Thursday, November 09, 2017


Say what? 

What's black and white, but not necessarily the over-all truth? It's what you read in print. The sad fact is that even before there was movable type, people were writing shit down and expecting it to be believed. You know. The Bible. The Koran. And now, the London Daily Fail, the National Enquirer, etc. 

People love to spread gossip, too. As in, "I met a man whose brother said he knew a man who knew the Oxford Girl..." Something like that. Or as Brother Theodore used to say, "Half the lies they print about me are untrue." Having seen the publishing world CLOSE UP, believe me, there are publishers and editors who get perverse pleasure (as well as payment) out of spreading lies or tricking the gullible. 

Rarely does the injured party win a libel case because it involves proving damages AND dealing with tricky weasel-words. You've seen it thousands of times. Like, the article on your favorite star and her marital woes. The line in the paper: "She is broken-hearted and ready to divorce him," said a close friend. 

Go to court? The writer isn't saying he got this information from a "close friend" of the star. "A close friend of MINE said that," the writer chuckles. Case dismissed. Besides, can you prove "damages?" Hurt feelings aren't "damages." You have to prove that the article defamed you in such a way you lost income; then you get money. Maybe. 

In the meantime, and for such a long time, gossip columnists have routinely and knowingly made shit up. Reporters routinely and knowingly stretch and "interpret" what they've seen, in order to get more readers and make a story juicier. Paul Simon sang it decades ago: "I don't believe what I read in the papers. They're just out to capture my dime."

Or as Bob Dylan sang it, more recently: "all the truth in the world adds up to one big lie." 

In the article above, the weasel word is "alleges." Somebody or other "alleges" that Dr. King had a "love child" by somebody or other, and that he participated in orgies, and that one of his conquests was Joan Baez. 

This is merely gossip that found its way into a file, but since it was a "secret file" kept locked up along with thousands of other documents, it's gotta be true. Where there's smoke there's desire. And lookie, there's a photo of Joanie and Marty together, so it must be so!

Need I go on? People believe what they want to believe and disregard the rest. Lie la lie, lie la lie. 

The media websites rushed to print the lurid headlines, and put "allegations" in very small print. It's all hype and hypocrisy. That this comes from an FBI file and not some third rate "investigative reporter" and his publicist is a bonus. 

The London Daily Fail always runs a huge insane story about Princess Di or Jackie Kennedy or whoever, and almost never is literally called on it for a retraction. There are pricks in the world like Darwin Porter; he makes up crap, self-publishes it, and know the Daily Fail will pay to serialize that garbage. PS, if a person is dead, the person can't sue, and neither can living relatives. That's why Porter's specialized in obnoxious shit-flings like "Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: A Life Beyond her Wildest Dreams," "J. Edgar Hoover...Sexual Secrets," and "James Dean: Tomorrow Never Comes." He stole (that's legal) the phrase "Hollywood Babylon" off gossip writer Kenneth Anger (who wasn't above telling lies as long as he admitted it was GOSSIP). Porter came up with "Hollywood Babylon Strikes Again!" (Kenneth, you should've trademarked "Hollywood Babylon" to prevent its misuse).

People want to believe conspiracy theories. In this Baez lie, people want to believe that just because some FBI files were unlocked, there's truth in them and not ALLEGATIONS. When it's convenient, people embrace "fake news." When they can make a profit, they circulate it. The Internet is loaded with cynical pricks who are making a living by making up crap and, sometimes, in very small print, putting on the bottom of the website a caveat saying "this is a parody website." Oh. That's what it is. I thought it was a pun. Or a palindrome. It's parody. Ha ha.

As we've all experienced since school days, people make up lies, and don't care who they hurt. Including you. And so, "THERE BUT FOR FORTUNE" goes you and your reputation. And honoring Joan, who is taking a victory lap with a final tour in 2018 and one last album, here's her live version of that famous Phil Ochs song. 

