My Friend Chris

The Dr Frank Weakly Reader for 03.13.2020

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ello, friends, and welcome to yet another Dr Frank Weakly Reader, that thing I do where I index my own web content because it’s not going to index itself, and illustrate it and augment it because it’s not going to illustrate and augment itself. Maybe I expect too much of the internet, but it seems like it could have maybe figured out how to do this on its own; years of chaos and failed searches, however, has made it clear that it needs a little help. Now at least I know where to look when I want to find something I’ve written or posted or whatever. That shouldn’t be as hard as it is, as the archbishop said to the chorus girl — but it is.

It’s Friday the 13th, and also the official release date of the Mtx forever double LP compilation. It has been a long, rather convoluted road, and kind of hard to believe the destination has been reached at last, but it has.

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And that’s Chris Appelgren up there, who designed the Mtx forever cover and associated artwork, as he did with all the MTX and Dr Frank Lookout Records output from 1994’s …and the Women Who Love Them through Yesterday Rules in 2004. One of the best things about returning to putting out records with Sounds Radical and revisiting this material has been the opportunity to work on artwork with Chris once again. It was such a big part of my world in those days, our regular art meetings at the Lookout offices or at various Berkeley bars and cafes. These would happen even when there wasn’t a particular project in the offing (though there often was) but just as a matter of course, when one or the other of us wasn’t on tour, because there was always something that needed art and it was good to have a stockpile that could be adapted as needed.

Of course we did and do talk about things other than art, as one does. I don’t have much of a social life, by design, but I’m good with this way to do it and it turns out I’m glad to have it back.

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But as for the art, it was a great collaboration and we did great things together. And while there were obviously many elements that came haphazardly together to make these releases what they were, those records that everyone loves so much just wouldn’t have been the same without the unique sensibility Chris brought to the design. I’m hard put to characterize the aesthetic in specifics: it’s a little “retro” but with a loose, unpretentious feel, a kind of directed reshaping and repurposing of discarded “found” materials. It sets the tone for the “content” (i.e. the music) but doesn’t get in the way of it or overshadow it, which is kind of a neat subtle trick. It aligns perfectly with my own sensibilities (and quite possibly had a hand in shaping them) — we were completely in tune on what we wanted the art to do and how we wanted it to look, though he would often surprise me in the latter aspect. It’s difficult to imagine those records without the Chris Appelgren design stamp. They’d have been different things and nowhere near as cool or interesting.

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So it’s been great to resume these regular meetings, almost as though the intervening decade plus hadn’t happened. Quite a lot has changed since then, obviously, but if you zoom out a bit, what I’m doing now isn’t all that different from what I was doing back then, which is pretty strange. As to why on earth, the answer is precisely the same, more of a quesiton really: you got a better idea?

Anyway, I love what he did with Mtx forever. It embodies what is best about his work, and is by far the most fully realized product that this collaboration has produced. (Credit for that also goes to Chris Thacker of Sounds Rad, for whom no idea is too grandiose.) I have a feeling it’s gonna knock you out when you see it “in person.” It really is beautiful. And stay tuned for the revamped …and the Women Who Love Them which will, similarly, blow your mind.

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You can still order Mtx forever from Sounds Rad, or from Interpunk, or Amazon, or, you know, Best Buy… all the places. And some will find their way to record shops I’m sure. If you see one, send a pic. I’d like to see one in the wild and I never leave the house so it’s unlikely it’ll happen without your help. Thanks very much.

MOAR Mtx forever:

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— Jim Testa declares Mtx forever a “home run” in a reviews round-up. (Features Grim Deeds too.) Thanks, Jim!

Mtx forever, track by track: I did track-by-track commentary, of all 24 songs, for New Noise Magazine.

— This week’s Song for Odin was the “Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba” that appears on Mtx forever, which is an alternate “single” mix with the guitars more centered:

All is explained here (i.e. the “minor secrets.”) The Songs for Odin playlist is here.

— “Hell of Dumb”: even though it wasn’t for Odin, and no secrets, major or minor, were revealed, I posted it because that remastered pedal steel really sends me. I did post some minor secrets on the song last year.

And here’s “Swallow Everything,” just cuz.

