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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Forgotten Breakfast Cereals

Here's three long forgotten breakfast cereals. One very cool, one very weird and one that should never have seen a table:

Croonchy Stars: Undisputedly the most wacky breakfast cereal box to ever grace a table. The Muppets' Swedish Chef got his own line of cereal in the late '80s with Croonchy Stars. The whole box was covered in wackiness: "No Artificial Colours, No Doorknobs". On the side of the box: "Table Of Contents: Place Contents On Table"

Punch Crunch: This cereal didn't last long in the late '70s. Because even in that more innocent age. many stores refused to stock it and many parents were upset about it because of the gaudy pink box and the even gaudier pink hippo in the sailor suit making googly eyes at the Captain (and God only knows what it was doing with it's left arm.)

Urkel-Os: This cereal should NEVER have happened. Whoever came up with the idea of turning the ANNOYING Steve Urkel of the TV show Family Matters into a cereal probably hasn't worked in promotions since. Secondly, the strawberry/banana flavouring was just AWFUL. The tastes just CLASH in the bowl. Which is probably why this cereal too disappeared soon after it was introduced.......

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Casey Kasem's American Top 40

Casey Kasem's American Top 40 was a legendary weekly American radio program.

The program was syndicated nationally and until 1989, and sent to radio stations in a box set of 4 vinyl transcription discs (records that contained the program and national commercials, with cue sheets for the disc jockeys on where to insert the local ad spots.)

Very few stations played this program directly off the records on the air, most stations taped them on reel to reel tape and added the local ads, station jingles, promos, et al to the tapes) prior to broadcast, saving them time, potential errors and the embarrassment of a potentially skipping or stuck record.

Each week when the show was finished, the records were to be returned, whereupon they were destroyed (by contractual obligation.) But this was rarely enforced. Many radio station personnel simply took them home and added them to their personal collections. Or sold them. Which is why they're fairly easy to find at online auctions and used record dealers.

Casey Kasem hosted the program from 1970 to the 2000s in various incarnations, American Top 40, Casey's Top 40 and Casey's Top 20 (for Adult Contemporary radio stations.)

When I was growing up, Casey Kasem's American Top 40 countdown show was MANDATORY listening for me. I used to write down all the songs in my notebook every week and compare them with songs in the previous weeks. Seeing which songs were rising, which ones were falling (I never bothered with the Long Distance Dedications or bonus songs Casey would dot his programs with.)

It was a sad day for me when he stopped hosting the Top 40 program. I never cared much for Rick Dees, Shadoe Stevens and certainly not Ryan Seacrest. Casey Kasem WAS the Top 40 for me.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Amico AM Radio Wristwatch

Another watch I owned. It was an AM radio on a watch, circa 1979.

It didn't sound very good, coming from a two inch speaker. And in order to see the time, you had to press the lower right button, which the red digital LED display instantly caused a loud screeching noise that overrode the radio signal when the radio was on.

Reception was very limited (Seattle's KJR and KING, then Top 40 stations, which put in strong signals on most radios in the Lynnwood, WA area were barely audible on this radio. But the religious station two miles away in the nearby Edmonds area came in loud and clear.) 

It was also heavy and uncomfortable after a few minutes of wearing......

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Crayola Crayons

Who didn't own themselves a box of THESE?

Remember these now retired colours?

Green Blue
Orange Red
Orange Yellow
Violet Blue         
Lemon Yellow   
Blue Gray
Raw Umber (WTF?)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

East German Punk Rock

"Hasch Mich Madchen" Keks (1983)

This was a band from the former German Democratic Republic called Keks (Cookie). Totally unknown outside the GDR, it's been suggested they started out as more of a mainstream pop group before going punk in the early '80s. Didn't last long, they were banned by the East German government by 1985.

