Friday, June 23, 2006

Harvey Matusow's Jew's Harp Band - War Between Fats and Thins (1969)

In the world of music Harvey Matusow may best be known as the man who testified that 3 of the 4 Weavers (the 1940s-50s folk group) were members of the Communist Party, resulting in their being blacklisted and slowing an otherwise soaring career. He later apologized to Pete Seeger for it. The apology was accepted.

Matusow also recorded this twisted piece of vinyl in 1969 while in exile in England. Supposedly the group was on LSD at the time and I can believe it. This record certainly fits my definition of psychedelic music but does not have a lot in common with your typical psych band. For one thing there are no electric guitars or drums or keyboards--instead you have a variety of Jew's Harps (referred to sometimes today as Jaw Harps to be more PC), a few odd percussion instruments (but NO DRUMS!), and vocals (typically spoken). Matusow plays the alto tenor Jew's harp. The group also features Leslie Kenton, the daughter of jazz legend Stan Kenton, on vocals and metronome; Claude Lintot, who was 79 at the time of the recording, on auto Jew's harp [?]; Anna Lockwood (aka Annea Lockwood--more on her below) on acoustic guitar and bells; Rod Parsons on a variety of Jew's harps and bass; and Chris Yak on a variety of Jew's harps but not bass. The vocals consist of stream-of-consciousness storytelling, some nice chanting (check out Afghan Red), and a couple personal ancedotes (such as one about the day Matusow was released from prison).

The album was recorded in England. The band's single (Afghan Red b/w Wet Socks) was the fourth and final one released on John Curd's Head label. The album was also initially released on that label and then released in the US on Chess Records (yes that Chess Records).

Selections from Harvey Matusow's autobiography are available online ( detailing his involvement in the Communist Party & the early folk-song revival movement, his work as FBI spy (informing on folk singers & labor organizers among others), his work for Senator Joseph McCarthy, his joining the Mormon church, his recantation of his testimony against the Reds, his leaving the Mormon church, his babysitting for Jason Robards, his going to prison for perjury (where he got to know Willhelm Reich and Frank Costello), his involvement with the beat scene, his working for the East Village Other, his meeting Timothy Leary & taking LSD, his turning Bobby Kennedy onto acid, his hanging out with Dick Gregory at the Improv in NY, his making movies with Yoko Ono (and involvement with the Fluxus group), and his writing a book on the dangers of computers (which also details some early hacking techniques)--all of this before he made this, his first album. His subsequent musical works were either meditative music or children's records. After recording the album, he returned to the US, rejoined the Mormon church, became Cockyboo the Clown and hosted a public access tv show in Utah (the Magic Mouse Show, which was the first American program to feature an appearance by His Holiness, The Dalai Lama) among other things.

Matusow's biography, odd as it is, may also be a bit self-serving so if you want a more critical perspective there is also an online commentary on his obituary here.

If you want to hear more of Harvey Job Matusow's voice, there is an online interview with Harvey & cellist Charlotte Moorman here.

One curious side note--I believe these are the first recordings to feature avant-garde composer Annea Lockwood. Her Glass World record is a fantastic exploration of the sound possibilities of glass instruments and her album Thousand Year Dreaming, a musical response to the cave paintings at Lascaux, is one of my favorite "ambient soundscape" recordings. If you want to hear some more of her work, there is a live recording of her with Thomas Buckner here and another recording under the name Anna Lockwood [I think it's the smae person based on the music] here.

Again, a record from the WMUC vaults. As before the music is loaded as a ZIP rather than an RAR file since I heard that Mac user's have trouble with the latter. The files are coded at 224k. Available here


Thursday, June 22, 2006

On the links

No, I'm not into golf. I just thought a comment about the blog links was in order. I've tried to be both comprehensive and selective here. Since I like all kinds of music, you will find links to all kinds of blogs--as long as they share music & share good music (defined as music I would download). When the blog shares singles or select songs, I've identified that fact by noting that its "not lps." I've also avoided blogs that share mixes--no matter how good--for purely arbitrary reasons. Finally, I tried to only include blogs that are being updated or look like they may still be updated (e.g., if the blogger noted that they were taking a vacation)--I made an exception to that rule for blogs that have overflowed one site and started again on another so you can see their past posts. I will continue to update the list and if your blog is linked I would appreciate a return link.

