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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

  1. "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.
  2. "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.
  3. "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 incredibly happy!
  4. "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.
  5. "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, perhaps.
  6. "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 excellent.
  7. "Julida Polka" by Frank Yankovic - Yes, that's Weird Al's ojciec on vocal and squeeze-box. A spunky complaint for a fickle lover.
  8. "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 since 1959.
  9. "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.
  10. "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.
  11. "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.
  12. "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 again.
  13. "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.
  14. "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 Book.)
  15. "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. Each.
  16. "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 brilliance.
  17. "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."
  18. "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.
  19. "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.
  20. "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 score.
  21. "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 Road."
  22. "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.
  23. "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.
  24. "Liva" by Leona Gabriel and Orchestre Guadeloup - Leona had her day - mostly in other countries - in the 1930s.
  25. "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.
  26. "On Top of Spaghetti" by Little Richard - Ray Charles couldn't have said it prettier. He just knew better than to try.
  27. "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.
  28. "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.
  29. "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.
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  • Jensen Lee said:

    Louis Prima's hits can make up a list of their own. I recently posted on my Rockaeology blog at // the story of how Louis and arranger Sam Butera, also from NOLA, created the “Just a Gigolo / I Ain’t Got Nobody” medley.

    When David Lee Roth scored a hit with a note-for-note copy in 1985, Butera never got a dime from the (inferior) Roth record. I tell what happened when a clueless Roth approached Butera in Vegas.

    February 18, 2011 6:05 PM

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