THERE BUT FOR FORTUNE (Live) - No egotistic moronic PASSWORD

Esther Galil - Morocco-born Jewish Singer of “Conquistador” in FRENCH

You silly English Kaaaaaa-nigggits! THIS is how "Conquistador" should be sung! By a Jewish woman in French! Brooker, your mother was a hamster! 

    Sapristi! You’ve heard of the Sea of Galilee, but not heard a high C from Esther Galil? Down below you get the note, and a whole lot more.

    Circa 1972,  Boko Harum or whatever they were called, had a surprise hit with a movie-soundtrack version of a sparse 1967 track called “Conquistador.” It was on their "Live with an Orchestra You Never heard Of" album, the only one to feature the late great Dave Ball on lead guitar. Thanks to "awesome" minor-league arrangement (ooh, how clever, a trumpet that can mimic a battle cry, and a bunch of thrumming violins) the band would have its second...and last...hit. Since the lead singer once fucked up an Italian version of a single ("Shine on Brightly") he was not asked to sing an Italian version. The French language version was given to a hot new singer with a tough, soulful voice: Esther Galil. Sort of the Israeli Elkie Brooks.

    Galil (May 28, 1945) was born in Morocco, where her ancestors migrated when the Jews were kicked out of Spain during the Inquisition.  (Nobody expects...) The Galil family (eleven children) heard about the Jews finally getting their own country. And so they journeyed to the land of Milk and Honey, and settled in what is now still known, despite antisemite Roger Waters and his melon-headed shower buddy Peter Gabriel, as ISRAEL. 

       Like so many hard-working Jews trying to make their dream nation come alive, Esther worked on a kibbutz where she picked fruits and vegetables. Her singing lightened the load for her co-workers, and she began performing Israeli folk tunes. She found success in France, and had a hit with "The Day Rises." She discovered her voice was suited to R&B and rock. With Janis Joplin and other white women on the charts, labels wanted a tougher, grittier sound. Esther recorded “Delta Queen.” The flip side: the French language “Conquistador” you find below. I'm not sure of the French translation. I think it has something to do with a French knight who died in battle when he forgot his sword and began fighting with a baguette instead. Whatever, Galil now had several hit singles and was a star. She opened for Michel Sardou at the famous Olympia, shared the bill with Johnny Hallyday, and toured with Gilbert Montagne.

    Over the years, her songs were hits in Europe and in areas of the Middle East and Africa including Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Iran. Various songs written by Galil have been hits for other artists including Giovanna (“Shalom Shula Shalom”). Her songs have been covered by French singers such as Julie Pietri and Patricia Kass. She is the only Israeli artist to appear in the Divas Billboard Top 50 of “greatest female artists.” 

    As one might expect, Galil’s output lessened as she entered middle age, but part of that was because she found other things to challenge her, including art. Moving to Los Angeles about 20 years ago, she began to exhibit her paintings in local galleries. 

    Still keeping up with music, in 2003 she returned to France for a show at the Olymbia with Gilles Dreu, Jacqueline Dulac, and Nicole Croisille. If you’d like better known names, Esther participated in many international antiwar concerts, films and protests, alongside Bruce Springsteen, Pink, System of a Down and Neil Young. Locally, she’s appeared at the Los Angeles Mint and Harvelle’s Theater in Santa Monica. In 2013 she turned up for an audition at the second season of The Voice, performing her classic, “The Day Rises.” Said one of the judges: “It’s an honor to have you here.”

    In May 19, 2017, Esther joined an all-star (as far as European fans are concerned) concert at Chalon sur Saone, which also featured Didier Barbelivien, Jean-Luc Lahaye and  Linda De Suza. And so below, “Conquistador,” for a woman who has conquered a variety of media, and for the moment, still has conquered Father Time.

Esther Galil - CONQUISTADOR - Listen online or download. NEVER A DOPEY PASSWORD!


    Funny, despite its suggestive name, Hard Meat didn't get much attention in the early 70's, and the situation hasn't improved much since. The two brothers who were the nucleus of the Birmingham-based  British rock trio are both dead. They were Steve Dolan, who died back in May 22, 2000 and Mike Dolan who was 67 when he passed on, August 2, 2014. He died of cancer at his summer home in Hisaronu, Turkey, and was buried there.

