Perfect Sound Forever


Part 11 by Angela Sawyer
(October 2017)

"Weirdo was a record shop that I started in my bedroom in 2006. It moved into a storefront for a while in Cambridge Mass., and closed after I got tired of never ever sleeping. While it was around, I wrote reviews of every new title that I sold, and by the end there were more than eighteen thousand reviews. There's only so many times you can call a guitar tone 'crunchy or say something disparaging about a singer's hair. So I repeated things, a lot. When compiling this best of, I looked for records that stuck with me, and also for reviews where I thought the writing stood out."

Here we present part 2 of Weirdo selections from compilations. Everybody likes to pretend that they know everything already, but to find out about old records, you do have to get advice. And I say old records specifically, because the bands aren't playing anywhere. There's no publicists, no Bandcamp's, etc.. Some people read magazines to get their scoops. Some just hang out in stores endlessly. And some, especially those who like single-song formats like 45's or 78's, listen to compilations. There are a shitbucket full of famous comps. Some are part of a series: Pebbles, Back From The Grave, Girls In the Garage, Killed By Death, Dream Babes, Ethiopiques, Rubble, Las Vegas Grind, Secret Museum of Mankind, etc. And there are whole labels like Ace, Numero, Kent, Mississippi, etc. that specialize in them. And then there's the ones that changed how people thought about music itself, like NY Eye & Ear Control, Harry Smith's Anthology or No New York. It goes on FOREVER. This is just a note to let you know that, as it happens, these comps are not any of those. But they are great.

Various Got the Go Vol. 3 LP
J'adore this gitchy, itchy little Paris series of freakbeat & R&B cuts about trashy dancing. Do the jerk, or the bugalu, or the frankenstein walk as instructed, or just be impressed when Chuck Rio replaces the standard "Tequila" with an even wilder ode to the margarita.

Various Groove Merchant Turns 20 2 LP
Chris Veltri's peerless San Fran funk shop, home of the Luv N Haight & Ubiquity labels, celebrates turning 20 years old. Psychedelic soul so smooth you could use it for shaving cream, & sweet silky arrangements of horns over snapping breaks. Rarities & obscurities to be sure, but discriminatingly chosen for musical quality above all. Because that's what a record store's for.

Various GS I Love You Too CD
Unabashedly sugary & totally frenetic anglophilia, with jillions of time signature changes per song, fuzz stacked on top of church bells, and the zippiest guitars in rock history. GS stands for Group Sounds & it cropped up in Tokyo as a slightly late-date response to the Beatles, Ventures & Monkees pop that was hitting worldwide radio. This collection is mostly singles, with lots of B-sides, and a few of the bands went otherwise unrecorded. There are also some classic GS hits (like the Carnabeats' gasser "Sutekina Sandy") that are too catchy for anyone to ignore.

Various Hearts of Stone Vol. 2 LP
I can think of at least 3 vulgar things you can tell your friends about a band named the Analfabitles who do a song called "Sunny Side Up." The young guard of Rio & Sao Paulo get fuzz frantic & try to grab the trophy of tuff from the Shadows of Knight. Biting beat covers & savage fuzz attacks on Dave Clark 5, Hendrix, etc.. The Brazilian beat scene was sprawling & many-tentacled, and you can hear lots of places where folks like Os Mutantes might've picked up some of their crazy ideas in these frenzied garage killers.

Various The International Vicious Society Vol. 5 LP
Ohhh, tacky finks! If you still bite the nails waiting for next installment of the very like crazy International Society Vicious, then wait no more little banditos! Peh-roo, Eetaly, Espana, Kraut, Gringo, Brasil, Squishy French, Stinky Belgium, Lovely Taheetee, and even many very small islands all mix themselves up much together! Its here to calm the trembling a good deal of exotic, sexy, thrill & many bongos! Lurch for the sky, zazooos!

Various Japanese Pinky Violence Soundtracks cassette
Gooey melting horn arrangements, crippling funk bass, a few singing sirens, & snug trap drum breaks are all over these scores meant to make you feel like you're visiting the forbidden. Early 70s Japanese exploito flicks that grew out of the porn industry, starring bad girls who had epic high school gang fights, or decided to become yakuza who could burn their enemies with cigarettes, and somehow never found the time to put on a shirt. Besides Reiko Ike & Miki Sugimoto, you get Rika Sudo, Ichiro Araki, Tamiko Hata, & several more.

