||HYBRID KIDS (1979)
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Album cover design by Morgan Fisher featuring paintings by Francis Bacon
UK: Cherry Red Records A RED 5
Re-issued in 1982, Japan: Japan Records JAL-2503
Re-issued on CD in 1997, UK: Blueprint/Voiceprint Records BP-262-CD
Re-issued as a medium-priced double CD with "Claws" in 2008, UK: Cherry Red Records CDBRED 362
1. The Burtons / Macarthur Park
2. Punky and Porky / God Save The Lean + Pretty Bacon
3. Jah Wurzel / Wuthering Heights
4. Rififi / Catch A F-Falling Star
5. Malcolm Galaxy / Fever
6. Kapital Punischment / Save Your Kisses For Me
7. British Standard Unit / D'ya Think I'm Sexy?
8. Combo Satori / Enlightment
9. U.S. Nerds / Get Back
10. The Incestors / Something Better Change
11. R.W. Atom / You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling
12. The Cage / Take Me I'm Yours + The Pipettes / All The Young Dudes 78
Bonus tracks on 1997 CD:
13. British Standard Unit / D'ya Think I'm Sexy? single version
14. 666 / Emergency
15. The Creator / Macarthur Park first attempt
The first album Morgan recorded in London’s Pipe Studios (actually a TEAC 4-track recorder set up in his Notting Hill bedsit). This bizarre album was originally conceived (with the collusion of Iain McNay, Cherry Red’s boss) as a spoof compilation album featuring a variety of 'bands' from Peabody, an obscure little town in Kansas (at that time American towns like Cleveland and Akron were viewed upon as hot-beds of modern rock music). When this concept was stated on the radio and in the press, quite a number of people believed it! In truth, it was all made by Morgan. The musical approach was to take songs and perform them in a way that was diametrically opposite to the original version. Here are the original artists who performed (or pre-formed) the songs, and the styles adopted for these recordings:
1. Richard Harris in the style of The Specials or two-tone.
2. The Sex Pistols in the style of Pinky and Perky (a BBC TV children’s puppet show).
3. Kate Bush in the style of Jah Wobble and reggae/dub.
4. Perry Como in the style of The Sex Pistols and speed punk.
5. Peggy Lee - actually done in a contorted version of her own style.
6. The Brotherhood of Man in the style of Devo.
7. Rod Stewart in a new wave/techno style.
8. Sun Ra - actually an affectionate and slightly twisted version of his own style.
9. The Beatles collaged with a hint of "My Life In The Bush of Ghosts" (Eno/Byrne).
10. The Stranglers in the style of The Residents.
11. The Righteous Brothers in the style of Suicide.
12. Squeeze UK in the style of, er, The Residents meet Pink Floyd? Then a segue into Mott the Hoople in the style of an old 78rpm record by the Palm Court Orchestra.
The late 70's were an incredibly fertile time for English experimentalism. Once the fires of punk subsided, with most bands either splitting, mutating into indie miserablists or stadium rockers, a small band of musicians fired up by punk's DIY ethic emerged briefly into the mainstream. Influenced by free improvisation, dub, musique concrete and systems music, they forged new and often very silly noises from lo-fi sources with a casual disregard for genres.
Among these mavericks were bands like This Heat and The Pop Group as well as producers/musicians like Steve Beresford, David Toop, David Cunningham (whose Flying Lizards project even spawned a top 20 hit) and Morgan Fisher.
Fisher had played keyboards with 70's glam/pub rockers Mott the Hoople and poptastic 60's sessioneers The Love Affair, but this was little indication of what was to come; he curated the groundbreaking Miniatures project with contributions from The Residents, Michael Nyman and Fred Frith amongst others, and with saxophonist Lol Coxhill recorded the proto-ambient Slow Music.
Hybrid Kids was originally released on Cherry Red and was allegedly a compilation of various bands from Peabody, Texas. Such compilations (Stiff's Akron album, The Max's Kansas City record, and the Eno curated No New York) were popular at the time, though it was in fact created by Mr. Fisher in Notting Hill on a four track tape recorder at a cost of £25.
Recorded while Fisher was still in Mott, Hybrid Kids is an affectionate demolition job of pop classics, from "Catch a Falling Star" to "D'Ya Think I'm Sexy". While the current trend for bootleg mixes places Christina Aguilera with the Strokes, Destiny's Child with Nirvana etc., back in 1979 Morgan Fisher was imagining Devo covering the Brotherhood of Man's "Save Your Kisses For Me" in his guise as Kapital Punischment, or Pinky and Perky performing a Sex Pistols medley ("God Save the Lean" and "Pretty Bacon").
