The Fabulous Sounds of the Pacific Northwest just kind of fell out of the sky one day in Baton Rouge. Even with a decent college radio station (KLSU), musical discoveries within my circle of friends tended to be random encounters with interesting stuff at the record stores near campus. Sometimes the band name on an album rang a bell from KLSU, but more often than not something about a record would just call you to buy it before even hearing the band.
We would each make our discoveries and share the good stuff around the group. I used to remember who found what (my great discovery being The Beat Farmers), and I want to say the Young Fresh Fellows came from my friend Dave through his older brother Chris. In any case, the arrival of Fab Sounds in our consciousness was one of the more significant moments in high school to college musical evolution.
There is much to be said about Fab Sounds, but despite the rambling introduction to this post, I’m focused on the record’s narration tracks here. Those snippets (”Not enough action, you say … listen!” and the like) put Fab Sounds over the top in terms of strangeness and wonder. We knew nothing of Seattle music, nothing of the Young Fresh Fellows and not much of quirky pop music that didn’t have a Southern bent or country or blues undertones. So down falls this record called The Fabulous Sounds of the Pacific Northwest that promised an introduction to all such unfamiliar things - and came with bizarre introductions.
Early on, there was debate as to whether the narration was taken from someplace else or created by the Fellows to make it seem like it had come from someplace else. I held that it had to be from some old promotional record that actually was meant to pipe the visitors aboard with the tonic of tones. And, of course, I was right.
The Fellows’ Fab Sounds album cover was borrowed almost directly from the original Fab Sounds (made in the 1960s by the phone company).
Young Fresh Fellows:
As I would come to understand, the lengths taken by the Fellows to emulate the original Fab Sounds was typical of the quirk that defines them.
And to this day, the Fab Sounds narration shapes how I say things like “I see …” (it’s like “EYE see … you’ve listened to the sounds of the Pacific Northwest, and now you just can’t wait to go look …”) and I did transform myself into Capt. Walter Mitty as I strolled the busy waterfronts when I visited up there (hey, Fab Sounds worked!). The lines are deeply embedded in my brain, but just from the YFF perspective.
The “words that will never die …” aren’t words, they’re Gus’ Theme. More “action” comes in the form of Teenage Dogs in Trouble. And, of course, Young Fresh Fellows Theme is the one more important sound they want me to hear.
From time to time I’ve thought about hunting down the original Fab Sounds, and looking today I found the LP for sale through an Amazon merchant. And maybe I’ll pick it up now. More immediate gratification, though, came from turning up what is the whole four-minute intro bit on the site of Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry in their Audio/Video Archive.
So I give you a taste of the original.
Tags: background, oddities, the fabulous sounds of the pacific northwest
But I have to warn you - “one more important sound we wanted you to hear” is a real letdown in the original. And see if you can spot the subtle racism!