The Sons of Emperor Norton | The Putrid Minds Anthology: Battle Hymns for the Blue States

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The Putrid Minds Anthology: Battle Hymns for the Blue States

by The Sons of Emperor Norton

A collection of Weird Al, Frank Zappa, Monty Python, & National Lampoon styled political satire, comedy, & parody, with a progressive, liberal, anti-war slant. Mixing rockabilly, funk, rock, country, jazz harmony, radio drama, and tenor sax solos.
Genre: Rock: Americana
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Putrid Minds(We stopped the clock at Wounded Knee)
The Beat Meters
3:36 $0.99
2. Compared To What
The Beat Meters
3:27 $0.99
3. Killing For the Oil Companies(The Pledge of Obedience)
The Beat Meters
4:49 $0.29
4. The Irrational Anthem
The Beat Meters
1:36 $0.29
5. Ol' E's Comin' Back
The Sons of Emperor Norton
4:15 $0.99
6. He Hums a Sad, Sweet Song(Joshua's Hymn)
The Sons of Emperor Norton
3:41 $0.99
7. Plain Out of Luck
The Sons of Emperor Norton
4:25 $0.99
8. They Spent All Their Money on Their Health(and drove drunk)
The Sons of Emperor Norton
3:31 $0.99
9. Everything Sucks
The Beat Meters
1:44 $0.99
10. Deng Xiao Ping
The Beat Meters
4:28 $0.99
11. The National Anthem
The Sons of Emperor Norton
1:15 FREE
12. Twain, Norton, and the Professor
The Sons of Emperor Norton
1:49 $0.29
13. The Star Spangled Boner
The Sons of Emperor Norton
1:21 $0.29
14. The Emperor and The King
The Sons of Emperor Norton
3:55 $0.29
15. Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey(Mushroom Cloud)
The Beat Meters
3:57 $0.99
16. Sad and Lonely
The Beat Meters
6:05 $0.99
17. Oy Gevalt
The Beat Meters
7:55 $0.99
18. Hi-Fi(Every Single Day)
Thge Beat Meters
3:06 $0.99
19. Smash the Corporate Oligarchy
The Professor
0:04 FREE
20. Putrid Minds(extended jam)
The Beat Meters
6:51 $0.99
21. Amazing Grace
The Sexton Family
2:40 $0.29
22. The Sons of Emperor Norton
The Sons of Emperor Norton
3:46 $0.99
23. The John Wilkes Booth Fully Privatized Retirement Plan
The Professor
0:17 FREE
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"I pledge obedience to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the Corporations for which it stands...
one nation, uninformed, in denial, with liberty and justice forsaken, forbidden, and forgotten." Joshua A. Norton 1819-1880

The Irrational Anthem(The Star Spangled Boner):

"Oh say can you see, innocent people as they flee,
From our huge air force jets, that we fly across the sea.

And our "proud" cluster bombs, that destroy life and limb,
For generations to come, from the ground that they lay in.

Missiles fall from the air, leaving depleted uranium everywhere. and the cancer that it causes, well we really just don't care.

Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave, o'er the land of corporate greed, and the home of its slaves".

Sou'dough Joe Norton 1876-1958

We put this CD together in response to the U.S. attack of Afghanistan and Iraq under false pretenses. We just couldn't put out our almost complete rockabilly album under those circumstances; it didn't seem to matter anymore. It's still shelved. No matter what your opinion is of the political climate, I still think you'll find it very entertaining and musically fulfilling. The following is a lot of info I've posted about it since it came out. Thanks for checking us out, Joe Kaline and The Sons of Emperor Norton.

Warning: Opinions expressed herein and on this CD are not necessarily those of people who don't think for themselves and/or those who value and trust the information purveyed by the corporately controlled and funded commercial media.

We're #2 in the top 30 at KMUD FM(; with all these legendary performers.


