Do The Bartman and The Simpsons Sing The Blues

If you were born in the mid 80s or earlier you probably remember Do The Bartman.  In 1991 the song hit #1 on the Australian charts, a result mirroed in the UK, Ireland, New Zealand and Norway.  It was a victory for both The Simpsons and eight year old me, who couldn’t get enough of it.  It even went gold in the UK, selling over 400,000 copies.  Interestingly, it only reached #24 in the US.

What wasn’t widely known at the time was that Do The Bartman was co-written by Michael Jackson.  It was hush-hushed because Jackson had a contract with Epic (a subsidiary of Sony) and could not be credited because the song was released by Geffen (a subsidiary of Universal).  A similar situation occurred in the Season 3 Simpsons episode Stark Raving Dad, where Jackson is credited as “John Jay Smith” for his role as mental patient and Jackson impersonator Leon Kompowsky.  The truth about Bartman was revealed years later by Simpsons creator Matt Groening, but remains a not particularly widely known fact.  Have a listen.  Seems rather obvious now, doesn’t it?

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Due to YouTube copyright restrictions the original Do The Bartman video is currently unavailable for viewing.  You can however, watch it in mirror image form via a great mashup version (thanks to JMixerProductionz) mixed with the Casino Night Zone music from Sonic The Hedgehog 2, a good tune in its own right.  Co-incidentally, Jackson also composed uncredited music for Sonic, albeit the third game, but that’s another story for another post.

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Do The Bartman is the opening track on the album The Simpsons Sing The Blues, one of the first albums I remember owning (the other being Puff The Magic Dragon and other Songs).  I taped it from the kid who lived across the road and listened to it incessantly for months.  I wore out the cassette and pestered my mother into buying me the CD.  I was able to recite the lyrics to the album’s second single Deep, Deep Trouble in their entirety.  If you asked me to recite them right now I’m confident I could still rap out the majority of the song.  Deep, Deep Trouble is credited as being written by Groening himself and features DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince (yep, Will Smith).

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Other highlights include Homer’s moaning cover of Albert King’s Born Under a Bad Sign (featuring B.B. King on guitar) and the hilarious, surprisingly funky Mr Burns number, Look At All Those Idiots.

When I was fourteen or fifteen I eventually traded the CD to an older kid on the school bus for a copy of What’s The Story Morning Glory by Oasis.  I never regretted the trade because I loved Oasis at the time, but as soon as I handed over the CD, this guy (his name was Shannon, he was short and fat and looked like a girl) laughed and called me a fool, as apparently The Simpsons Sing The Blues was ultra rare and long out of print and he knew a guy who had paid three hundred dollars for it.  I went home and looked at a relatively new online auction site called ebay and saw about twenty copies selling for no more than ten dollars each.

Twenty years on from the home taped cassette, things have come full circle.  I just got another copy of The Simpsons Sing The Blues, this time on record (for eighteen dollars, postage paid from the UK).  And here’s a copy for everyone to download (for free) and enjoy.

(Make sure you scan the file before unzipping as I’m not hosting it.  I can confirm it’s virus free as of publishing date though.  Thanks to goldenhymn for the link.)

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Leaving a mix CD on public transport

There’s a nice little secret santa style mix tape/cd/usb drive swap happening in the Mess and Noise forums at the moment.  I’ve finished my mix and artwork and will be “mastering” the volume levels of the songs (I’m a pedantic nerd like that) and sending it out in the next few days.

Clint Eastwood's head is moveable

A week or so ago I made a prototype of this mix.  I wasn’t entirely happy with the final mix and used iTune’s “Sound Check” function to try and level out the volume of the songs.  Sound Check sucks.  I already knew it sucked, I thought maybe they’d fixed it in a software update since I last used it.  They haven’t.  So I’m going to do it manually.

Anyway, the prototype CD is still pretty cool.  It’s got more/a few different songs to the one I am sending to my mixee.  I was about to throw it in the bin before deciding it’d be way more fun to leave it somewhere on public transport this evening with my twitter contact written on it and see if anyone finds it and responds.

