Wendy Carlos (released as Walter Carlos) “The Well-Tempered Synthesizer” (1969


This record has a few essays on the back cover, starting with an essay by Rachel Elkind, who has the title of “producer,” but who Wendy Carlos describes on her website, as a silent and creative partner with Carlos.   Rachel writes: “Something went wrong. ‘Switched-On Bach’ was meant to be an artistic experiment, a learning and testing vehicle, an example of a contemporary composer trying to find himself- not the marked commercial success it has so clearly become.”

Thomas Frost, the music director of Columbia Masterworks also writes, “Young people everywhere-college students, teenagers- many of whom ordinarily buy nothing but Rock and Folk, passed the word that here was a record with a new contemporary sound.” I just love that part about buying nothing but rock and folk music. I just watched The Source Family documentary that is streaming on Netflix right now, and am feeling pretty fascinated with the teenagers of the late 60’s and early 70s. I can’t believe there were runaway 12 year old girls living in the Source Family, most likely only buying rock and folk music. It’s a good documentary, but spoiler alert - by the end you will hate “Father Yod” or whatever the hell his name is. At least I did. 12 year old girls have a lot to do with it.

The record sleeve also has this awesome list “Here’s How Records Give You More of What You Want.” I particularly like #4 and #8.


Okay, lets listen to some more Wendy Carlos, shall we?

The first song, “Monteverdi: ‘Orfeo’ Suite,” sounds like something that should be played when astronauts graduate from astronaut training. It is very regal and feels celebratory yet serious, and of course the synthesizer makes it feel super space aged. Let’s not forget Bach flying through space with his Moog synthesizer on the last Wendy Carlos cover!

This might also work if two astronauts were marrying each other. It could be played at their wedding ceremony, right before the ceremony was about to begin.

The next songs, “Sonata in E Major and D Major,” have me picturing a classic ensemble scene for a space aged ballet. You know, your typical space aged village with some children running around playing games and pantomiming whispers into each others’ ears. A group of young men show of their brawn on one side of the stage and a group of young women giggling behind ornate fans on the other. But all with an outer space/ tomorrowland twist. I would go see that ballet.

Not really knowing that much about synthesizers, even though Alex loves them, I’m having a hard time picturing how this music would look performed live. Is it all played by Wendy at different times, or the same time, or different people on different synthesizers? Alex and I just had a conversation about it where he drew this diagram to help explain. Alex likes to draw it out when he’s explaining stuff. It usually helps. (The computer part on the bottom is a MIDI, which was not invented yet in 1969. The half completed heart shaped spacecraft in the middle is a doodle.)


So, I get that if this was done live, there’d have to be a bunch of people on different synthesizers. But the way Wendy did it was by herself with one crazy looking synthesizers with a bunch of wires, and recorded each part separately before putting it all together. Pretty amazing.

I think Wendy tries to explain it in her essay on the back cover but I still wouldn’t have gotten it without Alex’s diagram, and also, still don’t totally get what she’s talking about. Here’s an excerpt:

The four Scarlatti Sonatas are quite different from anything I have done. Since they consist of two-part counterpoint with rarely more than three or four voices, I thought a straight performance of one color different or related, on each voice might not be particularly effective musically. So I tried to fragment each part among many colors, quasi-pointillistically, but with an over-all integral ‘feeling’ of the various phrasings and voice leadings.

Either way, it mainly sounds like enjoyable classical music, good for when you’re in the mood for classical music, with a little bit of a space aged feel. The synthesizer makes this very old music feel modern, and yet it also dates it. It kind of sounds like it wouldn’t be out of place in the 70’s or 80’s. It’s an interesting thing to listen to in 2014, especially on vinyl, because “remember… it always happens first on records!” (I’m referring to the fabulous liner notes list here.)

PS- I lovely reader made me aware of the fact that I made a mistake in my last post in crediting Ned Washington with writing the Disney Electric Light Parade music. It was actually Gershon Kingsley. Who, with a quick google search I’m seeing wrote the Popcorn song! Oh man, music is wonderful! And so is the internet!

Thank you Dan from Doom Dong for letting me know! Here’s the email he sent me:

Dear Sarah,

I’m a big fan of the blog! I’d like to offer you a correction for your record review of Wendy Carlos - Switched on Bach II. You refer to the Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade song, one of my favorites. However, I feel obligated to point out that the main motif of the song was NOT written by Ned Washington, but rather by Gershon Kingsley (his original version, often credited along with Jean-Jaques Perrey, is titled “Baroque Hoedown”). Ned Washington is listed as a writer because he co-wrote “When You Wish Upon a Star,” which, I’m sure you know, is one of the song’s medley parts.