Expect another music post tomorrow.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Just Vandy

Well I'm starting with a bang (even if no one notices it yet)--here's the 2nd post in 2 days--expect the whimper to follow. Vandy is a really fine acid-folk female vocalist--nothing too complex but very well executed. The album Just Vandy is on the Eleventh Hour label and came out in 1972. Beyond that there's not much I can tell you except that this is a record that should be better known. She picks some great traditional material (e.g., Gypsy Rover, Wayfaring Stranger) and some nice newer stuff as well. Here's a track list:
1. Vandy - Gypsy Rover
2. Vandy - Wishing Well
3. Vandy - If I Were a Carpenter
4. Vandy - Carolina on My Mind
5. Vandy - Here I Am
6. Vandy - Closer
7. Vandy - Dona Dona
8. Vandy - Where
9. Vandy - Wayfaring Stranger
10. Vandy - Greensleeves

Again this one is from the WMUC record library. Ripped at 192k with light declicking & noise removal. ARTWORK now posted. Reposted here.

Enjoy! Coming soon George Stavis' 1986 lp Morning Mood (his 60s album, Labyrinths is a classic & is available on CD) & Harvey Matusow's Jew's Harp Band from 1969.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Colonel Jubilation B. Johnston and His Mystic Knights Band and Street Singers - Moldy Goldies (1966)

I'm still working on posting my links but decided to get this up first. I listen to all kinds of music--and I mean all kinds--so you will see links for jazz blogs, psych blogs, bossa nova blogs, etc. here. For my first post I wanted something that everyone might dislike equally (although there are probably some perverse souls out there who will really like this). This is a record of half-assed covers of some 60s hits with bad singing and bizarre instrumentation (a lot of kazoo on this one)--sort of the Mrs. Miller of rock bands. Most of the people involved in the record wouldn't even put their real names on it. One exception is Charlie McCoy who is an ace harmonica player with a couple albums of his own. The band list is as follows:

Mac Gayden (Guitar), Col. Jubilation B. Johnson (Main Performer), Brenton Banks (Violin), Wayne Butler (Trombone), Kenneth A. Buttrey (Drums), Kenneth A. Buttrey (Tambourine), Kenneth A. Buttrey (Bottle), Henry Strzelecki (Bass), Henry Strzelecki (Mouth Organ), Charlie McCoy (Guitar), Charlie McCoy (Harmonica), Charlie McCoy (Trumpet), Charlie McCoy (Bottle), Jerry Smith (Piano), Norma Jean Owen (Vocals), O.X. Bellyman (Tuba), Montezuma Lovechild (Percussion), Juilation Johnston (Sousaphone), Juilation Johnston (Bandleader), Sir Wallace Bile (Dancer), Swine Halbstarker (Violin), Tonto Levine (Wind Instruments), Taps Tidwell (Trumpet), Hargus Robins (Piano), Hargus Robins (Bottle), Durl Glin (Tambourine), Durl Glin (Vocals), Princess La Mar Fike (Vocals), Tummy "Mole" Hill (Vocals), Mortuary Thomasson (Engineer)

Hope that helps. And I hope you enjoy the Col. Jubilation experience. The record is at 192k and was recorded & declicked (sparingly) using Cool Edit. Sorry but there's no artwork.

Listen HERE (finally reposted, sorry about the delay!).

Well it seems like everyone else is doing it...

I must have links on my computer for over 100 music blogs by now--I'll post the best ones here as soon as I figure out how--so I thought it might be time to try my hand at it. I don't have much time (fulltime job, unfinished disseratation, newborn baby, etc.) but will try to get some good music up in a quick and (probably) sloppy fashion. I hope to post original vinyl rips of music not available on CD and perhaps the occassional rare/out of print CD as well. The music will be available for a limited time and if you are the performer or copyright holder I am happy to take down the links if you request. The music will be in MP3 format with bitrates of 192 or higher.

I expect the first post within a day or so. I'm thinking Colonel Jubilation B. Johnston and His Mystic Knights Band and Street Singers Moldy Goldies album put out on Columbia records in 1966. This, like many of the vinyl rips I'm going to post, comes from the WMUC record library--that's the University of Maryland's station in College Park, Maryland--10 watts of free-form radio. I'm an occassional dj there & one of the record librarians. You can listen online to the what's currently playing on WMUC and to the past weeks programing if you're interested. I haven't djed there in a while & probably won't for a while longer (fulltime job, unfinished disseratation, newborn baby, etc.) but they have many a fine program.

Take care all & enjoy the music when it arrives,