Saturday, February 10, 2007

Somewhere along the road to 2007, things have gotten snarled up. A game-show host type smarminess has been mistaken for entertainment. In essence, a true entertainer is a rare beast these days and one of the outright characters of this fraternity was the late, great Tiny Tim. Considered in some quarters as a novelty act by lazy, tunnel-visioned malcontents, his voice has been known to polarize. It displayed a richness and soul of a great orator. Of someone who interpreted classic and contemporary material with an otherworldly abandon.

These three recent releases of rare and unreleased material recorded in Australia are a timely reminder of this genius. They really don’t make them like this anymore. The project has been put together by Martin Sharp in a kind of Alan Lomax capacity, this Australian pop artist and co-writer of Cream's “Tales Of Brave Ulysses” (!) is ready to share his adventures with new generations who have yet to discover the greatness of Herbert Khaury’s alter ego. In the liner notes he declares that “it has been my greatest honour to march some miles with this ‘soldier of showbusiness’”. That last part is key to the whole phenomenon, this hippie Harry Lauder belongs to a great lost era before style was coached to overtake substance.

“Chameleon” is a reissue of the original, very rare album that came out in the early 80’s with unissued bonus tracks of takes from the same sessions. It must have been a total gas to have been there. With his renditions of “Stayin Alive” rubbing shoulders with relative standards like “The Great Pretender” and “Tiny Bubbles”. And how many people could tackle “The Mickey Mouse March” and come out unscathed.

“Wonderful World of Romance” was originally only available as a “direct-to-disc” album for promo purposes only. This only covered the second session until now and has an additional 11 takes and different cuts. WWOR is Tiny Tim somewhat “unplugged” along with piano, cello and trademark ukulele. performing material from the early 1900’s. “Wandering Down Memory Lane With You” is an amazing title. I imagine that some of this will sound plain weird in today’s wired world and it’s all the better for that fact. Solid, sonic uke.

“Stardust” is 26 previously unreleased tracks which includes an alternate take of “Highway To Hell”, with a vocal that sounds like Paul Rodgers on helium. His unique ability to cherry pick material from all eras and stamp them with that unbridled falsetto, sounds like. You get “Nobody Loves A Fairy When She’s Forty” sitting alongside “People Are Strange” on Planet Tim and it seems like the perfect fit.

These releases are all curated perfectly with extensive notes in very cool 16 page booklets printed on quality stock. Lovingly tailored to complement the recorded content. All three are available on the Zero Communications imprint from Japan.

(Many thanks to Susumu Hirakawa)

At the risk of any conflict of interest/stating of the obvious/preaching to the converted/other… I just need to convey that The Nomads double vinyl Nomadic Dementia is now available and it sounds totally immense, “16 Forever” is flying outta the speakers as I type.

The Beasts of Bourbon and Demolition Doll Rods have also been let outta the traps and are looking sleek in their digipaks. All of these are available via Munster now.

And also it appears that this Cramps book is finally available from Amazon. (info via Staysick)