Monday, February 16, 2009

The Vinyl That Time Forgot!

So -- a few weeks ago, I was freaking out trying to remember an album that crossed my desk very early in my tenure at the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review. And by early I figured 1973 or thereabouts.

Try as I might, I couldn't remember the name of the LP or the band that made it. And I wasn't even particularly sure that it was by a band -- it might, I thought, have been by a comedy troupe that also did music. All I knew, however, or at least thought I knew, was one song in particular -- a hilarious blues parody which finished with a Robert Plant-esque lead singer yowling "Now wait a minute!". At which point, the track stopped cold except for a clock ticking.

Anyway, a Google search proved unavailing, so I e-mailed an old bud, longtime L.A. music writer and scenester Todd Everett. It didn't ring any bells for him, but he promised to forward my query to some folks he knew from the record business back in the day. And sure enough, a few hours later came the answer.

Turns out the culprits (and yes, it was a real band, not a bunch of comedians) were Wilderness Road, who seem to have been a sort of American equivalent of Brit wiseguys The Bonzo Dog Band. And the album (indeed, from 1973) was Sold For the Prevention of Disease Only. Hey -- I'm a sucker for condom jokes.

As it happened, the song that had haunted me all these years was the appropriately titled "The Authentic British Blues." And I was pleased to discover that it was as funny as I remembered...I particularly like the ersatz Gilbert and Sullivan intro, and the bit where the harmonica player, in the voice of an old Jewish man, goes " lips!"

Plus this inspirational verse:

I've got just the liberate your mind.
Some asshole on a sitar...playing "My Darling Clementine."

Heh heh.

Anyway, neither song nor album has ever been on CD, but thanks to the miracle of the Intertubes, you can download the former, in all its over the top glory, here.

And if the authorization has run out, you can download the entire album, which behooves behearing, here.

You're welcome.


John Mueller said...

I have been a fan of the band since I was about 7 or 8, when I found their record in my parents collection. I am such a fan, I authored the website,, along with one of the founding memebers, Warren Leming. Thank you for posting this page!

TJWood said...

In addition to the Wilderness Road website, you can find a little bit more information about the band here. I checked out the album and found it, aside from "The Authentic British Blues", to be in the vein of the country roots-rock of its time, with echoes of Poco, Loggins and Messina, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and the Clarence White-era Byrds. Good players and worth hearing.

steve simels said...

The album doesn't really reflect it, but apparently they were very theatrical and involved with Lefty politics in Chicago.

peter spencer said...

Sold For Prevention was their second album, I think, and something of a departure from the post-Band rootsy sound of the first, which inspired some over-hype (is there any other kind?) with their label calling them "the best band in the world" or some such. It was only Vanguard doing the hyping, but loud enough that it made a UPI item printed in the Erie, PA Daily Times in 1971. Why can I remember these things when I can't remember the names of my students?

MBowen said...

Who's the guy on the left on the album cover? He looks like one of those guys whose been in a million movies and TV shows.

MJConroy said...

I tried shooting speed, I tried doing smack, but when I reached Ovaltine, I knew I was never coming back!

Love that album. I have both of their lps.

dave™© said...

I knew I'd heard this before when you mentioned it a few weeks ago, but I couldn't place it. Thanks!

Charlie Bermant said...

OK, I know that this thread has flown, but I just happened to be scrolling through.
On Mayday 1971 I attended a demonstration in DC, where there was an all night concert to be followed by a peace march. Except the hippies got so wasted that it was easy for the cops to come in the next day and pick up the pieces and haul them to jail.
The concert began with the Bearded Beach Boys, just pre-Surf's Up, who were outstanding. Everything else was pretty dreadful, except for three notable exceptions: Charles Mingus, Phil Ochs and Wilderness Road. While I escaped arrest, I did go and buy the band's album when it came out a few months later. Wasn't as good as the show, but there were a few memorable songs. Although I have forgotten their names.