Possibly NSFW since some of the lavatory designs depicted are of questionable taste. But what with the Aegis Australia call centre of Werribee in the news for docking workers' pay for loo breaks lasting over 90 seconds, here's my sustained loo break - a piece on toilets that appears in Issue 21 Apr / May 2013 of What Tradies Want in a slightly different (ie less whimsical and indulgent) form. It was sponsored by SaniFlo (in the magazine, not on this blog). The Zappa image was not part of it.
Though essential to life, the act of âgoing to the toiletâ tends to be a taboo topic in polite society, so we sanitise it with euphemisms and silly humour.
You might âpowder your noseâ, âsee a man about a dogâ, âdrop the kids off at the poolâ, âstrain the potatoesâ or âsplash your bootsâ. And youâll do it in a âwashroomâ, ârestroomâ or âwater closetâ when itâs not a âthunder boxâ or âstinkpotâ. As for âlooâ, from the French word lieu, it means âplaceâ. Hence the folk song âskip to my loo, my darlingâ actually means âstand by my sideâ rather than âproceed in a rather flamboyant though seemingly carefree manner to the toiletâ. Although, when it comes to toilets, âflamboyantâ is certainly making a comeback.
Since civilization has progressed enough to enable us to discuss a lot of things we never used to, weâre able to â ahem â âtake the pissâ when it comes to making toilets. Vulgar and distasteful â but funny â urinals are a particular favourite, the bowl or trough frequently replaced with anatomy and religious iconography. Open mouths and the Virgin Mary/nuns appear to be particularly popular.
So are women, either watching from the wall, or as part of the structure.
But beware â going to the toilet should never result in getting the horn.
Not even if youâre an Ã¼ber-nerd and your favourite fictional characters have been incorporated in the design.
The âHarry Pottyâ is tacky, but the bathroom in the Hang Fung Gold Technology showroom in Hong Kong has a greater inherent value. Itâs solid gold.
As is the one located on the aeroplane owned by the Saudi Prince: itâs worth about US$2.88 million.
The ladiesâ toilets in the Lemina Building in Shinjuki, Tokyo, arenât made of gold, but they are certainly priceless. You sit on them, opposite giant carved heads.
That begin to sing. And start moving towards you. Good thing youâre on the loo â itâs so unnerving, thereâs a chance youâdâ¦ well anyway, they stop when theyâre close enough to just about kiss your knees:
If the experience is so scary as to cause an unfortunate âaccidentâ, Swedish company CWS has devised the perfect solution: the toilet with the self-cleaning seat. Once youâve finished, a small, self-contained unit automatically moves forward to cover a small section of the circular seat, rotating and cleaning it. CWS came up with a particularly ingenious ad for it, too, in which a young model attempts to âpowder her noseâ:
Another excellent application of technology is the built-for-comfort Washlet, manufactured by Toto. Its built-in bidet enables you to wash your nether regions at the touch of a button, without having to move off the seat, thus doing away with the need for toilet paper. It would be a welcome addition in those countries like Greece, where the plumbing isnât quite suited to flushing toilet paper. Thatâs right â you have to place it in the bin provided; a sad irony given the ancient Minoans, on the isle of Crete, may well have invented the first flush toilet by having the loo at ground level and a reservoir of water above.
The traditional bidet â a cross between a toilet and a sink â began, in France, as a basin in which you could âwash yourselfâ. Intime, nozzles and hoses were added. But some cultures never required the bidet or lavatory paper, choosing instead to clean oneself by hand. Left hand, of course. Which is why all dining and greeting must be done with the right: it may sound poetically symbolic to be âuncleanâ when âremoving the bodyâs impuritiesâ with the same hand you touch your food, but in an age before antibacterial soaps, illness and death would be a likely result of such poor hygiene.
And it still is. In 2000, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that almost half the worldâs population â mostly situated in Africa and Asia â did not have access to âgoodâ toilet facilities: they had no suitable way of getting rid of excrement. The WHO solution is the implementation of simple âsquat toiletsâ â basically a hole in the ground with a plastic seat above.
Grateful as we are that such issues donât affect our quality of life, itâs good to know we also have convenient, flexible and affordable means to place a toilet - or bathroom - virtually anywhere. Consider Sanifloâs range of macerator pump units: by grinding waste into small particles, a 20mm pipe, rather than the customary 100mm, can be used to transport waste. Which means, if youâre renovating and want an en suite in your bedroom, you can have one, no matter how far away from â or how far above â your room the sewer happens to be. Itâs so cost effective, in fact, that you youâll be able to afford the solid gold toilet (or scary giant singing head) a lot sooner.
Thatâll have you skipping to the loo, no worries.
Aren't you pleased MasterChef is making a return! And with such a groundbreaking, non-gimmicky new format. We're particularly happy here at Stand & Deliver! because we get to compile another bunch of food-related songs. For now, Volume 4 of this series will be a slow-release degustation menu of food-related songs.
As the story goes, FZ encountered one of his blues heroes while touring with the Mothers of Invention. Rather than living it up as a well-regarded superstar, the old bluesman was scratching out a living painting a music studio. Some kind of despair must have ensued, as Zappa promptly disbanded the Mothers and recorded and released his first 'solo' album â featuring a supporting cast of virtuosi. 'Peaches En Regalia' is the track that kicks it off.
The title makes it sound like a juicy dessert or a delicious cocktail âbut weâre talking Zappa here, so assume his intent regards a different variety of peach altogether. Or at the very least, the other variety of tail. Since itâs an instrumental, it doesnât really matter. However, if you do consider it to be part of the genre, it is one of the more subtle of the euphemistic âyummy dessert=delicious womanâ songs. And if you dig that kind of thing, check out the cherry-related songs that appear in Bastard Chef III: Just Desserts.
Since Zappa did reconvene the Mothers - well, not the Mothers, but other line-ups of musicians under that name ('Others'?) - and toured them extensively while releasing albums prolifically, there are a number of live versions available on various collections. The most interesting is 'Peaches III', so-named because it was the third version released up to that time (the second was the live version on Fillmore East - June 1971, credited to 'The Mothers'). Located on the mostly live Tinsel Town Rebellion, 'Peaches III' is delivered with mostly synthetic instrumentation and squared-off rhythms, sounding as though it was inspired by Devo, who were big at the time.
A cynical observer once suggested Paul McCartneyâs first solo album, McCartney, marked the point where the erstwhile Beatles bassist finally achieved something heâd been attempting as early as Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: heâd finally produced an album upon which only he appeared, performing everything himself. By the time of Sgt Pepper there had been songs that featured one Beatle and session musicians â George Harrison fronting an Indian musical combo, as on âWithin You Without Youâ, Paul and the string quartet on âYesterdayâ. But The Beatles (aka âThe White Albumâ) frequently featured songs created by the Beatles working in pairs or solo.
Thus, while John Lennon and Ringo Starr were enconced in another studio and George was away on holiday, Macca doodled for the sheer fun of it on this little ditty. The short song, described by McCartney as âan experimentâ, sounds like a novelty: silly, over-the-top multi-tracked voices in American accents, spring-like sound effects of bent guitar strings. âWild Honey Pieâ was apparently included on The Beatles because, like the songâs protagonist, Patti Boyd (Mrs George Harrison at the time) happened to like it.
More than a precursor to the similarly doodled-for-the-sheer-fun-of-it McCartney, âWild Honey Pieâ seems in the first place to be yet another cross reference to the Beach Boys: bass players of both bands seemed to inspire each otherâs subsequent albums throughout the â60s, Pet Sounds and Sgt Pepper famously upping respective antes until Smile failed to appear, the Beach Boys ending 1967 with the album Wild Honey (the title track was its lead single). It could be a passing reference.
In the second place, it is also a pre-emptive defence of âHoney Pieâ, a song that came later on âThe White Albumâ â but more of that later.
The interview took place in the hotel room Noel and Julien Barrett - The Mighty Boosh - were sharing in Melbourne during the Comedy Festival. They were performing Autoboosh that year, and their walk-on music - which I recognised as soon as it began - was Frank Zappa's 'Help I'm A Rock' from the very first Mothers of Invention album Freak Out.
By the end of the interview, Noel presented me with the gorgeous hand-drawn portrait of Zappa that he'd executed, in pen, during our conversation.
Nearly a decade later, I got to interview Noel again, for an issue of FilmInk. Noel remembered our earlier interview:
What I didn't know, either time I interviewed Noel, was that the Mighty Boosh had once described their work as "comedy for people who grew up listening to Frank Zappa". In fact, as that interview went on to reveal, I also didn't recognise Zappa's youngest child, daughter Diva, in her cameo in the final episode of the Mighty Boosh.
"How did you not recognise her?" Noel demanded in disbelief. "She looks so much like her dad!"
The Mighty Boosh Band went on to appear in the Zappa Roundhouse Festival in 2010, celebrating what would have been Zappa's 70th birthday - albeit a couple of months early, give-or-take.
The latest Zappa/Boosh crossover is with the Zappa Family Trust release of a 12-inch single - on red vinyl - featuring the Mothers of Invention for Mothers Day. Well, the announcement of the release is in time for Mothers Day.