Here's what probably sent the East German officials over the edge. A track from 1983 called "Hasch mich Madchen" ("Catch Me Girl"), a strange tune that sounds like a bad rehearsal (they stop and start several times.) Besides, the title (which is repeated throughout the song), it's hard to figure out what they're talking about

From the guitars, you can also pretty much hear how Rammstein and every other German industrial metal band got started on this track:

They later became Knorkator, which was Germany's answer to Ministry. They broke up in 2008 after one of the members decided to start a new life in Thailand......

One other act was Nina Hagen. She came to America in the '70s and quickly established herself as one of the STRANGEST acts in the New Wave era of the early '80s.

She existed just outside of the mainstream in New Wave (but never too far away.) She's probably best known for her song "New York New York", which was featured in the bizarre 2003 Macaulay Culkin film Party Monster.

She appeared on Adamski's 1991 hit and video "Get Your Body". But this would be her last US hit. She's still performing today.

Friday, February 22, 2013

"I Love Rock N' Roll" Arrows (1975)

BEFORE Joan Jett made it a rock n' roll national anthem in 1982 (and kept the songwriters set for life in sheer royalties), here's the 1975 ORIGINAL by the UK band Arrows.....

Thursday, February 21, 2013


What do you get when you make a counterculture film with Jackie Gleason, Carol Channing, Groucho Marx, Frankie Avalon and Mickey Rooney?

An empty theater of course, but somebody thought Skidoo (1968) was a good idea.....

Complete with a Harry Nilsson soundtrack......
Here's Jackie Gleason on an acid trip.....

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Carlton The Doorman

If you watched the classic '70s sitcom Rhoda, you will no doubt remember Carlton The Doorman (the heard-but-never-seen doorman to Rhoda's apartment building.)

The voice of Carlton the Doorman was the late Lorenzo Music.

You might better recognize his voice as the original voice of Garfield.

I found this record a long time ago. I've played this before to other people in the apartment building I managed and they all said this song reminds them of ME!

"Who Is It?" Carlton The Doorman (1975)

Monday, February 18, 2013

You Could Win......

Released as a Eva-Tone soundsheet promo from McDonalds in 1988 (at that unfortunate time when people were discarding their vinyl and turntables en masse for crappier sounding, overpriced CDs), this sweepstakes promo was one of the worst ever.

This record didn't win. And it's unbearable to hear again after one listen......

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Robo Jesus

All Hail The Saviour Of Computer Geeks Everywhere. It was programmed with scalable compatibility and simplicity, yet It was decommissioned on the UNIVAC mainframe for our parsing errors......

(And yes, it's a REAL TOY from Japan)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

"Au Claire de la Lune" Unknown (1860)

Just when you thought you've heard everything in music, comes a blast from the '60s....

That's the 1860s....

Almost two decades before Thomas Edison unveiled his tin foil cylinder phonograph, a little known French scientist named Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville was also researching audio recording. 

He built a device called a "phonautograph" that recorded sound waves. 

However, unlike Edison, his device had no means of playback. His recordings were made on plate glass and later paper and stored, unplayed for nearly 150 years. There were no known means of playing the recordings without permanent damage to the extremely delicate grooves.

Finally, just a few years ago, with the aid of lasers and computer audio restoration, a 10 second snippet of a human voice singing "Au Clair de la Lune", recorded in February of 1860 was recovered from these recordings. An earlier 1859 recording of a tuning fork and possibly a bit of a human voice recorded in 1857 were also found. But that recording was too short to identify positively.

You can hear the "Au Clair de la Lune" recording below. Granted, the fidelity is extemely low, just barely recognizable. But it's history:


There is now a web site dedicated to the digitizing and preservation of phonautpgraph recordings:


The oldest playable recording up until then was the Lambert Talking Clock from 1878. Unlike Edison, who was recording and playing on weak tin foil at that time, Frank Lambert used a sturdy solid lead cylinder. Here is an MP3 of that (the audio on that too was barely recognizeable.):


And until the recent playback of the 1860 phonautograph recording, this 1888 wax cylinder of Handel's Israel In Egypt was considered to be the earliest known surviving music recording. Again it's low fi, but eerily beautiful: 


It was recorded on a wax covered cardboard cylinder, hence the heavy surface noise - especially at the end.

