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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
About a million years ago, when our far-from-human ancestors were still huddling together in a damp hole in the ground, picking lice from each other's armpits, music was born. Those peabrained hominids found they enjoyed barking and howling at the moon together, harmonizing as it were, and gradually incorporated a whole range of yelps, shrieks, farts and belches---which they could and did perform for the sheer exhilaration of the act. Yeah, this was the essential music, the primal music, with a weight and currency all its own, long before the spoken word polluted our ears. So, here we are a million years later, and we've forgotten the primal origin of music, it's been bred out of us---now we PAY a relative handful of polished schmucks to serenade us, because we fear that our own music, our own barking & yelping frenzy, is somehow unworthy. And this is what we now call the REAL world. Thank Christ for schizophrenia... Indeed, only a complete retreat from "reality" can deliver us to the roots of REAL music---and this is where I finally get around to endorsing "Songs in the Key of Z"... This is the real thing, baby, unencumbered by social dictates, false morality, political agendas... My most excellent advice: Don't try to rationalize the contents of this album WHATSOEVER. Don't just TRY to sing along, but really get INTO it, and howl your ass off if it feels good. Rock over London, Rock on Chicago, Northwest Airlines: Some People Just Know How To Fly.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
I read a review on here that stated people should avoid this CD because 'it's not funny'. I feel that the reviewer may be missing what I think is the point. I don't think this was put out as a worst song CD, but as a glimpse into what has been labeled 'outsider' music. The songs on this CD are certainly bizarre, and even incedentally funny, but the people on this CD made thier music not as a joke, but because they felt the need to do so, an urge from within. Granted, some urges should be supressed, but I welcome the diversity of the music on this CD. Listening, you will understand why none of these people will probably ever see a contract with a major record label. To me, these songs and artists represent the fringe of the music world. And I did laugh at a number of the tracks, but I also kept it within the context of this is not a novelty record, but a glimpse into a world many of us don't get a chance to see. If you want novelty, go get a Dr. Demento CD. but if you want something different, bizzare, odd, and an all around unique music experience, check out this CD.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2001
This album is billed as a sort of return to Eden-- the Purity of Music before being tainted by the dirty hands of our commercial society. Yet, if this is what purity sounds like, well, I don't know... Why should you buy this album? It isn't the sort of music that you will find stuck on infinite repeat in your CD player. Nor will you need to hold yourself back from belting out "Rock n' Roll McDonald's" while browsing your local library. Rather, this album will emerge from your collection to meet an intense and incurable craving for the fabulously unusual. Certainly you need a sense of humor, and being slightly bizarre yourself helps too. While you would be hard pressed to find someone who loved every song on this album, there is something for everyone (or at least everyone with a taste for this sort of thing). Personal favorites of mine include B.J. Snowden's "In Canada," the lyrics of which scan with such misfortune as to create a hitherto unknown experience of the English language. Despite countless listening, "Virgin Child of the Universe" continues to delight due to the incongruity of the naively generic setting of the slightly disturbing lyrics. There are sounds captured here that you certainly will not find elsewhere-- both humorous and inexplicably attractive. And I must admit, there is something appealing about the seeming unselfconsciousness about the whole thing.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2004
This is a great introduction to the world of "Outsider" music (term coined by Irwin Chusid). This CD is the audio counterpart to the book of the same title. Outsider musicians play their own unique music, and they all sound different from each other, so there are many different styles here. Personally, I like all of the performances here, but I may be in the minority there. If you like music that is "different", you should definitely give this CD a listen.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2002
Wow...and I mean that. Irwin Chusid has worked very hard at researching these artists, as it is apparent in his matching book. To listen to the record is a blissful yet disturbing descent into madness.
I first heard of Daniel Johnston many years ago, and I had the pleasure of meeting him this past December. He encompasses this medium of Outsider, everything gimmicky stripped down to pure innocence. He is featured on this album, along with a wide variety of musical prowess, from the strange to the bizarre (The most bizarre being Sri Darwin Gross, in my opinion, with what sounds like an early Walt Disney song on acid).
The Shaggs unavoidably stick out, with literally no musical timing or structure to be heard; One of the most entertaining and singable songs, strangely enough. There are well-knowns such as Captain Beefheart and everyone's favorite big schizophrenic teddy bear, Wesley Willis. Also included the world famous, extremely scary (again, my opinion) Tiny Tim.
Irwin Chusid also explores the odd realm of song-poems (see book for more info). The Swedish Elvis, the strangest scatter, and a mental patient who knows more songs than Sinatra; This, plus many more on this brilliant collection. A must have for any fan of strange music.
P.S. If you have to ask, you'll never know. It'll enjoyably drive many folks crazy; my girlfriend can't stand it!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2005
thank god that somebody sat down and put these gems together. They shine like rare diamonds in a musical climate that is becoming all the more narrow and predictable. Buy this album. You will not be dissapointed
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2003
Sometimes we are so accustomed to MUSIC big companies made for us. I think it's not too bad for us to listen to something different. If you wanna know what music but MUSIC is. Go out and buy it! You will know there are many worlds in our only one WORLD.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2001
this cd brings together so much that is unique and fringe in the art music world, that it should impress even a die hard collector of the avant garde. and i felt compelled to correct another reviewer that wrote in. the tiny tim song was one of the last songs he ever recorded before his untimely death 3 years ago. of course knowing some personal details about the artists, such as the fact that it is Tim's new wife that adds the thin backup vocals on the track, helps one appreciate how deep this cd goes. included are an astonishing and very revealing version of making love to a vampire with a monkey on my knee that should impress ANY beefheart fan, and the old stand-by of the fringe world, your freind and mine, jandek. i don't own the book, but after listening to this cd, i am CERTAINLY going to buy it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2003
Some people are really missing the point of this CD (and vol 2 also). Its not supposed to be a comedy compilation. Its not supposed to be deep, meaningful art either. Its a collection of music that you wont ever hear in the charts or on national radio. Songs in the Key of Z is a rare insight into music made by people who may not be the greatest musicians or are not even particularly talented, in some cases. However, they put their heart & soul into it & create excellent music in a very unconventional way. some of the real gems include Jandek, Shooby Taylor, Daniel Johnston, the Shaggs & The Legendary Starsust Cowboy. If you're tired of the mainstream, buy this CD now!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2000
This really has to be heard to be believed; the riches of perversely untalented musical iconoclasm are all to be found here. Forget your Mrs Millers and all the other pretenders: they pale alongside Congress-Woman Parker, Shooby Taylor and Sri Darwin Gross. Prepare to astonish yourself and your unsuspecting friends.
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