The record features 'Help I'm A Rock' and 'It Can't Happen Here' in their original stereo 1966 mixes on side 1. Side 2 features the original mono release and the original basic tracks of 'Who Are The Brain Police?'
The record also features gorgeous cover art by Noel Fielding. Yep. Noel Fielding painting a portrait of Zappa for 'Help I'm A Rock'. Who'dathunkit? I love it when my nerd worlds collide. You can pre-order it here.
In honour of MasterChef: The Professionals, and following on from Soup to Nuts: BastardChef Too, hereâs the latest edition of food music compiled for your listening and dining pleasure â BarstardChef III: Just Desserts. Though not consciously intended, this edition is even more of a novelty than previously, thanks to the heap of instrumentals, silly lyrics and spoken word. Enjoy.
We know how hard it is to pull off a dessert: it has be not just
delicious and indulgent, it has to complement dinner without spoiling
it. Itâs a delicate balancing act. As is genuinely engaging instrumental
music. We start Bastard Chef III:Just Desserts with a Miles Davis instrumental entitled 'Chocolate Chip'. Yes, of course, we acknowledge that the chocolate chip is no dessert in and of itself. But how much charm, fun and class does it bring to more staid post-dinner offerings? Add them to everything - from fruit salad and cream, to coffee, to ice cream - to make them a little more exciting. (Although, let's face it, every chocoholic knows a handful from the stash of choc chips in the back of the pantry will tide you over in times without your favourite candy bars!)
This 'Chocolate Chip' certainly brought a little more fun and excitement to the world of jazz, along with the album that contained it: Doo-Bop. It was the last platter Miles Davis embarked upon before he passed away and although it sounds rooted in its early-90s sound now, like so many of the albums Davis released, it was brave and daring in its time.
Again, we acknowledge: despite a long and varied career that involved frequent abrupt turns that led to the development of whole new genres, Miles Davis isn't to
everybody's taste. Or is he? Work your way through his monumental
output, you'll find something that appeals. And like fusion food, that takes something familiar and creates something new by adding something exotic, Doo-Bop was the latest jazz-fusion experiment that Miles Davis cooked up before he died.
As the story goes, Davis was hangin' in his New York apartment in the summer of 1991, listening to the world outside. Inspired, he decided to create an album that captured the sound of his neighbourhood streets. He approached his buddy Russell Simmons (who, with Rick Rubin, founded the hip-hop label Def Jam) for some recommendations: Davis wanted a hip young producer to help him make this foray into jazz/hip hop fusion.
The producer was Osten Harvey, Jr, AKA Easy Mo Bee, who'd cut his teeth producing early work of Wu-Tang Clansmen GZA and RZA.
Davis and Easy Mo Bee worked on a series of sessions before Miles Davis's death in late September 1991. The album was completed by building tracks around some incomplete trumpet performances, resulting in a cohesive work that was released, some nine months later, to mixed reviews. Had Davis lived, the album would probably have been more daring; it may have been disconcerting for polite jazz circles back in 1992 - it was certainly too 'urban' to play in the Classics & Jazz music store I worked in - but it's quite straightforward now. Still, Doo-Bop took out the 1993 Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance - not a bad way to finish an amazing career.
Find it: on the album replete with sampled street sounds, vinyl crackle and spoken rap known as Doo-Bop. Or download it here.
2: Rubber Biscuit - The Chips
Ben Elton once pointed out the division that arose when airlines offered bread and butter pudding as part of the in-flight meal: the first class passengers loved it, since it reminded them of boarding school, where it was a popular dessert. The economy class passengers werenât impressed at all: theyâd paid good money for their flight - why should they put up with the cheap muck they could have at home? Nowadays, in the age of discount airfare, virtually anyone can afford to fly - though few can afford to pay extra for the most meagre and unsatisfactory of meals.
Meanwhile, we live in an age where less food is being produced than being consumed and national economies all over the world are in crisis. Knowing how to cook well at a lower cost is essential. Hence, we suppose, the MasterChef/Coles synergy.
With all of that in mind, the natural progression from the 'Chocolate Chip' is to a biscuit. But not just any biscuit: it's the well-loved nonsensical vocals of âRubber Biscuitâ, that encapsulated the current food predicament of today, way back in the mid-â50s.
They consist of scat singing based on co-writer and lead vocalist Charles Johnsonâs parody of the marching calls imposed upon him during his earlier internment at the Warwick School For Delinquent Teenagers. Beyond them are the seemingly foolish 'recipes' that break up the verses. They speak of poverty: the 'wish sandwich', where you have two pieces of bread and "wish you had some meat"; the 'ricochet biscuit' that bounces off the wall and into your mouthâ¦ unless it fails to bounce back, in which case "you go hungry"; and the "cold water sandwich". The result is beautiful art created from hardship.
The song endures, predominantly, as a ânoveltyâ staple, frequently featuring on childrenâs compilations. And yet, like the posh folk who loved bread and butter pudding in boarding school, the âkidsâ who first heard it when it was new carried it through life and still remember it fondly.
While the Blues Brothers covered it successfully on Briefcase Full of Blues, the original features in an excellent scene in Martin Scorseseâs crime flick Mean Streets, in which a party is thrown for a returned Viet Nam vet: it ends with Harvey Keitelâs character passing out. Because the camera is attached to him, as he collapses, his head remains upright while the room spins around him. âRubber Biscuitâ adds to the disorientation.
Frank Zappa had, at one stage, intended to compile an album of his favourite doo-wop and early rock songs, with âRubber Biscuitâ included. Although it never eventuated, another artistic freak who, like Frankie, hailed from Baltimore, Maryland with idiosyncratic facial foliage compiled an excellent album of such songs: that freak was John Waters and the album was the soundtrack to his film Cry-Baby. âRubber Biscuitâ is one of the stand-outs.
Find it: on the soundtrack to John Watersâ film Cry-Baby Download it here.
3. A Taste Of Honey - Herb Alpertâs Tijuana Brass
If âHoney Pieâ, a Beatles (well, let's face it, Paul McCartney) song that comes later in this compilation, is too much honey as well as too much pie, perhaps youâ prefer just a taste. âA Taste Of Honeyâ was written by Bobby Scott and Ric Marlow as the recurring instrumental theme in the 1960 Broadway production of a 1958 British play of the same name. Bobby Scott won a Grammy Award for his recording of it. A vocal version followed, though the more popular version of it wasby the Beatles, who recorded it for their debut album Please Please Me. You gotta dig the Beatlesâ version: when Macca reiterates its quality, of âtasting much sweeter than wineâ, his sibilance renders the word âshweeterâ, making him sound like a slurring drunk who knows full well the qualities of wine, as well as the honey.
Alpert is an interesting person in his own right. Apart from leading this instrumental combo, he was the âAâ in A&M Records, a label he founded with business partner Jerry Moss. (After selling it to PolyGram [now Universal], he and Moss start AlMo Sounds whose title is also derived from their surnames. Not as spectacular a label. But then, no record nowadays is as spectacular as when records were still the primary delivery vehicle for music.)
In more recent years, Alpert has taken to painting and sculpture. However, his contribution to popular music is massive, both as a label executive and as a musician.
The dessert more chefs appear to make a mess of than get right on MasterChef is ice cream - even though, when they get it wrong they can pretend itâs some other posh desserty substance like parfait. But Tom Waits ainât talkinâ about no genteel delicacy.
Once, many years ago while visiting a cute girl who really, really tolerated me, I was engaged in an intense conversation with her incredibly sexy flatmate. We were discussing music, and she was of the opinion that âTom Waits is just âsex-on-a-stickâ.â Which went some way to explaining the raggedy-assed hobo of a backpacker she was seeing at the time. They more than merely tolerated each other. Theyâd more than merely tolerate the hell out of each other quite loudly, most of the night, I seem to remember. âIce Cream Manâ is about sex-on-a-stick's sex-on-a-stick, as the lyrics clearly outline, and heâll âsure taste good to you.â
In 1970 Waits would play every Monday night at the legendary Troubadour in LA, delivering Dylan covers and a handful of original compositions, of which âIce Cream Manâ was one. Hence its inclusion on his 1973 debut Closing Time â its languid opening giving way to an up-tempo jazz rendition replete with hot guitar licks and snazzy snare shots. Personally, I prefer the demo version Waits recorded a couple of years earlier, when he first landed a management deal. It starts slightly faster, but maintains that pace throughout, with the guitar and drums sticking closer to rock than jazz. Furthermore, the initial piano motif better evokes the tinny chime of the ice cream van. The demo surfaced, against Waitsâs wishes, on the first of two volumes of demos entitled The Early Years.
To answer the annoying question, I assume the songâs about indulgence, consumerism and conspicuous consumption â with a chorus about Tammy Baker, wife of disgraced TV evangelist Jim and Andy Warhol laughing in his grave at âcheap Picasso fakesâ. The recording certainly offers a rich production with the wild harmonica interlude and almost buried vocoderâ¦
Although, in hindsight, it may well have been inspired by how to slice up the cake of royalties, responsibility and influence now that there was one more band member. It certainly seems that way now, considering the way in which the album came about and Crowded House evolved subsequently.
