Friday, January 2, 2015

Nat Stuckey's "Plastic Saddle": What's it about?




It has been described as a "clever country ode to unprotected sex." Others have said that its "innuendo is truly perplexing." The song is Nat Stuckey's 1968 Top 10 country hit "Plastic Saddle," and in it, an affluent man-about-town expresses his preferences regarding women in a series of double entendres. But what do they mean?

The lines that provoke most of the confusion are in the chorus:

Don't give me no plastic saddle
I want to feel the leather when I ride
Don't give me no paint and powder
'Cause I want to feel the hide

A common interpretation holds that "plastic saddle" is code for "condom," and that "ride" is code for sex. If you read the comments under the YouTube videos of this song, you'll find many comments that reflect this interpretation, such as, "Too many strange diseases floating around now to fool around without a 'plastic saddle.'"

The line "I can tell a fast train by the way she blows" is also open to interpretation. 

In case you haven't heard the song, here's Stuckey's original:



The composer of the song, Vic McAlpin, died in 1980, so we can't ask him about his intentions. Nat Stuckey, the original artist, and Jerry Reed, who recorded the song in 1970, are gone too. In their place, I asked Danny O'Keefe, who recorded the song for his 1977 album American Roulette, what he thought it meant. O'Keefe said:
Someone told me about the song at the time I was recording American Roulette and I thought it was funny. I assumed the message was the singer/writer wanted a real woman, not one who relied on exterior applications for her beauty. It seems self-evident in the lyrics. I never met Vic McAlpin, so I don't know what his story was for the song. It's basically, as far as I'm concerned, a good-time song about wanting a real woman, but that's probably overstating it. 
Here's O'Keefe's version:



It seems obvious to me that the song was meant to be suggestive, regardless of the specific meanings that McAlpin attached to its double entendres. Although a country song that explicitly advocated unprotected sex probably wouldn't have flown in 1968, sexually suggestive "skin songs" were soon to become very popular in country music, so "Plastic Saddle" is a trailblazer in that sense.

"Plastic Saddle" is very funky for a country song, and fittingly, a funk group called City Lights recorded it for RCA in 1979.



Jerry Reed, as I mentioned, also recorded it. I think that his version is the best one. The All-Music Guide review of Reed's Better Things in Life album described this as a "raunchy cover of Nat Stuckey's 'Plastic Saddle'," even though it's faithful to the original:


And finally, the same year that Stuckey recorded "Plastic Saddle," June Stearns recorded a version of it. It seems like a very odd song for a woman to sing: 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Music Weird's best albums of 2014


I'm calling this a "best of 2014" list, but it's really a "my favorites of 2014" list. For one thing, I didn't listen to every recording that was released in 2014. In fact, no one did, which makes any so-called best-of list instantly ridiculous. We could list the 10 or 20 or 100 best grains of sand in the world with exactly as much authority and credibility as these best-albums-of-the-year lists that are popping up everywhere.

I also take issue with the notion of "best" in music, but "my favorite albums out of the ones I managed to hear in 2014" wouldn't make for a very catchy headline, so we won't dwell on it.

 

1. Miniature Tigers – Cruel Runnings

This was my summer album. I never got into the earlier Miniature Tigers albums very much, but this one really hit the spot.

 

 

2. Featherweights – Featherweights

Quiet, wryly humorous story songs by a Swedish boy-girl duo. I listened to this album a lot.

 

 

 

3. Neighbors – Failure

Synth-y, '80s-inspired pop from Brooklyn. Not to be confused with the power-pop group of the same name.

 

 

4. The Memories – Touched by an Angel

The Memories are prolific stoners who crank out lo-fi pop gems between bong hits. That's their image, at least, but I think they work a little harder than their image suggests. The Memories released two albums in 2014: Touched by an Angel and Hot Afternoon. Both are good, but Touched by an Angel is especially good.  



