again, I only ever bought CD singles then. Just last weekend, I found a 12” for “96 Tears” (I love The Stranglers, but I think I still prefer ? & The Mysterions version).

I was aware of The Stranglers pretty much from the beginning, but I wasn’t really a fan until 1979’s “The Raven”, which was released during my first visit to England in September 1979. Boy, that’s a great album! (The only time I ever saw The Stranglers live was at ‘The Whisky’ in L.A., around this time – 1980, maybe?).

When “10” came out, I was actually living in England. I was working for an exporter, so it was fun ordering the CD from CBS UK, listening to it in the office etc. It sounded fine. I remember having to scramble to find all of the CD singles at the time. When “10” got re-released on CD recently, they added all of the B-sides (4 or 5 songs, I think, not counting remixes).

I suppose I really wanted to continue liking them, even if this wasn’t a great album. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who thought this was a fantastic record – in fact, many people thought that The Stranglers were getting a bit tired by this point – I suspect even Hugh Cornwell may be in this camp of thought!

Hugh played a solo gig at ‘The Mint’ in L.A. about 1997. It was a great show. I got some stuff (“Ladies & Gentlemen, An Evening With Hugh Cornwell”!) autographed. The show was under-promoted – I found out about it from a friend on The Doors ‘list’! (Thanks, Ida!)

I pretty much continue buying Hugh Cornwell CD’s these days, when I can find them – they’re mostly all on small labels, so availability is spotty. As long as he feels like making music, I’ll keep listening.

2007 addendum: …and have done so, getting “Wired” (1993), “Guilty (1997), “Hi Fi” (2001) and “Beyond Elysian Fields” (2005) – but I have yet to find copies of his more recent works. “10” LP label is pictured, not CD vers.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Ivor Cutler

12-10-07 Ivor Cutler (1923 – 2006)

(re-run from Aug. ’02)


I first heard of Ivor Cutler when he portrayed “Buster Bloodvessel” in The Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour” LP booklet. I first heard Ivor Cutler with this LP, “Dandruff”. However, his recording career began in the late 1950’s. “Dandruff” (1974) is (at least) his third LP; I’ve never seen the definitive word on how many recordings he made before this album. I know of 2 LP’s and 2 EP’s, pre-1974. (’07: now on CD!)

Right before “Dandruff” came out, Mr. Cutler appeared on the wonderful Robert Wyatt LP, “Rock Bottom”. I don’t think I realized that he was the same guy who played “Buster Bloodvessel” when I first heard his work on “Rock Bottom”. But it’s probably why I bought “Dandruff”.

Mr. Cutler can not easily be described, but I’ll try. He is a Glaswegian educator, poet, writer and humorist. With a nice thick Glasgow accent, he recites poems, stories and perverse ‘little songs', usually with harmonium accompaniment. Please don’t call his work ‘comedy LP’s’. In addition to LP’s, I’ve found many books by him when I visited England. However, there is simply no way to adequately describe the fineness of his spoken work. You must hear it for yourself.

Amongst the people I know, there are two categories of people, as regards Mr. Cutler and his work: a) People who have never heard of him and b) People who are fanatic about his work. I fall into the latter category.

For example, the first LP review I ever wrote (after school, in the ‘adult’ world) was for his ’76 album “Jammy Smears”, for an tiny music newspaper in Austin (?), Texas (called “The Lamb” – thank you, Mr. Philip Page of Helsinki, Finland). I have also had the luxury of discussing Mr. Cutler and his work with Mr. Pete Brown of London, England - Mr. Brown knows Mr. Cutler personally! Mr. Brown is also the man who turned me on to "Who Tore Your Trousers" (1961), the debut Ivor Cutler LP. Thanks, Pete!

Mr. Cutler is still alive and performing in England. I read recently that at one of his intimate concerts, someone in the audience shouted, “Ivor, we love you!”, to which he replied, “Sorry, I’m not that kind of person”.

