Monday, May 23, 2011

It’s Only Right and Natural: an Autobiography Translated

I have below a translation of one of the hardest things I’ve ever read. Harder than making it through Tom Sawyer’s southern dialect or Joyce’s consciousness. It was a challenge, and hours to complete fully. I had to rewrite and re-think what I knew about grammar—semicolons, punctuations, paragraphs, ellipses, inner dialogue, etc. It was a beast. But reading it made me laugh, because it started to throw in puns and wordplay (if you only knew the inside jokes!) I tried to mark and notate the mental illness as best I could. Still difficult, but worth it. Especially if you are a fan of alternative music, and never heard of the cult band The Frogs. I’ll leave it at that. Without further ado: The Frogs’ Myspace autobiography.

[It] began in earnest 1980. [We] played five “warm up” shows to get our feet wet at UW-Milwaukee—open mike, etc. Rocked them, knew we were ready and moved on… to the Starship (a downtown Milwaukee nightclub). Initially [we] had a small but loyal “skate punk” following… That didn’t last. From June to October 1980, we went through half a dozen changes stylistically—soundscaping faster than our audience could keep up with: a) electric guitar, three drums, floor tom, snare and cymbal; b) electric guitar, three drums, floor tom, snare, cymbal, drum machine, washing machine, etc.

After Halloween 1980 we decided we wouldn’t play live again until our set consisted of all originals—and we set out to do just that. Then sometime in 1982, Jim wrote “Death Songs” (to be continued). Backtrack: we were never a folk-rock duo; we were drums and wires, drums and electric guitar from the get-go; and we rocked the hell out of Donovan, Beatle ballads, Leonard Cohen, nursery rhymes, etc. An eclectic mix as I say, from the start. Although, what must be stated up front is that—for all intents and purposes—when we got the group together in 1980, to our eyes and ears rock was already dead. But, we decided to throw in our two cents’ worth anyway. So we started playing live; mastering the stage as we went, becoming our own beast friend in the process. The perfect unit/ensemble a la Beatles, Rolling Stones, who-have-you; and that was that. [We also liked] taking the piss out of every (pretentious) bitch/witch/bastard who happened along the way; needing bringing down a rung or two (or three or, for that matter/fatter, four). To be continued for you and me. (Two beat continyoued for u and meet.)

Backtracking: The Death Songs. As stated previously (obviously), the songs were about death. Starting with “(I’ve Locked You In My) Dungeon”, there were about a dozen others including “Hades High School” and “Satan’s in the Manger” to mention two of the more well known. We recorded them in our then-apartment when Dr. Malmac wasn’t home above to complain (his loss). Then, we had arrangements down for six of these [songs], we took them live, to little or no notice (no matter). (If songs could kill.) (Remember dicks better not bitter.).

We continued onward and upward (what other way was there, really?) [We] couldn’t build a following to save our ass (assets). Like pulling teeth out of a camel’s ass (asset). (Almost like cASSette, is it not?) (God, I’ve not revealed much.) Let the mystery be “you had to be there”, and you weren’t. (Where were you just when I need you most, Sheryl Crow?)

Back to the rant (semi). We employed fog and flash- (as opposed to flesh) pots in the early days to jack up the energy live. (“Live” as in live performance--specifically ‘83, ‘84 and ‘85). But, as always the songs came first, the comedy second (continue it yourself, yes mam... I mean mammy... I mean mammyogram). (Oh, if the burning crosses could only talk.) Should we (I) discuss the “Black Album” AKA “Racially Yours”? The Frogs apparently should have injected the LP with a bit more humor (according to the fist-licks, I mean critics (fans) and four-eyed pen- (cock) wielding fucks alike). “Racially Yours” was never intended to be a “novelty” record with a message a la “It’s Only Right and Natural”. For that matter Right and Natural was not a comedy LP. We ourselves were immune to the lyrics on Right and Natural. We didn’t bust a gut listening to it. If anything we listening to the “MUSIC” on the record. Anywhoo (Anychute), back to “Racially Mine”. Initially, “RY” was a 14-song LP in length (that’s what she said). And, for reasons I cannot recall I continued onward and upward with the recording of 11 more tracks, beginning with “Revolution” and ending with “Uncle Sam Loves U”. I (we) knew it was an imperfect beast in excess of 60 minutes, but I couldn’t bear to shelve the remaining 11 tracks. So, we released it as such. I had wanted to send it out into the “marketplace” as two separate discs--the first LP to be titled “Racially Yours” (14 tracks) and the other 11 songs on disc two “Racially Mine”. It never came to fruition because no one would put it out/release it. Had we the money to self-release it on vinyl, [it] would have come out in 1993.

