Recording of May 1992: P.D.Q. Bach: WTWP Classical Talkity-Talk Radio
Prof. Peter Schickele and the Usual Cast of Clowns; many instruments, some of which you'll recognize
Telarc CD-80295 (CD only, as if we had to tell you that). Robert Woods, Elaine Martone, prods.; Jack Renner, Michael Bishop, engs. DDD (as if we had to tell you that, too). TT: 61:39
When confronted with the transcendent ouevre of the late P.D.Q. Bach, this reviewer frequently finds himself at a loss for words, but here faced with what is not only the crowning glory of P.D.Q.'s opus, but an effective satire of contemporary "classical" FM radio as well, I had no choice but to cry for help. Fortunately, aid was forthcoming from a number of luminaries of the critical arena whom you will no doubt recognize, but who were unaccountably unwilling to have their names associated with the last and perhaps least son of the great Johann Sebastian. Notwithstanding, I offer my heartfelt thanks to these unnamed contributors.
"This recording and performance achieved a respectable score of 13 on my open-ended scale, failing, however, to best the current reference, Barry Manilow's Greatest Hits, which attained the hitherto unprecedented rating of 26.5..."
"While listening to this disc with some of my colleagues in the Rahway Symphony, we noted the clever use of the low reeds for comic effect. Since I myself play the contra-tromboon, I was reminded of the time we were playing a concert up in Hoople, and it was really cold up there, being Northern South Dakota, and—wait a minute, you mean record reviewers don't get paid by the word? Forget it..."
"So the other day I'm over at Harry Hyperbole's along with Peter Planetoid and the Brass Monkey. We were listening to the Adcom B&K Jadis or whatever, driving Quad Spica Vandersteen WATTs or whatever, when my favorite running gag Jars shows up. Now the system isn't exactly working, mind you, but we're getting close, and Jars pulls out this P.D.Q. Bach thing. So while Pete and Harry get hernias substituting another five-grand amp for the one with only one working channel, I treat the disc with a green pen and some Rinso Blue on a powder puff. When we're all connected, I put the CD in the Jitterbug transport (with the platinum power-cord mod) running through the Numbers Game A/D, and hit Play. You know what happens then? The whole obscenely priced mess blows up! Isn't that neat? Well, if we ever get the system back together, I'll let you know how it sounds. But while I was reading the really clever liner notes, I got this great idea. I'm organizing a trip to Northern South Dakota—it's as cold as Russia, the economy's as bad, and..."
"While there are those who profess to hear differences between musical selections, we have scientifically determined that these alleged differences are due entirely to trivial variations in pitch, timbre, and rhythm..."
"Oh-kay! P.D.Q. Bach. Real down-home roots classical; the stuff they play in those Tex-Mex bars where they pour El Cuervo Platinum all night and the beat never stops. ¡Ay, maraca! Listen to the 'Folk Song Upsettings.' Great sheet, mon, no? Could be by that biker composer, ¿whatto el nombre? Warlock, that was it. Sí, peri como. And the soprano! Va-voom, wot a BABE! My zipper's in peril! But wait uno minuto. What's this? 'Hound Dog'? 'Love Me'? Performed by Elvis (The Pelvis)'s brother Enos (The ...)? This mutha whitebread sumBach be puttin' down The King..."
"I said turn it up! I can't hear a damn thing. Listen, if it wasn't for me, you young punks wouldn't have a magazine, so give me some gain already. That's better. Well, I thought this was supposed to be funny. All this 'P.D.Q.' seems to have done is steal the playlist from a real classical FM station. 'Nothing written after 1912.' 'No minor keys.' 'Every ninth piece has to be by Grieg.' 'We play the music you don't mind hearing—wall-to-wall Pachelbel.' So where's the joke? Sounds good, though, the part I can hear..."
"The desert. The stars like a thousand points of cold, immaculate light. Suddenly, incandescent hyperbolae of sound, arcing into the ebon depths of Space, like messengers speaking with the voice of the Blessed Bob: 'Fire this guy, as soon as his fax is open'..."—Les Berkley, et al