January 12, 2004

I Believe in Babies

I've never quite got around to mentioning the MTX website. Ted just revamped it to reflect the new album and all, and it looks pretty great.

We've never been very good at the whole band website thing. That is, we haven't been very good about maintaining a continually updated website of our own. That's all going to change starting now. But that's what someone who isn't very good at something always says.

The hardest part about it, once you've got it, is thinking of something to put on it. That has always been the stumbling block for me. "Hey everybody, my band is really great! Check us out!" Seven months later: "Sorry for the lack of updates." Silence. Darkness. Oblivion.


So as for content, here's something. We've got a page for mp3s of covers of MTX/Dr. Frank songs. Over the years I've received quite a few home made tapes and so forth. Some are quite good. Some are just hilarious. Some are a bit of both. We thought it might be cool to set up a central repository, to document this particular variety of madness among today's aging youth.

The undisputed king of this kind of thing is without question Ethan, who goes by the "band" name of Dynamite Ham. I believe he has done home studio arrangements/recordings of just about every MTX song, of which I've only heard a fraction. He's working on a concept album, called I Believe in You, which is meant to contrast the songs of Dr. Frank with those of Frank Loesser by means of quirky imaginative covers.

I believe they're all still works in progress, but we have put up mp3s of three of his recordings: "Together Tonight," "I Believe in You," and "I Feel for You." Check 'em out. And send in your own, and tell your friends, if you've got any.

Here's Ethan's account of the story behind the "Together Tonight" cover:

I've been doing covers of Dr. Frank's songs for a couple of years now. As an avowed musical dilettante, I approach the songs in a wide variety of styles (country, polka, bossa nova, big band, hip hop and bolero to name a few). I usually had to reduce the tempo of the songs to accomodate their new genre, and I ended up with a batch of relatively slow songs. So I was looking for an uptempo tune to do.

I was listening to "We Are Family" by Sister Sledge one day, and for some reason I started to sing the first few lines of "Together Tonight" to it. And it fit! I've always liked the song, particularly the three spondees in each chorus (e.g. "go by," "know why" and "phone lines"), and I decided that the song would be a great candidate for a discofication.

After I recorded the basic tracks, and added the horn section samples, I realized how fun the song sounded. So I went a little nuts with the sound effects in the fills, figuring I might as well keep having fun. Of course, in classic Dr. Frank style, the fun sounds belie the bittersweet tenor of the lyrics. Especially in the final verse/chorus, which starts out as an almost conventional pop love song until Frank throws in the word "pretend" and monkeywrenches all of our good time.

Well, I hope all you MTX fans don't hate me for what I've done to Dr. Frank's little gem. I swear, it was a labor of love.

Thanks, man. I love you, too.

So send us some stuff. We like stuff.

Posted by Dr. Frank at January 12, 2004 04:45 PM | TrackBack

damn, frank..swing through springfield, illinois. help a brother out here!

Posted by: resident jason at January 12, 2004 05:29 PM

Together Tonite is probably my favorite MTX song, and he must have put quite a bit of effort into that. I didn't think the song could get any poppier/catchier.
He should do Sex Offender.

Posted by: rockemsockemrobot at January 12, 2004 11:43 PM

Sex Offender is already a cover.

Posted by: mike at January 13, 2004 01:05 AM

Wow. You know, I've read an article comparing you to Stephen Merritt... That was the central theme of the article. And if there was some sort of way to illistrate what the two combined could do, I think this is it. Blows me away.

Posted by: Chach at January 13, 2004 01:11 AM

The website is kickass! (I'm sure it'll get more kickass-er as time goes on). The covers are kickass, too. For some odd reason, I had "Benny Hill" flashbacks when I heard that version of "Together Tonight." If I were musically inclined, I'd do a reggae version of "Future People of Tomorrow," in a hot second!!

Maybe you guys could help the lovelorn and have an MTX personal ad generator, a la the PoMo English Title Generator. Fill in a bunch of fields (who you are and what you're looking for), and the generator could give you a personal ad using characters/situations/quotations from MTX songs. There could be something for everyone:

"Alternative Girl seeks New Girlfriend--must hate Tom Cruise, love Anne Rice."

"Marine Recruiter seeks Dick With Ears. Must be 21, like to get things done. Please, no Hairy, Scary Bears."

"King Dork seeks Velveeta for beer and Mr. Belvedere."

Good luck with the new site!

Posted by: sheckie at January 13, 2004 02:51 AM

is this an official mtx site?



Posted by: ranin123 at January 13, 2004 04:42 AM

The Corvids' version of "Big Strange Beautiful Hammer" will debut Feb. 27 at our Folk Alliance show at Whistle Stop in San Diego. (And thank you Frank for including the capo hint!) Man I love singing that song.

Posted by: Ken Layne at January 13, 2004 07:48 AM

Wasn't this a different cover art? I'm laggin', as usual. And, wasn't there supposed to be joint contribution to this?

Posted by: Leikili at January 13, 2004 08:25 AM

That other one previous entry, kinda like Irish twins with Barbie, eh?

Posted by: Leikilli at January 13, 2004 08:49 AM

That's a missy elliot site...i'm confused!

Posted by: GEM at January 13, 2004 10:36 AM

BEAUTIFUL! AMAZING! okay, I know frank wants us to shred it apart so I'll find things wrong with it and get back to you.

Posted by: Chach at January 13, 2004 07:10 PM

Great stuff.
How can we get more info about Dynamite Ham? Have/has they/he/it done other covers? Web site?

Existing CD or CD coming out?

Posted by: Vernon at January 17, 2004 04:41 PM

It's Dynamite Ham here. Thanks for all the nice comments.

I've always felt that the media has woefully neglected Dr. Frank's stature as a songwriter, and this is my little way of remedying that. Chach mentioned the Dr. Frank/Stephin Merritt article (find it here: http://www.slipcue.com/music/pop/artists/mtx/mtx_vs_magfields.html). I think that 69 Love Songs is nothing less than a masterpiece, but I think Dr. Frank's catalogue compares favorably with Merritt's.

So I'm making a 24-song CD called I Believe In You. It'll have 12 songs by Dr Frank and 12 by Frank Loesser (another of my favorite songwriters). Recording is slated to be completed by February 17, to coincide with MTX's stop in Chicago. After that I'm not sure.

Anyone with a record company out there? Anyone can email me with marketing ideas--I'm wide open to any suggestions.

Thanks again for all the kind words.

Until I get a website of my own going, you can check here for any Dynamite Ham news, whether Dr. Frank likes it or not!


Posted by: Ethan at January 17, 2004 10:57 PM

Dynamite Ham, you're nothing less than. A reviewer more given to cliche would say something like "wonderfully reinvented" here, but fortunately I'll refrain.

Posted by: Wes at January 19, 2004 07:56 AM

i've always wanted to do 'end of mtx.' except i'm not in a band. and i don't play any instruments.

maybe i can get my friend ian to play accordian for me while i sing and play.

Posted by: anne at January 23, 2004 07:14 AM

i've always wanted to do 'end of mtx.' except i'm not in a band. and i don't play any instruments.

maybe i can get my friend ian to play accordian for me while i sing and play.

Posted by: anne at January 23, 2004 07:14 AM

double post! doh!

Posted by: anne at January 23, 2004 07:15 AM

Anne, the closest I ever came to "The End of MTX" was a half-finished song from the early 90s called "I Hate my Band." It probably would have been pretty good, but something, something said "you'd better not."

Posted by: Dr. Frank at January 23, 2004 05:09 PM
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