Saturday, November 30, 2019

Siegfried And Roy Give Birth To Baby Tiger, Talk About Obscure Concept Albums

Proud parents!
These guys are neighbors of mine here in fragrant downtown Las Vegas, NV. I knew they'd been trying for the longest time to have a family, but when they gave birth to a baby tiger I was as surprised as they were. 

I kept my distance when I visited the proud new Pop n' Dad down at The Mamie Van Doren Memorial Veterinarian Hospital. Those claws can be sharp! (And I didn't trust the tiger cub, either).

S&R: Well hey there, neighbor!
FMF©: Gee! Dat's some hairy baby youse guys gots! 
S&R: We are truly blessed.
FMF©: I brung yez some pickles.
S&R: And we have a couple of albums for you, sweetcakes! Life Is But A Dream, by Wichita Fall, and Miss Butters, by The Family Tree. They're both from '68, which we've always thought of as Peak Concept. The Family Tree was an early Bob Segarini project, and Wichita Fall was an LA band whose album got the most lavish orchestral arrangements! We thought they'd find a home at Th' House O' Foam©. 
FMF©: Dat's swell. Well, I guess I better be goin'.
S&R: Toodles! Thanks for the pickles!

If you have more information - even made-up shit - on these albums then please do feel free to make a comment. If you have any Siegfried N' Roy stories, also too.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Back To The Future

If there's one album that sums up the spirit of sixties pop - and by extension the sixties - it may be this one. Once Upon A Dream wouldn't be the first choice of many, because it's perceived as a minor Pepper clone, or embarrassingly naive, or pretentious over-reaching, or way past its sell-by date, or simply because it's by The Rascals (seriously?).

Well, yeah. If you want to go that route, you can file it under charming period piece or whatever and move on. Which I did for many years. It seemed all of the above; the sound of a pop group punching over its weight, trying to cover all the bases without reaching one. Enough sporting metaphors already. But for reasons I can't explain, repeated plays have revealed what a gorgeous piece of work this is. Here's a quote from a very informative Allmusic review: "It's an under-celebrated masterpiece of the psychedelic era and belongs next to Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper's on the shelf, because it is easily as sophisticated, and once heard in its entirety, can never be forgotten." He's right, and I join the ranks of believers who love this album as much as those sixties benchmarks.

So why is it under-celebrated, under-rated, and under the radar? Why doesn't it ever make the Top Fifty Greatest Pop Albums This Week You Must Hear Before You Die lists? Why am I asking you? Me, I don't have a clue. But I think it may be because of its stylistic range. An entire album could have been recorded in the style of any one of these songs - even the OTT soundtrack swell of My Hawaii - and been a success. There's everything sixties in here, from blue-eyed soul to sitar bliss-outs, and it's all too much. But in a good way, without the slightest taint of irony or cleverness; the album is saturated with the spirit of hope and peace and love, and not without a certain sweet melancholy. Once Upon A Dream - remember? Back when there was one? It's still here - listen.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Da Boids Is Da Woid Part Deux

Check out this seemingly unexceptional cover. Hard to see now what was so unusual about it at the time, but it was the use of empty space above their heads, with the bodies "bleeding off" the bottom edge. This was almost a Blue Note approach to design - almost, because a jazz album would never have featured the musicians sitting on their asses sulking and pouting (probably). And that typography is sensational.

Once again, this is a swell fan-compiled collection of (allegedly) all the tracks associated with the recording of this album. Thirty-eight of 'em. I haven't forensically examined this, and I'm not a Byrds archivist, so if there are omissions and errors, I apologise.

This was the last album Gene Clark was wholly involved in, because the rest of the girls bitched about his greater earnings from his more successful songwriting. David Crosby was throwing hissy fits that his own material and selections weren't being used. And everyone was simply livid about Jim-Roger McGuinn's close relationship with Terry Melcher. Show-biz kids, huh?

Fun With Florida Man!

In internet terms, this, at eight months old, is ancient history, and may be familiar to you. But it was new to me, and seems too False Memory Foam© a thing not to feature. Simply follow the simple instructions in somebody's "tweeter" (me neither) below for instant mirth.

I hit Florida pay dirt with this:

Man run over by lawn mower while trying to kill son with chainsaw.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

None More Nara

I was reading a review of Throbbing Gristle's Greatest Hits, and was struck by this: "[they] suffered endless persecution from the British government because of their wild ideas." Oh really? Pardon my mirth. The idea of this privileged bunch of middle-class nuisances toying with the "shocking" edge of the avant-garde being endlessly persecuted by anybody but music lovers is laughable - and not in a funny way. And if they really wanted a "wild idea", how about this? Write a fucking song. But no; the Throbs were/are too busy deconstructing and being ironic and polemical on our asses to debase themselves to show-biz levels of professionalism.

