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Tom Tobben

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Reply with quote  #1 

Thanks, Cantina, for an entertaining battle week this past week! Now on to this week's battle:

In addition to all the good, great, so-so, and poor typical popular songs and hits created by all sorts of artists over the years, sometimes we get the unusual weird, odd, strange, or outright bizarre songs that just don't seem to fit with what we expect to hear from particular artists or on the radio.

Thus, no straight-ahead catchy hit pop/rock music from me in this week's battle -- we're going to venture out to the creative fringes of popular music in search of those odd nuggets that entertain or challenge us to stretch our musical tastes beyond our typical comfort zones or, in some cases, to turn up our noses in dismay or disgust.

In this week's battle, we will explore four such songs that just don't fit the typical pattern that we had previously come to expect from such artists, or that are simply way out there in terms of their presentation and/or lyrics. I'm not referring to the typical humorous novelty songs that become pop hits, but rather to songs or even hits that amuse or challenge us by their unusual or even confrontational nature.

Without further ado, here are this week's four battle contestants:


1. "Randy Scouse Git (aka "Alternative Title") -- Monkees:

First, this unusual, and perhaps controversial, song from the Monkees' 1967 Headquarters album was the first song written by drummer/vocalist Mickey Dolenz to be commercially released by the Monkees. According to Dolenz, the title of the song refers to "something like 'sex-crazed Liverpudlian jerk'". (Wikipedia) In fact, due to its controversial title, in the UK the song was renamed to "Alternative Title" and proceeded to reach #2 on the UK pop charts, as well as reaching the Top 20 in a number of other European countries. On the other hand, the song did not chart in the US, Canada, or Australia. What do you think of it? Creatively original or weird?


2. "Whip It" -- Devo:

Our next contestant group hailed from Ohio and was all about new wave shock rock. The group's name, Devo, comes "from their concept of 'de-evolution' β€” the idea that instead of continuing to evolve, mankind has actually begun to regress, as evidenced by the dysfunction and herd mentality of American society." (Wikipedia) One might even argue that the concept of "de-evolution" has come home to roost in our current political landscape of 2016.  In 1980, this strange song, written by band members Gerald Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh, was a major international hit in all of the English-speaking countries represented here in our BOTBs. Entertainingly distinctive or strangely de-evolutionary?


3. "She's Going Bald" -- Beach Boys:

The Beach Boys enter this week's battle with this most unusual "tripp-y" song from their 1967 album Smiley Smile. Just like Smiley Smile overall, this song was a reworking of the tune "He Gives Speeches" from the abandoned SMiLE project. Perhaps as an odd attempt to be "hip" in the year of the "summer of love" when the seemingly straight-laced Beach Boys were starting to fall out of favor, the Beach Boys came up with this dope-y tune with lyrics by Mike Love (which to me seemingly reflects his long-standing desire to speak and be "hip" with the latest popular trends). Love recalled: "We were stoned out of our heads. We were laughing our arses off when we recorded that stuff." (Wikipedia)  Was this song merely an odd, misguided "bunt instead of a grand slam", as Carl Wilson once described the Smiley Smile album, as compared to the abandoned SMiLE album? Or was "She's Going Bald" a hip "out-there" song that captured the far-out spirit of the times?


4. "Lonesome Cowboy Burt" -- Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention:

Frank Zappa was certainly no stranger to weird, odd, strange, and bizarre songs. In fact, when he created his own music label, he named it Bizarre Records. On the other hand, he was a massively talented, original, creative, and prolific songwriter and musician with a vast catalogue of fascinatingly original and musically diverse albums and songs. This week's battle song contribution from Zappa is a rare country music-sounding send-up tune from Zappa's bizarre (but oddly fascinating to its cult following) movie and soundtrack album, 200 Motels, from 1971. Like many of Zappa's songs, parts of the lyrics may seem controversial, or even offensive, to some, but the song is also entertaining with a catchy country-flavored arrangement. The lead vocalist is Jimmy Carl Black, one of the original members of the Mothers, and the attuned listener/viewer will also notice vocal contributions from both Flo and Eddie (Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan formerly of the Turtles), who had also joined the Mothers in the early 70s. (And for any Zappa/200 Motels fans here, is that "Ringo Starr as Larry the Dwarf, dressed as Frank Zappa" playing the drums in the video, or is it Zappa himself on the drums?)  Bizarre, offensive, or satirically entertaining and catchy?  What do you think?

 

This is the first official appearance of Devo and Frank Zappa/Mothers in the 7-year history of our BOTBs and the first appearance of all four of this week's songs. I hope you find them all to be entertaining, or at least intriguing, for their unusual and innovative nature.  And, for what it's worth, I don't expect any of these songs to become Gold finalists in our year-end battles -- this week is all about taking the road less traveled.

