Unknown Mystery Tape Recordings

[old WCBN logo] I recorded these two unknown tracks on tape decades ago from a local college radio station, WCBN-FM, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  I’ve saved them this whole time, never figuring out who or when these were originally made.  They both consist of well-arranged samples from different sources – old sci-fi movies, Janis Joplin screaming, an old radio or TV ad, opera music, etc…  This is the kind of sampling I fell in love with early in my days of discovering non-mainstream music: No cheesy dance or hip hop beats, just pure dada-esque collage that keeps you hooked and wanting to listen to it again and again. If you can identify the artist or provide any information – please do!

Robert Lee: The Ballad of Bruce Lee

[front cover of Robert Lee sings... LP] Robert Lee is the brother of martial artist Bruce Lee. Robert released this album, Robert Lee Sings… The Ballad of Bruce Lee, in 1975 in dedication to his older brother, who had died in 1973. Although he does sing all the songs, Robert has a hand in writing only 3 of them, posted here. The song “Parting”, features lyrics written by Bruce Lee.

  1. JKD – Jeet Kune Do
  2. Parting
  3. The Ballad of Bruce Lee

front cover of Robert Lee sings... LP] In an article from a 1974 issue of Black Belt magazine, Robert describes his relationship with the late master of Jeet Kune Do. It’s hard growing up in the shadow of the world’s greatest martial artist.

Although my last name is also Lee, I am not related. In fact I am Korean, not Chinese. I appreciate Bruce Lee as a martial artist/actor, but I’m no expert or huge fanatic. However, as an Asian-American male, I grew up with little or no role models that “looked like me”, except for Bruce Lee. And, sadly, I can’t think of really any other Asian-American figures in pop culture or politics or literature, etc. that I can really look up to in the way that African-Americans might look to Martin Luther King or Muhammad Ali, Caucasian-Americans to Thomas Jefferson or Mark Twain, Latin-Americans to Cesar Chavez, etc…

Maybe it’s unimportant or superficial. I’ve certainly found my own role models of various ethnic and national origins, but I have to admit that I do have respect and affection towards Bruce Lee for being a strong, heroic, leading man, rather than the nerdy, harmless, un-masculine stereotypes that is more often the images Americans see of Asian-American males, or Asian males for that matter.

El Topo Soundtrack

[front cover of El Topo soundtrack]Following up on the previous Holy Mountain soundtrack post by Colin, I humbly present the entire Douglas 6 reissued vinyl soundtrack to Alexandro Jodorowsky’s motion picture, El Topo (aka The Mole), often referred to as “the first midnight movie”.

Based on brief online searching, it appears neither the original Apple label release nor the Douglas 6 release are on CD yet but supposedly, according to this trailer there will finally be an official (hopefully North American NTSC) release of El Topo on DVD as well as Holy Mountain and Fando and Lis, so it would logically follow that the soundtracks for both could be released on CD. One can hope anyway. Here are the liner notes transcribed:

MUSIC OF EL TOPO
Composed by Alexandro Jodorowsky
SHADES OF JOY
Arranged and conducted by Martin Fierro

[photo of Martin Fierro]

EL TOPO blew my mind like it’s blown everyone else’s. But being Mexican I felt especially close to it, felt a very complete connection with it. So I think there’s a real organic relationship between what we’ve done with the music on our record and what the music is essentially about. The music, like the rest of the film, is very spiritual — Alexandro’s a very far out cat. What we’ve done with the music sort of takes up where Alexandro left off. In terms of styles and forms we take in many things that have been happening in music since the soundtrack was made, and that makes the music on the record more related to what’s happening on the street and in the society now.

The cats in Shades Of Joy, they’re all ”˜bad’ cats, with different backgrounds and experiences. And we can play a lot of different trips, from Rock to Jazz to Latin to Hillbilly to Country and Western. We got everything into the music — all the things we’re able to do. You see, all the tunes in EL TOPO portray a mood and have so many emotions to explore and develop. There is frustration and pain and love in them. There are pensive moments and happy moments. I took the songs and shaped them the way I saw fit. I think we succeeded in complementing Alexandro very well.