Not expecting a response, but it would be interesting to know if someone actually finds and listens to it.

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Portal 2 with a cold bottle of Steam

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It’s Friday: Things to do on the weekend

Well, it’s Friday and we all know what that means.  Tomorrow is Saturday and Sunday comes afterwards.  Everybody’s looking forward to the weekend.  Here are some recommendations on how to spend it.

Melbourne

American lo-fi/shitgaze/siltbreezecore/fuzzbuster band Eat Skull are playing Saturday night at The Workers Club with Slug Guts and The Renderers.  I know a few people who are really excited about this one.  There’s a good chance I’ll end up here.  I’m in the middle of a non-pay week and funds are running low, but traditionally that hasn’t stopped me.  In fact, I’m still paying interest on music I heard and alcohol I consumed over a year ago.

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Is it fair to called Two Watts a YIS side project?  Tom Waits, I mean Two Watts is a YIS side project starring YIS / Brat Farrar drummer Andre Fazio on guitar/vox and Al (artificial intelligence) from The Thod on drums.  I think this might be their first ever gig and it’s on Saturday night at the Great Briton Hotel in Richmond.  They’re on first, so you can see them then still catch Eat Skull.  I’ve not seen an Andre Fazio related band that hasn’t kicked copious amounts of arses (plural!) so there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be fantastic.

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Ancient Egyptian heart throb Tutankhamun will be appearing at the museum all weekend.  Last Pharaoh of Egypt’s most powerful family of the 18th Dynasty, Tutankhamun ruled during a revolutionary period of Egyptian history. The boy king died under mysterious circumstances around the age of 19, having ruled for about 10 years (1333–1323 BC).  He will be posing for photographs and signing autographs at Museum Victoria 10am-5pm daily.

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Rest Of The World

Don’t live in Melbourne but still looking for things to do over the weekend?  You could always:

rent a video

play with a dog

or learn capoeira

Enjoy your weekend!

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You only live once

This afternoon Kataku brought to my attention an interesting new iPhone game called One Single Life.  The premise here is literally the game’s title.  You have one life and one life only.  That’s it.  If you die, you don’t get another chance.  Apparently only 4% of players beat it.  The game is free to download.


What you do, is jump between buildings.  Tap the screen to start running then tap it again to jump.  Don’t fuck it up.  Just to screw with you a bit more, there’s a sign at the start of each level showing your odds of survival.

There’s a practice mode before each jump that lets you practice the jump before making the real leap.  I got half way through the game and died on a jump that 84% percent of players died on, despite acing the practice.  It’s all about timing, and given the close up view on your run up, it can be difficult to judge the exact right time to make your jump.  The edge of the building appears quick and fast and I ultimately mistimed and ran off the edge.  Sometimes you’ll crack under the pressure and jump too early.  If you hit the corner edge of the building you can scramble up, but any shorter and you’re down the chasm.

One Single Life is interesting because every decision you make counts.  If you die you can’t start again.  It fucks with your head.  8.5/10

you know your odds of survival.
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Review: Wide Open Road

Wide Open Road is a very new Brunswick cafe, having opened its doors about a month ago.  It’s located on the bottom floor of an old warehouse on Barkly Street, opposite Barkly Square and just off Sydney Road.  Living nearby, I wearily popped in for coffee one Saturday a few weeks ago and was mightily impressed.  Melbournians are spoiled for choice when it comes to good coffee, but truly great cups of coffee are few and far between.  Wide Open Road brew truly great coffee.  I later found out that they actually make their own blends and roast their own beans, so I guess their coffee scientists know their shit.

Having been there for coffee a few times since, last Sunday my partner and I decided to sit down for a full breakfast.  The food on offer is simple and quite humble when compared to the range and extravagance of the insanely popular nearby Green Refectory.  There’s a blackboard featuring breakfast staples – toast with condiments, ham and cheese croissants, small cakes and the like.  These are displayed neatly in a glass cabinet at the counter.  There’s also an A4 sized board on the counter that has a few daily specials – from memory it has featured things like fruit porridges, scones with jam and cream and gourmet bacon and egg sandwiches.  I chose an omelette with goat’s cheese, spicy sausage and black olives and Cate chose the ol’ reliable ham and cheese croissant.