In addition to casting your votes for this week's battle songs, please feel free to add some of your own favorite "weird, odd, strange, or bizarre" songs from some of your favorite or memorable artists.

 

 

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Darren J. Ray

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Tom. 

'Whip It' has to be watched from YouTube here. Won't automatically play on this site. 

Does this work for you?




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t bedford

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Reply with quote  #3 
Tom hasn't answered so I will. Yes, your Devo clip works in the USA.

Meanwhile, here's an odd ditty from Kevin Ayers:


Here's one from Spirit:


The Turtles had a bunch of really odd, non-LP B-sides, including this one, featuring early use of the 'Moo' synthesizer:


Another Turtle oddity:


Back to vote later.

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Larry Franz

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Reply with quote  #4 
Voting first for a change? Is that weird?

Gold -- Devo -- It sure sounded weird, odd, etc. when it came out, although not out of place in their body of work. 

Silver -- The Beach Boys -- I love Smiley Smile, and might have put this first on another day, but it's not one of the standout tracks, so here it sits.

Bronze -- The Monkees -- It pains me to put them ahead of Zappa, because I was too old to be part of their original demographic and have never warmed up to them. But this is kind of catchy. And the rug Mickey is wearing looks nice.

Tin -- Frank & the Mothers -- Tedious, except when they briefly take a different direction around the middle.


The weirdest song the Beach Boys did in their early years and one that still feels like a pebble in your shoe when you listen to that album: "I'm Bugged At My Ol' Man". It's never competed in the battle for some reason (maybe the creative video indicates something).

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bonnie bella

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Reply with quote  #5 
Hi Tom.

Another trippy week!


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NotJermia

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Reply with quote  #6 
Hellllllooooooo everyone
Thanks for this weeks theme and songs Tom! This was surprisingly difficult!

Gold: Whip It - Devo
This cracked me up. YES! Such a good song hahah. The original would've been out of my era had The Simpsons not referenced it in one of their episodes. That amazing Smithers moment hurled this song into my youth so I'm super attached to it!

Silver: Randy Scouse Git - The Monkee's
This resonated with me, I'm not sure why, I just really liked it!

Bronze: Lonesome Cowboy Burt - Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention
Honestly when I started the song, I hated it. I almost didn't even make it past the first minute but decided I really should listen to it in it's entirety. I don't know how it did it ... but by the end it had transformed from a horrible muppet-esq piece of trash to something I actually was bobbing along to... Who would've thought hahah.

Tin: She's Going Bald - The Beach Boys
I don't know how, because I kind of liked this song... and it was only just etched out of third spot. This really was hard to place last. Maybe I'm swayed by my longing to never go bald...

Nothing I can think of to contribute at the moment. If I think of one through the week i'll chuck it up though [smile]

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bonnie bella

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Reply with quote  #7 
Odd.


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John B

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Reply with quote  #8 
this turned out to be an easy week for me.

1) by far, The Monkees, Randy Scouse Git (alternative title).   I could quibble about Dolenz hamming it up, especially in the early part of the song, but after all, the show was a comedy.  The song itself is really good!   and if it has kind of a period piece lyrical cliche' about it, doesn't the Yardbirds 'Mr. You're a Better Man Than I' have just as much, and THEY'RE supposed to be the 'hip' one for some reason.  Anyway, count me as liking this song best this week and also, the Monkees WAY better than the Yardbirds.  Dolenz was a great singer. 

Maybe my idea of what is 'unhip' and 'silly' is different than most.  For example, the #1 most embarrassing cliche' in all of rock music?  that's easy.  It's what Rob Riggel does in that Holiday Inn commercial, it's what a large rat does in that car commercial.  It's a 'guitar' hero, throwing his head back and miming the notes he is playing with his mouth (and eyes closed) that he is playing with his stupid fingers.  #1.  the worst.

2) 'She's Goin' Bald' by The Beach Boys

just a little Mike satire there I think...but it has a reasonable worry it seems to me.  to imbibe, you must find this purveyor in an alley (?) wearing a trench coat (?) who has no contact with the food and drug administration.  Who knows WHAT will happen on your uh, trip.  By the time it gets to the 'and throw it in a sack!' part, it is already the worst novelty song the Boys ever did.  Still...in comparison to these, it's #2. 

3) 'Whip it' by Devo.  

