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."