Once upon a time in the music industry, there used to be something called the
“novelty album,” a release that contained something unique or unusual that
would be outside of “the norm”. Whether it was an album of music from another
country recorded in another language, someone making a demonstration that could be described without the need for visual examples, or simply humorous music that would not fit into the “pop” category, the “novelty album” was always
strange or unique. This is one category that seems to have all but disappeared from today’s music industry…….well, maybe not entirely.
Enter All Rights Reserved, the 2011 release from The Evolution Control Committee.The Evolution Control Committee consists of TradeMark Gunderson and Christy “Frillypants” Brand. Together, Gunderson and Brand have created an album in All Rights Reserved that can only be categorized as a “novelty album,”
especially since the entire release was constructed using other people’s music
to create the songs contained within the release. What else would you call the
album but “novelty”?
Right from the start, you know All Rights Reserved from The Evolution Control
Committee is going to be unusual, as the release comes wrapped in a sticker
that plainly states: “1. You may not listen to the album.” This and other rules
listed on the sticker make it impossible to play the release on your CD or
record player (it comes in both formats). (Gunderson himself gave me permission
to listen to and review the album, so I am covered.) If you DO put the album
on, the same set of restrictions are read aloud by Gunderson at the beginning
of the release.
If you make it past the “Listener License Agreement” (shame on you), you encounter the track “What Would You Do if I Sang Autotune?” This is a karaoke version of The
Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends,” sung through Autotune.
As All Rights Reserved contains eighteen tracks (sixteen, if you exclude the “Listener License Agreement” and its reminder later in the disc), here are some of the
other highlights from this novelty release:
“The Shakes” is a track that is simply a compilation of songs that have the common
thread of containing the word “shake” somewhere in the lyrics compiled in a
pattern that creates a dance pattern. Included are songs like: “Shake That
Thing” by Sean Paul, “Shake Whatcha Mama Gave Ya” by KMC, “Shake Your Groove
Thing” by Peaches and Herb and many, many more.
“Don’t Let the Devil Blow Your Mind” is probably the best sermon you’ll ever hear.
Taken from the sermon from Elder Marshall Taylor by the same name, the
performance is combined with the song “Freeway” from The Electric Junkyard to
create one rockin’ message that you cannot ignore.
If there is one track on All Rights Reserved from The Evolution Control Committee that qualifies as a “must hear” track, it has to be “Stairway to Britney”. Taken alone, you would never think that Britney Spears and Led Zeppelin would go together. Once a “happy accident” that happened during a live performance of The Evolution Control Committee, the resulting combination was later re-created in the studio to create the track as it appears on the album. This track is definitely
worth the cost of a download, if nothing else.
Another track on the release that definitely fits into the “must hear” category is the
track “PWN Monkey” (or ‘Code Monkey’ as it’s called on the track itself). While
the earlier track of “The Shakes” was created by combining songs with “shakes”
in the lyrics, “PWN Monkey” was also created by combining songs to create the
track; however, the process to create this track was a little more complex:
Using a process that is similar to the one used by listeners of the site Pandora.com
to create radio stations, rock songs with similar tempos, rhythms and musical
keys are combined to create a music bed on top of which The Evolution Control
Committee composed the lyrics about a computer programmer who is ignored by the
girl of his dreams.
You really have to listen to “PWN Monkey” twice: once to enjoy the song itself,
and then a second time to enjoy all of the songs that were used to create the
musical background for the song. And YES, that is “Funky Worm” by The Ohio
Because of the many different methods used to compose, arrange, create and produce the tracks for All Rights Reserved, it would take twice as long to go through the entire album. What matters is that other tracks like “Hillbilly Beatboxing,” “Fock
It” and “Feel like Breaking Love” need to be heard. And as far as the track “California
Dreamings” is concerned, who knew that many versions of that song existed?
Long story short, there is much to listen to and enjoy on All Rights Reserved by The Evolution Control Committee. And while the album is available on record and as a download, the CD comes with a second disc that contains a lot more to hear and explore.
Editor’s Note: While most reviews include links to songs and videos, the material from The Evolution Control Committee’s All Rights Reserved is not available on YouTube. However, please enjoy this video of the group live from The 2008 Ingenuity Festival in Cleveland as they demonstrate more of their creativity.