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Living Inside: 5 from the Acid Archives

October 3, 2010

Hi.  I’m new here.

For my maiden voyage I’m going to take a look at a few jams I’ve been hooked on in the past week, all culled from records read about in Patrick Lundborg’s amazing Acid Archives (second edition).  If you’re unfamiliar, the book’s a comprehensive album guide that covers North American underground music from 1965-1982, including early garage and psych, but also prog and folk and obscure private press records and the proto-weird.  5000+ records reviewed, and even though I consider myself reasonably knowledgeable (I’m no Rob Bowman or anything, but…), approximately 4992 are things I’ve never heard of.  Which is great.

Here are songs that piqued my interest from a few of the LPs I’ve delved into, with accompanying download links (to the songs, not the LPs; you’ll have to find those for yourself)…

Rasputin and the Monks, “Roadrunner” (1966). Teen crud cover of Diddley’s “Roadrunner” (not Richman’s), as done by a group of preppy Rolling Stones obsessives (fact: five of the seven songs on Rasputin & Co.’s Sun of My Soul were covers of Stones songs or covers of songs the Stones covered [like “Roadrunner”]).  Whether by inability or indifference (and it doesn’t matter), there’s a primal thudthudthud to this version of “‘runner” that’s really endearing.  Also covered by the Animals, the Pretty Things, the Wailers, the Zombies, the Music Explosion, Johnny Winter, the Oblivians, and others; albeit all much more competently than Rasputin and the Monks.  But it’s not one of those songs where competence is all that important.  Download “Roadrunner” by Rasputin and the Monks.

Shorty’s Portion, “I’m Game” (1975). Fun opening song to a fun album with a whole lot of spirit.  The story goes that Shorty (government name: Steve Salazar), left frail and weak from a heart condition that shortened his life (no pun intended), making the LP his only recorded output.  Given his shortcomings – namely, his voice (high-pitched, clumsy) – and that the record’s not all that “good” (in the conventional sense), he probably wouldn’t have been Randy Newman 2 or anything, but the songwriting’s fun, has a good sense of humour about it, and… man… I just like “I’m Game.”  Download “I’m Game” by Shorty’s Portion.

Rick Grossman, “Mellow Heaven Clout” (1978). Everything about Hot Romance is terrible, but Grossman’s voice is almost beyond words.  Elsewhere, I’ve trotted out “Snuffleupagus with a head cold,” or likening him to turn-of-the-century Fredericton emcee PIMP T – and I think both are fair.  But what takes Grossman to the next level is the fact that he’s an incredibly horny dude singing some of the clumsiest soft rock sex jams imaginable.  Example: “Up all night, ya, we roll in the sack / Just the kind of place she’d like to do you at.”  “Mellow Heaven Clout” (awesome title, btw) is the best song on Hot Romance, by a country mile.  Listen to it and really, really think about that.  Download “Mellow Heaven Clout” by Rick Grossman.

Todd, “With Love… From Me to You” (1979). The story goes that Todd (no last name given, but internet detectives have been hard on the case for years) set up a merch table at his high school prom to peddle his wears and was mocked by the prom king, who labeled Todd as “most likely to still be selling his record in 20 years,” which prompted the entire student body to swoop in for sympathy purchases of Todd’s record.  I’ll take that one with a grain of salt, but the tale’s made With Love… something of a collector’s item among some weirdos, though I think the cover art probably has more to do with that.  The record itself isn’t that awful, in that the musicianship’s competent and the production ain’t bad considering it’s the home recordings of a high school kid in the late-‘70s.  But it’s all very overwrought and goofy.  The title-track’s the worst and goofiest song on the LP, but also the most (perversely) entertaining.  Download “With Love… From Me to You” by Todd.

Jimmy Hotz, “Beyond the Blues” (1980). Hotz’ lone solo LP, Beyond the Crystal Sea, is regarded by Christian prog-rock experts, as one of the finest achievements in the genre, which I’m sure means different things to different people.  Me?  I guess I judge all prog by how much it sounds like Yes, and a lot of Beyond… does owe heavily to them, especially Hotz’ vocals, which are very much a smudged Xerox of Jon Anderson’s.  Hotz is actually a man of some esteem in the prog scene, and inventor whose gadgets have been used by a long list of the famous and infamous; among them: Fleetwood Mac, Yes, NSYNC, Chicago, Dan Aykroyd, and many more according to his own www.  I’ll echo the Acid Archives‘ line that his solo joint is “more impressive than listenable,” but “Beyond the Blues” is a guilty pleasure.  Download “Beyond the Blues” by Jimmy Hotz.

And now, back to the book…

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