Hated this song at the time, but probably more than I should have (it does have a groove), because my white suburban high school folk thought they would 'get me', a 'new wave/punk' fan, you see, by their cutting insult, "whip it good!"    so what was I supposed to say to that?   uh...well, that's not really the kind of music I listen to.  puzzled expressions.  the video reminds me though of the triteness.  is the crosseyed girl supposed to be an Asian racist thing?   Not many Asians in Ohio, huh?   Just though it was very dumb and still kinda do.

4) Last place.  by Zappa, 'Lonesome Cowboy Burt.'   Just horrible.  Has anyone experienced a Californian trying to do a southern accent?  Maybe Ally Sheedy in 'Heart of Dixie'?  dreadful. totally.  inept to the max, ya'll.    supposedly, you see, Californians look down on Texans because they see themselves as more open minded.  So, you have this satire, and more or less, the poorest written characters on the Simpsons, the incestual Cleetus and the rich Texan who shoots his guns in the air.  So...where's the superior open minded POV...?   Did Zappa know Austin was liberal and the Birch society was in San Marino?  probably not.  But he called the average person stupid many many times, while he smoked himself to an early death.  Such a smart fellow, you see.
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JackandLinda

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Reply with quote  #9 
The only cure for "I'm bugged at my old man" would be arsenic! OMG
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John B

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Reply with quote  #10 
I love 'Bugged at my Old Man.'
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Lee Marshall

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So...Here we go...

Tough call.  All close to gold...all stored in a tin.

1.  Golden.  Frank. Jimmy, Flo and Eddy.  I guess you either get it...or you don't want it.  I'm good with it.  Too bad about the subsequent fire... ... ...and the ensuing smoke on the water.  Watch out where the huskies go.

2.  Silver.  Mickey's Monkee and the guy from somewhere near Penny Lane.  Davy really sold me with his drumming skills.  Peter not so much on the 88s.  The Monkees needed to show that they had talent too.  They did.

3.  Bronze.  Oh how wacky.  Oh how sigh go delicatessen.  Oh what a puzzle.  The world wasn't ready for Smile but we were ready for that?  Still there is an essence to it which gives it something of value.  Seems like a potentially good effort sort of wasted.

4.  Tin.  Those pot heads crackin' the ol' whip whipped it good but a close 4th is the best I can serve them.  The competition is just too tough this week boys.  Thanks Tom.

See GF...Brian and the boys included in yet another battle.  No substances were imbibed during the making of said song.  No...really.
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Larry Franz

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Reply with quote  #12 

I appreciate "I'm Bugged At My 'Ol Man" for its hint of autobiography. I wonder what Murry thought of it. But I think it would have been better if they'd kept it in the vault in 1965 and put it out as a bonus track years later. 

Quote:
...sometimes we get the unusual weird, odd, strange, or outright bizarre songs that just don't seem to fit with what we expect to hear from particular artists or on the radio. 

These two came to mind as I was driving home today, trying to avoid thinking about politics, etc. I've posted these in the past but I have no shame.

The Queers are an American punk or punk/pop rock band whose songs tend to fit the name of their band: offensive, gross, silly, impolite. In 1999, they released a compilation album called Later Days and Better Lays. Among the songs are "Granola Head", "I Hate Everything", "Murder in the Brady House" and "I Can't Stop F@@@ing". They're also serious Beach Boys fans. Still, it was surprising to hear this hidden, unlisted track at the end of the album. I doubt if they paid royalties on what they "borrowed".



Pearl Jam has been labeled the most successful rock band of the 1990s. I've never listened to them much but it must have surprised their fans when they began performing this "teen tragedy" song from 1964. Later, they recorded it as a Christmas present for their fan club. When it was finally released to the public as a single, with proceeds going to charity, it reached #2 on the Billboard 100. 

For comparison purposes, here's the original hit by J. Frank Wilson & the Cavaliers:



And the Pearl Jam version:



PS -- That's not an official Pearl Jam video. It's supposedly someone's high school project.

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Tom Tobben

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Reply with quote  #13 
Well, we're off and running in this week's non-traditional battle -- perhaps a bunch of "Odds and Sods", to quote the Who.

Darren, thanks for adding the identical clip of "Whip It" that doesn't require using the link to YouTube.

Thanks for getting us started with your votes, Larry, NotJermia, John B., and Lee! It seems apparent early on that the voting may be quite mixed this week. Thanks also to t, Larry, bonnie, NotJermia, John B., JackandLinda, and Lee for your added comments and additional non-traditional songs and videos.

t, you're always among the first to comment and add related songs/videos each week, so thanks for your additions to get our week going. Always good to hear some of the unusual off-the-wall stuff the Turtles did in addition to their delightful pop hits. I suppose "I'm Chief Kamanawanalaya (We're the Royal Macadamia Nuts)" from their excellent Battle of the Bands album could also be another out-there example. In retrospect, considering their various off-the-wall songs as the Turtles, it's not surprising that Volman and Kaylan (aka Flo & Eddie) joined Zappa's group for a while. Good add by Spirit as well, from their excellent Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus album. The Kevin Ayers song was new to me -- interesting, to say the least.