The omelette was salty and delicious, effortlessly combining a few basic ingredients into more than the sum of their parts.  With some crunchy toast (not too much thankfully, as is often the case with breakfasts that come with toast) and fresh greens, it struck a perfect balance and didn’t leave me so stuffed that I couldn’t fit in a second coffee.  Cate enjoyed her croissant, though regretted not getting the omelette.

After breakfast we also ordered a small gluten-free orange cake to share, which was moist and sweet and tangy and rolled in roast almond pieces.  We sat outside slowly eating and drinking coffee for about an hour and the staff were friendly and helpful throughout.  Empty plates were promptly cleared and one staff member who was outside on a break offered to get us another napkin when one of ours blew onto the ground.

The concept behind Wild Open Road works well.  Simple, quaint and tasty food combined with brilliant coffee and good service.  It’s a step away from the massive meals and hustle and bustle of other Brunswick cafes and stands out all the more for it.

Read what others have said about Wide Open Road @ urbanspoon:

Wide Open Road on Urbanspoon

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A look at Boris promotional photography

Boris are a Japanese band who have roughly 40 releases that cover a plethora of genres; drone/stoner/rock/doom/metal/psyche/experimental/noise/hardcore and most recently, pop and electronic music.  I was browsing their photo album on last.fm and noticed that they have consistently fantastic promo shots.  If anyone knows who took these photos I would love to know/credit them.  Click for larger versions.

Promoting the forthcoming album "Heavy Rocks" (the squeal) (2011)

from the forthcoming album "Attention Please" (2011)

"Amplifier Worship" (1998)

double neck bad asses from Nihon

"Feedbacker" (2003)

if an Orange stack drones in a forest and there's no one there to hear it, it still makes a fucking loud noise

"The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked" (2004)

"Pink" (2005)

more Orange stack love

"Smile" (2008)

If you’re interested in listening to Boris the compilation “Variations” is a good place to start.  I’ve not seen it available for sale outside Japan so I’ll assume it’s OK to link a copy, courtesy of the excellent Music for the Masses.

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Review: Not Your Ordinary Doctor – Jim Leavesley

Not Your Ordinary Doctor
Author: Jim Leavesley
Published by: Allen & Unwin

6 / 10

At first glance, a book dedicated to the subject of doctors who have gained fame in fields outside of medicine appears an intriguing, if somewhat obscure topic. Things become a little clearer upon the revelation that author Jim Leavesley is a distinguished Australian medical writer and Radio National regular.

They clarify further upon realising he spent 33 years practising as a GP before retiring and taking up his current pursuits. His previous titles include What Killed Jane Austen? and How Isaac Newton Lost His Marbles and More Medical Mysteries, Marvels and Mayhem. Who better to write a book about doctors who have gained renown in pursuits outside medicine than a doctor who has gained renown in pursuits outside medicine?

Not as much renown as some of the book’s subjects, mind: they include English cricketing great WG Grace, Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara and creator of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle (the character of Holmes was based on yet another doctor). Nonetheless, Leavesley himself appears a man of distinction – well respected by his peers as a doctor of medicine and also a documenter of its history.

Not Your Ordinary Doctor bills itself as “A titillating collection filled with historical curiosities, fascinating whimsy” and stories that are “heroic and absurd, dazzling and ghoulish, inspired and tragic and, in the hands of master storyteller Jim Leavesley, never dull.”

Sadly, the synopsis couldn’t be further from the truth. Leavesley is far from a master storyteller and Not Your Ordinary Doctor is one of the dullest books I’ve read in years. It’s so dry that if you spent a month digging through it you’d never hit so much as a touch of condensation. As an academic reference, it’s great. As a historical resource, it delivers facts and accounts by the bathtub. But it’s just… so… boring… to… read. Almost every account of the 60-odd doctors throughout the book is delivered in the same robotic fashion.

