Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Big Daddy and his Casio VL-Tone

I suppose you could say we at L'Amour Electronique HQ are something close to avid followers of Luke Haines - we have copies of the majority of his records under various guises, from the earliest Auteurs' albums, through his terrorist-funk Baader Meinhof project, the chart-bothering, sugar-coated/acid-tongued Black Box Recorder, and his later acerbic, and mostly 70s-obsessed, solo material, not to mention his memoirs firmly stating his part in Brit Pop's downfall, and the years following...

Which brings me to his latest release, of which he writes:
"This album is an affectionate homage to the wrestlers who preoccupied my unfreaked out pre Rock n Roll mind (mid '70s - early '80s).
The concept couldn't be more simple: nine songs (and one spoken word story) putting wrestlers into psychedelic situations. I give you '9 1/2 Psychedelic Meditations On British Wrestling Of The 1970s and Early 1980s'.
Surrender your minds boys and girls, surrender your 21st Century minds."
Only a twisted crackpot like Luke Haines could dream up such a concept.  And then see it through to completion. The man is quite possibly a GENIUS. A twisted, dry-witted genius, but a genius nonetheless.

The inner sleeve of the album features 12 lo-fi portraits, lovingly(?) painted by Haines himself, of the album's various wrestling perpetrators, such as this of Big Daddy...

In his own particular vignette, we hear the story of how 'Big Daddy Got A Casio VL-Tone':

"He just wants a calculator, but he got an oscillator" set to a Casio Rock 2 beat.

I remember the Christmas my big sister got a VL-Tone - a tiny, white electronic keyboard, that gave out tinny beats and rudimentarily synthesized versions of string and woodwind instruments.  My favourite thing, whenever I got my mitts on it, was to stick the demo song on and let it cycle through all the various beats and sounds. To the point where it drove my family to distraction. I think I even made up my own words to the tune...

"...and he can't turn it off."

And just in case there was maths homework to be completed, Casio had included a handy calculator at the flick of a switch. WOAH! Crazy scenes! I jest.  Properly exciting, though, was the day we saw that skinhead bloke from TRIO produce one from the confines of his tatty dinner jacket with a cheeky grin on his face.

"And his mind has been blown, yeah his mind has been blown... A.D.S.R! A.D.S.R!"

Now the one thing that didn't blow my young mind was the ADSR, for me all that the setting had to offer was a strangely stilted, percussive toc-toc-toc sound. Little did I know that if I were to read the manual, like sensible Big Daddy presumably did, I would unlock an almost infinite number of new sounds via the calculator and an octidecimal binary coding system.

But enough of my misty-eyed recollections, here's what happened the day Big Daddy bought a Casio VL-Tone...

Luke Haines - Big Daddy Got A Casio VL-Tone

The CD of 9 1/2 Psychedelic Meditations... has sold out, but you can buy it as a download direct from Plastic Fantastic Recordings.

There is a limited run of 500 only Vinyl LPs of 9 1/2 Psychedelic Meditations... (+ CD copy) being pressed up exclusively for Record Store Day this Saturday 21st April.

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