The Bad Rapping of the Marquis De Sade
   
Album Title   The Bad Rapping of the Marquis De Sade
Media   12" Vinyl, Compact Disc
Record Company   World-Pacific Records
Catalog #   WPS-21889 (LP) / CDP 7243 852676 2 8
Year of Issue   1969 (LP) / 1996 (Compact Disc)
     
    Tracks
1  
Bad-Rapping of the Marquis de Sade - [16:12]
2   rH-Bomb - [7:07]
3   Chastity Belt - [8:31]
4   The Ballad of Dan McGroo - [10:10]
5   His Majesty the Policeman - [2:08]
6   Maharajah - [9:02] - CD only
7   Scrooge - [9:41] - CD only
Label Variations  

 

Misc. Notes   Originally recorded in early 1960 at the Gold Nugget in Oakland, California. Re-released in Great Britain by Demon Verbals, Demon Records 1986; # Verb 6. Buckley delves into his philosophy of humor and his "religious" beliefs on this disc. The compact dics issued in 1996 included two tracks not on the original vinyl issue: "Maharajah" and "Scrooge"
     
     
 
 
 
 

A were as wellbehaved and

Bad Rapping Of The Marquis De Sade LINER NOTES (CD release)

 

This reissue is dedicated to the memory of Lady Elizabeth Buckley

The Good Rapping of Lord Buckley

by Oliver Trager

"Laughter truly is religious. It gives off vibrations from the subconscious. When a person is laughing he's illuminated the fully beauty of human being. And the womanhood, when she's happy and laughing, is OOOOOOOOOOOOH -mother magnet. Many times when you find yourself laughing you say, 'Oh I wish John were here, he'd love this.' You're thinking love, you're vibrating love. It's a prayer. It's a beautiful thing." -Lord Buckley

Lord Who? A white, six-and-a-half-foot-tall, ex-lumberjack invoking the manners of English aristocracy and the street language of black America? A hemp-headed hepcat working the tent shows and dance marathons of the Depression? A picaresque, pill-popping darling of Al Capone? A stand-up "gospel comedian" celebrating Jesus Christ and the Marque de Sade in the course of a single gig? A jazz philosopher jamming with Charlie Parker? A gallivanting guru hobnobbing with James Dean and appearing in a Marilyn Monroe flick? A scotch-swigging shaman swinging light years ahead of the Summer of Love? a con man, huckster, flim-flamming grifter streaking a Frank Sinatra performance, starting his own bebop church and throwing a lifelong Mardi Gras? Who is this neglected visionary and how is he about to put his word whammy on you?

Before Cool (B.C.) there was Lord Buckley, the original viper, the Hall of Fame Hipster, the baddest beatnik, the first flower child, the premier rapper. Though he was best known for his "hipsemantic" translations of Bible stories, Shakespeare soliloquies and historical figures in the 1950s, Buckley's career as an entertainer stretched back to his hard scrabble, turn-of-the-century roots in Tuolumne, California, a tough outpost in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada where he sang on the street corners busking for small change from passing roughnecks.

Warp speed to the 1930s, '40s and beyond in a scattershot career that carried him from the Walkathons, Capone's murkiest Sin City dives and tours with Woody Herman, Gene Krupa, and Ed Sullivan's U.S.O. troupe to performances on bebop's first stages and vaudeville's last. Somewhere along the way, Buckley became a Lord (as true to the tradition of American popular music royalty as Duke Ellington, Count Basie and King Oliver before him and Elvis "The King" Presly, Prince and Queen Latifah after) and created the royal court - a miniature kingdom replete with his own peculiar sense of protocol and a lifestyle that might conservatively be described as libertine.

Buckley assumed the manner of an English nobleman, becoming a most immaculately hip aristocrat with mischievous Holy Man/trickster twinkle in his eyes, twirling his Daliesque mustache and sleekly drawing on his de rigor Lucky Strike - his massive, graceful frame cloaked in a tuxedo, fresh carnation attached smartly to the lapel.

By 1950 he had fully spit-shined the style he had been honing for twenty years, taking the Svengali-like persona of "His Lordship" wherever he swung. The campy, burlesque bits were de-emphasized in his act and in their pace were the classic Lord Buckley raps recasting history and mythology into a patois cross-pollinating scat, black jive, and the King's English. This old alchemy yielded spectacular results such as "The Nazz" (as in Nazarene), a cool Gospel of Christ and his disciples, which revealed Buckley's gifts and power in all their blazing glory.

