Back in the old days, if you wanted to record anything on the cheap without a real recording studio, you used some version of the Teac Tascam 4-track cassette recorder I had. The sound was nowhere near what a recording studio was in those days, but the cool thing about it was that it was small enough and could run on batteries so you could take it to make live recordings anywhere you wanted! And you could record live stuff in stereo and use the other two tracks for overdubs without getting involved in any elaborate mixing schemes.
This was a parody of a parody that Kevin and I recorded in my “home studio,” (see above) The original song was “Hey Joe,” made popular by Jimi Hendrix of course. Shortly after it came out, Frank Zappa used it to parody the hippie culture in his 1967 version called “Flower Punk.” In 1985 or so, the “yuppies” ruled America, so Kevin and I got the bright idea to update Zappa’s parody and morphed the song into yet another parody of a parody called “Yuppie Schmuck.” I’m not sure if you’ll understand the lyrics, but I may get around to putting what I can remember up here someday. Just think back to 1985 and you’ll get the gist of it. As I recall, I’m playing drums and bass, Kevin is playing keyboards, and we’re both singing.
“Yuppie Schmuck” and a couple of the other songs on this page are definitely too outside the box to interest most people, but listen if you dare and download if you like. One interesting factoid about this song is that it did receive radio airplay (back in the day when people listened to FM radio!) during morning drive time (peak listening hours) on KSLX, the major rock radio station in Phoenix. So that means that 50,000 people have heard this weird song! On a whim, I had sent a recording to a guy named Bob Boze Bell, one of the morning DJs over there. He was the kind of guy with a WTF attitude, and he and his partner Jones played it just for the hell of it based on my letter explaining what the hell the song was. So Kevin and I had our five minutes of radio fame…
Spider Walk–Phases 1 & 2
Spider Walk–Phase 1 was actually a song I wrote as part of a term paper to hand in for one of my students back in the day when I wrote term papers for a living (See “Do You Have the Term Paper Blues” if you are curious about that!) I think the paper was for an English class, and the gist of it was that the student had to describe the creative process as they created some artistic work. When my student brought this to me, I first asked her whether she was skilled in any artistic area and whether she had an idea in mind for the theme of the project. She said no, and I of course immediately thought of music, and that’s partly because I had no abilities in any other artistic endeavor. The best thing I could draw or paint was a stick figure, and I don’t write fiction!
When I first proposed the idea, my student wasn’t a fan because she didn’t actually play music, so I came up with the way I would explain that in “her” paper as part of the creative process. I ended up creating the song and playing all the parts myself on “the ol’ 4-track,” but I described her role in the creative process as a collaboration with her “friend” Eric in that he would play all the background music and then teach her how to play the lead solo on the 1967 Farfisa organ. I described how I marked the right organ keys to hit to stay in the right key on the song and how I gave her a few lessons and a lot of trial, error, multiple takes and editing involved so that even a novice could play some kind of a”space jam.” It’s certainly not my best work because I’m a guitar and bass player who can fake an easy song or two on the keyboards, but I have no business playing drums as you will hear if you dare! 🙂
Pain and Strife aka “Anal Strife”
Kevin had a college friend named Dale who was pretty much a solo singer/songwriter type guy and he was weird and funny as hell! I’ll let Kevin write a Dale story if he likes, but the gist of Dale was that he was a cacophony of contradictions in terms of his real personality and his music. He could write stuff that ran the gamut from beyond rude and crude to downright maudlin sometimes within the same song! Pain and Strife (Kevin always called it “Anal Strife” to annoy Dale–Hahahaha!) was perhaps one of Dale’s most maudlin efforts. “I Like My Women Buck Naked” on the other hand…
I was visiting Kevin in Dayton around 1982 or so and of course I brought the “Ol’ 4-track” in case some musical inspiration struck us while we were in an altered state or something… One night, Dale came over; we all started jamming, and I graciously volunteered to record Dale’s song for posterior–er, I mean posterity, on my 4-track. You can judge this maudlin love song for yourself–Hahahaha! (And if you ever read this Dale, you know I’m just messing with you–sort of… :-))
The Scumbo Variations
This tune was my personal version of Frank Zappa’s “The Gumbo Variations.” I was experimenting with my 4-track to see what I could accomplish all by myself in my home “studio.” You can decide for yourself how well I channeled the musical vibe of my idol FZ. Of course, he had an entire band of real musicians playing on his studio recordings! I did the best I could for a 20-something kid, but I would recommend a little bit of a trendy chemical amusement aid first…
Dust My Broom & Killing Floor
More early experimentation with the 4-track. I was lucky enough to get Tom Coulson to overdub drums for me after I recorded these sans drums. I actually recorded these in mine and Cindy’s first apartment, and Tom was a teacher at her school. (And I know–I’m sure as hell no singer!) At least my rhythm was solid enough that Tom could overdub drums on top of it.