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Immerse yourself in the very strange world of wonderfully weird (and rare) records
05.31.2017
09:02 am
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Feel the Music
 
For decades, Paul Major has been collecting and selling the strangest records ever pressed on vinyl. Much of what was initially known about many a wonderfully weird LP was due to his mail order catalogs, in which he described the obscure garage rock, psych, and often beyond-classification albums he had for sale. He’s tracked down many of the outsiders who made singularly great, private (a/k/a vanity) pressings, leading to authorized reissues.

Anthology Editions has just released Feel The Music: The Psychedelic Worlds Of Paul Major. The book contains images from his ‘zine-like catalogs, vintage flyers, photos, as well as album art and his assessments of those way-offbeat LPs, many of which are quite rare. Major has loads of great stories, including accounts of meeting some of the eccentrics behind his favorite records.

We’ve put together a collection of tunes and cover art from twelve oddball albums, with Major’s commentary from the pages of Feel The Music.
 
Soulettes
Jr. and His Soulettes – ‘Psychodelic Sounds’ (HMM Records, 1971)

A pinch-yourself, this-record-can’t-really-exist level of amazing. An 11-year-old guitarist and his three sisters who are even younger grooving it out with funky swirling go-go organs, primordial drums and titles like “Thing, Do the Creep” and “Mama Love Tequila.” They’re so tight and loose they sound like they’ve been playing together for decades!

 
Much much more after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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05.31.2017
09:02 am
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Unbelievable! Holy grail footage of The Shaggs from 1972 FOUND!

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Of all outsider music, none is further outside than The Shaggs. Three young sisters from Fremont, New Hampshire whose harrowing story is like no other pop music story in history, is known at this point far and wide. Their father took them out of school, harassed and abused them to force them to “make music,” hoping to hit it rich off that new rock and roll fad. Since they didn’t have one iota of knowledge about music, the girls invented their own music. An amazing otherworldly music like nothing anyone’s ears have ever experienced! And being that they were young girls, this music had a great innocence to it, coming through guitar bass and drums. Now I don’t just mean they wrote songs, but that they reinvented music almost in an autistic way. Not knowing their back story early on, it’s amazing that this was created under duress. Everyone that heard it thought it was just the bizarre childish ramblings of the weirdest teens on earth! And they were, but still…
 
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To implement their father’s bizarre plan, these girls (Dot, Betty, and Helen Wiggin) were also forced to play every weekend at Fremont Town Hall where, it is said, that they were endlessly abused by rotten kids for doing the “Shaggs’ Own Thing,” yet they soldiered on weekend after weekend because they had to. Next was to record an LP and here is where their magic was set in stone. Released in 1969,The Shaggs’ Philosophy Of The World came and went and legend tells of them being thrown in a dumpster by the studio owner/co-producer (with their dad, Austin Wiggin). Either way 900 of the thousand LPs disappeared, so right off the bat it was incredibly rare. Being the most famous weirdo of his time the record made its way into the hands of none other than Frank Zappa who went on a radio interview in 1970 with the Shaggs LP under his arm and famously during the interview proclaimed “this band is better than the Beatles” and then made them play a song—the first public mindblower the band created. They kept playing until the day their father died of a massive heart attack in 1975 and then just stopped.
 
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Ten years after its original release, at the end of the first punk wave, mega record collector Terry Adams, singer for cult rock-n-roll band NRBQ, got his record label (Rounder Records) to re-release the LP. The minds punk opened were endlessly searching for weirdness in records, movies and pop culture. People like myself scarfed up the Shaggs LP and were mesmerized by its unique weirdness. It started being used as the measuring stick for weird music. People like Kurt Cobain put it in his top five favorite records of all time. In 1999 for the 30th anniversary NRBQ celebration concert they put on a show in New York That was one of the greatest and most bizarre nights of my life. I went with Shaggs megafan and one of my best friends, the late Bill Bartell (aka Pat Fear of California punk band White Flag) and it was a true mind bender. The Shaggs, playing their first show ever outside of Fremont, NH had the middle spot between Sun Ra’s Arkestra and NRBQ! Possibly the weirdest bill ever. I secretly recorded it, and it sounds exactly like the record. They read the music off of the original handwritten charts and only did four songs because they could only find those four pieces of sheet music! I had Dot Wiggin recreate the drawing of her cat Foot Foot from the back cover of the LP—made infamous in their “biggest hit” song “My Pal Foot Foot”—on my ankle and had it tattooed on the very next day! (I already had a tattoo on my actual foot foot.)
 