Not an album to be taken too seriously then, but Fisher's manipulation of tapes, arcane effects units and the like is spot on (what he calls a "My Life in the Shepherds Bush of Ghosts" approach) and easily the equal of any of the illustrious names mentioned above. His metamorphosis of "All the Young Dudes" into a lusciously lo-fi Palm Court Orchestra workout is eerily beautiful and apparently tricked members of Mott into believing that this was the original, from which David Bowie nicked the melody. Also his version of Sun Ra's "Enlightenment" (or should I say Combo Satori's version) captures Ra's other-worldliness rather beautifully.
It'd be nice to know if anyone bought this and was convinced this was the work of disaffected Texan youths; it would have convinced me anyway. Bonkers, essential and much praise to Voiceprint for unearthing it.
Reviewer: Peter Marsh
Readers' comments on the above review:
I have been listening to this album since I was a child, had no idea who it was by (my copy is a white-label). It is completely astonishing. The version of 'you've lost that loving feeling' is the saddest, scariest and funniest piece of music I have ever heard. A wonderful and very strange album.
Rich Harrison, Hull
It's a tall order, but see if you can find any other Morgan Fisher stuff... His tribute album to Mott the Hoople called Moth Poet Hotel is stunning, and Miniatures is a collection of 1 minute tracks that includes one from XTC. He lives in Japan now and is and always was the original Hybrid Kid.
This album is a legend in my circle of friends. Stories of what we got up to while listening to "British Standard Unit" or "Jah Wurzel" are still told. I still have the vinyl too :D
suberb lp, i have had it and played it at least once a year for yonks. I also have 'D'ya think I'm sexy' on single, which was and is great to dance to, I play it to unsuspecting types...
well ahead of his time, rw atom track youve lost that loving feeling is so strange and dark, really scary. i am so surprised others remember this odd album, i thought i was the only one.
Brilliant. Jah Wurzel is one of the greatest recording artists of all time. CLAWS & SLOW MUSIC should not be forgotten either. There's a Voiceprint website I believe, so you should be able to get this via them. In fact, it really should be compulsory.
Heard it years ago at a friend's place in Paris, and absolutely loved it. Trying to get hold it for said friend's 40th birthday is proving difficult. Can anybody help? Pete
Liam O'Tool, Skelmsdale
Hi Folks, my name is Liam I listened to this album with my lady Gemma Jackson and we both thought it was extraordinary
20 years ago, I found the record in the childrens' section! - This DIY album convinced me to buy myself a 4-track and to have fun. I still do.
king bee, london
Very fond memories of this..even though I haven't heard it for years. At the time i was finding lots of weird stuff on record. WHITE NOISE being on par with the hybrid kids. The other LP Claws was great too.
I can't believe I've been listening to this album for 25 years! Still sounds as fresh as ever. Nice to find this site & read the comments of fellows of a similar persuasion - I thought I was the ony one.
Chris Marsh, Pontypool
This album and its follow-up Claws are perfect for removing unwanted visitors. Parents and kids - it scares 'em all. And damned fine music too.
I have another Morgan Fisher album called the Sleeper Wakes also on Cherry Red. I bought this from Ultima Thule in England via mail order. It was billed as progressive but it is far more diverse in its leanings and is definitely no ELP album ! !
John Merrall, CFMU 93.3FM Hamilton, Canada
The record is pure genius! I was playing it back at CFMU in the late 80's, especially "D'Ya Think I'm Sexy?". I just dug it up at the station last week and aired the whole thing again - and I still love it. The cover of "Wuthering Heights" is also bloody genius. This is the most punk record I've ever had the pleasure to hear.
I have been trying to get this album for years now, But to no avail. Can somebody help.
Will White, Sussex, England
I bought two copies of this album when it came out and gave one to a friend and have kept and played the other over and over for years. Friends love it!
bought this when it first came out after hearing a track (d'ya think i`m sexy) on john peel . the jah wurzel track is pure class . can`t believe it was done on a 4-track. yes , i thought it was various bands for a couple of weeks till i read the credits on the sleeve notes...
Brilliant album. I guess my favorite track was the cover of Peggy Lee's "Fever." There's a follow-up Hybrid Kids album of Christmas carols, called Claws -- interesting but not as good. Sort of like early PIL in fact.
Big Al Davies
I used to listen to this a lot in the 80's, I never thought it was experimental, just a great album, but difficult listening for others. I love it - the Jah Wurzel is the funniest mix ever, dub wurzels sing Kate Bush, ahead of its time for sure.