Wendy Carlos (released as Walter Carlos) “Switched on Bach II” (1973)


Based on my reading about Wendy Carlos, I know that the original Switched On Bach made her famous. Alex doesn’t have the first one, so I guess I’ll have to settle for the sequel! Such is the way of the Stupid Record Collection project. I must obey the shelf! I still have high hopes for this one though, I feel like it’s going to be weird and nerdy in a great way.

There is a long essay on the back cover by Robert A. Moog or as Alex just said excitedly, Bob Moog! I do recognize the moog name- he’s the inventor of the Moog Synthesizer!

Let’s put it on!

I have to say that I’m not sure if I would have been able to tell that this is electronic music if I hadn’t known. Sure, it sounds a little electronic, but when I listen I’m picturing gold plated harpsichords instead of Moog synthesizers. It’s not like she has added a theremin or weird outer space effects. It’s just got that fat synthesizer sound sometimes.

Oh! The first song is reminding me of the old Disney electric light parade music. That parade was SO AMAZING.

Moving on. This is really relaxing and I could totally picture Bach floating in space, enjoying his music being pumped into his space suit. Side note: This is definitely one of the best album covers that I have come across so far. I especially like how you can see Earth in the background. Home sweet home to this crazy work of art.

As someone who is not well versed in classical music, but does like to listen to the Glenn Gould Goldberg Variations sometimes, I think this is pretty great. 

On to side two. I’m going from thinking Moog Bach is just as good Piano Bach, to thinking maybe I’ve had enough of they synthesizer. But side two starts out really great with “Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 In D Major, BWV 1050.” it feels like it could be in a Wes Anderson soundtrack. There’s something very playful and joyful about it, which is Bach’s doing, but I think the synthesizer does a great job of bringing that feeling out. Side two is turning out to be really good.

There’s an interview that Wendy did when the re-released box set of Switched on Bach came out on CD on her website. At one point she says, “Oh, oh! The gray cat’s dry heaving a hairball. Just a minute. Subi’s okay, but he’s eighteen years old, so I have to watch him.” And Subi is linked to this picture:


I said it before, and I’ll say it again, Wendy Carlos has the best website filled with hours of entertainment. Read it while you’re listening to Switched on Bach II, and you’ll have the best Monday night ever! I promise.

PS- Also listen to the Disney Main Street Electrical Parade, by Gershon Kingsley (his original version, often credited along with Jean-Jaques Perrey, is titled “Baroque Hoedown”)


Hey guys, I’m on vacation this week visiting family in Michigan and California, so that means I’ll be away from the record collection. But if you’re looking for something to read, check out the review I wrote for Amanda Petrusich’s great new book, Do Not Sell At Any Price The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records for Slate.

The book is really good and I think anyone who reads this blog would love it. Also, they asked me to write a little about my blog in the review too, so if you read this blog might also enjoy reading the review.

II’ll be back in a week!


Tron Soundtrack music by Wendy Carlos (1982)

The Tron Score was written by a woman! Wendy Carlos. I just said, this was a Disney movie? I’m surprised I never saw it! But I don’t think they ever played it on the Disney Channel in the 90s, I wonder why? So, pretty cool that the score is written by a woman, especially since this is a sci-fi movie. Let’s put this one. I’m hoping for futuristic sounds in a totally 80’s way.

It starts with some very majestic singing along with majestic synthesizers so, yay! Oh, but then it goes straight into one of two Journey songs that are inexplicably on this album. The front cover says, “Contains Journey’s new ‘Only Solutions.’” Well this has a pretty and soft rock feel to it, but his voice is almost too cheesy. It’s border line Brian Johnson, and we all know how I feel about him. But I like the angelic chorus of “only solutions.” It’s really so 80s though. I’m picturing tube socks, short shorts and sweat band head bands. Actually I’m picturing Josh Brolin from the Goonies. He would like this song.

And now we’re back to some serious soundtrack vibes. It’s kind of a strange mixture of modern classical with a synthesizer suddenly thrown in. Even though this music really doesn’t have a melody, I’m very much feeling it, and think I would enjoy watching a modern dance performance choreographed to this music.

I kind of wish I was listening to this in a big cabin in the country side while there was a thunderstorm going on. I wonder why I have such a high tolerance for this formless modern masterpiece and such low tolerance for Captain Beefheart’s version of a formless modern masterpiece? Is it the lack of vocals? Classical instruments? My ability to picture someone dancing to this music? Because it was written by a woman?

Oh my god, this is the first image that comes up when I Googled Wendy Carlos. I love her already.


Wow, she also wrote the score for A Clockwork Orange and the Shining. I just told Alex and he said, “I have no comment on that.” And I said, “Why?” and he didn’t say anything. So then I said, “why no comment?” And he finally said, “because you may or may not be reviewing one of them in the future.” Of course.