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Here’s Pat’s recounting of the show on Popshifter

Pat Fear: When I went to New York in 1999 to see the Shaggs when they played with NRBQ at their 30th Anniversary concert, I ended up getting to know them. They didn’t understand that they were going to be mobbed and I ended up being their handler. They had never experienced anything like being mobbed for autographs, so I set them up with a table for merch and stuff and ended up being their manager for a day. So I got to know them pretty well over the course of the two days.

They were really nice. It was only two of them; Helen wasn’t well enough to play [The Shaggs were comprised of three sisters: Dot, Betty, and Helen Wiggin; Helen died in 2006] so it was just Betty and Dot. That was the first time they had played since they broke up in 1975. I went to the soundcheck because I was not going to miss one second of Shaggs performances!

I met them and they were just standing around, these two, nice, older women—normal people who looked like middle-aged housewives—but they had guitars with them. And I barely recognized them. I said, “Look I don’t want to bother you but I came from California to see you. This is a big thrill and I’ve always liked your music.”

And they were like (adopts Shaggs-like accent), “Oh, that’s so nice!” They talk just like they do on the records. I was like, “Wow, this is actually happening.”

Dorothy [Dot] had a PeeChee folder in her hands and she opened it up right before they were about to do the sound check and she said (in Shaggs voice), “Oh, we’re only gonna do four numbers because we didn’t have time to study them.” And she opened this PeeChee folder and there was handwritten sheet music to “My Pal Foot Foot.”

Popshifter: Oh my goodness.

Pat Fear: Those songs were written out and scored on sheet music, by hand! And when she said “study” she meant, study the sheet music.

Popshifter: How is that even possible? (laughs)

Pat Fear: Jaw on the floor! I was with Howie Pyro [D Generation] and we were both like, “Oh. My. God. You don’t know how much I want that piece of paper.”

More after the jump…

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Posted by Howie Pyro
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11.02.2015
09:08 am
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At first you’ll think this is the SHITTIEST demo ever put on tape, but give it a little more time…
02.24.2015
11:00 am
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Back in 2003, I temp-worked as a secretary in a recording studio. One day the boss comes by my desk and says “you have to hear this.” What he played then changed my life forever. You don’t come back from a song like “A Little More Time.”  It sinks its lamprey teeth into your mind.

The artist, “McFlee,” with his backing singers, “Photosynthesis,” had just finished a demo session in which they created this visionary masterwork of…uh… let’s call it Vibratospiritual Casiohop.

According to my former boss, who remains nameless to protect his innocence:

I remember [McFlee]  came by and wanted to hear himself on the mic one day so we let him put on headphones and hear himself. He was super stoked. [The engineer] called me in the middle of the session absolutely stunned at the weirdness of the whole thing.

The engineer on “A Little More Time” recollects:

I remember he set up right in the middle of the room with his keyboard and he had about five or six different beats he would cycle through,  and he was running everything live, and didn’t want to pre-record anything. We had the girls set up in the hallway for backing vocals. I just remember when he started the song I was waiting for the ending around the four minute mark, and was looking for Candid Camera around the seven minute mark of the eighth or ninth(?) chorus. I knew this was a classic in the making, and regret not having a camera rolling! It seemed like watching him, every “yeaaaaaaaaa” would get a little more animated, and he was getting comfortable about halfway through the song, with more and more vibrato.

“A Little More Time” hits all the criteria for the truest of “Outsider Music.” It’s an earnest effort to create something real and meaningful that breaks every possible musical and lyrical convention with zero self-awareness. It’s challenging in every way, yet holds its own as an impossibly unforgettable earworm. The track was recorded in September of 2003 and I was luckily able to sneak a copy out of the studio. This is a chopped/screwed edit which excises approximately eight minutes of instrumental passages. If you think this is “difficult music” in its present form, imagine it with an extra eight minutes of keyboard preset instrumental breaks!

