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Reeling.

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Against a side wall of an increasingly crowded basement crawlspace in Massachusetts, there lives a maroon bag that contains the entire career output of Fried Pig.

I’ve been wondering what to do with it for a while. And I’m thinking about it once again following the New York Times Magazine’s remarkable “The Day The Music Burned” cover story.

If you share enough of my interests to be here, you’ve probably already read the story, and been gobsmacked by it.

If not, here’s a quick summary: Universal Music Group’s main West Coast storage vault for master audio tapes burned in 2008. Until now, Universal maintained the fiction that little damage had been done.

But NYT reporter Jody Rosen, citing the vault’s former supervisor and internal documents, learned that hundreds of thousands of recordings were destroyed in the fire.

The toll includes some or most of the master tapes of artists like Chuck Berry, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Buddy Holly, Muddy Waters, Count Basie, Captain Beefheart …

(… actually, if you haven’t read the story, go read the paragraph in which Rosen lists the names of just some of the affected artists. You’ll know it by its heartbreaking length.)

I’ve been trying to fight off the natural pop-geek urge to be infuriated.

For one thing, I know that anything man-made dies or fades sometime. One had to imagine that the master tapes for “Maybellene” weren’t going to last a thousand years, any more than their creator was.

For another thing, formats go away. It wouldn’t shock me if, in my kids’ lifetime, there were no longer any more machines able to play those master tapes.

Still, the manner of the tapes’ passing — they were being sloppily stored in space rented from an amusement park! — and the baldfaced manner with which Universal tried to cover it up are galling. While I never thought those recordings were immortal, they shouldn’t have gone like that.

And, while we’ve still got some archived version of all the music that was released, not everything on those master tapes had been released. Anything that somebody hadn’t dubbed a copy of is now gone. As in, forever.

(A random side observation here: You know those fuzz-headed, shambling hippies, the Grateful Dead? The guys who were so far removed from music industry best practices? They kept their library of live recordings in a special vault in Marin County, equipped with a system that would suck all the oxygen out of the room in case of fire. Scoff all you want at the Grateful Dead.)

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Which leads me circuitously back to Fried Pig. They were the hometown basement band in which I played bass, roughly from 1986 to 1992. (You might have read about them here.)

For almost the entire life of the Pig, I used this maroon bag as my jam-satchel, carrying tapes, extra strings, extension cords and other rock n’ roll effluvia to and from jam sessions.

It still holds a complete set of the cassette tapes on which we recorded music — songs with names like “Cesspool Ride” and “Nostril” and “My Testes Tingle” and “I Don’t Wanna Listen To You” and “Sex in the U.K.” and “Wolves of the Ivy League.”

(I am quietly astonished that I’ve taken better care of the Fried Pig archives than Universal Music Group took of the John Coltrane archives. OK, that makes the music-geek fury rise into my gullet a little bit.)

I’ve thought in recent months that it might be time to get rid of the Fried Pig archives.

I haven’t played the tapes in years; they might be unplayable for all I know. I’m down to one cassette player, a cranky old boom box. And there’s little or no musical justification to save 95 percent of the tunes.

And yet … who knows? It seems like the old-fashioned American garage-based guitar band is not what it used to be. Maybe if I can nurse this music through one or two more format changes, a Nuggets-style compilation of garage bands will come along to pick it up, and Fried Pig will finally get our overdue recognition as geniuses.

Plus, the Universal fire reminds me that goodbye is forever. Once I chuck those tapes, there’s no getting them back.

That seems, at least in today’s sentimental light, like a mistake. Music is a remarkable thing. And if music has been entrusted to you — or even if it’s just sort of wandered into your life like a stray schnauzer — you ought to take care of it.

So, the Pigbag heads back into the crawlspace.

That’s not a glamorous ending, and the long-term future is still uncertain. But at least, as tonight’s sun sets, the tapes still exist. Which may be more than can be said for “Johnny B. Goode.”

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What you find in the woods.

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When I get into do-kids-still-do-what-I-used-to-do? mode, some of the answers come easy.

I’m pretty sure the youth of western New York (and everywhere else) no longer watch filmstrips in class, requiring manual forwarding with each beep.

They don’t stay up watching TV until the station signs off either, because the stations don’t sign off, and anyway they’re probably watching videos on YouTube instead.

And they definitely don’t program in BASIC.

