Weirdomusic.com: Free Albums Glorifying the Distortions of Musical History

Mark Sabbatini By

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Somebody should post a personality test at this site, where people assess themselves based on which albums they consider "weird and "normal.

Old-time jam sessions by King Richard's Fluegel Knights (by which they mean caveman-era)? The latest from Pastor McPurvis' Weekly MP3 Talent Show (a high school marimba band)? Hearing the theme from TV's "Mr. Peepers on Bernie Green Plays More Than You Can Stand?

Weirdomusic.com indeed offers a number of strange works among its collection of free album downloads, but also some more acclaimed than the site's name suggests. Just as listeners of avant- garde and smooth jazz will disagree vehemently about music of merit, so will opinions about what is wonderful and what is waste at this site.

It's appeal for jazz listeners is likely to be the unconventional treatment of standards by long-ago performers now in the public domain and current musicians allowing free posting of their work. Most of the albums (about 20 as of this review) are available through links to external sites, although a solid collection of related articles and reviews are part of the main site.

One frustration is the appearance of some albums can be fleeting, as they are replaced with new releases after a week, month or whatever other period of time hosts of off-site locations determine. Some Googling may locate alternative download sites, in other cases the best hope is contacting the hosts directly.

Among those at the site as of this review:

  • Percussionist Dick Schory's Supercussion was hailed as a revolution in recording sound technique when it was released in 1963. That historic impact is likely to be lost on modern listeners but it's interesting to hear his relatively no-nonsense vibes surrounded by often cheesy orchestration on standards such as "On Green Dolphin Street and "Bijou. But "Take The A Train is straight enough to establish his bona-fides and novelties such as the rapid "Krazy Kwilt waltz serve as amusing interludes.

  • Bernie Green, whose mid-20th century career in space-age pop included albums with themes like tributes to Mad magazine, puts an orchestra with often bizarre instrumentation through its paces on More Than You Can Stand. Some like the "Mr. Peepers theme, one of his more notorious compositions, might serve as ideal soundtracks for kids' cartoons conceived by someone in an alternative state of mind. Others are brief conceptual explorations, such as the galloping percussion on "Railroad Train Samba. That said, "Caesar's Soliloquy is actually a fairly accomplished clarinet-led piece whose setting shifts from kettle drum swing to mellow bells and strings.

  • Sign Of The Times by King Richard's Fluegel Knights is more schmaltzy space pop and less adventurous than Green's, but the linear notes would do Monty Python proud. They reminisce about Saturday night jams before there were Saturdays, when "the big guy in the corner would pull out that funny thing and pound it with a stick, (and) we all gathered around and listened, and looked at each other, and said 'oooooh,' and then some wise guy whispered 'music,' so we stoned him to death.

There's plenty more with various orchestral, world and experimental themes, but you get the idea.

This site isn't about filling in historical gaps in a music collection as much as it is about viewing that history through a distorted lens. It's an amusing time-killer - and not impossible to imagine samples being further twisted by some modern experimental group - but no substitute for Billie Holiday on a romantic evening unless your date classifies William Shatner's albums as music. Of course, there's a lot to be said for something so suitable in such unique occasions.

Visit Weirdo Music on the web.


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