Ok wait a minute. I just asked Alex, “Did you know it was the same person?” Meaning that scored those soundtracks as Tron, and he said “Walter?” And I said, “What?” And he said, “That Wendy Carlos used to be Walter Carlos, he had gender re-assignment surgery.” Wow! She also has a pretty awesome website. Please make sure to check out the “fuzzy critters" section. I’m going to look at it in more detail later though because I don’t want to miss this beautiful yet mysterious music. God, why is that Journey song even on this album? It is so beneath Wendy Carlos.

Ugh the last song on side one is also by Journey, but it’s called “1990’s theme” which is pretty awesome.

On to side two. While I’m very much enjoying this album, it is not making me want to watch the movie. I’m fine with just being familiar with the score. Is that weird? I’m just not interested in the movie, I’m interested in Wendy Carlos and her music. The writing about September 11th on her website is worth checking out too. Alex is shocked that I’m not trying to picture the movie while watching this, but it just feels like modern experimental classical music that doesn’t need to be associated with a film.

There is definitely a magical feeling to this music, especially towards what I think is the end of side two. (The track listing is only on the record itself) It’s reminding me of the Edward Scissorhands soundtrack a little bit. I like to listen to the Edward Scissohands Pandora station sometimes, and this song, would totally fit in there. Ah! What a powerful ending! I would totally see a live performance of the Tron Soundrtack in a second! Just as long as the left out the two Journey songs. Wendy Carlos, you have a new fan. The album isn’t on YouTube, but you can listen it on Spotify here.

Alex Says: When I was a kid there was a video arcade in Ann Arbor called “The Great Escape.” Once a month, my parents would take me and my older brother to the arcade and give us each two dollars and fifty cents to run around and spend on games. There were some games that I was drawn to because of gameplay (Joust, Mario Bros.) and some that I was drawn to because of graphics (Journey, SunsetRiders) but the Tron video game was the complete package.

First of all, look at the fucking cabinet! The joystick was clear plastic and lit up. The front panel had a black light in it, and the whole thing emitted this weird, eerie glow that no other games in the arcade had.

Second, it wasn’t just like Pac Man or Galaga, where you just kept playing different permutations of the same game over and over again until you died. It was four games in one! There were the light cycles, the tanks, the spiders, and the MCP cone.

Lastly, the game had very little music to speak of, but what it had was just bleepy low-res snippets from Wendy Carlos’s score.

I was too young to see the movie in the theater, but I remember watching it on video, and being kind of bored. It’s actually a weirdly heady movie, with a lot of the dialog about how computer programs believe (or don’t believe) in the world outside of computers, and there are a bunch of weird religious allegories, and a computer pope. It looked cool, but I was always kinda bored by it.

But man, that soundtrack! Years after seeing it, it stuck with me. And when I started collecting records, it was one that I was always on the lookout for. The album was, for a long time, not available on CD, so if I was ever going to hear it again, I was going to hear it on vinyl.

I can’t remember for sure, but I think that it was one of my first purchases on eBay. There was a moment there, when eBay first came out, that it was my favorite record store.

Captain Beefheart “Ice Cream For Crow” (1982)


You may have noticed that it took me a few days to recover from “Trout Mask Replica,” but today I finally felt up for putting on the final Captain Beefheart record in Alex’s collection, which also happens to be the last album he recorded. I’m remembering my fondness for “Safe as Milk,” and even “Unconditionally Guaranteed,” so hopefully, I’ll get back to that happy place. I’m trying to keep my mind open.

Hmmm..so far these nonsensical lyrics in “Ice Cream For Crow,” are quite reminiscent of Trout Mask. I’m making the eye roll emoji face right now. I kind of like the rambling, ambling music in this song, but the vocals are just distracting.

The Host The Ghost The Most Holy-O" is reminding me of beat poetry. It feels very masculine and rebellious. It doesn’t sound exactly like punk, but it feels like punk, if you understand my meaning.

The third song “Semi-Multicoloured Caucasian,” is a lovely musical interlude with no vocals, and I’m already in a much better mood since “Ice Cream for Crow.” This song almost sounds like a different band, I wonder how this song came about. The only thing that feels Captain Beefheart-y about it is the name.

Well, looks like “Hey Garland, I Dig Your Tweed Coat,” is back into spoken word territory. Am I supposed to be high to appreciate this? I don’t have to understand it, but, “the rubber turkey was gobbled up by the night’s dark rubber mouth”? No. I can feel my mind closing with this album. I think I might just be too mad about having to endure Trout Mask Replica to have anything nice to say about this album. It was that traumatizing!

