Silly or over-the-top liner notes

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Peter Mork, Mar 26, 2020 at 6:37 PM.

  1. Peter Mork

    Peter Mork Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Doesn't seem like there's been a good liner note thread here for a while. What are your favorites that are unintentionally funny, or face-palmingly bizarre?

    I ran across this the other day, and have to share (with slight edits): Hoyt Axton Sings Bessie Smith.

    "Hoyt Axton earns his daily bread by singing out his bellyful of blues, hollars, ribaldries, and yallar tooth laughin' songs. Leg up on a straight chair, sleeves rolled above the biceps, boots on, shirt bustin' open, ad libbing, turned on. He sings like an oak, which is to say rooted down dirt and decades deep, but with laughin', lookin' up branches.

    He's the trombone of singers: He makes Vic Damone look like a piccolo. Beside the gutsy bone of Axton, Paul Robeson sounds like pennywhistle kid stuff. When Axton sings, he's so deep in his songs, his biceps are swoll up so big, his neck tendons so taut, his head bobbin so hard you swear his fillins're gonna bounce off the footlights.

    If you want a fact, Axton should have been born on a rail gang, instead of where he was, which is unimportant. He should have been in jail, lots. He should have starved more, laughed less, and been free never. But instead of all those should-have-beens, Hoyt looks like a wrinkle-free brown-haired kid Spencer Tracy.

    Well now this boy-man of a singer, young enough to call 1931 history, has presumed upon the reputation of one Bessie Smith, to sing here bitter, bitchy, and biting blues.

    So who's Bessie Smith? She is dead now almost three decades, but when she trod this earth she did it as few women, dead or now, ever did. She was a black lady with a gold tooth some say, and four well-kept stage gowns. She made 78 rpm records when you had no mikes and had to shout into the big daisy horn and a needle cut wiggles in wax and that was it. You had to shout-sing then because they never heard of an amplifier then, and Lord how Bessie could shout-sing those blues.

    Bessie was a big woman, because you can't be named Bessie and be a dinky skinny girl. Ever heard of a scrawny Bessie? Course not. They passed some law.

    Anyway, Bessie started out singing right after Ma Rainey, and cut race records for the old Columbia label and those records sent great waves of misery out of phonographs all over the world. She was Empress of the Blues, and wrung songs dry. She had a raspy, growly, downright dirty-tones voice, and she died in '37 in a cracked up auto and they laid her to rest and her blues were over.

    Well not quite. Her livin' blues may've gone to heaven, but her records - thin sounding grit-thick scratchy black brittle breakable rounds of immortality - they stayed here. So did her blues. They weren't polite. They weren't for kids. They didn't get much play on the family wireless. Too real.

    But what they were were gin-sting, 'lectric-chair, beat-up-bed-spring, jail-house, black-n-blue, tin-can, gutter-poor, dusty-road, my-man's-gone-an-five-kids-ahollerin, rent's-due, all-alone, cold-steel, sobbin-sick, an insane blooz.

    There's no more Bessie and can't never be none again. But Bessie's art is here. Here's Hoyt. Singing her wretched songs, the cathartic blues that made her her people's voice and a poor man's angel dream.

    Here's Hoyt, leather-larynxed and sleepy eyed, greatly close to the spirit and art of Bessie. And if poor men can chase away the blues with an hour of song, Bessie did, Hoyt does.
    -S. C."

    Last edited: Mar 26, 2020 at 6:43 PM
  2. onionmaster

    onionmaster Tropical new waver from the future

    They're quite intentional but Cathal Coughlan's liner notes on Fatima Mansions' "Come Back My Children" compilation are utterly hilarious. I wonder if anyone has been more sarcastic in describing their own work. (pic from Discogs):

    Man at C&A likes this.
  3. Siegmund

    Siegmund Vinyl Sceptic

    Britain, Europe
    It’s hard to top Johnny Cash’s execrable ‘poem’ on the back of Nashville Skyline.
  4. Monosterio