TOP 30

# ARTIST Recording
1 SINEAD O'CONNOR Throw Down Your Arms
2 SONS OF EMPEROR NORTON Battle Hymns for the Blue States
3 BONNIE RAITT Souls Alike
5 DAMIAN MARLEY Welcome To Jamrock
6 GUY FORSYTH Love Songs: For And Against
9 BOB DYLAN No Direction Home: The Soundtrack- The Bootleg Series Vol. 7
12 ARLO GUTHRIE Live In Sydney
17 BUDDY GUY Bring 'Em In
18 SUSAN TEDESCHI Hope And Desire
20 JOAN BAEZ Bowery Songs
21 DAR WILLIAMS My Better Self
22 GOODING Angel/Devil
23 SUPERGRASS Road To Rouen
24 FIONA APPLE Extraordinary Machine
26 BETTYE LAVETTE I've Got My Own Hell To Raise
27 JACKSON BROWNE Solo Acoustic, Vol. 1
28 FRANZ FERDINAND You Could Have It So Much Better
29 BLUE HAWAIIANS Live At The Lava Lounge, Vol. 2
30 IMOGEN HEAP Speak For Yourself

Here's a review on

Battle Hymns for the Blue States
Written by Melody Zagami
Wednesday, 14 December 2006
The Putrid Minds Anthology: Battle Hymns for the Blue States by The Sons of Emperor Norton, is the only album ever produced that features Elvis, Mark Twain, Stephen Hawking and the little known historical figure, Joshua "Emperor" Norton. This 23 song anthology is not for the faint of heart. When listening, you laugh and think, "that’s clever." Then reality comes into focus and you feel powerless in the face of the monstrous Bush administration. The band’s humor has more than a bit of truth between the lines.

What The Sons do is put a spin on American standards. This has been done since Yankee Doodle called it macaroni, but this band has a red state sound with a blue state message. They introduce you to an important historical character that you may not be familiar with.

In the mid-1800s San Francisco knew Joshua Abraham Norton as "His Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I". He proclaimed himself "Emperor of the United States" and "protector of Mexico". Though he never held any actual power, locals respected him and businesses he frequented accepted currency in his name. History questions his sanity and some labeled him as an eccentric, but Mark Twain wrote an epitaph for his dead dog. He proclaimed decrees to dissolve the U.S. Congress by force and to build a bridge spanning San Francisco Bay. Who’s crazy now? Today you can find a sundae, a snack chip and a beer named in his honor in the great state of Shwarzafornia.

Given the current shape we’re in as a nation, it certainly seems like an appropriate time in history to resurrect the Emperor’s spirit and set it to music. The title track, Putrid Minds (I think we stopped the clock back at Wounded Knee) is an anthem of The Son’s views peppered with statements by the "putrid minds": "Locked inside these putrid minds ..... It’s just to spend another day letting corporate powers have their way/ Our president is a puppet and a liar but I’m patriotic so I’ll just fall in line/Let’s kill Iraqis and build another pipeline."

The putrid mind (the slightly effeminate voice of a horribly negative American amalgam) follows with vapid lines, "As I sip a latte and I do another line" and "Let’s watch some football and we’ll drink a case of beer," and "I love my Prozac and my California wine."

If you really want to get into it, there is an "extended jam" version of this song on the album.

There are a couple of notable tracks on The Putrid Minds Anthology that are memorable. Track 2, Compared to What? is sung with the scratchy, rambling vocals of a man in a world devoid of validity. It’s hard to tell from the album who’s singing what since a few different bands, The Hi-Fi’s, the Quadraphonics, and the Beat Meters all contribute to the album.

He Hums a Sad, Sweet Song, is a touching homage to the Emperor himself and a recording of Amazing Grace, near the end of the album, is sung by a band of weary southerners with nothin’ left to do but sing their hurt out.

Track 3, Killing for the Oil Companies, gives a rockabilly spin to the pledge of allegiance, "One nation uninformed, in denial, with liberty and justice forsaken, forbidden and forgotten." The sons are blaming their statesmen, the injustices attained in the guise of Christianity and the apathy of members of the republic.

"The Irrational Anthem" follows, beginning with a calypso beat, when you hear, "O’ say can you see innocent people as they flee/ from our huge air force jets that we fly across the sea/ O’ say does that star-spangled banner still wave o’er the land of corporate greed and the home of its slaves."

There’s so much material out there that’s it is hard not to invent alternate lyrics to our nation’s oldest and dearest musical Americana on a daily basis. So this gets tiresome after the first four tracks, which do just that. As this is an anthology, there’s more to be had in the ways of creativity and then some songs that don’t really fit at all.

Two extremely funny tracks are Ol’ E’s Comin’ Back and Deng Xiao Ping. The latter is a four minute song consisting solely of the former Chinese head of state’s name sang in a Chinese accent (you’d feel cheated if it wasn’t). Sure, it sounds obnoxious, but it’s really a very funny name. Ol’ E is Elvis Presley, the one and only King. One can’t be sure the connection between the Emperor and the King, except for the obvious regal relations. It doesn’t matter, because Elvis is apparently going to come back and save us all from our troubles. He’s going to befriend Ralph Nader and while on his mission he will fuel his caddy with bio-diesel.