Turns out the brothers Finn had gotten together to start recording a new album. Before its completion, Neil had another due with Crowded House. Unfortunately, Capitol, their label, rejected it considering some of the tracks to be a little weak. So Neil asked Tim if he could use some of the material theyâd written together. Tim was happy for that to happen, on condition that he joined the band. It wasnât the ideal situation â tensions arose, Tim left before theyâd completed touring behind the album. Now he says he was joking at the time. Even if the album proved to be neither flesh nor fish â not quite as good as previous Crowded House albums, not quite as good as the Finn album that followed later that decade â Neil and Timâs harmonies are always a treat. They really are our Antipodean Everlies. The first fruit of their new collaboration was âChocolate Cakeâ, whose chorus fittingly opens mid-decadence: âCan I have another piece of chocolate cakeâ¦?â Go on. Indulge yourself.
6. Tra La La (Banana Splits Theme) - The Banana Splits
Way back in the earlier part of the 20th Century, Aussie writer Norman Lindsay maintained that kids loved reading about food far more than they did fairies and the like â even though âfairy talesâ, in the most literal sense, were the popular form of childrenâs literature. Lindsay proved his point in 1918, with the publication of The Magic Pudding, which remains in print today.
Why is this relevant? Because chocolate cake may be an indulgent pleasure for most (and wild honey pie, for a more discerning group that includes Patti Boyd), but the real treat is the banana in the presence of ice cream: the dessert known as the banana split. Which most people will remember as the name of a show they loved as kids: The Banana Splits Adventure Hour.
The show was hosted by another manufactured band aimed at the kids.
The Monkees were manufactured to be like the Beatles, but, proving hard to control, were superseded by the Archies, animated version of the same (and discussed at length in the notes for BastardChef 2). The Archies couldn't rebel like the Monkeesâ¦
The Banana Splits couldn't rebel either, but weren't pure animations. They were actors in animal costumes, based on both the Beatles and Monkees. Fleegle the Beagle played guitar, gorilla Bingo took the drum duties, Drooper the lion was on bass and Snorky the elephant played keyboards.
The show was the first produced by Hanna-Barbera to mix live action with cartoons. It employed the services of Sid and Marty Krofft to provide the costumes â serving as a precurs0r to the Krofft-produced HR Pufnstuf. Like HR Pufnstuf, The Banana Splits was a so-called kids' show that appealed to adults - at least the ones who indulged in certain chemical refreshments. Which kind of makes sense, in a drug-addled, conspiracy theorist way:
Among the various varieties of puffin' stuff was the banana skin, or 'banana spliff', that led to the 'Mellow Yellow' high that Donavan sang about. And certain controlled substances, LSD in particular, seem to lead to users reverting to the security of childhood. You see this especially in British psychedelia. When you consider that British kids born just before or during the post-war boom would, when visiting grandma's house, see the remnants of Victoriana - posters of Lord Kitchener, antique spinning tops, photos of tragic Uncle Wilfred in uniform, who was never the same after he came back from the trenchesâ¦ these were the childhood memories young, hip cool people of the mid- to late-'60s.
The psychedelic sound of the â60s - phasing, Indian instrumentation, backwards vocals and guitars - isnât evident in 'The Banana Splits Theme' (though traces of the âStrawberry Fieldsâ mellotron flute are discernible), but it is still childishly simple. The bubblegum sound was provided by an array of fine studio musicians. Coupled with the showâs popularity, it made for durable hits, not least of all the theme song. Sing along: âTra la la, la la la laâ¦â
Not too loudly, though! While loved by many, the few who particularly despise the song sometimes have good reason. Like the neighbours of seemingly indulgent Brighton resident Amanda Millard, for example. They were driven to distraction Amandaâs endless playing of it, along with the Animalsâ âHouse of the Rising Sunâ and Bob Marleyâs âBuffalo Soldierâ. (The chorus of the latter, some have pointed out, shares similar notes as âTra La Laâ.) While Amandaâs 250-pound fine means she continues to enjoy banana splits rather than being subjected to the bread and water of a custodial sentence, she has to do so at a more considerate volume.
Letâs just take a moment to catch our breath after all the desserts. We will resume gorging on food songs in a moment. For now, a spoken word piece - to music accompaniment - for everyone who loves their food more than they love their physique, courtesy of portly comedian Allan Sherman.
You may profess not to know him, but you certainly know at least one of Allanâs recorded works.
Shermanâs professional calling was as a comedy writer and producer of television game shows, having devised several successful formats that proved long-lived on the small screen. His sideline was in devising parody lyrics to popular tunes. Initially a party trick, it was a very good one. His next door neighbour Harpo Marx used to invite him over to entertain party guests with his songs. One guest, comedian George Burns, made the call that led to Shermanâs first album, My Son, The Folk Singer, in 1962 â in which old folk tunes were given new lyrics based on Jewish shtick. Like his phone conversation with Sarah Jackman, to the tune of âFrÃ¨re Jacquesâ: âSarah Jackman, Sarah Jackman, howâs by you? Howâs your sister Rita?â âA regular Lolita!â
My Son, The Folk Singer was the fastest selling album for its time, certainly aided by the fact that President Kennedy, for example, was overheard singing âSarah Jackmanâ to himself in a hotel foyer.
Other popular parodies include âA Waste of Moneyâ, about consumer debt, to the tune of âA Taste of Honeyâ, and âPop Hates The Beatles!â to the tune of âPop Goes The Weaselâ. But the song youâll know is Shermanâs âHello Muddah! Hello Fuddah!â from his third album, My Son, The Nut. And you know it in its own right, without realising itâs a parody. So much so, youâll do the aural equivalent of a double take when you finally hear composer Amilcare Ponchielliâs âDance of the Hoursâ (featuring, as it does, in the Disney masterpiece Fantasia, for example) and marvel at how much this piece of classical music reminds you of âHello Muddah! Hello Fuddah!â
But enough of the musicology lesson.
âHail To Thee, Fat Personâ is Shermanâs justification of his girth: the result, he insists, of forever being told to âclean his plateâ, as there were âchildren starving in Europeâ. We fat people (Sherman, Preston, me, etc) are merely performing a community service. The social imperatives of being a fatso became a big issue recently when a TV anchor made the news for facing down a camera after receiving some feedback from a viewer, proving the timelessness of this piece of social satire.
Donât think for an instant that the absence of the seemingly obvious choice â for this volume â of Warrantâs âCherry Pieâ is an oversight. The best thing about that song has always been the image adorning both the single and album cover: pendulously-bosomed, pigeon-toed, redheaded waitress on roller skates (a ârollerskaitressâ?) whoâs accidentally dropped the dessert off her plate. Oh, but look where the slice happens to be situated in the photo, nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Pete ânâ Dud would probably marvel at all the rejected covers, in which the the slice was in the wrong place (it's a classic sketch, should you choose to persevere with the referenceâ¦)
But heavy metal riffs and fond memories of having a bit of a think about the cover late at night during an â80s adolescence notwithstanding, the song kinda sucks. Big time. So apologies if youâre currently shaking your head in disbelief that thereâs no, no cherry pie. Instead there's âNo, No Cherryâ, a 1950s doo-wop song originally recorded by The Turbans. Itâs based on the same euphemism Warrant called upon for âCherry Pieâ. And if you're wondering where this euphemism comes from, research dates it back to at least the 15th Century, where a folk song that tells of âthe cherye with-outyn ony stoneâ is said to be about virginity. Or lack thereof.
You'll agree, itâs fitting then that this happens to be another Frank Zappa song! His version of âNo, No Cherryâ was performed live as a medley with his own âMan From Utopiaâ, this recording dating from the 1984 tour.
There may be 'No, No Cherry', but there is also âCherry Pieâ, and it's another â50s doo-wop song. It comes replete with the âfairly redundant piano tripletsâ (to quote Frank Zappaâs notes on his own nostalgic tribute to the genre and period, Cruising with Ruben & The Jets. Which, incidently, has been given the deluxe reissue treatment more recently as Greasy Love Songs).
âCherry Pieâ was written by Joe Josea and Marvin Phillips and originally performed by Marvin & Johnny, but the version included here is by Aussie band Daddy Cool, fronted by local legend Ross Wilson.
The thing about Daddy Cool is that their embrace of vintage American rockânâroll was authentic. Rather than mere nostalgia, even with the arched eyebrow of irony so beloved for Frank Zappa, the most novel aspect of Daddy Coolâs approach was their sincerity. Hence their securing such gigs as opening for the Everly Brothers. They really did do doo-wop (or perhaps they 'did-wop') better than most. Itâs all over their debut album, Daddy Who? Daddy Cool! which features brilliant original compositions along with a wealth of '50s covers.
Daddy Who? Daddy Cool! was such a fine album that it was the first Aussie long play platter to sell over a 100,000 copies in this country â helped, no doubt, by the inclusion of such strong single cuts as âEagle Rockâ and âCome Back Againâ. The local success, coupled with their accurate reproduction of an essentially American musical idiom, meant the album got a Stateside release â albeit with a revised tracklisting that did not include âCherry Pieâ.
Find it: on the re-mastered, re-issued (with additional tracks!) original debut, Daddy Who? Daddy Cool!. If youâre just dabbling, grab the compilation The Essential Daddy Cool. Itâs the most comprehensive âdabbleâ you could hope for.
