[Media Monday] The Difficult Listening Moment in Two Words

MacArthur Park.

I didn’t need to say anything else, didn’t I? MacArthur Park is that unlistenable 1968 hit whose only strength lay in the instrumental piece. How often does Jimmy Webb need to remind us that someone left his bloody cake out in the rain, then strech the metaphor until it loses all focus and meaning? But, ah! it’s that 90-second instrumental near the end that rescues it. That 90-second piece often impinges on younger ears as cliche beyond belief. But that is only because this original recording has appeared so often in advertisements, theme songs, and the like in the decades since, that it in fact has become cliche. Stuff like that only happens to really good music (unfortunately). And that 90-second part is so different from the rest of the 7-minute tune that it doesn’t seem to belong. And it’s the orchestration, not the words or the vocalist, that won the Grammy in 1969. For your edification as well as for a bit of nostalgia, here is the 90-second passage in question:

[mp3t track=”Richard_Harris_-_Part_of_MacArthur_Park.mp3″]

But of course, this is the difficult listening moment, and I’m afraid that wasn’t difficult enough to listen to.  And no, I won’t subject you to Richard Harris’s singing, or even Donna Summer. What I will do is to play for you the Cockney version by The Burtons. The whole thing reeks of Morgan Fisher.

Crappy Album Covers #23 – Just Plain Old Bad Taste

Yes, it’s time for some old-fashioned run-of-the-mill examples of bad taste.

This example — the mullet — is so common, it is now cliche as an example of bad taste. No tangible information exists on the group Chicken Coup de Ville or this album.

I also don’t recognise any of the “smash hits” listed on the cover.

In some blogs, they are listed as Blues, in others they are listed as Country.

The only album listed on allmusic.com is “Drinkin’ Songs and Smokin’ Guitars”, released in 2000.

Now, I realise that this is another foreign-language LP, and no, I can’tell if the language is Spanish or Portuguese. But I believe that the language of bad taste is multinational, never lost in translation.

I could say that Norberto de Freitas blacked out his front teeth to go for that “prison bitch” look, but the owner of the LP could well have defaced the cover. But you can’t fake those wide eyes and frozen smile. And that unkempt mop of hair… Drugs! I knew it!

Hey, have a heart, guys. Buy the record. Proceeds are sure to go to get some false teeth for Mr. Freitas. Depending on how good it sells, he may even be able to afford to get a haircut and shave off that beard. Maybe he can also kick his habit.

Sorry, no actual information could be found on de Freitas on allmusic or anywhere else I looked.

This album, “By Request Only”, by “Ken”, is the male foil to Joyce in an earlier post. Who thinks that Ken Snyder and Joyce Drake should get together? Looks like Ken could have a “thing” for rose-wielding librarians.

They have a lot in common — they are both publically known by their first names, and they have bad taste in clothes. Ken could be a librarian, too, come to think of it. And both are something of a phenomenon for “worst” album covers across the Internet. And, like Joyce, the album is so rare (a copy went on E-Bay to a lucky owner for $150 recently), that it is likely a vanity pressing, with only a few copies ever made. It explains the bad choice of clothes and haircut.

According to this Ken Shrine Page (well, almost!), the genre is Christian (like Joyce). The polyester in his suit has been carbon-dated to 1976, and he still lives in Sheldon, Iowa.

If there isn’t a “Ken’s Head Pasted On Other People’s Bodies” contest somewhere on the ‘net, there should be.

Johnny Janot had his stage name changed later to Johnny Jano. I don’t think there is a difference in pronunciation.

This cover is definitely designed to either scare people away from Cajun music, or attract the wrong people for the wrong reasons. And yes, I know, if this was a woman, I wouldn’t be writing any of this. An exhibitionistic man is unacceptable for an album cover — yet, the depiction of exhibitionistic women are a staple of many album covers that are quite successful. I am not a sociologist, so I will not venture there. Or, maybe it’s just this exhibitionistic man…

Janot has been making music since around 1950. He is mentioned on some blogs, but usually referred to as “Jano”. At some point later, he seemed to have changed his name back to “Janot”, since there seems to be activity after 1996 in the Cajun genre under his name. The only problem is, this album is not mentioned, so it is difficult to put a date on it.

And finally! A video of our friend Ken and “Modern Religion”