A few years ago, I stumbled across a treasure trove of bizarre stuff, hosted by WFMU.
* The recording (referenced by Michael Moore in Sicko) Ronald Reagan made claiming socialized medicine is Teh Evil.
* Sindy Doll (The UK’s answer to Barbie) meets the Dollybeats, her favorite Beat group, and they write a song just for her.
* American Standard (they made plumbing fixtures) present an ode to “My Bathroom,” where the singer can “cream and dream.” Hoorah for unexpected double entendres!
* The collected works of Thurl Ravenscroft (the original voice of Tony the Tiger and the singer of “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch”).
* A young lady named Katie Lee attempts (but fails) to channel Tom Lehrer with her “psychological damage” theme songs.
* What to do in case of Nuclear War! (Advice goes into more detail than “Kiss your butt goodbye,” mind you: Build a shelter! Don’t forget extra batteries! You need food to survive! “This is what the alarms sound like…let us play them for several minutes so you can annoy your neighbors when you listen to this record!”)
* How to speak Hawaiian (Pronounced “HIGH-why-an” or “High-VAI-an” throughout)! Worst announcer ever. Lots of weird “native” drumming, distorted ukelele playing (ouch), and background singing. Learn how to pronounce a very long word for a particular fish, a word you will never, ever use again. Learn what a “gloy-tel stop” is. It has to be a joke, but it’s funny in spite of itself. The B-side claims to continue to teach HIGH-VAY-an, but is actually a useless How To Speak Arabic lesson, where your first command from the teacher is to say “pork weenie.” Or “corn weenie, really, really” because he changes his mind. “Sing. SING!!”
* Sixty-second remakes of famous songs (Blur, Nirvana, the Beatles, Nick Cave, Gwen Stefani, Britney Spears, Ravel, Brahms, Radiohead, Neil Young, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Shel Silverstein, Grandmaster Flash, the B-52s, The Who / Sex Pistols and several more get the treatment).
* Rare Mott the Hoople tunes.
* Funny MovieFone adverts for Mel Brooks’ “Robin Hood: Men In Tights” and a Hulk Hogan movie (“Mr Nanny”) and more. If you stick it out, the man recording the ads forgets he is on the mic and talks to a co-worker briefly.
* Singing DJs (generally awful), including Rick “Disco Duck” Dees and Wink Martindale (yep, the game show host guy).
* A pre-Velvet Underground Lou Reed project (The Primitives): Do The Ostrich!
* Coyote McCloud and geriatric 80s-era Wendy’s spokesgranny Clara Peller sing a little ditty called “Where’s The Beef?”–so bad, it’s…well, bad.
* Anthony Newley singing something other than “Candy Man.” (I promptly emailed these MP3 files to my ex-boyfriend who does the best Anthony Newley impression ever. He loved them.)
It should frighten me that this ex-BF actually bears a strong resemblance to Newley.
* Edd “Kookie” Byrnes tunes…are you a square or are you “The Skizziest”?
* Vanity pressings of truly unfortunate quality.
* A musical called “My Insurance Man.”
* A video for “Chinese Rocks” by Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers “featuring some actual footage of the band performing the song, although the footage isn’t necessarily in sync…but whaddya expect from a bunch of junkies singing about junk?”
* A novelty song from 1979 by Roger Hallmark which was a small hit on radio during the months leading up to the election of Ronald Reagan. Not only was Roger enraged at how “our old friend the Shah” was being treated, he also took the opportunity to toss in a few racist “Ayrab” jabs.
* “Sex and your Son / Daughter” — Released in 1965, these two records narrated by Doctor Sims should (fail to) remedy your ignorance.
* Rare Eugene Chadbourne and Daniel Johnston singles
* DJ Bill Zugat’s Copycats, Imitators and Soundalikes: fifteen songs ripping off a better-known source. Jobriath is featured (Zugat says, fairly, that he ripped off David Bowie and Elton John).
* LOTS of Wedding Singers.
* Dame Barbara “romance novel / poodoo writer” Cartland sings! “In 1978 she swapped pen for microphone when she record her own album of love songs making her the only (albeit distant) member of the Royal Family to have made a record. How the musicians and singers all kept a straight face during the recording is a miracle!”
* Tortura’s Sounds of Pain and Pleasure: “Relax in the twilight of your upcoming evenings listening to the sounds of whipping, beating, screaming, moaning, crying, groaning and laughing. To be listened to by [either] the whip-wielding dominatrix [or] the lonely soul awaiting the next aphrodisiac.”
* Unconventional covers of Glenn Miller’s big band classic, “In The Mood.”
* John Denver’s “Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas).” Grim.
* Jingoistic pro-military jingles released during the Vietnam War to entice impressionable, patriotic youth to become cannon fodder.
* Recordings from the doomed cultists of Jim Jones’ Guyana retreat, Jonestown, before (happy choir practices) and during their final Kool-Aid quaffing (as Jones melts down into a paranoid, ranting fury and orders the murder of anyone resisting). Pretty sad and awful stuff.
The quality is pretty good, given the sources (mostly cassette, abused vinyl and 8-track), and I have laughed my backside off more than once. This list just names a few of the gems you can find here. Seriously crazy. I’m enjoying the weirdness factor. (I thought I had some crazy crap in my collection, but apparently my standards are too high, even when adopting a pile of crappy vinyl, to get any of this kind of stuff.)
If you check the site out, share your favorite oddities with me. 🙂
If you like this sort of thing, but prefer a more standard musical format, GoogHoo “Crap From The Past” and Ron “Boogiemonster” Gerber. If you have an MP3 editor, you can snip out the occasional ditty that pleases you. WARNING: the show is aptly named! However, he had a Trip Shakespeare track I was starting to think I’d imagined. Now that I have it, that particular ear worm is laid to rest, and I don’t ever need to hear it again. (The production and tune, as remembered in my brain, were better than the real thing. Isn’t that always the way?)
Another place to find rarities, occasionally, is sonicx.com. I found a lot of live Spoon and some amusing Pulp B-sides, including one where Jarvis Cocker asks, “Can I Have My Balls Back, Please?” Some of the finds there are just snippets, but there are some interesting remixes, too.
I used to scour Epitonic, but their new site hates my malware blockers. I probably got all the good stuff from there, anyway. Music blogs are also a good source for rare and interesting stuff, such as 3hive.com (one of my my favourites) and Tuning:Choonage.
This post is dedicated to Jared (Smith), Butcher of Song. If you recognize the reference, you are old and have been online too long.