I’m fairly certain the kids of today are probably out scratching around the woods for golf balls, though, which provides some sort of cross-generational continuity.

I don’t know what got me thinking about golf-ball hunting recently. I must have driven past a course or something. It seemed appropriate, as this is around the time of year I would have been diving into it.

Two brothers who were close childhood friends of mine lived on a golf course. Their house abutted woods that served as a target for hackers on the nearest tee. It was a common entertainment for us in the summer to wade into the wilds and see what treasures we could bring back.

We didn’t play golf then — I don’t think any of us turned into golfers as adults, either — so we didn’t need the balls. They were just there for the taking, and we were young and willing.

There were orange ones and lime-green ones, and every once in a blue moon a pink one, and occasionally one with a special stamp or inscription, and some brands with unusual dimple formations that allegedly helped them fly farther. (We had a hierarchy, of course.)

And then there were the ones that had clearly been in the mud for a season or two; you had to decide just how badly you wanted those.

One of the brothers, and maybe both, accumulated an entire backpack full of stray balls. My brother and I didn’t collect quite so many, but I assembled a large box full over time. We kept that patch of woods pretty well cleaned out for a few summers, I imagine.

We tried to be as unobtrusive as possible, though in retrospect I’m not sure why.

We were trespassing, certainly, but we almost always maintained some distance away from the edge of the course — far enough that most adults wouldn’t come after the balls we picked up. (There is a steep difference between the degree of thicket that a child will tolerate and the degree an adult will tolerate; we took advantage of that.)

We never thought about ticks then; I’m not sure Lyme disease was on anybody’s map at that point. If there’s anything that keeps 21st-century kids from scarfing golf balls, it’s probably that.

(I’m also wicked susceptible to poison ivy nowadays, but that doesn’t seem to have been a problem back in the ’80s either. Musta been nice.)

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Most of my salvaged balls are gone now at the hands of my kids. My youngest took up golf last year, and I suspect he has returned some of my laboriously assembled collection to whence it came.

I do remember, after all these years, that the first ball I ever found was an orange Pinnacle … and in a box in my garage this weekend, I found this example. Maybe it’s the same ball. Maybe it isn’t. (Pinnacles weren’t rare.)

I’m fine with the rest of ’em disappearing, including this one. Golf balls are a classic example of something I hoarded without having any use for them. I don’t need that any more.

It’s just a shame, I suppose, that the kid scavengers who eventually find them won’t know that they’re getting antiques.

Five for the Record: Dr. John.

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News item: New Orleans singer-songwriter Dr. John, born Malcolm Rebennack, is dead at 77.

Another piece of my kids’ childhood is gone.

A weird way to remember Dr. John, I suppose, but that’s how it works around here.

When our first son came along, my wife and I were adamant that we wouldn’t give in and listen to crappy kids’ music. We knew that bland singalongs and squeaky voices and little-kid gimmickry would drive us mad if we heard it again and again.

No, we were gonna feed our son’s ears the same music we liked. Go straight to quality. Now for the good stuff, later for the garbage, as John Lee Hooker used to say.

We discovered, sadly, that it is in kids’ nature to demand what they like over and over again, no matter what that thing is.

So instead of getting sick of Barney and the Wiggles played ten times through, we got sick of Bruce Springsteen’s greatest hits and Dr. John’s best-of Mos’ Scocious and a couple of Los Lobos albums played ten times through.

Enough time has passed since then that I can stand to hear Dr. John again. And so, in the tradition of my long-simmering Five for the Record feature, I offer five of my favorite Dr. John tunes to send the man off.

(OK, one other point to address before I get to that. I’ve gotten a dim sense over the years that some musicians in New Orleans resented Dr. John for the same reason that some people resented Elvis Presley. Musicians of color created the musical culture; a white guy made money from it. I can understand those complaints, but I think it goes both ways. I suspect Dr. John — who was good about giving credit to his inspirations — sold plenty of New Orleans records for others, serving as a sort of gateway drug for the likes of Professor Longhair. If you disagree, feel free to flame me in the comments.)

Let’s get ready to rhumba:

1. “Mama Roux.” What’s cooler than David Bowie yelling, “Wham, bam, thank you ma’am”? Maybe, just maybe, Dr. John’s stroked-out “Wham, bam / Scraaam, Sam.” He sounds like he’s chasing a little kid away from the back door of a cathouse. Perhaps he is at that.