Which brings me to Nara Leão. There's a fantastic story behind this album - about real persecution - that I'm too lazy to paraphrase, and it's too long to copy-paste. Being the in-demand swell that you are, you probably don't have the time to read it, but you can at least listen to the album. It's not Throbbing Gristle, but hey ...

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Progressing Backwards In Reverse

The pattern from pop to prog/rock was well established by 1969 - groups seeking peer respect, album sales, and exotic tour riders all made the shift from goofing around to dire prognostication. Case in point: Ford Theatre. Except - uniquely - they went against the grain, fashion, and their best interests by starting out doomy and paranoid on their first album ('68's Trilogy For The Masses) and dialing it all back for the decidedly friskier Time Changes a year later, when this kind of thing was beginning to look sexy.

Trilogy - with a superbly paranoid cover designed by (it says here) Frissi Titsworth - uh-huh - betrays little of the Bosstown roots they were keen to distance themselves from. It could well be a concept album - the concept being who's staring at me? I don't feel so great. But the music is melodic, powerful, haunting, and beautifully constructed. It's over-serious, of course, and the brow-knitting vocals ensured no singles bothered the charts. Produced by Bob Thiele.

The only thing wrong with Time Changes is that it didn't come out in late '67. It would have set the stage nicely for Trilogy. The band's signature preoccupation with existential unease is still apparent in the lyrics, but the softer, almost pop approach makes it seductive rather than depressing. "A New Musical" that never got to Off-Off-Broadway, it was arranged by the sub-editor's nemesis Bill Szymczyk [I got this - Ed.]. Both albums appeared on FoamFavorite© ABC Records.

Frustratingly, a third album was begun but never finished; a shame, because given the reverse trajectory of these guys, it would have been twelve frat-rock stompers recorded in a Van Nuys garage.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Rare Meat

Mel Brown's 1967 Chicken Fat on Impulse (and where else would it be) is a swell soundtrack album to a heist movie that never got made. Go-Go music for Cheetah swingers, blasting from convertibles cruising The Strip. Brown was a pretty wild guitarist, and ate up just about every influence, spitting it out in crazy bursts that are gone before you've had time to realise what he just did. He's a showboater with the chops to pull it off, and a joy to hear. Music to Frug to.

George Benson's Giblet Gravy, from '68, is a very different kettle of meat, getting left on the plate by tedious jazzbo purists even this early in his career. What they didn't understand was Benson was always a bigger star than the academic limitations of jazz could hold. Every album that veered away from what critics considered his roots (the arrogance!) throughout his career got a kicking. Like he cared. A superhumanly talented vocalist, instrumentalist, and a true star, every note he played and sang is in tune with what he wanted to do. Prime cuts.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

A Nice Pair

Sitarswami! His name is whispered by windchimes, heard in the beat of a butterfly's wings, grunted into a motel pillow by a five-dollar whore! Yes, wherever afficionados of the outré, the exquisite, and the recondite gather - be it steaming slop-house or cloud-girt lamasery - you'll hear his name uttered like a mantra! Sitarswami! Who knows what he knows? Not I, pally. But the FMF© HQ here in leafy downtown Las Vegas is occasionally blessed by his visits, as it was last night.

Cody interrupted my internet research session (agrarian reform in the Low Countries - something of a passion of mine) with an urgent cry of "Pull yer pants up, doofus! Sitarswami's here!"

Moments later we were relaxing in Th' Conversation Pit O' Sound©. Sitarswami hovered inches above the Fun-Fur upholstery while Cody served her signature Cheez Wiz n' Spearmint Gum cocktails in vintage Huckleberry Hound© beakers.
Sitarswami, yesterday

S: Om shanti, dude. You look flushed.
FMF©: [coughs] Sunlamp.
S: I humbly offer you my latest collection of rare pop-psych that I curated.
FMF©: Compiled. The word is compiled. Fuck's sake.
S: You want it or not?
FMF©: Yeah, yeah. What is it awready?
S: Remember the four-disc fan-made Curt Boettcher singles collection? Trouble is I rarely want to listen to four discs to hear my favorites, so I thought, why not condense those down to one disc and add in a bunch of tracks written by one of Curt's early collaborators, Tandyn Almer?
FMF©: [playing paddle-ball] I give up - why not?
S: I've only included one example of each song - although Shadows & Reflections has a number of fine versions - plus one of the demos from the Almer Sundazed collection. Tracks 1-17 are Boettcher only. I've resisted any impulse to include Ballroom, Sagittarius or Millennium-related material, while #18 is Almer & Boettcher's perfect meeting of the minds. Tracks 18-27 are the Almer-written songs. The only excuse for track 28 being included is it's an Our Productions release that was missed on the Boettcher four-disc comp. That one's for Don Adams fans only. 
FMF©: Let me guess, your Mysticalness - the tracks need tagging and you want me to do some artwork for like, nothing. Again.
S: It will be good karma for you, little grasshopper.
FMF©: I gots karma out th' ass, pally.


