Music on the Bones: Commie Flexi-Discs (Episode 40)

December 13, 2018
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In our previous episode, we discussed the history of the flexi-disc. Today we delve into its pinko commie cousin, Bone Records. 

During his post-World War II rule, Joseph Stalin controlled culture in the Soviet Union. Nothing from the west could be allowed in if he deemed it an affront to Soviet dignity. Art, movies, and music were all heavily censored. Western culture was an enemy of the state. 

The music of America: Blues, jazz, and rock n roll were seen as especially vile to Stalin’s regime. Jazz was officially regarded as decadent capitalist filth. Just talking about jazz was a criminal act. These free-form musical expressions were thought to focus on the individual rather than the state as a whole. Style was propaganda and strictly forbidden.

How did music from the west reach the ears of the youth in the CCCP? 

The answer is, of course, broken bones. Lots and lots of broken bones.

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Cereal Killers: The History of the Flexi Disc (Episode 39)

November 29, 2018
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Today, the story of the most utilitarian format of the vinyl record, the flexi-disc. It was embraced by both capitalism and communism. It was disposable enough to be embossed into cereal boxes and mailed as postcards, but valuable enough to create collector frenzy.

It's been embraced by the likes of ABBA, Richard Nixon, Jack White, and Alf.

It is auditory planned obsolescence.

Today, part one of a two-part saga on the strange reign of flexible records: the what and why of Flexi Discs.

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Junkshop Glam (Episode 38)

November 8, 2018
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There may never have been a pop music trend as both enthrallingly vapid and often highly critically praised as glam rock. Glam was a performance of reality as opposed to actually presenting it, the precession of simulacra to quote the philosopher, Jean Baudrillard. Though he wasn’t referring to glam, it fits perfectly. It was all about living in a copy of what was real instead of the reality itself which they saw as crumbling detritus.

Glam rock was innocence and insincerity gone feral by way of a nostalgia in the future tense. Glam Rock is Stanley Kubrick directing Barbarella. Or, as Bryan Ferry aptly phrased it, “a danceable solution to a teenage revolution”.

 

Books we used for research and suggest you purchase:

Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacy, from the Seventies to the Twenty-first Century by Simon Reynolds

Glam Rock: Dandies in the Underworld by Alwyn Turner

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Screamin’ Jay Hawkins Beats Up Drifters (Episode 37)

October 25, 2018
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Screamin' Jay Hawkins was a dealer in terror, showmanship, hyperbole, and shock.

Join us as we go through his climb from being a POW in WWII to drunken recordings, getting banned by a casket association, laying in his own fluids, and Jim Jarmusch.

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The Disagreeable Turtle-Loving John Fahey & His Ilk (Episode 36)

October 11, 2018
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This week's episode is about the legacy of John Fahey and how he spawned a new style of music, American Primitive Guitar, by culling from the old, weird American sounds that came before him. Fahey lives on in many young and vital guitarists working today. Unfortunately, he also lives on in other ways too. You know that guy who goes to record stores only on Record Store Day so he can buy as many of everything as is possible so he can flip them on eBay? John Fahey lives inside of them too.

American Primitive Guitar is the sound of the emptiness of this nation. The vast rocky space of the Western deserts. The impassable swamps of the south. The abandonment and grime of Midwest factory towns. Ribbons of highways cutting through infinite cornfields and suburbs.The cold, Stark forests of the northwest and the elitist metropolises of the Eastern seaboard. Each equally harrowing and oddly beautiful landscapes.

The sound is simple. Steel string acoustic guitar finger picked in the traditional blues style usually in odd open tunings. But the concept is much more. The playing transcends the tired 1,4,5 frameworks with an eye on classical, exotic, and experimental ingenuity. Whereas the blues and country music was familiar and warm, this guitar sound was dissonant and melancholy. Speed and precision were resigned in favor of playing that is emotional, intense, self-aware, and honest. There were spaces in between the notes that would be left hanging in silence for far longer than comfortable. And when the note finally arrived to relieve you of your anticipation it sounded unexpected, maybe uninvited.

