T Z A D I K
R E C O R D S
P R E S E N T S
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[The ubiquitous Amazon.com has posted randomly-excerpted 30-second sound clips of several tracks from the album. They are also, of course, selling it. This link should (?) go right to their Dion McGregor page.]
Time Out NY
Is this the ultimate home recording? Back in the magical early '60s, an odd couple of aspiring songwriters, Dion McGregor and Mike Barr, shared an apartment on the Upper East Side. Barr soon discovered McGregor's uncanny habit of narrating his dreams aloud in his sleep -- not just muttering incoherently, but clearly speaking fully formed, five- to ten-minute-long crazed monologues. Barr set about recording his roomie nightly and managed to peddle the results to both Decca Records and Random House Books. In January 1964, just a month before the Beatles (whom Decca passed on) conquered America, The Dream World of Dion McGregor was released, and the book version followed that spring. Both died quick commercial deaths, and our hero was all but forgotten (aside from penning one hit for Barbra Streisand).|
As fate would have it, however, both acclaimed musician John Zorn and underground music archivist extraordinaire Phil Milstein are fans of the original album, and the two conspired to release this follow-up, culled from Barr's hundreds of hours of original tapes. The results are by turns hilarious, baffling, nutty and terrifying. McGregor's voice is something of a cross between Rex Reed's and William Burroughs's; he takes on the roles of a deranged tour guide in "A City So Nice," a beleaguered pollster in "The Survey," a tattoo artist working on a woman's tongue in "Tattoo" and a Freudian analyst in "Little Willie Song." Strangest of all is "16 Tickets to Schenectady," which finds McGregor referring to himself in the third person, admonishing a visitor "not to wake him up -- we don't want to lose another tape!" and then abruptly switching to a dream in which he and the rest of the Dorothy Lamour fan club attempt to catch a train to Schenectady in hopes of meeting their idol.
As one might expect, there are dozens of lines of subconscious delirium (such as "don't break the mailman" and "do turkeys have tits?"), and there's a salacious bent to the monologues missing (censored, that is) from the original LP. Sadly, McGregor no longer sleeps among us, but in this lovingly packaged and annotated CD, he lives (and dreams) on.
Quite simply, this is one of the most bizarre, compelling, frightening things you'll ever hear. Dion's voice, with its fey presence, eerie inflections and tense, occasionally fear-soaked delivery is not something you'll soon forget. Even if you only hear this album once, the sometimes bitchy, sometimes ultra-vulnerable ramblings of this subconscious poet will haunt you forever. And did I mention they're filthy! Certainly one quality the 1964 LP didn't have that the 1999 CD has to spare is lewd, bizarre sex narratives. And not your typical "Penthouse Forum" stuff either, the intense level of creativity combined with snap queen attitude, and unusual recording qualities makes these "somniloquies" beyond unique.|
Dion McGregor [is] my Beatles!
Cool & Strange Music
Champion sleep-talker Dion McGregor went far beyond the cryptic phrases most of us spew on occasion. Whatever he "said" in his dream was actually spoken (or in some cases, sung) aloud. It's our good fortune that McGregor had an amateur tape-recording buff as a roommate who recognized Dion's nightly performances as a unique opportunity. Over 500 recordings were made, resulting in an LP in 1964, and now this CD.|
In a sly, fey voice recalling Truman Capote and Louis Nye, McGregor spins an incredible variety of tales -- fantastical, scatological, musical and comical. Some have punchlines. Most end with an agitated scream.
What's amazing is how coherent and entertaining these "somniloquies" are. One of the best involves McGregor as a collector of mythical beasts. During the narrative he mentions griffins, unicorns, rocs, werewolves, mermaids and other legendary creatures, as if his brain's files are being reorganized and he's building as the index cards fly past.
Some have speculated that the McGregor tapes are a hoax. If that's the case, he was a performance artist more inventive and resolute than Andy Kaufman. This is spoken-word like you've never heard before. A fascinating document.