Various Killing Melody LP
Are the Japanese better at everything? Well all right, maybe not rockabilly. But they sure know how to make a great porn film. Major Tokyo studios Nikkatsu, Wakamatsu & Toei, tired of losing audiences to TV or being restricted by old mores, realized that even with a small budget they could make skin flicks that were glossy, action packed, & filled with shocking juxtapositions (not to mention miniskirts, motorbikes, & lean, hip music). Zip along the urbane vibraphone stylings of a gangster waiting around at a bar, or enjoy rare contributions to soundtracks by post-GS rock bands like the Jacks & the Flowers. Mostly instrumental, so no Reiko Ike orgasm noises, but it's nonetheless ultraswank.

Various Kung Fu Super Sounds CD
Shaw nuff & yes I do. Richly arranged miniatures in the form of brilliant brass stings, ratchet percussion, tense snare rolls & cranking bass funk. Made by the grand De Wolfe library for use in commercials, movies, etc., and dubbed for years throughout a jillion scenes of monk martial arts retribution in priceless Shaw Brothers flix. Chosen with care both for film & musical interest by (among others) the Cherrystones label head Gareth Goddard.

Various Latinamericarpet: Exploring the Vinyl Warp CD
Yowie. Completely heady & frothy mix of Ventures ripoffs, Mexican hat dances played on Wurlitzers, children's instructional records, multiple attempts at chipmunk voices, fake steel drums, yoga meditation, ladies' mountain music from Peru, skits of doors being broken down, Chilean accordion, and that's the short list. There are a shitload of Americulture ripoffs here, ranging from early 60s teen pop to Russian classical composers. There are so many in fact that if you can name more of the quotes on this record than I can, I'll pony up & mail you a dollar. Mixed in are some pan-S. Amer folk numbers, some more 'authentic' than others. But it's hardly an issue, especially with major freakos like "La Gringa Inga" (a precursor to Xuxa perhaps?) popping in every few minutes to tell you what your foot is called in Ingles. Psych fans should note that there's not really a ton of fuzz here, but any surf/Link Wray fan would say that this is Attention Deficit Syndrome Psychedelia all the way.

Various The Lavender Jungle CD
Major oddity here: a compilation of male cheesecake exoitca and sloppy lurch trash collected as though it was the output of a single late 50s independent label (which it wasn't). Apparently inspired by thoughts of Joe Meek, the liners also insinuate that nonexistent label impresario Luchese Leibhaber only put out records by his hottest love-toys. That's enough info for me to have plunked down my dough, and the sounds turned out to be even more slinky and twisted than I expected. Sleaze lives.

Various Life is a Problem LP + 7 inch
Your old pal Marcus Aurelius sez "To the wise, life is a problem; to the fool, a solution." And the wisdom of these cracked-up & fried gospel players sure does run real deep. Fractured & firey electric guitar, raucous holy ghost choirs, soul drenched organs, rockin' lap steel, & street corner distortion, all in the service of rollin' the lord's way.

Various London Is the Place For Me Vol. 1 & 2 2 CD
Urbane jazz and lots of it's equally sleek, smirking cousins, recorded by & for the burgeoning Caribbean and West African immigrant population in the UK. Caribbean residents looking for better work arrived in London starting in 1948. The first ship brought about 500 people from Jamaica (where an ad had appeared in the local paper offering cheap fare). Lord Kitchener was among the passengers. In the US, calypso is considered 'world music' by most. But Kitchener's style is part jazz, part social commentary, and almost entirely about being a regular guy in London. Pop music for the now people of the sharp-dressed 50s. Even the fuddiest set of ears will snap open for Young Tiger's snazzy Babs Gonzales/Dizzy Gillespie rewrite, sharply poking fun at people who don't like bebop.

Various Longing for the Past 4-CD
Gigantic, luscious overview of Southeast Asian music on 78 curated by David Murray of Haji Maji. Begun as an attempt to hunt down the origins of 11 records owned by Dick Spottswood & it seems everyone who collects foreign language 78s in America contributed some expertise somewhere along the way. Scratchy fiddles, mouth organs, bronze drums, nasal voices, a zillion bamboo instruments, and rhythmic pedal points that zigzag like a monsoon river down a mountainside. From the earliest furniture sellers who stuffed their wax masters into boat bottoms, to market stall operations that ran tape machines in basements & issued motley-colored 45s. 200 page book that explains cai luong, molam, dan bau, piphat, Chinese opera performers in Singapore, Thai songs about brahmin from India, and I didn't even mention the whole section on Burma. A mankind-sized leap forward in the scholarship of 78s in general, and hefty enough to crack a fool over the head with.

