Sunday, May 27, 2007

Portrait of Scott

Raymond Scott by Jason Beaty, 2002

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Coctails: Raymond Scott medley

One evening in 1992: dinner at Maxwell's, the legendary Hoboken tavern/rock club. A bunch of bands I'd never heard of were booked for the back room. Dinner was first priority. Mid-meal, buddy and fellow WFMU DJ Gaylord Fields came running down the corridor that links restaurant with club, ordered me to drop the fork, and proclaimed, "Come back here. The Coctails are playing 'Powerhouse'!" I zoomed in and caught 2/3 of the band's rambunctious take on the Scott classic. Later I found out it was half of a medley that opened with "The Penguin."

After the set, I found the band in the downstairs dressing room and complimented their arrangement. We became fast friends, which prompted several stayovers at their Chicago loft in the next few years (during which I met their buddy, Chris Ware, the incomparable illustrator).

In 1993, the Coctails invited me to join them in the studio for their first recording of the Scott medley, on which I banged some percussion. The final mix was released on SOL (Singles Only Label—"The little record with the big hole"), a boutique vinyl venture by Nicholas Hill and Bob Mould. The track was subsequently reissued on the group's 3-cd retrospective Popcorn Box (Carrot Top Records).

iTunes Music Store links:
The Penguin/Powerhouse (studio version)
The Penguin/Powerhouse (live at Lounge Ax)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Cyclic Bits: The Raymond Scott Variations

Ergo Phizmiz will air his one-hour Raymond Scott remix program "Cyclic Bits" on WFMU Wednesday, May 16, from 7-8 pm (Eastern).

Artists who have contributed remixes and reinventions:

Bebe del Banco
David Fenech
Ego Plum
Felix Kubin
Fireworks Ensemble
4,000,000 Telephones
Automated Acoustics
Listen With Sarah
Martha Moopette
Tracky Birthday
Vernon Lenoir

As previously mentioned, the contributors were given free rein to sample vintage Scott '50s and '60s electronica. An album of the full remixes might be released later.

The program will be archived as streaming audio in the station's memory hole.

photo: Martha Moopette

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Raymond Scott on myspace

I hate myspace. So do you. So do millions of people who use it. I don't use it—I just hate it. Don't send me your myspace link. Thanks. There is a Raymond Scott page on myspace, and it serves many good purposes. It can be updated faster and easier than the Scott website, and it catches the attention of—well, of people who use myspace. Which I don't, because I hate it. Remember? I won't remind you again. Promise. You can find information at the RS myspace page you won't find here or at So can your mother. So can Raymond's—and everybody's—friend Tom. The Raymond Scott page is probably the coolest one in all of myspace, and the only one you need to know. All the rest are bogus. The Scott page was created by Jeff Winner, the same good buddy who operates Nota bene from Jeff: "On the page, I try to make clear it's NOT actually RS doing the page, because lots of people assumed that was the case when it first launched." People, Raymond Scott died in 1994. That's several years before the internet was even invented! Speaking of obituaries, did you know Scott composed "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm"? Neither did we! You won't find that here, at the Scott website, in his Wiki entry, or on his myspace page. The web is just FULL of fascinating information—some of it true!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

In 1993, MTV used to care ...

... about such things:

Not that they made a big deal about it—forty-five seconds or so on MTV News. The hook wasn't Scott's legacy or musical appeal, but the fact that his vintage recordings were being used in the recently launched Ren & Stimpy Show.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

"pointless music, horrible remastering"

We warned you. Kimba W. Lion reviews Rock and Roll Symphony on

 "Raymond Scott, so often the quirky innovator, really fell flat on his face with this album. Arranged to please other people rather than himself, the music is blander than bland, failing to evoke the flavor of either rock and roll or symphonic music. A couple of tracks rise to the level of decent MOR, but not really worth the wade through the rest. "The remastering for CD is a pure amateur job. Treble-heavy, with no bass, and a gee-I-can-do-hiss-removal approach to noise reduction that has left a heavy cloud of digital burbles and other artifacts over the music that is far worse than any tape hiss could possibly be. Note to whoever thinks they can remaster for CD: First, buy yourself a decent pair of headphones. Then look for something beyond the first freeware program you find that claims to do noise reduction, and learn how to set the parameters so that the result sounds like music."