Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Moon Mooned Moon by Moonmoon.

I don't actually have a ton of super-rare records. The ones I have are generally the kind that aren't expensive, because nobody would particularly want them anyway. Except weirdos like me.

Beck's early discography is rather tangled. Apparently, part of his signing deal with DGC was that he could release other, less commercial records on indie labels. A bunch of these, along with Mellow Gold, appeared in 1994: Stereopathetic Soul Manure, One Foot in the Grave, and a little weirdo ten-inch called A Western Harvest Field by Moonlight. Or, as the spine had it, A Western Harvest Moon by Moonlight. Rather.

It's a handy little sampler of everything Beck got up to at that time, looking back: acoustic country blues, wacky cassette manipulations, auto-recording on microcassette, collaborations with various Haden sisters. The record itself is just a terrible, shitty pressing. It crackled and popped the second I put it on the turntable, and never stopped. But it was entertaining enough to a teenaged me, and it's definitely an early exposure that led me down the road to Skip James and Charlie Patton.

The internet was pretty primitive at that point, and I didn't learn until much later that I'd confused side one and side two. I still feel like my order works better, though, starting with the two acoustic numbers, then tossing you headlong into the experimental stuff (like the "normal," or at least not slowed-down, version of "Feel Like A Piece of Shit") until forcing you to get up and take the needle off the locked groove. "Totally Confused" (which made numerous appearances on other Beck records) is a great side two opener, staying vaguely more song-oriented ("Gettin' Home" is a quality tune, "Mayonnaise Salad" is less so, even at a stretch) until the final "WHOA YEAH" to close it all out.

Fingerpaint Records made about 7000 of these things in total, which is pretty scant for a Beck record of any sort. The first 3000 came with a fingerpainting, made either by Beck or one of his pals, at the record release party. And sure enough, that's the version I picked up at Broadway Records in Rochester, probably sometime in 1995. Looks like I could maybe get a couple hundred for it these days, but meh. I'm happier having the thing. Apparently, the 2000-copy CD pressing of Golden Feelings I got is going for a pretty penny, too. Things to keep in mind if I come up against the wall, I suppose.

Here's a rip from my vinyl. Enjoy the low fidelity of it all. It's a good listen.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

He's not a real doctor.

So, part of the idea around here is to branch away from just indie rock mp3s. Or just mp3s. Or just music, even. This post is mp3s, but it is not music. It's a big part of why I wanted to go into radio. It's a big influence on my humor and how I see the world. It's Dr. Science.

Duck's Breath Mystery Theatre
were a comedy team that went from Iowa to San Francisco, and ended up enjoying various levels of fame. Some of you who are old enough will recall a character on MTV called Randee of the Redwoods. That guy? He's Jim Turner, one of the Duck's Breath members.

One of the other guys in the troupe was Dan Coffey. He created a character called Dr. Science, who, like Coffey, is not a real doctor, but does have a master's degree. Dr. Science's, naturally, is in science. Coffey's, as I recall vaguely from a newspaper article in the Des Moines Register when I was a teenager, had something to do with radio. (note: upon further research, it's actually in playwriting. You can get a master's in playwriting? Who knew?)

When I was young, radio was magic to me. I lived in a quite small town in Iowa. We had one radio station. I can't remember the call letters, but it's not there anymore. The staff there were actually pretty nice, and tolerant of young me. I even got to come up and be on the air once, just because I was REALLY EXCITED about radio. It seemed like paradise. It was the job for me. I got to college and found out a lot more about radio: you, the on-air personality, don't get to pick the records. You have no job security, and you get paid like shit. Oh well. But there was creativity out there, on college and public stations. And on NPR.

I also grew up a hardcore NPR and Wisconsin Public Radio nerd. "Whad'ya Know" every fuckin' weekend, you bet. Tom Clark every morning, Jean Feraca and Larry Meiller. Oh yes. And let's not forget about Talk of the Nation's Science Friday, where I first encountered Dr. Science.

