I’m a bargain bin hunter, and when I’m hunting for snipe (rare old jazz or blues records) I come across a lot of…well…let’s say varied material. And while the prices at my local Goodwill store are indeed low, you gotta have a decent reason to crowd your place with excess wax. That said, my general rule of thumb is to purchase only LPs that I care to listen to or that I think may be collectible/valuable. But lately, I’ve been surprisingly intrigued by a third and often overlooked category–that of the sonically useless and wholly uncollectible but definitely sporting a hilarious cover genre. So my promise to you, dear reader, is that I will keep my third eye open for gems such as those below. When I uncover these rare slabs, I will periodically post them here along with some hysterical snarky commentary, all for your ultimate humor pleasure, in this newest STOTU series Fun With Album Covers (FWAC).
FWAC Tasty Treat Number One: Stephen Daniels, Never the Less & On the Other Hand, Safari Records 1976
Insert your own joke(s) here […].
All right first, I think this guy used to ride my school bus and punch kids in the neck. Second, the “record’s” title “Never the Less & On the Other Hand” is as nonsensical as it is intriguing. And furthermore, nevertheless is one word (though big ups for correctly avoiding the sneaky “andontheotherhand”). Third, glad to see old Stephen broke out his best mushroom logo-d shirt for the big cover shoot. Fourth, grabbing the light chain in an effective but subtle “Prepare to be illuminated from right here in my parents’ rec room” maneuver was a nice-ass touch. Fifth, interesting track listing includes Daniels classics such as “Red, Red Ripple,” “Bring Me Another Beer” and “We Are All God’s Children.”
And finally, a few words about the back cover. It features a photo of young Stephen, aged six, and I have to say it was a massive disappointment to see ‘the Man’ without his trademark feathered hair. Somehow I pictured him forever fixed in his wavy brilliance. Then, to add even further mystery to the riddle that is this LP, this puzzling revelation in the lower reverse side: “Stephen Daniels is Dan Schoon.” Uh? Wait. What? I understand the compulsion to come up with a bitchin’ stage name to kick start your drunken, languishing career, but is Stephen Daniels in any way superior to Dan Schoon? Shit, with a name like Dan Schoon people would have probably thought you were the brother of that guitar guy from Journey. That would be a plus, no? I mean, obviously it’s not like being the brother of anybody from the band Nazareth or .38 Special, but seriously, WTF?
FWAC Tasty Treat Number Two: Percussive Oompah, Rudi Bohn and his Band, London Records, 1962
Ah, Rudi Bohn and his (creatively named) Band. Where does one even begin?
All right, well first off, in the picture at right Rudi is cutting out the middle man and drinking beer directly from his tuba. Whoa big fella, have you been drinking beer out of your tuba again or are you just happy to see me? I guess this shouldn’t be too big a surprise coming from a record which definitively asserts on its reverse that “With remarkable clarity and technical precision, this LP hustles ‘n bustles with as much colorful energy and bounce as does a freshly poured glass of good German Beer.” And, well, with persuasive similes such as that, color me convinced and finally starting to catch a good buzz. Still, Rudi’s instrument guy can’t be pleased after hearing he played yet another third inebriated set mumbling then swilling from tuba then belching then repeating.
Another thing that strikes me about that year’s “most scintillating disc” (I shit you not, this bold claim is also made) is the title Percussive Oompah, which seems to suggest this isn’t your father’s stale old percussion-lacking garden-variety oompah. No, no-sirree-Bob, this is the really hard-drivin’, badass oompah you always dreamed was possible but knew could only be harnessed by someone of Rudi’s considerable talent, squat and girth.
Next, let’s take a quick look at the song list. Ah, yes, Beer Barrel, Liechtensteiner, Pennsylvania, and Too Fat polkas, tracks one, two, three and four, respectively, and classics all. Mr. Bohn, you were never one to play ball with the record company and tone your shit back just to sell a few more copies…no, good sir, you dive in head first like the thirsty man you are, and for that I commend you. Rudi does tone ‘er down a notch with the heartfelt “Good-Bye,” which we can only assume is about a fraulein who has had enough of his garter snatchin’, beer swillin’ chicanery, but then he knows to get back to business, rolling out both barrels with “Trink, Trink, Bruderlein, Trink” (you don’t even need cursory German language training to know that drunkenly translates to “Drink, Drink, Brother, Drink”).
Unfortunately, I doubt any human being actually made it to Side 2, where old standbys like “The Happy Wanderer,” “Mack the Knife,” and “In Munchen Steht Ein Hofbrauhaus” show Rudi’s range and beer soaked, mustachioed stamina–no, most listeners either sadly succumbed by then to a coma like sleep, a toilet, or to alcohol poisoning. I think it goes without saying, however, that it was undoubtedly nothing short of a 100% shit-faced polka tour de force.
The other absolutely fascinating thing about this FWAC offering is the “sound 4 monophonic high fidelity 1962” designation that can be found on the cover. When one opens the ample foldout (see photos below), they are treated to a highly technical and, given the listener’s blood alcohol level, completely incomprehensible description of London’s “Development of Sound 4,” the “Innovation in Scoring” it demands, a very official sounding “Sound 4: Technical Report,” and finally, a schematic for “Innovation in Recording Technique” that shows how Rudi’s earth and pants-seam shattering musical efforts were converted from a 4 track master tape down to a single track master tape and ultimately to a fine……very fine…..fucking fine master lacquer disc. Actually, without the muckety muck, it sounds stupidly simple.
There was something else I was gonna mention but I gotta puke, shit, puke/shit, or grab a fresh brew.
Until next time.