5. Ocean Party – Soft Focus

The fourth Ocean Party album is their best one yet, in my opinion. Jangly, meticulously arranged Australian pop.

 

 

 

6. Ariel Pink – Pom Pom

One of the few "critics' favorites" on my year-end list. Pom Pom is bursting with ideas, which is impressive coming from an artist who has such an extensive discography. Some of my favorite songs are ones that other people have told me they hate, like "Black Ballerina" and "Sexual Athletics."

 

7. Broncho – Just Enough Hip to Be a Woman

Their band name is hilarious. The cheesy, videotaped video for "Class Historian" looks like something from Tim and Eric Awesome Show.

 

 

 

8. Forest & the Trees – Missions

Slick, airy Swedish pop. "The Song That Breaks My Heart" was the first one that grabbed me.

 

 

 

9. French for Rabbits – Spirits

I miss the days when practically everything that came out of New Zealand was great. French for Rabbits are more lovely than scrappy, so they don't sound much like the Flying Nun bands of yore.

 

 

10. Twerps – Underlay

The new Twerps release is categorized as an EP, but it has eight songs, which is as long as many albums were in the LP era, so I'm counting it as an album. (If I were including EPs on this list, I'd add Croquet Club's Jacuzzi.)

 

 

 

11. Night Dew Call – Spots

Night Dew Call is an especially cool band because they're from the Ukraine. The vocalist reminds me a bit of Tobias Isaksson from the Swedish band Irene.

 

 

 

 

12. Ginnels – A Country Life

 An excellent new album from one of Ireland's finest exports.

 

 

 

 

13. Tape Waves – Let You Go

A bit like early Tennis combined with early Beach Fossils but in higher fidelity.

 

 

 

 

14. Alpaca Sports – Sealed with a Kiss

This would have been a more exciting release if nearly all of the songs hadn't come out previously on singles and EPs, but the first full-length by Alpaca Sports is still very good—it just didn't seem very new.

 

 

 

15. Sun Kil Moon – Benji

Morbid story songs about dead people. I'm a big fan of Advance Base, and "Jim Wise" is practically an Advance Base song, so that's what got me into this album.





16. Tycho – Awake

I admire artists who record instrumental rock albums today. Instrumental rock plummeted in popularity after 1963, so the cards are stacked against the instro rockers. This is a good one, though, and a great album to play while driving.




17. Cher Lloyd – Sorry I'm Late

I don't even think this is all that great of an album, but I listened to it so much this year that I feel obligated to include it among my favorites. I'll admit to being a "brat" (as Cher Lloyd's fans are called) even though her handlers do everything they can to mess up her music. "I Wish," for example, is almost ruined by T.I.'s lame rap. "Dirty Love" could have been this album's "Superhero" if the production hadn't been so gimmicky. "Just Be Mine" and "Sirens" are pretty good, but the whole second side is weak. Nevertheless, I love listening to Lloyd's vast array of vocal techniques. You can tell that she's a hard worker.


18. Craft Spells – Nausea

Craft Spells' second album is uneven, but I appreciate the richly orchestrated sound they went for this time, and "Breaking the Angle Against the Tide" is a great single. I wish I had written that guitar riff.




19. Allo Darlin' – We Come from the Same Place

A new Allo Darlin' album will almost automatically make it onto my list, unless they do something really screwy.

20. Advance Base – Plastic Owen Band

A name-your-price odds-and-ends album that appeared without fanfare on Bandcamp in November. This one makes the list just because I love Advance Base. The cover of CCR's "Lodi" is especially good.

 

 

 

Best reissues of 2014



1. Ronnie Dove – The Complete Original Chart Hits: 1964-1969 (Real Gone)

This was the one physical CD that I actually pre-ordered in 2014. I love 1960s easy listening pop vocal music that has one foot in the Nashville Sound, and that describes Dove pretty well. Dove had a lot of minor and middling hits in the '60s but never had a really big one, so he's not a household name in most households. Boy, could he sing, though. "Say You" is awesome. Dove's catalog hasn't been well handled, and many of the reissues of his classic recordings suffer from poor fidelity. This hits collection from Real Gone Music is the first one to present all of his chart hits in excellent sound quality. 