It has been speculated that ancient etched pottery COULD hold sound vibrations from as far back as 1000 B.C. But that hasn't been proven yet. Pottery clay itself is among the worst substances to make a recording on and unless the person making the pottery was singing VERY loudly to tool etching a groove - a possibility, but a very distant one. I doubt it...


Friday, February 15, 2013

Before They Were Stars: Lemmy

Here is a lost rock n' roll gem from Lemmy Kilmister and his early band The Rockin' Vickers from 1966 (LONG before he became the leather lunged lead singer of Motorhead.) 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy #@&!$% Valentine's Day: Songs For The Dumped

Valentine's Day.....Is there ANY day more REVOLTING?

Of course not. At least the fact you just got dumped isn't rubbed into your face by every Madison Avenue commercial jingle on Halloween.

For every happy couple you see today, there are couples who were missed by Cupid's arrow.

These songs are for them.......

20. "F--k It (I Don't Want You Back)" Eamon
19. "Kiss This" Joanna Dean
18. "Gives You Hell" The All American Rejects
17. "You Oughta Know" Alanis Morrisette
16. "Love Stinks" J. Geils Band
15. "Before He Cheats" Carrie Underwood
14. "I Hate Everything About You" Ugly Kid Joe
13. "Coney Island Whitefish" Joan Jett
12. "Ain't No Pleasing You" Chas & Dave
11. "My Give A Damn's Busted" Jo Dee Messina
10. "I Hate Everything About You" Three Days Grace
9. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" Joy Division
8. "You're Breaking My Heart" Harry Nilsson
7. "Song For The Dumped" Ben Folds Five
6. "She's Got The Ring (I Got The Finger)" George Strait
5. "Nag" Joan Jett
4. "They'll Need A Crane" They Might Be Giants
3. "Leave You Behind" Sleater-Kinney
2. "Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)" Green Day
1. "The Salt In My Tears" Martin Briley

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Part 15 Radio

If you ever wanted to run a radio station (and who hasn't?), there is a way you can do it without a lot of money, that has small, but fair enough range (about a mile, more or less - enough for a local neighbourhood) and without a license - legally.

There's a little known sub-section in the Code of Federal Regulations under Title 47 called Part 15. Under this section, you can legally operate a small radio transmitter running no more than 100mW (milliwatts) and a maximum antenna height of three meters (about 10 feet) on AM. (FM is much more limited in signal strength and smaller in antenna height.)

You can operate on either AM of FM. But the range you get with FM is much more limited (about 250 feet) than with AM. AM is by far the best method of transmitting under Part 15 rules.

Most Part 15 operators transmit in the upper portion of the AM dial, in that "expanded band" area that appeared on AM radios made past 1988 between 1600-1700 on the AM dial where there are fewer stations. Range is actually farther on these frequencies than those on the lower end of the AM dial. Which was something I never understood because technically, the lower end of the dial always seemed to have the farthest broadcast range of most AM stations. But I think that's factoring in grounding and other high-end engineering methods (that's one downside with AM, you have to really study radio transmission methods and theory.)

Here are some web sites that can get you started on this incredible little hobby:




Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"Live Is Life" Opus (1985)

Interesting tune from Opus. Austria is usually one of the last places on Earth you'd look for reggae. But this one hit wonder scored a massive new wave hit with this flytape catchy tune.

Instant '80s Pop Culture Fact: "Live Is Life" was the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh's favourite song. It also came out at the height of his cult's popularity.

Imagine a bobblehead of this guy if you want a visual of how the Bhagwan danced.....

Monday, February 11, 2013

Abandoned Theaters

There's fewer sights sadder than an abandoned theater.