I’m getting another instrumental break with “Evening Bell" though, and I am finding the guitar pretty and meandering and interesting to listen to, but then I’m getting yelled out again with "Cardboard Cutout Sundown.” Ugh. I wish that the second side were all instrumentals, but I know it’s not because the liner notes have lyrics for this album, probably because he was SOOOOO proud of them and wanted everyone to read along and memorize his poetic genius. Well not me, Beefheart! Not me.

On to side two. Oh great, there’s a song called “Poop Hatch.” I am just not feeling a personal or emotional connection with this music at all. It looks like “Poop Hatch,” (the full title is actually “’81’ Poop Hatch,”) is just spoken word. At least he’s reading his poetry in his normal voice and not his scraggly sing/talking voice that he’s been using all album, but I’m just not connecting to it. It’s reminding me of wanting to love and understand “Howl,” when I was in high school, but never really getting it, just pretending to. I’m done pretending. This just isn’t for me. I wonder if Captain Beefheart and Allen Ginsberg were friends.

So, this last album has pretty much turned me off to Captain Beefheart. “Safe as Milk,” is a distant memory. My guess is, next time I’m perusing the “C’s” I’m not going to stop on Captain Beefheart, unless maybe someone I don’t like is in my house, and I want them to leave. But when does that ever happen?

Captain Beefheart “Trout Mask Replica” (1969)


Alright, it is time to review Trout Mask Replica. While I have never heard it, there has been some chatter about this one. Alex is dying to know what I’m going to think of it, and wanted to make sure he was home while I reviewed it. I still have no idea what to expect except for having a feeling that it’s going to be nothing like the last two Beefheart records.

So far, the cover is totally grossing me out. Alex said “well, that’s what a trout mask replica looks like,” and I guess he is right. I’m kind of into the phrase “trout mask replica,” because it’s weird and has a nice ring to it with the t and c and k sounds. But I’m not feeling the photo. Also, the inside cover and back cover are basically one big psychedelic stereotype, so it’s fitting, I guess, that this album came out in 1969.

This is a double album, so I’m in for a lot of Beefheart. I just said, “alright, I’m ready to start,” and Alex said, “here it comes, I’m ready to listen to you start!” So without further ado, let’s put it on!

Ok, first question: is it skipping? Alex yelling from the kitchen, “Nope!” I feel like he yelled that with glee. Like he’s playing some kind of delightful trick on me. The song that sounds like it is skipping, is called “Frownland,” luckily it’s only a one minute and thirty nine seconds long. Unluckily it already feels like it’s been playing for an hour. Listening to this song is like when you’re doing crunches or something for one minute and it feels like it’s never going to end.

The second song, “The Dust Blows Forward ‘N The Dust Blows Back,” is just him singing with no music behind him, and it doesn’t even sound like his voice. It sounds like a dorky math teacher’s singing voice. Also, I’m noticing it’s supposed to sound like an old record, but I guess not sound like it’s skipping.

Wow, each song is really different and really short, it’s kind of hard to write about while listening. We’re already on to song three which is “Dachau Blues.” A goofy song about a concentration camp. That’s making me feel pretty uncomfortable. This is kind of like a classic blues song, except a mixture of blues and free jazz and apparently it’s about a concentration camp. I mean, the lyrics are anti-war, but he’s singing in this affected deep voice that is a little silly for the subject matter.

Alright, so while this music is weird and shocking and hard to wrap my head around so far, I’m not totally hating it. It’s definitely reminding me of contemporary art, I’m not totally sure what he’s trying to do here, but that’s okay. I am just trying to pay attention and take it in.

“Hair Pie Bake 1” is definitely channeling Albert Ayler pretty hard, and I think we all know how I feel about that. Also the phrase “Hair Pie,” is kind of making me gag. This also happens to be the longest song on side one. Four minutes and 57 seconds. I’m getting that uncomfortable exercise feeling again. Will it ever end? The guitar comes in at one point and gives it a little bit of a melody though. I’d like to watch the musicians play this song.

“Moonlight on Vermont,” feels like a reward for listening this far. I’m pretty sure if this was on a different album, I wouldn’t be saying that, but for Trout Mask Replica, “Moonlight on Vermont,” is a total reward for your ears. AKA it’s the least weird song so far.

Looking at the picture of these hippies on the back cover though, and thinking about how the 1950’s were so straight and polished and then the world basically went crazy in the 60s, it makes you realize that you really can do whatever you want with music, and you should do it. It may be annoying and loud and weird and unrelateable, but someone felt they needed to make it, and they did. I mean, let’s all let our freak flags fly, right?


