It's Music To My Fears
by Jon F. Merz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
OK, I admit it: I don't like boy bands.
For that matter, I don't like girl bands, either. Especially when their voices get washed through thousands of dollars of FX equipment just to make them tolerable to the teen market's ear.
Needless to say, this Child of the 80's finds it tough locating tunes I can really dig. My last purchase from a used CD store consisted of some Ozzy Osbourne, Godfathers, Fixx, Gustav Holst, Dexter Gordon and a CD consisting solely of Amazing Grace on the bagpipes (that one always chokes me up). While my musical tastes are varied, they aren't all that eclectic. And as the August heat deep-fried my noggin one particularly warm day, I decided to fulfill my weirdness potential by digging up some truly bizarre music.
My first stop landed me at the site of Cool and Strange Music Magazine. Home to the quarterly print magazine whose sole mission is to expose ``great stuff" most of us would only listen to while intoxicated on fermented mango ginkoba smoothies, the site holds a trove of weird stuff. Where else can you find reviews of CDs with names like ``Hot Rods and Custom Classics," ``X-Ray Tango: Spy Fidelity," and of course, ``The A-Team Soundtrack"? I understand the last item has several samples of Mr. T shouting ``I pity da fool," which is a must-have for the three remaining members of his fan club. Find these reviews and more at http://www.coolandstrange.com/Reviews/Index.html.
An odd pairing of musical tastes is what you'll find at Strange Parts Music. While they only offer two apparent products right now, plans are under way to expand the line. For now, you'll have to make do with either Greg Chesser's ``Sweet Hills" CD, which contains the potential redneck No. 1 ``Too Much Booze Blues" or the ominously titled music video ``Just Another Drive By Polka." At eight minutes in length, everyone should get a copy of this party-killer for when you want to not-so-politely tell your guests to take off.
Speaking of tunes that sound like accordions being blasted with M60 machine guns, head over to ExStreamities. These extreme music modules are available for download in zip files and run the gamut of hard-core punk, metal, ambient, techno and trip-hop categories. Definitely not for the timid, some of the titles alone will be enough to wreak havoc long before they do the same to your ears.
RE/Search Publications of San Francisco offers a guidebook to the bizarre landscape of strange music with their tomes ``Incredibly Strange Music, volumes 1 & 2." Located at http://www.vsearchmedia.com/books/ismprod.shtml, you'll also find several CDs and cassettes for sale featuring some of the many acts written about in the books. Whether you want garage surf, religious ventriloquism, and yes, opera singing parrots, this is the place to come.
Portable MP3 enthusiasts can rejoice in the offerings of electronica at http://www.somestrange.com. Featuring works by bands like Silicon Soul and O Zone, this SoHo, New York studio serves up the latest edgy creations in trance, tribal, fractal, jungle and electro-reggae. The Web site also allows you the opportunity to mix samples in Real Audio format and download songs. Not a bad way to go about exploring new realms of music.
Of course, half the fun of being a musician is never having to apologize for your personal taste. It's do-it-yourself with an attitude, which is exactly what you'll discover (shudder) when you point your browser to http://www.island.net/~cfaris/weird-music.htm. Check out the samplings of .wav format tunes we all know and sometimes love. What makes them special? They're sung by a computer. Badly. If you've ever wanted to know how ``The Farmer in the Dell" would sound if HAL from 2001 ever grabbed the microphone, here's your chance. You'll also find hits like ``Jack and Jill" and ``The Eentsy Weentsy Spider." Some people have waaaaay too much time on their hands...
If these tunes brought a smile to your face, head over to http://trottel.mentha.hu/altere.html. The Trottel Records Web site located in Hungary boasts tons of alternative psychedelic music that they brag is some of the most depressing anywhere. After all, having a depressed economy must inspire something, so why not make music to trip out on? My favorite selection was ``American Positivism" which apparently ``...sounds very American and very Hungarian at the same time." Hmmm, all I can picture is a young Hungarian teenager asking if I'd like fries with my Big Mac.
Finally, if hard-to-find soundtracks from Blaxploitation flicks are what you get your groove on to, then head over to http://www.jackdiamond.com where the folks at Jack Diamond Music have this and so much more. Check out soundtracks from Petey Wheatstraw, Rudy Ray Moore's Dolomite, and Slaughter's Big Rip-Off by James Brown and the JB's. Weird stuff to be sure but if you dig even deeper into this site, you'll discover an even scarier compilation album.
Yes, if you hit the link to http://www.jackdiamond.com/celebritiecds.html you'll discover not one, but two CD collections filled with audio bloopers from your favorite stars. Why on earth anyone ever spent time and money compiling this when every blooper show on TV has failed miserably is beyond me. But if you're into listening to people utter strings of profanity when they flub a line or miss a sound check, this is the stuff your dreams are made of. I ordered a copy solely for the purpose of witnessing facial expressions when I cruise around (windows down and the volume cranked to 11) listening to John Wayne swear his head off.
Maybe I have too much time on my hands...
Jon F. Merz freelances from Boston, Mass., where he writes for APBNews.com, Guyville.com and more. His past articles have appeared in World Rhythm Magazine, Ura & Omote Journal, and Wcities.com. He has also published two dozen short stories in various national and small press magazines.
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