As with disc 4 (”anew #36″) and disc 3 (”anew #29″) the “Novelty” portion of this “Brain in a Box” compilation is somewhat mislabeled. While I can’t honestly say that these aren’t entirely novel tracks, for the most part these are what I’d consider “Pop” more than anything. I mean, why “Purple People Eater” is in “novelty” instead of Pop is beyond me, or tracks by Ella Fitzgerald, Parliament, the Ron-Dells and the B-52s.
Despite its mislabeling and disparate selections, this is perhaps the most listenable of the five discs, with more than a dozen of the 21 tracks being either catchy, amusing or noteworthy. I mean, Burt Bacharach’s title theme to The Blob could have been put in with the “movie themes” but it’s swinging, yakety sax meets oompa-loompa style chant of “beware of the blob/it creeps/and leaps/and glides and slides across the floor/right through the door/and all around the wall/a splotch/a blotch/be careful of the blob” is so much better suited here where it’s surrounded by other like minded tracks, catchy and addictive. The Martian Hop by the Ran-Dells follows it up with as hopping a hop song as ever been made, and Leonard Nimoy strikes again with an acoustic (mercifully) lounge track “Music To Watch Space Girls By”.
The B-52’s contribute “Planet Claire”, and the Gigantor theme is re-envisioned by the Dickies. Ella Fitzgerald sings about “Two Little Men In A Flying Saucer”, adding a weird touch of class to the festivities bookending The Rezillos punk-fueled “Flying Saucer Attack” with the Jerry Lee Lewis inspired “Flyin’ Saucers Rock ‘N’ Roll”. The Mojo Nixon and Jimmy Durante tracks are passable, while the Rubinoos present the Star Trek theme in a bopping surf guitar style.
“Mister Spaceman” by the Holy Modal Rounders is a wry bluegrass track, oddly juxtaposed by the jingly kids’ show/advertisement march “Meet Space Pilot Jones”, followed by the legendary Sheb Wooley track. Buck Trail’s jangly “Knocked Out The Joint On Mars” is paired with “Tiny Spaceman” by Bill Carlisle trying his hand at Elvis. The Buchanan Brothers & The Georgia Catamounts present “(When You See) Those Flying Saucers”, a tinny bluegrass track that sounds like it was recorded straight off the Victrola. Putting that right next to the P-funk’s “Unfunky UFO” is a bit of a head scratcher, but following that up with chipper tv-themey sounding “You Came From Outer Space” by the Kirby Stone Four as disc closer is just as confusing.
I can’t say I’m fond of the flow on any of the five discs of the Brain in a Box collection, and more than half of the tracks can be scurried back into the holes they came from, but there’s welcome and familiar sounds and fun discoveries to find amidst it all. But still, I’m just not *that* enthused in the overall collection, since it seems there’s so much missing, (a definitive collection of SF music an utter impossibility, and Rhyno’s limited resources acknowledged in the end pages of “Brain in a Book”) and so much of passing interest. While my disappointment in it from when I first got it has totally dissipated, it’s truly time to let it go to someone who will revel in it’s geeky cheesiness.
(My favourite track over all 5 discs is easily Bacharach’s The Blob theme…)
Flying Saucer Attack - The Rezillos
Planet Clair - The B-52’s