Bobby "Boris" Pickett, legendary singer of "The Monster Mash," succumbed to leukemia on April 25.
Pickett was 24 when he recorded his signature tune. A long time fan of horror films, which he watch in the local theatre in his home town of Somerville, MA, Pickett worked up a passable Boris Karloff impersonation. One thing led to another, and he ended up writing the world's greatest Halloween song, released as a single in 1962. His band, the Crypt Kickers, included a young Leon Russell.
1962 was the Year of the Monster in America, and Moster Mash went to #1 the week before Halloween. Famous Monsters magazine was on newstands across the country, The Munsters and The Addams Family were on TV, and theatres had movies like The Day of the Triffids and Carnival of Souls for one's viewing pleasure. In England, Hammer Horror was reviving the old monsters in movies featuring Christopher Lee and a cast of swingin' mods in period clothing. JFK was in office, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth, and Monster Mash at the top of the charts. Sounds like quite a year. (Things really went to shit in '63 though.)
Hey, you should watch a video:
1.) Here's the Monster Mash cartoon.
2.) Here's a video made for the song.
3.) And here's a latter day Pickett performing the song with 60s garage rock legends Richard and the Young Lions.
The Man Himself:
Needless to say, I loved this song as a kid. Still do. Monster Mash forever, indeed.
Bobby "Boris" Pickett, legendary singer of "The Monster Mash," succumbed to leukemia on April 25.
Hello hello again, Dear Reader. You may be wondering why things have slowed down a touch around these parts. The truth is that we here at The Little Black Egg have been busy over at Idle Brains. If any of you haven’t yet checked out Idle Brains, you’re missing out. Do yourself a favor! A world of amazement is only a click away.
However, just because we’ve been busy over here, doesn’t mean that our readership has been keeping mum. Quite the contrary, in fact: you people have sent word our way to let us know what you think. We love getting correspondence here, and would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of these missives.
Unknown reader “.///_-|” has this to say in reference to my inability to track down the new Fall album:
Would it be incorrect to presume you haven't been able to steal 'hard to find' music off the internet bountifully? Whenever you mention 'hard to find' music, I think, there's no such thing as 'hard to find' music anymore.
.///_-| brings up a good point. It’s all there for the taking nowadays. However, sometimes you gotta fork out the money for the actual article because it looks so pretty sitting on a shelf, next to all the other albums. I imagine old ladies must feel the same about their hummel figurines. Also, I’m fairly sure that all whatever royalties reach Mark E. Smith from my album purchase go right towards the MES beer fund—buying a Fall album is probably the closest I’ll ever come to buying the guy a drink.
We have another letter here from “Anonymous,” who writes:
Wenig Schwarzes Ei, Er nimmt Vernunft an, folglich, ob es dir gefällt oder nicht, kommt hier ControllersTeenClub!
Holy shit! It’s a missive from the CTC! For those of you not in the know, the Controllers Teen Club (also known as Controllers Teen Camp), were an anonymous trio of identically-dressed dudes who were responsible for some of the best shows I’ve ever seen.
It’s hard to define the Controllers sound, but they’re kind of like a Teutonic Residents, maybe . . . sort of post Ash Ra Tempel sonic exploration, maybe. Unfortunately, I don’t read German, so I don’t know what they’re trying to tell me with this letter, but fellas, if you’re reading—send me a CD of your stuff, all right? We here at The Little Black Egg love ya. Dear Reader, they have several songs on their myspace that you yourself can listen to from the comfort of your own home.
From San Francisco, CA, Nathan writes:
. . . have you heard Mori's "Painted Desert," a great trio album w/ Marc Ribot and Robert Quine (!!!)?
Holy shit! No, I haven’t. But I’ll listen to anything Robert Quine plays on. Marc Ribot and Robert Quine playing together is like . . . . like . . . that is a total guitarmaggedon right there. How will humanity rise from the ashes?
With style, that’s how.