Some of Mr. Cutler’s LP’s are shared with Phyllis April King, some are all short stories and songs, some are very long radio plays. All are wonderful.

“Dandruff” begins with the words “My father once had intercourse with a polar bear in Canada. If you ask him he will deny this.” For the ‘punch line’, you’ll have to go out and find a copy of “Dandruff”.

2007 addendum: Mr. Cutler passed away in 2006 and his various labels are taking their time to re-release his material. And there’s also an Ivor Cutler DVD now, “Looking For Truth With a Pin”. "Get Away From The Wall" EP is pictured, not the "Dandruff" CD/LP.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Haruomi Hosono


No, haven't played much of it as yet.

1. Haruomi Hosono (1973)

2. Van Dyke Parks

3. Ryuichi Sakamoto (with Takako Minekawa)

4. Miharu Koshi

5. Little Creatures

6. Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra

7. Clammbon (Hiroshi Takano)

8. Miroque

9. Towa Tei (with Shunji Mori)

10. Kuchiroro

11. World Standard (Sohichiro Suzuki)

  1. Akiko Yano (Yanokami)
  2. Yukihiro Takahashi
  3. Tone (Bophana)
  4. Cornelius (with Ryuichi Sakamoto)
  5. Toy Box
  6. Geoff Muldaur, John Sebastian, Garth Hudson etc. (prod. by John Simon)
  7. Vagabond (Takashi Okada)
  8. Aya Tamaki
  9. Sake Rock All-Stars
  10. Kahimi karie (with Jim O’Rourke)
  11. Haruomi Hosono (2007)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Oldies But Goodies

12-7-07 Oldies But Goodies

Here’s what would happen if you put me in charge of ‘oldies radio’:

1. BAJA MARIMBA BAND – Baja Ska (pre-A&M 45!)

2. PEREZ PRADO – Rhythm Sticks

3. THE IMPRESSIONS – Woman’s Got Soul (written by Curtis Mayfield)

4. DAVE “BABY” CORTEZ – Rinky Dink


6. RAINY DAZE – Acapulco Gold

7. THE DARTELLS – Hot Pastrami


9. THE WOOLIES – Who Do You Love?

10. JAN BRADLEY – Mama Didn’t Lie (written by Curtis Mayfield)


12. THE MAMAS & THE PAPAS – Words Of Love

13. STRAWBERRY ALARM CLOCK – Incense & Peppermints

14. THE COUNT FIVE – Psychotic Reaction

15. IAN WHITCOMB – Where Did Robinson Crusoe Go (With Friday On Saturday Night)?

16. THE ASSOCIATION – Along Comes Mary

17. THE LOVIN’ SPOONFUL – Full Measure

18. RHINOCEROS – Apricot Brandy

19. BOB DYLAN – Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?

20. PACIFIC GAS & ELECTRIC – Are You Ready? (long vers.)

21. PINK FLOYD – Embryo

22. SYD BARRETT – Effervescent Elephant

23. THE WHO – In The City

24. THE ROLLING STONES – Stray Cat Blues



27. JEFFERSON AIRPLANE – Crown Of Creation

All tracks taken from original vinyl


Manuel & The Music of the Mountains

12-7-07 Manuel & The Music Of The Mountains

(re-run from Aug. ’02)


1968 12 TRKS stereo (pictured)

Aah, Studio Two! This posh EMI UK easy listening label is ‘highly collectible’ (to quote the British “Record Collector” magazine) in it’s own right, at very least amongst it’s hardcore “EZ” fetishists. Pretty much everything on Studio Two sounds amazing (if you can find clean copies), and the covers, although somewhat ‘generic’, are usually wonderful and sometimes kitschy.

The whole label is British orchestras / studio musicians, to be sure. But who is/was Manuel?

