Sunday, April 29, 2007

Freak Out Total!

Back in constant rotation at the Mondo Bongos luxury pad is the 1968 release by Les Maledictus Sound [reissued by Mucho Gusto in 1999]. The album was the demented brainchild of Jean-Pierre Massiera and remains a classic of psychsploitation. The album has it all: Now Sound and loungecore big bandisms, psychedelic backward tapes, fuzz guitars, sound effects, cartoon voices and songs about monsters. Come to think of it, Les Maledictus Sound could almost be a Gallic Joe Meek production.

As an added bonus, the cd reissue featured a track from the J.P. Massiera production and NWW list item, Horrific Child. Thank you WFMU for pointing that out.

File next to The Vampires Sound Incorporation's score to Vampyros Lesbos, Bob Crewe and The Glitterhouse's Barbarella soundtrack, and the priceless Astro Sounds from Beyond the Year 2000 by the 101 Strings, which I like to think of as inflatable chair and shag carpeting music. That being said, Les Maledictus Sound is far stranger.

In lieu of anything Massiera-related, here's the trailer for Barbarella. YouTube also has the trailer for Jesus Franco's Vampyros Lesbos, but I'll let you search that one out.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sunil Ganguly and Humshakal

Carol and I went to the Little India area of Toronto yesterday for lunch at Siddartha's, which also called for another visit to the Indian Record Shop. Why? They still have vinyl!

I bought a copy of Rahul Dev Burman's score for the 1974 film Humshakal [Odeon/The Gramophone Company of India]. This purchase was a no-brainer as the vocals are handled by the playback legends Asha Bhosle, Lata Mangeshkar, Mohd. Rafi and Kishore Kumar. The album's high point is the disorienting tune "Dekho Mujhe Dekho" which can best be described as Hindi take on Film Noir. It must be the bongos and the vibes and the smooth horn section. Very cool.

That's the film's poster above and on the left by the by.

My other purchase was an LP by guitarist Sunil Ganguly: Hindi Film Tunes [Odeon/EMI/The Gramophone Company of India]. I hadn't heard of him before happening across a copy of this 1982 album, but thought it looked interesting. My instincts were correct as this turns out to be one of the most unusual and pleasant recordings I've added to my collection over the last couple of months. Mr Ganguly plays the pedal steel and Hawaiian guitars. And he is very, very good indeed.

Brad's page of Steel describes him:

"Sunil Ganguly plays Indian film songs (the most popular Indian music nowadays). And he plays like nobody else does. HE IS GOOD, and he adds his own twists and subtle changes to it, which makes it even more melodious. He is very proficient in Indian classical music and hence can play complex tunes from them. Uses control over volume of the plucking and makes amazing effects. He is the leader, and all else follow him."

Ganguly performs the sort of music I like the best: a mix and match of styles from around the world, in this case Ventures-style guitar instros, 80's video game sound effects, a little Mariachi flavouring and some disco beats. Perfect for music omnivores.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

DynoVoice and Lavalamp sounds

I bought a double cd set with the unwieldy title of Bob Crewe Presents...The DynoVoice Story...The Label That Had To Happen!!! 1965-1968 [WestSide Records WESD226]. The album looked great with 56 tracks of mid-sixties pop, soul and rock in addition to an informative 12 page booklet.

I'd been a fan of Crewe's productions for some time based on The Bob Crewe Generation's Music to Watch Girls By LP and the (of course) the Barbarella soundtrack. Granted that those two albums are cheesy fun in a space age bachelor pad way, but that certainly wasn't the sum of Crewe's skills as the DynoVoice Story demonstrates. Just open your ears to the rock 'n' soul of Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels, the R & B girl-group sounds of The Toys (8 and 10 tracks respectively) in addition to fine 45's from Dianne Renay, Norma Tanega, The Invitations, Duff Thurmond (his "If You Loved Me Baby" is a show stopper) and my personal favourites The Sky's "I'm Not A Fool" and Peter Antell's suave "Warm Smoke". I know that I sound like one of those cranky old guys, who, when not yelling at the kids to stay the hell out of my yard, will go on for ages about how pop music used to be better. But it did.

Also purchased is the Dennis Coffey compilation Big City Funk: Original old school breaks and heavy guitar soul [Vampisoul Records]. Coffey is a a funk legend for several good reasons, being a member of Motown's Funk Brothers during the late sixties and early seventies not the least of them.

This set compiles choice cuts from his seventies Sussex albums. So the lucky consumer gets 15 tracks including his most famous tune "Scorpio" as well as two covers: Schifin's "Theme from Enter the Dragon" and Led Zep's "Whole Lot of Love". The sound is very seventies which is telegraphed by the numerous tracks with zodiac-related titles, and I can tell you that the disc sounds truly great under the warm glow of the lavalamp.

Coffey collaborated with Luchi De Jesus on the score for Black Belt Jones, and here are the opening credits courtesy of YouTube.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Crate Digging at Home

As a result of our move last summer, my record collection got seriously scrambled. Basically the LPs got filed on the shelves in whatever order they got unpacked. The downside is that it became difficult to find anything, so if I got a notion to play The Revolutionary Ensemble...well, it took some time to locate. On the upside, these searches prompted me to listen to albums that I had not spun in ages. Here's what I've been playing over the last couple of days.

The Third Ear Band still stands as one of the most unusual bands of the progressive rock era. What made them so is the decision to jettison the usual rock instrumentation ( there is an apocryphal tale of their electric instruments being stolen) in favour of oboes, violins, cellos and assorted hand percussion. Hovering somewhere between experimental and folk, TEB performed what could best be described as atmospheric medieval ragas. Their debut Alchemy features eight tracks with titles like "Stone Circle" and "Dragon Lines" which would have made an appropriate soundtrack whilst reading Lord of the Rings. It was the sixties after all. More intense, and probably the best introduction would be their second self-titled LP a.k.a Elements a.k.a. Earth Air Fire and Water.

Here's a film clip of the Third Ear Band recorded in Hyde Park in 1970. The music is quite different from their first two lps as they are performing a vocal folk rock number.

OK, what else? Terry Riley's double lp Persian Surgery Dervishes [Shanti Records] which I bought at some point in the mid-seventies. I remember that I found this record at the most improbable place: a Discus shop (a long-gone record chain) in Pointe Claire, Quebec. How it found it's way there is a mystery. At any rate, this is a dearly loved record of mine. The album features two interpretations of Persian Surgery Dervishes: first from a live recording dated April 18, 1971 in Los Angeles and the second recorded May 24, 1972 in Paris by Riley on 'electric organ + feedback'. I would also like to point out that Terry Riley's tape-delay system pre-dates Robert Fripp's unoriginal "frippertronics" by a comfortable margin. Go for the real thing, accept no self-aggrandizing rockist substitutes.

Today, I've been working through three albums by The Revolutionary Ensemble: Vietnam [ESP Disks], Manhattan Cycles [Indian Navigation] and my personal favourite: The People's Republic [Horizon/A & M] which is pure genius. Leroy Jenkins on violin, Sirone on bass and Jerome Cooper on drums created a series of incredibly evocative and expressive tracks, especially "Ponderous Planets" and "The People's Republic". I'm not sure if any of these are currently available, but you'll discover they are worth their weight in gold if you are at all interested in the outer reaches of free improvisation.

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