Elvis reappears in track 15, The Emperor and the King, as an undercover CIA agent. This is the last track in the middle of the album and it serves as the final part to a radio play which begins with The National Anthem (public domain). Samuel Clemens, the good Emperor and Stephen Hawking are having a conversation about liberty, patriotism and democracy. Hawking has arrived from the future. Unfortunately, The Family Guy has ruined all Stephen Hawking satire from here on out.

In the funniest moment, Hawking goes over their heads. Twain tells him to take his language down a notch to a, "vernacular we can all understand." Hawking gives his robo-voice delivery, "Sammy, just chill, kick back, and dig the rhymes off this next track."

The group reappears in track 15, in a diner. It’s there that they meet Elvis who tells them they’ll be put on trial for listening to this album. Meanwhile, Hawking sexually harasses the waitress.

The final track, hysterically titled, The John Wilkes Booth Fully Privatized Chief Executive Retirement Plan, (Why bother with another over-regulated, inefficient, government-run system?) is a distorted snippet from, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" followed by (12 seconds into the song) a gunshot.

Only so much can be done when retooling beloved American hymnals. The Sons of Emperor Norton mix it up enough to transmit a political message and keep you laughing every once in awhile. Blue states are definitely lacking in the battle hymn area. The reason you should listen to this album is not because of witty twists on American standards, but rather, the Emperor himself. It is particularly this character in American history that does not get a lot of airtime. He should be remembered for his independent spirit and the way he challenged what he deemed wrong, not just as the name of a beer, or a snack chip.

Order the CD here:

Visit The Sons' website:

Melody Zagami is a 25 year old freelance writer and sometime-stand-up comedian in the green mountains of Vermont. She is currently pursuing a Master's in special ed.

This guy don't like it....

Rating: 3
Patrick Schabe,
PopMatters Music Reviews Editor

There are two things you need to know before I commence with the review.

The first is a little background on the weird and wonderful history of Emperor Joshua Norton. Norton first made history in 1859 when he dressed up in a tatty military uniform and declared himself Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. Among Norton's great acts under his reign, he established of diplomatic communications with Queen Victoria, issued his own currency, and demanded that a suspension bridge be built across San Francisco Bay. Despite being considered at best an eccentric, and at worst insane, the people of San Francisco generally humored him, and he spent the remainder of his life as a minor celebrity of the city and drew a huge crowd to his funeral procession. A simple Internet search will reveal the myriad details of his story, but he has slipped into a shrouded kook cult status in the intervening years, mainly remembered in the Bay Area, but valorized in different pop culture references and even canonized as a saint by the gonzo Discordian religion.

The second thing you should know is that I have personally long been a fan of Norton's due in no small part to my occasional semi-serious self-identification as a Discordian. The man's combination of chutzpah and charisma and crack-pot insanity made him just plain cool. Additionally, my political affiliations remain independent in these polarized times, with libertarian ideals and environmental concerns making me plenty leery of the current administration.

All of this is germane to this review because it's important that I be clearly understood: I do not dislike this album because I don't "get" Emperor Norton (in as much as no one does), nor is it because I am a conservative Bush-supporter. There is nothing political about it. I simply don't like this album because it's ham-fisted, contrived, and often ridiculous.

And the sad part is, I should like this disc. It's trenchant and political and feisty and silly and irreverent. It valorizes some of my favorite historical crazy men. It's got 23 tracks! But for all that, the songs of Joseph F. Kaline are simply too blunt and too polemical to achieve the kind of arch humor that makes this stuff work. There's little irony here, and even less subtlety, therefore the joke falls flat and all you're left with is a collection of clunky protest songs and random dialogues. Okay, with song titles like "Putrid Minds (I Think We Stopped the Clock Way Back at Wounded Knee)", "Killing for the Oil Companies (The Pledge of Obedience)", and "The John Wilkes Booth Fully Privatized Chief Executive Retirement Plan (Why Bother With Another Over-Regulated, Inefficient, Gov't Run System?)" -- longer than the actual track -- you don't really expect a whole lot of subtlety. But, jeez, you know?