Some have noted a striking resemblance between McFlee’s vocal stylings and those of Antony Hegarty (Antony and the Johnsons). Um, sure, why not?

Only a handful of people who were gifted dubbed copies have heard “A Little More Time,” but it’s worth exposing to a greater audience. The video, unrelated to the song, approximates what one imagines a live McFlee performance might possibly entail, and is provided to give the listener a visual to enhance the experience. Follow along with the lyrics or don’t. It doesn’t matter. Soon “A Little More Time” will be jammed into your head like a mental tapeworm, sucking out IQ points while lifting your soul to the heavens. 

Ladies and gentleman, prepare yourselves for the vibrato stylings and astonishing language liberty-taking of the one-and-only McFlee and Photosynthesis.
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Outsider Christian Music
Songs in the Key of Z: The Curious Universe of Outsider Music

Posted by Christopher Bickel
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02.24.2015
11:00 am
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‘Up against the wall, Redneck Mama’: Don’t mess with Amanda the Power Child
11.24.2014
09:26 pm
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If you are a fan of outsider music, The Shaggs, and/or feral, obnoxious children in general, then the “music” of Amanda is probably right up yer strasse. You could even think of her as a much, much younger soul sister of Ari Up when she was first fronting the Slits as a 14-year-old. Or not, maybe it’s just a kid mucking about sans any inhibition or parental control. You decide!

Irwin Chusid tells the Amanda story in “Don’t Mess With the Power Child: The Amanda Chronicles”:

The “Amanda” recordings have emerged as an unexpected cult sensation on my WFMU program over the past two years. The chronicles feature Amanda Whitt, a growling (think Cookie Monster), defiant pre-pubescent with a Southern twang spewing mayhem over 1980s breakbeats and disjointed shards of pop hits. On some tracks Amanda shrieks while clanging pots & pans. The recordings exude undeniable charm, but there’s nothing cute about it. Any sentient adult witnessing this behavior would commence punitive action or summon law enforcement.

Power-child Amanda was recorded between 1986-89 at home in Alabama, between ages 8 and 11, by her older (by 7 or 8 years) brother Joseph (a.k.a. Jody). Joseph and Amanda were a couple of hyperactive kids pretending to be, respectively, a music video director and a child star. Most recordings were captured on cassette, others on video cam, in the lowest of lo-fi. The duo sometimes enlisted friends in the frolics, and often drove their parents crazy (with incidents caught on tape). The most durable performances were titled (e.g., “The Pickle People,” “Horrible Hybrid Tulips,” “Indian Hoots Echo Baby,” “Me Swinging in Cookieland”) and compiled on “albums,” whose design awkwardly replicated the commercial cassette format. Inserts were pasted up and xeroxed, and collections assigned titles (e.g., Primitive Swagger, Monumental Whopper Turmoil Jam, Empires and 5th Dimension Perspective, and Worship Me). The recordings were not circulated beyond friends.

At age 11, Amanda began to chafe at Jody’s stage-brother puppeteering; she soon discovered boys, and the recording project was abandoned. The tapes were stored in shoe boxes in Joseph’s closet, where they remained for decades as forgotten adolescent artifacts.

 

 
A sample lyric:

“WORSHIP ME”

Worship me
I am Cookie
You must worship me
Bow before MeMe
I am your idol
I am the goddess of cookie
You will worship me
Chant before me butt-slave
Come to me at the temple of MeMe
Worship me
You must worship me
Don’t mess with the power child
I control you

The Amanda recordings found their way to Irwin Chusid’s ears via New Jersey home recording legend, R. Stevie Moore. Now you can hear them yourself: Stream or download here. Listen to a contemporary interview with siblings Joseph and Amanda here. (Part 2 is here.)
 

 
As seen on WFMU’s mighty Beware of the Blog blog

Posted by Richard Metzger
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11.24.2014
09:26 pm
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‘Evil’: Aliens, synchronicity and world peace, the world catches up to the outsider sounds of Konrad
07.28.2014
01:14 pm
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As for who discovered Konrad, I believe that honor belongs to Mike Ascherman, one of the mostly east coast vinyl collectors who coalesced around their interest in psych records in the early 1980s, gradually expanding the search to embrace all manner of private press and outsider music, psychedelic or otherwise. These were the gold rush days, the early recognition of the primacy of the handmade in records, the handmade cover, the home recorded blast from the fringe.