Martin Fierro

[photo of Alexandro Jodorowsky]

I believe that the only end of all human activity — whether it be politics, art, science, etc. — is to find enlightenment, to reach enlightenment. I ask of a film what most North Americans as of psychedelic drugs. The difference being that when one creates a psychedelic film, he need not create a film that shows the visions of a person who has taken a pill; rather, he needs to manufacture the pill

I think there are multiple influences in El Topo — I have them all: the influence of all the books I’ve read and all the films I’ve seen, of all the winds that have blown against my skin, of all the stars that have exploded during my lifetime, of each manifestation of the now manifested, of each flea that’s shit on me. Especially a flea I met in 1955. It shit on me in such an incredible way, that it changed my life. I’m sure that flea’s in my film

Alexandro Jodorowsky

[back cover of El Topo soundtrack]

ON LISTENING TO MARTIN FIERRO’S MUSIC FOR EL TOPO

I was a seed
Watching itself grow on a tree
Knowing
I was the tree,
But feeling
Apart from it.

Earth and water
Came together
With my energy
And the fruits and branches
Were larger far beyond
What I had ever thought.

I sat there
Watching myself grow.

I wanted to leap up out of
The depths of the earth
And drop into the heart of the fruit
Be the future seed, one of them,
Not be the origin.

Alexandro Jodorowsky

Side 1

  1. The Desert is a Circle
  2. Man of Seven Years
  3. Flute in a Quarry
  4. Together

Side 2

  1. El Topo’s Dream
  2. Slowest & Saddest Waltz
  3. Freakout #1

Produced by: Alan Douglas — Doris Dynamite

Eddie Adams, Ken Balzell, Hadley Caliman, Jack Dorsey, Martin Fierro, Luis Gasca, Jackie King, Jerry Love, Mel Martin, Frank Morin, Ivory Smylie, Roger ”˜Jellyroll’ Troy, Howard Wales, Peter Walsh, Jymm Young

All selections composed by Alexandro Jodorowsky except Freakout #1, by Martin Fierro, published by Editions Douglas Music / BMI.

Label: Douglas 6

Sammy Davis Jr. Sings for Alka-Seltzer as Hangover Remedy

[photo of Sammy Davis Jr.]It’s 1978 and the Miles Laboratory, creators of Alka-Seltzer, have signed on international superstar Sammy Davis Jr. as the perfect spokesman for their “Party hard? Live fast? Get relief FAST!” promotional campaign aimed at the fast growing demographic of late 70’s swingers and drug addicted socialites. It is a time before AIDS and cocaine will cast their deadly shadows and Sammy Davis Jr. is considered a strong icon not only for this new middle class phenomena but also for the previous generation who had still longed for the Rat Pack days of Sammy, Dean, and Frank.

This campaign produced several television ads featuring Sammy singing new, hip takes on the clasic “Plop Plop Fizz Fizz” jingle (written by Tom Dawes, published by Twin Star Music) and was a success on all counts — hitting their target audience of hungover party-goers. One version which was termed the “Big Band Version” was geared towards the older generations while “Rock Version” was aimed at the excessive lifestyle generation.

[photo of Bernie Kopell]However it all ended for Sammy in 1979 when the Bayer Corporation purchased Miles Laboratories and overhauled the brand and marketing strategy of Alka-Seltzer, signing on actor Bernie Kopell (Doc from ABC series The Love Boat) as their official spokesperson. The new campaign was geared away from the party and hangover crowd and more towards women ages 30–60 with severe digestive problems. Bayer Corp. is currently promoting a hangover remedy called Alka-Seltzer Morning Relief with rock vocalist Courtney Love as official spokesperson who will record the famous jingle yet again in both a Grunge Rock Version and Techno Version.