2. Various Artists – Complete Pop Instrumental Hits of 1959

I worked on this collection, so it might be a conflict of interest for me to list it here, but it blew me away. The Complete '60s label's Complete Pop Instrumental Hits series previously rounded up every charting instrumental hit for each year from 1960-1962, but then the label went back to 1959 for this year's installment. All of the collections in the series present these vintage recordings in the best possible sound quality, but this one is particularly impressive. The Virtues' "Guitar Boogie Shuffle," for one, is unbelievable.  


3. Various Artists – Native North America vol. 1: Aboriginal Folk, Rock & Country

This is another one of those awesome anthologies that Light in the Attic compiles, like last year's I Am the Center: Private Issue New Age in America, 1950-1990. I had never heard of any of these Native American artists before I got this double album. Some of this is like a cross between Peter La Farge and the Meat Puppets, which isn't a combination I would have thought of, but it's one that I immediately like. 


4. Lavender Country – Lavender Country

You might assume that a record billed as the first openly-gay country record would have primarily historical or novelty value, but this 1973 album by Lavender Country is just plain good. I listened to "I Can't Shake the Stranger Out of You" endlessly.







Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Did Kurt Cobain and Rod McKuen write songs together?


"I did some writing with Kurt Cobain," Rod McKuen says in the 2006 Dutch documentary Rod McKuen, A Man Alone. (He says it at 3:38 in the video below.)




That portion of the documentary also aired on American television when McKuen appeared on Patti Gribow's PG Show. (The statement in question is at 1:49.)

 

I was extremely surprised—incredulous, even—when I heard this claim that McKuen and Cobain wrote something together, so I tried to find out more about this very unusual alleged collaboration between 1960s/70s pop poet Rod McKuen and grunge icon Kurt Cobain. 

On his website, McKuen talks a little bit about Cobain but seems to contradict what he says in the video:

I was pleased that Kurt liked my work and the feeling was certainly mutual. He had a way of finding the unusual in every day things and writing about them in a very unique way. We had even kicked around the idea of writing something together. I had spoken with him on the telephone not long before his death so I was really stunned at the news. What a loss. To my way of thinking he was just beginning to find his legs as a songwriter.

The link between McKuen and Cobain is pretty tenuous, but a few examples exist, apart from their aforementioned telephone conversation.

Nirvana once half-assedly performed "Seasons in the Sun," a Jacques Brel song that McKuen adapted into English. The song was recorded by McKuen himself and the Kingston Trio in the 1960s but didn't become a hit until Terry Jacks recorded it in 1973. Cobain told interviewers that the song, which is sung from the perspective of a dying man, made him cry when he was a child, and Songfacts claims that Terry Jacks' version was the first record that the young Cobain ever bought. Nirvana's informal performance of "Seasons in the Sun" was included on the DVD that came with the 2004 Nirvana box set With the Lights Out.


Dave Grohl, in a satirical account of his first encounter with Cobain and Krist Novoselic, said, "Krist walked around with these poetry books by Rod McKuen, and Kurt would do interpretive dances while Krist recited Rod McKuen's poetry.

Charles R. Cross, in his book Here We Are Now: The Lasting Impact of Kurt Cobain, quotes a Boston Globe critic who described Nirvana's lyrics as "moronic ramblings by singer-lyricist Cobain, who has an idiotic tendency to sound like the Rod McKuen of hard rock." 

That's the extent of their "collaboration." I hate to question McKuen's veracity, but there's no evidence that he and Cobain ever wrote anything together.

