Jerry Solomon - OH ME AH/AGA EGA
We've written here and there about other Jerry Solomon releases that are mystifying in their singular weirdness, and significant not only as artifacts of DIY history, but also fun and worthwhile in their own right. Additionally, we've been lucky enough to sit down and speak with Jerry on several occasions about his music, writing, performances, and more.
While not record collectors per se, we do think it's important when possible to get our hands on, document, and - most importantly - share rare, important gems when they do sporadically cross our path. Jerry's legendary, obscure self-releases from the 1960s certainly fall into that category, and it is a pleasure to delve into yet another strange Solomon release here. This time 'round, we have his 1966 seven inch, which offers "OH ME AH" on the A side, and "AGA EGA" on the flip side.
Start With: "OH ME AH" clocks in at around 2:16, and "AGA EGA" is a mere minute and twenty-four seconds, so both warrant a listen.
Why it's worth revisiting: True to Jerry Solomon form, this release treats adventurous listeners to a quirky, fascinating glimpse into a musical underground experience unknown to most.
Jerry's musical and lyrical contributions on his 45s varied in character during the years of their release (1966 to 1969). Earlier recordings like 1967's "Frisco Girl, while still undeniably loyal to Solomon's unique vision, exhibited clearer leanings toward then-contemporary genres of garage, surf, and rock and roll. Later releases like 1968's "We Had Too Much Champagne", on the other hand, are distinctly more abstract. The variation does not appear to be a chronological evolution, however, since "The Virgins" was released after "We Had Too Much Champagne", but is arguably more accessible and conventional than the latter (comparatively speaking, of course).
There is the possibility that the 45s were not released by Jerry in the order in which they were recorded, but it seems unlikely. On June 2 of 2017, Jerry confirmed there was little delay between the time of recording and pressing the records: "I would record....then take the tape to the pressing plant, and order a million pressings. Not a million - one hundred. Generally speaking, after I recorded [something], I would take it to a pressing plant maybe in two weeks, three weeks."
In either case, however, "OH ME AH" and "EGA AGA" are both interesting in that they provide a familiar musical bed of garage, rock and roll, and surf, but are curiously accompanied by Jerry's apparently nonsensical vocals.* While some other recordings feature fainter and more ephemeral vocal deliveries, these particular recordings include raucous, authoritative performances.
As usual, the personal and creative background to the recordings remains at least semi-opaque. Sometimes filed in the "novelty" category by curators and sellers (and occasionally even Solomon himself in our conversations) of these ultra-rare records, it will most likely forever be a mystery if Solomon was indeed aiming for laughs with this recording, or most of his others for that matter. What is certain, however, is that the recordings succeed in fascinating the listener. Whether one finds Jerry Solomon's recordings aesthetically pleasing or not, their sheer originality and strangeness alone are undeniable.
And strangeness during this time was no small attribute. After all - Jerry was composing, recording, and distributing these unique works in a world that predated cell-phones, digital recording devices, online ordering, and social media. Today's technology allows us to create and share virtually limitless streams of information, even if that information is mundane, uninteresting, or unlikely to find an audience. The physical cost, space, and labor involved in creating and sharing that kind of information are often negligible.
In 1966, however, self-releasing music was considerably more involved, and for this reason it's all the more fascinating that Jerry Solomon felt driven to not only think up, but also compose, document, and disburse the recordings of such an odd, original, and compelling creative spirit.
As always, we hope you enjoy this wonderfully weird music courtesy Mr. Solomon, and at the very least, draw inspiration from an artist who expressed a unique vision for the sake of of the expression itself.
*In a conversation with us on June 2, 2017, Jerry called the lyrics "talking in tongues."