And finally, Margot writes to say:
Dude. You are so fucking awesome.
Thanks, Margot! People don’t tell me that enough. You’re fucking awesome too.
Dear Readers, please keep the letters coming in. We here at The Little Black Egg thrives on your correspondence—without it, we’d whither and die, like a delicate, neglected flower.
This flower says "help, I'm dying."
I don't like Westerns much.
All the women characters are barmaids, whores, or delicate intellectuals traveling with a lot of trunks. The men look like bullshit, like they shat beef jerky, and everyone was always riding places on horses, or wagons, or something stupid.
So I don’t like Westerns much, but I like fake Westerns. You know, bullshitty existential Westerns, stuff like El Topo, goofy-ass Cormac McCarthy books, John Hawkes’ novel The Beetle Leg. And Blazing Saddles, of course. And I like bands like the Country Teasers, who manage to pull off this (sometimes) funny, clanky, noisy fake cowboy music.
Put on a Country Teasers records, two things become immediately apparent:
1.) These guys can’t play their instruments, really.
2.) They also didn’t tune their instruments.
And if you give them a few listens, it also becomes apparent that their lyrics are really insulting and offensive and all that. Reminds me a bit of the all-encompassing misanthropy of the Frogs, to tell you the truth. These guys are from Scotland, I assume the lyrical nastiness is, as people from the UK might say, “a piss-take.”
The Country Teasers are pretty clearly influenced by the Fall, and you might be thinking to yourself “Say! He probably likes the Country Teasers because they sound a lot like the Fall!” And you’d be right, but it’s more than that. I like ‘em so much because they’re like Bizarro cowboy music.
They make the sort of cowboy music appropriate if everything in the world had gone horribly wrong, and it was dominated by garbage, ignorance, and discordia. As though no one really knew how anything worked any more, and the world was actually nothing like Western movies, and everything wasn’t going to be all right, and there was no hope, and . . . well, you know. Art imitates life and all that.
Their “Satan is Real Again” album is a real corker.
Labels: Country Teasers
One of the things that has spurred on my record collecting is the sense of wonder I get when coming across some weird record. You know, the whole “a bunch of jerks got together, and recorded these songs, and somehow that moment of time is now frozen onto wax (or CD or whatever).”
I never cease to find that amazing. By playing a recording of “96 Tears,” you, the listener, are creating this weird invocation, summoning ? and the Mysterians from out beyond the Pale. At some point, over 40 years ago, the Mysterians recorded that song, probably somewhere in Michigan—maybe they knew it was brilliant, maybe not. Anyway, it’s survived, copies of it get made, it’s played on the radio, you hear it. ?’s voice and that Vox organ riff are part of our collective unconscious, you know? It lasts forever and ever.
So even though I’m usually not too bothered about the condition of my records, and I certainly don’t go around collecting, like, limited edition UK mono mixes of my favorite albums or anything, there’s a part of me that is sort of . . . compelled to . . . I don’t know. Rare records are just sort of exciting by virtue of their very scarcity, kind of how like an endangered condor or a yeti is exciting.
This is doubly true if the band is a coulda-shoulda-woulda combo like the Bachs. When the music contained on rare vinyl is simply astounding, it’s almost like shadowy forces have conspired to keep it hidden. It’s like a secret, and only boring people aren’t totally fascinated by secrets. And the Bach’s sole album, Out of the Bachs (Ha ha ha! hooooo . . . ), is a secret of massive esoteric value, it’s like a Lost Dutchman mine rich in sugary garage finery. With an original pressing of a mere 100–150 records, this was a highly sought-after near-masterpiece, but now any asshole in the world can dowload it offa the internets. That’s what I did, at least.
Lookit this record cover! Wow! You can’t make this stuff up. This is one of the coolest record covers of the 1960s hands down. I don’t care if you don’t agree because the issue isn’t up for discussion.