Sure, Kaline's got a sharp tongue and enough wit to deliver lines like "We've got the rainforests to graze our big beef cattle / Next comb the Arctic to feed our SUVs / The real heroes were marching in Seattle / I guess I'll ride a bike and not eat so much cheese", but it doesn't really encourage any kind of dialogue. In anything, songs like "Killing for the Oil Companies" don't encourage change so much as hopelessness. As social commentary, the funk/Americana/rockabilly songs work in their single-minded way, but it's like being slapped with a pamphlet. It's even more odd when placed alongside goofy songs like "Old E's Coming Back", wherein Elvis supposedly returns to save us from our political sins -- as though Elvis were somehow the arbiter of died-in-the-wool liberalism. Or worse, tracks like "Deng Xiao Ping", a jazzy instrumental that has exactly zero criticism of the oppressive Chinese ruler, and "Oy Gevalt", a voice-over story track of Jewish neurosis and self-actualization that seems more racist that Woody Allen-ish. Ultimately, it's more confusing than inspiring.

The things that do work -- the four-track "radio play" starring a bizarre barroom interaction between Emperor Norton, Mark Twain, and (for no apparent reason) Stephen Hawking; the jarringly straightforward jazz-pop fusion track "Hi-Fi" -- aren't enough to recommend this disc, even to those hardcore liberal soldiers who love some good anti-Republican hyperbole, or to the merry pranksters who toast Norton as an icon of individualism and reality creation. Maybe good for a Discordian barn dance, but not really worth five tons of flax.

— 18 January 2006

The Putrid Minds Anthology: Battle Hymns for the Blue States
(Joe Kaline Productions)
Rating: 3
US release date: 2006
UK release date: Available as import
by Patrick Schabe
PopMatters Music Reviews Editor

This guy like...

LOVE your CD!! Well done, gentlemen. Looking forward to playing a few cuts on the radio. Do please send us your other works as they become available.

New fans of YOURS,




Here's what a happy British DJ on CUR1350 had to say about our CD(have a go, mate!):

thank you for the cd guys. i appreciate it. it's definately going to
exposure on THe Music Show (which i produce). i have to admit i was
skeptical at first. i've quite a few of these satirical, anti-US albums
over the years, and they've not been much cop. what impressed me about
album was the really high quality of musicianship. the songs are
and catchy, and well-structure, something most parodys tend to forget
about. at times the wit flags, and it comes across just as saracasm and
invective, but i suppose you're just being sincere. a little more
and slight of hand in your lyric writing might give the album more
symmetry. Putrid Minds itself is one of my stand-out tracks, and did
me laugh out loud ("i love my prozac and california wine"). it's also
incredibly well-rounded tune. the album as a whole is, well, it's a bit
long and laboursome at 23 tracks, with a radio play in the middle, but
quality is consistent. a genuine surprize.

cheers and yell if you want anything mroe from me,

Will Barrett
CUR1350 Head of Music

Here's our letter to and reply from Noam Chomsky(fer real):

At 10:57 AM 8/5/2006, you wrote:
> Hi Mr. Chomsky,
> I greatly admire your work and it has inspired my
>band and I to put out a humorous, progressively
>minded, and mostly original music CD. It's called "The
>Putrid Minds Anthology: Battle Hymns for the Blue
>We're "The Sons of Emperor Norton" and are at
> and
>I just wanted you to have a copy if you give me the
>okay to send it and a mailing address.
>Thanks (verse 1)
> They're travelin' across the prairies, in beat up
> Chevrolets, just drivin' a hundred years or so,
> lookin' for a place to stay. Their skin's on fire,
> and
> it's puffin' up, from bakin' in the sun...their
> beady
> eyes are bloodshot red, from bein' on the run.
> (chorus)
> They're the Sons of Emepror Norton(yeehaw), they're
> the Sons of Emepror Norton.
> (verse 2)
> They left the King in Memphis, and Grant up on the
> pass, then stopped in Virginia City on Julia
> Bullette's bed of brass. From Donner Summit to the
> Barbary Coast, the steel pistons run, for ev'ry man
> that passed this way, is Joshua Norton's son.(to
> chorus)
> (bridge)
> In full dress blues, an admiral's hat, and a golden
> Anchor Steam, the Little Bighorn lives again on
> black
> and white TV. They dream of years that came before
> but
> never might of been, and through ceaseless,
> yearning,
> lonely fear, those days can live again.
> (verse 3)
> Through Tesla's dream, the music plays and breaks
> the
> daily trance, on Sadie Hawkin's Day, it's with Daisy
> Mae that he will have this dance. Come one, come
> all,
> and fill the hall, 'til emptiness is gone, then
> raise
> your glass to Emperor Norton, the father of us all,
> and drink a toast to Emepror Norton, the father of
> us all.



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