Cody's Casual Sunday

"Hi! I'm Cody! I'm Executive Outreach Officer here at FalseMemoryFoam©, and Mr III has given me the honor and responsibility of contributing a regular Sunday piece to the blog. Every week, I'll be choosing some music I find entertaining and hope that you do too!

But first, more seriously, I'd like to clear up some confusion about my status here. It seems that some of you have not been paying attention to the comments. Whilst it is true that I recently resigned my position in order to spend more time with my dogs (hi, Snuggles and Poopsie!) I was persuaded to return by popular opinion which Mr III could not ignore. He knows that posts with my picture in them get more page hits than his "funny" posts where he tries to be "funny" and I think he is resentful of this! LOL!

So, without further adieu [yeah, right - Ed.] I am proud to present my first Cody's Casual Sunday! It's an album I really like, called Fifty Hit Dance Hits by the Various Artists. I play it when I do my workouts by the pool, only Mr. III makes me wear earbuds. He's so grouchy! Anyway, that's all from me! See you guys next Sunday! Aaaaand ... keep dancin'!"

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Down To The Nitty Gritty

From camping it up with The Teddybear's Picnic to becoming heritage music curators on a par with the Smithsonian is quite a leap, but the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band made it. The earliest line-up, in 1965, included Jackson Browne, who bailed for a solo career before the first album. Chris Darrow passed in and out before Uncle Charlie, which was when perseverance (and talent) started to pay off.

It's impossible to overstate these guys' importance, which is strangely counterbalanced by their relative lack of fame.

They'd passed through the core American music genres; jugband, bluegrass, folk, pop, country, blues, rock n' roll, before curating (and for once, the word is used correctly) the epochal Will The Circle Remain Unbroken; that rare thing, a precious historical document that's also a lot of fun. It was a project that was only possible because the NGDB approached Nashville with respect and humility - qualities that have a bearing on their low showbiz presence.

Since then, a little bland AOR, and a slight return to the roots they never left, but here's their early œuvre [French - egg - Ed.], sounding fresh and timeless and fun and beautiful all at the same time.

Oh - and beautiful album artwork, too.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Canterbury Sound

Who knew that UK progrock combos The Caravans, The Soft Machines, and The Pink Floyds were inspired by two obscure US acts to relocate to the sleepy British village of Canterbury and develop a thriving music scene? Not you, that's who.

The Canterbury Music Festival 1968 Rain And Shine album was produced in New York by Foam Favorites© The Tokens, who also contributed the stickier bubblegum songs. It's a swell record, although hard to see how the sunshine pop harmonies influenced The Pink Floyds' acid-trip instrumentals. Although the novelty sitar version of Son Of A Preacherman may have been on Mike Ratledge's jukebox.

Canterbury Fair's organ-dominated sound was clearly the inspiration for The Soft Machines' guitar-free line-up. Or not. In fact, the more I reflect on this connection, the less convinced I become. Never mind. It's a Foam Fact©. These guys were out of Fresno. Because someone had to be.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Buyer's Remorse Dept. - Tom Bosley Guests

We're lucky to have TV's Tom Bosley (TV's much-loved Howard Cunningham from the hit comedy TV show Happy Days) on board to guest-host our popular Buyer's Remorse© feature! Yes folks, when inspiration for a blog piece dries up entirely, and our enthusiasm for upping more Byrds and Little Feat is at a low ebb, we fall back on the services of a much-loved TV celebrity to tell us about albums they bought but, like, were remorseful about! Hoo boy! Some fun, huh, gang?

Tom was kind enough to swing by Th' House O' Foam© while in Vegas on (finger-waggle) "business". We relaxed poolside, sipping cocktails served by Cody, who giggled apologies for her informal appearance as her Foamette© uniform was "in the wash".