10: Honey Pie - The Beatles
Enough with the cherry pies already. Time to move from the cheap innuendo and old-time '50s music to virtually the same innuendo, and slightly more modern-time music of a '60s song. Except that it is itself a pastiche of a much older music hall style. It seemed to be one of Paul McCartneyâs passions, from about 1967, to produce at least one sweet ballad mimicking an older musical idiom, per album: 'When Iâm 64' on Sgt Pepper, 'Your Mother Should Know' on Magical Mystery Tour and 'Honey Pie'.
Although John Lennon derided Macca, dismissing his âgranny musicâ as uncool, fact is, its underpinning is as authentically 'swingin' '60s' and cool as any acid drenched masterpiece Lennon created at the time. Recall, as discussed above, the tendency for users of LSD to revert to the comfort of childhood. For Paul McCartney, childhood comfort was a time when his mother was still alive and his dad played in a big band, delivering the sort of songs that Paul would become so adept at recreating a generation later. And it's not as though the 'granny music' was without its charm. That second line, for example, with its super-imposed crackle, as if from the shellac of an old 78 (which in fact it was - a fine bit of sampling) and heavy top-end equalising, is a device still popular today in advertising: think of the amount of radio ads that alternate normal tone with distorted tone throughout the narration.
The protagonist of 'Honey Pie' is bemoaning his beloved's departure from his side to the showbiz stage across the water. It's a love letter to an absent â feared wayward â partner, most likely inspired by McCartneyâs own relationship with young actress Jane Asher, whose career was leading her further away from Macca. The song doesn't tell more of a story than that because it doesnât contain much more than a couple of verses and choruses. At the time, there probably wasn't a lot more to tell - seeing as Macca wasn't the kiss-and-tell type (some of his erstwhile conquests were, however; see Francie Schwartz's Body Count, for example).
Although the lyrics and story stop, the music continues. The syncopated Charleston rhythms speak volumes: Macca embracing the old music that takes him back to a happier place. As he maintains in the spoken line over the instrumental break, he likes that kind of music. Take that, Lennon!
Nearly 45 years later, itâs fitting to note the Jane Asher â effectively responsible for âHoney Pieâ in the first place, now has another string to her bow that enables her to be responsible for honey pie still. Since 1990, Asher has run a posh cake company which her website boasts as being âBritainâs foremost cake and sugarcraft supplier.â And, let's face it, also nearly 45 years later, itâs fitting to note that Jane Asher is still quite a tasty dish.
Moving on from the cherry and honey pies via Jane Asherâs âforemost supply of cake and sugarcraftâ comes this evocative instrumental, âWedding Cake Islandâ, named not for a massive wedding cake that resembles an island (for no man-and-wife is an island), but for an island allegedly resembling a wedding cake, lying off Sydneyâs Coogee Beach. âAllegedly resembling a wedding cakeâ is correct: there arenât many accounts of how the island got its name. In fact, there are only two: once claims it looks like a wedding cake, but it clearly does not. The other suggests itâs the thick layer of predominantly white seagull guano, resembling a smooth icing, which leads to the cakular allusion.
If not a wedding cake, what does the instrumental evoke? Itâs described as a âsurf instrumentalâ, inspired as it is by an ocean formation. And it certainly shares a big, broad twang beloved of surf music. Consider, for example, the Atlanticsâ âBomboraâ. A bombora, or âbommieâ is a submerged rock, reef or other formation creating large, crashing waves over a shallower area beyond where the surf normally breaks. The surging surf music perfectly evokes those impressive, surging surf waves.
The calmer âWedding Cake Islandâ doesnât seem to speak of the mighty surf that the island in question often produces, having more in common with the spaced-out sounds of recording pioneer Joe Meek (responsible for the likes of âTelstarâ and âI Hear A New Worldâ). Bent notes courtesy of the wammy bar may sound âHawaiianâ, and therefore irrefutably âsurfyâ, but coupled with the high-pitched vibrato, suggests a very different seascape â almost otherworldly.
If you reckon not many cakes can transport you out of this world in everyday life â well, not legally, anyway â you donât have a sweet enough tooth.
We started with an instrumental, we're gonna almost end with one. Almost, because it's not quite an instrumental. But it's certainly an excellent closer: phased synths, surging guitars, crashing drumsâ¦ itâs almost surf music â certainly closer to the blueprint than Midnight Oilâs âWedding Cake Islandâ. But itâs got nothing to do with the ocean. In fact, itâs almost got nothing to do with anything at all.
The reason itâs here is not for composer Paul McCartneyâs grunts, but for the one vocal refrain: âI still have not had any dinner!â As everyone knows â you have to finish your dinner before you get to enjoy your dessert. Or, as that mean old school master put it in Pink Floydâs The Wall, âhow can you have any pudding if you donât eat your meat?â (âYou! Yes you! Stand still, laddieâ¦!â)
George Harrison may have invented the charity rock-on-athon with 1971âs Concert for Bangladesh, and Bob Geldof, taken it to its supreme conclusion with Band Aid in 1985. Paul McCartneyâs own version was the Concerts for Kampuchea that involved the likes of The Who, Queen, The Clash, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, Rockpile and The Pretenders. The finale was an all-star jam with members of the various groups, combined in one supergroup called Rockestra, delivering the classic rocker âLucilleâ, modern-day rockânâroll hymn âLet It Beâ and their very own âRockestra Themeâ.
McCartney had the melody that makes up the theme for years. Thereâs a rough work tape from about 1974 â bootlegged under the title The Piano Tape â that features Macca at the piano, banging out snatches and fragments of various worksâinâprogress, many of which would be finished and recorded during the subsequent decade-and-a-half. âRockestraâ appears on that tape. The studio version was recorded at Abbey Road with Paul McCartney fronting not just Wings, but a megaband similar to the one captured live as the final to the Concerts for Kampuchea. It was, indeed, a âRock Orchestraâ. Or, if you will, a Rockestra, and it included members of The Who, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.
The 'Rockestra Theme' was included on Wingsâ final album, 1979âs Back to the Egg. A fitting title, given this 'BastardChef' project. But it's a little ironic that the piece of music became the signature tune for a fundraiser to aid a starving people in war-torn Cambodia, given the vocal refrain about still not having had any dinner. To say the very least, it is of questionable â ahem â taste.
Twenty years ago on this day â more or less â American composer Frank Zappa died. Okay, it was December 4 in the US, but it wasn't announced until two days later. I had just been elected to the 1994 Editorial team of Honi Soit,
the student paper of the University of Sydney. To follow is the obituary that I wrote for the
first issue (and have blogged elsewhere). It barely touches the surface; it doesnât do Frank Zappa
the composer justice; I was a far less experienced writer, taking myself far too seriously. I have tweaked it slightly for grammar. But first, here's a recent caricature by one of my favourite artists, Nick O'Sullivan.
December 21 1940 to December 4 1993
During Orientation Week one year, on the lawn in front of the Main Quad where all of the University of Sydney'sClubs and Societies vie for new members from amongst the student body, I found myself at the âAlternative Music Clubâ 
marquee, where a girl with pink hair and a pierced tongue performed her
inculcatory spiel about the kind of music that âAlternative Music Clubâ
members listened to. âYou know,â she said, âartists who donât receive
much mainstream commercial radio airplay, like Morrissey, R.E.M., Sonic Youthâ¦â
âWhat about Frank Zappa?â I asked her.
âWho?â she said.
I guess you canât be much more alternative than that.
Very occasional radio play has meant that few people have heard
Zappaâs music. For most, Frank Zappa was that weird American musician
residing at the back of rock encyclopaedias; the guy frequently bearing
an unkempt mane, and always, the funny facial hair. (Simpsons creator Matt Groening
insists that the facial hair is âway coolâ, and that âas soon as Bart
Simpson is able to shave heâll have a little moustache and goatee just
like Zappaâs.â) However, during a career that lasted almost thirty
years, Zappa had officially released over sixty albums , and nearly ten times that number reached the market illegally as âbootlegsâ. 
While the epithet âpost modernâ has been used to label all sorts of
artistic entities engendering slight obscurity and evading generic
pigeon-holing, Frank Zappa was the musician to whom it best applied. His
work was (and remains) a universe inhabited by recurring motifs
frequently referring back, pre-empting forwards and implying sideways to
other elements within that universe. The cross-referencing, Zappa
insisted, was fully intentional from his career's inception. In 1974 he
stated: âthere is, and always has een a conscious control of thematic
and structural elements flowing through each album, live performance,
and interview; the basic blueprints were executed in 1962-1963.
Preliminary experimentation took place in early and mid 1964.
