Brute Force lands a part in Barcode The Musical play

Recording artist extraordinaire Brute Force has been selected for a part
in a new musical, “Barcode The Musical.” Late last year, Brute’s 1967
debut album “I Brute Force – Confections of Love” was re-issued for the
first time. The release came through Bar/None Records and bonus tracks
included “King of Fuh” which was slated to be released on Apple Records –
copies manufactured and everything — till EMI refused to distribute it
perhaps fearing that the refrain “All hail the Fuh King” would not prove
radio friendly. I’m hoping you’d take this opportunity to do a feature or
news story on Brute Force. Let me know if you need the music.

SYNOPSIS of the play:
In Earth Corp, a love-starved society dominated by hyper consumerism and
perpetual war, bar codes are tattooed onto peoples’ wrists. When scanned
during purchases, inside the home and in office buildings, the bar codes
publicly register everyone’s personal and financial data and feed it into
a big computer to track the population.

The bar codes are overseen by ICE, the Information Control Executive of
Earth Corp. ICE presides over a system that controls and desensitizes the
population with “Mandatory Debt”, sensational crime and
celebrity-dominated news, “Prozac Pops”, and “Flag Fest” ceremonies which
maintain popular support for resource wars against insurgents in Earth
Corp’s outer districts.

An underground group of activists called the Data Jammers are leading the
resistance. Data Jammers are able to hack into the vast network of bar
code scanners and security cameras to conceal their identities. This
enables them to counter the propaganda of Earth Corp with their own brand
of media – leaflets, short films and other art forms that are passed
around Samizdat-style and appear mysteriously on mainstream broadcast

Against this backdrop an unlikely young couple – Dorna, a talented
underground writer and new recruit to the Data Jammers, and Nest, the
sheltered son of the Earth Corp Television news anchor – come together in
ways that could spark a revolution. They may even find love against all
odds in a society where “person love” has all but ceased to exist.

The first four scenes of Bar Code were written for, and featured in, the
Dixon Place “Warning! Not for Broadway Festival”

Debbie Andrews and Mike Blaxill (music, lyrics and book)
Mike and Debbie co-write and perform for the pop band Gladshot whose
latest CD “Burn Up and Shine” (with Sonic Youth/Hold Steady producer John
Agnello) was said to be “pretty near the top of this year’s best indie
releases”; and a band who Pop Matters says is “one of the nicest surprises
we’ve had all year”. Their songs have been featured on TNT (“Men of a
Certain Age”), CW, Oxygen, MTV and ABC television shows, and they’ve
shared the stage with such artists as OK Go, Free Energy, The Antlers, and
Michelle Shocked. Debbie is an accomplished singer, published poet and NEA
Jazz Award recipient pianist. Mike recently received BMI’s Abe Oleman
Award as “the years most promising singer-songwriter”.

Jim Rado (creative consultant)
With Gerome Ragni, Jim created HAiR, co-authoring the book and lyrics, the
latter of which were set to music by Galt MacDermot. (Jim played the lead
role of Claude on Broadway and in Los Angeles).

Ted Lange (book)
Best known as Isaac on TV’s “Love Boat”, Ted is a prolific playwright
whose body of work includes the acclaimed “Four Queens, No Trump” and
“Evil Legacy – The Story of Lucretia Borgia” which was nominated by LA
Weekly for best one-woman show. His most recent play, “Let Freedom Ring,”
was produced in the fall of 2010 at the Stella Adler Theater in Los

info [[[at]]]