Buildings that were once the source of so much joy for so many people only to be forgotten to time and ignorance. And depending on building condition could be restored and used again to showcase so much new and exciting talent to new generations.

It's a shame what happens when we ignore and take for granted a beautiful old building....

And having help restore and worked in old theaters, I take these sights VERY personally.....


I'm getting too depressed looking at this stuff. So I guess I'll call it a night. See you tomorrow......

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Attention all units we have an all-points-bulletin for a crazed Scotsman in a 2009 TV commercial for Castrol motor oil who has assaulted several people with a large automobile oil dipstick. Subject is described as about 5'10"  Caucasian male in his late forties to mid fifties with red hair and beard, a red plaid flat cap and thick Scottish accent. He approaches at random, assaults victims and shouts "Think with your dipstick Jimmy!"

Citizens are advised not to publicly discuss their motor oil. On top of being dangerous, subject is considered a major pain in the ass and most likely is mentally ill......

Saturday, February 09, 2013

"Emma Peel" The Allies (1982)

Back in 1982, there was a Seattle rock group called The Allies. They weren't a grunge band by any means, as you can see here, but they were a kickass power pop band that seemed to have a lot of potential.

This song, "Emma Peel" (about the heroine spy in the British TV series The Avengers) became a REALLY popular song locally in the Seattle area, gaining lots of airplay on influential Seattle rock radio station KJET, who's airplay helped get them national exposure.) The video even made it on MTV in it's early years. It's still a catchy tune after all these years

('60s superbabe Diana Rigg as Emma Peel in The Avengers)

Friday, February 08, 2013

The Last Checker Cab

Would you believe Checker Motors were still making taxicabs with the same unchanged look from the '50s all the way up until 1982?

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Forgotten Candy

Snik Snak (1968-1977) Snik-Snak was M&M/Mars answer to the hallowed (and much more successful) Kit Kat franchise of Nestle International (however through some long standing arrangement, Kit Kats are made by Hershey in the US.)

Hose Nose (1980s) This is a candy dispenser that looks like a nose that you strap to your face. It oozes candy slime and they encourage you to stick out your tongue and catch the drips from the nose (I'll bet you're all screaming "EWWW!!!!" right now.) Some of the slogans: “It’snot what you think”, “candy slime filled”, “drippy”, and “catch it on your tongue”. Yes, this candy encourages you to eat candy snot. And unless you're 10 years old, VERY forgettable....

Archie McPhee Gummy Maggots (1990s) Another gross candy. I’ve never heard another human being say - not even Andrew Zimmern. “Mmmm, these maggots are delicious!” Maybe Zimmern has said this, but I’ve never made it more than ten minutes into his show before violently barfing in the trash can and changing channels. (I’m more of a Guy Fieri/Adam Richman type of guy.)

Abba Zaba (1920-Present) Still made, but rarely seen east of the Rockies

Lik-M-Aid (1965-1982) This candy came with vanilla cream flavoured compressed sugar "dipping" sticks. Original flavours were Cherry, Grape and Orange (later Lime.) The name was changed to "Fun Dip" and they're now a part of Wonka's candy empire. 

   More here: http://candyaddict.com/blog/

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The Mills Brothers

"No musical instruments or mechanical devices used on this recording other than one guitar....."

- An inscription on all the 78 RPM labels of The Mills Brothers recordings for the Brunswick and Decca labels from the '30s and '40s.

A tall order - even for the most dedicated folk acts today, but The Mills Brothers did it during the 60 years of their career. With style to spare.

I've always been a fan of The Mills Brothers. They INVENTED doo-wop. Yes, some people will give lofty praise to The Robins, The Orioles, The Clovers and The Chords (and yes, they certainly DESERVE theirs). But you just can't hear their records and NOT know where it all REALLY came from.

And while Michael Buble might be the snazziest thing to come along since Harry Connick Jr., you just don't know HIGH CLASS MUSIC until you get hip to The Mills Brothers.

