Weird of the Day: Pocket Lips, “It’s Amazing (The Incredible Dance)”

Pocket Lips

We’ve been doing this blog for a long time, so we like to think we’ve gotten pretty good at tracking down information about obscure artists over the years. But every once in awhile, one of you eagle-eyed readers points us to something so far off the pop culture grid, no combination of Google search terms yields many results. That certainly seems to be the case with the South African novelty act Pocket Lips.

A reader named Shane sent us a link to Pocket Lips’ one and only hit—and yes, by accounts it was a hit in South Africa back in 1987, when it climbed all the way up to No. 6 on the local pop charts. Also by all accounts, the band was a studio project made up of producers/musicians Ian Osrin (actually a highly respected South African recording engineer and record producer with an extensive list of legit credits), Zack Haynes and Sam Wingate, plus a vocalist named Keith Berel who had previously fronted a popular Johannesburg band called Flash Harry. How all these apparently talented individuals came to record a song as ridiculous as “It’s Amazing (The Incredible Dance)” is a bit of a mystery—although I suppose the bigger mystery is how a song as ridiculous as “It’s Amazing (The Incredible Dance)” became a top 10 hit. Was pop radio under apartheid a whites-only affair? Maybe that might explain it.

At any rate, this ridiculous song  from this ridiculous band (not be confused with a more recent U.K. act called Pocket Lips, who are also ridiculous, but for different reasons) has an equally ridiculous video, which we will now share with you because ridiculous is kind of our thing. Enjoy.

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Meshugga Beach Party

Meshugga Beach Party

(Note: Banner photo lifted from the website of Judd’s Hill Winery, a Jewish-owned winery in Napa, which we hear is very nice this time of year.)

Of the various orders and species of weird bands, one of our favorites is the Band Dedicated Beyond All Reason to an Incredibly Specific Joke. These can’t be one-and-done bands; they’ve got to release album after fucking album, for years and years and years, all based around the exact same premise. Within this little subcategory, you’ve got your Zambonis (all songs about hockey), your Beatallica (all Beatles/Metallica mashups) and your Previously on Lost (all songs based on the TV show Lost). Today, we are happy to add to the Weird List another Band Dedicated Beyond All Reason to an Incredibly Specific Joke: Meshugga Beach Party, a Jewish surf-rock band from San Francisco. “Meshugga,” for those of y’all who aren’t part of the tribe, means “crazy” in Yiddish, so these farkakte bastards live up to their billing. They’ve been mixing “Hava Nagila” with “Miserlou” since 2003. 2003! The only thing I’ve been doing consistently since 2003 is disappointing my parents.

But, I hear you say, gimmicks schmimmicks: How’s the music? Well, I gotta tell you, it’s ain’t half bad. Head meshuggener Mel Waldolf has been playing surf-rock for 20 years and even composed music for Spongebob Squarepants and My Favorite Martian, so he knows his way around a twangy solo. And the rest of the band can rip the curl right with him.  (Is that how surfers talk? I’m neither Jewish nor a surfer, so I’m flying by the seat of my tuchas here.)

As previously mentioned, Meshugga Beach Party have been around for over a decade, so they’ve released a ton of music, including a Hanukkah album because hey, everybody loves that “Dreidel, Dreidel” song, right? Their other titles include Let’s Go Shlepping! and Twenty Songs of the Chosen Surfers. Most are available via their website, at prices that won’t make you plotz.

By the way, lest there by any confusion: Meshugga Beach Party is in no way affiliated with these guys. That’s a different and much more goyim kind of weird band. Although I’m sure they call their mothers every week, too.

We’ll leave you with MBP’s most famous track, which is indeed a mashup of that song people play even at non-Jewish weddings as an excuse to carry the bride and groom around on chairs, and the Dick Dale track made famous by the Pulp Fiction soundtrack.

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Weird of the Day: Friendly Rich, “Sausage Samba”

Friendly Rich

I was never much of a Star Trek fan. It’s OK; I don’t expect you to believe me. Anyone nerdy enough to start this blog must’ve gone trick-or-treating as Spock at least once, right? But it’s true. I was always more into Battlestar Galactica.

Because I’m not a Star Trek fan, I can’t really tell you which episodes of The Next Generation they cobbled together and digitally altered to make the video below for Friendly Rich’s “Sausage Samba.” But I can tell you this: The results are brilliant. The song’s pretty great, too.

In case you’re not familiar with Friendly Rich: He’s a Canadian comedic singer-songwriter whose biggest claim to fame is composing the music for The Tom Green Show. His band, The Lollipop People, has done shows with fellow weirdos like Amanda Palmer and The Tiger Lillies. “Sausage Samba” is from his latest album, Bountiful, which is due out next month. You can pre-order it from Amazon or via his website.

A big fat sausage cigar goes to reader Eel Namturg for sharing this with us. Thanks, Eel!