    Monosterio Forum Resident

    South Florida
    Can’t Buy a Thrill: Thus treads heavily the titanic STEELY DAN, casting a long shadow upon the contemporary rock wasteland, aspiring to spill its seed on barren ground... :yikes:
    Mr.Sean, kwadguy, Hall Cat and 2 others like this.
  5. TwentySmallCigars

    TwentySmallCigars Forum Resident

    Anything written by Gail Zappa.
    NCP likes this.
  6. astro70

    astro70 Forum Resident

    Carbondale, IL
    The original notes on the back cover for Are You Experienced (US) are pretty funny now. I’m sure in 67 they probably appealed to the audience of the record though.
    The Ole' Rocker likes this.
  7. Man at C&A

    Man at C&A Forum Resident

    From the debut Small Faces LP:

    'How did the Small Faces get their name?
    Just one look at them is sufficient to see that they do indeed have small faces."

  8. dennis1077

    dennis1077 Forum Resident

  9. danasgoodstuff

    danasgoodstuff Forum Resident

    Portland, OR
    Biscuit Warehouse likes this.
  10. Funchess_Pilate

    Funchess_Pilate Forum Resident

    Brooklyn, NY
    Allen Ginsberg’s liner notes on Dylan’s Desire album are really out there...

    Where do I begin...on the heels of Rimbaud moving like a dancing bullet thru the secret streets of a hot New Jersey night...
  11. Fullbug

    Fullbug Forum Resident

    Liner notes to Aja by some record company suit named Diener. Cringe and a half.
  12. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister


    "LISTEN TO THE RECORD" repeated over and over.
  13. MarcS

    MarcS Forum Resident

    Oradell NJ
    Bad idea to apologize for the last album
    Man at C&A likes this.
  14. kreen

    kreen Forum Resident

    "This is a New Phase Beatles album"
  15. danasgoodstuff

    danasgoodstuff Forum Resident

    Portland, OR
    Much like the album itself, the notes are both ludicrous and wonderful, and very much of their time.
    NumberEight likes this.
  16. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Sorry but that is a painful combination of background and font colors. Doubt anyone will bother reading it solely for that reason.
  17. Beamish13

    Beamish13 Forum Resident

    I don’t have it in front of me, but doesn’t the vinyl of Joe Jackson’s BODY AND SOUL feature this?
  18. DirkM

    DirkM Forum Resident

    MA, USA
    The liner notes to Erasure's Pop! 20 Hits comp include a fairly lengthy, annotated "general list of synthesisers you may or may not be interested in." My favourite part is how they take the mickey out of it by adding that it "is not a product endorsement."
    Maurice and Galaga King like this.
  19. Uncle Meat

    Uncle Meat Forum Resident

    Houston, Tx, US
  20. Uncle Meat

    Uncle Meat Forum Resident

    Houston, Tx, US
  21. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    The liner notes to one of Charles Mingus' LPs were written by his psychologist. Not silly, but quite remarkable:

    When Mr. Mingus first asked me to write a review of the music he composed for this record, I was astonished and told him so. I said I thought I was competent enough as a psychologist but that my interest in music was only average and without any technical background. Mr. Mingus laughed and said he didn't care, that if I heard his music I'd understand. This is the uniqueness of this man: he jolts with the unexpected and the new. He has something to say and he will use every resource to interpret his messages. After all, why not have a psychologist try to interpret the projections of a composer musician? Psychologists interpret behavior and/or ideas communicated by words and behavior - why not apply this skill to music? It's certainly a refreshing approach that Mr. Mingus suggests.

    As Nat Hentoff has stated, "Mingus is ingenuous," ever growing, looking for change and ways to communicate his life experiences, his awareness and feelings of himself and life. His early and late life sufferings as a person and as a black man were surely enough to cause sour bitterness, hate, distortions and withdrawal. Yet, Mr. Mingus never has given up. From every experience such as a conviction for assault or as an inmate of a Bellevue locked ward, Mr. Mingus has learned something and has stated it will not happen again to him. He is painfully aware of his feelings and he wants desperately to heal them. He also is cognizant of a power dominated and segregated society's impact upon the underdog, the underprivileged and the minority. Inarticulate in words, he is gifted in musical expression which he constantly uses to articulate what he perceives, knows and feels.