    Hard Meat could've at least been a "one hit wonder" with “Smile as You Go Under,” which I played on radio shows all the time, thanks to its promotion on one of those Warner Bros. "loss leader" samplers. Back in this stone/stoned age, one way new bands got popular was to AIRPLAY from trusted disc jockeys, especially the intimate type that were on during the midnight hours, when people were actually listening, with nothing else to do. Unless they had hard meat. 

    As I recall it (dimly), I liked to do a segue for this song, and play it right after the last notes of "Casey Jones" by the Grateful Dead. Which was, incidentally, the only Dead song I ever played. No. Not "Truckin'." Be a DJ. Play "Casey Jones" and segue it into your download of "Smile As You Go Under."

    One of the big helps for adventurous disc jockeys, especially on low budget stations, was the pioneering “Loss Leader” album compilations from Warners. They weren't about to mail every whole album to every small town or college station. For a buck or two, if you really cared about using your "power" to expose people to new talent, they’d mail you a single or double album set featuring the best cuts from their newest artists. That's how I discovered Fanny, Curved Air, Ron Nagle and these guys. 

        Hard Meat's first album was notable for their competent, bar band version of Bob Dylan's 'Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine." The second album was more adventurous and diverse, including flute, keyboard, and now-dated hippie-dippie indulgences such as "Ballad of Marmalade Emma and Teddy Grimes.” That one sounded like an outtake off one of Rod Stewart’s early Mercury solo albums (that dopey “Mandolin Wind” period). Its opposite was the surly, glum and sarcastic "(If you can't stop) Smile as You Go Under." 

         Warners did what they could, choosing a good cut to promose, and showcasing them on a tour of America. This earned them an unlikely long live show review in Billboard, literally on the same page as better known and middle-of-the-road acts including Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme’s debuting at the Copa, and Shirley Bassey blasting away at the Waldorf-Astoria.  

     Mike stayed in the music business via Bell Sound Hire, a company that supplied mobile sound systems for touring bands, including U2 and Show of Hands. He also worked as a sound engineer on a variety of projects involving Mike D’Abo and Ashley Hutchings, and sometimes got a call to take up his guitar for a session. He played bass on Mick Jagger’s "Goddess in the Doorway” solo album. Into his 60’s Mike could still be seen and heard at local gigs. How often he was introduced as the vocalist and leader of Hard Meat, I have no idea. Probably as often as he was introduced as one of the guys fronting earlier groups with his brother, The Ebony Combo or the The Five Dimensions (backing up R&B singer Jimmy Powell). 

    An obit in a local Birmingham paper didn’t even MENTION that he was in Hard Meat. The paper mentioned he was in the Cock-a-Hoops, and that he toured on the same bill “with the likes of Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Jethro Tull, Procol Harem [sic] John Mayall, Wilson Pickett and Chuck Berry.”

    Just why this entry turned up reason at all. "Smile As You Go Under" is actually still on my iPod, along with some other odd “Loss Leader” stuff previously posted on this blog of less renown (including Hamilton Camp's "Star Spangled Bus.") I happened to hear it the other day and realize, "it's STILL a good one, with a message and a hook."  So, congrats, brothers, for making it to an obscure blog after you went under. Hope you're smiling.

SMILE AS YOU GO UNDER - Download or Listen online - NO PASSWORDS EVER

BEETHOVEN - “FUNERAL “MARCH” performed by Sviatoslav Richter

We go Waist Deep in the Big Luddy. More like knee deep, actually, as this blog doesn’t cover classical music much. The item has to be rare or unusual, and most classical music that fits those categories is also irritating. Another way to make it here is to be offbeat or weird, so a “Funeral March” qualifies. And another sure way to arrive here is to be an “obscure” artist, which is a relative term, cousin. Alas, Mr. Richter is obscure to the average music fan who has a ‘Beethoven’s Greatest Hits” on a shelf somewhere. He’s not really well known outside of the avid collectors of piano music. He performed at a time when his competition included Horowitz and Rubinstein, who were not only brilliant, but in America where they had access to radio, TV, and of course, major record label promotion and concert halls. 