I’m keeping that sentiment in mind while I put on side two. So far the first two songs have had this spoken word style over music. “Pachuco Cadaver,” had sort of country sounding music but “BIlls Corpse,” is totally experimental and barely sounds like music, and the lyrics are really overbearing. Ugh. I’m getting a headache. “Sweet, Sweet Bulbs,” seems to be following the same style, I actually didn’t realized “Bills Corpse” was over at first.

This feels like a test in art tolerance. I might not be passing. It’s kind of hard to listen to this carefully and closely, because I’m kind of waiting for it to be over. And I still have to listen to the second record! This is the ultimate art tolerance test!

At this point, I’m feeling the need to quote this entire paragraph from the Trout Mask Replica wikipedia page:

The album’s unconventional nature often alienates new listeners. Cartoonist and writer Matt Groening tells of listening to Trout Mask Replica at the age of 15: “I thought it was the worst thing I’d ever heard. I said to myself, they’re not even trying! It was just a sloppy cacophony. Then I listened to it a couple more times, because I couldn’t believe Frank Zappa could do this to me – and because a double album cost a lot of money. About the third time, I realised they were doing it on purpose; they meant it to sound exactly this way. About the sixth or seventh time, it clicked in, and I thought it was the greatest album I’d ever heard”. John Harris of The Guardian later discussed the idea that the album requires several listens to “get it”, concluding that it “still sounded fucking awful” after six listens. Filmmaker David Lynch has called Trout Mask Replica his favorite album of all time,[citation needed] and John Lydon has also listed the album as one of his favourites, noting, “The first time I played that album, I laughed all the way through.”[citation needed]

It does sound like a David Lynch movie in album form.  At this point I have no idea what song I’m on, all I know is that there is still “music” playing. Oh sweet jesus, it’s over. I need a fucking break. I really can’t see myself listening to this album seven times, I’m sorry Matt Groening.

It’s kind of putting me in a bad mood. If I was done listening I would be fine, but the fact that I’m only halfway there and anticipating more of the same is making me crabby. I’m going to read the wikipedia page and rest my ears for a minute. The info on there is pretty fascinating actually. I recommend reading the entire “Background” section.

Okay, I’ve had my break. Let’s bring this review home!

The first song on side three is all instrumental, and actually very tolerable. And look it’s “Hair Pie Bake 2” this sequel to one of my most hated songs on side one. Interesting. Is this an apology sequel?

OH MY GOD, There is an actual skip in Alex’s copy in “Pena,” that makes the record go “Bulbous also teardrop,” over and over again. I just assumed it was part of the record. Of course I did! I have never heard a more appropriately skipping record.

We’re at the end of our non vocal bliss on this side with “Pena.” It sounds like a strung out circus clown frantically ranting and screaming over circus music. Also, I think there is crying. This is kind of scary and disorienting.

Every time a song is over. I look at the track list to count how many more to go. I don’t even know if I can specifically comment on each song anymore. I feel drained. And crabby that I have to keep listening to this. Remember when I was being all positive about letting freak flags fly? Yeah, I’m not there anymore. Fly your freak flag Captain Beefheart, that’s still okay, just please don’t make me listen to it.

I feel like I’m in detention and just waiting for it to be over and the minutes are going by very slowly. Alex just flipped the record for me and said, “I’m kind of enjoying it.” and I said, “good for you,” and he said “mean.” So that’s what it’s like at our house right now. All thanks to this evil work of art. Okay we are on the final side. There are 8 songs left. Maybe I can try and change my attitude for this home stretch. I feel like I’m at a really bad open mike and trying to be polite with this first song, “Orange Claw Hammer.”

Hobo Chang Ba,” is actually amusing me a little bit because of the phrase “hobo chang ba.” Maybe I’m just feeling a little slap happy though. This album is a little bit like feeling like you stayed up all night.

Oh we’re getting to the end, in “Old Fart At Play,” it sounds like he’s reading from something because someone says after the sound of a page turning, “oh man, it’s so heavy.” Whatever it is, it’s where the phrase “trout mask replica” came from. It’s probably just his notebook.

Well, the last song “Veteran’s Day Poppy,” is kind of relaxing, thank god. It’s still out there, but compared to the rest of the album, it’s like lemonade on a 90-degree day. I made it through. Alex just said, “want to start it over?” Ha fucking ha.

Alex Says: In the early 90’s, Comedy Central found its way to my parents’ cable packages. If you don’t remember this, when Comedy Central and Sci Fi Channel and shit premiered, they had almost none of their own programming. All they showed is old movies, exist programs they had syndicated, and old television shows. Comedy Central in 1994 was no great shakes, but it did have old episodes of Saturday Night Live.

