I’m talking about weird one-offs. So far I’ve only thought of two (updated since with contributions from readers) of these releases but I’m sure that there are quite a few for so help me out, please. Hopefully the more suggestions that are made, the more I can clarify what it is, exactly, that I’m talking about.
I’m not including The Four Seasons because although they also recorded as The Wonder Who?, they weren’t a one-off, having contemporaneously released four singles over three years. Similarly, although The Pretty Things also released music as The Electric Banana, it wasn’t a one-off, as they did so across two decades.
Although Thin Lizzy formed in 1969, they were hardly overnight successes. In fact, their 1970 single, “The Farmer” b/w “I Need You” sold just 283 copies. In order to make some extra Irish pounds, they recorded an album of Deep Purple covers as Funky Junction for German businessman Leo Muller. It wasn’t exactly a one-off though because the vocals were provided by Elmer Fudd‘s Benny White and not Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott.
I’m also not including The Dukes of Stratosphere, XTC‘s alter-ego, because they released both the 25 O’Clock and Psonic Psunspot albums under that name (and intended to release Oranges & Lemons as a Dukes album). I’m torn over whether or not to include the many noms des disques of Kool Keith because his discography is a tangled mess to sort through, many of his aliases aren’t one-offs and are characters who appear and reappear on other releases.
BIG CARROT – “BLACKJACK” b/w “SQUINT EYE MANGLE”
By 1973, the glam rock scene was populated not just by Ziggy Stardusts, Roxy Musics, and T Rexes but also Alvin Stardusts, David Cassidys, and lots of little Osmonds. T Rex’s Marc Bolan admitted in an interview that sometime around the writing of “Truck-On (Tyke)” that perhaps he’d started relying a bit too much on formula… and remembered that he’d begun his music career aspring to be a Dylanesque poet of the folk underground. His apparent dissatisfaction with T Rextasy, which was akin to Beatlemania in the UK at least, and the glam rock that he’d helped create was made increasingly obvious by a number of Bolan’s actions.
In 1974 Bolan declared that glam rock was dead and released Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow – A Creamed Cage in August, which he described as “cosmic soul.” He’d wanted to release the album as A Creamed Cage in August and credit it to Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow but instead T Rex’s fifth studio album would be credited for the first time to “Marc Bolan & T. Rex” (in case, I suppose, people needed to be reminded who the leader of the most popular British band of the era was).
It wasn’t Bolan’s first attempt to release music under a different name. In early 1972, during the recording of Tanx, Bolan had recorded “Blackjack.” It was released in August 1973 (between the #4 “The Groover” and #12 “Truck On (Tyke)”) as a single credited to Big Carrot. The version that I was told was that Bolan wanted to see how well his music would do if the T Rextstatic record-buying public didn’t know it was from him… but I doubt this version of the story since it sounds exactly like T. Rex, was released by Wizard Artists Limited on EMI… oh, and credited Marc Bolan as the songwriter. It was a flop, however, as the BBC completely ignored it.
Listen to Big Carrot’s “Blackjack”
Listen to Big Carrot’s “Squint Eye Mangle”
In 1992, Saint Etienne‘s then-new label, Icerink, released its fourth single, a moving, icy, almost-instrumental synthpop song — it’s only lyric was word “supermarket,” repeated in a distant, robotic voice. The sleeve notes stated “Supermarket are two young boys from Denmark.”
It was, in fact, Lawrence Hayward (or just Lawrence), formerly of Indie legends Felt. Although he’d begun recording material for what would become Denim‘s debut in 1990 (Back in Denim was finally released in November 1992), “Supermarket” was his first peep in the new decade. The heavily processed vocals were done by his ex-girlfriend/Saint Etienne’s singer, Sarah Cracknell. I suppose that it could be said to be Supermarket’s only release rather than a pseudonymous release but it’s all really Lawrence and the song later turned up on Denim’s Novelty Rock — in much the same was as most of Denim’s final, unreleased album Denim Take Over later surfaced on two Go-Kart Mozart records, Tearing Up The Album Chart and On The Hot Dog Streets.
Listen to Supermarket’s “Supermarket”
Listen to Supermarket’s “Supermart” (Ray Keith Mix)”
CHRIS GAINES – GREATEST HITS
Chris Gaines was born 10 August, 1967. He was Australian and wore a soul patch — still de rigueur facial hair for the soulful bro. His story was going to be told in a Paramount film, The Lamb, that sadly was never made. He was the subject of an episode of the VH1 series, Behind The Music and was the musical guest on an episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by Garth Brooks. Most of the songs were written by professional pop R&B and Country songwriters including Gordon Kennedy, Wayne Kirkpatrick, and Tommy Sims, who all three collaborated for the single, “Lost in You” which, at odds with Gaines’ broody bro image sounded a lot like the pop R&B and Country that the songwriters always churned out.
Even more insane was “Right Now,” a 1991-esque riff on The Youngbloods‘ “Get Together.”
So please let me know about more pseudonymous releases and I’ll add them to this blog entry!
Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities — or salaried work. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, listicles, or other 21st century variations of spam. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in Amoeblog, diaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art Museum, Form Follows Function, Los Angeles County Store, Skid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Magazine, LAist, Eastsider LA, Boing Boing, Los Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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