Holy shit — Drag City gots its hands on some sealed beef! That is, original, sealed copies of an insane(ly collectible) LP from the insane(ly talented cult hero) Biff Rose, called Roast Beef! Not so far off the track from Randy Newman or Van Dyke Parks (but way more BEEFY!), Biff hit the scene in 1965, a folky with a heart full of Leher-esque satire. Early career highlights included gag writing for TV variety shows with George Carlin; a string of late-60s albums that made fans of singers like Tiny Tim, John Denver, David Bowie and Pat Boone (!), all of whom covered his songs; a run on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show that made his song "Buzz the Fuzz" a watercooler knee-slapper for a year or so; David Bowie's cover of "Fill Your Heart" on Hunky Dory (he also covered "Buzz the Fuzz" during live sets) and lots of TV variety and late night stuff at the same time, like The Smothers Brothers Show, American Bandstand and Playboy After Dark. After this, the highlights grew fewer in a rush — by the mid-70s, Biff's music was no longer in vogue. During this time, Biff took to self-releasing records, and in 1978, his Down Pat LP pressing of Roast Beef was picked up by Mike Nesmith's Pacific Arts imprint for distribution. Did it turn the horse around and put the sparkle back on Biff's star? Heavens, no — but Roast Beef is a wonderfully lonely record in Biff's discography, not to mention the discography of all music in general. Flights of pianistic fancy are followed by tunes that tone down the whimsy ever so slightly to reveal a man trying to scope his future, alone in the world, without a lover even, as everything he knew vanishes behind him. We taste notes of outsider types from our own label like Mayo Thompson and Baby Dee along with other freaks from John Simon and ole Randy Newman, and what the hell, Van Dyke Parks, right?
We asked Biff for some thoughts on Roast Beef, and here they be:
"Roast Beef is Biff Rose's seventh album...financed by Michael Nesmith of the Monkees in 1976...made in ONE sitting straight through..it is the ONLY album ever to be made in ONE SITTING straight through (so Biff tells us!)...Biff decided to just improvise ..like you're on the ocean and suddenly there is an island...that would be a "song form"...then more oceanic improv..then ANOTHER firm island ( a song)...and so on for fourteen songs and one ocean...it is the LAST album to be made like that because now everyone is LinkedIn,Tweeting, Texting and Techno...it is a collectors' item....Drag City is selling the remaining few original pressings in damn near perfect conditon, sealed...and ver-r-r-y rare Katrina survivors, with some subtle signs of the hurricane to prove it....." — Biff Rose