May 24, 2006

Coo Coo Bird

Wee Willie Shantz' 'Coo Coo Bird' (with it's b-side 'Hush Puppy Hush') is a classic record. Unfortunately I don't own a copy, but if I did it would have a place in my box of desert island discs for sure. (Not that I own such a box either, but anyway...)

Is this country? Is it the blues? Is it a children's record? I have no idea... but it is wonderful. And bonkers! (You could call it inept, but that would be missing the point entirely.) Near impossible to describe, although the now defunct Oddball Auditorium website (who originally discovered and subsequently dubbed it the "world's strangest record") gave it their best shot:

"Can you imagine John Cage jamming with Negativland inside a moving boxcar full of victrolas... or perhaps an old backwoods codger, swigging mash whiskey from a facejar, has been working on these songs for 40 years and he finally got a chance to record them, but the only band he could find was a family of occultists who live at the junkyard. Anyway this record has it all -- prepared sound objects, recording manipulation, sing-speak vocal somewhere between nursery rhyme and shaman ritual, semi-aleatoric stringed instruments, and even a sublime saxophone solo."

The two tracks on this 45 rpm were long thought to be all that existed by Mr. Shantz. Three further records have however since been dug up by the excellent alt. country website They've set up a Wee Willie Shantz homepage of sorts, where all of them can be downloaded. None of the new discoveries quite match the original two for crazyness, but they should still be well worth anyone's while.

Wee Willie Shantz | Coo Coo Bird (original)

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