     Below is the third movement from Beethoven’s 12th Sonata. He hadn't had a "hit" yet (the “Moonlight” sonata is #14) but he startled some critics by offering a funeral march, which was something new. Meaning, Luddy got there first. Beethoven’s Sonata #12 arrived circa 1801. Chopin’s infamous Sonata #2 was completed in 1839. There’s no question (put your hands down, students) that Chopin’s is much more famous. Almost to the point of comic cliche, a funeral procession on film or TV will have the stately and somber Chopin piece on the soundtrack. The only other grim march that anyone can hum, is probably Gounod’s “Funeral March for a Marionette,” better known as the TV theme for “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”

    I’m very particular about my Beethoven #12, and the third movement, “Marcia funebre sulla morte d’un Eroe” must be taken at a slow tempo, not a brisk walk. But some pianists speed this up, as well as the infamous first movement of the “Moonlight” sonata, for fear of seeming too romantic. While the "clipped salon style" might actually be closer to how Beethoven performed his works (check out Wilhelm Kempff's 12th and 14th), some piano music benefits from a stately pace. Richter tops Glenn Gould (whose mumbling you can always hear being picked up by the microphone) in my opinion. This live recording is from May 12, 1959 in Prague. A deficit which you’ll encounter about 39 seconds into this short (under 3 minutes) movement, is somebody's loud cough. As Alfred Hitchcock once said, "The cure for a sore throat is to cut it." 

    I was at a piano concert recently by the acclaimed young artist Vassily Primakov (well represented on YouTube these days). The mc of the evening offered the usual preamble about turning off cellphones and behaving properly, and then demonstrated that “the best way to muffle a couch is like THIS” (face buried into the meaty crook of the inner elbow) “and not like THIS” (thin hand lazily up to the mouth). As you'll presumably be alone or among friends when you listen to this, do as you damn well please as loudly as you want. That includes you, Taco Bell fans.

Richter - FUNERAL MARCH from Beethoven's Sonata #12


Sunday, October 29, 2017

HALLOWEEN MARY - P.F. Sloan - a Holiday Put-Down

About the only good thing you can say about how "adults" have taken over Halloween, is that it's good for the economy. Landlords can do a quick one-month rental on empty storefronts, with costume companies quickly setting up shop with masks, make-up, and every type of "fantasy" outfit imaginable. (P.F. Sloan masks aren't too popular, I must admit. But bootleggers on eBay actually sell paper masks of most every celebrity they can get away with.)

Some people, accustomed to Internet piracy, hate the idea of buying anything. One guy in Croatia asked, "What's the cheapest costume I can find?" The answer: "Dress up as a Dutchman." So the guy cut off one of his ears. Which did nothing for his tinnitis, and only got him derision. "Van Gogh was NOT cheap." "Oh no? He could've gotten that prostitute something expensive, but instead she only got an ear." And the ear was second-hand.

All seriousness aside, the reason for this post is that I noticed a newspaper article with the catchy title, "Millennials Have Ruined Halloween." Since you can't run out and buy it (newspapers, if you remember, only sell for one day), I'll quote a few key lines from the author, Kyle Smith:
"This year, 48 percent of American adults plan to wear a Halloween costume...Sixteen percent — that’s 50 million people — plan to put a costume on their pet. In other words, we’re just a year or two away from a majority of our nation’s adults playing kiddie dress-up. Halloween is blowing up because childhood is leaking further and further into adult life, and millennials in particular aren’t fully sold on the idea that they’re grown-ups."
Smith quotes author Kurt Andersen, who has a new book called "Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire." Andersen notes that once upon a time, “American adults never dressed up in costumes, certainly not as an annual ritual." Indeed, Halloween was for kids, and a reluctant sign of growing up was turning 12 or 13, and staying home. Andersen traces the adult dress-up phenomenon to the 80's and "...the Halloween parades invented by freshly out gay people in San Francisco and New York. Dressing up on Halloween became a thing straight adults did in every corner of the country.”
Halloween, with its parties, cards, candy, costumes and all, will generate NINE BILLION dollars in spending. This is a boon to retailers, who look to a new source of compulsive buying besides Christmas. Perhaps some singers, songwriters, authors and others now unable to make a living due to piracy, are bagging candy corn and a "I'm dressing as a woman for a PARTY," outfit for some guy at the cash register at a Halloween store. And getting minimum wage.