Various Luk Thung LP
78s stuffed with syrup-slippery Isan mouth organs, drowsily syncopated gongs & xylophones, and vowels that are run over, backed up & run over again by singers who stretch them every which way in an effort to convey a heady combination of homesickness and comfort. As Thailand's country music, Luk Thung has all the low-high-low class mixups & melodramatic tugs of a Glen Campbell disco mix played behind the VIP ropes at a Nascar rally. Wonder at the mystery of the genre's Elvis, Suraphon Sombatcharoen's untimely death by gunfire. Revel in the rough nasal scratch of Mitt Mueangmaen. Or just fill in your collection of Waiphot Phetsuphan (who appears on "The Sound of Siam" and "My Friend Rain"). Completely incredible notes by Peter Doolan of Monrakplengthai (who's become the Thai Alan Cummings over the last couple of years). Compiled by David Murray of Haji Maji.

Various Mr. Toytown Presents Vol. 3 CD
Enter the ornate garden of marmalade skies, foppy hats, suffocated gentlemen wearing lace, bees, and girls in hand sewn paisley who have always just gone off somewhere far never to return. For reasons lost to the mists of time, such sentiments are best expressed with backwards phasing, excessively intricate arrangements, fuzz breaks & glorious vocal harmonies. This series has previously had a hefty focus on Spanish singles, & this time out has several from Belgium/France instead. They've of course remained scrupulously baroque.

Various Music From Saharan Cellphones LP
Traveling from Portland through Mali & Mauritania, Sahel Sounds' Chris Kirkley landed in Kidal, at the edge of the Sahara where there are no paved roads, but there is cell service. There he traded folks Townes Van Zandt mp3s off his computer in exchange for whatever songs, videos, etc. they had stored on their phones. As is often the case with mp3s, nobody seemed to know where any of it originated. Two years later, this collection of his favorites makes it to vinyl along with the results of much detective work. The distinctive gallop of Tuareg guitar & dusty folk styles as old as the salt trade mixed up with drum machines, autotuned vocals, portable synthesizers, world-weary rappers, etc. Music from Mali, Algeria, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, & Niger. Originally a cassette.

Various Pakistan Folk & Pop Instrumentals 2 LP
Swoon under the nectarous influence of syncopated skating-rink organ, sproingy sitars & thwacking surf guitar. Stuart Ellis has been posting lip-smacking rock & roll singles from Pakistan on his primo blog Radio Diffusion for the past couple of years. His calls for information quickly attracted former band members & nostalgic folks who once made the teen scene in Karachi, yielding stories of bands blasting "Mother's Little Helper" & swearing on national radio. As in Bombay, most of the musical production in the country was focused on film soundtracks, but whenever the Pakistani government has been accepting of the West over the years, pop music has instantly flourished. Well-monikered drummer Jimmy Jumshade even says that head of the Pakistan People's Party Zulfikar Ali Bhutto & his daughter liked to dance to his band the Bugs. Upscale hotels hired bands, especially foreign ones, and many of the acts featured here had contracts for regular gigs. You can also hear a couple of tunes outsourced from Lollywood, including one by Mr. Soul Sitar Sohail Rana & an insanely bouncy single by Nisar Bazmi. Whether you want to find out how far a Qawwali harmonium is from a Farfisa, or you just like swingin' lounge groovers, get it together in time to get this one onto your shelf.

Various Panama 3 2 LP
Like a poor cousin to Havana, Colon was a free-for-all city with a swinging nightlife that intermingled every stripe of ethnic background. Any song, phrase, or lick could be laid over the skeleton of calypso, cumbia, or jazz, and it seems like the local musicians tried to make each of them tighter & sweatier than the last. Can't say enough good things about this series, seems totally underrated.

Various Playin Hard to Get CD
This is one of the finger-lickinest girl group compilations of all time, & it's one of the heaviest R&B-flavored ones as well. An overview of California's Challenge label, which was founded by Gene Autry & was still riding high on the money from hitting the charts with the Champs "Tequila." All the dirty pounding here comes from two different groups who'd previously filled out the ranks as Johnny Otis' backup singers: the Blossoms (one of the most famous names in girl group circles- sang on nearly every LA record & included the great Darlene Love among their members) & Bobb B Soxx & the Blue Jeans. Spector tapped 'em both to give his Phillies label the greasy feel it needed to sell. There's also some primo beach bunny white bread surf here, what with perky little Donna Loren & Diane Maxwell's cover of Connie Francis.

