Thursday, May 22, 2008

Friday Muxtape, no. 4

How I wish I had the time to fully annotate this week's muxtape. (Or any of them so far, actually.)

Ah well. Here's the best I can do:

1. Oliver Nelson: "The Artist's Rightful Place" (from The Kennedy Dream). The concept here -- audio clips of JFK layered over Oliver Nelson compositions for big band -- seems "quintessentially Sixties," in the worst sense. But then you have to remember that Oliver Nelson really had to go out of his way to make a bad record. Featuring Phil Woods, Hank Jones, George Duvivier, Grady Tate, and others. (Is the current relevance of the Kennedy reference too obvious? So sue me -- I'm a sucker for historical moments.)

2. Frank Zappa: "The Big Squeeze." Released posthumously on The Lost Episodes, this is Zappa's music for a Luden's Cough Drop Commercial (recorded, incidentally, in the same year as the Nelson record just referenced -- 1967). It features the "snorking" of Dick Barber.

(Wait -- Zappa wrote a jingle?!)

3. Alice Coltrane: "Sri Rama Ohnedaruth." So we've gone from strictly commercial to sweeping and spiritual -- it's that juxtaposition thing again. (The album: Lord of Lords.)

4. Ensemble Ambrosius: "The Idiot Bastard Son" (from The Zappa Album). FZ cover, done with baroque instruments by a group of Finns -- giving an oddly monkish, medieval flavor to one of the maestro's more, uh, hopeless tunes.

5. Mike Richardson (as 100% Polyester): "FAILURE." You've heard me talk about Mike before. He plays trombone in the Industrial Jazz Group, among many other bands. But he also does a bevy of solo projects, and this is one of them. Interesting tidbit: we share the same birthday -- which may or may not explain why I consider him a kindred spirit.

6. Joe Jackson: "Invisible Man." Though I found his foray into swing nearly insufferable, I really like Joe Jackson. His Heaven and Hell, in fact, is a favorite of mine. This is from his latest, Rain.

7. Joanna Newsom: "The Book of Right-On." Talk about niche-casting. I don't think I can listen to any of Newsom's albums from start to finish -- but I think she's awesome nonetheless.

8. MUS: "La Vida." From Spain, they are.

9. Raymond Scott: "IBM MT/St: The Paperwork Explosion." You know Raymond Scott, even if you think you don't -- he's the guy who wrote the "Powerhouse" theme that was used to great effect in many Warner Brothers cartoons. Scott was also a great musical inventor... and maker of commercial music. This is a thing he did for IBM, as compiled on Manhattan Research, Inc.. (Just be glad I didn't include his jingle for Sprite.)

(Wait -- Raymond Scott wrote a jingle?!)

10. Don Byron: "The Penguin." The other side of Raymond Scott -- this actually happens to be one of my favorite tunes (note the parallel between "The Penguin" and "The Frog"). A version by the great Don Byron, from the under-rated Bug Music.

11. Veda Hille: "Lucklucky." Veda and I share the same natal year (1968) -- which may or may not explain why I consider her a kindred spirit.

12. American Standards: "My Bathroom is a Private Kind of Place." From a supremely odd album called "Product Music," featuring nothing but this sort of post-WWII commercial pablum... which is hilarious as all get-out lo these many years later, though I'm sure it wasn't too funny at the time. (Just be glad I didn't include "The Frito Twist.")

Holy cow -- I just googled the Product Music album, and discovered the existence of a thing called the industrial musical: "a musical performed internally for the employees or shareholders of a business, to create a feeling of being part of a team, and/or to educate and motivate the management and salespeople to improve sales and profit. It can be used to train staff in regards to public relations, advertising, marketing or corporate image."

Shudder.

2 comments:

Jeff said...

My dream -- perhaps I'm ashamed to say -- is to compile a musical revue of these industrial musicals.

David Letterman used to have a section of his site "Dave's Record Collection" (which was run by his writer Steve Young) which spotlit all sorts of stuff, and it was never light on the industrial musical.

Apparently, quite a few Broadway composers write these things -- Kander & Ebb, Sheldon Harnick, etc. -- because they paid quite well.

This was the first time I heard "My Bathroom is a Private Kind of Place" and I fell in love with the "extended jingle with dramatic overtones" right then.

I've collected some myself over the years -- WFMU seems to post them from time to time -- and I got one about the Monroe Calculator Company and there's also a "greatest hits" so to speak...

If there was a larger point to this comment, I have since forgotten it.

Andrew Durkin... said...

Your ability to see the beauty in these things -- creepy though they may be -- is probably one of the reasons we've been friends for so long!