We never have much good to say about plastic beer coasters normally. But this is one CD I'm proud to own: Dion McGregor Dreams Again. The result of tireless research on the part of America's premier odd-art folklorist Phil Milstein, it's the sleep-talking of a nutty genius.
Very very very good stuff.|
Comedy record of the year! And Dion didn't need to be alive or even awake do to it. Dion McGregor was a struggling songwriter in the '50s and '60s -- a sweet wag of a man who couch-tripped his way across east Manhattan, who had the impossible habit of sleeptalking. And not just mumbled fragments, but eloquent narratives. His longtime roomie, Michael Barr, taped over 500 of these "somniloquies" with Dion's tentative cooperation. Decca Records released The Dream World of Dion McGregor in 1964, and it was, according to reports, "their biggest flop ever." This collection is some of the bluer material in Dion's repertoire, derived from those same tapes. And we, you lucky fucks, are treated to a series of darkly phantastick vignettes -- undeniably gay -- of U.N. balloons, masturbation wagons, cuntlicking contests and Jack Paar. Would that we all harbor such amazing cum-speckled wit when embraced in the comforting arms of Morpheus! Would that you were even remotely tolerable!|
The whole package is topped off with the incomparable Phil Milstein's well-researched liner notes. Phil X's enthusiasm is contagious and much easier to understand than his mania for MSR songs. Byron Coley could learn a thing or two from Phil on writing engaging liners. If, in the past, you have fallen for Daniel Johnston, Jessico "Dancing Outlaw" White, outsider art, the writings of Zelda Fitzgerald, or any other entry in Tzadik's "Lunatic Fringe" series, then you must step to the plate and appreciate this -- finally shed of that patronizing gaze. With Dion-,- it's different ... you find yourself laughing up at him, as he drools out masterpieces, babbling on in his dizzying nocturnal orbit.
Man's Bizarre Dreams Become Art Crowd Craze|
(Los Angeles) A bizarre collection of old tape recordings of a man talking in his sleep are the latest cult craze among the artsy-fartsy crowd.
Back in 1960, songwriter Michael Barr began recording the ramblings of his roommate, Dion McGregor, who frequently talked in his sleep.
Altogether, Barr taped more than 500 of McGregor's nocturnal soliloquies over a seven-year period, hoping to get ideas for a stage musical based on his dreams.
Although McGregor died in 1994, his dream narrations are still a big hit with the art crowd -- but some experts are skeptical.
San Diego-based sleep expert Dr. Renata Shafor says she's never heard of a case where a sleeping person narrates his own dreams in such detail. She thinks the recordings could be a hoax.
Either way, Barr hopes to produce a musical based on the talking dreams and Jim Carrey is his first choice to play McGregor.
McGregor's unusual dreams have just been released on a new CD titled Dion McGregor Dreams Again.
The late Dion -- short for Dionysus and pronounced "dyin" -- McGregor should be all but forgotten today, an exceedingly minor figure in 1960s New York theater circles whose biggest break came when one of his songs, "Where is the Wonder," was included on Barbra Streisand's 1965 album My Name Is Barbra. Thing is ... Dion talked in his sleep. Or, more succinctly, Dion dreamed out loud. And Dion's roommate, Michael Barr, was a hi-fi nut with a handy reel-to-reel tape recorder.|
Recorded between 1961 and 1967, these 20 "somniloquies," as compiler/historian Phil Milstein dubs them, are alternately hilarious, mystifying and horrific -- many in fact end with unearthly, terrified screams -- and unfold with bizarrely plausible logic. Sometimes touching, like the oddly sweet "The Collection," and sometimes downright shocking -- you will never forget "The Food and What To Do With It" or "The C.L. Contest" -- and all delivered in McGregor's Truman Capote-like voice. Dion McGregor Dreams Again is endlessly fascinating, both to professional and lay dream analysts and to collectors of bizarre audio ephemera. One flaw: Milstein's lengthy notes are excellent, but the layout and art design often render them damn near unreadable. Otherwise, this is absolutely perfect.