Anyway, this is about as low-key funky as music comes, like they scraped it off the bottom of the river at midnight. Extra points for the use of New Orleans nonsense patois in the “oola malla tralla walla” verse. I get the sense that you either know what that means, or you don’t.

2. “Junko Partner.” I originally bought the Mos’ Scocious collection for my dad. It ended up back with me because, as I recall, many of the songs were a little too poppy or rocky or mainstream. It didn’t go heavy enough on that courtly, sidewinding N’Awlins funk that my dad (and many others) find so irresistible.

This old New Orleans heroin song is one of those on Mos’ Scocious that makes it abundantly and unmistakably clear where the singer came from. Features a great greasy sax solo (what exactly is Dr. John doing on piano behind the first chorus?) As the man says: “Give me heav-vunnnnn / Before I die.”

3. “Sahara.”A funky, offbeat instrumental released under Rebennack’s own name, before he adopted the Dr. John persona. Sometimes the best tunes are the simplest and this is one example.

If I were a relief pitcher, this would be my coming-in-from-the-bullpen music.

Seriously: When I hear it I imagine Fenway on a stinking humid Friday night in July, with thousands of beer-loose people dancing in the bleachers, while yours truly jogs implacably in to lay his knuckleball on some hapless Orioles or Tigers with the unknowable, potent force of a John the Conqueroo.

(If you’re gonna be Walter Mitty, do the hell out of it, says I.)

4. “Mardi Gras Day.” The only time I ever went to New Orleans was about three months after Hurricane Katrina. I remember houses with those bright orange quadrant logos spray-painted on them (the ones that signified whether the house had been searched, and whether bodies had been found there), and little stores in the French Quarter with their entire inventories piled on the sidewalk, water-trashed.

It would have been nice to know the New Orleans that comes to life in this song, which is so loose that “loose” seems an insufficient descriptor.

The tempo gets faster and slower, mostly slower. Dr. John croaks his entrance at 3:30 like a parched partygoer. And there’s what sounds like the entire Ninth Ward shit-talking each other in the background.

If this was the final version they put on the record, I would love to hear what they sounded like when they were warming up.

5. “Wash, Mama, Wash.” I guess I oughta put one song on this list that isn’t a slice of High Delta Weirdness. There’s a conventional song at the heart of this, overlain with some offbeat New Orleans funk and a little soul. “After you rub it a while, you dub it in the tub,” our hero proclaims with great good humor, after warning his heroine away from playing the numbers.

This was, apparently, a Top 15 hit in Louisville, Kentucky, in July 1970, riding the charts alongside “Ball of Confusion,” “The Love You Save,” “The Wonder of You” and “Make It With You.” A most agreeable city, Louisville, and not without musical discernment.

None may ride the stallion.

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What’s the line from the Nineties college-rock song? Something about a little souvenir / of a terrible year“?

I’ve spent most of the past year living by myself in an apartment following a job change. It hasn’t all been terrible, but it hasn’t been the best year I’ve ever had, either.

Early on I decided to try to make “music” (“music” always being a flexible term in my hands) while living in what my younger son alternately called the Dad Cave and the Sad Dad Pad.

It seemed like one way to keep sane (that’s also kind of a flexible word around me) and challenge myself in my free hours.

Guitars would have been too loud for an apartment, and never mind the diddley bow. The best tool I could identify for this pursuit was the old Casio CA-100 keyboard that once belonged to my grandfather — one of those Eighties jobbies with 99 different pre-programmed beats.

I resolved to play around with the beats. Speed them up, slow them down, soak them in reverb, layer them atop one another, play them backward, cut them, paste them, abuse them, call them mother, call them beloved, call them Abraxas.

And that’s what you’ll hear (with occasional vocal outbursts) on the latest Kurt Blumenau release, Canis Susurrus Resurrection, available as a free Bandcamp download as of about 10 minutes ago.

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Cover art. As for the name: Canis means dog, susurrus is a whispering or rustling, so Canis Susurrus Resurrection must mean a return to dog-rustling. Seemed to sum things up pretty well.

I don’t really like this one very much. But having made the music, I felt obliged to do something with it. I knew I didn’t have to make it public, but there seemed no real harm in it. No one is required to pay or listen.

And making something just to file and forget it felt like writing off the almost-year of the apartment — as if to say, “Yeah, that period wasn’t great, and even somebody of your low musical standards couldn’t get anything worth releasing out of it.”

So, out it goes.