Constructionâ¦ began in late 1964. Work is still in progress.â
Musically, Zappaâs work embraced and transcended virtually every
genre and form known, usually for the purpose of parody. Listener
expectations were constantly thwarted. His tightly-rehearsed ensemble of
musicians (known for most of its first decade as âThe Mothers of
Inventionâ or merely âThe Mothersâ) was able to execute the complex
performances that Zappa conducted. âThere are cues used on stage like
twirling my fingers as if Iâm piddling with a Rasta braid on the right
side of my head - that means: âPlay reggaeââ¦ If I wanted something
played âheavy metalâ, I put both hands on my crotch and do âBig Ballsââ¦
The band understands what the norms and âexpected mannerismsâ are for
these different musical styles, and will instantly âtranslateâ a song
into that musical âdialectâ.â As well as contemporary rock and jazz,
Zappa wrote ad conducted orchestral music which similarly subverted and
Entertainment was Zappaâs main task. This end was achieved through
use of subject matter that basically lambasted dominant culture and
counter-culture, very often as a form of social anthropology: what
people did, how they did it and who they did it to. He insisted that
âcontemporary history is going to be retained on records more accurately
than it is in booksâ. During the late 60s, hippies bore the brunt of
Zappaâs saturnine wit. The 70s saw him pour scorn and derision upon
decadent rock-star sexuality, sexuality sublimated into the âbetter,
louder, fasterâ guitar solo and the constant pursuit of compliant
groupies. Censorship, religious fundamentalism and sexual impropriety â
or rather, hypocrisy with regard to the particular sexual impropriety of
televangelists and Republicans â received Zappaâs attention during the
80s. He pursued his cause to the extent of registering voters at his
concerts during his 1988 Broadway the Hard Way tour. Illness precluded his own presidential bid during the 1992 United States elections.
Often criticised was Zappa's vigour and zeal when dealing with topics
of a âglandularâ nature. His opinion to the end was that âsex looks
sillyâ. âLetâs face it,â he said, âeven if it feels good, it looks
sillyâ. Yet, as entertainment, he felt that all work could be reduced to
this tenet: âIs it possible to laugh while fucking? I think yes.â
Frank Zappa developed prostate cancer, and although detected some
time during the early 90s, it was kept secret. The only official public
reference made was the insistence that âthe pressâ had diagnosed him as a
sufferer. Zappa himself claimed to be quite well most of the time. He
continued to work up to sixteen hours a day in his home studio,
composing, recording and remixing his music, only taking time off every
so often when he felt âreally badâ. However, an aversion to flying,
owing to severe discomfort, and the more frequent press-leaks of the
true severity of his condition seemed to make it apparent that the end
was night. His latest album, The Yellow Shark, consisting of orchestral pieces performed by the Ensemble Modern,
had been out barely a month before news was released that Zappa had
died. On December 6 1993 it was announced that he had already been
interred, having passed away two days earlier. Zappa is survived by wife
and company administrator Gail, and by children Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Rodon and Diva.
His stunning oeuvre has been left in good order. Most of his back
catalogue has been re-released on CD and new work is ready for imminent,
Human foible may now emit a collective sigh of relief. Its greatest
detractor, one of this centuryâs most original and significant composers
and the most alternative of musicians, is no more.
This particular club no longer exists.
Album number 93 â I think â was recently released: a collection of early live recordings called Road Tapes: Venue 1.
Zappa bootlegs outnumbering legitimate releases ten-to-one is most likely a conservative estimate.
After an adolescence of knowing about Zappa from the back pages of rock encyclopaedias and the odd reference encountered as a hardcore Beatles fan (John & Yoko jammed with him in the early â70s, their collaboration forming the majority of record two of the Sometime In New York City album - later released as a section of Zappa's own Playground Psychotics; George Harrison referenced him in the lyrics of the song 'Blood From A Clone', on Somewhere in England; the album artwork to We're Only In It For The Money parodied Sgt Pepper) I started buying and enjoying his music.
I've previously blogged about how much of a mission being into Zappa was, in the late-â80s, when so little of his work was easily available in Australia at the time.
By the time of his death in 1993, almost all of his oeuvre had been reissued on CD and I more-or-less came to own it all - all the while acquiring whatever I could on the original vinyl as well.
An interesting item is the double album Uncle Meat. Its subtitle claims that it contains âMOST OF THE MUSIC FROM THE MOTHERâS MOVIE OF THE SAME NAME WHICH WE HAVEN'T GOT ENOUGH MONEY TO FINISH YETâ. I realise now the apostrophe is in the wrong place. Never mind. Dig the artwork: a collage of photography, glass, teeth and who-knows-what.
It was the first album on the 'Bizarre' label - set up by Zappa and manager Herb Cohen, and distributed by Warner Brothers/Reprise. I've read that the name of the label, 'Bizarre', was inspired by the anthology of weird writing that Barry Humphries had compiled, entitled Bizarre. A journalist claims to have spotted it, during an interview, on Zappaâs shelf. (I think it was in a piece in Craig McGregor's 1973 anthology, Up Against The Wall, America.)
The name of the album, however, was inspired by the uncle of Zappa's childhood friend Don Van Vliet. According to Zappa's autobiography The Real Frank Zappa Book, Uncle Alan had a habit of exposing himself to Don's girlfriend Laurie. He's go to the bathroom and urinate with the door open, turning around to announce that "it's like a great big beef heart". That was Uncle Meat. The event was also the inspiration for Van Vliet's stage name, Captain Beefheart.
Uncle Meat is a distinctively quirky, mostly instrumental double album. On CD, it's quirkier still: a double disc set containing most of the album on disc 1. Disc 2 includes excerpts of soundtrack dialogue from what would have been the Uncle Meat movie - as well as a ridiculous new song called 'Tegno Na Minchia Tanta' (essentially, Italian for 'I have a big dick' - or, more literally, 'I am holding a dick this big'). Those tracks really break with the feel of the late-â60s album - and have come to be referred to as 'penalty tracks'. A frequent question for fans on the forum of the Zappa homepage regarding the recent re-issue of the entire catalogue, is whether Uncle Meat would be re-issued with the penalty tracks. It has been.
Uncle Meat the movie - in its final release - was part documentary and part cheesy monster movie; like so much of Zappa's filmed work, it didn't know what genre it wanted to be and so attempted to be many things at once. Most obviously - having been completed many years after shooting had commenced - it was part documentary, part cheesy monster movie. Elements seemed to serve as a prequel to sequences that turned up in 200 Motels. And - trust me - make just as little sense, really. Perhaps even less.
A friend recalls me trying hard to make him and another buddy watch it - a good 20-odd years ago. "I remember it being very psychedelic," he says, and attributes to the other mate the phrase "Wow, that was doing my head in," but they appreciated my love of FZ - "like crack cocaine to you, I recall" - even if they didn't share it. I'm not sure if he's recalling the time I made them watch Uncle Meat the movie, the time I made them watch 200 Motels, or the time I made them watch The Amazing Mr Bickford. It doesn't matter. Our respective responses were the same each time, and I'm glad they indulged me. I probably only ever watched each one once - and yet if this were released on DVD or Bluray, I'd buy it the second it was available.
For now, someone has uploaded it, so I'm using Youtube to watch it, and that's pretty cool.
Muffins occupy an interesting place on the food spectrum. Or perhaps two â since on the one hand, theyâre that bready substitute you toast for brekky, to have hot with butter and the spread of your choice or with sausage and egg. But then theyâre also a kind of cake â sometimes with fruit, so you can kid yourself that youâre having something healthy with your coffee or tea.
Although it takes its name from an innocent nursery rhyme (âdo you know the muffin man/Who lives on Drury Lane?â) Frank Zappa brings a different muffin conundrum to the fore:
Girl, you thought it was a man But it was a muffin. The cries you heard in the night Was on account of him stuffinâ.
The tack piano that accompanies the mad narrative, reminiscent of the original soundtrack to Fritz Langâs Metropolis). But combined with Zappaâs declamatory narrative, it is a b-grade horror movie â about the Muffin Man in question, ensconced in his Utility Muffin Research Kitchen, working on âthat prince of foods: the muffinâ.
Every chefâs been in a similar situation. And not just chefs: every creative identifies with the archetypal âFrankensteinâ scenario of the mad scientist bringing their creation to life. Even Zappa himself â whoâd use horror movie nomenclature for his work: follow-up songs and albums may be titled âSon ofâ¦ and âReturn of the Son ofâ¦â (as in the Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar series). He also named his home studio the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen.
Itâs significant that the song graces Bongo Fury, the live album commemorating the mid-â70s tour undertaken with Captain Beefheart. The good Captain â entangled in contractual purgatory at the time â was a childhood friend of Zappaâs and they shared a love of music and cinema. Indeed, early on they sought to collaborate on a b-grade movie their own: Captain Beefheart vs the Grunt People. Beefheartâs dad used to drive a bread van, which the teenage pair would break into in order to steal pineapple buns. Muffins of their time, no doubt.
So â d'ya reckon anyone in the MasterChef utility research kitchen will have a stab at âthat prince of foods, the muffinâ? Who cares. Itâs more exciting when the monstrous culinary equivalent of Frankenstein rises from the slab.
The Mind Games album dates from the beginning of Lennonâs âlost weekendâ, its origins lying in Yoko Onoâs album Feeling the Space. Lennon dug the musicians her assistant May Pang had assembled. Turns out Lennon dug May Pang: by the time heâd written a bunch of songs and was ready to record, heâd split from Yoko, whoâd somehow given her blessing on his taking May as his mistress. How did this affect John? Take a look at the album cover: Yoko still looms large over lonely Lennon.