Ian Senior, Milton Keynes
I've had this album since it was released and it never fails to amuse. I particularly like the version of "D'Ya Think I'm Sexy", a vast improvement on the Rod Stewart effort, and Jah Wurzle's "Wuthering Heights." Magnificent stuff!
I bought the album when it first came out and loved it. In fact, I was thinking about it just now and keyed "British Standard Units 80's band" into Google and found this site. I made the DJ play BSU's version of "D’ya Think I'm Sexy?" at my 21st birthday party. Great memories.
I WANT this record. I've heard bits and pieces of it over the years, and I have All The Young Dudes on cassette, but getting a copy of the record is well nigh impossible.
For those that missed it, you can now buy it on CD at Amazon and Virgin online for less than a tenner - treat yourself - it's superb.
One of my top ten LP’s, especially the German Man with the Violin, as it is known here, and Jah Wurzel. Classics far better than the originals.
From strummerjones on last.fm:
Thinking back, I had perhaps the both most privileged and unfortunate musical upbringing possible.
A huge great combined record player and storage thing took up a large chunk of our dining room and was packed with the cast-offs of a million and one album collections salvaged from relatives and complete strangers by way of being nicked from rubbish skips. Alongside vintage Zappa and Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds lurked various terrible novelty and kids albums, such as the Muppets and the legendarily kitsch disco version of the Star Wars theme.
The thing is, as a 5-year old child I found many of these dubious 'gems' enthralling, but also uniquely terrifying. Without visual aids the colourful, cheeky world of The Muppets became a surreal nightmare, and songs like the version of 'You Are My Sunshine" became hair-raising audio documents of familiar bad dreams as a sweet-voiced innocent child is seemingly stalked by an unseen monster.
Now this was all down to the overactive imagination of a small child, and looks pretty silly in the modern light. Which made it all the more delicious when I discovered that the record that scared the living shit out of me like no other turned out to be even more bizarre and disturbing than I remembered it to be.
That album was Morgan Fisher's terrifying work of genius "Hybrid Kids (a collection of classic mutants)."
In a fit of nostalgia (and eager to ascertain that it really WAS as incredibly weird as I remember it being) I searched for the album on Google and improbably discovered mp3s of it on http://www.emusic.com, and remembering that winamp came with a token of sorts for 100 free downloads, quickly had the album transferring away.
Good God, is it strange. The discography on Fisher's official site (http://www.morgan-fisher.com/discogpages_e/hybrids.html)
tells the story best - "Hybrid Kids" was a joke album in which famous pop songs were parodied in the most unlikely styles possible. What sets it apart from other such novelty fare is how genuinely inventive and strange it is. Whilst the Sex Pistols' "God Save The Queen" covered in the style of Pinky and Perky is pretty much self-explanatory and entirely predictable, it's when shit starts to get really weird it gets interesting.
It's probably best not to contemplate the twisted mind that thought it a good idea to team up PiL's Jah Wobble with the Wurzels to cover Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights", but the results are staggering, a 4 minute dub weird-out that's as hilarious as it is unnerving, with Fisher's Cornish country bumpkin threatening "Come arn, I'll steal yar soooooul!" whilst thick Wobble-esque bass lines throb in and out of reggae drop outs and strange noises.
However, what really blew me away was the almost indescribably bizarre cover of Rod Stewart's "D'ya Think I'm Sexy?" Excitedly ushering a friend in to hear my latest odd discovery, he instantly summed it up best: "This sounds so modern".
Set to an ominous rasping synth backing that nowadays could be the intro to any number of cutting edge dance tracks, distorted vocals hiss the lyrics in a monotone and combine to create a song that literally gave me nightmares as a child. It doesn't stop there though, the legendary chorus is rendered near unrecognisable as the vocals change pitch from a slurring slowed-down "If you want my body" through normal speed "come on baby," and a helium-voiced "Letmeknow"! It's simple stuff yet incredibly effective and disorientating, and it's staggering to see a novelty album from 1979 essentially pre-empting the kind of stuff people like Aphex Twin would be known for nearly 20 years later.
Whilst not all of "Hybrid Kids" is solid gold (the bleak minimalistic interpretation of the Righteous Brother's "You've Lost that Loving Feeling" drags, for one), so much of it is so interesting and delightfully silly (especially if you're able to catch half the jokes) it's essential listening for anyone fond of - to coin a phrase - "post-punk junk".
Twenty years on there's also much to be learned and reappraised as so many of the ideas have now filtered through to the mainstream, particularly in the worlds of dance music and hip-hop. In fact, I'd love to hear someone like Hüsker Dü cover Catch a Falling Star in the style it is here...
