Archive for March, 2013

 

Recording music is an incredibly painstaking process- delivering a killer performance is the easy part. Between the producer, recording engineer, mix engineer and mastering, it’s almost as if a performance has to make it through an increasingly fine set of filters to make it to the finished recording. OK, no, it’s exactly like that. Which makes it spectacularly unlikely that a huge mistake in a vocal would make it out of the artist’s lips, past the producer and onto the tape, through the arduous mixdown process onto the master recording, and onto thousands of pressed recordings in Walmarts across the land.

Yet… here we are.

6. Bring The Noise – Public Enemy
Maybe it’s just because Chuck D could sound like the voice of unimpeachable authority while reading his grocery list, maybe it’s because it’s during a quick passage; either way, fans of Public Enemy and attention to detail were hitting rewind on their cassette players (it was the 80’s) like crazy the first time or two they heard the classic “Bring The Noise”. It wasn’t their imagination, Chuck flip-flopped a couple words and it had somehow skated through onto the finished version of one of the greatest rap songs ever.

The Line:
“He can cut a record from side to side, so what / The ride, the glide / Should be much safer than a suicide”
The Flub:
“He can cut a record from side to side, so what / The ride, the glide / Much should be safer than a suicide”

The mistake was corrected on the 1991 remake with thrash pioneers Anthrax (and the line rapped by Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian), though Chuck has never publicly acknowledged the error, probably because nobody ever called him out on it for fear of getting their ass kicked.

5. Eminence Front – The Who
“Eminence Front” only reached #68 on the Billboard chart, but received heavy play on MTV with a live video captured during a rehearsal. The song features acerbic lyrics about the bullshit facades of the rich and coked up, penned by Pete Townshend- who was more than a little familiar with the subject, and performed a rare lead vocal on the track. The error that made it onto the album version wasn’t so much a matter of the wrong words as the timing of Daltrey’s backup vocal.

The Line:
“Behind an eminence front”
The Flub:
“Behinna ninna emma nemma ninni fruh FRONT!”

The incredibly, undeniably wrong syncopation of the backing vocal only happens once- the first time- but it’s so obviously a mistake that one must wonder how fucking high everybody involved would have to have been for it to end up on the recording. Needless to say, the error wasn’t repeated in the live video version, and was fixed on the 1997 remastered CD.

4. Louie Louie – The Kingsmen
Since the lyrics to this song are so slurred as to be unintelligible, interpretations of said lyrics vary wildly. Unfortunately for the FBI, it turns out the lyrics are not “pornographic“, just really hard to understand. So how do we know there’s a flub?

The Line:
Who the fuck knows? We’re talking about “Louie Louie” here.
The Flub:
The singer comes in way early after the guitar solo.

You might think he’s just warming up to start a-singin’ again, but the vocal inflection is identical to how the next verse starts. It’s one of those things that you can’t un-hear once you’ve heard it, but since this is quite possibly the sloppiest rock and roll song ever this side of the White Stripes, nobody gave a shit and the error stayed.

3. Tell Her No – The Zombies
The Zombies were a pretty fuckin’ sweet English rock band that had the misfortune of being active in almost exactly the same time frame as the Beatles. Their single “Tell Her No” was a number 6 U.S. hit in 1965; the gist of the song’s lyrics is, “My girlfriend is kind of a slut. I’m telling you right now she will probably hit on you, and asking you to please not fuck her.”

The Line:
“Don’t take her love from my arms”
The Flub:
“Don’t loving dump from your arms”? We’re honestly not sure.

Singer Colin Blunstone has admitted that he was half asleep during the recording of this one. The result is an intriguing, alternately detached and pained vocal; this does not explain the failure of the producer to call to Colin’s attention that his mouth had shat all over the track on chorus two. On a side note, we think it fortunate that Colin decided he wanted to be a rock singer and not an airline pilot.

2. You’re Driving Me Crazy – Frank Sinatra
In all of popular music there are few more confident vocalists than Sinatra in his prime. His recorded rendition of the standard “You’re Driving Me Crazy” is typically rollicking, and the casual listener might pass the mistake off as Frank engaging in a little shoobity-doobity…

The Line:
“You are the kind / Who would hurt me, desert me / When I needed you”
The Flub:
“You are the kind / Who would hoyt- uh / hurtmedesertme when I needed you”

The ol’ throat just kinda seized up on Frank. After mangling the word “hurt” there’s a brief pause before he wrapsupthenextfewwordsreallyquick and falls back in on time. Apparently nobody thought it was a big deal, least of all Sinatra, who didn’t really think anything was a big deal as long as he had his case of Scotch and executive suite at the Sands.