LONG before the days of multi-tracking studio vocals and other studio gimmickry, these guys could put out a record that sounded far ahead of it's time, but was as organic as can be. And do it all in ONE TAKE. Simply because they had such an awesome talent (Michael Buble today can sit back and check his Twitter feeds while his studio engineers remove every trace of morning after breath from his vocal tracks.....), The Mills Brothers could complete a whole album in less time than it takes for most pop bands today to decide which note goes where in the first three bars.

Their last big hit was 1968's "Cab Driver". They were the only act in pop music who had a hit record in the '20s to last until 1968.

.....and here they are with the Jackson Five in 1974:

The Mills Brothers are COOL......

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Curly Toes

Back in the '70s, someone found a homemade recording on a cassette that was thrown out, lost or abandoned. The story of how it was found....and who found it...and where is unknown.

The recording, which had circulated in the tape underground for decades, was that of a woman with a Southern accent, probably middle aged (or a young smoker.)

She sings an a cappela song on a cheap cassette recorder of doing a burlesque striptease for her boyfriend, some, um...lucky guy named "Ben"

Nobody knows who sang this. Or who our lucky Ben is. But everyone who's ever heard this wonders if she really wrote this or just ad-libbed her way through it. But they all had the same look of catatonic shock you'll probably have upon hearing this, before busting out in uncontrollable laughter. Or have to swallow a whole bottle of Advil just to cope with this woman's migraine-inducing singing in their heads the rest of the day...

You can find this on Irwin Chusid's Songs In The Key of Z, Vol. 2 compilation of outsider music. LOADS of bizarre musical oddities on these discs.

The YouTuber who posted this dedicated it to Bettie Page:

Monday, February 04, 2013

Lost '90s Pop Classic: "That's What Love Can Do" Boy Krazy (1991)

Boy Krazy were a girl group, like Bananarama that were also proteges of Stock, Aitken & Waterman, a British pop music production team with a name that sounded more like a law firm.

They produced other hits for Kylie Minogue, Rick Astley, Cathy Dennis, George Michael, Dead Or Alive, Sonia, Samantha Fox and countless others. This song was originally recorded and released in the UK in 1991. A few months before grunge blew up......

What made this record stand out was the time it was finally released in America: 1993. Virtually every other song on the Top 40 chart in 1993 was grunge, alternative rock, hip-hop and R&B.

This song however was a sheer unadulterated and unapologetic throwback to the '80s Brit-pop that Stock, Aitken & Waterman made famous from 1986-1990.

It actually sounded exactly like a song you would have heard on Top 40 radio in 1987. And had the planets aligned then, Boy Krazy would have had at least a platinum album to show for it.

However, it might have been too much too late. While it was a refreshing, ear-candy break from the usually depressing stuff on the American radio in 1993 (4 Non Blondes anyone?), and did score a respectable #18 on the US charts, it didn't last. Boy Krazy did release a follow up single that stiffed at #59, and disbanded a year later......

Saturday, February 02, 2013

"Shannon" Henry Gross (1976)

Here's the story......

You're 7 years old and you hear this song for the first time, but you can't figure the lyrics out. You hear it a second and third time and finally your sister buys the 45 because she loves the song. You "borrow" it from her and try to solve what could be a grisly situation. You know it's about Shannon and she's female. And she.....ummm...well,

The chorus goes like this:

Shannon is gone, I hope she's drifting out to sea
She always loved to swim away
Maybe she'll find an island, with a shady tree
Just like the one in our backyard....

Lyrics as creepy as this are usually grounds for a homicide investigation. Did Mr. Gross throw this poor girl overboard off his beachfront property, expecting her to swim to Tahiti or something in shark infested waters? (this song came out at the same time as America was beach nervous because of the movie Jaws....) My 7 year old mind was abuzz with suspicion. And sharks.