A pleasant aural pastoral reading for the most part. We (I) tried to inject as much beauty/soul into the overdubs as possible and I think we (I) succeeded (suck-seeded) for the least part. For the most part, please refer to “It’s Only Right and Natural”: an effortless best (beast) to make and not a struggle at all like “RY”. Still, “RY” has its momentz I must says, like Willie Mays, so grandma says (she didn’t, grandpa did... the duty). And, there go I, end for now, love on ya.

Continuing this diatribe now, let’s see what’s to be said about Right & Natural" aka "It's Only Right and Natural", our second LP. Well, it’s the type of thing that happens really only once in a career (carear), musical “careera”, that is, which we’ve never had really. (Insert tears here, insert something here, that’s what she said.) [It was] 14 songs worth of full on immersion into right-on hedonism, with tongue firmly represented in the cheek (and not) and beyond. Once again a pastoral, folky little record shoved through and through with ditty upon ditty upon ditty of sexual supremacy, XXX style (and of the mono kind, apparently). Which apparently wound some people up-wards and out-wards. With this one boisterous little record, ALL the controversy (read: Kontroversee) regarding the Frogs began. As stated previously above, “a perfect beast” effortlessly created on-the-spot, with overdubs fleshing the frame out later.

The songs were made up spontaneously, on the spot. (In this case, our-then living room.) Warning: this record WILL get stuck in your head. And yes, with THOSE lyrics. You have been for-warned, four-warmed or some-sing like zat. (Thank you Eva Gabor, I didn’t know you cared, and/or were still alive to give a shite... Yes, there is a bit of Old Irish in me. And everyone.) (That’s what he said, one final time).

Oh, by the “bi”, next time you give a listen to “Right and Natural” try to hear the actual MUSIC (MUZAK) on it. It is there if you listen HARD (said with Bob Dylan stress) enough. Enough sayeth me (meek). It is the crown of our creation. Yes, “J.A.” did rock hard! (Soft from me now... done.)

“My Daughter the Broad”. Mudhoney’s latest has just come out, titled “My Brother the Cow” and my mind took it from there. I made up at least 150 other titles for the LP, but first is best; so “Broad” stuck. An LP consisting of 22 made-up songs--a best-of in a sense. An imperfect perfection only because it’s too long. [We] should’ve made it 14 songs a la “Right and Unnatural”, but at the time, honestly, the way things weren’t going “carearwise” we thought it might be our last. Contains some classics. “The Goat” (“I’m Sad the Goat Just Died Today”), etc. (God, what a congratulatory bitch I am. Well, somebody’s got to toot my own “C” (as in “Hot C Annie”), and it might as (ass) (s)well be (beat) me.) Shot the cover me’self. (God, I’m Irish again and I love it... love THIS fist). And, so I end (again) only to fight another “friend” another day (daze) (talk about your poetry/your art). Dang it, my art is so arty it hurts (like a snake/virgin/what-have-yous), like a Kurdtz. (Well, it rhymed anyway (anyweight)).

Spring 1986, we began work on what was to become our first LP, our eponymous debut. The first day in the studio (a commercial jingles facility) saw the completion of two songs: “Funhouse” (live version) and “What the Trouble Was”. We said to ourselves (and no one in particular), “this record is going to be a breeze”. A “breeze”? Well, the LP wasn’t a breeze at all (et al). It was a record, you know: fraught with sounds/music/muzak what-have-you (ewe). And with that, real work began (begat/be-cat--not a word, but the claws did come out), and what a real work it was. A labor of love... that we did not turn out as we had envisioned it, and of course (curse), various songs were jettisoned in favor of others along (alung) the way, in an effort (affront) to prove our genius (genus... one of the two). But in the end we, after much toil/foil/soil (and yes, trouble/stubble/bubble) finished it. [We] polished off the beat (beast) and were sadly saddened (satin), (disappointed/annointed) when the 1,000 LPs arrived by post; and were thenceupon heaped upon the corner of our then-vainglorious living room, where they then sat (spat/leaned) and ultimately stood in silent defiance, up againsted the wall in anticipation of future worldwide emancipation/domination.

But, as you know, failure is a righteous mighty teacher, and all our little (big) hopes and dreams came to naught. (“Some who suckceeded and some who suffered in vain” -- Ray Davies, “Celluloid Heroes”.)