Out of the Bachs comes straight out of 1968, but it sounds like it could be a couple years earlier. Songs like “Tables of Grass Fields” are more saccharine than a ship made out of lollipops manned by marshmallow peeps capsizing in an ocean of Pepsi. Wonderful tune, really, that lopes along at a blissfully relaxed pace. In fact, most of the songs on this album do. It’s not slow, but just measured and lovely, tending towards mid-tempo for the most part.
The kids making up the Bachs had only recently graduated high school, and if you dig up a picture of them, hoo-ee do they look naïve. If they got offa the bus in the big city, Ratso Rizzo would have taken them for all they’re worth. This fresh-scrubbed, bright-eyed innocence thing is essential to the Bachs sound, you understand—they’re all dreamy and stuff, not yet of this cold gray world.
It’s weird, but the Out of the Bachs LP is an LP! This band never released any singles as was the fashion of the time, and they didn’t release an album of, like, two originals and eight covers of the era’s popular rave-ups. This record was a secret little vanity pressing, a document for the sake of fun and posterity. In their little bubble, there was nothing really rubbing against them, peeling away their dippy romanticism. It’s sort of like peeling the layers of an onion—you can remove one after the other until there’s nothing left, but you never get to the middle of an onion.
The Bachs went to college, they shipped off to Vietnam, and the band disappeared. The real world just peeled them apart.
But the document left behind! Oh, the document. 12 songs, all originals, weirdly recorded. According to the Bachs themselves, the songs were done in a single take in a recording studio owned by a guy who had never really recorded a rock band before. So the sound levels are very strange, to the point even that it seems the producer might not have been sure where to place the microphones, or even which mics to use.
Reminds me a little of really early punk singles, when no one with a recording studio had figured out how to record music like that, so the recording quality is just . . . off. So the Bachs are laying down awesome tunes like “Show Me That You Want to Go Home” that sound like they’re floating in a strange, undiscovered dimension closely resembling our own. It’s impossible for us to get there ourselves, but the transmissions have made their way through space and time to reach us. They’re imperfect and awkward, rumored to be mastered 1–2% too slowly, but under this thin layer of imperfection they’re alive and well. Vital, even. And they’re ours; they’re meant for us, and Fortuna has kept them intact all these years.
This guy would approve, I'm sure.
Labels: The Bachs
Hey! Who doesn't like Krautrock? Everybody likes Krautrock, especially me.
The only problem is that there is a whole lot of Krautrock floating around out there, salvaged from the olden days and now available on CD for your listening pleasure. And with Julian Cope's Krautrocksampler sadly out of print, what are you gonna do? Talk to that smirking creep at the record store? Spend your hard earned dough . . . at random? Or maybe just blindly download until you find what you like? Don't tell me that's you're just gonna ignore Krautrock. That's just not an acceptable solution.
We here at The Little Black Egg don't give a rat's ass what you do, but if you want to bivouac comfortably in krautrockenplatz, there are two remarkable, free online resources that I will gladly bring to your attention.
The first is by Julian Cope, whose very cool Head Heritage site is off to your right amongst my links. Cope is probably your best bet for subjective Krautrock reviewage. And his astounding Krautrocksampler is available on the internets! All right! So if you scroll down a little, you can download the arch-Drude's opus as a two-part PDF. It's just like having the book, but not really as cool!
Beggars can't be choosers. Having one's own copy of this essential psych codex is effing wunderbar, I'll tell you what. Let's have a big hand for the good people at Swan Fungus for hosting this.
And since all of these bands have stuff in circulation now, so if you wanna acquire some Guru Guru, Xhol Caravan, or Ash Ra Tempel it is possible! In fact, it's easy! As easy as pie.
Maybe you think Julian Cope is a syncophantic schnitzelhead and you hate his opinions, his words, and his thoughts. Or maybe you would just like an wide-ranging mega objective encylopedia of this music. In that case, look no further than The Crack in the Cosmic Egg.