Without a doubt, psychedelics lend themselves to an atemporal, long view of art. That is to say, taking mushrooms can only improve one’s chances of discovering, ahead of its time, music with something resembling the clarity of hindsight.

The appeal of outsider music seems obvious in retrospect, but hardly anyone in the Reagan era knew or cared about the thing we now call “private press.” The term for artist-financed records made outside the label system for most of the 20th century says it all—in those days it was called a “vanity pressing.”

It wasn’t vanity that compelled Konrad to make his 1982 album Evil, which manages to blend cosmic grandiosity and working class sympathies in equal measure. Konrad ends the record with an plea for world peace sung from outer space, and clearly wants the world to listen to what he has to say, but you never get the sense he actually expects that to happen. He comes off less as an ego tripper than as someone with an impossibly large heart, almost childlike. Once you get past the cover, there’s absolutely nothing menacing about Evil.
 

 
Sometime around 1987, Ascherman found a copy and decided to investigate. He wrote about it in the comments section of a post about Evil at the present day mafioso collector website Waxidermy.

The copy I found in a local NYC store had a business card for the label inserted under the shrink wrap.

I called and spoke to the label owner, Barry Konarik. He was friendly and spoke at length about Konrad’s music, though he told me no personal info about the man. He never really talked about the lyrics, but only about how Konrad was making dance music… To that point, he had only released Konrad’s music (the LP + 2 45s), but waxed poetic about a forthcoming cassette-only release, an album by a nephew of Jim Morrison. He didn’t divulge the nephew’s name or any other info except that it was to be an album of dance music.

It seemed that our conversation always led back to dance music. No info about who Konrad was, why he was dressed in satanic-looking robes or what any of the lyrics meant. Just it was about dance music.

As we wound down, I ordered a box of the LPs and a few of the 45s. At the agreed upon time, a man showed up carrying a box. I asked if he was Barry. He said there was a picture of Barry in the box. The only picture in the box was the photo of Konrad on the cover.

 

 
It would be two decades before anyone else contacted Barry Konarik about his music. No one knew where he was. Aside from Ascherman no one even knew his real name. Enjoy The Experience author Johan Kugelberg obtained a copy from Ascherman in the early 90s and played it for anyone who would listen. Interest snowballed, with copies eventually trading hands for as much as $300 apiece. All the while, people wondered what it all meant. No one knew why the album was called Evil, and no one knew what to make of its fixations on alien intelligence and the importance of synchronicity as described in the track “Only A Matrix.”

Konarik saw the Waxidermy post and on the afternoon of December 23, 2008 did something quite unexpected—he posted his phone number in the comments section and invited fans to “give me a yell and let me know that you are a konvert.”

That posting would change Konarik’s life forever. After a quarter century of carrying a sense of failure and regret not uncommon with artists who thought they might just set the world on fire, pre-Internet—Konarik spent the rest of the day answering the phone and talking to fans and/or people looking for cheap copies to grip and flip.

I was one of the lucky ones who got through, and struck up a relationship with Barry, and eventually was given the chance to bring Evil back into the world and revive Ethereal Sequence. In 2012 I met up with my good friend and album co-producer Niels Alpert in Boise, where Konarik now lives, and shot the video below premiering here at Dangerous Minds.

This is a guest post by Douglas Mcgowan, proprietor of Ethereal Sequence and Yoga Records, and the producer of I Am The Center: Private Issue New Age Music In America 1950-1990. The restored and remastered Evil is out now and distributed by Light In The Attic. The limited edition first pressing includes a bonus 45 of additional tracks.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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07.28.2014
01:14 pm
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Outsider Christian Music
12.21.2010
02:02 pm
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Paging Irwin Chusid! Outsider Christian music from the “Puppet Lady,” a cable access performer. She’s kind of like an old lady, one-woman-band version of the Shaggs. Her program is described at Classical Gas Emissions like so: “This lady and her puppets have very involved conversations about what it means to be a Christian.”

Via Classical Gas Emissions

Posted by Richard Metzger
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12.21.2010
02:02 pm
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