BEATNIK BEATCH: Albums overanalyzed

In updating these Jellyfish tales, I knew I definitely wouldn’t bother updating or even posting any details about Beatnik Beatch’s music.  What I wrote about it over 15 years ago isn’t worth repeating and- Shit.  Alright, here goes…..

bb zulaIn 1986, Beatnik Beatch released the album At The Zula Pool on Industrial Records.  The band had actually previously been called Zula Pool. Industrial was the name of their management company, but they also released quite a few records.  Between the blue vinyl and the cover, it looks like something you’d get free with a subscription to Seventen magazine cerca 1987. After a few months of hoping to find it alphabetically after my usual perusal of Beatles albums (but usually finding Beautiful South or Beats International instead), I came across it at Lou’s Records in Encinitas and was surprised to see they’d given the band its very own bin card.  Thought for sure it’d be in the ol Misc B section when I did finally find it.

Charlotte, ex-Jellyfish Army queen says:
“Speaking of the blue vinyl BB records….this should give you an indication of just what we think of it. Roger gave all the leftover lps (back in 1989 maybe?) to our friend Greg (the one across the hall whose computer I use), who took a blowtorch to them all & made candy dishes for everyone that Christmas. We took ours & are currently using it as a lampshade on our Dino (from the flintstones) home-made thrift store lamp. Yes, you may print that.”

Here are the album’s credits:
All songs written by KETNER/STURMER Copyright 1986 BMI
Enginneered/Produced by ROBERT DAVID, at RD Recording, San Francisco.
Art Direction and Design RICHARD STUTTING
CHRIS COYLE Industrial Management
GEORGE COLE: Guitars.
CHRIS WITT KETNER: Bass, Vocals and Viola.
ANDY STURMER: Drums, Vocals and Percussion.
Thanks to SE PADILLA: Keyboards.
Special Thanks to: TOMMY VISION,
ERIC MUHLITNER and MARK ROOSA (SAX).

THE SONGS: (most of which you can hear on this Myspace fanpage)

“BEATNIK BEATCH” 3:00
In the grand song namesake tradition of “General Public”, this is a bluesy little number that Andy sings most of the lead on. Ketner sings the middle part, an obvious nod to Ray Charles’ “Hit The Road Jack”. As I mentioned before, I did a one-off tongue-in-cheek beatnik poetry thang at a party called Beatnik Bitch and we did this song with a bit of a friend’s song (“Trigger Happy” by Tucker) thrown in before doing a poem from the then-current “So I Married An Ax Murderer”.

“LONESOME TOWN”  3:32
This is an upbeat number that Andy sings lead on. Always kinda liked the way it kicked in after the first song.  Ketner’s stand up bass playing on this song is damn good.

“HARLEM” 3:39
This is one of Ketner’s. Boring music n’ overly wannabe dramatic lyrics. I’d mention Mister Mister but maybe that’s too harsh. The title comes from the comparison of “ice on the desert sand” to “a white man in Harlem.” Oh sweet simile.

“WORTHLESS HEART” 2:50
It drags and the viola don’t help none. Andy sings lead and must’ve thought it wasn’t too bad because he and Roger re-recorded the song later to give to Ringo Starr for him to possibly use on his album Time Takes Time. That demo ended up on the UK “Ghost at #1” single and is surprisingly good. They added a great middle 8 and acoustic guitar work. Curious who played on it.  Possibly Jason

“WATCHING THE RAIN” 4:45
Putting these two songs back to back must’ve been specifically designed to put the listener to sleep. While they finish out the first side on this album, on the Atlantic release, these two songs were placed at the end of the album, further confirming this theory. Though it appears to be mostly a Ketner song, it’s odd that, like “Worthless Heart”, Andy & Roger also re-recorded this one to give to Ringo. The “Jellyfish” version of this song (also on the UK “Ghost at #1” single) is much better than BB’s version but you can’t polish a….well, you know.