How cool is this? There's a print version available, but this free online thing is pretty goddamn cool, I'm not gonna lie. Sort of like A Field Guide to Krautrock, this thing is invaluable in determining what's what. You could do worse.
Happy Krauting, and stay tuned to this channel for a thrilling upcoming episode of The Little Black Egg, in which your writer ventures deep within the territory of Xhol Caravan to grapple the great unnamables of creation.
Many of you are no doubt aware that my favorite band is The Fall, who have just released their millionth album Reformation Post TLC. I’ve been foaming at the mouth about this record for some time now, but I can’t get a copy out here.
The Fall’s imperator-for-life, Mark E. Smith, liquidated yet another lineup of his band while on tour last year. I caught the new guys, who were recruited within a week or so, twice in New York. They’d been in the band about two weeks, and did a fantastic job. The new studio album was recorded during this time, and I hear it might not be so good, but . . . what can you do. It was written and put to tape in less than a month or something. I'm not expecting miracles.
Anyway, I’ve been going through my old Fall shit as I am wont to do when they’re getting ready to put out a new album. There’s a lot of it to get through. I have something like thirty Fall records—that’s most of the studio output, some live stuff, and a couple crappy compilations.
One of the most recent Fall tunes, written by the old, recently shit-canned lineup and now being phased out of live sets, is “Blindness.” There’s a couple versions of this song floating about, but the only good ones are found in 1.) bootlegs, and 2.) the Fall Peel Sessions box set. The Peel Session version is the definitive one.
It’s a real simple tune with a gigantor three-note bassline, occasional guitar miscellany, tape noises, and . . . drums. The drums don’t change much. The song only has one part, although the drums stop at some point and then start again. Meanwhile, MES goes into a vindictive, paranoid harangue.
Blindness seems to involve a narrator with only one good leg, walking down the street. He sees posters with a blind man on them, and the caption “Do You Work Hard?” The narrator is trying to make it home in time for curfew, and begging the blind man for mercy. The song also contains the sort of sideways, cryptic statements of fact/possible insults that Smith is so good at, such as:
You were expecting
But instead you got
Mr. James Fennings
And it keeps going and going, repetitive and relentless and unchanging.
This song was first recorded for John Peel way back in the olden days of 2004. I listened to it and loved it; later I came to learn that it could very well be a veiled stab at blind British politician David Blunkett. It seems that Blunkett was pushing to end some sort of . . . all right, I don’t know what his deal was, but he was later forced to resign.
I remember saw the old lineup of the band perform Blindness on February 10, 2005. It was a midnight show at the Knitting Factory, and needless to say I was extraordinarily excited. It's hard to describe the gig. It was more or less all new material, as per Fall custom. The band plays with their heads down while their hunched, dour, polished Italian shoe-wearing Kapitan fucks with their amp settings, steals their microphones, shoves them out of the way, and otherwise stalks around them disapprovingly. Kind of like a pissed off owner of a British rooming house, all geared up to collect the rent from his tenants (who he hates).
Over the course of the show, Smith dismantled all of the microphones on the stage. I never saw anything like it. He threw backup mics in the kick drum, sang into two at once, dropped them on the ground, and took one backstage in order to sing unmolested. By the end, the stage was a tangle of knocked over mic stands and cable.
Blindness was the last song before they headed off the stage, and Smith did this unsettling thing where he kept creeping closer to the edge of the stage. As in, I’d glance at the bass player for a second or something, and when I looked back he’d just be closer. By the end, he was just yelling into the air, sans amplification. Then he stumbled through the detritus littering the stage and sang a few lines from the dressing room.
Then it was over, and those guys are gone now. I think they were, like, the 30th or 40th Fall lineup. Should be interesting to see what the new crowd has come up for this Reformation album. God knows how long they’ll last . . .
The ever-awesome Perfumed Garden has a great recent Fall gig available for download on their March 11 post.