In the past I’ve offered some sort of prize to anyone who sent me a snapshot of a digital device playing one of the songs from my new “record.” I’m gonna skip that this time around, ’cause you’ll probably want to sit this one out. Maybe the next one will be more rewarding.

The bright side is I’ve escaped the apartment, and in the near future, I’ll be reunited with my family. I’m wicked looking forward to that.

I might have to get out the diddley bow to celebrate…

It’s confusing to your mind.

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A promise made is a debt unpaid, as they say.

About a month ago, I posted a song-by-song review of Frank Zappa’s One Size Fits All.  Reader/college friend Brian Dawson called on me to write similar reviews of other Zappa albums. This was almost certainly the first time in a decade of blogging that somebody asked me to write more about something. So I said, “You got it.”

This weekend I took another long car trip, and brought another Zappa album with me.

And so it is you get to read my pithy thoughts on Waka/Jawaka.

First, a few notes for context:

  • W/J, released in 1972, is one of two big-band albums Zappa recorded in a wheelchair while recovering from injuries sustained when he was pushed off a stage into an orchestra pit.
  • Zappa apparently claimed the title came from a Ouija board; I always assumed it’s a vocalization of the sound made by a wah-wah pedal.
  • The album consists of two lengthy instrumental pieces, and two relatively brief vocal numbers.
  • The players are studio-cat types for the most part, though a few once and future Zappa regulars appear. Most notably, ex-Mother Don Preston plays the lengthy Moog solo on the title track.
  • The album peaked at No. 152 and appears on three charts in the endlessly useful ARSA database of local radio airplay charts.
  • If any of this sounds interesting to you, I suggest you visit Wiki Jawaka, a wiki-style site devoted to the Zappa universe.

And now, the songs of Waka/Jawaka from worst to best. There’s only four of ’em; you won’t be here long:

4. “Your Mouth.” Swanky unpleasant blues ditty in which the narrator’s woman is threatened in turn with losing “a bunch of your teeth,” and death by shotgun. (Another sample lyric: “An evil woman can make you cry / if you believe her every time she lies.”)

I know Zappa wasn’t a murderer or a wife-beater, nor was he seriously advocating it. This is just a pastiche of the blooze records he grew up hearing, mixed with a pinch of rancor toward the kind of idiot who thinks violence against women will solve his problems.

I still don’t like listening to it.

3. “Big Swifty.” First track on the record. The first 75 seconds come in hot, swinging their elbows and stomping their feet, with Zappa playing some brown distorted guitar while the horns and drums dance around him.

Unfortunately, the song runs for an additional sixteen-plus minutes after that. The song’s initial promise fades into an endless and uninspired jam — two bars on the root note, then two bars a half-step up, creating a poor man’s Spanish-flavored ambience that the soloists abuse mercilessly.

For a while, Zappa and trumpeter Sal Marquez — he’s all over the record — blow at the same time. It doesn’t sound like they’re interacting or even aware of each other’s presence. Meanwhile, drummer Aynsley Dunbar kicks and stings and meddles, as bored virtuoso drummers have done since time immemorial. (As much as I like FZ’s playing, I’m forced to say that he solos way too long on this tune.)

Eventually they change the chord pattern a little bit, Zappa and Marquez land on similar-sounding riffs, and things perk up for a while. The full band plays some rephrased versions of the opening themes, which are gentle and even a little wistful in places.

And then that inspiration runs out, and the song’s last two or three minutes trundle along to the Side 1 fade, music with no reason to exist.

2. “Waka/Jawaka.” Sorta like “Big Swifty” in concept — it starts with a jazzy head (dig the Morse-code trumpets), moves into a lengthy improv section, then the opening melodies return.

The differences are that Uncle Frank put more work and thought into the melodies and arrangements here, while cutting the deadweight jams. “Waka/Jawaka” runs six minutes shorter than “Big Swifty,” and benefits hugely from its comparative conciseness. (Dunbar’s drum solo, for example, doesn’t overstay its welcome.)

All told, a solid and satisfying example of Zappa-as-serious-composer. Shame this kind of music couldn’t pay his bills.

1. “It Just Might Be A One-Shot Deal.” I’m not a huge fan of the group vocal on this one, though I think an uncredited Zappa shows up in a couple of places. Truth be told, “Waka/Jawaka” is probably the better song.

This one manages to be deeply, fundamentally weird without insulting anybody or toppling over into smuttiness — always a challenge for FZ. It’s not cynical or condescending, either.