The musical guests in the late 70’s and early 80’s on SNL were pretty dope, according to IMDB. They had folks like Sparks, The Funky 4+1, Jimmy Cliff. There’s that famous performance by FEAR where they had to cut to commercial because the audience was getting unruly. And Captain Beefheart performed a couple of songs from “Ice Cream For Crow” (Which will be the next and final Beefheart record Sarah reviews). He looked like someone’s weird dad playing not-quite blues, and I was totally transfixed. So I got the record.

I used to operate on the generally reliable maxim that first albums are the best, so after I got “Ice Cream For Crow,” I went out and bought “Safe As Milk.” Again, it had weird lyrics and some odd funky melodies and time signatures, but it didn’t feel inaccessible. I’m not sure what exactly led me to “Trout Mask Replica,” I’m guessing it was someone at the record store telling me that was the one to own. So somewhere down the line - I’m thinking late 90’s or so - I went out and got it.

I don’t really know what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn’t what I got. Like Matt Groening, I hated it the first couple times I listened to it. I kept reading about it and thinking “this is it? This is the album every was talking about?” I never developed an intense relationship with this album, but I can hear bits and pieces of it in dozens of bands I love a lot. It’s definitely a musical watershed. But I definitely connect more with the music that derives from this album than the album itself.

Captain Beefheart “Safe As Milk” (1967)

So this is weird. I happened to be drinking a glass of milk when I took this album out to put it on. It went really well with my afternoon snack of a chocolate chip scone. But this is the first time that I’ve ever been drinking a glass of milk while reviewing an album. So strange! Pour yourself a safe glass of milk and let’s put this non-disowned-by-Captain-Beefheart Captain Beefheart album on!

This starts with a real authentic blues sound. I like how it’s mainly vocals in the very beginning and then the band comes in loud and strong. At that point it’s hard to understand what he’s singing, but that’s ok.

The second song is not nearly as bluesy and much more psychedelic sounding. Especially with the whisper of “Zig Zag” in the beginning. So trippy. I really like the raw sound of his voice. This song kind of makes you want to get up and dance. But after a big glass of milk and chocolate chip scone, you’ll probably just stay on the couch and tap your foot. Oh, it ends with another “zig zag” whisper, completing the psychedelic circle.

So far I’m really liking this album. It feels like music from the 60s but a tiny bit weirder, which is really giving it a timeless feel. Like "Dropout Boogie,” feels pretty out there but it also feels like a classic song, with that classic guitar riff that keeps repeating.

"I'm Glad,” sounds like a classic soul/do wop 1950s song. Have I heard this song before? It feels very familiar, but then maybe I’m just thinking of Joe Cocker or something.

Electricity,” is a real change from “I’m Glad”! This song sounds like something a taunting devil would dance a jig to. This song is really interesting. The vocals almost have a heavy metal/dark feel to them but the instruments are almost bluegrassy with the slide guitar and pluckiness of the notes. I’m getting a scary rural vibe from this song. Like a group farmer devils with a pitchfork and overalls would dance to it in a field at night. This could definitely go on a Halloween mix. For sure.

On to side two! Oh, Alex likes to play “Abba Zaba,” a lot. I like this song. He just said, “listen to this fucking song, there’s no other song like it!” I think it sounds like it should be in the Jungle Book movie. Or at least that there should be a friendly bear and mean snake dancing to it.

I’m surprised no one ever told me to listen to Captain Beefheart in college when I was into Tom Waits a lot. Although, I really only ever listened to “Closing Time,” and “Small Change,” anyway. I might not have heard this album in the same way that I’m hearing it now. Which is with a positive vibe, it’s making me feel kind of cool and rugged and relaxed at the same time.

I’m definitely liking this album much more than yesterday’s “Unconditionally Guaranteed,” but I’m still finding it pretty accessible music that could have been a part of The Last Waltz, don’t you think? Especially a song like “I’m Glad.”

Ultimately, I really liked this album and think that the more you listen to it the more you will discover about it, so I’m going to play it again sometime.

Captain Beefheart “Unconditionally Guaranteed” (1974)

Today marks the start of the Captain Beefheart section of My Husband’s Stupid Record Collection. I’m pretty sure I’m not familiar with him. I know that he’s a little out there. From what’s written on the front cover, I’m really excited to put it on. The front cover reads:

"This warrantee applies to: All sounds, vibes feelings, light waves, projections, auras, test patterns, etc., which originate from this record. Regardless. All songs have been hand made and custom finished especially with You, the Individual, in mind, regardless. Not responsible for other Levels of Consciousness obtained through Audio Reception or if for any reason you have received more than your fair share of happiness from this album regardless. Warning: could be harmful to closed minds. Caution be sure to replace sound after using. Check ears and other sensory equipment for socially induced limitations. Keep from heat and cold regardless."

