Cool & Strange Music Vol. 2, Number 7

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Welcome back once again to Cool & Strange Music! Sit right down groovy girls and guys, it’s good to have you back in my musical man of international renown bachelor’s pad (er, don’t tell my wife about it).

When I was a high-school student, one of my very best friend’s was a Chinese-American guy named Alan Chin. Alan came from a pretty wealthy family and they owned a bunch of really cool Chinese restaurants back in my home county. Anyway, this was back in the day when sushi was a relatively new thing in the USA. Alan always let his friends scarf up at his dad’s restaurants, so one day I decided to repay the favor by taking Alan to a sushi restaurant. Alan took one bite of the sushi, scowled, and took the rest of the sushi back to his restaurant where he steamed the fish. He said, "I can’t believe Japanese people would ruin a perfectly good piece of fish by eating it raw."

What does this have to do with Cool & Strange Music? Well, not a whole heck of a lot. But it does have something to do with Cool & Strange things. Thank your lucky stars that you are reading today’s article because I’m about to blow the lid off this entire sushi scandal!

First off, you folks just must take a gander at a video graciously sent to me by a self-styled private detective named Mr. Gary North. Mr. North seems to have stumbled upon one of the biggest scandals and conspiracies of the 21st century involving Japan’s latest efforts to take over the world by use of sushi. Let me be the first one to state my official position that this video is filled with the foulest of lies and I deny them completely. But don’t let me influence your thinking. You be the judge.

Okay. I can’t hide it any longer… It’s true. Japanese people are all fat; they eat much more beef than you Texas cowboys could ever imagine; those giant half-gallon Dr. Pepper’s you get at the convenience store all came from Japan, and there is no such thing as a samurai. There never was. It was just a sales ploy. Okay? So just get over it.

Let’s move on with our lives… Last month’s article got me a bunch of "fan mails" asking me if I had lost my mind with the free concert that was linked to it. What!? I only guide the horse to water; I can’t make ‘em drink it. I did mention that I thought said concert and the musician was "…out of this world…" So I did leave myself a caveat — you’ve got to admit that. That being said, perhaps next time I should be more blunt and my caveat should state, "If it’s too loud, then you’re too old."

Wow! Isn’t the Internet just so fun and full of useful information? Speaking of useful information, if you’ve been paying attention, then you’ll know that I think one Jean Jacques Perrey is the ultimate in the cat’s meow of cool music. Jean Jacques Perrey has been working with the Godfather of the Cool & Strange Music movement, Dana Countryman, and these two groovy cats have some new tracks to lay upon you! And you can check them out for free here. Be on the lookout for their co-debut work to be released later and of course you just gotta know you’ll read about it here first!

Mairzy Doats — 24 Great Comic Songs [Import]
Only $9.49

Just to prove to you that American culture and the American mass media have fallen hopelessly into the rubbish bin of history, those twits at Time Magazine and Newsweek picked the Theme Song from Titanic as one of the best songs of the millennium, yet failed to pick a single track from this winning collection in its top 100. How in the world could the theme music from Titanic be one of the best songs of the millennium? If these people have such short memories then it’s no wonder all these twits thought the OJ Simpson trial was the Trial of the Century. What about the Nuremburg Trials?

Lady sitting next to me: "The Nurem-what?"

Oh, never mind.

This CD features 24 of the best funny tunes of the 1940′s. Remember the classics like, Der Fuhrer’s Face, Making Whoopee, Mad Dogs and Englismen, Minnie The Moocher, and Your Feet’s Too Big? The 1940′s were a wonderful time when you’ll remember about a different Fascist fruitcake getting his butt kicked in the desert. You’ll love this CD and all the giggles and warm memories it’ll bring back to you. So pop this darlin’ into the CD player, have a shot of whatever cures you, and just giggle at the antics and great memories of yester-year. Oh, happy days are here again! If you know of anyone over 60, then this is the perfect album for you and yours. And don’t forget that Christmas is right around the corner!