In addition to "The Nazz", Buckley employed his distinctive and compelling brogue to salute Ghandi ("The Hip Ghan"), Spanish explorer Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca ("The Gasser"), The Old Testament ("Jonah and the Whale"), ancient Rome ("Nero"), Edgar Allen Poe ("Po' Eddie and the Bugbird"), Albert Einstein ("The Hip Einie"), William "Willie the Shake" Shakespeare ("Hipsters, Flipsters and Finger-Poppin Daddies"), Charles Dickens ("Scrooge"), Abraham "Lanky Linc" Lincoln ("Gettysburg Address"), and the Marquis de Sade ("The Bad-Rapping of . . .").

Buckley's choice to hipify the classics was more than a mere gimmick. By taking tales with which his audience was already familiar he let the deeds of the old heroes and heels resonate anew, animating his yarns with visionary qualities and definite, if subtle, points of view. As he said in his day-glo version of the "Gettysburg Address": "all Cats and Kitties, red, white, or blue, are created level in front-that means the same, ya dig."

Alternately, Lord Buckley crafted other forms of expression which drew on Americana ("The Train"), pathology ("Murder"), psychology ("Subconscious Mind), politics ("Governor Slugwell"), racial inequity ("Black Cross"), sexuality ("Chastity Belt"), and transcendence ("God's Own Drunk").

Capturing the post-World War II exuberance of bebop and the Beats, Buckley anticipated the civil rights struggles by a decade and hippies by two. The essence embedded in Buckley's best both satirically condemns social ills and identifies enlightening solutions. Even today, if given the chance, Buckley could raise the hackles of both the Religious Right and the Politically Correct for all the wrong reasons.

In 1960 the Royal Court reconvened in Marin County, attracted by the region's artistic community and mellow subcultures. San Francisco clubs like the Purple Onion and the hungry i were all the rage, headlining top-shelf jazz and cutting-edge samurais like Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl and, promptly, Lord Buckley.

But Buckley also found work over in the East Bay at joints like the Golden Nugget in Oakland which, during its heyday in the late 1950s and early 1960s, was one of the Bay Area's best kept secrets. Started by a pair of jazz lovers, who threw out the juke box and spun their own hep discs, the L-shaped room catered to an unlikely but egalitarian assortment of habitus that included college kids, Ph. Ds, cops, beatniks, businessmen, hipsters, hookers, pimps, saints and sinners.

The joint really jumped when a live jazz policy was instituted on weekends. For the dollar cover charge patrons could check out such greats as Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Shelly Manne, Joe Pass, Maynard Ferguson, Cont Condooli, Art Pepper and Stan Kenton up close and personal.

Buckley had developed a strong local following and it seems that practically all of them showed up at the Gold Nugget (a "swinging palace of joy" as Buckley calls it on the album) the night the owners taped His Lordship's late set, a recording that resulted in The Bad-Rapping of the Marquis de Sade, Since the hangout had no stage, Buckley, usually dressed in khakis with an open shirt, would perform on a small platform comprised of eight beer bottle cases stacked two high. For his services, Buckley received $75 a night, considered a princely piece of change in those days for a venue as small and obscure as the Gold Nugget.

Buckley's Gold Nugget gig is the culmination of a lifetime of work. The club ambiance is intimate and Buckley is at his loosest, totally at one with his audience. He raps about his favorite subjects: history, literature, social concerns, and the outrageous all the while philosophizing about humanity's higher calling. That woozy Buckley voice is omnipresent, sometimes singing, sometimes imitating musical instruments, sometimes stentorian, sometimes whispering, always seductive and stimulating. It was in his engagements that Buckley had chiseled his presentations like a sculptor's obsessions on the exquisite detail of his finished marble. All the thematic and performance elements of his work explode as the shimmering range of influences fuse with his expert musical cadence and pitch.

The album is significant for both the inclusion of uncommon Buckley monologues such as "The Ballad of Dan McGroo" (Buckley's hipsemantic interpretations of Robert Service's Klondike classics) and the supreme performance of the title track. Also, containing sharp, definitive versions of "H-Bomb," "Chastity" and the soon-to-be-ironically titled ditty "His Majesty, the Policeman," the album evokes the spirit of Buckley's late night tribe who, even during a piece as deep, dark and dense as "The Bad-Rapping of the Marquis de Sade," respond with the dizzy reverence of inured subterranean denizens, staying with him over every mile of this most hell-bent of rides.

"The Bad-Rapping of the Marquis de Sade" is a true Gothic opus, the yang to the yin of "The Nazz," the longest single piece in the Buckley canon, "The Bad-Rapping" commences with a saucy history of de Sade's exploits and subsequent persecution before soaring into a fanciful fable involving one Prince Minski, a de Sade-inspired character, and the bizarre occurrences at his dungeon-like party pad. Ribald, frightening and down-right ghoulish, it is in the Prince Minski episode that Buckley hits a peak of noir ecstasy that resides not merely in a class of its own, but in a whole Mother University.

