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 I’ve saved them this whole time, never figuring out who or when these were originally made.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!
For those that aren’t familiar with my band, The Evolution Control Committee has been doing sample-heavy, cut-n-paste music for a long, long time (in our 20th year!). It’s somewhere between pop and experimental; funkier than Negativland, but smarter than Coldcut. So in collecting sample material for The ECC (and a little similar to Coldcut’s label name, Ninja Tune) I am a black belt crate digger.
To gather samples and raw materials to mash into The ECC’s music, I have frequented dusty record shops, thrift stores, and flea markets worldwide, scouring the endless bins of vinyl… sweet vinyl. And you, the discerning reader and listener of Dinosaur Gardens, are now the beneficiaries of some of the best nuggets of this black gold. In fact, there’s a category in my record collection which holds the best of the best. It is appropriately labelled “Cream of the Crap.”
This is one of those records.
The story begins in Columbus Ohio, where I used to live. The thrifting was grand, and I had the thrift paths well-beaten. One particular fave destination was a thrift store very far out, a bit of a drive but often well worth it. I remember this was near the tail end of the thrift era; even in Ohio — especially in Ohio — the thrifts were quickly depleted of joyous booty as eBay blew up.
In Ohio, as in much of the bible belt and truly in thrift stores in general, religious records are almost literally a dime a dozen. There are so many albums of sermons, of gospel singers, of televangelists, and of Christian kids’ records (in my collection, that category is “Opiates for the Lasses”). Many are forgettable. Some are just good for the cover. Some are kinda fun and/or funny. Some are a scream. And some are all of the above.
I can visualize the moment — flipping through the awkwardly-shelved records, the usual cruft of Herb Alpert, Frampton Comes Alive, Ray Coniff… and then, this headline pops up: DON’T MISS THE GREAT SNATCH. I froze, stunned. In the crate-digging mindset, one gets a lot of practice summing up records quickly, initially based off the cover artwork and title. But this didn’t match: “Snatch” in the title? Adult comedy, probably. But the primitive, amateur artwork didn’t match. Flipping the record over deepened the mystery: There was the Elder Marshall Taylor, bible in one hand looking skyward. er… huh?
I’ll skip right to the punchline: “Snatch”, in this case, is the rapture. Still, I had to wonder if anyone told Elder Taylor “snatch” has some, er, other meanings. Needless to say, I snatched (sorry) the record up immediately, along with another album of Taylor’s that I found nearby: “Don’t Let The Devil Blow Your Mind.”
When I got home it was the first of the day’s thrift scores to go on the turntable. It didn’t disappoint. For out-of-context soundbites, this was aural caviar:
“Two would be in the bed, and one snatch!”
“Many pleasures of life are used… but I happen to prefer The Snatch.”
“There is one thing that all of us should be aiming for… and that is The Snatch!”
Even the non-snatch samples were great:
“…and let me go on to the disco, and get the Saturday Night Fever, Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye, and I’ll just have me a TIME!”
The Elder Marshall Taylor is a soul preacher. black and proud. The shaky press-type liner notes on the back proclaims “DETROIT, MICHIGAN” in large type, and the sermon sounds it. It’s great, actually. The gospel music that opens it gives way to Elder Taylor, timid and almost apologetic at first. But he builds — boy, does he build — becoming bolder, louder, more animated. The “amens” appear more and more, and before long, he gets rhythm: the sermon is morphing from speech into song. The audience is into it too: yelling and screaming, they’re getting sucked into the raw energy of it. By the end, it’s at fever pitch — the reverend, the congregation, the band, the din, the chaos. Now THAT’S religion.
It took a few years, but I finally coaxed the samples into a pretty worthwhile song, also called “Don’t miss the great snatch”, which appeared on our album Plagiarhythm Nation, v2. As for the Elder Marshall, some web sleuthing leads me to suspect that he (or perhaps his son) is still preaching the gospel up in Detroit. But as for his albums, I can find nothing anywhere mentioning them.
Here are my ten favorite samples from the album:
- Don’t miss the great snatch
- Don’t go to hell second class
- I appreciate the word Snatch
- I happen to prefer the snatch
- One thing all of us should be aiming for
- So don’t miss that snatch
- Two in the bed and one snatch
- Sisters make the snatch
- Brothers make the snatch
- The snatch could come any day now
Here’s the main snatch-related parts of the sermon. Part 1 sets up the groundwork for what the snatch is. Part 2 has elder Taylor riffing on his own personal low points before he got wise to the snatch. Part 3 continues with snatches in the bible.
- Don’t Miss The Great Snatch – Part 1
- Don’t Miss The Great Snatch – Part 2
- Don’t Miss The Great Snatch – Part 3
And finally, the song that The Evolution Control Committee made out of it:
Harmonica virtuoso Leo Diamond was in a couple novelty combos in the 1940s and early 1950s, and then signed with RCA Victor for a series of solo albums. This is the first one, Skin Diver Suite. It’s irresistable for the cover alone, but side one (“The Skin Divers”) is surprisingly experimental; a 20-minute collage of 1950s orchestral glissandos, home-on-the-range–style Americana, and sound effects of water splashing. It’s the Lumpy Gravy of easy listening.
In 1967 Terry Riley was playing one of his “All Night Flight” concerts in Philadephia, featuring his soprano saxophone, keyboards, and tape delay devices, which went on for hours in the trance-inducing Minimalist fashion — as documented on the Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band “All Night Flight” Vol. 1 CD. (Later, Brian Eno and Robert Fripp would adopt similar methods for their “Frippertronics” concerts and LPs like No Pussyfooting and Evening Star.) After the show the proprietor of a local discotheque asked Riley to compose a piece to be played in his club, and Riley obliged — but with a version of Harvey Averne’s “You’re No Good”, a single off Averne’s 1968 Atlantic LP Viva Soul.
Riley took a Motown-inspired pop tune and transformed it into a twenty-minute exploded view, slicing the track into long and short bits and looping them, as Steve Reich had done a few years earlier with his “Come Out” and “It’s Gonna Rain” pieces. The Riley remix (“No Good” becoming “Nogood” to echo his Poppy Nogood character) is wonderfully perverse: beginning with a two-and-a-half-minute piercing sine wave drone, increasing in pitch to the point of unbearability before suddenly breaking into the Averne song, which becomes more and more fragmented and complex, towards the end adding Moog shrieks. Averne’s song refuses to die even under this treatment, determined to keep the good times rolling even as it’s being puréed.
“You’re Nogood” was rescued from undeserved obscurity by the Cortical Foundation, run by Gary Todd, which lovingly repressed a series of very well-received Riley CDs as well as work by Derek Bailey, Hermann Nitsch, and the Scratch Orchestra (whose “The Great Learning” has since been reissued by Deutsche Grammofon). In 2001 Todd was seriously injured, and there has been no further word of his health or the possibility of future releases on his label. We wish him all the best.
Nobody seems to know anything about Kangaroo Kourt, but their albums found their way into many college radio stations’ libraries in the late 1980s. This is Atmospheric Distortions, which I believe is their first album.
Side 1 has interesting noise interspersed with samples of children’s records and some apparently-original skits. Their humor isn’t for everyone, but it’s so off-the-wall that I greatly enjoy it (“The High Geek has repealed the 7% suicide tax”). Also, another warning against masturbation (see my earlier post). One more and it’s a trend!
Side 2 is just straightforward noise (if that’s not an oxymoron) — no voice samples. Still very much worth downloading.