March 04, 2008

One... Two... Touch No More...

Luie_Luie.jpgHere’s a treat for any fans of Incredibly Strange Music out there… Luie Luie is an outsider lounge artist who first gained notoriety through the appearance of his signature tune “El Touchy” on Irwin Chusid’s genre-defining compilation, Songs In The Key Of Z.

Musically, El Touchy sounds like a slightly brain-fried Herb Alpert outtake; but the thing that makes it truly memorable is the fact that Luie bookends the music with some seriously effusive commentary in which he elaborates upon the structure and purpose of the Touchy. (In short, it begins with a wild trumpet intro that will prompt you to engage in uninhibited physical contact, then ends with a series of rhythmic stabs that signal the cessation of “touching”.)

The rest of the album that this track comes from follows a similar pattern – an impassioned preamble in which Luie intones nuggets of wide-eyed philosophy (mostly related to physical contact) followed by some increasingly demented take on lounge jazz.

For a long time, the album was a hard-to-find, much-sought-after artifact of musical weirdness but now, thanks to Companion Records, Touchy has been released on CD; complete with “Touchy Buttons” that listeners can attach to body parts that they want their partners to “touch”... Here are two tracks from the CD for you to enjoy:

Luie Luie – Touch Of Light
Luie Luie – Lord What A Wonderful World

Posted by Warren at 11:02 PM

May 01, 2007

Rummage Rewind: Wee Willie Shantz

Shantz.jpgBack when Rummage was winding down into its last sabbatical, I received an email from Justin St. Clair at portal,, about an enigmatic artist known as Wee Willie Shantz, who I'd already featured on Rummage and who was responsible for one of the strangest records ever recorded. For the purposes of those who aren’t acquainted, I’ll repost the following apt description of his work that was originally posted on the now defunct Oddball Auditorium:

Can you imagine John Cage jamming with Negativland inside a moving boxcar full of victrolas... or perhaps an old backwoods codger, swigging mash whiskey from a facejar, has been working on these songs for 40 years and he finally got a chance to record them, but the only band he could find was a family of occultists who live at the junkyard. Anyway this record has it all -- prepared sound objects, recording manipulation, sing-speak vocal somewhere between nursery rhyme and shaman ritual, semi-aleatoric stringed instruments, and even a sublime saxophone solo.

Justin had already pointed me to a second recording by this bizarre backwoods troubadour, and his latest email revealed a third. Since then, he's uncovered two more recordings and Cheezeball has become the host of Shantz's unofficial home on the web. If you haven't already, I urge you all to visit it and revel in the work one of the great forgotten oddballs of American music.

Posted by Warren at 09:22 PM

April 17, 2007

People Try To Put Us Down: The Zimmers

This is about old people sticking it back to the society that has cast them aside…

So says Tim Samuels, a documentary maker who recently brought together 40 British senior citizens to perform this rousing version of The Who’s My Generation, which was recorded in Abbey Road Studios and has become something of a hit on YouTube. The group, which has been christened The Zimmers, includes video-blog star Peter Oakley aka Geriatric1927 and an actor who has appeared in Little Britain, but apart from that they’re all largely unknown amateurs. Despite this, they’re unfazed by the occasion and throw themselves into the material with gusto. The resulting video is a lot of fun, particularly when the 90 year old lead singer croons “Hope I die before I get old” with a straight face, but it also delivers a moment of unexpected poignancy, when one member holds up a sign that says “I’ve Not Left My Flat In Three Years” during the bass lead break… I look forward to their version of The Prodigy’s “Firestarter” (also part of their repertoire).

My Generation by The Zimmers can be purchased online as of May 21, and all proceeds will go to Age Concern.

Posted by Warren at 08:53 PM

June 07, 2005

Rock Jack: A Three-Year Old Child, a Karaoke Machine, and A Trash Rawk Band

Rock_Jack.jpgThere are no doubt a lot of waywardly talented kids like three year old Ezra Lux, who – if you put them in front of a children’s karaoke machine mike – would turn into seriously rocking kindergarten punk banshees. But, for the most part , they’re just humoured in the hope that they’ll one day “grow out of it”. Ezra, however, has a parent in the San Francisco music scene who has not only encouraged him to kick out the jams, he’s put a together a band who provide solid punk-metal backing to Ezra’s shouted-out rants about toilet usage and Darth Vader. The result is Jack Rock, whose first self-released CD has just found its way on to the shelves at Aquarius Records (if you want a copy, they do mail order). If you want a taste of the Jack Rock post-toddler-core sound, check out the samples on MySpace music.