In the middle of his work as a keyboard player (with Queen, Mott the Hoople, and others) and as a producer (Allan Holdsworth), Morgan Fisher came up with two albums worth of oddities called “Hybrid Kids,” home recordings of mostly cover tunes, incorporating innovative techniques like tape loops and pitch manipulation. The first volume consists of pop tunes mangled with glee, much like the Residents have done, and presented under a variety of goofy pseudonyms. His interpretation of Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” is downright creepy, and what he does to “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” is nearly obscene. I mean that in a good way. In small doses, his deep-dub sonic experiments are quite amusing and interesting. In larger doses well, I don’t recommend larger doses.
The second “Hybrid Kids” collection takes on Christmas tunes with the slogan, “Let’s put the X back in Xmas.” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “We Three Kings” and many others are given the psycho-dub treatment. My favorite is a Public Image Limited inspired version of “The Coventry Carol.” The Residents resemblance comes to mind frequently, as the mangled vocals are very like something from the mystery band.
“Miniatures” is a different sort of animal, though full of the same experimental spirit. Fisher asked many artists from different genres to contribute recordings (mostly music, but also including poetry and sound effects), all of which would be edited into vignettes lasting no more than one minute each. Probably simply listing the artists involved will give a better impression of the wild contrasts: Fred Frith (with a 60-second bit called “The Entire Works of Henry Cow”), Half Japanese, Monty Python’s Neil Innes, Robert Fripp, Ivor Cutler, the Residents, Andy Partridge of XTC, Pete Seeger, and more others than I have room for. It’s more than a little schizo, but really an amazing bit of work, since it all makes sense in a twisted kind of way. Jon Davis
Unlike everything else you'll hear (almost)
By I. A. Stuart - Amazon.co.uk
Before S Club Juniors....Before New Kids on the Block...There were Hybrid Kids. A showcase compilation of unsigned young bands from the State of Euphoria, doing their own loving / warped cover versions of Pop Classics (and the odd Sun Ra track.)
And boy, did they have a unique sound. Recorded on a tiny budget by Morgan Fisher (former keyboardist with Mott The Hoopla) the bands finally sank back into obscurity (except for the one who later formed Take That.)
Stand-out tracks? Take your pick. Possibly the luscious, gentle "...Loving Feeling" or the angelic "Wuthering Heights" or the unexpected gravitas of "D'ya Think I'm Sexy", or....Damn..they're all great.
Amazon.com - 4.0 out of 5 stars
**** Quirky Covers, December 18, 2008
By Pieter "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - (TOP 50 REVIEWER)
Hybrid Kids: A Collection of Classic Mutants, was first released in 1979; this release has been enhanced by tracks 13 to 15. Morgan Fisher wasn't the only one to cover pop songs in experimental style; there's also The Flying Lizards and of course The Dickies who merely punkified the compositions.
The sound of MacArthur Park brings to mind the Two Tone bands like Selecter & Madness; it has a fast-paced chugging beat that brings it closer to the Donna Summer disco version than the Jimmy Webb original. Punky & Porky must be chipmunks! Their rendition of God Save The Lean opens with a stringed instrument and has lovely piano. The words are more audible than on the Pistols' original and towards the end there's an `oh dear' and `never mind' thrown in.
Echo effects characterize Wuthering Heights with its atmospheric intro of ominous rattles & percussion, and strange synth squeaks & warbles throughout. Light years from Kate Bush or the Pat Benatar cover! The impossibly fast but still catchy Catch A Falling Star is followed by the brooding Fever where moody synth textures and atonal whistles & whooshes pierce the echoing vocals.
Save Your Kisses For Me surpasses the original! Kapital Punischment's intricately arranged version is highly charged and includes the most exquisite yodeling vocals. D'ya Think I'm Sexy, Rod Stewart's nod to disco, is short & sweet with a female reply at the end, while the Sun Ra song Enlightment has a funky feel, mid-tempo galloping beat, and a lead & chipmunk backing vocal that turn into a duet at times.
The Merseyside excursion Get Back is a sound collage of an interviewer's voice plus radio commercial & radio program samples fading in & out of the music, not unlike Something Better Change which opens with strumming guitars & progresses into distorted vocals and samples of spoken French. Likewise, there's a spoken vocal - this time with German accent - on You've Lost That Loving Feeling, whining synths, background chanting and lots of reverb.
The original closing number, Take Me I'm Yours, is orchestral with a mournful feel. It's a `live' recording so the audience laughter is distinctly odd. The more somber it gets, the more raucous the laughter. The extra tracks are great, especially the wall-of-noise on Emergency. Most of the tracks have a quirky charm that has endured.