Rodd Keith – My Pipe Yellow Dream [Roaratorio, 2011]

Rodd Keith - My pipe yellow dreamThere once lived a virtuoso schlock-meister named Rodd Keith who worked in a certain industry known as the Song-Poem business. Now, this Song-Poem business basically involved the exploitation of sad, wanna-be famous type people who would respond to dubious ads in the backs of tabloid rags (the kind that regale its readers with titillating tales of break-dancing chimps and custard pies that look like Marilyn Monroe) that offered to professionally record their songs, poems and general ravings for a none-too-modest fee. So, these gullible goons would send in their hard-earned cash and have their often ludicrous lyrics performed and recorded by folks such as the aforementioned Mr. Keith.

Now, Rodd Keith was no mere mortal… well, at least he didn’t think so. His brother has claimed that Rodd decided to spell his name with 2 D’s because God spelt his name with one D. That should provide you with an inkling into the preposterous ego of the man. So if Rodd felt like he was in competition with God, he must have seen Elvis as some insignificant little flea to simply flick aside like some rock ‘n’ roll booger! He certainly seemed to see himself in that same exalted terrain as The King on the curiously titled Choo-Choo train. It’s like Rodd had the song Mystery Train in mind when he went about arranging the it and he thought, ”Never mind this Mystery Train shit, Choo-Choo Train is gonna make Mystery Train look like a cankered sore on Priscilla’s upper lip!” Yes indeed, Choo-Choo Train is right up there with Mystery Train with the slight exception being that the lyrics are inane horse shit! But don’t let that turn you off My Pipe Yellow Dream folks! We here at adore inane horse shit! We thrive on it!

In all honesty though, Rodd Keith was so good at turning people’s written flotsam and jetsam into often marvellously catchy pieces of pop music that he could have easily taken some lyrics about yearning to dance in a fresh pile of steaming cow crap and not only make it sound believable but also somehow desirable! He really put his heart and soul into some of the most questionable lyrics ever committed to tape. Now that’s talent! Which leads me to a point I’d like to make: All of these cretinous clones who never stop appearing on the glut of talent shows clogging our TV sets should only be allowed to sing songs from the archives of American Song Poems. If these desperate dip-shits can manage to wring some genuine emotion from their withered souls while singing about a choo-choo train, THEN they get to move on to the next stage of the contest! But, if they smirk, sneer or even so much as utter the slightest giggle, out the fuckin’ door they go! And that, my friends, happens to be one of the truly remarkable things about My Pipe Yellow Dream: every song, however ridiculous (and there are some real doozies) is performed completely straight! Not even a hint of irony is present on the whole album. It’s amazing, and so is Rodd’s voice actually, which sounds like an amalgamation of Jerry Garcia and Lee Hazlewood.

It also occurred to me while listening to My Pipe Yellow Dream that many of these songs would fit perfectly into just about any low-budget 60’s/70’s B-Movie ever made. For instance,. With There’s A Party Going On, you could easily imagine a group of Russ Meyer’s chicks shaking their asses and jiggling their ample bosoms along to this song, with its cheesy yet catchy refrain of “Dit, dit…dittle-ittle-ittle-it-dit…dittle-ittle-ittle-it-dit”.

Another tune tailor made for a Russ Meyer’s harem of mammocentric mamas is the groovy yet imbecilic Surfing Along. Here’s a lyrical sample for your delectation and edification: “Surfin’ along, here I go, under and a-over and to and fro, I’ll make it over the sea so blue, that is unless I make a big boo-boo!” With brains like that floating around the United States like retarded ghosts you really have to wonder how America became the world’s leading super-power, don’t you?

There’s another doozie on here called America the Not So Beautiful. Now, with a title like that you might be expecting a righteous slice of underground 60’s radicalism, but you would be disappointed… unless your idea of underground 60’s radicalism involves listening to some humourless moaner bitching about public school bussing laws and the inability of the average schlub to work his way up from the factory floor to a managerial level. Viva La Revolution!

There’s another track on My Pipe Yellow Dream called The Watching Man, where Rodd gives his best Johnny Cash impersonation to go along with the puzzling and slightly creepy lyrics that wouldn’t have been out of place streaming out of Robert Mitchum’s sadistic preacher mouth in Night of the Hunter.

There is one real gem on here for my money, and that is the short and bittersweet Bury Me Deep with its bleakly compelling lyrics and Robbie Kriegerish guitar line. A diamond in a pile of inane horse shit? You be the judge!

Joe Pickell

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