Various Pop Shopping 2 LP
Philip K Dick's prediction that we'll all be listening to the past's commercials in the future comes true in the present with this set of kraut retro-goof ad bumpers. Short but undeniably sexy lounge numbers, often with cute girls sighing in the background or brass cavorting with groovy bass. Youths are enticed into a world of hip & provocative consumerism as Germany pirouettes 180 degrees from WWII to become a TV-friendly Euro hotspot. Toothpastes, cars, cameras, jeans & chocolates all get made cool by hot harpists, copyright kingpins, porn composers, and even prog saxophonist Klaus Doldinger.

Various Quel Organ LP
Sweet little celebration of the vices that you can pick up by way of the Hammond B3. These French easies were selected for maximum jerk-danceability & have soundtrack clips from Gainsbourg & more obscure go-go goers spliced in-between each cut. Get your Beatle boots & vertically striped pants on fast.

Various Roots of Chicha 2 LP
Peruvian cumbias are as bumpy as a crocodile's face: there's the surf twang, overlapping lines of ridiculous virtuoso percussion, sinuous guitar solos, shit cheap sound effects. Deslumbrante! Lima lads replaced the Columbian accordion with Californian electric guitar, and instantly invented a sound that's soul-fried, lush, & totally smokey- pretty much like blowin' a fat cloud of hash smoke into War's "Four Cornered Room." Congas, bongos, timbales, farfisa, Moog, crap production and endless slinky psych grooves. Brilliant version of Beethoven's "Fur Elise" too.

Various Shik Shak Shok LP
Farid's all trashed and swinging his habibi around. Belly dancing records are unloved & overlooked- sort of the overseas version of trailer trash boombox anthems. But the lurid organs, pounding ankle bracelets, hopped up mijwiz & exaggerated oud runs don't care whether you like them or not. Perfect for partying or drowning in spiritual pools, because in the music-drunk world of 1970s Lebanon these are the exact same activity.

Various Steam Kodok CD
From all over Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia & Korea come organs as lime & slick as salamanders, surf that was played in bunny clubs, flange & fuzz nightmares, endless echo, Trini Lopez knockoffs, and don't forget the completely unhinged screaming & cat impressions of "Fox." I was completely hooked on the entire world of SE Asian pop the instant I heard Ronnie Ong sing "take me where the semen goes" & you won't be able to resist him either.

Various Street Musicians of Yogyakarta LP + 7 inch
The exquisite, dreamy & prismatic major/minor harmonies of Indonesian folk & pop are on full display between market stalls & outside restaurant doorways in one of the heaviest tourist spots outside of Bali. Troupes that become possessed, whip each other & eat fire, or just play Dangdut, Ronggeng, Melayu, Kroncong (western ukulele trios derived from sailor songs). Covers from the radio, covers of classical gamelan songs. Endearing interview excerpts in which you learn which instrument looks like a goat, and how many years you must play until you can successfully make jokes at people's expense. Recorded by Jack Body, an Australian composer who was teaching in Indonesia for a couple of years. And it's easy to see why he freaked out as soon as he arrived & heard this stuff. Just fall down dead beautiful.

Various Thai Beat A Go Go Vol. 3 LP
"Thai Thai Thai Boxing!" Once you get that ridiculous riff in your head, it'll never let you go. Moog laden retardo-funk, psychedelic jungle groove, and covers of the Troggs, "Hang on Sloopy," Santana, Elvis, Muhammad Ali, & more. All from the Bangkok hotel lounge scene, where the girls are short enough to give blow jobs without kneeling and their skirts are even shorter.

Various Where the Girls Are CD
Shoo-be-doo vocals sailing over gigantic toms, cascades of snaps, frantic handclaps, and cavernous echo. What better way to discuss the feminine ethical quagmire of innocence vs. sexuality? Twenty four carefully plotted paradigms to choose from here, from the loose morals that cause car accidents ("Condition Red"), how to get men to pick you up ("Lonely Boy"), signs of a good catch ("Little Things Like That") or how you'll never get married if "Your Ya-Ya is Gone".

See Angela's other entries of Weirdo assortments, including letters A to C and letters D to F and letters G to I and letters J to L and letters M to O and letters P to R and letter S and letter T to V and letter W to Z and Compilations Part 1

Also see Angela Sawyer's album on Feeding Tube records

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