The “receiving more than your fair share of happiness” part is my favorite. Let’s put it on!

The first song is called “Upon the My-O-My" and has a surprising flute and saxophone solo. I’m digging the overall instrumental band feel of this music I really like the horns. I’m not sure how I feel about his voice yet. I think I can get into it. It’s slightly Tom Waits-esque.

The second song, “Sugar Bowl,” has more of a country feel to it. So far this music is not out there or weird. I’m a little surprised that it called for open minds in the “guarantee.” Although the first song especially is probably good stoner music. I bet that’s what he’s talking about. But it’s also good sober music!

I think I was confusing him with Frank Zappa. For some reason those names sound the same to me. And I guess Captain Beefheart is just goofy sounding. Like I feel like Frank Zappa should be called Captain Beefheart and Captain Beefheart should be called Frank Zappa. Do I sound completely crazy right now?

New Electric Ride,” has a chilled out bluesy, country, rock and roll feel to it. It makes you want to sit in a rocking chair or maybe even slow dance with someone. It’s kind of romantic and has a calming, comforting feel about it. I like it.

The next song though, “Magic Bee,” feels a little bit like a throwaway song. But I’m into the phrase “Magic Bee.” Like, what is that exactly?

Okay, so I just looked up his wikipedia page and see that he had a relationship with Frank Zappa! I must have heard that before and forgotten. Or maybe I’m psychic. This part made me laugh “Zappa became irritated by Van Vliet,(Captain Beefheart) who drew constantly, including while on stage, filling one of his large sketch books with rapidly executed portraits and warped caricatures of Zappa.”

On to side two! “Full Moon, Hot Sun,” and a lot of the songs on this album are reminding me of The Band a little bit. I wonder why Captain Beefheart wasn’t part of The Last Waltz, was he popular enough at the time?

OMG. Ok, wikipedia is giving me a serious realization right now. So I was right about Captain Beefheart being out there. Apparently this album and “Bluejeans & Moonbeams” which came after it, were disowned by Beefheart! “drummer Art Tripp recalled that when he and the original Magic Band listened to Unconditionally Guaranteed, they ‘…were horrified. As we listened, it was as though each song was worse than the one which preceded it.’ Beefheart later disowned both albums, calling them ‘horrible and vulgar,’ asking that they not be considered part of his musical output and urging fans who bought them to ‘take copies back for a refund.’”

WHAT?? And here I am pretty much liking it! Uh, gulps. I don’t think I have ever heard of an artist telling his fans to take a record back for a refund. That makes me feel bad for him. What was going on when he made this album that he ended up hating so much? This is quite mysterious. I don’t know though, I might be the only one, but except for “Magic Bee,” I’m enjoying this! Maybe everyone should give it a re-listen 40 years later. Wow, this album was put out 40 years ago! The passage of time is crazy.

Um, third big realization of this post. I just realized the song is called “Magic Be,” not “Magic Bee.” I don’t care, I’m still going to picture a fat fuzzy bumble bee buzzing around with a magic wand and a smile on it’s face whenever I hear that title.

I’m trying not to let Captain Beefheart disowning this album affect my listen. Overall, I think these songs are sweet, relaxing, bluesy jams and most of them have a romantic feel to them. I’m like the way this album makes me feel, so I’m going to say I’ll listen to it again.

Alex Says: This was a weird one for Sarah to start with. I don’t think by the end of her Captain Beefheart experience, she’ll think he belonged in The Last Waltz.

Can “Ege Bamyasi ” (1972)

I just asked Alex if this band is Japanese because the words “ege bamyasi okraschoten,” sound Japanese to me. Is that Japanese for Okra? He said the lead singer is but that the band is German. The cover of this album physically feels different than other album covers. It’s very smooth and not shiny at all and a little thicker. The front cover image reminds me of a cookbook or the grocery store, but the back cover photo is pretty artsy and cool looking, so I feel like this is going to be an interesting sounding band. Based on the packaging alone, I’m eager to hear it.

So this just jumps right in. The first song starts in the middle of a psychedelic drum solo. I actually started it over because I thought I put the needle too far in. This song is called “Pinch,” and the lyrics are sort of like quiet poetry sounding. I can’t understand what he’s saying, but it sounds kind of like English. This has a rambling stream of consciousness feel to it, that I can kind of get into. I like that it’s stream of consciousness without sounding like a jam band. It’s not flowery at all, it sounds very cool. Like you could see beat poets wearing berets and snapping fingers to this music even though it’s definitely not from the 50s. If beat poets got in a time machine and ended up at a Can show, I think they would really dig it.