As it turned out, "Shannon" was about Brian Wilson's Irish Setter, who had passed away, (hopefully of natural causes.) But singing a song about somebody else's dog is kinda creepy too......

It became a gold single for Henry Gross (and one of the biggest one-hit wonders of the '70s......)

Conelrad Radio

Conelrad was a civil radio alert system used in the early '50s to the '60s. If the Russians ever decided to press the button, you could tune your radio to the nationwide Conelrad frequencies, 640 or 1240 kHz on the AM side of the radio dial and get instructions on how to save yourself and yours from the ensuing fallout. AM radios of that era had tiny inverted triangles on their dials marking the dial positions of Conelrad stations.

You can actually identify any American radio made between 1953 and 1963. Just look for the Conelrad markers. Usually an inverted triangle. But some were inverted triangles in circles.....

The Conelrad stations were the direct predecessors of the annoying EAS data bursts you hear on the radio today.  They were originally a civil defense method of warning radio listeners in the event of a nuclear attack.

There was no music or lite talk on Conelrad stations. They were strictly for emergency information.

One of the biggest questions I get asked is why were Conelrad stations on those frequencies? And why weren't any on FM?

First, all but two broadcast frequencies (all other AM radio stations, including TV and FM stations) were required to go off the air FM radio was still in it's infancy. Most radios were AM only and in the '50s, FM had very few listeners by comparison. TV was also still fairly new and TV wouldn't reach coast to coast and ubiquitous in homes until the early '60s. These wouldn't be the best mediums to inform the public of a national emergency. Secondly, the nature of FM/TV broadcasting would make these stations "sitting ducks" for enemy aircraft with radio direction finding. 

It was through radio direction finding that Japanese aircraft were able to attack Pearl Harbor by homing in on the signal of KGU, Honolulu.

The 640 and 1240 AM frequencies were selected to confuse enemy aircraft RDF. One radio station would broadcast for a few seconds go off the air, then change over to the next station in a chain that would alternate between 640 and 1240. By doing this, it would be very difficult for enemy aircraft with RDF to get a "lock" on any signal accurately.

And yes, there were some actual radio stations on these frequencies. 640 was occupied by 50,000 watt radio stations KFI Los Angeles and WGST Atlanta and 1240 (which was occupied by many lower power 1,000 watt radio stations.)  

It looked brilliant in theory. But in practice, it was pretty clumsy. Higher power radio transmitters (especially the older ones at some radio stations.) weren't made to be shut on and off like that and some transmitters failed. 

Conelrad was replaced by the Emergency Broadcast System when missiles could be launched instead of dropped from airplanes. Where designated radio stations in each area served as the primary EBS radio stations. Stations in surrounding areas would relay these broadcasts over their signals or would refer the listeners to tune to the originating station. They also broadened their services to include emergency information of severe weather or man-made/natural disasters.

Here's a video tape from 1990 that explains how the EBS worked on the radio/TV station level.

Under the EAS system of today, ALL radio stations regardless of signal reach or MUST participate. The EAS also provides Amber Alerts for missing kids as well as other emergency information.   

This site archives the endless sights and sounds of this nervous era. If you're old enough to remember the Cold War, you'll be in for a really cool flashback and if you're not, welcome to the bomb shelter....


Friday, February 01, 2013

Ed McMahon's Lost Album

(Cover of "And Me...I'm Ed McMahon...." Cameo/Parkway Records, 1967)

Like many TV, movie and radio celebrities, Ed McMahon took a stab at being a singer.

Well, he had the good sense to not cover any Beatles tunes (God know how many ruined renditions of "Hey Jude" I have heard from Bing Crosby to Kate Smith)

But there is plenty of creepiness afoot. Note that some of the songs on this album were about "girls" by a guy who even in 1967 was old enough to be a grandfather.

This one especially makes me nervous...give this one a spin (listen to the opening banter.):


(Thanks to Phil X. Milstein's Probe Is Turning On The People)