“Subject was born in this village/city, to these parents, on roughly this date. Subject went to medical school in this location between these dates, before continuing further study somewhere else between another two dates. Insert anecdote here. After that, subject may or may not have pursued a medical career before doing something new, in the processing achieving this feat/becoming known for this pursuit. Repeat until subject died of insert affliction here.”

I’m sure Leavesley didn’t write his own synopsis, but I still feel cheated. To add to the frustration, when describing the work of 16th-century doctor-cum-author François Rabelais, Leavesley pompously declares, “They don’t write books like that nowadays: authors lack such fertile imaginations.” To dismiss the last hundred, 50, or even ten years of literature as lacking in imagination is ludicrous; it frames Leavesley as a curmudgeonly old man out of touch with modern writers of great fiction, from many of whom he could learn a lot about good storytelling.

Despite this, a number of genuinely intriguing characters and remarkable stories shine through the dull prose. One such is Peter Mark Roget. As a child he was so obsessed with making lists that it was considered a personality disorder. Roget went on to become a doctor and inventor, and created one of the greatest lists in history – the Thesaurus. The stories of the doctors and medical histories of Hitler, Stalin and King Charles II also make for great reading, at times being simultaneously saddening, hilarious and frightening.

Not Your Ordinary Doctor is by no means a bad book; it’s simply not what it claims to be. It sells itself as a quirky collection of entertaining oddities but inside lies bone-dry academic history. After slogging through its 340 pages I certainly feel educated, but not particularly entertained.

This review originally appeared on The Enthusiast at http://www.theenthusiast.com.au/archives/2011/review-not-your-ordinary-doctor-by-jim-leavesley/

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Review: My Disco – Little Joy

Little Joy
My Disco
Shock

8 / 10

Despite being My Disco’s third album, Little Joy sounds like the second part of a trilogy. Episode one, 2008’s Paradise, was the band’s first foray into minimalism. Highly strung and obsessive-compulsive, Paradise took noise rock and beat it bloody against a brick wall over and over and over again.

Like its predecessor, Little Joy was recorded by Steve Albini at his Electrical Audio studios in Chicago. The man eschews the title of “producer” and has a remarkable talent for capturing the raw essence of a band. It fits My Disco to a tee, aided by the fact that their sound has in part been influenced by Albini’s own musical projects (see: Shellac, Big Black, Rapeman).

Little Joy certainly appears to be a logical progression from Paradise. My Disco continue unabated in their examination of minimalism and repetition, concepts that have defined the band’s sound for the past few years. With that in mind, Little Joy comes off as a curiously meditative record. A more exploratory Empire Strikes Back to Paradise’s action-packed A New Hope.

Album opener ‘Closer’ begins with the familiar clang of an aluminium guitar repeating the same jagged note for a good 30 seconds before the drum and bass kick in with pendulum-like timing. From here on though, things get a little different.

The bass has been turned down a notch and drummer Rohan Rebeiro takes the pilot seat for a good portion of the songs on offer, frequently playing two different parts simultaneously. What sounds like a set of highly tuned toms often dance in and around the main beat, which Rebeiro keeps in time with his usual surgical precision. This is most apparent on ‘Turn’, which, combined with chanting vocals, sounds like the band’s take on an Amazonian tribal number.

‘Young’ is one of the album’s highlights, introducing itself as a screaming reminder of the noise My Disco are capable of generating, before gradually deconstructing over the course of nine minutes to reveal the naked simplicity of the drum and bass beat that’s been driving the machine the entire time.

‘A Turreted Berg’ may very well be the first and finest krautrock song of the new decade, while ‘Sun Bear’ and the epic ‘Rivers’ both take My Disco’s signature metallic abrasion and filter it through the stream of hypnotic tribalism that flows throughout the album.

The latter begins with a simple see-sawing, two-note bass riff that lasts the track’s entire length. The song builds over time, ebbing and flowing between chaos and calm. Liam Andrews’s bass provides the steady platform and his monotone vocals sporadically remind us that “There is always time”. Even at almost ten minutes in duration, it’s so damn captivating that there’s almost not enough.

This review originally appeared on The Enthusiast at http://www.theenthusiast.com.au/archives/2010/review-little-joy-by-my-disco/

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