There was an old lady…


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Max in boat 650

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Bought this book for my boys yesterday (I’m a sucker for beautifully designed childrens books) Such a unique way of presenting the old tale and at the end her eyes close after she eats the horse. We also have another version by Jan Pienkowski (who did Meg & Mog and the classic Haunted House pop up book) in which she turns into a ghost on the last page!

This book though is illustrated by Jeremy Holmes and available from Chronicle Books from San Francisco, presumable available online but I got mine from Tales on Moon Lane in Herne Hill who have re-installed part of my Where the Wild Things Are Window display.

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Psychedelic Pink

A current big hit in our household are the Pink Panther cartoons from the 60’s and 70’s with variations on Henry Mancini’s excellent theme to by Walter Greene to accompany them. One of my favourite episodes is this tripped out classic from 1968, the Panther goes into a weird bookshop and strange things start to happen. The background designs by Tom O’Loughlin are sublime and show a rare glimpse of the times in a chidren’s cartoon. See the gallery above for more shots…

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Posted in Design, Film, Oddities. | 1 Comment |

Rave Wars 7″ with free figure

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A mysterious package turned up yesterday, inside were three 7″‘s titled Rave Wars, each complete with an original Star Wars figure attached to the front in the style of the old Palitoy figures of yesteryear. Whoever sent them must have figured me for a follower of the dark side as I got Darth vader, a Tie Fighter pilot and an AT-AT driver. The back cover shows a gallery of characters from the first trilogy (collect all 77 – ah the memories). The labels are blank save for a rebel and imperial logo and the legends “If only you knew the power of the dark side” and “The Force is strong with the one” (sic). The music is a ravetastic barrage of amen breaks, electronics and samples from the first (only) three films. Any more I cannot tell you…

Back coverRun Out Groove
Hear and buy here but be quick there are only 200

Posted in Music, Oddities, Toys. | 10 Comments |

C-Mon & Kypski’s More Is Less video

Video clipI’d never heard of this dutch group C-Mon & Kypski before until someone posted a link to their new video on the Ninja Tune forum. Besides loving the track – an mixture of ska, a sampled soul tune and synth bass more than a little reminiscent of Shadow’s ‘Mashin’ on The Motorway’ – the band are attempting to make their video online with the help of the general public.

The idea is very simple and anyone can take part as long as they have a webcam. They have already shot a basic video of the band larking about and you are invited to switch on your cam whereby one frame will be chosen at random for you to replicate. Strike a pose (they alternate your view with the chosen frame) take the picture (you have 5 seconds to get back into position) and they will add your image into the video. They already have over 6000 frames done and you can watch the video so far which is updated hourly.  Try it yourself

Posted in Film, Music, Oddities. | No Comments |

‘Brother’ John Rydgren

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On my new EP, The Shape Of Things That Hum, there’s a track called ‘Brother John’, a tribute of sorts to a remarkable man with a remarkable voice. He appears in the form of samples taken from records, air check recordings and station idents for his LOVE radio show. Most will never have heard of him but I’ve been collecting his recordings for many years now and thought this would be the ideal time to write up a proper introduction for those wanting to know about the man behind the voice.

I’m not sure how I first found the work of John Rydgren, it may have been via Otis Fodder and his 365 days project or maybe the single vinyl bootleg of his ‘Silhouette Segments’ album that began circulating around 2003. I can’t remember what drew me to it, it may have been the psychedelic cover (I’m a big advocate of judging a record by it’s cover).

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Anyway, as soon as I heard that baritone voice, the hip but sometimes dark delivery and the selection of music he chose to recite over, I was hooked. Many compare Rydgren to Ken Nordine and they certainly do have a lot in common. The crucial difference is that Rydgren was a man with a message and that message was spreading the word of the Lord. “Oh, he was a preacher”, I hear you cry, well yes – he was a Pastor and the American Lutheran Church‘s Director of Radio/TV and Film – but not in the clichéd fire and brimstone sense that we picture when one thinks of such things.

Rydgren – who also went by the moniker Brother John – was much subtler than that and chose to integrate God’s word into his radio shows, intertwined with subjects that the youth of the day could relate to. Sex, drugs, rock music, fashion, cars, it all went in with a Lord’s eye view on each and every one. The creation of the world was turned into a psychedelic trip with allusions to heavy rock and growing weed, a girl with thigh length boots he was checking out suddenly gets him thinking about who had made the girl – “quite a design”.

As well as weekly radio shows Rydgren was broadcast to Vietnam for the troops, intermingling his playlists of rock and pop of the day (Stones, Beatles, Byrds) with short segments he’d written and narrated. Over easy listening backing tracks he planted seeds for the listener to think about the relevance of god within their everyday lives. It was never heavy-handed or overblown and certainly never preachy. His messages were usually slipped in after setting a scene a teenager could relate to, bringing the church into the present day as opposed to the stuffy idea of it being something your parents foisted upon you. One of his often used motifs was, ‘they say…” before going off to quote an example of a commonly held belief before turning it on it’s head.