And it’s catchy in its own freaky way; there are about five different parts of the song you might come away humming.

(My favorite part: The weird tuneless breakdown gives way to a Laurel Canyon-approved three-chord country canter, featuring a typically dexterous steel-guitar solo by Sneaky Pete Kleinow. Where’d he come from? This is a big band album. Well, maybe.)

Yes, you should be diggin’ it while it’s happening.

Trust me, I’m an expert.

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Young reporter with colleagues, maybe around 2000 or so. No cell phone in his pocket. And he wore a watch.

I’ll never have my own Wikipedia page, unless I:

– drink 1,400 bottles of radioactive water, like Eben Byers

– serve as governor of Maine for 25 hours, like Nathaniel M. Haskell

– get burned at the stake for heresy, like Botulf Botulfsson

But I’ve discovered the next best thing to earning a Wiki page: I am cited as an authority in the reference section of seven Wiki pages.

This is a remnant of my former life as a reporter for a mid-sized regional daily newspaper. Some of the topics I wrote about are apparently significant enough to have Wiki pages … and a few of those Wiki pages attribute information to stories I wrote years ago. That’s sorta cool, no?

You’ll find me in the footnotes for:

The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley — the Lehigh Valley’s first lifestyle mall. Between you, me and the lamppost, I think lifestyle centers are gross, but writing about ’em helped feed my kids for a couple of years there.

Lehigh Valley Mall — the region’s largest mall. I bought a Macintosh computer there once. Mostly enclosed but has added an outdoor “lifestyle” section, which I find just as unpalatable as the one at Saucon Valley.

South Mall — Yes, retail was one of my beats; why do you ask? Aging, somewhat undertrafficked mall in Allentown. You can still occasionally find old-timers who call it Hess’s South, even though the locally grown Hess’s department store chain hasn’t had a store there in 25 years.

Whitehall Mall— Thoroughly unremarkable retail cluster across the street from the Lehigh Valley Mall. Something I co-wrote in October 2003 with the earth-shaking headline “Former Leh’s store may be converted to Gold’s Gym” makes me an expert on the subject.

Don Cunningham – Former mayor of Bethlehem, Pa., and now a regional economic development head. Also indulges himself in Bruce Springsteen impressions as the longtime leader of a local cover band.

Falcon’s Fury – I have never been on this amusement-park drop tower. I have never even been in the city where it is located. I never, ever plan to go anywhere near there. But I wrote something in 2006 about another ride at another park, and it got cited in a reference here. Warum nicht?

Allentown, Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania’s third-largest city. I am currently the source for Footnote No. 69 (!) for its Wiki entry, as well as footnote No. 70. Who knows the grimy streets and tattered dreams of Allentown? Me, I guess.

Of course, the fellowship of Wiki citations is not a very exclusive club, and the door is fairly wide-open to those with the most minor credentials.

Like many former reporters, I have a lingering beef or two with the industry, and one of mine involves accuracy.

When you consider the sheer volume of information in a day’s paper, and the fact that at least some of the writers woke up that morning unfamiliar with the subject they were to cover that day, that gives you some idea that newspapers get more things wrong or semi-wrong than you might think. And if no one calls in to correct it — as they often don’t, for various reasons — the incorrect or not-quite-right stuff gets repeated the next day, or picked up by the other paper in town.

(I once worked with a guy who used to say, “Every day I come in here and see a day’s paper without a correction in it, I laugh to myself.”)

Of course my own work was shining and flawless in its informational purity. Of course.

But now I’m thinking about some of my lesser fellow travelers. I wonder if their work is also cited on Wiki. I bet at least a few of ’em are. It’s not like you have to pass some sort of trustworthiness test, after all.

So, it’s just another reminder that you can’t put all your trust in Wiki. Questionable info in, questionable info out.

(Just in case you need to formally cite that line somewhere, that’s: Blumenau, Kurt (May 21, 2019.) “Trust me, I’m an expert.” Neck Pickup, neckpickup.wordpress.com.)

Third-string in Maine.

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After years of trawling through pop music, I’ve come to the conclusion that the “unheard classic” is much more talked about than actually seen.

If a song fails to gain widespread traction on the radio, there’s probably a good reason. Either the mix is muddy, or the lyrics are banal, or the singer’s a touch flat, or the band’s out of tune, or the same musical and lyrical ideas were better done by somebody else. Some little-heard songs are entertaining, but relatively few are really essential.

