Clif Garboden's "Music to Fear"
Since I wrote about our late friend and former
Phoenix senior managing editor Clif Garboden's mix CDs for our tribute last week, several curious and brave souls have come forward asking what, exactly, is on his most revered and feared disc. Still braver souls have expressed an interest in hearing it. And so I am unleashing "From the Captain with love... music to fear," an eclectic mix inspired by Worcester rock scene veteran, hand-puppet enthusiast, and dive-bomber extraordinaire, Captain PJ. Among the many highlights: pow-wow music for children, propaganda, polka, and a song Clif said "must have sent Italian-American
cultural advancement back to pre-Columbian times."
Just press play on the embedded 8 Tracks music player. Be warned: because of licensing agreements, 8 Tracks doesn't allow you to skip many tracks, so to get the experience, you're forced to hear all 29 tracks -- just the way Clif intended it. This is a commitment, people, but you will be rewarded. Clif's original "Hot Dots"-style liner notes are below. Yee-yee!
The Best Excuses We Can Offer
"Jungle Louis" by Lou Monte - Not as
well known as Monte's beloved
chart-topping version of "Lazy Mary" or his immortal heart-warming holiday
classic "Dominick the Donkey," but lyrically far richer and thematically
cohesive. Play this one loud, and the Bocce Boys will come a-runnin'. The
monkey's name? Unsurpassed.
"Blood on the Saddle" by Tex Johnson and
His Six Shooters - A simple, plain-spoken gruesome cowboy ballad. Pity.
Pity. Always wondered how the poor bronco came out of this one.
"Faa Navenave" by Augie Goupil and His
Royal Tahitians - Believe it or not, the parents of a high-school friend
actually owned an Augie Goupil album (on 78s). Goupil and his court briefly
peaked through the small cultural window of America's post-war enchantment with
the South Seas. Drummer/vocalist Goupil lived, worked, and thrived in Los
Angeles when Island movies were having their moment. The guy's just so
"Fascist Threat" by Janet Greene - From
a 45 distributed by the John Birch Society trying to ride the coattails of the
early-‘60s political folk-music craze. Communism redefined in simple verse. This
is what perplexes me.
"The Flintstones" by the Black Lodge
Singers - This authentic Native American (Indian) vocal group included this
on their songs-for-children album. Children of the damned,
"When Yuba Plays the Rhumba on the Tuba" by
Rudy Vallee - The Yalie pretty-boy with the megaphone, gay enough to sing
"boolah-boolah" and "baa-baa-baa" in public, was also, for reasons unclear, some
sort of teen heartthrob in the 1920s. This was meant to be a novelty song aimed at the
sudden popularity of ersatz Latin music. Vallee's real first name was Hubert.
These lyrics, often credited to Vallee but really from a 1931 musical by Herman
Hupfield (who wrote "As Time Goes By" that same year), are
"Julida Polka" by Frank Yankovic - Yes,
that's Weird Al's ojciec on vocal and
squeeze-box. A spunky complaint for a fickle lover.
"Mop-Itty Mope" by the Bosstones - Any
lyric that begins "Well, I just got back from outer space... The chicks out there
ain't got no face" has got to be a classic. This one's been puzzling people
"My Boy, Flat Top" by Dorothy Collins -
Swingin' early rock (1956) from the lady in the Lucky Strike cigarette
commercials. A "flat top" was an unfortunate male hair style involving
short-shorn locks, lots of Brylcreem, and a carpenter's square.
"Yodeling Hillbilly" by Montana Slim -
Wilf Carter was a 1930s C&W star famed for his fine-tuned yodeling prowess.
But he was from Nova Scotia, not Montana.
"The Hokey Pokey" by Little Richard -
When Richard says to put your right arm in, you'd better do it fast. Yes, Mr.
Wop-Bop-a-loo-Bop has a children's album. It's quite unexpected.
"Mule Skinner Blues" by the Fendermen -
This country standard (written around 1930 by Jimmie Rodgers) was recorded
seriously by a pantheon of folk and country artists. Then, in 1960, this, the
guitar-slinging duet's only hit, prevented anyone from taking it seriously ever
"Tomi Tomi" by Kanui & Lula - More
sounds of the South Pacific. So happy... so damn happy. Try to get this one out of
your head for the next month.
"Angelina/Zooma Zooma" by Louis Prima -
Prima was a NOLA-born hep-cat Italian trumpeter who overcame his seriously
damaged voice with boundless ethnic enthusiasm and by teaming up with hot,
well-voiced women like Keely Smith. They were a great night-club comedy act.
