Thursday, November 17, 2005


As I sit in Univers-B, a garage-sized, 1972-flava'd pocket-dimension embedded in a metafinite 7-Dee layer of quantal-foam that resembles a bubble in a large bar of Aero chocolate, drinking 9-star brandy plundered from Marseilles, 1874, by my crack team of Time-Commandos, and listening to "Neverland" by Digital Mystikz, I often ponder the bizarre series of events that led me here.

How different would my life be, I wonder, if I'd said "no" to Bardot or Ava Gardner, if Steranko hadn't worked as my art assistant in '63 or if I'd given Welles the money to complete "The Other Side of The Wind"? Would Kennedy still be alive if I'd kept my side of our bargain? Perhaps The Priory of Zion wouldn't have sent a team of Killuminati assassins to Dallas that day...if only I hadn't taught Jimmy Lo Hin that Chameleon-Noir Technique that I discovered in Laos then he would've shown up on the Zapruder film...ah, "Regrets, I have a few..."

Still, lurking on the floor of my hideout, next to a signed First Edition of Vashenki's "The Complete Guide to Russian Analogue Synthesisers" and Harpo Marx's car-horn are a pile of 78's belonging to my late father, that include these:

There's a bunch of Spike Jones records in amongst the Post-War vinyl booty, incl. the frankly mental "Cocktails for Two"...these are Novelty Records for Acidheads...and I've come to the inevitable conclusion that Spike Jones had a profound effect on me as a young child: it's probably where my love for the tricksier side of Frank Zappa, Henry Cow and Nu/Post-Prog comes from...Zappa's impossibly-fast tuned percussion runs, sour-sounding horns and unexpected cartoon sound-FX all have a direct sonic ancestor in Jones' music...I love the vocal (and musical) call-and-response stuff between FZ and band-members like Napoleon Murphy-Brock and George Duke on early seventies boots and live LPs like "Roxy and Elsewhere": I guess it reminds me of the finely-tuned insanity that ricocheted like a rubber power-ball betw/ Spike and his City-Slickers...yeah, sure, all this stuff is an acquired taste, and I probably acquired it from my old man.

I always viewed my dad as a serious guy w/ a melancholic streak (wh/ I fear I've inherited), so picking thru stuff like this helps remind me that the old geezer actually had a pretty wicked sense of humour. Thinking back now, he used to play most of this stuff when he was pissed. I just never spent enuff of my adult-life actually listening to what he had to say...I used my twitchy impatience as an excuse to tune him out far too often. Now I realise I owe him a debt I can never repay.

From FZ, it was a short logical leap to the Acid-Funk mayham of "Motor-Booty Affair" era Parliament, then Funkadelic, Bootsy, Brides of Funkenstein, Johnny 'Guitar' Watson, to say, then, that Spike and the City Slickers inadvertantly turned me onto Da Funk.

My love for speedy, needlessly-tricky "statistically-dense Black Page" style nonsense probably also mentally prepared me for the 360mph Gabba n Bass backflips of mid-period Aphex, Mu-Ziq, Squarepusher, well as helping me embrace Zappa's mentor Edgard Varese (and thru him, all kinds of dissonant 20th century nonsense and Concrete...Berio, Toch...), as well as Nancarrow, Eric Dolphy, etc...Fuck, it scares me to think how much a handful of old records that I heard when I was, I dunno, 7, 8, 9...helped to unconsciously shape my inner soundworld. Dad hated Miles, tho...Louis Armstrong was his touchstone, but I'm only starting to get that now.

"Woodman, Spare that Tree" by Phil Harris and his Orchestra is another 'zany' white comic-novelty record from that era which has also strangely stayed w/ me down thru the years. Based on a poem written by George Pope Morris in 1830, w/ music by Henry Russell, the song was published in 1837 and was extremely popular in the States. Harris' version is a impassioned plea to spare the tree, because it's the only one his wife can't climb!

Phil Harris is, of course, famous for doing the voice of Baloo in Disney's "The Jungle Book", but I never pieced that fact together until much, much later. The B-Side is "The DarkTown Poker Club".

The real tragedy is that I don't currently have a record-player that'll accomodate 78's, but I will, very soon, hopefully. That'll then mean that I can stock up on Matt Valentine lathe-cut 78's and all sortsa other goodies.

Until then, though, these records will remain on the floor, faithfully by my side, as I type memory straining to cut through the accreted dust and crackle of the intervening years in the vain hope that maybe I'll get to hear my father laugh one more time.