Sunday, October 25, 2009

Albums You've Never Heard Of: Part 1

I have a bad addiction to buying something I like to call 'semi-professionally produced albums'. What is a semi-professionally produced album? Well, it's an album that isn't released by an official record company. It usually has one (or more) of the following qualities:

- Recorded in a professional recording studio
- Album artwork
- Mass-produced in small quantities

Basically, anything where the cost is greater than the media it is recorded onto. Ink for a computer printer, specially-purchased cassette-shaped labels, and even a 25-cent photocopied album cover counts. They can be home-made, or run off by some duplication company. Remember The Fugitives? That's a good example of what I call "semi-professionally produced".

I have a stack of these things sitting beside my desk in queue, waiting for their special appearance on my blog. However, I'm going to cover only three at a time due to my inability (and probably yours) to sit and listen to some crappy superstar wannabees. Here's what we're getting this round:

Roy & Phyllis Caldwell as ME & MY GAL: Vol. 1

Just got this baby yesterday! As with the other semi-professional albums I have recorded by old people, the art direction is lame. I love the clipart of the couple dancing and the 'Volume One' under the black and white photo, getting the listener to anticipate a whole series of "Me & My Gal" albums.

Very good clean recording, but I'm pretty sure the background music is a crummy synthesizer instead of a real band. The guitar is obviously real, and some asshole in the recording studio ran it through a piece of equipment to make it echo in stereo, and make it sound as if two guitars are playing. I like the sound of the guitar, but the effect makes it sound like he's playing it at the bottom of the grand fucking canyon.

Phyllis, or 'GAL' (as she wishes to be called as per the album title) is your typical old lady singer, but she's actually quite decent - and Roy (or 'ME') even does harmonies! Her voice has been run through all kinds of nice fancy effects to make her sound about 40 years younger, and perhaps that's a good thing.

Track Listing:
Side A: Beer Barrel Polka / Washboard Roundelay / Tennesee Waltz / North To Alaska / I'll Sail My Ship Alone
Side B: Margie Marie / Waltz Across Texas / Sit Right Down & Write Myself A Letter / Don't Be Angry / Charlies Shoes

Regardless of this being a mix of Waltzes and Country & Western, it's fairly pleasant on the ears. The vocals could have been mixed louder though, but perhaps they enjoy their sound bouncing off the canyon walls while the synthesizer takes center stage.

Click here and rock out to 'Washboard Roundelay"

Perhaps they can get a real band when they go record Vol. 2 (if they don't die of old-age first)

Ioana Iliant

Ioana Iliant was a Romanian singing sensation. At least that's the vague feeling I got from the Google search I did. This is a really oddball find, since I've never seen a 'semi-professionally produced' album on 8-track. One big bonus is it's autographed to some guy named Harry. Perhaps only Ioana truely knew if he REALLY was Harry, and gave him an autographed tape to find out! I know, I'm a sick bastard, but 1977 was obviously the year of love since I was born a year after Harry got his spiffy autographed 8-track.

Too bad Ioana dubbed this album on shitty Realistic (Radio Shack) brand tape. Probably one of the contributing reasons it sounds like AM radio.

...and oh my lord, it was DEFINATELY recorded in the 1970s!

Click here to boogie down to some Ioana Iliant

And for those who really miss the 8-track format, Ioana gets brutally murdered when Program 4 comes to a screeching hault and the machine spits out the tape. Click here to listen!

As a side note, she actually did pass away in 1990.

No track listing because nobody wrote it on the label.

But you never know if the autograph on this tape is genuine. Maybe some asshole recorded this 8-track on his Lloyds home stereo, autographed the tape, and bragged to his buddies that it was a 'collector's item'. I mean, anyone can do that. Here's my autographed Helen Reddy 8-track:

Second-Hand Schmucks - Sitting On The Fence

Okay, I'm cheating with this last one. My band actually played a couple of shows with these guys. It was a punk rock band consisting of 14 and 15 year old kids, and they were pretty good! I don't have the cover since I borrowed this tape off our bass player, and he's the one who lost the cover. I never got the tape back to him, and well, it's permanently part of my collection now.

Sound Quality? Meh. The first song is okay. There's a bad dropout on 'Popcorn, Koolaid & Movies' and the right channel disappears completely (which I did my best to repair in the audio file below). Side two is a couple of live recordings which isn't very clear.

My favorite songs by these guys were "Anarchy", "Ode to a Homophobe" and "Popcorn, Kool-Aid & Movies". Here's two of the three:

Click here to listen to "Anarchy (Too Punk For Me)"
Click here to listen to "Popcorn, Kool-Aid & Movies"

Again, no track listing since my bass player lost the inlay card.

And that's it for this round. These are acutally the better ones that were in the stack. The atrocious ones will follow sometime in the near future.


Anonymous said...

Hey, "Ben Century", it's me, the guy who created Bizarre Stuff from Germany. I just wanted to tell you that I gave up my blog, but - to not completely disappoint you - I have something for yours.

Remember that old cassette tape I wrote about which was used for saving computer data? I was finally able to transfer it from the source and save it into a *.wav file. Download it here and maybe you can write about the actual program on it:

Have fun and good luck deciphering it.

Anonymous said...

I knew her very well.
She was a part of the family in fact.
I grew up adoring her and she does have a professionally recorded in vinyl LP .
I have a few left.
I was a child @ the time of the recording in the studio.
She in fact was more famous that many realize.
How can I get in touch with you?
I also know exactly who harry was.That is his real name in fact.

Ben Century said...

You can always get in touch with me at

Insight on the mysterious Harry would be really cool!

DR@KE said...

Please, can you give me the Ioana Iliant 8 tracks ? Many Thanks

DR@KE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ravel said...

Hi ! Looking on the net I found this 2009 post about Ms Iliant. Found the 33 rpm today and as I see, you have a 8 track autographed by her. Simply want to confirm that yours seems authentic : I have the same signature from 1979 (not to Harry !).
Infos are rare about her...