Post-script (post-it) to this story (sophomoric poetry): When I met Kurt Cobain six months before HIS sad demise, he said that he’d been searching high and wide for our eponymous (hipponymous) debut for two years gay (straight). I felt somewhat, somewhat, strangely, vaguely vindicated that all our Robert Johnson’s love HADN’T been in vain. K.C. could have saved himself the trouble had he just come over to our house. I would have gladly given him a free one (for a small fee, that is). (Hey, we had to recoup the $17,000 somehow/somewhere, my love... are you more familiar with Dr. Zhivago or Dr. Malmac’s work?)

Continuing the namedropping (droppings), Jim O’Rourke says our [first album] is one of his faves as well (welt). (And yet and so the stinging continues, still: you work on YOUR own issues a-hole, and leave (leaf) mine alone. You better (bitter) leave my kitten (Kitaen) alone, or else (Elsie) you KNOW where the tissue goes. Anything goes (anything’s toast)... full moon or what? Holy and/or unholy fist! it’s been a bit of a bit since I’ve entered in, hasn’t it?)

Well regardless (retartless), onto a frag of the stag that the Starjob EP was (is). It was never intended as an EP for starters (openers). Relevant info: four of the songs were completed in January, 1994 (three days and [not] counting at Soundworks, Chicago). And the final two “stars” (“Starboy” and “Stargirl” made their way onto 8-track cassette at Billy Corgan’s house (home), upstairs in December, 1994. [We took] one day to mix said tracks January, 1995 and viola! The “job of the stars” was made flesh. No, it wasn’t about Kurt Cobain, you dumb shits and fucks. But, as Operator Error said, “you can’t polish a turd”. [Starjob] was released [in] 1997 as an afterthought by the “company”--by the “man”. Little known fact: “Jesus Doesn’t Love Me” was a consideration for this EP, along with a few other unmentionables. Once, twice, thrice again way “too one d” for my (our) liking. Unfortunately the hookiest songs songs chosen just happened to be about--you guessed it-- “stars”. JRF fronted the nonexistent “budget”. [I] wish it was an LP, 6 out of 12 (that’s what he (she) got (had). Hadn’t my baby (Paul Anka style). Plantation days are back.... again.

“Hoptart Lollifart Sunray Surf-rise” (aka “Hopscotch Lollipop Sunday Surprise”), our last 12” release (2001). I carried that beast on my back three years and counting (a la mode, Jesus Christ cross style). Begged and borrowed (begged part of my ass (ask) off). Heavenly helped along the path to LP completion by St. Bjorn, Salt Lake Charles, and JDH of Chicago fame. Also, British Christ of Halloween band fame added two cents worth on a few (“Bear” and “Better than God”). Not to mention demoing “The Longing Goes away” and guitar solo on his namesake. This release initially began as an AIDS concept LP (and double LP, in fact: 30 songs to rival Beatles’ White Album). I let myself get talked out that idea by St. B and CB (in reverse) when it was explained to me that the public (once again) just won’t “get it”. So we threw the controversy out with the bathwater and that begat the sugary confection of lesser impact (aka) (ka) Poprat Mollifat (well, she was plump anyway). “Sumppump Pollyrump Sundae Surmise”? Initial idea much (mother) superior to the safer release, it eventually become (becomed) (Yes, even as poppy and hooky and gooey (some say “dark”) as it ultimately was. An Easter Beaster record of mild import is the final word. We hit that record full blast, Virginia, full blast!!!

Back to it. Namely, I forgot to talk about the LP in which we ban the animals (or rather “Bananimals”). Really just meaning crazy (as in “bananas”) was what the LP title meant. As for the content, more unreleased made-up songs from the Frogs, from the vault (a la not played, though). (You know the vault, parallel bars, etc). The Fire Department label in Chi-town released this one with such leftover (rightover) classics as “Love in the Sand”, “Golden Showers”, “Sailors Board Me Now”, et al for public consumption. With Japanese import mock cover art intact, it was sure to be a hit (and it wasn’t). Thanks to me for the stuffed toy little horsie and to Bobby B for the “koo koo” dool head employed on said LP cover. Turns out “U Bastards” really wasn’t about us in the end. Anyway. (Was it?, was it knots?) (Nots to my knowledges, it wasn’t) (As in pheasant, as in “throat stuck” bent pleasant”, as in “this should have been referenced in the Broad LP hitherto mentioned”). Ultimately (intimately) the disc was (is) a piss offs (piss ons) present. (No, it isn’t). The cover is yellow, though, as if Chuck Berry had left his calling card as opposed to G.G. leaving his. For the music biz indeed.

I’m pretty certain this is Dennis Flemion. Pure insanity. You're welcome.

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