1. Fear Of A Black Planet – Public Enemy
Chuck D began the list, and Chuck D will end it with the most egregious flub we think we’ve ever heard. On the title track to PE’s classic 1990 album Fear Of A Black Planet, Chuck goes to deliver the line that sums up the entire song’s message of racial harmony and understanding. With utter conviction, he fails. So hard.

The Line:
“All I want is peace and love on this planet / Ain’t that how God planned it?”
The Flub:
“All I want is peace and love on this planet / Ain’t how that God planned it?”

Just another simple flip flop. At the climax of the song, with the beat dropped out for added impact. On the title track. Of one of the greatest albums of all time.

But, you know, whatever. Good enough!

Advertisements

Laptop Computer: Epson HX-20, 1981

When it comes to inventing computing hardware, IBM led the pack. The IBM 5150 was the first to be called a “PC”, and modern computers are still based on its architecture; they even took a crack at a “portable” computer in 1975, but it’s not exactly what you would call an early laptop. Or portable in any way.

Image
If this is portable, then we are the fucking Avengers.

Epson, on the other hand, are known mainly for printers. They came into existence to help the Seiko company develop a printing timer for keeping time at the 1964 Olympics, and operated as a sort of subsidiary to that company until 1975. Their first product would become the most popular dot matrix printer in the U.S., the TX-80. For their next trick, they ratcheted up the holy fuck factor a tad.

Image

AWESOME! What… do we… do with it?

The Epson HX-20 met all the technical requirements necessary to be called the first laptop computer, and it was released in November of 1981. Full keyboard, battery, integrated display, and the hell with it, a printer because they’re Epson. Sure, the display was a tiny lil’ 120×32 pixel LCD and its memory couldn’t hold three seconds of an mp3, but does your laptop have a built-in printer? No? Fuck you.

 

Image
It could display bitchin’ 3D images, asshole!

So its specifications were somewhat limited, but it was a damn impressive piece of hardware at the dawn of the PC, and they’re still held in pretty high regard by vintage computing aficionados (which is the politically correct term for “Supra-Geek”). Trust us, if you’d have seen one of these in 1981 it would’ve blown your feathered haircut back. You would’ve pissed your Calvin Klein briefs, and crapped your cream-colored trousers and we’ll just give the 80’s a rest now.

Electric Car: Thomas Davenport, 1837

Since the day Ben Franklin discovered electricity by flying a kite in a thunderstorm (one of the most important historical events to have never happened), it became a goal of science to use electrical power to generate mechanical power. Englishman Michael Faraday was probably the very first to truly harness electrical power with his invention of the first electric generator in 1831, but American blacksmith Thomas Davenport didn’t waste much time making that innovation look straight up wack.

Davenport’s invention used electromagnets mounted to a rotor to produce mechanical energy- the first electric motor. His major innovation was what electrical engineers know as a commutator, a switch that periodically reverses the flow of current, and makes continuous rotation of the rotor possible. In other words, Davenport was using a newly discovered natural force to make a goddamn wheel turn around and around by itself, which probably made him seem like a fucking sorcerer to common people in 1834. Plus, the contraption itself looked pretty awesome, if somewhat like a sewing machine.

Image
Mending my britches shall hereafter be accomplished in a jiffy!

Davenport’s first attempt to patent his invention was refused, literally because nobody had ever patented an electrical device before. So he spent a couple years collecting letters of recommendation from scientists and academic types; traveled to Princeton to get the support of pioneering engineer Joseph Henry, and to Pennsylvania to get the same from Benjamin Franklin; went back home to Vermont, and got his goddamn patent in 1837.

Fortunately for comedy, we still have some some media accounts of his mind-blowing demonstrations of this arcane force, like this one from the New York Herald:

“The occult and mysterious principle of magnetism is being displayed in all of its magnificence and energy as Mr. Davenport runs his wheel…”

Image
My god, man! He has invented an automatic rabbit production contraption!

But that wasn’t his best trick. Davenport was able to come up with a pretty radical application for his device- he used it to power the world’s first goddamned electric car. The materials were expensive, the technology in its infancy, and it may not have been practical to start building electric cars for every citizen- but damned if Davenport wasn’t able to build one, over a hundred years before the technology would be refined, perfected and buried by greedy oil companies.

Image
On our way! We’ll be there in four months!

Also, the first primitive rechargeable battery wouldn’t be invented until 1860, so Davenport’s vehicle had a rather limited range. Isn’t that just how they get you? Who wants to plug in a goddamn car for eight hours to drive it 50 miles? Fuck that bullshit, hook us up with a fatty tank of gassy gasoline!