Cobain wasn't the only indie-rock guy to harbor a strange fascination with Rod McKuen. Yours truly has a big collection of McKuen's albums, and I even corresponded with him briefly in the 2000s when I was trying to arrange for Collectors' Choice Music to reissue some of his recordings. (Gordon Anderson from Collectors' Choice later started Real Gone Music, which reissued McKuen's albums Listen to the Warm and Sold Out at Carnegie Hall in 2013.) And Aaron Freeman, AKA Gene Ween, recorded an entire album of Rod McKuen's songs, Marvelous Clouds, in 2012.

I wish that Cobain had stuck around to write some songs with Rod McKuen. Frank Sinatra and Glenn Yarbrough recorded entire albums of McKuen's songs, and Madonna co-wrote a song with McKuen, so Cobain would have been in good company.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

5 of the most annoying Christmas songs ever




Christmas is a time for cheer, unless you're listening to these songs. Today, on Christmas Day, Music Weird presents a special Christmas inventory of 5 of the most annoying Christmas songs ever.

1. Pat Boone – "Santa Claus Is Comin' in a Whirlybird"


The song is ridiculous to begin with, but the background singers make it insufferable. I played it for my wife and she said, "It's not just annoying—it's unfathomable."



2. Bobby Helms – "Captain Santa Claus"

 

Bobby Helms, the Indiana boy who brought us the perennial Christmas favorite "Jingle Bell Rock," also gave us the execrable "Captain Santa Claus." The song itself is just a throwaway space-themed Christmas novelty, but the irritating background vocals—not to mention the fake rocket noises that are obviously made by some guy's mouth—propel "Captain Santa Claus" into the craposphere. 




3. Elvis Presley – "Blue Christmas"

 

The recurring theme so far in this list is annoying background vocals, and Elvis Presley's version of "Blue Christmas" continues in that vein with an obnoxious, incessant soprano vocal part in the background. The background vocalist was Millie Kirkham, who sang background vocals on Ferlin Husky's "Gone." Elvis wanted a similar sound on "Blue Christmas," so he instructed Kirkham to "sing a soprano obbligato all the way through," Peter Guralnick says in his book Last Train to Memphis. (Elvis didn't use the words soprano obbligato, though.) "It was horrible," said Kirkham. "It was sort of comical. It wasn't supposed to be, but the longer it goes the funnier it gets—but he liked it."



  

4. Mitch Miller – "Must Be Santa"

 

I like Mitch Miller. He was a talented arranger and recorded some great instrumental music, like the minor hit "Song of the Sparrow" from 1956. "Must Be Santa" is a maddeningly repetitive and moronic song, but Mitch's manic sing-along version takes it to an entirely new level. I wish that I could isolate the voices in the mix to call your attention to a particular vocalist who annoys me; it's the echoey soprano vocalist who warbles on the chorus, if you can get that far before turning it off. 


 

5. Patti Page – "The Mama Doll Song"

 

One of the most terrifying songs ever recorded, Patti Page's "The Mama Doll Song" was a minor hit in 1954.

 

6. Eric Morecambe & Ernie Wise – "Bingle Jells" (bonus track)

 

I added this one as a bonus track, because I can't find any audio of it online. This British Christmas tune from 1967 is totally bizarre and inexplicable, with its queasy repetition of the word "near" in the intro and its obnoxious high-pitched whistling teakettle sound effect and its relentless "dong dong dong ding dong ding" refrain.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Gene Sullivan's "Please Pass the Biscuits" (1958)


Wiley Walker and Gene Sullivan

I saw that Acrobat Records in the UK recently released a four-disc box set called The Greatest Country Hits of 1958, and Gene Sullivan's "Please Pass the Biscuits" was the only song on it that I didn't already own. I was familiar with the song from Jimmy Dean's version, but I had never even heard Sullivan's version, even though it was a Top 10 country hit—and even though 1958 might be my favorite year for music. 