But Halloween is just part of the Peter Pan syndrome that not only affects America, but has spread all over the world. Kyle Smth concludes: "Video games — sales of which hit an all-time high of $30.6 billion last year — as well as the increasing popularity of cosplay (dressing up in costumes the other 364 days of the year), comic-book conventions, superhero movies and fantasy sports are all symptoms of what Andersen dubs “Kids ‘R’ Us Syndrome”: We’re losing our collective sense of when it’s time to put away childish things."
Ah, yes, childish things. In the Blogworld, this includes the line "don't ruin our FUN," when some adult who owns copyright or trademark actually hires a company to help out. "My link got taken down," huffs the childish blogger, "I'll put it back up! I'm an EQUAL to every star, and they should email me personally, ask politely, and convince me that it's really them, and THEN I might take the link down. But not if some hired company does it. Besides, lookie lookie,
 I'm SHARING. Isn't that NICE of me?"
Yeah. Some Peter Pan who never grew up, has no talent, and decides to be a star by giving shit away, is ready to "share." He's using a word his Mommy said was a sign of being a grown-up, but which he never did for real friends in the real world. His toys were HIS. But now, for total strangers, he'll copy off somebody else's property and declare proudly that he's SHARING. It's always entire albums and discographies in FLAC and using a dozen storage sites to keep those links alive. Pretty bratty for an ADULT. But not for a dolt. 
Too bad fans of Halloween actually have to BUY the candy, costumes and cards, and can't just download them like they do movies, music, porn, books, photos and apps from lovable Kim Dotcom's MEGA or Zippy the Pinhead's Zippyshare or Putin's yadda-yadda Yadi Yandex. One person's dream is another person's nightmare, but you have to be an ADULT to understand it and ACT RESPONSIBLY. And what fun is that? 
And here's P.F. Sloan doing his snarling Dylan bit, putting down HALLOWEEN MARY. Funny, the guy put out some albums, but is best remembered via a cover version of his "Eve of Destruction." This song comes from his early ABC Dunhill era, but he did try for a comeback now and then, and was sometimes coaxed into playing a set in front of a small circle of friends. Why, the last time I saw P.F. Sloan, he was summer burned. He was winter blown. And that's not really the best way to be blown. (I can say that...we're all ADULTS here, aren't we?)

Weak and Meek: TELSTAR with LYRICS - Bobby Rydell

Back in July of 1962, the lonely metal ball called TELSTAR hurtled into space, promising a new era of communication. 

Surely, with a satellite bouncing TELevision and TELephone and TELegraph signals all over the world, TELSTAR would help bring more understanding and brotherhood to the world. In August of 1962, The Tornados offered a musical salute to the new technology via Joe Meek's moody yet futuristic and optimistic instrumental, "TELSTAR."

In October of 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis nearly brought us World War 3. 

Maybe the problem was that "TELSTAR"  had no lyrics? All you need is love, folks. Add some love lyrics to "TELSTAR" and maybe the Capitalists and Communists would get along. So, what were the lyrics added a few months later to TELSTAR?

"Magic star above, send a message to my love! Tell her that I'll wait patiently. Sad and so lonely, dreaming of her only. Swift as graceful as a dove up above, Magic Star up high, dancing through the sky, tell her that my heart cries for joy! Please say that one day I'll hear her voice say I'm her one and only boy!" 

What did Joe Meek say when he heard this? "It doesn't scan!" may have come to mind, but not before "What the fuck?" 