This CD holds a treasure trove of appreciation for music fans and fans of LRC alike. Why? Well, get this: The rights to the music on this CD were bought out by a foreign record label (that’s why this is an import), and the foreign label repackaged a non-selling album — formerly titled 24 Hits of the 1940′s — into Mairzy Doats. Now, with a new package — and name — they have sold more than 200,000 copies of this CD — full of American music — back into America. Now if that’s not the American Dream, I don’t know what is. Makes you wonder if these idiots running American labels didn’t take their business courses from the same guy at Yale who taught George W. Bush.

The Flapper Box: Greatest hits of the 1930′s & 1940′s — Various Artists
110 songs! 5 Disks at only $54.98! That’s under $11.00 per CD — And you get free shipping! Perfect for Christmas!

I’ve been waiting for a chance to introduce this CD box set and I guess that this is as good a chance as any. This is one of those, "If you snooze, you lose…" CD sets that I cannot see being around for too awfully long — although it has been around since 1993, so I could be wrong here. The beauty of this CD is that it is very strong in the songs of the 1930′s. Generally speaking, I’ve found that whenever I get a CD of "1930′s — 1940′s" music, I usually wind up with an album that is mostly 1940′s music with a sprinkle of 1930′s thrown in. I’m not complaining though, I love the 40′s sound too. But this fantastic box set is different. This is a CD for young modern music lovers, students of American culture; and those who are still young at heart. Five stars for a fabulous musical collection, more than superb sound quality, and an excellent price to match. Can’t miss with this fine selection of musical memories.

In the last few issues of Cool & Strange Music, I’ve been introducing to you lots of Bluegrass music. But not the typical Bluegrass that we all know and love, but the new style of Bluegrass that’s been taking the world by storm after the smash hit movie O’Brother Where Art Thou? George Clooney starred in this hit movie about three convicts on the run in 1930′s Mississippi. And from this film Bluegrass has hit revival city big-time. The new Bluegrass revival is being generated by Bluegrass artists covering Rock’n'Roll classic records — probably much to the chagrin of "true" Bluegrass lovers — but if that keeps the spirit alive, then more power to ‘em. 

Now a lot of listeners to this article have asked that I recommend some of the many Bluegrass rock band cover CDs that are on sale now. Well, partners, I do have a problem with that. I like guitar and banjo as much as the next guy, but I don’t want to hear pickin’ & grinnin’ with someone trying to imitate the vocalist of some big hair rock outfit — never mind the country twang — I still don’t like it. So if I’m gonna recommend Bluegrass CDs of rock band covers, then they just have to be instrumental. You also might notice that I rarely recommend music with vocals. Why? Well, it’s because I often think that vocals are interference when you just want to listen to music and relax. So if you are interested in Bluegrass picking of Rock albums then see my past Cool & Strange Music Articles.

Appalachian Stomp: Bluegrass Classics — Various Artists
Now on Sale $10.99

So your kid has finally started listening to good music since you’ve been buying the CDs I’ve recommended. Good job. Well, now’s the time to get them really hooked on the real thing. This is the perfect starter disc for the Bluegrass novice. Why? Well all the songs are just so darned toe-tappingly great and easy to enjoy. Of course the Bluegrass greats that actually made it onto the radio are here: Flatt & Scruggs, Foggy Mountain Breakdown; The Osborne Brothers, Rocky Top; heck they even throw in Dueling Banjos from the movie Deliverance, a cut that is to classic bluegrass what Walter Murphy is to Beethoven.

Now that you got your former heavy metal-head kid into some real guitar playing, or you are just ready to sit back and start a grinnin’ — it’s time to throw this CD into the deck and seal the deal.