Before "Please Pass the Biscuits," Sullivan was half of the country duo Wiley & Gene with Wiley Walker. In 1940-41, the two of them wrote and recorded "When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again," which Elvis Presley popularized in 1956. The group's only hit was "Make Room in Your Heart for a Friend," which was a #2 country hit in 1946. The Bronco Buster label in Germany released an anthology of Wiley & Gene's 1940s recordings, but it doesn't include "When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again" for some reason. Unlike many acts from that period, Wiley & Gene wrote most of the songs they recorded.

In 1957, about a decade after the heyday of Wiley & Gene, Sullivan recorded a demo of a novelty song he wrote, "Please Pass the Biscuits," for Little Jimmie Dickens, who often recorded similar comedy songs, like "Take an Old Cold Tater and Wait." Columbia liked Sullivan's demo recording enough to release it as a Sullivan record instead of a Little Jimmy Dickens one, so Sullivan's version was released as Columbia 40971. I don't know if Columbia released Sullivan's demo or had Sullivan re-record it. It sounds like it could be a demo.

The song, which mixed singing and recitation, portrayed a hungry guy who "can't eat without bread" but can't get anyone to pass him the biscuits at suppertime. Despite his constant complaining, the kinfolks at the table eat all of the biscuits, and he never gets one.
 
A Columbia Records ad in September 1957 said that advance copies of Sullivan's record were making noise in Seattle. The song became a national Top 10 country hit on the Billboard chart soon afterward, where it remained well into 1958. In some cities, such as Birmingham, Alabama, it was a Top 5 hit. Sullivan's record also was released in Australia and New Zealand by the CBS Coronet label.



I don't think that Dickens actually recorded "Please Pass the Biscuits" in 1957; Columbia must have decided to release Sullivan's version before the song even got to Dickens. Bear Family Records in Germany released a box set of Dickens' complete 1950s Columbia recordings—released and unreleased—and "Please Pass the Biscuits" isn't on it.

In early 1958, Andre Williams, the R&B singer, recorded a cover of "Please Pass the Biscuits" for Fortune Records as "Pass the Biscuits Please." Williams even claimed composer credit for it. Sullivan wasn't credited on Williams' single at all. 

Jimmy Dean recorded the song in 1962 as the B-side of his single "Little Black Book." In Dean's version, a vocal chorus sings the singing part and Dean handles the recitation. I'm not a great fan of this song (even though I'm writing a whole blog post about it), but if I had to listen to it, I'd choose Dean's version.

The last recording of "Please Pass the Biscuits" that I know of is Norval & Ivy's 1967 recording for Imperial Records. Norval & Ivy were a duo of Jimmy Bryant and Red Rhodes, who recorded one album, Wingin' It With Norval & Ivy, which contained the group's version of "Please Pass the Biscuits." Their version is pretty similar to Jimmy Dean's.

Surprisingly, even though he scored a Top 10 country hit with "Please Pass the Biscuits," Sullivan never released a follow-up record. After his lone solo hit, he ran a music store in Oklahoma City and occasionally performed with Wiley, until Wiley died in 1966. After that, Sullivan performed occasionally as a solo act until he died in 1984.

Recitations—humorous ones and serious ones—were fixtures on the country music chart into the mid 1970s, but they're rare today. The last big year for recitations in country music was 1976, when both Jimmy Dean's "I.O.U." and Red Sovine's "Teddy Bear" cracked the country Top 10.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Religious Santa songs



"Perhaps the thing about Christmas that bothers Christians more than anything else," says the Christian Research Institute, "is Santa Claus. Is Santa a hopelessly pagan idea, or can Santa Claus be saved?"

Some songwriters have tried to "save" Santa by writing songs that place Santa in a Christian context. These songwriters, whether or not they viewed Santa as a secular rival of Jesus, usually tried to mend the rift between the two by grafting religion onto Santa or grafting Santa onto religion. 

But some attempts to mix Santa and religion seem to confuse rather than clarify. For example, is the vintage greeting card pictured above suggesting that Santa hears your prayers? 