Meek, fascinated as he was with pure sound, could not or would not put words to "TELSTAR," his ode to a communications satellite. He also could or nor would not put into words the reason why he later chose to blast his landlady to heaven, and then turn the gun on himself. 

Rydell is still with us. He had a scare at age 70, needing transplant surgery in 2012, but it proved successful. 

TELSTAR may have been eclipsed by other forms of technology, but hasn't been forgotten. First off, there's the catchy Joe Meek song. People who have no idea TELSTAR exists, have heard and loved the song. It's even inspired a few more. In 1991, Susanna Hoffs recorded "Wishing on Telstar," by Robin Lane and Jimmy Cipolla. It has slightly, only slightly better lyrics: 

"I had a lover, but haven't we all
. He had to leave so sometimes I'd call…
Satellites are blinking all through the night
. Wishes like this don't seem right...

Higher and higher, burns the fire. 
Love's lost on the telephone wire. 
Too high to reach, too hot to hold
. Wishing on Telstar, should've been told..."

Did you know the there was not only TELSTAR, but TELSTAR 2? The original was launched on July 10, 1962, and a second one on May 7, 1963. 1963 was the year Kennedy was killed. Few things around in 1963 are still around and functioning as good as they once did. The TELSTAR satellites no longer work.

Both satellites are still circling the Earth. They are mutely looking down on a planet that is circling the drain.

 TELSTAR WITH LYRICS - BOBBY RYDELL (Download or listen online)

MIGHTY GEORGE YOUNG - The Easybeats & the Offbeat FLASH & THE PAN


Sad to say, the death of George Young was not exactly big news. There wasn't much "awww," or awe except on websites ending with AU…Australia. Even then, as you see from NEWS.COM.AU above, George’s legacy is considered The Easybeats. Second, the trivia of George being a brother to that troll-git Angus who spent most of his life dressing up in a schoolboy outfit to play headbanger shit. A distant third in most obits was George's songwriting (with Harry Vanda) and production for a variety of acts this blog will never cover, including AC/DC, Stevie Wright, John Paul Young.

    Here at the blog of less renown, the headline involves his 80's group that made a lot of obscure albums including one called "Headlines." It's FLASH AND THE PAN. Your download sample below, from that album, is "Where Were You." I think this song neatly captures all aspects of the band's (strangely limited) appeal. Foremost, there's the distorted Dylanesque talk-singing and often acidic wordplay. A close second, and a legacy from all those years of easy beats, is the melodic chorus with its sing-along hook. Straddling the worlds of new wave and synth, there's also the added whistle (Ian Dury was fond of that game) and an uneasy beat that might suggest (as some of Ian's songs did) that it could be danced to. 

    I was in my first tenure as a mere rock mag staff writer when a peculiar album arrived, simply titled FLASH AND THE PAN. I always gravitated toward odd new releases, while everyone else in the office fought each other for anything by a star. Most wanted the ego boost of writing about a star's new album. I was more interested in giving whatever paragraph space I could, to new artists that could use the break of a quotable review.

    The odd cover art on the first album was not that different from the odd cover art on dozens of other progrock albums of the time. An irony was that if anyone knew one of their songs, it was via a cover version: "Walking in the Rain" from Grace Jones. Intended as a one-off, the album got enough attention ("Hey St. Peter," and the peculiarly un-PC "African Shuffle") to warrant several more. Some seemed to only get an Oz release and were hard to find. An irony is that I completed my collection by finding "Nights in France" in a Paris record shop.

    FLASH did make some bizarre rock videos which didn't seem to get that much play on MTV, and with few interviews and limited touring, stayed a mystery and enigma. They did, ironically enough, put out more albums than The Easybeats did, and lasted maybe a little bit longer. The Easybeats, a mix of guys born in the UK, Australia and Holland, formed in 1964.  Their big hit, "Friday On My Mind," was #1 in Australia, but only made the Top 10 in England and Top 20 in America, and without a follow-up hit, in the UK or USA, the band split in 1969.

