TER­RELL’S TUNE-UP

Pasatiempo - - In Other Words - Steve Ter­rell

Let’s twist again

The cover says it all. Right be­side a sepia photo of a kid in a cow­boy out­fit, there’s a list of sub­jects that are cov­ered on the first vol­ume of a strange se­ries of mu­si­cal com­pi­la­tions called

Twisted Tales From the Vinyl Waste­lands: “Cow­boys. In­di­ans. Prison. Al­co­hol. Chil­dren. Aliens. Mid­gets!” There’s also a warn­ing: “Sing­ing Chil­dren & Other Mu­si­cal Crimes.” Yep, my kind of mu­sic.

And in­deed, in Twisted Tales you’ll find story songs, an­swer songs to pop­u­lar hits of the day, and nov­elty songs. There are top­i­cal songs ripped from the head­lines of the time and po­lit­i­cally in­cor­rect songs — some prob­a­bly racist, or at least shock­ingly un­en­light­ened. The tracks are full of sex. But there are usu­ally tragic con­se­quences at­tached to love­mak­ing. It’s the same with liquor and drugs or be­ing a hip­pie. Each CD con­tains about 30 songs. The lion’s share of the artists are ob­scure — Dude Martin, Duke Mitchell, and Johnny Wild­card. How­ever, there are a smat­ter­ing of tunes by artists whose names you might rec­og­nize: Homer and Jethro, Faron Young, Benny Joy, Lee Ha­zle­wood, and Fred­die Hart — Spike Jones even makes an ap­pear­ance on Vol­ume 7. Most of the tracks seem to come from the ’50s and ’60s, though some are from the ’70s and be­yond.

You can’t find these at most places where CDs are sold. They are not on Ama­zon or iTunes or even eMu­sic. There’s no web­site for Trailer Park Records and no mail­ing ad­dress on the CDs them­selves. But you can find them through the magic of eBay or on the Bri­tish site www.no­hitrecords.co.uk. Here’s a look at all eight: Vol­ume 1: Hog Tied & Coun­try Fried. This is a won­der­ful in­tro­duc­tion to the Twisted world. The promised aliens are here, start­ing with “The Mar­tian Band” by Scot­tie Stone­man (Mar­tians play­ing the au­to­harp?). There’s some sex­ist joy at the ex­pense of women’s lib in Benny John­son’s “Burn Your Bra,” while Kirk Hansard vis­its a “Nud­ist Colony.” Tommy Scott & Scotty Lee cast out devils with “Ex­or­cism.” Hank Penny ex­am­ines racism in “The Strong Black Man” (which owes a debt to Jimmy Dean’s “Big Bad John”). And yes, there are sing­ing chil­dren: Duane Wil­liams, who chirps a weird tune called “The Devil Made Me Do It,” and Bill Moss Jr., who re­cites “When Teddy Bear Took His Last Ride,” a maudlin an­swer song to Red Sovine’s even more maudlin truck-driver hit.

Vol­ume 2: De­mented Rock & Roll. These are long for­got­ten — if in­deed ever known — records from rock’s in­fant­hood. There are sing­ing frogs and danc­ing pigs and even one for the Alam­ogordo chimps in “Mis­sile Mon­key.” There are also some ques­tion­able tunes about peo­ple from for­eign lands, like “Tokyo Queen” by The Char­lie Bop Trio and, even worse, “Chi­nese Rock ’n’ Roll” by Bobby Gre­gory. But at least one of the songs about Mex­i­cans, “Pan­cho Rock,” is done by an ac­tual Mex­i­can Amer­i­can, the great Lalo Guer­rero.

Vol­ume 3: Beatin’ on the Bars. Here we get crime songs and prison laments, a ma­jor sub­genre of real coun­try mu­sic. I’m not sure why ex­e­cuted Cal­i­for­nia mur­derer Caryl Chess­man struck such a chord with coun­try mu­si­cians. He’s the ti­tle char­ac­ter of a song by a guy called “Coun­try” Johnny Mathis and the in­spi­ra­tion for Jimmy Mi­nor’s “Death Row.” But the most twisted tale here is Ho­race Heller’s “Ed’s Place,” a first-per­son con­fes­sion of a dou­ble homi­cide of pas­sion (“I didn’t mean to kill her. ... But I meant to kill him!”).

