Thursday, May 26, 2005

In a concerted effort to get through them all before I mail out the disc for round two of Lefty's Mixed Bag CD Project, here are some more reviews of round 1 discs, ranked on a re-listenability scale from "not a chance", "moderately low", "moderately high", "high" to "most definitely".


I sometimes imagine the vibe over at Ralph's Comics Corner is like The Marx Brothers at the Comics Shop (You remember that one, don't you?), and both Mike and Dorian's contributions certainly don't do anything to dispel that notion, as you'll see.

Highlights: This is a tough call, because I was totally unfamiliar with about 80% of the musicians featured. Best of show here, I guess, is the Curtis Mayfield/Fishbone collaboration "He's A Flyguy". The 'Bone had arguably their greatest success with another Mayfield cover, so it stands to reason that they would have hooked up eventually...but I didn't know anything about it. Where did this come from, Mike? Ookla the Mok's "LA (La La Land) is a nice poppy confection with good harmonies. Thundarr would be proud. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes do a great cover of "Science Fiction Double Feature" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show; I did a little Googling on MFatGG's, and it turns out that that's their schtick: they do punky covers of oddball tunes. "She Likes Girls" is a clever, folky ditty by Celtic Elvis. Someone or something named LMP is represented with a cover of "By the Light of the Silvery Moon", an old standard which I remember from all those old Warner Bros. cartoons I watched as a kid. Disintegrated Einstein's "Never Mind the Mollusk" was a catchy Cake/TMBG-like popsong, same for Honest Bob and the factory Dealer Incentives' "Organism". "Shiver Me Timbers" by Victor Banana should be the theme song for the Scurvy Dogs TV series. I got a chuckle out of the opener, Bluto Blutarsky's big speech from Animal House, and the disc finishes with a priceless voice track (from an old MMMS recording, right?) of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and many of the other classic Marvel Bullpenners. Fun and nostalgic, and I'm glad I have it. All the movie/TV sound clips are great- Charles Nelson Reilly, from Lidsville is another one I got a kick out of. I love a lot of these bands' names: The Deadly Nightshade Family Singers, for example.

Subjects for Further Research: I wouldn't mind hearing more Disintegrated Einstein, Celtic Elvis and Ookla the Mok.

No Harm No Foul: Almost everything. There's a lot of goofy uptempo Indie Ramones/Clash/Ska/Jonathan Richman/TMBG-style stuff here that goes in one ear and out the other. It's not bad, but it just doesn't call me back for seconds.

The Rest: I didn't like "99 Red Balloons" by Nena back in the day; 7 Seconds don't improve it.

Replayability: Moderately Low. I'm not saying I didn't like this one, and I'm sure I'll pop it in once in a while to hear the MMMS thing or the Mayfield/Fishbone track. But I can't see me listening to it over and over again 'cause the whole thing's just so aggressively odd, even though there's a wide variety of material. Ya never know, though.


Highlights: Starts strong with Lady Goldfinger herself, Shirley Bassey, and a remixed version of "Hey Big Spender". A band I've been curious about for some time now, the Polyphonic Spree, is next- and somehow I think I wanted to hear something besides a cover of a song from Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Still, they do a fine job. I haven't heard all that much, but y'know, I've yet to hear anything by Robbie Williams that I didn't like, and "Supreme", with it's "I Will Survive" string arrangement, is no exception. Eartha Kitt's "I Want to Be Evil" was pretty cool. Just what I need- another 50's-60's singer to get interested in.

Subjects for Further Research: Emilie Simon's "Flowers" is cutesy but tuneful, and I'd like to hear more. I'm way overdue investigating Phil Ochs; I have friends who are fans, and they've offered to loan me stuff, so I'll take them up on that one of these days. I keep meaning to pick up Franz Ferdinand's debut CD- "Michael" is a strong cut.