    Starting the 70's George Young and Harry Vanda struggled along with offbeat projects like Grapefruit, Haffy’s Whisky Sour and Marcus Hook Roll Band, the latter, released circa 1973, included Angus and Malcolm Young. As producers/songwriters they did better behind the scenes, giving hit songs to Stevie Wright, Rose Tattoo, and others (there's a 2 CD set of their popular songs that made the Aussie charts from a variety of singers). They began the 80's with the experimental FLASH AND THE PAN, which I suppose remains more of a "critics choice" than a rival to AC/DC. The article above declares Young “...stands peerless in his contributions to this country’s most essential era of songwriting and production, and leaves an untouchable legacy behind in the form of AD/DC, The Easybeats, and the countless Australian classics he ushered to the top of the charts.” 

    Very well, let FLASH AND THE PAN remain an obscure pleasure for a small circle of friends. You're invited to join the circle. Unlike Dylan, there doesn't seem to be a FLASH cult that dissects every lyric, in-joke or reference ("Norwegian Wood" turns up in "Where Were You") but maybe that's just as well. Fan groups tend to degenerate quickly into one-upmanship and bickering, and besides, even George Young had better things to do. As the above article mentions, George in his last two decades turned down most interviews, “preferring travel to music.” Hopefully his enjoyment of travel, to quote two more FLASH songs, didn't involve "Waiting for a Train" or "Psychos On the Street."

 FLASH AND THE PAN - WHERE WERE YOU (Download or listen online)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Black Jew-Jews : Little Anthony & The Imperials sing EXODUS

Admit it, you haven’t read The Bible in a while. Even more egregious, you haven’t read The Koran, which everybody is talking about. And even bombing about. Helpful advice: Get a bit of religion into your life before a religious fanatic ends it.

Many of us have a religious devotion to pop stars. We even go to memorabilia shows and pay $20 for a selfie. See, the fan goes over to Little Anthony's table, and says, "You don't remember me. But I remember you..."

Some fans want his autograph on a scratchy 45 rpm of “Tears on My Pillow.” More obscure (thus, here) is his recording of the "Exodus" movie theme song. It wasn't a hit. Maybe only an obvious Jew could sing such a song. Wasn't Sammy Davis Jr. available?

 If your knowledge of The Old Testicles is a bit hairy, here’s a quick refresher on the "Exodus." Moses took a knee in front of Pharoah. When this didn't get any results, Moses stood up and articulated his position: "My people are being used as slaves. Let's stop this before it drags on for another 2,000 years!"

 Moses was going to say "Jewish Lives Matter," but consulted with his writers (all of them Jewish). They came up with something really catchy: “Let My People GO.” To which Pharoah replied, “We have plenty of Port-a-Potties out there. Your Jewish Braceros can lay some turds after they’ve laid some bricks. Stop the kvetching and get back to working on my Pyramid scheme. Next up, I might build a wall...”

 This is when Moses brought out true royalty: LITTLE ANTHONY AND THE IMPERIALS. They sang “THE THEME FROM EXODUS.” This was a pretty good trick, as movies hadn’t even been invented yet. The Lord works in mysterious ways!

 After the rendition, Pharoah declared,  “Who wants JEWS and BLACKS? Get out of my country, the lot of you!” This included Lot. Lot's wife stayed behind, because Pharoah was fond of hummus with a lot of salt on it.

 And thus, Moses and Little Anthony and the Imperials made their way out of Egypt. Moses said, “Little Anthony, you go that way, and call your new land ETHIOPIA. Soon, all the black Jews will prosper and multiply!” And Little Anthony said unto Moses, “That’s a neat trick, considering The Imperials are all guys!” 

 Moses said, "I’m leading the Jews across this desert to The Promised Land. I will call it ISRAEL!”

 Of course, the joke was on Moses. He and the Jews found the only part of the Middle East that had NO OIL on it. Jesus! But that’s another story....



    This post is ripped (off) from today’s headlines!  