So rather than wholesale butcheries with massive cool rooms featuring acres of fresh flesh on display, it would seem âMeat Cityâ is about Lennonâs visit to the world of singledom: pick-up bars, swingers parties and the massive hotbeds featuring acres of fresh flesh on display.
True to that period of unfocused rage, there are still elements of random political activism left over from previous album Sometime In New York City: that weird interlude that sounds like a synthesised chipmonk speaking alien is in fact Lennonâs own voice, sped up and run backwards, suggesting all pigs ought to be loved very much (my paraphrasing). The version on the flip side of the Mind Games single is a slightly different mix, where the synthesised chipmonk turns out to be saying âcheck the albumâ backwards.
Whomever said, 'the way to a man's heart is through his stomach' wasn't lying. All men are hungry men. But none more so than late-â60s David Bowie: hungry for success, and, to look at him â âBiafra-thin rabbit-in-the-headlightsâ as one cultural commentator described him â literally hungry.
The hunger to make it as a recording artist meant the former David Robert Jones toyed with various styles and genres including cockney music hall, mod beats and whatever category this vision of a future dystopia fits into. The song opens with a Kenneth Williams impression (so itâs not meant to be taken so seriously, clearly), delivering the bleak news of over-population. Then Bowie takes on the role of a young, charismatic, crackpot leader offering more-or-less the same Modest Proposal as Jonathan Swift as a means to overcome the multitude of starving poor.
The early âhungryâ â or âleanâ period â of Bowieâs work includes a stack of songs that have been repackaged in various compilations over the decades. While the artist has all but disowned his oeuvre from that time, the collection was finally given its rightful release as a deluxe double CD collection, much to fansâ pleasure. Bowie himself cherry picked his favourites and re-recorded them for an album called Toy earlier this century â that still remains officially unavailable.
Following on from the high-camp Bowie song about infantricide, âWe Are Hungry Menâ, comes the darker, down-beat bad acid trip of Funkadelic.
Are they proclaiming, on a metaphoric level, that America has failed its youth? The dark mutterings donât quite lend themselves to transparent interpretation.
Instead, sit back and enjoy â as best you can â the grunted insinuations and squealed backing vocals as they slowly build to a grinding, faded frenzy. It helps if you imagine it the soundtrack of Matt Preston discovering the fish is still raw, the omlette contains eggshell and the rice hasnât been fluffed; time to send the dish back, and the chef away in tears.
And if it gets too much, relax: a far more upbeat food-related funk will follow, courtesy of Mick Jaggerâs âToo Many Cooksâ.
If itâs a Rolling Stones song about anything other than getting some nookie, you can bet that it is in fact a metaphor for getting some nookie. This is also the case with almost all of Mick Jaggerâs solo oeuvre. âToo Many Gooks (Spoil the Soup)â appears to be a more explicit reading of âCook Cook Bluesâ. 'Cook Cook Blues' is an â80s Stones blues jam that took a long time to prepare - finally served as a single flip side in 1989 (and features on BastardChefVolume 1) that uses food as its metaphor. But the funky âToo Many Cooksâ was not written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and its recording predates âCook Cook Bluesâ by about a decade â even though it took even longer - almost another decade! - to see the light of day. It has a far more interesting pedigree.
The song was produced by John Lennon during his âlost weekendâ â some 18 months of separation from Yoko Ono that involved revelry, debauchery and recording with various buddies. The sessions for âToo Many Cooksâ must have been quite debauched indeed, since Mick Jagger claims to have had no recollection of them, unaware the song existed until an acetate of it turned up many years later (and, knowing Mick, then taken back into the studio for tweaking, polishing and finishing properly before subsequent release).
If the food-as-sex metaphor is annoying, play this song on and on; what with the strange eroticism on display when you watch Nigella Lawson taste everything sheâs preparing, and Matt Preston tasting absolutely anything, the appetite may sicken and so dieâ¦
6: Cookinâ (In The Kitchen Of Love) - Ringo Starr
Stepping out first with an unlikely collection of old-time croonerâs standards, Sentimental Journey (ârecorded for me mum!â) and then the country album Beaucoups of Blues, by his third album Ringo the erstwhile Beatles drummer had hit upon a system thatâs pretty much served him well ever since: treat each album as a party and invite all your mates to rock up with a song (or, in Ringoâs case, âeasy listening' up with a song).
Hence John Lennonâs contribution for Ringoâs 1976 album, Ringo's Rotogravure: a party song about getting through life, with Lennon himself guesting on piano.
Initially, the âcooking in the kitchen of loveâ metaphor sounds as though it might reside in the same region as the Stonesâ âCook Cook Bluesâ or Mick Jaggerâs âToo Many Cooksâ (and more specifically, whichever Kiss song demands âlet me put my log in your fireplaceâ). But by the second metaphor, "truckinâ down the highway of lifeâ and subsequent philosophical exposition âItâs got to be high, itâs got to be low/âCause in between we just donât goâ it turns out that there's no hidden message or any depth to these words whatsoever. Lennon saved that stuff - in songs like âImagineâ, âInstant Karmaâ and âPower to the Peopleâ - for himself.
Donât hold it against him. It's been noted that Lennon â and Lennon & McCartney for that matter â were, more often than not, 'dozy lyricists' when tossing off a ditty for Ringo. And besides, by this stage the working class hero was about to go into musical hibernation; heâd spent his âlost weekendâ being high and was about to settle into being low for the next half-decade, the sessions for this song proving his last until he started recording Double Fantasy.
And remember: Lennonâs time away from the music industry as househusband and dedicated father would be marked by such domestic activities as baking bread, about which heâd speak at length when he finally came out of retirement. Cooking in the kitchen of love, indeed.
After John Lennon handed the hitherto âunreleasableâ Get Back tapes over to legendary âWall of Soundâ producer Phil Spector â who refashioned them into Let It Be â both Lennon and George Harrison were keen to have him produce their post-Beatles solo albums.
Sessions for a proposed solo album for Spectorâs wife â and former Ronette â Ronnie Spector followed on from George Harrisonâs triple album All Things Must Pass. Unfortunately, the album was shelved after only a handful of songs were recorded, the total official result being the 1971 single âTry Some Buy Someâ.
While that song had been demoed by Harrison for All Things Must Pass and was given the Wall of Sound treatment, the flip side, âTandoori Chickenâ sounds, lyrically, musically and instrumentally, pretty much as thrown together as the dinner arrangement that gave rise to it: Harrison sent Beatles roadie Mal Evans out for some takeaway during the recording sessions. Suddenly itâs a blues based b-side. Itâs nice that Harrisonâs Indian influences arenât limited merely to instrumentation.
Find it: on the flip side of the âTry Some Buy Someâ 7-inch single; sadly not available on CD right nowâ¦
8: Saturday Night Fish Fry - The Coasters
The Coastersâ âSaturday Night Fish Fryâ is another hard-to-get food hit. The original version by the songâs author, Louis Jordan, and his jump blues backing band the Typany Five, is considered by some to be the very first rockânâroll record. Itâs the story of a party that gets out of hand and ends with an arrest.
A âfish fryâ is a kind of poor folks fundraiser â the person throwing it will cook and anyone willing to pay for the feed (and, no doubt, sly grog) is welcome. (The song takes place âdown in New Orleansâ, which, enjoying an excellent fishery until the BP oil spill pretty much killed the Gulf of Mexico, had access to excellent cheap seafood.) If you can help provide the food and drink, or serve it, or present some live entertainment, you get in free. In this song, the protagonist is the singer of the song, telling of a Saturday night fish fry that was so good, it had to be shut down by the cops. Although the protagonist never wants to hear about fish again, listening to it makes you hanker for a piping hot fish burger.
Jordanâs original version was over 5 minutes long, so it had to take up two sides of a 78rpm record. The Coastersâs version lived on the flip side of the single âSheâs a Yum Yumâ, dating from 1966 so part of the material recorded when they were signed to Atco â making it harder to get your hands on.
9: The Rhubarb Tart Song - John Cleese/At Last The 1948 Show
Some people have never been subjected to the [dis]pleasure of rhubarb, but apparently itâs good for you, which is why it doesnât taste particularly nice. And itâs used to make dessert-type foods, despite being a bitter vegetable thatâs allegedly good for you. This alone makes it the perfect subject of a silly song, and who better to deliver it than John Cleese? The song gives the rhubarb tart a great deal of pomp and majesty, not just by listing great historical personages as fans of the food, but by accompanying the doggeral with one of John Phillip Sousaâs finest marches.
The song dates from 1968 sketch show At Last the 1948 Show, in which Cleese partook with fellow Python-to-be, Graham Chapman, and future The Goodie Tim Brooke-Tayler as well as Marty Feldman, with whom theyâd all written for David Frostâs various satirical shows. (Frost in fact produced At Last The 1948 Show and was later slighted that he couldnât be part of Monty Pythongâs Flying Circus.)
At Last the 1948 Show contains many elements that would go on to be seen as prime Python characteristics. Inded, The Four Yorkshiremen Sketch, so beloved of Python fans, originated in At Last the 1948 Show and the fact that it is still identified as a Python sketch continues to irritate Tim Brooke-Taylor, who co-wrote it.
