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Imaginary Albums

Imaginary Albums
September 28, 2020 01:23PM
I cherish, as a lifelong bibliophile, the metafictional mischief of such writers as Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, and Stanislaw Lem. Their imaginary books have made quite an impression on me through the years. As a lifelong music fanatic, I’m also fascinated by imaginary albums.

Lester Bangs discussed the four imaginary platters of Psychotic Reaction in “Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung.” That essay remains, for me, Bangs’ masterpiece. I’ve always wanted to hear those mysterious discs he describes so memorably. My favorite imaginary album, however, is Struck By Video, allegedly released by Warner Special Products in 1981. The review of this album, which was titled “T.V.O.D” and sported a reproduction of the record’s cover, was written by Mitchell Cohen for the July 1981 number of Creem. I confess that I looked all over hell and half of Georgia for this record at the time of its “release, " and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. Creem finally ‘fessed up that the record was a hoax several issues later. Here’s Mr. Cohen’s review in its entirety:

“Everybody talks about the effects that television has had on the new generation of rock ‘n’ roll. Finally, there exists an album that does something about bringing that synthesis to vinyl-life. Organized by 'editorial consultant’ Claude Kirschner, and produced in London and New York by Nick Lowe and Giorgio Moroder, Struck By Video is warm, energetic evidence that where the roots of the rock of this decade are concerned, the Munsters are as influential as the Kinks or Phil Spector. It must have been an enormous undertaking, executing the cutting of ten different tracks by ten of today’s most significant bands and musicians, but the results are more than worth it: this is a compilation that puts Time Square (not to mention No Nukes) to shame conceptually and musically. It is the first indispensable multi-artist disc of the 80’s.

“From the moment that, after a 'one-two-three-four' count-off from Dee Dee, Joey sings ‘Here’s the Story/Of a man named Brady’ backed by some of the most thunderous Ramones playing since Rocket to Russia, to the final rave-up version of ‘Car 54, Where Are You?’ by David Johansen* (the way he punches out the lyric ‘Brooklyn’s broken out in fights!’ is the epitome of his post-Dolls singing), Struck By Video is filed with epiphanies, with exciting moments that make crucial connections between rock stars and their cultural upbringing.

“Highlights are numerous: The B-52’s’ jubilant ‘Patti Duke Theme’ with Cindy’s exuberant chanting of ‘But Patty loves to rock and roll/A hot dog makes her lose control’; Eno’s instrumental melding of the music from The Dick Van Dyke Show and My Three Sons; Deborah Harry’s impeccable Dorothy Provine impression on ‘The Roaring Twenties,’ as Blondie provides the first Eurodisco charleston backing. But above all stands the unanticipated duet of Elvis Costello and Linda Ronstadt, an inspiring pairing, on ‘Green Acres’ that draws out performances both artists can be proud of: Linda yelping ‘Gimme Park Avenue!’ Elvis retorting ‘The chores!’ This is a natural new wave-AOR-country crossover smash.

“Less successful is Devo’s ‘The Addams Family,’ which lacks the menace of the original, and similarly second-rate is the Clash’s well-meant homage, ‘The Monkees Theme’ (inside word has it that Joe Strummer first asked if there was a song from his favorite show, The San Pedro Beach Bums); the intent is honorable, but they just don’t have the requisite snap. The most unexpectedly bizarre tracks are the Pretenders’ ‘The Love Boat’—Chrissie rocks out more than Jack Jones, but the material is probably unsalvageable in any hands—and a chugging live version of ‘Petticoat Junction’ by the expanded Talking Heads.

“In all, Struck By Video is a project that highlights the vitality, humor and eclectic approaches of modern rock. It’s a record that will last well beyond this year’s fashion. This is true and important prime time fusion. Don’t miss it.”

I wanted this album to exist so badly that I could taste it. For the last thirty-nine years, I suppose, it has existed, in my cranial jukebox. Surely there must be more imaginary records that music critics have reviewed at one time or another. What are they, and who imagined them?

* Oddly enough, David Johansen went on to play Officer Gunter Toody in the 1994 film version of Car 54, Where Are You? (which I’ve not seen).
Re: Imaginary Albums
September 28, 2020 03:01PM
Matt “Simpsons” Groening used to plant fake reviews in his ‘80s L.A. Reader column. Alas, I can’t find any examples online.

My friend Mike and I used to do that for our high school paper. I made up a band called the Kuru Gurus after reading in the Guinness Book of World Records that the world’s rarest disease, kuru, was contracted by cannibals after eating brains. So all the “band members” had names like Luke Emia, Mel Aria, John Diss, and Dee Zeeze. But I don’t think I fooled anyone. Mike concocted a UK punk band who had a song called “Let’s Shave Our Heads,” very controversial, as they were from a town in Britain where public head-shaving was still illegal.
Re: Imaginary Albums
September 28, 2020 04:26PM
But that fake tv theme album is funny - it predicted the whole ‘90s tribute album craze. There was in fact a (cartoon/children’s show) tv theme tribute album, and the Ramones are on it. And then there’s the afore-mentioned David Jo/“Car 54” connection. Perhaps this article inspired it all?
Re: Imaginary Albums
September 28, 2020 04:43PM
I remember reading this album review In Creem, absolutely. And I always thought I might stumble across a copy. It’s only after reading this post today that I found out it wasn’t real!

It’s like finding out the Patterson footage of Bigfoot walking away from the camera was a hoax. Boo hiss!

What I love is the notion of ‘what if they released these’ albums...

Like the clash album recorded after London calling and before Sandinista, scrapped because it was too political and controversial.

Or the kraftwerk album recorded between Man machine and Computer World in 1980, never released because the label didn’t hear any ‘hits’.
Re: Imaginary Albums
September 28, 2020 04:50PM
Trouser Press made its contribution to the genre in issues 4 and 44.
Re: Imaginary Albums
September 28, 2020 04:57PM
Ira, was that The Masked Marauders?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/28/2020 05:01PM by MrFab.
Re: Imaginary Albums
September 29, 2020 09:22AM
Nope, Masked Marauders ("I Can't Get No Nooky") was a Rolling Stone creation, later brought to life on vinyl by, I believe, the National Lampoon / Lemmings wags and finally reissued on CD. A classic.

You can find ours in the review sections of those two issues.
Re: Imaginary Albums
September 29, 2020 11:41AM
Blobbo Stumpsky & the Peasants and Funky Bulldogs?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/29/2020 11:44AM by Michael Toland.
Re: Imaginary Albums
September 29, 2020 01:27PM
That's them. (Incidentally, i don't believe there is any connection between the Blobbo Stumpsky title and the beloved band of the very similar name.) BS was something Tim Sommer made up. Funky Bulldog was an unused band name i came up with in high school. TP's first art director, the talented Barbara Wolf, painted the Bubbles LP cover as a gift to me. I still have it.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/29/2020 05:46PM by ira.
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Re: Imaginary Albums
September 29, 2020 12:50PM
And speaking of Cindy Wilson and hot dogs, there was also her singing on the track "Hot Dog" by Martini Ranch. It's possible that those wiseguys knew of the Creem review. The Johansen thing was to close not the be connected!

Former TP subscriber [81, 82, 83, 84]

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