SIDE TWO

“LOVE ON YOUR SIDE” 3:09
Another Andy song that pointed towards future tunes like “I Wanna Stay Home”.  There’s a terrible video for this they made while they were still called Zula Pool.  Haven’t seen it in years.

“TURNAROUND” 3:24
This is the first of four songs in a row that did not end up on the Atlantic album. Ketner sings an unemotional lead on it, even when he’s crooning “la la la la la”. There is a tiny little cool harmony on the word “girl”, so there’s that.

“SAME WAR” 2:40
The band produced this Ketner song themselves. Probably the most unintentionally funny lyrics they ever did.  In it, they’re trying to unite the world via the tedious things one has to do daily (i.e. getting up and going to work). “We’re in this together!” is quite a rally cry. “When it comes to you and me/they’re not the enemy/It’s our destiny/We’ve got to come together./You’ve got to do it too.” Wow. Donna Summer went for the same worki8n7g8 (that’s my dog putting her chin on the keyboard and I’m leaving it in thankyouverymuch) ing class hero celebration on “She Works Hard For The Money” to better effect.

“SECRET PIER” 2:45
The other track that the band produced themselves, this time with one of Andy’s tunes. Um, ’nuff said?

“ONE THOUSAND VOICES” 3:28
Another Ketner rallying the world together type song. This one inspires us to overcome loneliness. I mean, hey, there’s a thousand voices out there. “Some are wasted/some you’ve never tasted”  (rolls eyes)

“BEATNIK BEATCH (ACOUSTIC)” 0:32
This mini version of “Beatnik Beatch” isn’t listed on the album cover but is on the actual LP sticker.

bb atlanticIn 1988, Atlantic Records released the Beatnik Beatch album, self-titled like many debut records.  The first six of At Zula Pool‘s ten songs were also included on this, the only apparent difference being the first and second verses of the song “Beatnik Beatch” are switched.   It advertises that it “Contains newly recorded tracks previously unreleased” of which there are four songs. The sticker on the jacket says “Featuring Beatnik Beatch & Lonesome Town”. The album was released on CD, LP, and cassette. The cover shows a midget, Selwyn, holding up an upright bass in the middle of some kind of desolate desert type landscape. On the inside are pictures of the band members in the same Tattoinesque setting. The main highlight is a young looking (21 or 22) Roger Manning Jr. with short hair. I saw him tell a fan that he was going through “a Jesus & Marychain phase”. Imperial Drag’s  bassist Joe was in stitches at the sight of it.

Strangely, I found this major label album AFTER I found the self-released At The Zula Pool even though thousands of them were probably made. I couldn’t tell you where I found it…until I just re-read this.  Now it’s taking up brain space again.  Great. I bought the CD at Music Trader on Miramar Road in San Diego, the cassette for just 50 cents at a Wherehouse in Clairemont (SD) and an unopened vinyl copy for six bucks somewhere in Ocean Beach (SD), probably Cow Records. This was when I wanted it all. I only kept the cd….grudgingly.  Apparently it was rereleased in 2007, though I can’t find any info on it.

bb cassette
Here are the album’s credits:
All songs written by Ketner-Sturmer, 1988
All songs published by Big Baggo Music, BMI

GEORGE COLE
GUITARS

CHRIS WITT KETNER
BASS, VOCALS AND VIOLA

ROGER MANNING
KEYBOARDS

ANDY STURMER
DRUMS, VOCALS AND PERCUSSION.

ALL SONGS WRITTEN BY KETNER/STURMER 1988 BMI
ENGINEERED/PRODUCED BY ROBERT DAVID
AT RD RECORDING, SAN FRANCISCO.
MASTERED AT PRECISION LACQUER
ART DIRECTION/DESIGN RICHARD STUTTING
PHOTOGRAPHY JEFFERY NEWBURY
CHRIS COYLE INDUSTRIAL MANAGEMENT
Thanks to SE PADILLA Keyboards.
SPECIAL THANKS TO: Barry Simons, Victor Ratto, Tommy Vision, Selwyn Emerson Miller, DNA Lounge (Spence, Brian, Jeff), Ken Komisar and Carter.

