Sunday, September 29, 2013

Music Library: Scharpling & Wurster, Schoolly D, Shubert, Scott Adair, Scott Walker, Jack Scott, Raymond Scott, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Screaming Blue Messiahs, Screaming Trees

Scharpling & Wurster - Rock, Rot, and Rule (1999), New Hope For The Ape-Eared (2004), and Hippy Justice (2005). The host of The Best Show On WFMU and the funniest man in rock music cracking wise for the edification of the hundreds, if not fives of hundreds, who fall into this target demographic. Tom Scharpling is a pretty great straight man, willing to roll with whatever Jon Wurster throws at him, which is considerable because Wurster is both hilarious and amazingly imaginative. Rock, Rot, and Rule has the first of these, where Wurster takes on the persona of a guy who has written a book to definitively answer where bands fall into these arbitrary (which is the point) categories, and the angry callers who are not even close to being in on the joke are the most delightful part. By the time of New Hope, most of WFMU's listeners knew they were being trolled, but the focus shifts to a brilliant and weird world-building experiment. Hippy Justice has some of the greatest bits these two have ever pulled off, including Hippy Johnny, who embodies the ruthless, fascist, corporate spine behind many of the more bullshitty hippy feel-good companies, Timmy Von Trimble, a three-inch tall neo-Nazi, and Old Skull, which hilariously skewers reunion shows, aging rock dreamers, and stupid band schticks with the kind of eye that comes with being an aging rock drummer.

Schoolly D - Smoke Some Kill (1988) and "Aqua Teen Hunger Force." The original scary rapper, Schoolly D was throwing out rhymes about drugs and violence when the old school was just school.

Shubert - String Quartet No. 13 in A Minor (Kodaly Quartet, 1995) and String Quartet No. 14 in D minor "Death and the Maiden Quartet," D. 810 (Lavard Skou-Larsen and Salzburg Chamber Soloists, 2006). Purty. Emotional.

Scott Adair - Liquidation (2007). Great countrified songs from a talented guy in Austin who used to be in Spoon. These are clearly home-recorded and a little lo-fi, but the material is very strong.

Scott Walker - Scott (1967), Scott 2 (1968), Scott 3 (1969), Scott 4 (1969), 'Til The Band Comes In (1970), Climate Of Hunter (1984), Tilt (1995), The Drift (2006), and And Who Shall Go To The Ball? And What Shall Go To The Ball? (2007). The albums from the 60s show Scott Walker's development into King Emotional Chamber Pop. Scott 4, in particular, is an amazing album, an attempt to convert pop music into an experimental context. Band Comes In is an attempt to make something more in line with the popular tastes of 1970s audiences, and it sucks mightily. Climate Of Hunter is an odd attempt to fuse 1980s productions with the weirdo experimental sounds that Walker was clearly interested in pursuing at the time. It doesn't really work, but there's something there. With Tilt and, especially, The Drift, though, Walker made the music of nightmares. The Drift may be the most terrifying album ever recorded, a freefloating consideration of a uniquely American ugliness. Consider the song "Jesse," which is included below, a tone-poem of sorts addressed to Elvis Presley's stillborn twin that culminates in a wrenching a capella cry "I'm the only one left alive." Jesus. I have not yet bought last year's Bisch Bosch, which completes a trilogy started with Tilt. The truth is that I'm afraid to do so. The Ball? EP is only ok.

Jack Scott - Classic Scott (collection, 1957-74). This is a completist Bear Family box of singles and album cuts by Scott, the Canadian rockabilly/country singer behind the mysterious "Goodbye Baby." It is excellent.

Raymond Scott - Reckless Nights And Turkish Twilights (compilation, 1937-40). I covered Scott before, but then acquired this collection of his more swing-y music, including the omnipresent "Powerhouse."

Screamin' Jay Hawkins - Cow Fingers and Mosquito Pie (compilation, 1956-58). This disc collects some of Hawkins' best and best-known tracks from the 50s. The man had a graveyard disposition and a cemetery mind.

The Screaming Blue Messiahs - Gun Shy (1986), Bikini Red (1987), and Totally Religious (1989). Bluesy British band that kind of reminds me of ZZ Top for their thick guitar tones and goofy humor, although the Messiahs have more of a surf influence. And the opposite sort of hair on their heads.

The Screaming Trees - Sweet Oblivion (1992). Maybe the most grungy of all grunge bands, the Screaming Trees were actually based outside of Seattle.


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