Hand-Picked: 25 Years Of Bluegrass on Rounder Records — Various Artists
Two disks. 49 songs! For less than the price of a single CD: $11.99

I hear y’all in the States had some big-time high-fallutin’ Hollywood record company selling you some Bluegrass CD collection on TV a while back. Well, you can just stick that CD in your foot-locker my friend, because there’s no beating this CD for a collection of Who’s Who in the Bluegrass sound, and at a price that can’t be beat. Even if you are just slightly interested in Bluegrass, this album will satisfy even the wildest of the savage beasts. This gets five and one-half stars and I would recommend buying this immediately… Except, first I think you had better take a gander at the next CD set before deciding!

Rounder Records 25th Anniversary [Box Set] — Various Artists
List Price $39.98 Sale Price: $35.99 with free shipping! 9 CDs. 173 Songs in all! That’s $3.99 per CD. 20 cents per track!!!

This is the ultimate collection of music that is true Americana. This nine CD set goes the entire length of great American Blues, Folk Music, Zydeco, and Bluegrass. Every CD in this set is a winner and the sound quality is tops. Now, like I said, I’d buy the previous CD if you just want a Bluegrass CD for yourself, but if you are looking for a Christmas present that’s sure to please everybody (little children love this music too) then this is definitely the deal for you. In fact, with gas prices going the way they are, I’d have to say that you should save yourself a lot of time, headache, and money by buying several of these to give as Christmas presents this year. But don’t take my word for it. Go here and listen to snippets of these wonderful and unforgettable tracks.

This is a CD box set that your special one will never give up. I can’t recommend this highly enough.

You’ve Stolen My Heart: Songs from R.D. Burman’s Bollywood — Krono’s Quartet
List Price: $19.98 On Sale: $14.99 You Save: $4.99 (25%)

Okay, taking a trip from Americana to India, our plane lands at Bollywood airport. But wait! Something is different here. It’s the world renowned Kronos Quartet doing the Bollywood thing!? Yes. And do they do it well! This album is so beautiful and surreal. 8 of the 12 tracks feature the vocals of one of Bollywood’s most famous actress/singers, Asha Bhosle — A Brimful of Asha for you rock fans. But Asha Bhosle’s vocals are so angelic and mysterious they do not interfere with the vibes created by this amazing quartet. If you’re looking for something a bit different this time around, this is the CD for you. Click here to get a free taste of this delicious music.

Best Of Moog: Electronic Pop Hits From The 60′s & 70′s — Various Artists
List Price $15.98

Fans of electronic music might know that the inventor of the Moog Synthesizer, Bob Moog, passed away the other day, on August 21. So I thought it would be a good time to get some of you folks who aren’t familiar with the great sounds the Moog Synthesizer is responsible for to become acquainted.

A lot of my hard-core record collector friends complain about this CD. They don’t like the fact that these tracks are all available on vinyl. Well, duh! That’s why they are geeks. I think this is an excellent CD due to the fact that just about all of these tracks are available only on used vinyl — who wants to buy a turn-table? I certainly don’t.

Yes this is very heavily influenced by the great Jean Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley, but so what? If you don’t like cool, quirky electronic pop, then you have to listen to the spacey stuff — which is cool unless you are about to fall asleep in heavy traffic. For a good starter collection on Electronic pop, this can’t be beat.

Finally, if you know how to play an instrument or are interested in doing your own recording — or if you just want a good laugh — I’ve got a little video lined up for you right now. This is the ultimate "Do it yourself" home recording studio lesson. Watch this video and get some great ideas. Start recording your own music. I’d love to introduce your sounds here on Cool & Strange Music.

Well, that’s it for today. Once again thanks to all the people who’ve sent their support by buying my book. I’m honored and flattered. I thank you all so very, very much. Don’t forget that Christmas is right around the corner and with gasoline and prices going the way they are, it looks like this Christmas books and music from Amazon are the way to go. So be smart and order early. Save time, heartache, and money — all the while getting presents that they will surely cherish.

Take care and until next time, stay groovy!

Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers [send him mail] was born and raised in the USA and moved to Japan in 1984. He has the distinction of being fired from every FM radio station in Tokyo — one of them three times. His first book, Schizophrenic in Japan, is now on sale.

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