Much of the research for this episode came from this biography:

Dance of Death: The Life of John Fahey, American Guitarist by Steve Lowenthal and David Fricke

 

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The Library Music Film Interview with director Paul Elliott (Episode 35)

September 27, 2018
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This episode is a bit of a continuation of our Library Music episode but we're joined by someone who has legitimate knowledge of the genre. 

Paul Elliott, one of the directors of the new documentary, "The Library Music Film", was gracious enough to spend some time with us discussing the film and Library Music. Paul is a wonderful person and incredibly articulate, knowledgeable, and entertaining. We hope you enjoy listening to him as much as we did speaking with him. 

The Library Music Film opens in the UK on October 6. Find out more here:

The Library Music Film

Pre-order the soundtrack

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The Song Poem Industry (Episode 34)

September 13, 2018
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Are your poems worthy of becoming a hit song? The George Liberace Songsmiths certainly think they are. And for a nominal fee, they'll record them for you with a real band.

For this episode, the following resources were invaluable:

The American Song-Poem Music Website

The PBS Documentary from Independent Lens: Off the Charts 

 

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Where are They Now? Hell if We Know (Episode 33)

September 1, 2018
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Today, we try to discover what was truly and utterly lost. Looking for more than just a lost gem of an LP or a record label that never met the masses. Today, we attempt to locate greatness lost. They are out there...maybe. The woman who created the singer-songwriter genre playing bingo with your grandma at the nursing home. The barfly muttering at his whiskey who masterminded a mysterious psychedelic folk-rock album. The smiling stranger on the bus who penned the song that soundtracked the most unforgettable dance scene ever committed to film. Today, we are searching for artists who vanished.

Connie Convers | Jim Sullivan | Q Lazzarus

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Check Out Our Library Music Episode! (funny, right?) - Episode 32

August 16, 2018
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If you haven’t yet been initiated into the fun that is Library Music, we’re hoping this episode will change that. This isn’t muzak. Well, the part of the industry we go over isn’t, at least.

Library Music, also called Production Music and Incidental Music, is heard in most of the movies and TV shows you’ve ever seen. All those snippets of songs that are playing in the background that is designed to tell you how to feel when you’re watching a show or a movie. Sort of an invisible jumbotron telling you what to feel and when.

These songs are usually recorded long before the show or movie ever even existed and they were recorded by people whose names you probably don’t know. And they didn’t care. In this episode, we spend our time focussing on the Golden Age of Library Music recordings, the 60s, and 70s.

 

This book was invaluable to this episode: 

Unusual Sounds by David Hollander

 

Another great book mentioned in this episode:

The Music Library by Jonny Trunk

 

Ralph Peer and the Making of Popular Roots Music by Barry Mazor

 

Documentary about Library Music COMING SOON!:

The Library Music Film

 

Clips used in this episode:

Keith Mansfield - Funky Fanfare

Keith Mansfield - Grandstand

John Cameron - 49th Street Shakedown

Alan Parker - You've Got What It Takes

Mohawks - Champ

Alan Hawkshaw - Beat Me Till I'm Blue

Alan Hawkshaw - Mysterious Worlds

Stringtronics - Mindbender

Ron Geesin - Electrosound

Sven Libaek - Inner Space

Sven Libaek - Misty Canyon

Basil Kirchin - Worlds Within Worlds

Delia Derbyshire - Dr. Who Theme

Joel Vandroogenbroek - Dark Plasma

Alessandro Alessandroni - Fistful of Dollars (whistling & guitar)

 

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Waffle House Records - Not the Competitive Eating Kind of Records (Episode 31)

August 2, 2018
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This episode is about the story of the tunes made exclusively of the Waffle House, by the Waffle House, for the Waffle House. Songs about truckers, toast, and testimonials. Songs with grit about grits. Songs that you can listen to smothered, covered, chunked, diced, peppered, capped, topped, country, or all the way. The story of Waffle Records.

Also, songs, trivia, and another heaping cup of love!

Further reading:

 

Buried Country: The Story of Aboriginal Country Music by Clinton Walker

Deadly Woman Blues by Clinton Walker

 

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