It is open to conjecture, but it is suspected to be none other than British easy listening maven Geoff Love (1917 – 1991), under an assumed ‘exotic’ name. And what about those mountains? I don’t remember if the Manuel records are pan flute-heavy or not, but that may help explain it. And just who is / was Pepe Jaramillo? A funny name cooked up by EMI in the 1960’s to appear exotic to British record buyers?

The miracle of ‘Manuel’ apparently began in the mid-1960’s, according to the discographies I can (used to be able to) uncover. A very groovy Studio Two discography with only title / number info used to be found on-line…but it was gone when I just checked it again (Dec. ’07)

I pick up UK Studio Two stuff whenever I can find it. To say the least, there aren’t many Studio Two LP’s lying around California’s used record stores, and I haven’t been to England lately. I think the first Studio Two LP’s I ever picked up were in New Zealand, back in the 80’s, and I probably bought those for the covers! (Probably, my first one was TWO 175 “Time For TV” by Brian Fahey – it has a color photo of “The Avengers”, Steed & Peel, on the cover).

Oddly enough, when looking for Studio Two LP’s on eBay, they’re a bit on the pricey side. So, if you’re curious, and you live in Great Britain or New Zealand, try car boot sales or op shops. For American inquiring minds, Studio Two LP’s are usually in the easy listening LP section at your local used record store or thrift store – the covers are shiny and the 1960’s ones have flaps on the back. The 1970’s ones sometimes have a lot of bad synthesizer on ‘em.

2007 addendum: There are some nice CD’s of Studio Two material found in “The Sound Gallery” (2 volumes) (EMI UK, ‘95/’96). I still keep my eyes peeled for these UK EZ vinyl gems. Not many turn up these days.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Los Manolos

12-6-07 Los Manolos

(re-run from Aug. ’02)


1991 3 TRKS with Pic Sleeve

Here’s a title that I can say with 100% honesty that I would never ever have heard of, had it not been for it’s music video. But it traveled a bit of a path to reach me…

The group is Spanish – or at very least from somewhere that is Spanish-speaking (I saw their name mentioned in connection with Barcelona, so they’re probably from Spain). I saw the video for this song on “Rage”, the Australian music video TV show (thanks to Ken G. in Australia). I found the 12” single at Record Surplus, in Los Angeles.

It is wonderful ‘high kitsch’ from a ‘modern’ flamenco group. I think. There will probably be someone who wants to argue that it isn’t flamenco, it’s (fill in the blank – rumbera?). Whatever it might be that isn’t flamenco, I don’t know what that’s called.

The video is hilarious. At first, I thought it was Mano Negra or Les Negresses Vertes. I could swear I saw “Eurotrash” presenter ( Antoine DeCaunes ) in this clip (which is why I thought it might be a French band). Everyone that I have shown this video clip to loves it and wants a copy. Apparently, the song was a big hit in Spain. And what could be better than a flamenco / rumbera cover version of an excellent ancient Beatles song? Fetishists of Beatles cover versions, take note!

Some time later, I found a whole CD of their ‘greatest hits’, including this song. The CD seemed to me to be almost entirely cover versions (no, I didn’t notice any other Beatles covers), done in a flamenco / rumbera style. Or whatever style it is that isn’t flamenco that I don’t know the name of.

I have never exactly bought a lot of music from Spain. In the 1970’s, I bought some progressive rock (Fusioon, Canarios, Granada, Pau Piba, Secta Sonica etc.), but after that, the only artist that I can positively I.D. as being Spanish that I bought was Ivan (whose big hit was "Fotonovela”, around 1984/5). My only other Spanish-language purchases have been Righeira (from Italy, who I love) and Café Tacuba (who are from Mexico, I think, whose ‘99 double CD “Yosoi – Reves” is amazing!).

2007 addendum: Little to add to my Los Manolos tale. The music video for “All My Loving” is terrific, and is probably bubbling away on Youtube as we speak! If it isn’t, it should be. The photo is of their “Best Of” CD, not the 12”. After finding the 12” and this CD, I never saw anything else by them for sale since I wrote this in ’02.