Dan Coffey plays Dr. Science as a complete know-it-all. Literally, this man has an answer, a SCIENTIFIC ANSWER, for any question. He did, and for all I know still does, a daily 90 second spot which airs on various NPR stations. None around
here. But two of the three things I'm putting up today are compilations of these spots.

It was important to me, among other reasons, because it was specific nerd humor. It was science-based, but complete absurdity. Could I someday be that kind of character? No way, nowhere near smart enough. But I could maybe do the voice...

These days, information on Dr. Science is scant at best. His official website is perennially down, replaced by a promise of a revamped site that never comes. But all his references on Wikipedia seem to be present tense ones. There is hope for us all, as long as Dr. Science is there.

I've got three things in this here zip file. One is the long-form cassette which I got from my mom, "I Know More Than You Do!" It's 60 minutes of the quick radio spots, and 30 minutes of radio play. Pretty good. Another is a tape I have merely labeled "Dr. Science," with no further information. It seems to come from a higher-fidelity source, and mostly regards technology of the late 90's. A pretty endearing time capsule, and funny all the same. Finally, there is an hour of Science Friday from September 2nd, 1994, in which Dr. Science takes calls and provides on-the-spot answers.

"That's right."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hello? Is this Value Vision? I wanna order the Nativity scene!

Most people who hadn't otherwise heard of Supernova these days probably don't know of them as more than a footnote. They'd been fairly inactive, but still existent, when a bunch of "rock stars" on a reality show decided they'd use the name for their band, despite their previous knowledge of these tinfoil-and-Oreo obsessed Cynotians. Luckily, this spurred the original Supernova back into existence. But back in the mid-nineties, they'd merely been one of the finest pop-punk bands around.

Were they gimmicky? You bet your ass. The schtick was that these three fellas from Costa Mesa, CA were actually aliens, from a planet called Cynot 3. Their sun exploded, and they found themselves on Earth, where they schemed ways to obtain the world's supply of aluminum foil. But this was really all circumstantial to their songs, two minute catchy bombs of melody and nerdery. Their lyrical concerns revolved around vitamins, math, superheroes, cookies, Mentos, cops, hippies, and, of course, Supernova. Oh, and they had geometric shapes cut into their hair. How they ended up on Amphetamine Reptile, I'll never know.

But sure enough, on AmRep they were, and in 1995 they made Ages 3 and Up, their first LP. Concurrent with this album, they filmed a "children's show for adults" pilot entitled "Last in Space: A Show for Kids?" Apparently this was big enough of a deal that they actually had a release show for the VHS tape at the Concert Cafe in Green Bay, where apparently everyone just came and watched
the thing, and could buy their own copies. I'm pretty sure that's where my friend Kory got his, and that's how I saw it in '97 or so. Thirteen years later, I found a brand new copy on Amazon, and finally got to see it again. It was still silly.

Presented here is an .avi file, which oughta be Divx compatible, of the tape. I can provide an .iso file if anyone wants it, but it really doesn't look better than this.

Make sure to download all five parts before you try to unzip the thing.

Your bonus content for this post is my compilation of all the Supernova singles. Well, nearly all. The "Diga Queso!" EP isn't here, because I haven't managed to find a copy yet. But the rest of the singles, and the live 10", and some comp stuff, AND a couple songs from the videotape, are here. Some of these apparently got re-released on a CD called "Pop as a Weapon" a few years ago, but I'm not going to remove those, because I put this damned CD together a decade ago and I don't want to change it now. Besides, they failed to actually include the song "Pop as a Weapon," Supernova's finest 49 seconds.

No idea what's up with Supernova these days. I guess Dave had quit for a while, came back, and then Jodey quit. So they got a guy from the Aquabats to play guitar, and naturally appeared on Yo Gabba Gabba! via that connection. Their wikipedia page makes a lot of references to 2007-8, and their official page went poof. Anyone got any info?