Brute Force: I, Brute Force: Confections of Love

Imagine walking down an urban street and hearing the sounds of neighbors working on cars, screaming out the window, practicing their instruments, blaring their hi fis, and such, on a sunny day.

Brute Force

I, Brute Force: Confections of Love

Label: Bar/None
US Release Date: 2010-10-12
UK Release Date: 2010-10-12

Sometimes you hear an album that is so strange and creatively wonderful that the experience just blows you away. It’s like the sun and moon collide in your brain as you wonder, how did the musicians come up with that? This type of occurrence happened a lot in 1967. It was the year of such original and imaginative records as the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour, Cream’s Disraeli Gears, Jefferson Airplane’s After Bathing at Baxter’s and Surrealistic Pillow, Jimi Hendrix’s Axis: Bold as Love, Aretha Frankin’s Aretha Arrives, Rolling Stones’ Between the Buttons and On Her Satanic Majesty‘s Request, Mothers of Invention’s Absolutely Free, Traffic’s Mr. Fantasy,the Moody Blues’ Days of Future Past and the first, eponymously named Velvet Underground & Nico, Grateful Dead, Procol Harum, and David Bowie albums. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

So perhaps the fact that Brute Force’s brilliantly madcap I, Brute Force: Confections of Love was overlooked by the popular audience at the time is not a total shock. The sheer number of great discs made it impossible for one to hear and appreciate everything that came out. Still, it’s a shame that the record did not do better, because who knows what other music Brute (nee Stephen Friedland) could have come up with in the studio. The 11 tracks on the original Columbia Records release reveal a multitalented artist who could combine everything from classical orchestration to circus music, sitars to Broadway cabaret, doo wop garage rock to lilting Tin Pan Alley pop, etc., with sound effects and weird vocalizations, into an aural synthesis that made a kind of intuitive sense. Imagine walking down an urban street and hearing the sounds of neighbors working on cars, screaming out the window, practicing their instruments, blaring their hi fis, and such, on a sunny day. This new repackaging of the original record has it -- like a modern day Rhapsody in Blue -- and more.

There are 5 bonus cuts added, including the infamous “King of Foh”. The song is the rarest release on Apple Records, with a pressing of only 2,000 copies because the distributor refused to carry it. That’s despite the fact that George Harrison added a string section to the music, and both John Lennon and Yoko Ono loved the song and pushed for the company to issue the 45 -- and this was during the height of the Beatles’ heyday. The song is not obscene, nor does it urge violent revolution. Instead, the tribute to the good king urges one to “hail the foh king”, which sounded too close to an obscenity to the music industry at the time. The song is lovely and innocuous, which makes the censorship hard to understand.

Nevertheless, the song flopped because it was never heard and was impossible to find. I talked to Friedland about this at Las Manitas in Austin during a South by Southwest a few years ago. He blamed the failure of the single to chart and make him a star for his leaving the music business for about 30 years. He’s back, and performing with his beautiful and talented daughter (appropriately named Daughter of Force). Catch them if you can, as their performances are mind-blowing experiences.

But in the meantime, pick up Brute Force’s 1967 debut, which is being re-released by Bar/None for the first time since it was initially issued. While in some ways, songs like “Sitting on a Sandwich”, “Tapeworm of Love”, and “The Sad Sad World of Mothers and Fathers” may seem like nuggets from the original psychedelic era, the album’s playfulness and artistry make these tracks timeless and enjoyable today. Friedland possesses a theatrical voice that charms and wheedles the listening into grinning at the absurd world in which we live. Despite his bestial name, he’s as cuddly as a pussycat. And he preaches love. In fact, one of the bonus cuts, “Conjugations”, is a musical grammar lesson in which he conjugates the word “love” in all its forms and then translates the word into languages as diverse as Turkish, Chinese, and Russian, all while a horn section blares and a female chorus croons in background support. It’s a happening, baby!


The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.