OFF THE CHARTS: THE SONG-POEM STORY (2002 US) D/P: JAMIE MELTZER P: HENRY S. ROSENTHAL
Song-poems are the result of those mail-order ads that offer to set your lyrics to music for cash, and provide you with a copy of the record, plus an (entirely spurious) chance to enter the music industry. Once a booming industry (there are fans of outsider music who collect the rare old vinyl), I had no idea the service still existed, but it does, as this charming 58 min. documentary illustrates. The only person I recognised was John Trubee, of John Trubee And The Geeks fame, who explains how his legendary oddball 45 Blind Man's Penis was a result of sending off to one of these outfits. But my new hero is Caglar Juan Singletary, and you will be pleased to hear that the soundtrack CD includes his Non-Violent Tae Kwon Do Troopers (among other gems). Singer Gene Merlino is interviewed (and seen in the studio), as is NRBQ's Tom Ardolino (a collector). The late musician Rodd Keith is discussed at length. I think some of this recommended doc. must have been inspired by the song-poem chapter of Irwin Chuswid's excellent book Songs In The Key Of Z: The Curious Universe Of Outsider Music. Meltzer also made WELCOME TO NOLLYWOOD (2007), about the Nigerian film industry.

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