Weird of the Day: Meshugga Beach Party, “Hava Nagila/Miserlou”

Meshugga Beach Party

Summer’s almost here, and nothing says summer more than beach parties and bar mitzvahs. Or beach mitzvahs. I think we have those in California now. I almost went to one once but I hate getting sand on my prayer shawl.

Anyway, reader Yolojoe just turned us on to the perfect band to book for your next beach mitzvah: Meshugga Beach Party, a Northern California crew who play Dick Dale-style surf rock while dressed in full orthodox finery. Much shredding—and, we can only assume, much schvitzing—ensues.

They’re a kick in the tuchas, right? They’ve put out three albums’ worth of this stuff, believe it or not. You can hear more on their website.

Weird of the Day: Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra, “Frankenstein’s Laundromat”

Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra

A guy who calls himself Professor B. Miller wrote in to tell us about his band, the Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra. Confusingly, the band does not feature puppets, an orchestra or Satan. But it does feature a robot lead singer, so we were sold.

“Absurd satire?” asks their online press kit. “Experimental performance art? A glimpse in to our robotic future? A novelty act gone too far? Comedy gold? Yes.”

They’re from San Diego and their latest album is called Experiments with Auto-Croon. It’s 13 tracks and features a toy piano cover of “Werewolves of London,” but we’re more into this video for “Frankenstein’s Laundromat,” which features what I can only assume are members of Here Come the Mummies. After a few sweaty funk-rock shows, those mummy bandages are in serious need of a rinse.

You can buy yourself a copy of Experiments With Auto-Croon from Amazon.com or direct from SPO’s official website.

Weird of the Day: Mark Lowry, “Hyperactivity”

Mark Lowry

Today’s weirdness comes to us from our pals at Yeah We Know It Sucks and their marathon all-Mark weekend. One of the bits of Internet detritus they salvaged from the Mark pile was this delightful little novelty tune from one Mark Lowry, a Christian comedian from Texas. I know “Christian comedian” sounds an oxymoron, and when you throw in “from Texas” it’s basically its own punchline. But whatever god you may or may not pray to, Mark Lowry is a funny f…ellow. I was going to use another word, but since he’s a nice Christian boy, I’ll save the sailor talk for the next post.

If you liked that, there’s more where it came from on Mark’s 1995 DVD, Remotely Controlled, whose cover proves that by 1995, even white dudes from Texas had shirt collections inspired by The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Baboon Torture Division

BaboonTortureOne of our favorite new readers, Josh Gold, introduced us to this week’s band with the immortal words, “I think you’d enjoy them though I don’t get too much enjoyment from them.” You know us so well, Josh. What to others is aural diarrhea, to us is a melodious eargasm. Well, in the case of Baboon Torture Division, “eargasm” might be overstating it a bit. “Long, satisfying sound dump” is probably more accurate.

BTD is a duo from Vancouver made up of one guitar/singer/synth player/Ronald McDonald commemorative plate collector named Steve Biloba and one bass-playing, gas-mask-wearing humanoid called Pocketron XP. They’re also occasionally joined onstage and in videos by Ronald McDonald himself (or a reasonable facsimile thereof), Ronald Reagan (sometimes even two Ronald Reagans) and a guy in a cartoon bear suit who looks like he wandered in from a really creepy children’s party.

They’ve released 10 albums, although many of their “albums” are really just long-form jokes: a 44- minute send-up of ’80s hip-hop and electro called The Breakdance Sesh, an album of cheesy dance pop called Background Music for a Party, and not one, but two pseudo-8-bit albums called Digital Masturbation and Digital Masturbation 2. (Sample track titles: “Fuck Pizza Hut,” “Bowser Is Too Easy to Kill,” and perhaps their greatest achievement, a tender one-minute glitch ballad called “The Last Thing You’d Want to Hear If You Were Jacking Off Your Father While He Watched the Sylvester Stallone Wrist Wrestling Movie.” OK, maybe just the title is their greatest achievement.)

BTD’s twisted sense of humor is perhaps best captured in their two finest video offerings. First up, “Ice Cream Truck Music,” which is literally just five solid minutes wind-up monkeys dancing in front of my college acid dealer’s screen saver. Don’t worry, the music changes more often than the visuals. Way more often, actually.

Next: The kind of amazing “Sexy Times,” a disco/industrial jam that’s actually got a great groove, along with some of the cheesiest office romance lyrics of all time and backup dancers that look like they escaped from Mummenschanz. “I was prepping demos for the 12 o’clock meeting/You were wearing slacks and your nails were green”—finally, a love song us cubicle dwellers can relate to.

Oh, yeah; they’ve also released their own videogame. Free to download, fully editable. Your move, Powerglove!

So thanks, reader Josh! And yeah, you’re right, we should totally add Sun Ra to the Weird List. One of these days.

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