Song Of The Day 11/1/2015: Joe Meek & the Blue Men – “Valley of the Saroos”

Allegations of Weirdness – After a carefully plotted October (which turned out to be this blog's biggest month in the last fourteen, so thank you renegades of convenience) I found myself on the other side of Halloween with one bare week left for the remainder of the year, which would be this one. I had something planned but knew all along I wouldn't have the technology, so it was back to square one. Hoping some unsuspecting content producer could do half the work for me, I Google'd "Weirdest Albums of All Time." That brought me to a list of MOJO Magazine's 50 Weirdest Albums Ever. Now MOJO, who go for the full-capital treatment like KISS, is one of the greatest music magazines to ever smudge the fingers of a printer, so I figured I had me a fresh egg to poach.

For the most part I did, though I think it goes without saying that some of the albums they picked either weren't that weird to begin with or have outlived their initial weirdness. Sgt. Pepper is on the list, for example, and while technically I suppose you could call it the Beatles' weirdest album, it's not weirder than SMiLE or Kid A. Pink Floyd's Piper at the Gates of Dawn is on the list as well. Ha! That's the closest Pink Floyd ever came to being a singles band! I don't know how I feel about them calling the Monks' Black Monk Time, one of the hardest and greatest rock and roll albums of the '60s, "weird." It's just excitable, really. Like my kids were on Halloween, except for Hank, who displayed this directed sense of purpose about the whole thing. I think he had some unmet ambitions on Halloween. It showed in his face. Post-modernism.

Anyway. The rest of the list? I'm all right with it. We're past "weird" being a deprecatory term these days (I would hope), and while many of those albums are perfectly normal, there was enough backroad stuff I thought we could populate a week with. Starting with Joe Meek & the Blue Men, whose recently reissued album I Hear a New World (An Outer Space Music Fantasy) clocked in at #28. Meek was way ahead of his time in many facets, and this abstract travelogue surely sounded like nothing else that was made before or a good chunk after its recording date of 1959. The Blue Men were originally a skiffle group; how they were shoehorned into this space diary without sounding displaced is a mystery to me. The outré effects and sound sculptures were created without much in the way of electronics: "Legend has it that Meek used everything lying about," Andy Beta says in a glowing Pitchfork review from last April, "even the proverbial kitchen sink, recording and rendering the sound of blowing bubbles with a straw, using milk bottles as percussion and a draining sink to capture some of these sounds." It's a pretty wonderful, smart and playful record made with Meek's full-flushed innocence and enterprise intact, before it all went to hell.

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