Blockhead’s second flick had it all. The ’60s retro weirdness. The ghetto collages. The purposedly chaotic editing that made Plan 9 From Outter Space feel like an Ingmar Bergman film.
More importantly as far as nowadays is concerned, Adventures In Cheese featured the two-song-long Rick Howard part that allowed whoever designed the olive Airwalk Enigmas to buy an extra VW Jetta that year. The only thing it was missing? A list of the tunes used in it, its outro consisting only of a list of the skaters (Hello Gégé!) hand-written on a piece of cardboard.
Ever since, its soundtrack was on the frontline of the songs I wanted to dig up when I started A Visual Sound. But no hints anywhere. So I made sure I procastrinated enough so to never start my little treasure hunt. Until an incident happened, of the Chrome Ball order, the day a web-wide famous blogger asked me casually what AIC’s soundtrack might be, right after he had posted a heavy barrage of Blockhead-days Rick Howard ads on his site.
So, there. With nowhere to hide anymore, I sighed, saddled the old horse and towards the sunset on one of my personal Grails quest I went.
In more prosaic terms, I sent a bunch of emails to Ron Cameron and Dave Bergthold, the early 90s dynamic duo behind Adventures in Cheese, Splendid Eye Torture et al. “Going on the B&W, old movie, Xerox theme,” Dave started, “we just used music from old records found at thrift stores.” What might have been mistaken for a white flag wasn’t. The very next day, Dave had dug through his vinyl collection and provided an almost full list of the tunes in question, that needed to be completed by a little research -in case you were wondering who did that Jump, Jive and Wail version, it’s Martini Lounges’. As thrift shopping often is, the list is pretty random, but in an excellent way. So here they are : three albums you almost never owned.
OK, this one is the 2006 reissue, the 1966 original (Batman Theme and Other Bat Songs, out on the Crown and Ember labels) being way too rare to even appear anywhere -besides in Dave Bergthold’s record collection. But this is the closest it’ll get, as this repress bares the exact same titles, plus three bonuses.
Having said that, here’s the deal : in 1966, Batmania hit the US hard and the TV series managed to achieve prime-time access. So ace producer and musician Maxwell Davis decided to record his own version of the Batman theme album, in a library music style -music used as background or by advertisers, or aimed at being placed on TV.
No matter the destination, a wise decision it was since the original theme tune, written by Neil Hefti, was busy being sold out. Oh and also, Davis’ name happened to appear so small on the original LP that it might have as well been confused with the actual theme song album by the inadvertent buyer… True hustling, right here.
TV-cash-in schemes aside, Davis’ take on the caped crusader’s exploits is nonetheless an awesome collection of kitschy go-go, Hammond and horns-laden instrumentals, so groovy that Dave Bergthold used another tune from the same album (Harry Danger) on Steve Berra’s vert part.
Or, to make it understable to mono-wired skateboard minds, Davis’ Batman is to the original what the Blind knockoffs were in 1991 to VCJ’s Powell graphics: without a proper artist, the idea had disaster written all over it. But Maxwell Davis had the musicianship to back his ballsy move: from the 30s to the 60s, he played on over 100 R&B hits with dudes like Percy Mayfield, T-Bone Walker or Amos Milburn, and is often regarded as the father of West Coast R&B. Questions?
It’s almost cliché to reissue 60s US garage punk these days. So déjà-heard. But in 1984, it was fairly new when French-label Eva went and put out this 16-track compilation of obscure, low-fi, fuzztoned tunes by the likes of The Bare Facts, Sands, TC Atlantic, to name a few.
Again, Dave Bergthold liked it so much that he pulled two tunes out of this LP for Adventures in Cheese, one being the proto-subpoppy Precious Few’s Train Kept-a-Rolling (Omar Hassan), while the other still haunts Rick Howard fans twenty years later. Its name? Satisfaction Guaranteed by The Mourning Reign, a clearly Sonics/Yardbirds-inspired outfit out of San Jose whose sound also reminded of Seeds, Music Machine and Cream, three bands they offered covers of on their 1965 title-less album.
Initially starting as The Swordsmen in 1962, Bo Maggi and Charlie Gardin’s band only suffered one flaw, really : trying to make it in the shadow of the other monter 60s fuzz-rock in their town, Count Five, The Syndicate Of Sound and The Chocolate Watchband -a skate flick hearththrob, remember Mosaic?
Despite the obvious talent, shortly after its album The Mourning Reign disappeared. And its members probably have no clue, to this day, that they are “the Rick Howard tune dudes” for a bunch of now heavy-bellied thirty-something skateboarders all over the world.
This one is really just for the sake of exhaustivity, and it’s absolutely not recommended for anybody in their right minds to spend hours, or money, to try and find this ‘gem.’
Why is it part of this selection, then? Well, because there’s a definite iconoclastic beauty in actually owning a record where Miami funk guru Peter Brown asks you, wether or not, “you wanna get funky with me, do you wanna?” while a dead-serious commentator voice is counting your steps in the background: “Ready, set and begin, and one, two, three, four, and up, two, three, four… ” You know, the ironic possession trick. Especially for the true heroes out there who’ll dare to go balls out and also buy this record’s companion, the 94-pages book of Boratesque proportions title, Let’s Disco: A Complete Instructional System for Disco Dancing.
But that’s for later. For now, please don’t buy this disc. Unless you really have a knack for the actual tunes on its B-Side (Do You Wanna Do, Get Off Your Aahh ! etc). Or if your skateboarding absolutely needs the extra motivational boost that Let’s Disco’s intro’s immense wisdom provides: “Practice it until you do it without thinking. Just relax, and let go.”