"Chastity Belt" is one of the few outlandishly bawdy routines in the surviving Buckley catalogue. This "study in 15th Century humor" combines a straightforward social history of the titled device in the formal language of English aristocracy with a scenario, delivered entirely in the black voice, describing a king's slyly disguised attempt to coax his queen into the anatomically protective gear, and contains some of Buckley's most accessible and purely hilarious moments.

"H-Bomb" is a prime example of "Atomic Buckley," is an outspoken political track and tract, prophetic both in its veiled condemnation of atomic weaponry and Eastern European geopolitics. The bit is simple enough, revolving around the Kremlin's reaction to the dire discovery that the American people are laughing at the prospect of nuclear annihilation. Though imbued with stereotypical but expert mimicries of Russian dialect and the Soviet brass's vodka-soaked leadership, the significance of Lord Buckley's stand against irradiated madness at the height of the Cold War should not be lost. Buckley gets to have his babka and eat it too as he trashes the military-industrial complexes of both nations and avoids any potential accusations of red-baiting or red-diapering.

Concurrent with his Bay Area performances, Buckley was still bopping down to L.A. for gigs on the Sunset Strip and the occasional, after hours studio session. A couple of grooves ("Scrooge" and "Maharaja") filled out Buckley's posthumous Blowing His Mind (and yours too) album and are an added bonus to this collection.

"Scrooge," a dazzling retooling of Charles Dicken's' A Christmas Carol, reigns at the pinnacle of Buckley's achievements as a completely fulfilling masterwork, crowned with his entire world view boiled down to a final testament: "You can get with it if you want to-there's only one way straight to the road of love!"

The story of a "cop out," with a curious homoerotic undertone, the convoluted "Maharaja" is a rambling, energetic spiel chronicling the plight of a double-dealer who has committed the some outrageous and unforgivable act yet manages to talk his way back into his boss' good graces. It is one of those mad Lord Buckley raves that takes you there and back: you may not know exactly where you've been but you sense it was somewhere seemingly meaningful and exotic. Even minor Buckley manages to sweep the listener away to another sphere altogether.

Soon after settling in San Raphael, Buckley set off with one of his minions in the summer of 1960 on what he dubbed his "Cosmic Tour": a cross-country, whistle-stop road trip in a red VW minibus. That autumn Buckley was holding court at the Jazz Gallery in New York's East Village and was warmly received by the city's entertainment press. But, for reasons that to this day remain shrouded in mystery and controversy, things soured for the fifty-four-year-old entertainer.

Buckley was dragged from the stage of the Jazz Gallery in late October by several of New York's Finest because of an alleged cabaret card violation, an antiquated statute that prevented not only performers but all restaurant and club employees from working if they had a police record. Championing Buckley's cause was the hastily-organized Citizen's Emergency Committee, a loose-knit group comprised of the city's literary, musical and social intelligentsia. The high-powered personalities, counting on Buckley to testify, forced the issue, garnering front-page headlines and an official investigation of the cabaret card bureau's shadowy modus operandi.

Unemployed, tired and caught between at least two opposite but powerful camps, His Lordship's health failed. On November 12, 1960 he died of what was officially reported as a stroke, though there are many other theories and conflicting versions of Buckley's last days with everything from foul play to broken heart cited as the true cause. Perhaps, as one friend suggested: "Lord Buckley was so heavy Jake, he just fell off the planet."

Several weeks later, many of Lord Buckley's friends and admirers mourned his passing with a memorial service at the Village Gate in New York. Eulogies were given, stories told and glasses raised as Dizzy Gillespie and Ornette Coleman blew a cosmic blues deep into the mystic night.

Since then, Buckley's name and routines have been magically invoked by the modern hipnoscente like a sorcerer's talisman with titles like "The Nazz" acquiring a Kabbalaistic power for succeeding generations of admirers, including artists as uncannily diverse and important as Bob Dylan, Robins Williams, Jerry Garcia, Roseanne, Ken Kesey, David Amram, Eric Bogosian, Joni Mitchell, George Carlin, David Bowie, James Taylor, Sly Stone, Frank Zappa, the Living Theatre, Jimmy Buffet, Robert Dick, Carole Armstrong, David Salle, and Beck.

Like all underground heroes, Lord Buckley's reputation and artistic contributions have gained power through the decades. No graffiti appeared on the New York City subway walls or in Parisian grottos sounding a phoenix rise from the ashes as the message "Bird Lives" had. But, like Charlie Parker, Lord Buckley boldly crossed the ill-defined frontier from icon to myth, taking the language of his art and investing it with new intensity, color and consequence.

For the new Princes and Princesses just arriving at the Castle doors, proceed with caution. Listen not for a traditional punch line (there are none) but for buoyant, earthy soul of the man and his sermons. For Royal Court dignitaries and jesters returning to the Church Of The Living Swing, welcome back. And for all "People Worshippers" everywhere: Dig Infinity!!!

Oliver Trager