Posted by Warren at 10:40 PM

May 04, 2005

RIP Hasil Adkins

Hasil_Adkins.jpg Imagine Hank Williams, Robert Johnson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley, Johnny Cash, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, George Jones, Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Dolemite, Thomas Edison, Uncle Jesse, Grandpa Munster, Groucho Marx, Johnny B. Goode, Casanova, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Sitting Bull in one body...

And the vision that will appear in your reeling head will be Hasil Adkins, a giant in the field of demented rockabilly. He was a primal influence on the Cramps and once recorded an entire album devoted to chickens. If you want to hear the man in all his glory, check out this lurching lo-fi Real Audio recording of his ode to romantic decapitation, We Got A Date. (It's the start of an archived WFMU radio show.)

Sadly, he passed away in his West Virginia home last week at the age of 68.

(FOOTNOTE: The opening quote comes from his official site.)

Posted by Warren at 01:59 AM

April 12, 2005

The Most Reclusive Man In Music Becomes Less Reclusive

For more than a quarter of a century, Jandek was the ultimate reclusive artist. He released 40 albums of desolately dissonant abstract blues, but never performed live, rarely gave interviews, and for most of his fans, the only clues to his identity where the out-of-focus snapshots on his album covers…

Then, in October last year, Jandek actually did a gig at the Instal.04 festival in Glasgow. At the time, it was naturally assumed that this would be a one-off, and that Jandek would quickly retire to the shadows – never to return… But now, news has surfaced that there will be a follow-up performance at The Music Lover’s Field Companion festival in Gateshead, England on May 22… Can fully fledged tours supporting Radiohead or Sonic Youth be far behind? Or maybe a What Is Music headline? We await expectantly…

In the meantime, if you are unfamiliar with his work, here’s a track from the live bootleg of the Glasgow show. (You should be able to download the rest of the bootleg from a P2P site somewhere. Try Soulseek.)

Posted by Warren at 01:22 AM

January 29, 2005

Wee Willie Shantz Revisited

Recently I received an email from Justin St Clair of, a site devoted to, who has come across a new single by that great 20th century musical enigma, Wee Willie Shantz.
As some of you may be aware, Shantz was responsible for one of the strangest singles ever recorded – Coo Coo Bird/Hush Puppy Hush – two tracks of backwoods ramblings buried underneath the most bizarre sound collages. Up until September last year, this perplexing artifact was hosted at Oddball Auditorium. Unfortunately, that site has passed on and it has taken its mp3s of Shantz with it (much to the disappointment of Justin who didn’t get to hear them while they were still up). So, for the benefit of Justin – and anyone else who missed out – I’ve decided to host the “classic” versions of Coo Coo Bird and Hush Puppy Hush on this site.
By way of comparison, Justin’s finding amounts to a kind of “Shantz Unplugged”. There are none of the weirdshit overdubs here; just Shantz whittling away at a melody beneath jerkily plucked banjo and out-of-time bass… A million miles away from the bat-shit crazy production of the OA single, and consequently, rendering it even more inexplicable…
The single he has posted includes a version of Coo Coo Bird, and another track entitled Going Up The River.

Posted by Warren at 02:03 AM

December 22, 2004

Prussian Blue: The Most Disturbing Pop Act of 2004

Meet Lamb and Lynx Gaede, ballad-singing 12-year-old Californian twins who play guitar (Lamb) and violin (Lynx). They like listening to the music of Avril Lavigne, Evanescence, Green Day, AC/DC and Barney the Dinosaur… But their biggest musical influence is white supremacist skinhead band Skrewdriver. They do folky covers of many of that odious outfit’s songs, and also perform originals filled with gushing references to Aryan warriors in Valhalla, and lines about freedom existing only for “those with darker skin”…
Unlike many child acts of their tender years, they are surprisingly articulate in interviews and demonstrate an engagement with contemporary issues - such as eugenics. Specifically, they lament the fact that “smart white girls who have good eugenics are more interested in making money in a career or partying” than getting married and having “good-quality” white offspring…
As I said in the title of this post, they truly are the most disturbing pop act to emerge this year. If you want to hear what they sound like then their website has an mp3 of a song called I Will Bleed For You. It has the sort of clunky musical naivete that would warrant it being classed as “outsider” and, for once, I hope it ensures that they remain scorned and derided outsiders forever.
(Many thanks to Stephen Terrell for this link. When he originally posted them on his website, he was flooded with comments that called them a “refreshing change” from “normal pop rap garbage/ bling bling urban (c)rap/left-wing fruitcake propaganda” and proof that “Nazis aren't as bad as everyone thinks”... And, no, I don't think that last comment was ironic…)

(FOOTNOTE: The band name, in addition to sounding appropriately Teutonic, is a reference to the colour of Zyklon B residue, which “supposedly” wasn’t found in the gas chambers, thus rendering the Holocaust a fallacy… Need any more reasons to be sickened by these munchkins?)

