2007   MARCH 17   #076

The Ed Wood Zone

1 Planet Log - Tor Johnson (3:41)
2 The Immigrants - Me and Bela Lugosi (3:11)
3 Naomi Hall - Bride of the Monster (4:01)
4 God Monster - Love Feast (4:26)
5 Angora Space Dream - Semtex (2:17)
6 Prewar Yardsale - Would Ed Wood? (3:28)

The Mp3.com "Internet Radio Stations" were really playlists with options to "play all" or download selected tracks. My Mp3.Com Internet radio station "The Ed Wood Zone" came into existance one afternoon in August of 2000, when I typed the name "Tor Johnson" into the Mp3.com search engine. I have no idea why I did. I like to think I'm not the kind of guy who types "Tor Johnson" into a search engine apropos of nothing, but maybe I am. To my amazement, it turned out that someone on Mp3.com had actually written and recorded a song with that title. I fed more Ed Wood-related names and titles into the search engine, and continued getting hits. Two different "Grave Robbers from Outer Space!" Two different "Orgies of the Dead"! Within an hour I had assembled about a dozen songs, which became the first version of "The Ed Wood Zone."

My amazement continued for almost a year. When I ran out of Ed Wood movie titles, I typed Ed Wood related phrases into the search engine- I'd recall, for instance, the cardboard tombstones flapping in the breeze in "Plan 9," or Martin Landau battling with a totally inert mechanical octopus in Tim Burton's Ed Wood movie because nobody remembered to bring the motor. I'd type in "Cardboard Tombstone" or "Octopus Motor"-and I'd find "Cardboard Tombstone" by The EndS or "Octopus Motor" by SpEnt FiXer.

And Criswell! I could have filled a station with songs either about Criswell or built around Criswell samples. There was not only a song called "Criswell's Corpses" on mp3.com, there was a cover of it.

I expected most of this stuff to be goth or metal, and some of it was, but it was spread right across the musical spectrum-there was a lot of techno and ambient Ed Wood music, there were pop songs and folk songs, there was a classical piece by the composer Dennis Bathory-Kitsz called "Brand Nine from Outer Space" (anything I came across with "...Nine from Outer Space" in the title eventually landed in the Ed Wood Zone). (Bathory-Katz, incidentally, is currently engaged in his very own one man 365-Day Project!) There was even a jazz musician named Ed Wood who posted on Mp3.com and was delighted to be included in The Ed Wood Zone.

I didn't get everything I wanted. I searched Mp3.com's classical section weekly but never found a performances of Mussolov's Iron Foundry (the music playing over the credits (and everything else) in "Plan 9"), and I pined for someone to cover at least one of the 16 or so songs Dolores Fuller (Ed Wood's girl friend and the leading lady in "Glen or Glenda," the one played by Sarah Jessica Parker in the Tim Burton movie) had written for Elvis Presley. R. Stevie Moore toyed with the idea of doing "Rock-a-Hula Baby" or "Do the Clam," but it was not to be. And I'd have loved something by Rudolph Grey, the great no wave guitarist and author of Ed Wood's biography "Nightmare of Ecstasy," but he wasn't lurking on Mp3.com, at least not under any name I could find.

Back in the summer of 2000 there were no songs called "Glen or Glenda," "The Sinister Urge," or "Bride of the Monster" on Mp3.com, but eventually they showed up. The tireless Godmonster came up with "The Sinister Urge" and "Love Feast," several people contributed "Glen or Glendas," and the incredible 16 year-old Naomi Hall produced "Bride of the Monster." There was also a kid who called himself "Trashface." He would upload tracks of grunting and screaming, titled "Necromania" or whatever Ed Wood title I was lamenting the lack of in my weekly Zone updates. Sometimes he would upload them within half an hour of my update. Along the way The Ed Wood Zone hosted some wonderful sounds from the likes of Dead Raven Choir, Fangboy and the Ghouls, Cult of the Psychic Fetus, The Unfriendlys, Mike Hopper, and Lancer Knight.

Sometime in 2001 I heard that a friend of a friend was now working for Rhino records and that an Ed Wood tribute album relying heavily on Ed Wood Zone material might be sympathetically received in those quarters, so I selected nearly an hour's worth of my faves from the Zone, contacted the artists and got their permission, added some Ed Wood related novelties by Mae West ("Criswell Predicts," a Bob Thompson number which is now available on a Mae West reissue), Criswell and Paul Marco, a few Wood-related tracks by more mainstream groups with actual recording contracts, like The Pastels ("Unfair Kind of Fame"), some newly written and recorded songs by Prewar Yardsale ("Would Ed Wood") and Ego Plum ("Theme from Blood Slaves"), and I sent the proposal and a CD-R off to Rhino.

Well, as any student of urban legends can tell you, the whole 'friend of a friend' thing rarely if ever pans out. "A friend of a guy I know woke up in a bathtub full of ice with his kidneys removed" may seem a little more bizarre than "A friend of a guy I know is working in the A & R department at Rhino," but trust me, that fellow in A & R is going to turn out to be just as hard to locate as the gentleman with the missing kidneys. So the package was returned (with a reasonably polite note) (it was hand written on a memo pad, but it was still reasonably polite), and that was that. The Ed Wood Zone stumbled along, with increasingly rare updates, until Mp3.com tumbled down a couple of years later.

 Some of the best things from The Ed Wood Zone are easily available now and therefore not suitable for the 365-Day Project. "Orgy of the Dead" by Cult of the Psychic Fetus is the title track of an album you can buy on Amazon, for instance. Even some of the songs presented here, I'm bound to say, are not totally unfindable, albeit in somewhat different form. The Immigrants have a pretty spiffy music video of "Me and Bela Lugosi" up on YouTube, Prewar Yardsale's (remastered) "Would Ed Wood" is available on the "Call It what You Want: This Is Anti-Folk" compilation from Olive Juice, and Naomi Hall recorded a new (and excellent) version of "Bride of the Monster" in 2006. But these are the original versions in all their ragged, Mp3.com, glory.

- Contributed by: Jeff Grimshaw

Image: Songs from the Ed Wood Zone (Illustration: Libby Reid)

Media: mp3 files
Date: August 2000-2003
Credits: TOR JOHNSON by Planet Log. Written by Dale Houston. Produced by Kramer. Originally appeared on the O.P. demo tape / D.A.M. CD "Wanted in Kentucky" (1996) prior to being posted on Mp3.com. BRIDE OF THE MONSTER by Naomi Hall. Written and Produced by Naomi Hall (all instruments and voices). LOVE FEAST by Godmonster. Written and Produced by Mike Campbell (all instruments and voices aside from a sample of Ed Wood from the film "Love Feast"). WOULD ED WOOD by Prewar Yardsale. Written by Mike Rechner. Mike Rechner vocals and guitar, Dina Levy vocals and plastic bucket percussion. Produced by Prewar Yardsale. ANGORA SPACE DREAM by Semtex. No credits I can find beyond: Contains a sample from "Plan 9 from Outer Space." ME AND BELA LUGOSI by The Immigrants. Credits unknown.


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