Although Roger had become a full-fledged band member, the “Zula” tracks had Se Padilla’s playing, so he is credited as playing keyboards too. Barry Simons is an entertainment lawyer in the Bay Area who was helping my friend’s band, Tucker, and has also handled Alex Chilton and Camper Van Beethoven.  Victor Ratto, along with Chris Coyle, were with Industrial Management who managed Beatnik Beatch, and, later, Jellyfish. The DNA Lounge is a club in San Francisco that Beatnik Beatch played regularly. Jellyfish played their first real shows there shortly after both of their albums were released.  Carter was the man who signed the band to Atlantic Records and later hooked the band up with Albhy Galuten. Check out this interesting San Francisco Chronicle article on him on Chris Bray’s Jellfyish website.

NEW SONGS:
(all of which you can hear on this Myspace fanpage)

“MARIA”
This is one of Ketner’s songs that wasn’t on Zula. Awful lyric example: “Cupid, you’ve got an quiver with twisted arrows/and it’s just not right for you to shoot at night ’cause your aim is so bad./It’s just not fair./It’s like shooting sparrows with a shotgun.” Er, ok. It’s so bad he sings the verse twice. Anyways, this song is important because it contains the most Jellyfishesque moment on the album. There is a jazzy little middle 8 break that Andy sings that is pretty ‘fishy.

“WELCOME” 2:34
An upbeat pop song that Andy sings lead on. Sort of a war protest song. “Welcome to our side of the world/If you don’t like it, we’ll blow you all to hell.” Not that interesting, but, GO ROGER, GO!

“SGT. LASARD” 3:36
This is probably the best of the “new” songs that weren’t on At The Zula Pool. Andy sings lead on this straight-forward rocker. Another military tinged song? Sounds that way.

“HOW MUCH DOES LOVE COST” 4:03
This is a quirky little bluesy deal that Andy and Ketner both sing on. A lil’ commentary on female gold diggers. The word “money” is sung like in Pink Floyd’s “Money”.

Ok, that’s more than enough.

Unreleased swansong/terrible pun

Unreleased fictional swansong/terrible pun. A perfectly unfunny note to end the subject with. Alphabetically, there are no bands in between the two, are there?

More about Beatnik Beatch at JELLYFISH TALE #1: BEGINNINGS & BEATNIKS
BACK TO JOINING A FANPAGE

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5 thoughts on “BEATNIK BEATCH: Albums overanalyzed

  1. Pingback: JELLYFISH TALE #1: BEGINNINGS & BEATNIKS | "Yer doin' great." (a muzak clickclack)

  2. Pingback: JOINING A FANPAGE: JELLYFISH TALES | "Yer doin' great." (a muzak clickclack)

  3. To say that your review, and summary dismissal of this golden-era, Bay Area pop classic ballad, “watching the rain” was cruel, would be a vast understatement. I, a hearty lead singer, for several virile man bands, have often turned to this song for solace and comfort from my troubled world of Orwellian intrigues, and mighty rock battles. The lilting strains of the opening coda, combined with the masterful punctuation and sonic beauty of the minimalist guitar arpeggio, and the shimmering and haunting, deeply soul-felt lyrics of of man torn by time itself, reveal work of true genius, effortless pop craftsmanship, not to mention superior vocal execution, and (at the time), time state-of-the-art recording combining very best of the synthetic world with the natural and ethereal floral tones of warm, rich instruments, being played by men who matter, men who made a difference, men of the bold new century whom you, dear reviewer should give credence to.

    I believe, that history, looking back upon this great confluence of talent technology and meaningful content, will realize what a gem it was, and that the uncelebrated genius of these men who selflessly sacrificed themselves in the very fires of a rock ‘n roll hell all for the purification and edification of the people, that their sacrifice was not only not in vain, but rather of vast contribution to the timeless and internal library of great song in the heart of man, for ever and ever. Etc. etc.

    My name is Piero Amadeo Infante, and I approve of this message. I do not however approve of the review that it addresses.

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