Today on Music Weird, we'll listen to some of the efforts to combine Santa and religion. A few are earnest and a few are jokes, but all are pretty weird. In these songs, you'll hear a number of offbeat revisions to the Santa and God stories: God is Santa, Santa is God, Santa is immortal, Santa is guided by prayers, etc. 



Pat Boone – "I Saw Santa Prayin'"

I never saw Santa prayin', but I saw Pat Boone perform this song in concert years ago, and he introduced it by saying that he wrote it as an attempt to reconcile, for kids, the two main figureheads of the Christmas season. How did he do that? By depicting Santa as a prayerful Christian man and a servant of the Lord. The chorus is "I saw Santa prayin'/I saw Santa kneel before the Lord." In 2007, Boone recorded the song for his album The True Spirit of Christmas. No video exists, but you can hear an audio sample here.






Hank Snow – "God Is My Santa Claus"

In this 1966 song by Canadian country star Hank Snow, a young schoolboy teaches us that God is Santa and Santa is God. The lyrics not only state that "God is my Santa Claus" but also that the "real Santa" is God.





Restless Heart – "Santa's Prayer"

In the 2013 Restless Heart song "Santa's Prayer," Santa himself decries the commercialization of Christmas and hopes that people will remember its true meaning. A reviewer on Amazon calls this "One of the Best Christmas Songs ever written." 




Jimmy Boyd – "I Said a Prayer for Santa Claus"

Boyd, who recorded the original version of the perennial hit "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," recorded this religious Santa song in 1953. In it, Boyd prays to keep Santa safe, healthy, and warm as Santa goes about his business at the North Pole and delivers presents to the kids. I particularly like the part where he expresses concern that Santa might run into a television antenna.




Jerry House – "Will There Be a Santa Claus in Heaven?" 

This tearjerker is about a dying child who asks if Heaven has a Santa Claus. Although the text that accompanies the video says that Jerry House wrote the words and music, the song was actually written by Carson Robison and appeared in his 1936 songbook Tip Top Album of Carson J. Robison Songs


 

 

Red Sovine – "Faith in Santa"

Another Christmas song, like "Will There Be a Santa Claus in Heaven," about a dying child. In this dreary recitation from 1978, a homeless boy tells Santa that his father is in prison for shooting his mother's boyfriend, that he prays for Santa, and that he'd like to go to Heaven for Christmas. The boy gets his wish and passes away at the end of the song. It's unclear whether Santa has the power to send souls to Heaven if that's their Christmas wish.

 

James Brown – "Santa Claus Is Definitely Here to Stay"

This weird, rambling song asserts that Santa Claus is here to stay and also urges people to keep the season strong with faith. You could interpret that as faith in Santa, but I don't think that's the intended meaning. Even though the relationship between Santa and faith is murky, this song is included here because most Santa songs don't mention religious themes such as faith at all.



The Penguins – "A Christmas Prayer"

The Penguins' "A Christmas Prayer" from 1955 features an odd mixture of prayer and gifts as the Penguins pray that their girl comes home for Christmas and puts her presents under their Christmas tree. (Is that a euphemism?) The song doesn't mention Santa by name, but Christmas gifts fall within Santa's dominion, so I think it counts. 

 

Jimmy Martin – "Daddy Will Santa Claus Ever Have to Die?"

In addition to having one of the cheesiest music videos ever committed to VHS tape, this 1980 song by the King of Bluegrass, Jimmy Martin, informs us that Santa is an immortal being like God. 

 

Pearl Jam "Santa God"

This song by Pearl Jam, from a limited-edition Christmas single released in 2007, is the mirror image of Hank Snow's "God Is My Santa Claus." Hank said that God is Santa, but Pearl Jam says that Santa is God. For kids who are greedy for presents, that's probably true.



