Archive for Firesign Theatre

Back To Black: Headphone LPs

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , , on March 29, 2012 by 30daysout

Koss headphones and a porn star mustache got the chicks every time.

Way back in the dark ages (the 1970s) I’d heard that a few albums sounded really great on headphones. Well, my parents had a stereo but we didn’t have headphones. They cost about $12 apiece then, which in today’s dollars would likely be a monthly mortgage payment.

So I borrowed a couple of albums from my good friend Randy Fuller and took ‘em home to experience “true stereo.” My homemade headphones substitute was putting two stereo speakers on the floor facing each other then turning them out at about a 45 degree angle, just enough to slip a pillow and my stupid head in between.

With the volume set real low, it was a great substitute – until a little brother sneaked into the room and jacked it up to threshold of pain level. I still hate those guys.

Back in the day, one used to see magazine ads like this.

Anyway, with Record Store Day approaching, I thought I’d pull out a handful of my favorite “headphone” LPs and give ‘em a spin. These records were best listened to on those big clunky headphones, like the kind the Koss company used to make. You really got good spatial separation and a sense of true depth by listening to rock albums over headphones, and they were great soundtracks to some, ah, chemical stimulation. Or so I have been told.

For me, the granddaddy of all headphone LPs was Fragile by Yes (1971), which was one of the albums I borrowed from Randy back then. It was the group’s fourth album and the first with new keyboardist Rick Wakeman, and these prog-rockers really explored the studio space. “Long Distance Runaround” and “Roundabout” got a lot of radio airplay, but hearing those songs on AM radio really didn’t do them justice. The extended jam “Heart of the Sunrise” would usually send me into space or more accurately, a deep sleep.

The progressive rockers were great for headphone music: Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd (1973), Days of Future Passed by the Moody Blues (1967) and In The Court of the Crimson King by King Crimson (1969) are classics. Randy likes Pink Floyd’s Animals (1977) for its crossing, slashing guitars and in 1976 I went for Rush and 2112, considered by many a headphones classic.

Randy remembers Quadrophenia by the Who (1973) as a nice headphone experience, and I always used to go for Electric Warrior by T. Rex (1971). And for some reason: Phoenix by Grand Funk Railroad (1972) got a lot of headphone mileage, but maybe I was just too lazy to take it off the turntable. And let’s not forget: Abbey Road by the Beatles (1969), Ram by Paul and Linda McCartney (1971) and Best of Spirit (1973), all favorites of mine.

Our memory wavelengths converge on one act who always sounded great in stereo: The Firesign Theatre. Not musicians, this was a comedy troupe whose medium was the stereo album. Their stuff is multi-tracked and brilliant, and you can listen to their setpieces over and over again just like a great rock song. Their very best albums – Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers (1970) and Everything You Know Is Wrong (1974) are rich experiences on headphones, but hands down their best for special effects and stereo is the futuristic I Think We’re All Bozos On This Bus (1971).

Look at me, going on about all this stuff. I could talk about old records and music all day. And there’s a perfect day to do just that: Record Store Day, April 21 this year. Go out to your independent music store, grab up some special vinyl and see how many people are music freaks just like you and me.

MP3: “Long Distance Runaround” by Yes (from Fragile)

MP3: “Planet Queen” by T. Rex (from Electric Warrior)

MP3: “Flight Of The Phoenix” by Grand Funk Railroad (from Phoenix)

MP3: “A Passage To Bangkok” by Rush (from 2112)

MP3: “Sheep” by Pink Floyd (from Animals)

MP3: “The Breaking Of The President” by the Firesign Theatre (from I Think We’re All Bozos On This Bus)

Gettin’ Ready for Thanksgiving

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2011 by 30daysout

Editor’s Note: In the interest of preserving the environment this holiday season, we are going to recycle and reuse some old blog posts. Oh, there may be a new one here and there but we want to reduce our footprint on the blogosphere (whatever that means). In other words, we’re just lazy. Don’t worry, we have made sure all our links are working for the most part.  So let the holiday season begin!

With Thanksgiving coming up and all, we are sure you have a lot of things to do and to think about.  Like: wouldn’t it be great if my turkey made the in-laws sick?  So sick they couldn’t come back for Christmas?  Or: Are the Houston Texans (substitute your team name here) going to win any more games?  And: Is somebody gonna give me that Beach Boys box set for Christmas (so I don’t have to drop 100+ bucks on it)?

Ah, we know you have a lot on your mind.  So don’t worry – you take care of the turkey, and we’ll supply the music.   Come back in the next week or so, because we have more Thanksgiving treats in store!