No Harm No Foul: The Avenue Q cut was kinda funny, and I did get a chuckle or two- even though, like all the "Batman is a pedophile" jokes, the humor at Bert and Ernie's expense is a little tired. Magnetic Fields is another group I've been reading about for years but haven't heard all that much from- "I Thought You Were My Boyfriend" was a little too Depeche Mode-ish for my tastes though. Dolly Parton's "Jolene" is a certified classic, but I've always been hot-and-cold on Dolly's recorded output and that's the case with this song. Kudos for putting it after Williams, though! I've been real curious about the Scissor Sisters- I've heard a lot of people comparing them to people like Roxy Music and Bowie and so on, but this was kinda uninspired-sounding synth-pop. The jury's still out on them, though, as far as I'm concerned. Never heard of Jeffrey Altergott, but "Runt" was pretty good. The hidden track, a German version of "Rubber Duckie", was...odd. Funny the first time, too.

The Rest: Apparent Ralph's Comics Corner house band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes turn up here as well with "Cabaret", and it's a fine and faithful but not terribly exciting cover. The Peter & Gordon selection was a great idea, but the song suffers from a murky, low-fi mix and didn't really make much of an impression on me. Hidden Cameras' "Doot Doot Plot" was kinda catchy at first, but that "Doot Doot..." chorus got real old real fast. I kinda liked the film Phantom of the Paradise, but it wasn't for the songs, and Paul Williams' "Phantom's Theme" is a good example of why. Nina Simone (Bridget Fonda's character's favorite in Point of No Return, which I watched for a while the other night) turns in a theatrical, but kinda dull rendition of "Pirate Jenny", which I've heard under the title of "The Black Freighter" somewhere. I've been a little curious about Simone, so I think I'll keep looking. A disco-synth-funk tune by somebody named Johnny McGovern named "Soccer Practice" and a showtune by Harvey Fierstein round out the disc, and they're not terrible but not particularly compelling either.

Replayability: Moderately Low. Good variety, and some fun stuff. I'll probably go back and listen to the Williams, Ochs, and Kitt tracks, I know. And "Rubber Duckie", when i want to freak people out.


Nicked from Couscous Express writer Brian Wood, says Larry, so he's to blame as well. Larry was nice enough to include a copy of the GN so we could get the total Couriers interactive experience. Gracias, Mr. Young, but now I have an extra copy to pass along...Couscous Express was, incidentally, my favorite of the Couriers books so far. Couldn't help but be reminded of the soundtracks to the Guy Ritchie films, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. as I listened- lots of ska, reggae, punk and funk. And not really being a fan of ska, punk or reggae per se, that caused me a little problem.

Highlights: First thing that grabbed me, sorry to say, was the smooth old Bill Withers soul song, "Lovely Day", about four tracks in. Nice tune, and one you don't hear a lot on oldies radio stations. Even though I generally don't dig the Offspring (a fella I used to work with drove me nuts trying to get me to listen to them), the cut here, "She's Got Issues", rocks agreeably and works pretty well for both Special and Olive.

Subjects for Further Research: The Desmond Dekker reggae cuts "Pickney Gal" and "What Wil You Gain" were tuneful, reminding me a little of David Lindley & El-Rayo-X. Fat Hooligan's "Skinhead Girl" had me dancing around for about a minute and a half, then I got tired. Where's my Geritol?

The Rest: The Gang Starr and Grand Theft Auto instrumentals were interesting, but I doubt in Gang Starr's case that it's typical of his/their normal output. DJ Rob Swift's loping "Modern Day Music" wasn't bad, either. Everything else, well, again, I just don't dig a lot of punk, ska, reggae or rap. Which doesn't mean that I don't have cuts in all those genres that I like- please don't misunderstand me- but much of this kinda went in one ear and out the other, or triggered the ol' instinctive "skip" reflex.

Replayability- Moderately Low. Just can't see me coming back to this one all that much, but I might get in a mood. I'm so g-damned unhip.

More later, when I can get to them...

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