City Paper is not for tourists
Joe Meek was a British record producer who racked up 45 U.K. hits between ’61 and ’66 before, amid accusations of involvement in the murder of a teen-age boy, he shot his landlady and blew his own brains out. During the post-doo-wop, pre-Beatles pop limbo ruled by teen idols, Meek’s studio skills were well-suited to producing white music with a capital “W.” In that special English way, these 20 instrumental and vocal tunes seem utterly immune to the influence of R&B. They don’t inspire dancing as much as a giddy urge to join the Ministry of Silly Walks. A techno-geek high on reverb and echo, Meek was a master of spacey recording techniques; the Meek sound is given to high-pitched, ethereal female voices. Meek’s hand-picked one-hit wonders included the Moontrekkers (“Night of the Vampire”), Ricky Wayne and the Flee-Rakkers (“Chickaroo”), Heinz (“Just Like Eddie”), and fellow nutcase Screaming Lord Sutch (“Til the Following Night”). Their pale songs are pleasantly about nothing (cf. Pamela Blue’s “My Friend Bobby”). Meek had two U.S. hits, the Honeycombs’ “Have I the Right” and “Telstar,”the ’61 smash by the Tornados. “Telstar” ‘s signature organ sound and “aaah” chorus were added by Meek after the band left the studio. The Tornados weren’t amused. Control freak Meek assembled the Blue Men for his “Stereo Fantasy,” which accurately captured outer-space music—according to “studies” Meek had made. Their “Valley of the Saroos” proves that in space no one can hear you tune up. Spazz out the jams!