TB: Holy fucking crap! The ass on that gal!
FMF©: I guess. What albums you brung, Bosforth?
TB: Huh? Oh, right. Albums. Well, we got this, by Bamboo. It's on Elektra! How bad can it be? Answer - pretty damn. I don't have the heart to trash it, though. Could we get another drink?
FMF©: Bamboo is a stinker, somewhat. I don't think I ever played it to the end of side two.
TB: It has a second side? [laughter]
FMF©: Moving on?
TB: Yeah. Picked this puppy up from a Goodwill store, and it nearly exhausted mine, ha ha. I'm a label maven. Anything on Elektra, anything on Ardent. I trust these guys. But Cargoe ... it's okay. Maybe. I don't play it much. At all, really. A lot of people like it. They were hot live. But ... [shrugs]. Can we get Cody back here? With pretzels or something?
FMF©: Is it true that cocaine was the drug of choice on the Happy Days lot?
TB: Did I tell you about the time that Marion and Erin did a le- [tape ends].

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Folk You Very Much

These guys were big in the UK provinces back when folk clubs were the places to eye up the local broads, roll herbal smokes in licorice Rizlas, nurse a warm half pint through the entire evening, and enjoy some superlative music.

At the same club - usually above a pub, or in the back room - you'd catch national talents like Bert Jansch on sleeping-in-the-van tours, but it was the core of local acts that kept the places going. Davey Graham's Anji was the gateway party piece for the solo picker, generally drowned out by conversation.

Dando Shaft were different - a full band of virtuoso players, fronted by the comely Polly Bolton, a vocalist of the class of Jacqui McShee, who at least stood up some of the time, unlike the others, who opted for the sedentary Pentangle-style look. Sitting down was a thing for folkies back then, and maybe still is.

They scored a deal with Neon for their first album, moving up to the parent label RCA for their third, Lantaloon, just before the inevitable internal forces split them up. As a bonus, the teeth-gratingly unlistenable Sun Clog Dance, an ill-advised tilt at commerciality, is not included in this otherwise worthwhile assemblage. The band reformed sans la Bolton for Kingdom in 1977. I suspect they may have stood up at gigs, too.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Doug Henning's Datura Dreamtime

Artist's impression
Perky, toothsome Doug Henning (TV's Mr. Magic) is justly famed for his acts of prestidigitation, legerdemain, and mastery of the Black Arts. But at the start of his career, his invocation of the demons Alastor and Belphegor at a children's party, and the subsequent bloody deaths, led to a different kind of spell [LOL - Ed.] in the state pen, where learned to make balloon animals and developed a passion for vintage Australian psychedelia. On regaining his freedom by floating over the prison walls while high on Jimson Weed, he vowed to eschew the Black Arts and devoted himself to becoming a professional stage magician, stunning audiences world-wide with his tricks, his hair, and his skinny dungarees.

I interviewed him on the stoop of his swank Camden, NJ, tarpaper "tiny home", overlooking the tire recycling compound, the acrid stench of burning rubber crimping my nostril hairs.

FMF©: So, Doug -
DH: Oh, call me TV's Mr. Magic! Please!
FMF©: Doug - how did you get into Australian psychedelia?
DH: Well! It was through a dear Australian friend! An Australian, from Australia, and he had this collection of records from that wonderful Australian country, which is Australia, and I just, I don't know, fell in love? [simpers] It really was ... magic! 
FMF©: You have some music to share with us?
DH: I do! It's a wonderful album by Various Artists. Hmm - I wonder ... where ... it can be? [gestures mystically, fumbles CD from pocket] Oh wow! Where did that come from!
FMF©: You're fucking kidding me, right?
DH: It really is ... magic!
FMF©: Bull-shit, dude.
DH: Wait! There's more! [desperately tries to inflate balloon, passes out] 
Camden Transit Center

Pausing only to pick up the CD, grab his wallet, and his phone, and a souvenir snowstorm paperweight from Hawaii, and a lamp, and a Thermos, I made my excuses and left. In the VIP lounge at Camden's lush Transit Center [right - Ed.], I set fire to a Lucky and squinted through the smoke at Henning's wristwatch, which I had also disappeared. "And that's magic, pally! Oops - did I say that out loud?"

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Staff News

One of our regular contributors, a Mr. Anonymous, left an anonymous comment on our recent Byrds piece: "Thanks for this," he writes, under the cloak of anonimity, "but I noticed a couple of the tracks that are supposed to be mono are actually stereo. Bells of Rhymney and Spanish Harlem Incident."