MP3: “Almost Thanksgiving Day” by Graham Parker

MP3: “Thanksgiving Day Parade” by Dan Bern

MP3: “Thanksgiving, Or Pass The Indian” by the Firesign Theatre

MP3: “Thanksgiving Theme” by Vince Guaraldi

MP3: “Roll Plymouth Rock” by Brian Wilson

MP3: “The Thanksgiving Song” by Adam Sandler

MP3: “Trouble For The Turkeys” by Lex & the Hood

MP3: “Turkey Killer” by Louisiana Red

MP3: “(I’m Gonna Eat) On Thanksgiving Day” by Laurie Berkner

MP3: “Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie” by Becky & the Ivanhoe Dutchmen

MP3: “Pass The Biscuits Please” by Andre Williams

MP3: “Lonely In Potatoland (Mashed Potatoes)” by Spirit

MP3: “I’m A Pilgrim” by the Soul Stirrers

MP3: “Thank You” by Led Zeppelin

MP3: “Thanksgiving” by Loudon Wainwright III

MP3: “Thanksgiving Day” by Brave Combo

MP3: “Thanksgiving Day” by Ray Davies


Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Comedy Albums! (NSFW alert)

Posted in Rock Classics! with tags , , , , on November 20, 2010 by 30daysout

The holiday season begins in a few days, and it’s going to be the same old blur of unnerving family members, unappetizing meals and unwanted gifts … and that’s just Black Friday!  There are a couple more holidays in there someplace, so today we’re going to give you something to share – excerpts from some of our favorite comedy albums of the late 1960s-early 1970s!  Now I can tell you these are fine to share with grandma and the kids, but I would be lying: in fact, these are EXTREMELY not safe for grandma, work or children.  You will be warned again!

In the 1960s, comedians reached their audiences in the night clubs but the bigger names were given recording contracts so they could cut albums of their material.  People like Allen Sherman, Bob Newhart, Bill Cosby and even Lenny Bruce and Woody Allen were all committed to vinyl, mostly performing the same stuff they did in stand-up.  But with the onset of freakiness in the mid-60s came new comedians, reflecting counterculture sensibilities and a sense of social outrage against racism, war and modern times.

The Firesign Theatre came out of Los Angeles in 1966, and their comedy was a free-form blend of Lewis Carroll, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett swirled through a prism of LSD and pop culture.  Their primary medium was the long-playing album, where the Firesigns’ could multi-track masterpieces of storytelling and comedy that hold up to repeated listenings.  One of those masterpieces was Everything You Know Is Wrong (1974), a spoof of UFO/aliens mania that swings everything from late-night TV to New Age nudists and even Nazis into its paranoid gunsights.

The Firesign Theatre (Phillip Proctor, Peter Bergman, David Ossman and Philip Austin) are certainly the American answer to Monty Python, but they dwarf their British counterparts in terms of surrealistic, stream-of-consciousness comedy.  Everything You Know Is Wrong is the comedy X-Files of its time: aliens walk among us, Nino Savant sends telepathic messages and daredevil Rebus Cannebus jumps into the sun in the center of the earth.  We piece the story together as channels flip past on the TV, and we catch fragments of a crazed paranoid fringe in between newscasts, ads for car lots and “Bear Whiz Beer.”

MP3: “Happy Hour News”

MP3: “Bear Whiz Beer”

MP3: “Army Training Film”

NOTE: NSFW material after the jump – proceed at your own risk!

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30 Days Out (From Christmas): Ha! Ha! Ha! Merry Christmas

Posted in 30 Days Out (From Christmas) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2008 by 30daysout

 laughingsanta

Day 21 – Most Christmas songs tell a tale of snow, warm wishes, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and mistletoe.  Then there are others that talk about, well, other things.  Here are some Christmas comedy classics that will not warm your heart, but could cause you to bust a gut.  No grandmas and reindeers here!

MP3: “The Twelve Days of Christmas” by Bob and Doug McKenzie

MP3: “Christmas Time For My Penis” by The Vandals

MP3: “Santafly”by Martin Mull

MP3: “Christmas With The Devil”by Spinal Tap

MP3: “The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas” by Allan Sherman

MP3: “Santa and His Old Lady”by Cheech and Chong

MP3: “Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey” by Lou Monte

MP3: “Wreck the Halls with Boughs of Holly” by The Three Stooges

MP3: “The Night Santa Went Crazy” by Weird Al Yankovic

MP3: “A St. Nick Dangerous Christmas Eve” by the Firesign Theatre

MP3: “The Chanukkah Song” by Adam Sandler

MP3: “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth”  by Spike Jones

MP3: “Christmas Dragnet” by Stan Freberg

MP3: “Merry Christmas” by Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase)