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Rascal Reporters | Ridin' On A Bummer

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NEW! Rascal Reporters @ReverbNation.com listen to an interview w/Rascal Reporter Steve Gore HERE "Ridin' On A Bummer" review in ITALIAN "Ridin' On A Bummer" review in GERMAN another "Ridin' On A Bummer" review in GERMAN Apple iTunes

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Ridin' On A Bummer

by Rascal Reporters

Daring Avant-Prog in the tradition of Zappa, Henry Cow, & The Residents.
Genre: Rock: Avant-Prog
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Elements
3:32 $0.99
2. The Hills
2:44 $0.99
3. RIO
16:10 $0.99
4. Mike Newfield
0:58 $0.99
5. Barrensphere
6:24 $0.99
6. Without Passion Or Peace
4:51 $0.99
7. Bones Chorale
1:59 $0.99
8. Barrensphere Revisited
7:46 $0.99
9. Excerpt From 'Psychlops'
2:05 $0.99
10. Elements (original version)
2:56 $0.99
11. Bread And Buddha
4:15 $0.99
12. Giraffe Evasion
6:12 $0.99
13. Reggae On Out Of Here
3:35 $0.99
14. Virgin Rag (live 4/14/76)
1:45 $0.99
15. Of Little Value
1:21 $0.99
16. Grasping At Straws
6:00 $0.99
17. Paper Love
4:06 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Hebbardesque Records is proud to re-issue the genre-defying music of Steve Gore and Steve Kretzmer, plus special guests Fred Frith (Henry Cow), Tim Hodgkinson (Henry Cow), and Dave Newhouse (The Muffins)............

Another Rascal Reporters Album Leaks from Basement
Studio; City Left Unscathed.....

Steve Gore and Steve Kretzmer released 450 vinyl
copies of RIDIN' ON A BUMMER, the Oak Park, Michigan
duo's third full-length work.
Good luck finding one today.
That product of countless hours of composition and laborious home studio sessions quickly sold out,
almost exclusively through mail-order; there was no
second pressing.
Detroit was safe again, until now.
Here, for the first time, is the complete original
release-- remixed, re-edited, redesigned and remastered. Thirty minutes of previously unissued bonus material has
been added: a retrospective collection from the Rascal
Reporters studio archives, including "Paper Love," a long-lost song intended for the ill-fated double-LP version of RIDIN' ON A BUMMER!


Acid Dragon Magazine (France) #42,Summer 2006, Phil Jackson:
"...no-one could prepare you for the epic 16 minute flight of imagination
aptly entitled 'RIO'..., an intense creation...that recalls Dave Stewart's
work with Egg."

"I would have sworn that Kretzmer's 'Without Passion or Peace' and
'Bones Chorale' were early Zappa compositions."


from Outsight Radio with Tom Schulte:

"Rascal Reporters - Seeking new music and interviewing musicians is a constant journey of discovery for me. Along the way there is the rare and special joy of discovering a previously unknown gem in my own back yard, as it were. I was previously oblivious to the groundbreaking zaniness of The Rascal Reporters, operating since the '70s local to me. In this interview I discuss with Steve Gore about the group; would-be jesters of the RIO movement. This talk includes how working with Fred Frith, Tim Hodgkinson, and other came about. Of course we also discuss the release to CD of Ridin' On A Bummer: Twentieth Anniversary Edition of 'daring Avant-Prog in the tradition of Frank Zappa, Henry Cow, & The Residents.'"

click the link on the left to hear the rest of this telephone interview! Thanks to Tom Schulte @Outsight Radio!


An Abbreviated Rascal Reporters Discography:

PURPLE ENTRAPMENT -CD (Wafer Face Records) 1995
WE'RE GOD -CD (Wafer Face Records) 1997
THE FOUL-TEMPERED CLAVIER -CD (Pleasant Green Records) 2001
RIDIN' ON A BUMMER -CD (Hebbardesque Records) 2005
THE MIND BOGGLES -download (Hebbardesque Records) 2008
PSYCHLOPS (COMPLETE) -single download (Hebbardesque Records) 2012
ELEGANT DECAY (LIVE AT OAK PARK HIGH 1976) -download (Hebbardesque) 2012
NICE NOT TO BE HERE (BONUS TRACKS 1976-2008) -download (Hebbardesque) 2014


Here, Steve Gore attempts to explain the bonus tracks on
RIDIN' ON A BUMMER - 20th Anniversary Edition (please feel free to print this text and read along whilst listening to tracks 10 through 17 on the CD!):

Track 10 - "Elements (original version)" (1981)

This is an early, less 'busy' version of the song. I just
felt this version was too boring, so I added and subtracted
a few sections to spice it up. There is an absolutely
ridiculous arrangement of Glen Miller's "In The Mood"
near the start of the piece that borders on worthless
stupidity (fuzz guitar replacing Glen's original clarinet
designation). The ending of the piece is an edit of a tape with unknown session musicians playing Amy Fong's
"I Never Promised You (That I Would Stay)," a track that was, in a different form, to be included on the unreleased double-lp version of RIDIN' ON A BUMMER. Amy's song caused more 'anger' amongst listeners of the 2-lp version than any of the other 'Pop' songs that were to be included on the double-lp version, which is why I love her song so much. One of our intents with the original double-lp version was, most certainly, to 'anger' the listener. Why this was, I don't know. Amy, who is the wife of on-again/off-again Reporter Paul Kretzmer, is an incredibly gifted singer/songwriter, and I always consider it an honor when
I am able to work with her.

Track 11 - "Bread And Buddha" (1985)

This song was originally intended as the 'B' side of an aborted 45-rpm single project (the song "532-7632," a bonus
track on our 1997 WE'RE GOD CD, was slated as the 'A' side). This features a rare-for-the-Reporters improvised electric guitar solo played by me, and I knew not what I was doing. There are strong Ennio Morricone influences
here, as well as "Uncle Meat"-era Mothers Of Invention. We always felt this piece was strong enough to be an album track, but we never quite had the room for it until now. I am playing all the instruments, with the exception of an
'attic door' sound effect generated by my wife, Shawn, at a house we rented in Detroit. The use of this sound was an idea copied from a Univers Zero album, though I can't recall which one at the moment.

Track 12 - "Giraffe Evasion" (1981)

A Steve Kretzmer piece nicely sung by Paul Kretzmer (Steve's older brother). Some of the 'atonal' vocal harmonies were Paul's creation. It took me about 10 years to realize the title of this song is a variation on the term "draft evasion" (which must have been a hot topic at the time). Some of the instrument tracks cannot be as clearly heard as they should be, due to the limitations of the 4-track recording, but this is as good as the song is going to sound. We were working with a tape deck that was badly 'stretching' tape at the time, and evidence of this can be heard near the end of the song (exagerated in one section to make it seem more 'intentional'). Steve Kretzmer
is playing keyboards, I'm drumming, and Paul Kretzmer is singing, playing bass guitar and (a badly under-recorded) acoustic guitar.

Track 13 - "Reggae On Out Of Here" (1977)

An early piece that has always been one of my favorites, prominently featuring the Farfisa organ (still functioning at my brother Greg's house in California). I remember being completely confused by the rhythm of the middle
section, and knew Kretzmer was onto something fresh and new with this piece. This was recorded prior to us switching over to 4-track reel-to-reel, and suffers sonically as a
result. If I recall, reggae music was big in the mainstream at the time (1977), which seemed to annoy Kretzmer greatly. Steve Kretzmer is playing all the instruments, with the exception of an augmenting vocal track that I added.

Track 14 - "Virgin Rag" (live, 1976)

This is one of our rare examples of performing live before an audience. We were 18-year-old seniors at Oak Park
High School when this was recorded (April 14, 1976), and this concert confused the student body a great deal, who were not overly familiar with the Canterbury Rock band,
Egg. We have only performed live a handful of times (in 1975, 1976, and 1985), and we're happy this tape still exists. This concert was wonderfully engineered by Paul Kretzmer, in stereo, and this was taken from Paul's
first-generation master tape. We were operating at the time under the group name, "Pigling Bland" (named after
the Mike Ratledge/Soft Machine song), and didn't switch over to the 'Rascal Reporter' moniker until 1978. We hope to eventually release this concert in full at a future date. Steve Kretzmer is playing Farfisa organ, Steve Gore is playing drums, and Rick Barenholtz is playing bass guitar.

Track 15 - "Of Little Value" (1977)

The sound quality is absolutely horrid on this piece (even though it is taken from the first-generation master tape), but we wanted to include it because it's so darn cute.
I literally wore the tape down to a mirror-finish adding the cowbell track, making sure I was exactly in rhythm with Steve's keyboard track. This was probably the first time I realized that the group was capable of creating rhythms that 'didn't yet exist;' music that sounds random and improvised, but through enormous amounts of rehearsal and re-taking, actually is completely structured down to the last note. I remember feeling a great deal of pride that I belonged to this group right after hearing the finished
version of this song.

Track 16 - "Grasping At Straws" (2004)

I wanted to include a brand-new song on the album, since our upcoming CD release THE MIND BOGGLES is taking much longer than we anticipated to complete. This song was actually originally from THE MIND BOGGLES, but I felt it didn't really fit in stylistically with the other pieces completed for that album. This was recorded 100% digitally, and I think it's interesting to note the difference in sound quality between this and the song preceeding it (1977's "Of Little Value"). I still am a firm believer in analog recording, and I'm not real fond of the 'sterile' feel this piece has (i.e., robots performing rather than human beings). This has a strong 'Hatfield And The North' (particularly Phil Miller) influence.
"Grasping" was generated using a Mac computer, Roland Sound Canvas sequencer, Peavey Ultraverb II digital effects unit, Cubase software, and a cheap Casio keyboard. This is midi'd and sequenced, and sadly, I must admit that I would not have been able to play this 'live' like in the old days (too many drugs taken in my youth have had a severely detrimental effect on my memory, I'm afraid). The Roland Sound Canvas sequencer has a nice 'random stereo panning'
function that I am quite fond of, and this was used extensively in this song. I would like to thank my brother, Greg, who so generously back in 1994 supplied most of the equipment used in this song. We dislike 'drum machines' greatly, so I tried to avoid 'snare,' 'bass drum' and 'tom tom' sounds as often as I could here. The rhythm is carried mostly by a ride cymbal sound. If the means used to create this song is the future of music, we are in deep trouble.

Track 17 - "Paper Love" (1981)

This was one of the songs (originally part of the unreleased 2-LP version of RIDIN' ON A BUMMER) that convinced Recommended Records UK to pull out of releasing
the album back in 1983. My influences here were "#9 Dream" by John Lennon, Stackridge, and "Mr. Blue Sky" by The Electric Light Orchestra. Actually, the 'vocal chorus' coda of the piece is an almost direct rip-off from "Mr. Blue Sky." There are a couple chord changes I like in this
song, but overall I'm not overly fond of this piece. Paul Kretzmer helped out greatly with bass guitar (doubling on top of a Moog bass part), and joined in on the chorus (along
with Steve Kretzmer) at the close of the piece. I am playing all other the instruments. I remember thinking
"this could be a big hit" right after I finished it, but on subsequent listens, realized some of the chord changes during the verses were just a little bit too left field. At the very end of the piece, I am yelling, "What?" at Steve Kretzmer, which was a common practice at the end of a lot of our songs, as Steve would always look at me like I had made some dreadful mistake during the take. I am proud of the lyric "There'll be a time for me someday" which is a credo I think everyone should genuinely believe in to help keep their life on track.


RIDIN' ON A BUMMER lyrics - print 'em up and sing
along with your friends!

Track 2 - "The Hills"

Where'd you go when the rain stopped pouring?
To a place you never let me see
The sun is out, no more thunder roaring
Time again to say goodbye to me

Oh, the hills will be there tomorrow
Should the sky be like it is today
And I know that she'll leave me sorrow
When she goes down to the hills to stay

Track 3 - "RIO"

They say our time is nearly over
The world will never start brand new
Days and hours mark the ending
Of life for me and you

Perhaps it's not my place to argue
But what they say is just not true
In your eyes reflect the power
To change a grey sky to blue

Track 7 - "Bones Chorale"

Automatically we're put to cheese
And left to face the draught
Enharmonically we sing this little ditty
While we rot

What a way to spend our time
Amongst the rubble and the stones
Somebody has gone and written out
this song for Singing Bones

Do you have the time to listen in
And tell us what is wrong?
Why do we persist in earnest wasting music with this song?

Track 9 - "Excerpt From 'Psychlops'"

Once the martyr, headline story in a diary
Rags to riches, good investments is what swallowed me
Greed corrupted, money wrought
Now I realize humanity and love are the jewels never bought

Like a caterpillar trapped and bound to an old cocoon
Shifting wasn't easy, couldn't make the room to move
Now's the day and sleeping's done
There is much to do; contentment with the past is a way
Of living fast

Track 10 - "Elements (original version)"

You'd like to only take a part of my life
I need my freedom, you need a wife
When we're together, it's like fire in the rain
Though the feeling's warm, the water kills the flame

Track 12 - "Giraffe Evasion"

Giraffe evasion, giraffe evasion
Why do they persist in their refusal to see?
Giraffe evasion, giraffe evasion
How'm I gonna run when they keep following me?
Look what they've done to me now
Look what they'll do anyhow
Try to stay awake in the night of the day
Only quest to make it alone
Parasitic monsters, will they never see?
It's time to make it alone
Must keep them out of my head
There's no sleep, only dread
Look what they've done to me now
Look what they'll do anyhow
Giraffe evasion, Giraffe evasion
How'm I gonna run when they keep following me?
Look what they've done to me now
Look what they'll do anyhow
Hoping to escape in the heat of the day
It's time to make it alone
Mustn't let these animals suffocate me
Got to make it alone
Must keep them out of my head
There's no sleep, only dread
Look what they've done to me now
Look what they'll do anyhow

Track 13 - "Reggae On Out Of Here"

There goes Old Man Copper
With a penny in his hand
Says he swore allegiance
To a military band
I think he may just be couth

There's a hungry tailor
With nothing but a drum
Says he'll be forever
But a military crumb
I think he may just fool us yet

Track 15 - "Of Little Value"

Did anybody know?
There was ketchup rotting away
In the pantry, fresh as the lark
Who seems to stray
By the matchmaker's grave

Does anybody thrive?
On corrosive nutrition away
In the pantry, not like the milk
And healthy spuds
At the grocer's today

Track 17 - "Paper Love"

Dream, dream your way
That's all I want from life today
Thought I'd have much more to say
I'm a stream, come see me flow
I'm a field the wind may blow

Get up, get out of bed
And pour yourself a cup of tea for me
My world is spinnin' 'round and 'round
I hope today that I will see a little sunshine
It's gonna rain, it's gonna rain

Look up into the sky
Just see those grey clouds spittin' rain at me
My world is spinnin' 'round and 'round
I thought I saw a tiny teardrop on your face
It's gonna change, it's gonna change

Run home, the day is done
Sidestep that streetcar splashin' mud at me
My head is spinnin' 'round and 'round
I wish that I could see some laughter in your eyes
When will you see? Just you and me?

Turn, turn away
I saw your photograph turn grey
Like a kite that's flown astray
In a world where no one dies
Wish I knew the reason why

Long, long away
There'll be a time for me someday
Another time, another play
Form a line, this way inside
Find a seat, sit down, and cry

Get up, get out of bed
And pour yourself a cup of tea for me
My world is spinnin' 'round' and 'round
I hope today that I will see a little sunshine
It's gonna rain, it's gonna rain

Look up, into the sky
Just see those grey clouds spittin' rain at me
My world is spinnin' 'round and 'round
I thought I saw a tiny teardrop on your face
It's gonna change, it's gonna change


Here's an excerpt of an interview with Steve Gore of the Rascal Reporters (thanks to Pleasant Green Records):

PGR: Describe your tape by mail recording process

SG: This idea was first suggested to us by Fred Frith, and first used on our 1984 RIDIN' ON A BUMMER LP. It's not a practical process, since the "mail order musician" has to have access to the same recording formats that we use. We don't know how to read or write music out on paper, and almost all the "mail order musicians" we've worked with are "manuscript fluent" so we send them the tracks we have finished on our end, and add an organ line that represents the melody or part(s) we would like the musician to play, then throw the whole shebang onto cassette and mail that out with the actual master tape (the master tape is usually reel-to-reel recorded on a TEAC 2340 4-track, with our parts on tracks #2 and #4, with #1 and #3 left blank for the guest artist to fill in). We then pray the master tape won't be lost by the postal service. We can't afford premium mailing services, so we just cross our fingers. We've never had a tape lost or damaged yet in the 17 years of using this procedure. Depending on the musician, they will either play what we've asked them to play, or come up with their own parts. If the musician is fairly well known, we just ask them to add what they think will work. I was told by Fred Frith that the 'tape-by-mail' process was fairly new at the time, in 1984. I understand it is fairly common now in the digital era.




to write a review

Acid Dragon Magazine

Recalls Dave Stewart's work with EGG
I would have sworn that [Steve] Kretzmer's 'Without Passion or Peace' and 'Bones Chorale' were early Zappa compositions.

Record Heaven

...American album rooted deeply in the RIO style with playful tunes, much in the RESIDENTS style, ZAPPA and ART BEARS.


Excellentissime !
J'ai adoré cet album, à la croisée entre un Zappa, le mouvement Canterbury, le RIO...

Ici, une certaine fraicheur se dégage des compositions assez compliqués mais c'est surtout l'ambiance bizarroide qui en fait une sorte de pépite rare que tout fan de progressif digne de ce nom se doit d'avoir.

Indispensable !


...today even more than before, [RIDIN' ON A BUMMER] is a refreshing listening experience. ...lots of playfulness and an instrumental vitality that’s sadly missing in the modern music era. The sound is progressive, fusionesque and quirky, with the Steve's aided nicely by former members of Henry Cow and the Muffins.

ZNR Records

great avant-garde prog!
Originally released in 1984 in a very limited edition vinyl LP, [BUMMER] has become a big collectible, fetching upwards of $100 when you can find a copy... A great addition to the collection of anyone into the more avant-garde side of progressive rock.

Brian Burman

Fresh like a grapefruit in the face over breakfast.
I've just received "Ridin' on a Bummer" a week ago, and haven't stopped listening to it. I wished I'd heard it when it came out, it would've been nice to know there were other freaks writing elaborate music against all odds and commercial realities, and they bring D.I.Y. to a whole other level. The combination of compositional sophistication with handmade rawness makes for some breathtaking listening. And the humour is totally surprising and refreshing in a genre that can often be a downright dour affair. I look forward to discovering more musical mayhem from these misfits.

Wayside Music

...thrill & astonish...
The Rascal Reporters have been making music for over 25 years. This was their 3rd release, but their first on lp. The complexity of the compositions & ideas here will thrill and astonish fans of rehearsal intensive rock.

Outsight Radio Hours

groundbreaking zaniness...
...groundbreaking zaniness of The Rascal Reporters... would-be jesters of the RIO movement.