“I, Brute Force – Confections of Love” is quite possibly the greatest
album you’ve never heard. It’s a kaleidoscope for the sonically
adventurous, a reprieve from the maddening sameness of everyday life, and,
as explained in the liner notes, an invitation to meet the memorable
characters inhabiting Brutopia, an alternative America in which satire
doesn’t bite but merely nips, inhibitions get nudged and collapse all
akimbo, and love, however weird, conquers all.
One of the strangest and strongest albums of 1967, Brute Force’s debut, I,
Brute Force – Confections of Love, thrust the enigmatic artist into the
center of the musical conversation, where he shared studios with Columbia
Records label mates Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, and garnered the praise
of George Harrison and John Lennon. For the first time, I, Brute Force –
Confections of Love is available on CD, along with bonus tracks that
include Brute’s banned Apple Records single, “King of Fuh.”
Stephen Friedland, born in 1940, is the man behind the pseudonym Brute
Force. As a young man in New York City, Friedland was introduced to The
Tokens, an all-male doo-wop vocal group known for their hit, “The Lion
Sleeps Tonight.” The Tokens hired Friedland to work as a songwriter for
their music publishing company, Bright Tones Productions, and he
eventually became the group’s keyboardist. While working for Bright Tones
Productions, he wrote The Chiffons’ 1965 hit “Nobody Knows What’s Goin’ On
(In My Mind But Me),” of which his version appears as a bonus track on
this album.
In 1967, with famed producer John Simon on board, Friedland went into the
studio to record his debut, I, Brute Force – Confections of Love. With
this record, he embarked on a journey to depart from the conventions of
the current pop music. Sprinkled with surprisingly conspicuous lyrics and
diverse instrumentation, his debut certainly stretched the envelope. His
characters, weirder than most, are still your basic star-crossed lovers,
just ones who march to a slightly quirkier drum. The music sounds familiar
and the challenges are the same, but it’s all happening in an alternate
Brute Force’s mixed bag of songs is predictable only in its strange
catchiness and the accompanying urge to sing along. For example, while
listening to “In Jim’s Garage,” you may find yourself transported to the
same repair shop where the loving, though considerably greasy, Jim holds
his lover in his arms. Similarly, it’s difficult to avoid humming along to
the nonsensical warbling of Brute’s song “Sitting on a Sandwich,” which,
comically, is literally about sitting on a variety of sandwiches. The
verdict is still out on whether there is a deeper meaning in said
sandwich-sitting, but either way, Brute’s hyper-catchy songs are
consistently great, and it’s guaranteed that you’ll be immediately drawn
into their universe, strange as it may be.
Polished by George Harrison, championed by John Lennon, and released by
Apple Records, “King of Fuh,” which appears as a bonus track on this
release, is a timeless anthem, a song rightfully deserving of the Beatles’
seal of approval. The song, which at first seems to resemble a
straight-forward piano ballad, complete with a saccharine string section
and simple drumbeat, reveals Brute’s droll sense of humor as he reaches
the chorus and the king’s more common moniker is revealed: “I said the Fuh
King – he went to wherever he wanted to go/Mighty, mighty Fuh King/All
hail the Fuh King.”

But not even the Beatles’ praise would be able to secure airtime for a
song with such a controversial, albeit clever, chorus. Friedland’s record
label, Capitol/EMI, expressed its disapproval of “King of Fuh” by refusing
to release it, and the song was banned from the radio. This is not to say
that Friedland or Apple Records gave up. Apple Records privately pressed
2,000 copies of the single, along with its b-side, “Nobody Knows,” his
version of the Chiffons’ 1965 hit. Soon after, Friedland drove from New
York to Los Angeles, pushing his single along the way. To his
disappointment, this proved to be a fruitless journey, and, a few years
later, plagued by rejection and disillusionment, he left the music
While working for his father as a paralegal in Edison, New Jersey, he
continued songwriting. Eventually regaining his confidence in the ‘80s and
‘90s, Friedland performed as a musical stand-up comic under his given
name. In 2001, Gareth Jones, bandleader of Misty’s Big Adventure, an
eight-piece band from Birmingham, England, sent him an email. Jones had
read about Brute in Irwin Chusid’s “Music in the Key of Z,” and found
“Tapeworm of Love,” a song of Brute’s that appears on this album, on the
Internet. He began covering the song with his band, and hoped that Brute
would come to England to tour with them. Brute accepted his offer, and
since then has toured with Misty’s Big Adventure, as well as with his own
band, which features his daughter, Lilah, performing as Daughter of Force.
Bar-None Records is honored to release this classic album. After forty-six
years of near obscurity, its time has finally come. I, Brute Force –
Confections of Love is an album for the ages, an under-appreciated love
letter to the world, and, most importantly, a desperately needed escape
from reality.

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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