As opposed to parodying a popular song with a new set of lyrics, âThe Rhubarb Tart Songâ specifically takes a pre-existing instrumental and marries it to foolish words. This is a motif to which John Cleese would return. The song âOliver Cromwellâ, for example, appearing on the 1989 album Monty Python Sings, began as Frederic Chopinâs âPolonaise No. 6 Opus S3 in A flatâ. The borrowing of a Sousa march also becomes a motif: the Pythons borrowed Sousaâs âThe Liberty Bellâ to serve, this time wordlessly, as the theme to their television show.
Find it: âThe Rhubarb Tart Songâ lives on the original album tie-in of sketches and songs from the television program, At Last the 1948 Show.
10: Sugar Suger - The Archies
Pure bubblegum pop at its best, âSugar Sugarâ is said to have been offered to the Monkees, who turned it down as being too cheesy just as they were maturing to a point of playing their own instruments on far more mature albums. Although there are rumours of Monkee Davy Jones having sung lead on an instrumental backing recorded by session musicians (as most of the earlier Monkees songs were constructed) and Mike Nesmith punching a hole through a wall in anger at being expected to record the song, nowadays both stories are considered myths. Indeed, itâs more likely the Monkees resisted recording an entirely different song entitled âSugar Manâ, but over the years their dummy spit at âSugar Sugarâ has proven the more entertaining anecdote.
Irrespective, Don Kirshner, the producer behind the launch of manufactured band The Monkees was also behind the manufactured band The Archies, which he prefered more since, being cartoon characters, they were far more easy to control than The Monkees. The Archies were never gonna complain that they should be writing their own songs, and playing their own instruments on the recordings. Although the session musos behind The Archies might have wanted to ark up, especially after âSugar Sugarâ proved a massive hit.
Although Ron Danteâs lead vocals melt in the mouth more like fairy floss, they live up to the sweetness promised by the song title. And as any chef worth his weight inâ¦ well, weight, really, will tell you: there is no substitute, in the end, for cooking with sugar. When the recipe calls for it, use it; none of that chemical substitute, thank you!
You most likely wonât remember him as Gareth Blackstock in the BBC show Chef! irrespective of how fitting it would be for our purposes here. And just as likely you donât remember Lenworth George Henry â or âLennyâ, as heâs better known â for his daliance with the music hall standard âBoiled Beef And Carrotsâ.
Fact is, Lenny would also prefer you donât remember it. But it shouldnât be so surprising that he had a go with a novelty hit, given his rise to showbiz success began on a telly talent show (New Faces) and included regular appearances on kids show TISWAS. The synthesiser arrangement dates this recording but also adds to its charm.
Itâs fitting that Lenny would make the cut of BastardChef given his former Missus, Dawn French, is currently appearing in ads for MasterChef sponsor Coles. Part of me is asking, does she really need the money so badly? Maybe. She couldnât afford to get her hair cut evenly on both sides. Could it be terms of the divorce? Does Dawn need to pay Lenny off? Whatâs a Lenworth after all? Maybe he is back to living on boiled beef and carrotsâ¦
Find it: alongside far more novelty songs by British comedy and light entertainment types than youâll ever consume in one sitting, entitled You Are Awful But We Like You.
12: Bread and Butter - The Newbeats
If food can be a tool of seduction, it can also be the cause of a break-up, as evidenced in the Newbeatsâ hit single of 1964, âBread and Butterâ. It sounds like another bubblegum hit with its precise and economic instrumentation, but it predates that movement by a few years. Indeed, in 1964, all pop was bubblegum pop; there was no sophistication to it just yet, so rockânâroll hadnât given way to rock. And besides, unlike âYummy Yummy Yummyâ and âChewy Chewyâ, thereâs a lot more going on in âBread and Butterâ.
The protagonist is a simple man, given to simple needs, which his âbabyâ provides perfectly: âbread and butterâ¦ toast and jamâ. But one day he comes home to the ultimate betrayal: his baby âwith some other manâ. Not caught in flagrante delicto, as such. Or rather, yes, caught in the very act: if bread and butter and toast and jam are the proof of true love, then âchicken and dumplingsâ with the other guy is gross infidelity.
Lead vocalist Larry Henley (who would go on to serve as a co-writer of âWind Beneath My Wingsâ) has a voice so thick youâd have to leave it out a while before you could spread it on a piece of bread; brothers Dean and Mark Mathis â if aliens attempted to replicate the Everly Brothers, thisâd be them â provide the perfect bed for it.
If you want, you can listen to the album below. While you read through the track list in better detail. Go on, you know you want to. If you like them very much indeed to the point of wanting to own them, there are links to Amazon. You may prefer to keep your own local music store alive if you still have one; if you donât, the Amazon purchase will aid the upkeep of this blog, which is nice.
By the way, the cover artwork is by Alex E. Clark. (If you can only see an expanse of white immediately below, check this out on a computer rather than your phone or tablet.)
âBubble gumâ is a genre of pop that came into being in the late â60s when the kid brothers and - more importantly - sisters of the swinginâ youth were getting to a record buying age. So it mostly consists of producer- and session-musician driven, sickly sweet ditties designed for tweens and teens buying singles. âYummy Yummy Yummyâ is a prime example â but donât dismiss it. Fundamental truths are often communicated in the simplist aphorisms.
Even if âYummy yummy yummy/I got love in my tummyâ doesnât resonate with the authority of a quote from Shakespeare or Dylan â the âLove, you're such a sweet thing/Good enough to eat thingâ might get us into Rochester territory â often the truest food of love is, in fact, food. And thereâs no denying that the love of food is one of the truest loves there is. (Just ask Matt Preston and his fellow judges.)
If thereâs one thing you learn from MasterChef, itâs the importance of fresh ingredients and the value of establishing relationships with providores: going to growers markets when you canât grow your own. Of course, back in the day, they used to come to you â hence the 16-bar blues of âWatermelon Manâ: inspired, according to composer Herbie Hancock, by the memory of the watermelon man who made his way through the backstreets and alleys of Hancock's neighbourhood in Chicago. He distinctly recalls the rhythm of the wheels on the cobblestones, apparent in the groove of the piece.
Recorded for Hancock's first album, the 1962 Blue Note album Takinâ Off, âWatermelon Manâ proved a modest hit before Mongo Santamaria turned it into a massive Latin pop hit the following year. It soon became a jazz standard. Hancock reworked it into an altogether funkier tune for his early â70s album Headhunters. There is a vocal version that makes obvious use of the unmistakeable âwatermelon manâ cadence.
âVegetablesâ â not only delicious, but good for you too. The hippies knew it. Hence this paean to the edible parts of plants. Originally intended for Smile, the long, lost Beach Boys masterpiece that was meant to be a follow-up to Pet Sounds. But Smile was shelved with much drama, intrigue and subsequent denials and recriminations, thought never to see the light of day again. Until Brian Wilson released a solo version of it earlier this millennium. And then the original Smile sessions were excavated for a mammoth boxed set that included a reconstruction of the lost masterpiece in 2011.
However, back in the day, when for whatever reason the original was shelved (Wilsonâs paranoia, stoked by summer of love chemical refreshments; the rest of the bandâs disinterest; the record label balking at the mounting costs of hippies frittering away their moneyâ¦), the song was salvaged for the less spectacular album that was eventually released:Smiley Smile.
Apparently the âtuned percussionâ of munched vegetables include the chomping talents of Paul McCartney, who happened to pop in to the studio during the Smile sessions.
4: St Alphonsoâs Pancake Breakfast/Father OâBlivion - Frank Zappa/Mothers
In the early-to-mid-â70s Frank Zappa led his most jazzy line-up of the Mothers of Invention. They were (like all of Zappaâs bandmembers) musicially brilliant, irrespective of the silly lyrics they were called upon to underscore â and I say that as someone who digs the silly lyrics!
To give you some idea of how well-rehearsed the band was, itâs been told (by a local muso who hung out with Zappaâs trumpeter, Sal Marquez, on the 1973 Aussie tour) that at any time, Frank could call upon a bandmember, naming a song and a bar. The musician was then expected to hum their corresponding part.
âSt Alphonsoâs Pancake Breakfastâ and âFather OâBlivionâ are two songs that make up the four-song suite that opens the album Apostrophe (â) (it begins with âDonât Eat The Yellow Snowâ, followed by âNanook Rubs Itâ). Another track, âMAH-JUH-RENEâ, was recorded, but edited out of the final master before it was released; it may have fitted between âSt Alphonsoâs Pancake Breakfastâ and âFather OâBlivionâ but itâs hard to ascertain â a live recording from Sydney 1973 puts it after âSt Alphonsoâ, but that rendition opens with âFather OâBlivionâ before proceeding to âDonât Eat The Yellow Snowâ and âNanook Rubs Itâ.
Iâll leave it up to you to find the deeper meaning; I just love listening to that band play - Ruth Underwood's percussion especially - with Frank up front, singing lead.
This song, essentially a low-fi blues jam, was written in Australia during â or perhaps just after â the Wings tour of 1975. It was recorded in early 1976 for the album Wings at the Speed of Sound. The album came out in March, giving the band an album to tour behind when they went back on the road (their âWings over the Worldâ tour culminated in the US in 1976).