Longtime readers will be familiar with our policy of zero tolerance when it comes to errors of this magnitude. We demand editorial rigor as a given; any lapses from the truth contravene our Terms Of Service and reflect badly on Th' House O' Foam©'s reputation for integrity in blogging. Unfortunately, the staff member responsible has let us all down in this way antecedently, but whereas every charity was then extended to her in the spirit of forgiveness, we feel that this time such largesse is not an option. Cody has let herself down, she has let me down, she has let the august institution of False Memory Foam© down, but more seriously has let you, Mister Valued Customer, down.

I have taken into consideration every aspect of this troubling matter before deciding, not without regret, that she is henceforth dismissed from every position she has held (and that's saying something) at Th' House O Foam©, and ceremoniously stripped of her uniform - the traditional mesh bikini proudly worn by every Foamette© - by TV's Mr. Magic, Doug Henning [to feature in his own piece tomorrow - and hey, good riddance and lots of luck back at the nailtician, Cody! - Ed.].

We salute Mr. Anonymous for his courageous and anonymous exposé of staff inefficiency. Thanks to him and his anonymous comment left anonymously, no more images of Cody will appear on the blog, and she will have to make her way in the world without our patronage.

Thanking you for your understanding in this matter, and assuring you of our best attention in the future -


Farquhar Throckmorton III

Something Sunday For Sunday

Rosemary Clooney - wotta dame! But few know the sophisticated shantoozie was raised by marmosets after a dirigible crash in remote Peckerwood County, GA. Yes, it was deep in the mangrove swamps that little Rosie first learned to sing, her voice charming the forest fauna which gathered about her feet; gators and whippoorwills, snipe and jackalopes alike entranced by her husky, sensual tones.

A remark by Uncle Morty Marmoset - "Say, Rosie - you oughta be singin' for them swells in th' big city!" - inspired her to pack her meager belongings into a couple of steamer trunks and catch the Super Chief to Los Angeles, where a chance meeting with Duke Ellington on the station platform ("I sang The March Of The Marmosets for him") led to a successful audition and the recording of this here album, and gee, is it ever swell! [Citation needed - Ed.]

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Late Harvest

The transition from harmony pop to country rock took Spanky & Our Gang six years, from '69's Anything You Choose [Foamed antecedently - Ed.] to Change in '75. The band had broken up after their lead guitarist Malcolm Hale died, apparently from carbon monoxide poisoning. During that time, Spanky's Greatest Hit(s) was released, and a live album held over from '67. Greatest Hit(s) consists of largely re-recorded and extended versions with new overdubs, and is a beautiful album in its own right. I can't imagine that any of the four or five guys who hang at th' House O' Foam© is unfamiliar with S&OG, but this is the perfect introduction to an awesomely talented and great-spirited band and will not fail to pick you up when you're down. The magic's in the music and the music's in you.

Change, recorded by the reformed band, minus Hale, is an altogether different kettle of ballgames. The radical shift from their trademark sunshine pop confused any remaining fans still waiting for a new album, and gave their label and the radio stations problems. It didn't sell, has never seen a CD release, and remains a hidden masterpiece of the genre, with a challenging song selection, perfect production (aided by Jerry Yester and Fairport's Richard Thompson, yet), and their signature seasoned harmonies. There's also a real depth of emotion missing in most country rock - the elegiac I Wish We'd All Been Ready carries a real gut punch.

There's an amateurish-looking twilight album I'm not sure I want to hear (2009's ominously-titled Back Home Americana Vol. 1), but Change is not only a surprising swansong, it's one of the great albums of the genre.

(This rip is salted by a gourmet sprinkling of authentic vinyl crackles for your enhanced listening pleasure)

Friday, November 15, 2019

The Bleak Void Of Finnish Suicide Gore-Metal

Deep in the endless pine forests of Finland, an obscure cult grew around a ruined church. Legend had it that the very earth was soaked in the blood of babies sacrificed to Väinämöinenguðmundsdóttir, the God Of Despair. Self-proclaimed leaders of the cult, Paul Chastain and Ric Menck, both from myth-shrouded Providence, Rhode Island, brought with them a copy of the Necronomicon said to have belonged to H.P. Lovecraft.

Strange rituals took place in that church, with hymns to Väinämöinenguðmundsdóttir specially composed by Chastain and Menck. The ruined building mysteriously burned down, with Chastain and Menck the only survivors. They have understandably remained tight-lipped about those events, but released the hymnal - played backwards - under the name Choo Choo Train

Listening to this music now, one can only wonder at the unspeakable horrors that took place in far-off Finland. Certainly, Chastain and Menck aren't talking. All they will say is, "don't play Choo Choo Train backwards, if you value your sanity, and wish the portal between universes to remain closed."

With that urgent caveat - enjoy!