Review Revue: Lyrics by Ernest Noyes Brookings

This Shimmy Disc compilation, featuring ’80s avant rock heroes such as Jad Fair, Kramer, and Eugene Chadbourne, has such a compelling origin story that I’m just going to let the back cover speak for itself.

Ernest Noyes Brookings was born in 1898 in Newbury, Massachusetts. He served in the Navy, attended MIT, and settled in Springfield, Vermont, where he worked as a designer of machine parts. When not designing, Mr. Brookings avidly pursued astronomy, the game of tennis and ham radio.

“In 1979 while residing at the Duplex Nursing Home in Boston he met David Greenberger who was employed there as activities director. Seeing his interest in the poetry of others, David suggested he write some of his own, which he immediately began doing provided he be supplied with a theme to write about. Emerging with a style of his own from the outset, his poems began appearing regularly in The Duplex Planet as well as numerous other publications. His book, We Did Not Plummet into Space, was published in 1983.

“He was enthusiastic about this recording project and heard some of the songs on tape as they were completed. After listening to one, Train, he wrote a note to the band [Bits] which read ‘Thank you for the rock and roll rhumba synchronization to the poem.’

“Ernie died in 1987.”

And here’s what our fine friends at KCMU had to say about this oddball collection:

“A bunch of bands singing his songs -> Try it out.”

“Back liner notes describe the project. A nice idea, but for me the novelty wore kind of thin. Drop the needle + play something if it sounds OK, but I have no real recommendations.”

“My favorite is ‘Shoelaces.'”

“The whole concept of this LP is one of the coolest things I can think of. What a great man Ernie was.”


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