And here’s my Mtx forever playlist, which I’ll gradually add to till it’s full.

— And by the way, here’s what the poster looks like:

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MTX-A-HOLICS ANONYMOUS

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atWWLT tapes update: here’s the basic situation on the …and the Women Who Love Them tapes, reported last year, and the update is propitious: we mastered from the DAT and it sounds amazing. More to come on this, but it’s shaping up to be a stellar release. Stay tuned.

— Yeah, actually, just stay there…: semi-okay hand-washing techniques, via our friend Mattia, who oughtta know.

— Shows: ha, just kidding. We’re obviously gonna hold off on booking anything like everyone elese till things settle down, pandemic-wise. Ensconce yourselves in your cocoons and listen to records instead of going out in crowds — it’s always worked for me.

— …. and your Friday morning “New Girlfriend,” from (I have been informed) a Ukrainian band called the Биты — which according to Google translates to “the Bits” or “the Beats” but actually, according to a band member who popped up on FB, is the Bats. Good to know. Fix that, Google.

Original here if you don’t know it. “Minor secrets” on this song (from a Song for Odin entry) may be found here. Covers playlist here.

DR FRANK-O-PHILIA

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— Gary Gilmore’s Eyes and Me: “…the highly unlikely denouement of a plot that began with a seed planted in my brain by Dr Demento all the way back in 1977…” The post in on Medium.

— Sexual dimorphism: a domestic play in one act.

— A duct-taped high school time capsule, containing French homework, lyrics, and love letters…

— Dr Frank: 10 albums you should love as much as he does… wrote a thing for Punk Rock Theory, featuring the Wombles, Television Personalities, Osmonds, WITCH, Ethel the Frog plus six more…

— Kind words on King Dork and King Dork Approximately (the books) from novelist Trend Reedy:

Last month I listened to Frank Portman’s KING DORK. I loved it so much I immediately started the sequel. This was great too. It felt real and I appreciated how the protagonist understands the truth about how terrible SPORTS! are. I wish there were more of these King Dork books.

— Dr Frank with the Smugglers, doing “Coffee, Tea, or Me?” at the Great American Music Hall in July 2003. Doesn’t get much better than this folks:

This popped up as a “memory,” thank God. You can read (much) more about it here.

— Jonathan found some old photos at his parents’ house, including this from when I was just a baby:

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OTHER PEOPLE’S MUSIC

— "Songs are divinely constituted organisms.” Nick Cave defends old songs from perpetually-pissed-off coterie of pearl-clutchers. (Noted by me here.)

— The Syn — “14th Hour Technicolor Dream”, on YouTube:

— The Kenny Burrel Quartet — “The Tender Gender” (via David Gasten):

— “My Corona” parody — you knew someone would do it, and there were several to choose from, but this one won because: bat costume.

PICTURE BOOK

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— Roman calendar: Daddi’s Temptation of Thomas Aquinas; the Transfiguration from an altarpiece by Gerard David; St Frances of Rome by Antonio del Massaro da Viterbo; martyrs of Sebaste; Constantine of Cornwall; Gregory the Great, illuminated; Nicephorus of Constantinople

— Not safe for… work: German playmates of the month, 2015, on a boat; long live Monty Python’s Flying Circus; death and the maiden with flowers and lots of hair; our Sophia, encorseted

— Safe, I suppose: pancakes!; living in the tomb; reflections of…; alarming art by Andrew S. Arconti; Alex Prager photo of blonde with plane; Most Improved Synchronized Swimmer 1988; just a gothic scene; can’t wait to tell Daddy; Eviction of Masonic Odor; from the Codex Seraphinianus

— … and finally, Paris:

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IN THE NEWS

— On Ken Schaffer: a great piece on a great American rock and roll original…

— Max von Sydow died, and I posted a pic of him as Ming the Merciless. Of course he had many memorable roles more significant than this, but it’s memorable and significant enough.

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THE END

And that’ll wrap it up for this week’s Dr Frank Weakly Reader. But for those who’ve made it this far down the page, here’s Dawn Wells:

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See you next week.

Written by

I am Dr. Frank. I write books and songs. Mtx Forever.

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