AMERICAN SONG-POEM ANTHOLOGY - DO YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BIG WOOD AND BRUSH - Various Artists (Bar-None/Reverberation)
The American Song Poem anthology is a collection of songs from a music business that was bursting with creativity and the source of dreams of great wealth for many common people. Basically they are recordings made by small recording studios, with their attendant songwriters and players , setting other peoples words to songs. Often the people who wrote the words asked for their words to be done in a particular style. The studios and demo makers advertised in cheap comics and supermarket trash magazines. They charged people for this service and pressed up the results on 45 singles. They asked people to send in their “song poems” as the people they were targeting were not expected to be familiar with fancy words like “lyrics”. Song poems was it.

So what you have on this disc is a labour of love and obsession. Songs found by collectors in record shops and second hand markets and garage sales. Real ephemera.

What you also have is a whole collection of songs where the people are giving it everything, they are putting their whole lives into these tracks. (Its what indie music is supposed to be but never is. Music imagined by people with no careers behind them or in front of them, stuff coming off of the street still kicking) . There are big thoughts in these tracks, starting off with the unwieldy but very heavy “do you know the difference between big wood and brush?”. The first three songs sent me reeling. There is that title track, followed by a country treatise on masturbation called “All You Need is a Fertile Mind” and then a woman singing :” I like yellow things” which is about just what it says.

The music must have been done awful quickly but it gets a lot of crazy energy for being so anxious. These guys are quick with their hands and feet and brains. Masters. I won’t try to describe all the songs as there are a lot here and I like people to be able to come to music from their own direction. I will tell you of what some of my favourites said to me.

The track “Convertibles and Headbands” is the sound of a country dude who collected and lived by Hefner's Playboy philosophy. He reads it like a mantra and knows he doesn’t measure up, it's tough to be hip.

Along the same lines is the desperate “How Long Are You Staying?” which is a disco inspired classic. It reminds me of the films of Martin Scorcese, specifically “Taxi Driver, “The King of Comedy” and “Mean Streets”. This guy is going to either dance all night or kill a whole lot of people. Incredible, grinding desperation.

“Listen Mister Hat” is a towering work of great and strange charm. It obviously inspired the whole world that is the TV series “South Park”. It is the voice and feel of Mr Hanky and it is about Mr Hat! I rest my case.

The 28-song album ends with a song that was sent in by a spotty teenager as a prank to amuse generations. The song poem was called “the blind mans penis” and he must have asked for it to be done in the style of Roger Miller. It is so incredibly catchy and I found myself in the queue at the supermarket singing “the blind mans penis is erect because he’s blind…”. That evil little shit and the pro studio cat had sucked me into their dark web:

My mind was beautiful, and I was free
Warts loved my nipples because they are pink
Vomit on me, baby
Yeah, yeah, yeah
A blind man's penis is erect because he is
blind
It's erect because he's blind
A blind man's penis is erect because he is
blind
It's erect because he's blind
Let's make love under the stars
Watch for UFOs
If little baby Martians come out of the UFOs
We fuck them yeah yeah yeah
The zebra spilled its plastinia on bemis
And the gelatin oozed electric marbles
Mother's titties died in Hell
And the Nazis want to kill, kill everyone
A blind man's penis is erect because he is
blind
It's erect because he's blind
A blind man's penis is erect because he is
blind
It's erect because he's blind
It's erect because he's blind
It's erect because he's blind

I know all record reviews suggest you should buy something and not everybody has a lot of cash to spare but this disc has many dimensions to it. We live in such a smart world that nobody expects much of music anymore. This shit is inspiring. The hustlers with their trashy fast money licks and the trailer park wordsmiths with their crazed, hungry minds

There is a film coming out about this scene and there is also a website where you can hear some of the tunes . - Dave Graney

You can find Dave Graney's writing and music at The Royal Dave Graney Show site.






 

 

 

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