Posted by Warren at 02:05 AM

December 15, 2004

Benefit For Ubu

If you live the Sydney area, then I urge you to get along to the Mu Meson Archives tomorrow night (Thu Dec 16) as they are holding a benefit for the family of Ubu, the recently deceased drummer of legendary local outsider band, the Mu-Mesons. (For those of you who want some background on the band, I recommend this write-up on the Australian Ad Lib website.)

At the benefit, there will be screenings of interviews from a couple of Mu-Meson docos, previously unseen footage from various Meson gigs in the last 10 years, and a 16mm film of Ubu's wedding. It will be $10 to get in and all proceeds will go to making Xmas a bit easier for Ubu's wife Caspha and his two children, Phoenix and Jovian. (If you've never been there before, the Archive is behind King Furniture on Parramatta Rd in Annandale, halfway between the the Empire and Annandale Hotels.)

Posted by Warren at 06:24 PM

October 02, 2004

An Entire Community Singing Its Heart Out: The Clouds

When Irwin Chusid, the czar of outsider music, brings out a record, you know its bound to be something special!... In the past, he's given us such gems as The Langley Schools Music Project and Songs In The Key of Z. And now he has released The Clouds, an “avant gospel” project put together by Indianapolis artist, Stuart Hyatt, and featuring performances by 88 amateur singers and instrumentalists from Sumter County in Western Alabama who range in age from 8 to 80. All the songs performed by the project were originals written by Hyatt in collaboration with the performers... even where those performers weren't really songwriters. On "No, You Can't Take Them", for instance, he got a group of fourth to eighth grade kids to come up with one thing they would take to a desert island, and this list became the quirky Widney-High-esque verses to a song about what you can't take to heaven with you. As a counterpoint, the choruses were sung in classic vaulting gospel style by the Union Chapel Male Chorus... Its a combination which may look odd on paper, but it all works beautifully... An mp3 of the track can be downloaded from the WFMU archive, and the album can be purchased through Innova.

Posted by Warren at 05:33 PM

September 21, 2004 Relaunched

To coincide with the birthday of late great outsider scat vocalist, Shooby Taylor, the official fansite has been relaunched. (For a brief background on Shooby, refer to this earlier posting.) On the design side, there are no major changes – a few new graphics and a busy (but not too obtrusive) background filled with transliterations of Shoobyisms. But the really interesting new addition is a previously unseen video of Shooby at an Apollo Theatre amateur night in 1983. Sadly, Shooby is on for only 20 seconds before the crowd erupts in a chorus of boos, and he is unceremoniously booted off. All deplorably disrespectful, but in those twenty seconds at least, Shooby cuts loose with his “air saxophone” and we get to see what a good performer he could’ve been… if given a chance.

(If you’re new to Shooby, make sure you go to the mp3 page and, at the very least, download his gloriously uninhibited version of Stout Hearted Man.)

Posted by Warren at 11:19 PM

September 19, 2004

The World's Strangest Record: The Inscrutable Mystery of Wee Willie Shantz

For anyone whose a fan of Incredibly Strange Music on the web, this is sad news indeed… As of the end of September, Oddball Auditorium, one of the great online repositories of “unusual tunes in mp3 format” will be taken offline. The site, which started way back in 1998, is devoted to those vinyl bargain bin / thrift store finds that make you do a double-take the moment you read the label or gently place a stylus into their crackling grooves. By today’s “mp3 a day” standards, the postings were fairly sporadic (once a month at best) but the accumulated selection is blessed with some memorably offbeat tracks, like a pro-capitalist kids’ song by Janeen Brady, the cloying Zionist pop of Joshua Tenne, a 1979 flexidisc of McDonalds motivational material, and song-poems galore

But the postings that Oddball Auditorium is most “famous” for are Coo Coo Bird and Hush Puppy Hush, two tracks of rambling backwoods vocals buried underneath a borderline-psychotic sound collage. The tracks are from a battered old 45 by Wee Willie Shantz, which site curator John Fitzpatrick has called “The World’s Strangest Record”… Here’s his description of it:

Can you imagine John Cage jamming with Negativland inside a moving boxcar full of victrolas... or perhaps an old backwoods codger, swigging mash whiskey from a facejar, has been working on these songs for 40 years and he finally got a chance to record them, but the only band he could find was a family of occultists who live at the junkyard. Anyway this record has it all -- prepared sound objects, recording manipulation, sing-speak vocal somewhere between nursery rhyme and shaman ritual, semi-aleatoric stringed instruments, and even a sublime saxophone solo.

About this record, all that is known is that it was recorded in St Louis (and that renowned St Louis alto sax player Leroy Harris performed on one of the tracks). When it was recorded and who the hell Wee Willie Shantz is, are complete mysteries – even to John Fitzpatrick! (His postings of these recordings conclude with a plea for any information… To date, four years after they initially went up, nothing has been unearthed…)

So, while you have a chance, head over to the Auditorium and download Wee Willie, and the oddities that remain. (If you want to get your hands on the ones that have gone off line, you can purchase a CD-R compilation.)

Posted by Warren at 07:37 PM

September 02, 2004

The Enlightening Beam of Axonda: Building 311-String Instruments To Travel Through Subatomic Oneness And Reach The Preparation Dimension Of Heaven

If you're going to indulge in the bloated conceit of making a concept album then you might as well go all the way, and concoct something so mind-bogglingly pretentious that it could potentially serve as the basis for a new religion... That's what Bobby Brown did back in 1972... And, no, I'm not talking about the late 80's R&B artist responsible for the hit "My Prerogative"... This Bobby Brown was a Hawaiian hippy dude who built his own ensemble of stringed instruments with a total of 311 strings; possessed a six octave singing voice ("possibly the greatest range ever recorded"); and had devised a new type of physics that would "lead to the most significant change in human history".

On his album "The Enlightening Beam of Axonda", he laid out this new "physics" in the form of a tale about some guy called "Johnny" who leaves his Hawaiian home and embarks on a spiritual quest that inevitably leads him to New Orleans. (Makes sense... That's where they ended up in Easy Rider...) But unlike the "can't-handle-a-bad-trip" lame-arses in Easy Rider, he ventures into a nearby forest, communes with nature, and discovers a subatomic "oneness" called Bray that humanity will ultimately communicate with via a machine called Axonda. The machine will send out beams of energy that will "eventually lead to total Goconciousness". With this knowledge under his belt, Johnny is ready to enter the "preparation dimension" of heaven and merge with God but, at the last moment, he decides to return to earthly life... to record this album!... L Ron Hubbard, eat your heart out!

As for the music itself... Well, as you might expect, there's a lot of po-faced "straining for the sublime" which is only saved from being completely drippy by the primitive-synth like swoops and glides of his 311-stringed juggernaut. And, yes, he does have a pretty impressive voice - reminiscent of some lysergically-drenched Nick Drake.

The album can be purchased through Aquarius Records, who have a couple of streaming samples. For your spiritual enlightnement, though, I'm posting the complete mp3 of the opening track, I Must Be Born.

Posted by Warren at 11:27 PM

June 27, 2004

365 Days Is Back !!!

This is wonderful news indeed... 365 Days now has a permanent home; in the outsider section of the revamped Ubuweb site.
This legendary online mp3 project which delivered one mp3 of interesting, obscure (and often out-of-print) music per day for the whole of 2003, was originally taken off-line a couple weeks after the end of last year. Now, anyone who missed out on a track first time round has a second chance to download it... and no time limit to do so!

Posted by Warren at 07:27 PM

May 20, 2004

Act Your Age: Kids Of Widney High
(Originally aired 23rd April 2004)

Back in 1987, Michael Monaghan, a teacher at Widney High, a Los Angeles school for the developmentally disabled, decided to set up a songwriting class for the students. After some initial difficulty with the idea of original songs, the kids – who suffered from conditions like epilepsy, cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome and muscular dystrophy – quickly warmed to the whole process of expressing their unique experiences in three-minute pop tunes – and they had an undeniable talent for it too.

When Monaghan sent their first batch of material out to be professionally recorded (so the kids would have a memento of the class), one of the tapes found its way to the offices of Rounder Records who offered to release it commercially. The resulting album Special Music From Special Kids developed a serious cult following and the Kids were soon scoring regular gigs in LA clubs. (At one point, they were even opening for Mr Bungle.)

“Act Your Age”, which came out earlier this year, is the third album to have emerged from this songwriting class. In addition to its tales of life as a Widney kid, it includes a reflective history of the Cuban revolution, a bouncy number about a disabled Santa, and an anthem to bovines. The album (and the rest of the KOWH back catalogue) can be purchased from their website.

(With the music world taken care of, the Kids of Widney High are now heading off to conquer the silver screen. There's a documentary about them in the works, and special appearance by the Kids in a forthcoming Farrelly Bros film.)

Posted by Warren at 01:39 PM

May 07, 2004

Blind Man's Penis... In Flash

Anyone whose read the entry on Song Poems will know about this infamous stream-of-nonsense song which was written as a dare to see if a "we-will-record-anything" song-poem company would be true to its word... Well, now its been turned into a Flash animation, with visuals that give you the sort of "insight" into its "meaning" which you'll probably live to regret having...
Warning: Not safe for work (unless, of course, images of Stevie Wonder "getting the horn" and using it on Adolf Hitler are OK with your colleagues..) (via Boing Boing)

Posted by Warren at 04:58 PM

April 27, 2004

Shooby Taylor 1929 -2003
(Originally aired 2nd Sept 2003)

William "Shooby" Taylor was, quite possibly, the weirdest vocalist ever to have lived. A scat singer, who remained largely unknown throughout his 40 year career, Shooby took this already unusual singing style to mind-boggling extremes. In an effort to express the joyously unhinged music in his head, he concocted a baroque vocabulary of raw-shaws, tweeding-das and sidily doot-in-doot splaws, and used it to scat manically over anything from the Ink Spots to Johnny Cash to "Over The Rainbow".

He only became known to the wider world in the early 90's when an electrician at the NJ radio station WFMU played a copy of his only album, Human Horn (recorded in the 80's), to resident DJ, Irwin Chusid. By this time, however, ailing health had brought his performing career to an end. (He was even forced to turn down an appearance on The David Letterman Show in 1995.) He finally passed away in June 2003.

(Postscript: Despite the cult following he acquired in the last years of his life, there are still no plans to re-issue the impossible-to-find Human Horn. In the meantime, the only way to experience Shooby is by either buying the Songs In The Key Of Z CDs (which I wholeheartedly recommend) or downloading mp3s of his work from

Posted by Warren at 10:38 PM

April 26, 2004

Wesley Willis 1963 - 2003
(Originally Aired 1st Sept 2003)

Wesley Willis is one of the true icons of outsider music. This obese African-American schizophrenic from Chicago seemed destined for an anonymous life of either homelessness or institutionalisation before "discovering" the delights of preset Casiotone rhythms in 1990, and embarking on one of the most staggeringly prolific songwriting careers of recent times. In the 13 years that followed, he recorded 30 albums (2 of which were actually released by a major label) and wrote 35,000 songs.

Sure, they were formulaic to the point of sounding like the same song rewritten over and over again... But still, its hard not to be amused and entertained by tunes like "Cut The Mullet", "I Whupped Spiderman's Ass" and "Rock'n'Roll McDonalds" especially when delivered with the sort of unsmirking rant-and-bellow gusto that was Wesley's "singing" style.

A good selection of Wesley's recorded output is available for purchase at Alternative Tentacles (You can download some mp3s there too.) And if you want to find out more about Wesley, there is an excellent article and complete discography in The Hip Surgery Music Guide. There is also a documentary about him which was released in 2002.

Wesley Willis passed away in August 2003 after a six month battle with leukemia. He was 40 year old.

Posted by Warren at 09:00 PM

April 20, 2004

The American Song-Poem Anthology
(originally aired 11th Aug 2003)

I don't know how prevalent they are now, but once upon a time, you could open any trashy magazine and find ads, like the one on the left, which offered wannabe Burt Bacharachs the chance to fulfill their dreams...
Naturally, they were all a bit of con. Starry-eyed respondents submitted their songs/poems (along with a not-insubstanitial fee) and received recordings of these tortured pennings with professional arrangements and backings... but that's as far as it went. There was no "free examination" or appraisal of the song's "hit" potential. The companies involved in the song-poem industry didn't give a toss about the quality of the lyrics they were sent. So long as the money rolled in, they would record anything.

(A famous example of this philosophy in action is A Blind Man's Penis by John Trubee. In an attempt to see just what he could he could get away with, Trubee submitted an ode with lyrics like "Stevie Wonder's penis is erect because he's blind" and "Warts loved my nipples because they are pink/Vomit on me, baby/Yeah Yeah Yeah". And, lo and behold, it was recorded (with minimal changes) and given the full Nashville treatment... As always, there's a sample of the song on the server at Aquarius Records).

The result of all this is a goldmine of truly bizarre vanity recordings, in which serious-about-their-art professional arrangers (like the much-loved Rodd Keith) do battle with almost unrecordable lyrical drivel. Some of the more memorable outcomes of these "struggles" have been compiled on The American Song Poem Anthology (which can be purchased from Aquarius Records, who also have real audio snippets from some of the songs). Alternatively, you can download mp3s of song poems from the extensive collection at The American Song Poem Music Archive.

Posted by Warren at 07:20 PM