Louis goes solo on this mob-pleasing medley. (Prima eventually did the voice of
King Louis in Disney's The Jungle
"Oske Cherde (Foreign Land)" by
Huun-Huur-Tur a/k/a the Throat Singers of Tuva - These guys get to spend as
much time as possible outside their native Mongolia touring the world showcasing
their unnatural ability to sing more than one note at a time.
"Romping Through the Swamp" by the Holy
Modal Rounders - The HMR's were a drug-addled 1960s group specializing in
crude and ironic put-downs of gay/pothead/unwashed culture. Sheer
"Guitarzan" by Ray Stevens - Stevens
was, in fact, a real singer with some real hits - some of them kind of corny
("Everything Is Beautiful [in Its Own Way]"), but he's best remembered for his
elaborately crafted novelty numbers. This one's even more essential than his
essential "Ahab the Arab."
"Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody"
by Jerry Lewis - Why was this a hit? Why was it recorded? Okay, it was 1956,
and pop music was transitioning out of big-band style crooners and vocal groups
into rock. But still. On the other hand, it could be the only really funny thing
Lewis ever did. The song dates to 1918 and was first popularized by Al Jolson,
who also sang through his nose.
"Hep Hep" by Cab Calloway - If you
don't know Cab, you don't know nothin' worth knowin'. Sure, he was stoned out of
his skull most of his career, but he gave the world "Minnie the Moocher,"
"Kickin' the Gong Around," and this timeless bit of scat.
"The Man on the Flying Trapeze" by Spike
Jones and His City Slickers - "Doodles, your hair is getting thin!" Need we
say more? It's not every bandleader who made regular appearances in the "Dick
Tracy" comics. Jones's trademark "musical depreciation" could settle any
"13 Armadillos" by Mike Parker - Mike
Parker is a cousin by marriage. He recorded this (himself) in the 1970s. Yes, he
has a day job. One would be tempted to assert that never has roadkill been more
passionately eulogized, but, truth be told, when the "13 Armadillos" single was
cut, Louden Wainwright III (Rufus's dad), who had shared a boyhood with Parker
roaming the wilds of Westchester County, had recently released his
attention-getting paean to highway slaughter, "Dead Skunk in the Middle of the
"Papio" by Augie Goupil and His Royal
Tahitians - The man just keeps spreading joy. What are these people so happy
about? Breadfruit? Volcanoes? Tiki heads? Probably scorpion bowls.
"Pillow Talk" by Rock Hudson - In the
1950s and early ‘60s, every matinee idol was required to try to become a singing
sensation. Very few were qualified, as exemplified here by Doris Day's
ill-suited suitor, Rock Hudson. Rock and Doris starred in a 1959 movie called
"Pillow Talk." Despite the fact that it won several Oscars, today's audiences
find the film completely sick-making.
"Liva" by Leona Gabriel and Orchestre
Guadeloup - Leona had her day - mostly in other countries - in the
"Commie Lies" by Janet Greene - The
flip side of the "Fascist Threat" 45 distributed by the Birchers. Remember what
you learned in "Fascist Threat," kids, "seize control and centralize." Nobody's
gonna do it for you.
"On Top of Spaghetti" by Little Richard
- Ray Charles couldn't have said it prettier. He just knew better than to
"Dirty Water" by Bronson Arroyo - When
the rockin' right-hander forsook Fenway for Cincinnati, he left behind this
celebration of the 2004 World Series. Other voices on this track include Johnny
Damon and Kevin Youkilis.
"My Pal Foot Foot" by the Shaggs - From
the planet's most mysterious band's debut (and final) album, Philosophy of the World. Over the
decades, the Shaggs have caused generation after generation to ask, "What the
fuck?" Their story (and they're sticking to it) is that their stage-struck (and
presumably tone-deaf) father "encouraged" sisters Dorothy, Betty, and Helen
Wiggin to form a band despite their having little or no musical ability. One
assumes they wrote their own material. Some revisionists, citing the trio's
slightly-less-than-totally-random musicianship, speculate that the Shaggs were
actually a high-concept art-rock put-on. Excuses, excuses.
"Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb) by Edd
"Kookie" Byrnes & Connie Stevens - Edd, with two d's, was a young actor
playing the recurring role of an LA-hipster parking-lot attendant on the 1958
Warner Bros PI series 77 Sunset
Strip. His gimmick (and the show's relentlessly recurring gag) was that
Kookie was always combing his greasy pompadour. The young folk loved him. WB
tried to make him a recording artist. Edd couldn't carry a tune, alas (reference
his delivery of the line "I've got smog in my noggin'") but, thanks to the
popularity of his tonsorial skills, sold a lot of (this one) record. Connie
Stevens was a similarly popular cute blond who played Cricket Blake on another
Warner detective show, Hawaiian Eye.
Stevens was indeed a professional singer, but it really doesn't help here.