Larry, as always, thanks for your comments and the various added videos. I figured someone would add "I'm Bugged at My Old Man" to this week's mix, so thanks for getting us there so quickly. It's been interesting to see others' subsequent comments about this song, clearly some mixed perspectives. And who would have ever guessed that the edgy Queers would be BW/BB fans -- excellent find with their take on "God Only Knows"! Not surprising that you added Pearl Jam's totally unexpected version of  "Last Kiss", in such contrast to most of their catalogue. Eddie Vedder's vocals are more rugged than J. Frank Wilson's originals, but otherwise Pearl Jam's version is quite faithful to the original.

bonnie, you never cease to impress with the unusual or non-typical songs you regularly find and share with us. I'm wondering whether Split Enz and Taylor Swift have a multi-generational affinity for one another with that "Re-e-e-e-d" tinted perspective on the world around them. And I really enjoyed hearing "Monkey Eats Bananas" by Princess Chelsea. Certainly an odd set of lyrics, but I found it quite pleasant and with some interesting piano and percussion. Two fine Kiwi artists added to this week's mix, and both apparently hailing from Aukland! Too bad more good Kiwi artists don't find their way to mainstream US airwaves. Apparently, a vibrant music scene in your country.

NotJermia, quite interesting that your connection to "Whip It" came through The Simpsons! It's amazing all the cultural, musical, and historic connections the long-running Simpsons show has created to appeal to and bridge the generations over the years. Some of that show's stuff is pretty "out-there" too.  Good to see you warmed up, at least a bit, to Zappa's catchy send-up, just one of many he did in his music over the decades.  

 

John B., a Monkees' fan, or just this song? It is certainly catchy and the percussion parts are quite distinctive as well. The song does certainly capture the fun and entertainment factor that their TV show was all about. I've always got a kick out of this song, though certainly not their typical Top 40 radio fare from their hit years. Regarding Devo, as Larry mentioned earlier, the song may be bizarre and perhaps offensive, but it certainly does fit in with their larger body of work. Regarding Zappa's "Lonesome Cowboy Burt", I wouldn't take it as a personal attack on Texans, or at least any more than any other presumed stereotype, because Zappa was quite ecumenical in spreading around his satirical songs to all sorts of demographic groups. Check out his posthumous CD compilation Have I Offended Someone?, for instance. Zappa's film 200 Motels, for instance, is in good part a satiric commentary on how touring as a rock bank can drive them crazy, with all the unusual and excessive things that can occur while on tour.

JackandLinda, thanks for dipping your toes into the fray this week. I hope you come back some more and become active participants in our fun group of music lovers of all stripes, and from multiple continents around the world. Lots of diverse musical interests and perspectives here, so all comers are more than welcome to add to the mix!

Lee, hooray for another Zappa fan! Good to see that Frank and his guys won't get skunked from the gold in the final tally at the end of this week's battle. Who knows, perhaps there's even some other Zappa fans out there.

Here's a couple more oddities (which, by the way, do not at all need to be offensive to be included in this week's mix) that came to mind as I was planning this week's battle:

First, this quirky, cacophonous instrumental from the Who's early Happy Jack / A Quick One album, a rarity composed by Keith Moon (a big Beach Boys fan himself):


And this lovely nugget is also perhaps a bit odd and unusual in its lyrical theme, ostensibly a tribute to the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, but, if you pay attention to the lyrics, also as a sort of musical farewell from Paul Simon to Art Garfunkel shortly before their break-up after the Bridge Over Troubled Water album, which included this song.


Looking forward to more weird, odd, strange, or bizarre songs, illustrative of artists stretching the bounds or subject matter of pop/rock music, as well as everyone's continuing comments and votes.


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Larry Franz

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Reply with quote  #14 
Tom -- The Queers have covered at least these songs: Hawaii, Little Honda, Don't Back Down, Salt Lake City and Do You Wanna Dance? In addition to God Only Knows.

And the final track on their 2007 album Munki Brain: "Brian Wilson" 



Here's a link to a poor live recording with a few introductory remarks:

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John B

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Reply with quote  #15 
Thanks for the Queer's 'God Only Knows'.  I don't think even the Wondermints sound as authentic... ha
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