Apr 282012

Sounds of the Hall in roughly 33 1/3 minutes!

This week’s special guest edition of Saturday Night Shut-In comes to you from Chez Royale! That’s right, ladymisskirroyale and Mr. Royale share with you a mix entitled Geniuses, Crackpots & Visionaries. A note from Mr. Royale, including the tracklist and notes on this evening’s selections, follows.

[audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Geniuses-Crackpots-Visionaries.mp3|titles=RTH Saturday Night Shut-In, episode 77: Geniuses, Crackpots & Visionaries]

Mr. Royale sez…

Let’s see, this mix is actually part of a larger compilation I’ve put together, which includes the likes of Harry Partch, Brian Wilson, John Cage, Stockhausen, Glenn Branca, Morton Subotnick, John Zorn, Captain Beefheart, Steve Reich, Iannis Xenakis….etc. In other words, musicians who have stood on the outside and came up with something unheard before, some kind of personal, uncompromising artistic vision. Perhaps these artists have been obscure or widely followed, but there’s something of an independent spirit in each. The title of the collection is, of course, tounge in cheek. Hey, maybe Lucia Pamela really did go to the moon

With the post on Wildman Fischer, Erika and I hit on the idea of a G,C & V shortlist, this time highlighting the “crackpots” section. Certain names came up that were too obvious. People with mental health issues (Syd Barrett, Roky Erickson, Mary Margaret O’Hara, Kristin Hersh), but who make very “acceptable” music. I was adamant that this list be a WTF kind of a thing. We refined it to a criteria of “unhinged” recordings, ones that make you say “how in hell did this EVER get recorded? Somebody thought this was a good idea? Did somebody lose a bet?” And yet, in their own way, each of these is delightful!

Okay, we begin with:

The Portsmouth Sinfonia, “Also Sprach Zarathustra”: An orchestra in the ’70s with the entrance requirement of non-musicians, or play an instrument that is new to you. Contemporary composer Gavin Bryars was a member.

Lucia Pamela, “Walking On The Moon”: Championed by Stereolab, she claimed to have loaded up her pink Cadillac with some musician friends and recorded on the moon.

Luie Luie, “El Touchy”: Luis Johnston (is it something with that last name?) was disgusted with modes of dance in the ’60s and ’70s, and so he spearheaded a one man dance craze, bent on bringing intimacy back to dancing couples. He even had buttons with his picture on them, that you would place at strategic points on your body, and your partner would contact these as you danced.

The Chips, “Rubber Biscuit”: Immortalized by Dan Ackroyd. This is just silly.

Crispin Glover, “These Boots Are Made For Walking: Yes, as in: McFly.

Daniel Johnston, “Jelly Beans”: What collection of this sort would be without him?

Joe Meek, “Telstar” (rough demo): A familiar name to anyone interested in ’60s music production. Unable to play or write notation, this is one of many vocal demos he made in order to get musicians to play what he was hearing in his head.

Napoleon XIV, “They’re Coming To Take Me Away”: A novelty hit from a one-hit wonder who specialized in mental illness themes.

R.Stevie Moore, “Goodbye Piano”: An eclectic and prolific home-recording legend. A big influence on a lot of lo-fi indie types.

Rodd Keith, “Beat of the Traps”: A religious, LSD consuming creator of what he called “song-poems.” He spelled his name with two “d”’s, because “God only used one”. He died trying to fly off an overpass on the Hollywood freeway.

George Morgan, “Behind The Wheel”: A member of both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry. I just love the lunacy of this recording.

Charles Manson, “Cease To Exist”: That Charles Manson. This was re-cast as “Never Learn Not To Love” by the Beach Boys.

Jandek, “They Told Me I Was a Fool”: Maybe the most quintessential anonymous outsider musician.

Tiny Tim, “Tip-toe Thru the Tulips”: This collection would be incomplete without such things as this.

The Shaggs, “Philosophy of the World”: Another famously inept band, described by Rolling Stone as “…sounding like lobotomized Trapp Family Singers.”

Barnes & Barnes, “Fish Heads” Aka Robert Haimer and Lost in Space’s Billy Mumy.

The Monks, “Monk Time”: Formed in 1964 by five American GIs stationed in Germany. Listening to this today, I hear their Krautrock-like influence on Portishead’s Third album.

Moondog, “I’m Just a Hop Head”: The blind, dressed-as-a-Viking street musician who was something of a celebrity in the ’60s.

Hasil Adkins, “Peanut Butter Rock and Roll”: Ah, one of the best for last. Hasil was a backwoods Appalachian psychobilly Wildman one-man band. Listen to his sheer Woo Hoo joy in this!

[Note: You can add Saturday Night Shut-In episodes to your iTunes by clicking here. The Rock Town Hall feed will enable you to easily download Saturday Night Shut-In episodes to your digital music player.]


  6 Responses to “Rock Town Hall’s Saturday Night Shut-In: Geniuses, Crackpots & Visionaries”

  1. Ha! Thanks Royales, that was right up my alley…A lot of this takes me back to listening to (and obsessively taping) one of my fave WFMU shows, “Incorrect Music”. I think ‘FMU was the first place I can remember coming across the descriptor “Crackpots & Visionaries”, too (this: http://store.wfmustore.org/crvivo1.html). Also takes me back to sharing a car ride with Hasil Adkins, but that’s a whole other story… He truly was a wild man, may he R.I.P.

    The Rodd Keith saga is, at least to me, fascinating (as is the whole, weird, ‘song-poem’ world). Here’s a piece written by Rodd’s son, for anyone interested in some more details: http://www.wfmu.org/LCD/18/rodd.html

    And here’s a swell little doc. (which aired on PBS’ “Independent Lens”)on the weird world of song-poems: http://www.youtube.com/movie?v=KOqn-I5u1MY&feature=mv_sr

  2. That’s Irwin Chusid’s show, right Bobby? I, too, was reno.def of that show.

  3. Yep, Irwin & Michelle Boulé…I used to record it on a timed VHS tape (I was usually working when it was on in the afternoon), then transfer the songs to cassettes. I’m also a big fan of Irwin’s “Songs in the Key of Z” book, which covers a lot of these oddball artistes.

  4. Oops. Apparently that 1st link I gave just leads you to the ‘FMU store home page. If you go there and click on the section labeled “cards”, you’ll see the set of “Crackpots & Visionaries” trading cards.

  5. Happiness Stan

    I’m downloading this, looks like great fun – thanks Mrs and Mrs LadyM!

    Looking through the track list has got me quite excited, and reminded me of the night I met Tiny Tim, which I really should share with you one of these days.

  6. ladymisskirroyale

    A car ride with Hasil Adkins and The Night I Met Tiny Tim: two stories I hope you both share with the Hall very soon!

    I noticed that the drum beat in The Monks’ tune is the same as one used in “Psychotic Reaction.” Anyone know of an earlier use of that beat?

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