It’s not really like a true song though, I think I might find myself getting bored by this music if I saw it live. I would probably become aware of how long I’d been standing rather than noticing an awesome drum solo when it was happening. But for sitting in the living room, it’s pretty good. You could totally read or play board games to this music. But I feel like the band members wouldn’t like to hear me say that, because they seem like artists who are interested in influencing minds with their music during live performances. The drums almost have a jazzy feel to me, even though this isn’t jazz music.

Oh, the second song, “Sing Swan Song” starts with a relaxing sound of water, like a babbling brook, that I have to say, I am very much enjoying. This song feels a little more melodic rather than improvisational and has kind of a beautiful melancholy feel. I’m actually really enjoying this song and think I would also very much enjoy it live. It’s kind of spooky and relaxing and a little bit sad at the same time.

The first song on side two is called “Vitamin C.” Alex just said, “pretty fucking deep grooves,” about this song by the way. I have totally heard this song before, it must be from Alex playing it. It’s kind of reminding me of Portishead a little bit. I like it. Most of the music on this album is space out music though, so it’s a little hard to write about the specifics, I’m trying to focus on the overall feeling. Which I guess is what I always do.

Towards what is either the middle or the end of “Soup,” it definitely starts sounding like jazz a bit, I think there’s a saxophone suddenly? Whoa, it’s still going and now it sounds like a haunted spaceship! There are definitely witches and aliens in the band all of the sudden. Kind of intense. The band is possessed! The lead singer is speaking in tongues. It’s making me laugh a little bit.

According to wikipedia, the last song, “Spoon,” was Can’s only big hit. It was a hit single in Germany. Interesting, because it does not sound like a typical hit! 

All in all, I liked this album! But, it’s definitely space out music, so you have to be in a spacey mood if you’re going to put it on. Or it will definitely put you in one.

Cameo “Word Up” (1986)


I’m pretty sure I could spend this entire post just talking about the outfits on the cover of this album. I think my favorite thing might be the guy in the middle’s red pants that have what look like a pull tab at the crotch. But the intensely textured sweater on the left and arrow-shirt/ crazy patterned pants on the right are all intriguing me as well. Throw in each member’s fancy mustache and you’ve got some hip dudes who look like they aren’t afraid of the dance floor. 

The first song, “Word Up,” has a slowish Janet Jackson beat. The singer’s voice has this affected bullhorn sound to it, which would be fun to imitate if you know the words. Alex said I might be familiar with this song, but I don’t know it. This song has a sexy bass line to it, and even though it’s a little bit cheesy in a totally 80s way, it is a little sexy too. It’s almost Prince-esque, but a poor man’s Prince, I would say.

“Candy,” has a real smooth feel to it, and I like the way they sing “candy,” like “can-day.” I’m finding the background vocal voice to be a little distracting, it’s sort of a deep yet sassy voice. “You’re taking my appetite, but it’s alright,” haha. He’s sort of talking out of the side of his mouth like a carnival barker calling from his booth. But then you get a real dreamy/funky instrumental breakdown, I’m definitely liking the instrumental side of this song a lot actually, and then a sax comes in, and you know what? It really pulls it all together. Yeah, singing “candy,” like “can-day,” is really fun. So good.

Back and Forth,” has a part where they just say, “back, back, and forth, and forth,” and there’s something about that that I really like. It’s almost like chanting, it really makes you want to say it along with them, and dance and clap your hands. It gives you that feeling like they’re giving you dance move directions which I’m always a sucker for in songs,

This music definitely has a very dated sound to it, but there’s something simultaneously funky and calming about it. Is that the definition of groovy? It’s not the kind of music I’d usually think to listen to, but I have to say I’m enjoying it.

Side two keeps the groovy jams going although a little more on the soulful/sexy side with “Don’t Be Lonely.” While I don’t normally post gifs on this blog, I happened to look at my tumblr feed while listening to this song, and Kristen Wiig must be dancing to “Don’t Be Lonely,” in this gif right? This is how you dance to this song.


via my favorite tumblr, librarianproblems.com.

Oh, this song has one of those talking parts! It’s so cheesy, but I’m feeling it! I think he’s talking to his ex gf.

She’s Mine,” is the first kind of rap song on this album. I’ll tell you one thing, I’m feeling the funky horns.

Fast, Fierce & Funny,” starts with a really sick jam but then they lyrics come in and he’s singing in kind of a weird voice. I keep picturing a muppet singing it. Why? I’m not sure, but that’s where my mind is going.

The last song, “You Can Have The World,” is a real positive anthem, and I think would be a great thing to listen to before a job interview, or if you have to do public speaking or anything that is potentially scary but good for you in the long run. Put your headphones in and blast the positive vibes. It’ll make you feel good.