Vol­ume 4: Hip­pie in a Blun­der. Hip­pies had a lot of the coun­try wor­ried in the late ’60s, with all their protest­ing, long hair, drugs, and love-ins. The ti­tle song by Johnny Bucket makes fun of hip­pies’ ap­pear­ance and stu­pid­ity, but I pre­fer Smokey Har­less’ “A Place for Them Called Hell,” be­cause he’s not just be­mused by the long­hairs, he’s pig-bitin’ mad. There are lots of drug songs on this col­lec­tion — psy­che­delic cau­tion­ary tales, such as ”LSD” by Wen­dell Austin, and reefer­mad­ness tunes like “Mar­i­juana, the Devil’s Flower” by Johnny Price.

Vol­ume 5: Last Kiss of the Drunken Driver. If you’re a fan of “Teen An­gel,” “Tell Laura I Love Her,” and all the clas­sic teenage-death songs of the ’50s and early ’60s, this vol­ume is for you. It’s full of fiery car crashes and other tragedies. Most are un­in­ten­tion­ally hi­lar­i­ous in their earnest­ness. But there’s black hu­mor too, such as Jimmy Cross’ “I Want My Baby Back” and Louie In­nis’ “Sui­cide.”

Vol­ume 6: Strange Hap­pen­ings in the

Boonies. More from the hill­billy Bizarro World. The aliens are back with “Swamp Gas” by The Space Walk­ers. “The Devil, My Con­scious, and I” by Billy Barton fea­tures the cra­zi­est devil voice you’ve ever heard. “Si­tar-Pickin’ Man” by Bobby Zehm is about a Cal­cutta cow­boy and fea­tures an elec­tric si­tar. And “Teddy Bear” is back. There’s a cover of the orig­i­nal Sovine hit by Hank Hill — yes, that Hank Hill — and “Teddy Bear’s Epi­taph” by John Texas Rocker. Sovine him­self shows up with “The Hero,” a tear­ful trib­ute to John Wayne.

Vol­ume 7: Elvis Reese’s Peanut But­ter &

Ba­nana Creme. This one’s all over the place. Al Hen­drix sings about his af­ter-shave. Bad im­per­son­ators of U.S. Sen­a­tors Robert Kennedy and Everett Dirk­sen sing a duet on Dono­van’s “Mel­low Yel­low.” Wendy Pow­ers makes strange noises on “Auc­tion­eer Lover.” Billy Led­bet­ter’s “Steal­ing Hub­caps” sounds like a ju­ve­nile-delin­quent ver­sion of Amos & Andy. There are more songs with Asian stereo­types here — “Rockin’ China Doll” by Gene Ross, “Ja­panese Skoki­aan” by Spike Jones, and “Cholly Oop,” which is of­fen­sive to Chi­nese peo­ple as well as to cave­men.

Vol­ume 8: Please Don’t Go Top­less, Mother. The ti­tle song is by an­other kiddy singer, Troy Hess. He’s ashamed of his mom’s job as a top­less go-go dancer. A singer called Filthy McNasty does “Ice Man,” full of dumb dou­bleen­ten­dres. Russ “Big Daddy” Black­well tells a bad-seed story of a killer kiddy in “The Lit­tle Mon­ster.” But the most dis­turb­ing song is Cousin Zeke’s “Lover Man Mi­nus Sex Ap­peal.” Let’s just say he looses his sex ap­peal in a sur­pris­ing way.

Twisted En­chi­lada: My lat­est episode of The Big En­chi­lada pod­cast in­cludes a 20-minute sam­pler of songs from Twisted

Tales From The Vinyl Waste­lands. Check out www.bi­gen­chi­ladapod­cast.com. And I’ll play some Twisted songs Fri­day night on The Santa Fe Opry, KSFR-FM 101.1, start­ing at 10 p.m.

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