The Santa and Jesus duet from South Park

This duet between a cartoon Santa and a cartoon Jesus pits a number of Christmas carols, including "Joy to the World" and "Away in the Manger," against "Up on the House Top." Santa becomes angry that Jesus has more songs than Santa, but Jesus smooths things over, and the spirit of Christmas prevails. 

 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Advance Base: A Christmastime experience at two midwestern shows


The Mike Adams Show stage set (photo by Jared Cheek)

Advance Base played two shows in my area before Christmas this year, and I went to both of them: a show with Mike Adams at His Honest Weight at Mike 'n' Molly's in Champaign, Illinois, in November, and one as part of the Mike Adams Show Christmas episode that was filmed at the Bishop in Bloomington, Indiana, in December. The Advance Base album A Shut-In's Prayer was one of my two favorite albums of 2012, but I had never seen the "band" play live.

I put the word "band" in scare quotes because Advance Base is one guy—Owen Ashworth—who previously recorded under the name Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. 

On Dec. 1, Ashworth tweeted that he'd be playing two special Christmas shows at which he'd perform all of the Casiotone for the Painfully Alone and Advance Base Christmas songs. The Bloomington show was one of these two December shows. (The other one is at Chicago's Beat Kitchen on December 14.)

This news excited me, because I saw the show in Champaign (2.5 hours away) before the show in Bloomington (where I live) had been announced, so the Christmas orientation of the second show meant that Advance Base would be playing almost completely different songs from the ones in Champaign, and I wouldn't have to travel. 



The show in Champaign took place on November 22 in a room about the size of a walk-in closet. I missed the opening band, Easter, because I was falling asleep downstairs. I'd been up since 4:00 am that day, and the one-hour time difference was killing me. I perked up when Mike Adams at His Honest Weight went on.

Mike Adams at His Honest Weight was represented by only Adams, who told stories and played songs with nothing but his reverberating electric guitar for accompaniment. Adams is a Bloomington, Indiana, musician and a funny guy. To promote his album Best of Boiler Room Classics, he made this video that parodies those old television commercials for mail-order albums. After Adams's performance, Advance Base took the stage and played a short set of new and old songs, some of which will appear on the forthcoming Advance Base album. My favorite Advance Base song is "Riot Grrrls," so I was happy to hear that one.

The Mike Adams Show at the Bishop was an entirely different experience. The show is patterned after television's old music-and-talk variety shows and appears sporadically on YouTube. This was the first one I've attended, and it was an evening of silly fun. The show was free, which was nice, and featured—in addition to Adams and Advance Base—Lewis and Addison Rogers from Busman's Holiday, the proprietors of a local coffee shop, the proprietor of the local comedy club, and Evan Smail ("our Man on the Seat"), who introduced a video of himself meeting Santa. This segment was literally about sitting on chairs. And about the spirit of Christmas. 

I was surprised that Adams didn't sing; he confined himself to the host's chair, like a number of singers who hosted talk shows in the 1970s but didn't always sing on their own shows, like Merv Griffin and Dinah Shore. At the end of the program, Adams introduced the musical guest, Advance Base, who played one song, "Christmas in Milwaukee," that had also been in the set at the Champaign show.

That was the end of the Mike Adams Show, but Advance Base hung around to play a full set of songs that included a number of tunes from A Shut-In's Prayer and some older songs from the Casiotone for the Painfully Alone era. Advance Base performed with only a keyboard, an omnichord, and a cheesy drum machine that sounded like the one that Young Marble Giants used. The audience was obnoxiously chattering throughout the first couple of songs, but the excellence of Advance Base's melodic, melancholy music finally infiltrated the audience's consciousness and the room fell silent for the remainder of the set. I loved it.

Ashworth announced that he'd just decided on the title for his next album, and I'd like to report it here as breaking news, but I'm not certain that I'm remembering it correctly. I think it was Nephew in the Wild. If so, then you heard it here first, folks. 

I'll add a link to the Mike Adams Show Christmas episode when it posts on YouTube.