A quick dive earlier tonight into the invaluable ARSA database of local radio airplay charts brought this to mind.

The text for tonight’s sermon is the chart for the week ending Aug. 24, 1973, at WKTJ in the college town of Farmington, Maine. Specifically, we’re skipping past the Top 30 chart and the Hitbound list to look at the tunes on the New Extras list.

If the Top 30 are the varsity and the Hitbounds are the JV, I guess the New Extras are like the eighth-grade team — the hits-in-waiting in waiting. Or maybe they’re more like scrappy odds-and-ends that the DJs like enough to play from time to time, but not enough to include on either of the two main lists.

One of the New Extras, you know. (I assume WKTJ played a bleeped version.) As for the other five, I think you’ll agree that the world didn’t miss out on any life-affirming classics:

“Make My Life A Little Bit Brighter,” Chester: Now here’s a rags-to-riches-to-rags story: Canadian pop band cuts a Top 10 single in its home country only about a year after forming; misses the charts with its next single; then breaks up a few years later without releasing anything else. By the time they were nominated for a Juno award as Most Promising Group in 1974, their career was essentially already done.

As for the tune, it’s basic run-of-the-mill bubblegum, neither offensive nor tremendously memorable. Probably the most memorable part is the cheery line in the first verse about “I’ll sleep with you / when I want to / and I’ll want to,” which seems to me to be a little — como se dice? — forward for a teenybopper song. (When they touch on the first verse again near the end, they leave that part out.)

“Caribbean Moon,” Kevin Ayers: This song, this week, marks the loopy English singer-songwriter’s only appearance on a singles chart in the ARSA database. (Ayers’s LP The Confessions of Dr. Dream and Other Stories also appears on one solitary airplay chart, from Ontario in January 1975.)

“Caribbean Moon” is rudimentary and repetitive, and just dumb and fluffy and coconut-flavored enough that it could have been a hit — this is the Seventies we’re talking about, after all.

It’s most memorable, though, for its promotional film, which once seen cannot be unseen. I don’t know whether there was any venue where the people of Farmington, Maine, could have seen this in 1973, but if there were, I don’t think it would have inspired them to call WKTJ with requests.

“Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow,” Tina Harvey: The original version of this song is the sound of the drug- and road-weary Rolling Stones running headlong into a brick wall. Keith Richards has spoken of the pressures on bands back then — world tour; grind out an LP with at least two world-changing singles on it; world tour; LP and world-changing singles; etc. — and this is what you get after two or three years of that.

Tina Harvey’s cover, based on acoustic fingerpicking and orchestral beds, could scarcely be more different from the Stones’ harsh, jangled original. As a total creative re-imagination, it’s actually pretty credible, and worth hearing. (Apparently the peripatetic and since-disgraced Jonathan King produced.)

The problem is that “Have You Seen Your Mother…” isn’t that great or substantial a song to begin with. The teeth-grinding sped-up psychosis of the Stones’ version is most of what makes it memorable. (There’s a reason you don’t hear it played much.)

So, Harvey’s version is more of a curio than anything else. Interesting, sure, and worth a listen, but a curio none the less.

“Moosehead Lake,” Don West: I’m cheating here because I can’t find the song on YouTube; it seems to be as regional a “hit” as regional hits come. This is the only survey in the ARSA database on which it appears.

Everything I know about the song comes from a 2007 post by West’s son Arlo to a Fender Telecaster discussion board. The younger West says his dad recorded an album in Nashville, and “The Ballad of Moosehead Lake” is a “pretty funny little song” about a batch of over-strong homebrew that exploded while aging.

With all due respect to both Wests, I’m gonna say country plus novelty plus performer-you’ve-never-heard-of probably does not a classic make. But who knows? Maybe someday down the line I will hear the tune and be enlightened.

“Wig Wam Bam,” Terry Williams: Williams played lead guitar in Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. If Wiki is to be believed, he also released a string of solo singles, starting with folk-rock tunes and moving to harder rock numbers.

Sweet’s version of “Wig Wam Bam” was a Top Five hit around the world but a stiff in America. One assumes Williams had his eyes open and saw a hit for the taking, which is a worthy enough train of thought.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t sell Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn’s nonsensical Native Americanisms here in the States either. And his version doesn’t differ enough from Sweet’s version to be memorable over the long run.