Thursday, June 4, 2009


This isn't Alvin Parks. But I think it should be.

ALVIN PARKS, "Jumpin' Jack Flash" b/w "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" (Early 70's single on the Bedlam label)

Phoned in from another GALAXY altogether comes this completely INSANE rant of a single which makes Lord Sutch seem subtle and the Shaggs seem polished. I don’t know WHO exactly Alvin Parks is – the only other Alvin I know is a chipmunk (and equally untrainable too, by the way) – but the tiny subtitle under his name tells you all you really need to know about this galactic primal scream. It says “backing by BEDLAM.” And after listening to both sides, I honestly don’t think Bedlam is a band. I think they meant, literally, that Alvin Parks is backed on these songs by a whirlwind of complete and utter chaos. That would at least explain some of the backing vocals.

This shit is so over-the-top, it must’ve been created in a universe where the word “subtle” doesn’t even exist. Alvin’s take on the Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” is simply to BURY the song in a flurry of reverb and delay, and reduce it to the simplest staccato guitar riff and metronomic Chambers Brothers drumbeat. After an opening drum roll reminiscent of the firing squad Alvin somehow avoided, Mr. Parks shouts out “Rock and Roll!” as if he’d already tried the Lounge and Zydeco versions in previous takes. Why he didn’t also yell out “Hello Cleveland!” remains a mystery. But just the way Alvin spits and strangles lines like “I was raised by a toothless bearded hag” leads me to believe that he might be speaking from experience. Meanwhile, the guy singing backing vocals, who sounds a bit like Professor Gumby from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, has absolutely NO idea what key the song is in, but really, does it even matter when you’re Bedlam incarnate? And when the words die out, like they always do, Alvin lets it be known how he REALLY speaks when he wants to be heard, letting loose an inspired Hendrix-worshipping buzzsaw FUZZ solo that’s absolutely LETHAL, even if he doesn’t actually remember to step on the wah wah pedal until the song’s already starting to fade. Back in the control booth, David Seville, now deaf, keeps shouting “Alvin! Alvin!!! AL-VIN!!!” while the crackling hot fire of molten bedlam envelops him and his sweater and his little furry chipmunks in the flames of hellfire and damnation.

Alvin's backup singer.

Oh, but if you thought that was great, just wait’ll you hear Alvin’s take on the Otis Redding chestnut “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay!” Now this, my friends, is a veritable Mona Lisa of real music. Like Hearing Impaired Night at the Karaoke Bar, or the Shaggs’ demo tapes, or the latest Rush album – it transcends both music AND comedy in the most ingenious way possible. He even manages to get in a couple of shout-outs to his homies back in Cali, changing the line to “just to make Long Beach my home” as thousands of Long Beach residents march like crazed lemmings straight off the dock and into the calm serenity of the Pacific Ocean, where Alvin’s music can’t reach ‘em. Planet Earth, meet Alvin Parks. And his recording buddies Bedlam, Chaos and Total Dementia. The Apocalypse now has a soundtrack.

THE SQUID INSANITY METER SEZ: Off the fucking charts.
BEST TAKEN WITH: Tap Water, Salmon Mousse and a Brick to the Side of the Head

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