skip heller

U.S. artist Skip Heller recorded Frank Zappa's 'Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance' on his "Couch, Los Angeles" album. The track can also be found on his "Career Suicide", a sort of anthology album, but with lots of new and/or alternative material.

Together with Faye Davis, Skip Heller also recorded Don Van Vliet's 'Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles' for a Beefheart tribute album on Genus Records.

selective discography

1 skip heller: fallen hand of love
    (1992, cd, usa, gladman)
2 skip heller: moon country
    (1992, cd, usa, gladman)
3 skip heller and d.j.bonebrake: one more midnight
    (1993, cd, usa, dionysus)
les baxter: the lost episode
    (199?, cd, usa, dionysus) - produced by skip heller
rosie flores / ray campi: a little bit of heartache
    (199?, cd, usa, ??) - feat. skip heller
4 skip heller: lonely town
    (1997, cd, usa, trg)
5 skip heller: st. christopher's arms
    (1998, cd, usa,  rounder/ mouthpiece)
6 skip heller his orchestra and chorus: couch, los angeles
    (1999, cd, usa, mouthpiece moup6027) – incl. ‘take your clothes off when you dance’ (frank zappa)

7 skip heller: career suicide
    (2003, cd, usa, dionysus 123397) – incl. ‘take your clothes off when you dance’ (frank zappa)

  skip heller: couch 2.0
    (2004, cdr, usa, jewbilee jew 03) – incl. ‘take your clothes off when you dance’ (frank zappa)

  various artists: mama kangaroos
    (2005, cd, usa, genus records) - all compositions by don van vliet

  skip heller: along the anchorline: the skip heller trio at sun
    (2007, cdr, usa, private release) - the deluxe version includes a bonus disc: "san fernando valley demos"


random notes

     From: All Music Guide
Fred Steven Heller, known to the music world as Skip Heller, is one of the Los Angeles country and roots-music scene's most interesting and complex players.
Known as "America's most confusing country singer," Heller was born in Philadelphia on October 4, 1965 to an Italian mother and Jewish father. The oldest of three, Heller began his musical odyssey when he saw John Hartford perform on Glen Campbell's television show, and Michael Nesmith became one of the infamous Monkees. The young Heller decided that their jobs were more fun than his dad's bus-driving gig.

He spent his formative years listening to anything and everything, an aspect of his music that is reflected in the eclectic nature of his work, revealing that no two Heller projects are alike. He was deeply influenced by Floyd Tillman, Merle Haggard, Roy Nichols, Bill Evans, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, and a host of other contemporary artists from many different genres. While in high school, he was a member of numerous garage and wedding bands. This led to jazz gigs and the formation of his own rockabilly band. He continued to play around his hometown after college, finally landing a publishing deal and eventually a small record contract with Gladman Records that resulted in his first release in 1992, Fallen Hand of Love. Hailed by local critics for his stellar guitar style and journalistic approach to songwriting, Heller was considered to be one of the top up-and-comers around Philly.

A second project followed in 1993. Again on the Gladman label, Moon Country was equally well received. In that same year, Heller hooked up with fellow player D.J. Bonebrake and formed a quartet; their efforts were recorded on the Dionysus Records release One More Midnight.

Heller's success as a musician and recording artist allowed him to expand his horizons. Educated and literate, he moved to Los Angeles in 1995, where he served as Les Baxter's score librarian and publicist while working as the reissue producer of Les Baxter: The Lost Episode on Dionysus. Thus another aspect of Heller's artistry became apparent as he not only worked with Baxter, but also other artists in various capacities. (Heller feels a tremendous responsibilty to older artists and has dedicated himself to working with them as much as possible.)

As a producer and arranger, Heller's move to the West Coast was profitable. Working with rockabilly legends Ray Campi and Sammy Masters propelled him forward. He was in demand both in front of and behind the boards, and toured with Yma Sumac, as well as serving as a sideman on the Rosie Flores/Ray Campi CD A Little Bit of Heartache. In 1997, he released Lonely Town, on the TRG Records label. In 1998, Heller released St. Christopher's Arms on Rounder/ Mouthpiece and continued his studio work with artists as diverse as bluesman Big Jay McNeely and young rockabilly filly Dee Lannon. He also formed a working relationship with fellow jazz buff John Gilmore.

A multi-instrumentalist, Heller plays guitar, keyboards and bass. He has proven to be invaluable as an arranger, orchestrator and teacher. He moonlights as a music journalist, paying special attention to avant-garde, Jewish, and roots music. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and is often in the company of pals like Dave Alvin, Chris Gaffney, Katy Moffatt, and other locals who have come to respect this most baffling of country singers.

-- Jana Pendragon, All-Music Guide

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Cosmik Debris © 2000 - Shaun Dale

SKIP HELLER - Couch, Los Angeles (Mouthpiece)

Reviewed by Shaun Dale
Forwarded to this site by Marc De Bruyn (

Skip Heller has one of the most interesting resumes in music. Producer for Les Baxter and Ray Campi, guitarist for Yma Sumac, composer, arranger, player with and for a wide variety of co-conspirators in a bewildering array of styles. His acknowledged influences range from the giants of exotica to Frank Zappa to NRBQ and somewhere off into the stratosphere.  Couch, Los Angeles is a self produced assemblage of material that ranges from lounge jazz to Gustav Mahler, mixing Heller originals with covers of songs by Mahler, Zappa, Thelonius Monk and Duke Ellington. Confused yet? It gets even better.

For assistance, he turns to a posse that ranges from the Knack's Doug Fieger to X's D.J. Bonebrake, with one or more of everything else represented along the way. Jay Work on tenor sax and flute. Uri Caine's amazing piano. Folk songbird Katy Moffat's soprano. And lots more.

There's nothing to say about any of this, though, that couldn't be said better than to say you better hear it. It cost Heller $1700 of his own bucks to put this together. Help him make some of it back and help make your horizons a bit wider and a bit brighter by getting ahold of one for yourself.

For more information:
OR email Skip Heller at


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