The story goes that Paul and Linda were staying in a house whose kitchen had everything they could possibly need, laid out around them pretty much as described in the song. The white noise of frying oil that opens and closes the song is a nice touch.
Wings at the Speed of Sound has always stood out as a particularly âgroupâ album - with everyone getting a go on lead: Denny Laine sings lead on âNote You Never Wroteâ and âTime To Hideâ; Jimmy McCulloch sings lead on âWino Junkoâ; Joe English sings lead on âMust Do Something About Itâ.
âCook of the Houseâ was Linda's contribution. It also appeared on the flipside of the 1976 single âSilly Love Songsâ. And hardcore fans of Linda McCartney will know âCook of the Houseâ also appears on Wide Prairie, a posthumous compilation widower Paul put together in 1998.
Irrespective of your thoughts on Macca's missus, âCook of the Houseâ has a certain charm. Matt Preston please note: it is the most cooking of cooking songs.
In January 1958 Elvis Presley was able to defer his entry into the United States Army to March of that year, in order to make one of his few critically and commercially successful films: King Creole.
Itâs a bout a 19-year-old Danny Fisher whose mother died, and now finds himself having to help support his family after his dad dropped his bundle and the family was forced to moved to the impoverished area of New Orleans. Despite being well-meaning and diligent, Danny finds himself entangled with gangsters and two different women.
The film opens with âCrawfishâ, a duet with jazz vocalist Kitty White on what sounds like the classic work song â the work song sung, say, by the fishmonger whoâd push his icecart through the back alleys of neighbourhoods selling his latest catch. Those days are long gone, not so much because of the lack of pavement-bashing fish mongers, but because BP went and destroyed the fishing industry for good in that part of the world.
As with all of the workhorse blues workouts the Stones are wont to record during album sessions, this is essentially an extended warm-up jam kept for a single flip-side. The lyrics are the customary underdeveloped sketches about sex, the music, an opportunity for the band to stretch out and have fun.
This one was committed to tape between 1982 and 1989 â meaning it could date from the sessions for Undercover (released 1983), Dirty Work (1986) or Steel Wheels (1989). Or perhaps all three, since the Stones still like to pull out an old song and finish it for a new album (or a new deluxe re-release of an old album, as the bonus discs of Exile on Main Streetand Some Girls demonstrate).
âCook Cook Bluesâ saw the light of day as the flipside of the 1989 single âRock and a Hard Placeâ (from Steel Wheels), but features both the original Stones ivory tickler Ian Stewart, who passed away in 1985, and former Allman Brothers Bandmember Chuck Leavell, responsible for much â80s Stones ivory ticklage, suggesting an early=â80s recording that was possibly polished and edited for late-â80s release.
I love the way it begins mid-song â as though what took place before the fade-up wasn't quite worth keeping. Or, perhaps, there was no initial plan to tape the jam, but it suddenly got good, so the person in charge of pressing ârecordâ suddenly did.
In the late-â70s, Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe â collectively known as The Goons thanks to their long-running radio program The Goon Show â had a reunion of sorts: they recorded a couple of tracks that were issued as a single, and then compiled on an album called Unchained Melodies. One of those songs was The âRaspberry Songâ.
You know how important it is to health and diet to stick to the seasonal fruits and veges! âThe Raspberry Songâ is about nothing, if not seasonal fruits. (That is, itâs about nothing!) Thus, just like the raspberry, that trademark sound effect so beloved of Spike Milligan, the song pretty much speaks for itself.
Popcorn is everyoneâs favourite treat! And â apart from, perhaps, Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs â something that exists only in and of itself. What else can you âcookâ or âprepareâ with popcorn? Only other forms of candy, apparently. Fittingly, âPopcornâ itâs also everyone's favourite instrumental â you know it, you've always known it, even if you never knew its name.
This legendary piece was originally written and recorded in the late â60s by Moog maestro Gershon Kingsley for his 1969 album Music to Moog By. Hot Butter, an instrumental covers band who gave everything the Moog treatment, recorded it â along with other hits of the day like âDay By Dayâ from the Jesus musical Godspell, Neil Diamondâs âSong Sung Blueâ, the Tornadoesâ âTelstarâ and the Shadowsâ âApacheâ â for their self-titled album in 1972.
It was a worlwide chart-topper, doing amazing business in unlikely countries. It was Franceâs fastest-selling number one single, for example. It was also number one in Australia for ten weeks. Which is why it seems to be etched into everybodyâs psyche in Australia, irrespective of age.
Find it: as the title track on the album Popcorn. Download it here.
10: Beans and Corn Bread - Louis Jordan and the Tympany Five
Beans and corn bread sounds like everymanâs food â traditionally âpoor people foodâ. The stuff MasterChef celebrates, as long as it has some sophisticated twist, or is plated up nicely. Fittingly, âBeans and Cornbreadâ was everymanâs music, the distinctive tenor saxophone opening typifying the âjump bluesâ genre of the 1940s: big bands have given away to smaller, tighter combos that play a faster and more furious groove. It was very popular inded, hence Louis Jordan making a name for himself as âThe King of the Jukeboxâ.
âBeans and Corn Breadâ sounds like thereâs a message being imparted about friendship and getting along, but itâs all threat and bluster until they realise they belong together. Seems like thereâs not enough substance to read anything into. The song proved a highlight in the soundtrack to Spike Leeâs film Malcolm X. And, it turns out, there was a tradition where the Space Shuttle launch crew were fed beans and corn bread following a successful launch.
Really? Two songs by the same group on this compilation? What was I thinking? But âChewy Chewyâ is the companion piece to âYummy Yummy Yummyâ. In fact, Iâd argue itâs the better song â âa mouthful of cute things to sayâ is far more erudite than âhaving loveâ in oneâs âtummyâ. (The other song that is easy to lump with those is the far superior âBread and Butterâ by the Newbeats â look out for it on a future compilation, I promise.)
This is where the collection should have begun â the ultimate song for people who are prone to fall madly in love. With food. (Matt, this should have been on your compilation!)
âAgitaâ opens the Woody Allen classic Broadway Danny Rose, about the biggest loser of a showbiz manager there is â the title character, portrayed by Woody himself. How can he make a living when his books include a one-armed juggler, a one-legged tap-dancer, and a ventriloquist with a stutter? His one chance at the big time is the lounge singer Lou Canova â except Louâs got a thing for extra-marital affairs, and his latest mistress is a gangster moll (played by Mia Farrow).
Louâs signature song, the theme to the film, is this ballad inspired by over-eating and woman trouble. Both lead to the heartburn known, in Italian dialect, as âagitaâ.
Find it: on the album Legacy, available from Nick Apollo Forteâs homepage. But do yourself a favour: enjoy the song in context, and watch the film Broadway Danny Rose. Best value is the The Woody Allen Collection boxed set.
In 2000, the year the Mighty Boosh brought Autoboosh to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, I got to interview them in their hotel room. They were just âThe Booshâ then, Iâm pretty sure.
I pointed out that I recognised their pre-show warm-up music, 'Help I'm A Rock' - by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, from their first album Freak Out.
âYou're a fan,â Noel acknowledged. During the the interview, he sketched freehand on a piece of paper. When the interview was over, he handed it to me. It was a portrait of Frank Zappa.
Iâve been searching for it for at least the last 8 years, thinking Iâd filed it, but not knowing where. Then my girlfriend located it as girlfriends do, just casually rifling through some folders. Joy of joys.
Zappa â captured in the bowler hat in which he was frequently photographed during his 1968 English tour â is uttering âHelp Iâm A Rockâ. Noel has inscribed it, âCheers for interviewing us and viewing our wears. â Noel Booshâ.
You enjoy looking at it while I go purchase a frame to ensure I donât lose it for another decade!
And enjoy listening to this interview snippet from several years later.
**this oneâs got some naughty words, so beware**
Itâs a strange thing, how, as you get older, you somehow learn to appreciate country music. Proper country music. The outlaw variety, with â as Frank Zappa said in the song âTruck Driver Divorceâ â âsteel guitars crying all over itââ¦ sung by proper country singers like Marty Robbins and Johnny Cash. But pre-American Recordings with Rick Rubin Johnny Cash. Certainly not Shania Twain country.
Shania Twain first appeared on the scene when I was still working in a top 40 chart music store. Or rather, its Classics and Jazz department (ie âclassical musicâ and jazz, but calling it âclassicsâ meant it could be show tunes and middle-of-the-road older stuff as wellâ¦)
I couldnât help but give her a nickname. Thatâs what we did with all artists. New Kids On The Block were New Kids With No Cocks. Val Doonican was Val Croonagain. The Doors were The Bores (were they ever!) Neil Young, as time went on, lived up to his nickname of Neil Old. The Rolling Stones were the Strolling Bones. Kate Ceberano And Her Jazz Sextet were Kate See-no-bra And Her Tit Sex Jizz. Bob Dylan was Baaaaaaahhhhhhb Dylaaaaaaaahhhhhn (but you had to do his voice when you said it). And Shania Twain wasâ¦ well, you had to pronounce her first name like an Aussie country bloke saying âshowing ya', so it was like âshoâin yaâ. Her name was Shoâinya Twat.