    To me this particular composition contains Mr. Mingus' personal and also a social message. He feels intensively. He tries to tell people he is in great pain and anguish because he loves. He cannot accept that he is alone, all by himself; he wants to love and be loved. His music is a call for acceptance, respect, love, understanding, fellowship, freedom - a plea to change the evil in man and to end hatred. The titles of this composition suggest the plight of the black man and a plea to the white man to be aware.

    He seems to state that the black man is not alone but all mankind must unite in revolution against any society that restricts freedom and human rights.

    In all three tracks of Side I there are recurrent themes of loneliness, separateness and tearful depression. One feels deeply for the tears of Mr. Mingus that fall for himself and man. There can be no question that he is the Black Saint who suffers for his sins and those of mankind as he reflects his deeply religious philosophy. His music tells of his deep yearning for love, peace and freedom. A new note has crept into his music. Where once there was a great anger now one can hear hope. As with much of his past music, Mr. Mingus cries of misunderstanding of self and people. Throughout he presents a brooding, moaning intensity about prejudice, hate and persecution.

    In the first track of Side I there is heard a solo voice expressed by the alto saxophone - a voice calling to others and saying "I am alone, please, please join me!" The deep mourning and tears of loneliness are echoed and re-echoed by the instruments in Mr. Mingus' attempt to express his feelings about separation from and among the discordant people of the world. The suffering is terrible to hear.

    In track B, the music starts with a tender theme. It is a duet dance song in which many emotions of relatedness are expressed - warmth, tenderness, passion. The music then changes into a mood of what I would call mounting restless agitation and anguish as if there is tremendous conflict between love and hate. This is climaxed by the piercing cries of the trombone and answering saxophones as if saying the "I" of personal identity must be achieved and accepted.

    Track C begins with the happiest of themes. Here Mr. Mingus himself plays a classical piano reverie backed by a lyrical flute and cymbals. It is sweet and soft and has a lightness rarely seen in Mr. Mingus’ music. But once again the music shifts into a tonal despair and brooding anguish. The theme suggested by the title is the peace and happiness of the free person contrasted with the pain and tears of the black man. Mr. Mingus uses many forms of technique and instrumentation to reflect his meaning. He told me his use of the Spanish guitar was meant to mirror the period of the Spanish Inquisition and El Greco’s mood of oppressive poverty and death.

    Side II develops all these themes in a very carefully worked out musical composition in concert style, repeating and integrating harmony and disharmony, peace and disquiet, and love and hate. The ending seem unfinished but one is left with a feeling of hope and even a promise of future joy.

    Mr. Mingus thinks this is his best record. It may very well be his best to date for his present stage of development as other records were in his past. It must be emphasized that Mr. Mingus is not yet complete. He is still in a process of change and personal development. Hopefully the integration in society will keep pace with his. One must continue to expect more surprises from him.

    Edmund Pollock, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist
    (Original liner notes from The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, AS-35)

    Last edited: Mar 26, 2020 at 9:42 PM
    danasgoodstuff likes this.
  22. barryalan

    barryalan Cat in Space

    Santa Ana
    Dick Dale and His Del-Tones - King of the Surf Guitar (1963)[​IMG]
    ..."Dick's talents are just about limitless: He not only sings and plays guitar, he also plays ... many other instruments. And he doesn't just make music for surfers, he's a surfer himself - and a good one. Recently when he showed up with other surfers for a scene in the American International film 'Beach Party' he was the only one among them who didn't need bronze body makeup. Dick's bronze is for real, and he keeps it that way by almost daily trips to Huntington Beach or Dana Point, or wherever the "big ones" are coming in"...
    danasgoodstuff likes this.
  23. shadowcurtain

    shadowcurtain Active Member

    Not a real guy.... liner notes written by Becker & Fagan...
  24. xilef regnu

    xilef regnu Forum Resident

    "The ROLLING STONES are more than just a group - they are a way of life."

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