He was always playful but deadly serious, especially when talking about the Lord, almost to the point of morbidity on occasion as his voice dropped lower and lower in register. He was also very anti-drugs, regularly interviewing musicians of the day and quizzing them on the need for weed or LSD to gain enlightenment. As a Pastor for the Lutheran church he tirelessly spread the word in the form of spoken word radio plays and stories ranging from Moses to Elijah to Xmas tales of Theodore and the Angel, most of which he wrote and co-narrated.

All of his records are promo only radio station issues or were sold at church meetings and, as a result, are incredibly hard to come by. Originals, if you can find them, fetch a high price. Ridiculously rare interview 7″s for radio shows occasionally turn up, flexi discs, religious tales, Xmas stories and sampler records of radio inserts are among the unknown quantity of recordings he made over the years. The best of these is the double album ‘Silhouette Segments’ – literally segments from his radio show ‘Silhouette’. This includes the ‘Dark Side of the Flower – a meditation on the decline of the hippy movement over what sounds like a lost David Axelrod track.

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‘Worlds of Youth’ and ‘Contata Of New Life’ are two similar releases and it’s this last one that Rydgren is ironically best known for, although it’s by default and not actually for any of his vocal work. An internet debate has raged for years over where DJ Premier sampled the main hook from for Nas‘Nas Is Like’ and it appears that crate diggers have honed in on the backing track to one of Brother John’s pieces on the aforementioned album. The track is question, ‘What Child Is This?’, has John reciting over a version of ‘Greensleeves’ and Premier himself has said that the label of the record he sampled was pink with a fish on it, the same as the Lutheran church record label. (side note: my copy of Contata has plain black labels with silver lettering and is 12″ sized, i’ve never seen a Lutheran 10″ record but I’m sure they exist). Where John took this version of Greensleeves from is still open to debate but it’s a shame that most internet searches of his name will bring this up rather than any detailed information of his life and work.

Sadly John suffered a stroke whilst on air in 1982. Over time, with therapy, he was able to recover somewhat but had to relearn to read and speak from third grade level. He returned to work in the 80’s for a few years but died in 1988 aged 56. I was lucky enough to track down John’s son, Shane, and obtain his permission to use the voice of his father and am very excited to be able to release such a song knowing it has the blessing of a family member.

You can hear the track Brother John, as well as the rest of the EP, here:

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The Tapeworm

TapewormThe Tapeworm is a new micro cottage industry-styled record label with a difference. It shouldn’t really be called a record label at all because the only format they release music on is cassette. Run by an anonymous group of ‘worms’, they make limited editions runs between 250 and 350 copies of each release featuring the likes of Philip Jeck, Derek Jarman, Simon Fisher Turner, Geir Jenssen and more.

The music ranges from ambient to installation pieces, live sets, interviews, noise or solo piano improv. I have a copy of the Van Patterson Quartet release – reportedly a lost live psyche rock jam – and let me tell you, it’s the real deal. As tiny examples of how music used to be formatted they are building into a lovely little set of black and white wonders, some also featuring the music and artwork of Savage Pencil.

More info here

Posted in Music, Oddities. | 1 Comment |

The Tapeworm

TapewormThe Tapeworm is a new micro cottage industry-styled record label with a difference. It shouldn’t really be called a record label at all because the only format they release music on is cassette. Run by an anonymous group of ‘worms’, they make limited editions runs between 250 and 350 copies of each release featuring the likes of Philip Jeck, Derek Jarman, Simon Fisher Turner, Geir Jenssen and more.

The music ranges from ambient to installation pieces, live sets, interviews, noise or solo piano improv. I have a copy of the Van Patterson Quartet release – reportedly a lost live psyche rock jam – and let me tell you, it’s the real deal. As tiny examples of how music used to be formatted they are building into a lovely little set of black and white wonders, some also featuring the music and artwork of Savage Pencil.

More info here

Posted in Music, Oddities. | No Comments |

Kraftwerk on Stylophone & Bee Gees Rhythm Machine

Absolutely my last Kraftwerk post for a while (I promise). Because ‘The Catalogue’ is released today, here’s a couple of YouTubers attempting to play one of my favorite tracks – Pocket Calculator – on the original instruments used. Mattel Bee Gees Rhythm Machine? I want one!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwIOsrVXy8s[/youtube] [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07vtwBMZf-w[/youtube]

Posted in Kraftwerk, Music, Oddities, Toys. | 4 Comments | Tags:

Rinky Dink

My friends Sarah and Leigh at Factory Road sent some lovely custom 45 adapters down the other week. After years of buying up old stocks from US factories they’ve made their own, improved from existing versions and debossed with their logo. They also offer a custom service with your own name or wording on the dinks if you need something special or want some for promo. Contact Leigh at [email protected] if you want more info – they also make records, prints and T-shirts and are lovely people.

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Here’s one I made earlier

We’ve been having a clear out of the kid’s things and I’m sad to say that these have to be consigned to the bin (although my wife is probably very relieved). Built from toilet rolls, pizza bases, cereal packets and lots of gaffa tape, they form the near pinnacle of my model making with the boys. I say near pinnacle because there’s still a giant robot in mid-construction…

The Millenium Falcon has seen better days, having been flown (read: thrown) around the house on many occasions. likewise the AT-AT has had several falls as Duplo Snow-Speeders ensnare it’s legs.

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