    A few days ago, the media was raving about The Feud of the Androgynes...Miley Cyrus-faced flat-chested Justin Bieber vs aging doll-crotched zombie mannequin Marilyn Manson. What caused it? Well, Manson has a new album and needs to generate publicity. Having a giant gun fall on him on stage wasn’t enough.

    Marilyn figured Justin Bieber wearing his face on a shirt was exploitive. Sort of the way combining the names Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson are exploitive. Only HERE, Bieber was trading in on the fame of somebody not dead or in jail, but very capable of walking into a bank and expecting to find royalties.

    Bieber wasn't just wearing Manson's face. He was SELLING the shirt with his own slogan on the back, "Bigger than Satan." When Manson complained, Bieber smirked, “I made you relevant again!” 

    Manson recalled it was a “bad mistake to say to me. He was a real piece of shit in the way he had the arrogance to say that.” Especially since Bieber had no legal right to use Manson’s image. Sure, in the BLOG WORLD, this would seem like “Freedom of Speech.” In truth, “copyright” means that you don’t have the RIGHT to COPY without permission, and “intellectual property” means you can't expect dumbass morality to save you in court. Why didn’t Bieber understand this? “I don’t know,” said Manson, “because I don’t (understand) the mind of a squirrel.”

    Bieber’s dandruff was on Manson’s shirt. And NO MONEY. Millennials have a LOT of money. Maybe it’s because they steal all the music, movies, tv shows and books via download, and only spend cash on CLOTHING. Bieber’s t-shirt: $195. For a t-shirt. Even Trump couldn't afford the sneakers or the "Smell like a Sweaty Bieber" cologne.

    Manson was angry. Angry enough to punch The Bieb on the beezer? “I don’t like to fight with girls,” said Marilyn, “so I don’t wanna fight Justin Bieber.” He added that Bieber is a little guy: “...dick height on me, ok? Alright? So stand down, son.”

    The happy ending: Manson says he “took all the proceeds from those shirts.” Which is doubtful, considering creative accounting, and how much MORE money has been spent on knock-offs sold on eBay and through Facebook "suggested post" ads. 

    Oh what a lovely top. And below, JEANNE HAYES and THE DELLWOODs singing about a King of Scurf….and lover baby's shirt with dandruff on it, which originally appeared on the “Mad Twists Rock ’n’ Roll” album circa 1962.  


Monday, October 09, 2017


 The old German song, "Der treue Husar" aka “The Faithful Hussar,” became a favorite via Vera Lynn. The translated lyrics are about a soldier who sent his girlfriend a love letter every day (maybe even sealed with a kiss):

A soldier boy, so brave and gay
With head held high, he marched away
His sweetheart wept, but every night
He'd think of her and he would write:
Don't cry, my love, while I am gone
Don't sigh, my love, just carry on...

     "Carry on" was a big catch-phrase during the war. So was "Stay calm." But "Carry On" not only anticipated that better things were ahead, it predicted the popularity of a risque movie series that always had a riotous moment when a gay guy stares at a woman's breasts. Not Vera Lynn's, though. That would be unseemly. 

      Vera's upbeat song didn't leave things in limbo, like "We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when." In this fable, re-named "Don't Cry My Love," the soldier and his girl are reunited. Too sappy? You'd prefer a version without singing at all?
      Below, is the Ted Heath 1956 instrumental. It swings a lot more than the oom-pah of the German originals, or some other big band copies. In fact, it has a particular loping type of syncopation that you'll instantly recognize as a grand-cat to "The Pink Panther." The stalking bass Henry Mancini used for the movie theme (and subsequent animated shorts) was probably familiar to him as a tool used in many a gentle boogie, but it's very prominent in this Heath item. In fact, the only thing that makes this stupid, redundant melody interesting is the beat.

    What do we learn from this, students? We accept that there are some shades to “plagiarism.” One of them involves taking a familiar concept and doing something unique with it. The story in the lyric ain't new. There have been dozens of books, poems and songs involving a guy corresponding when he can't be fornicating. As for the music, most songs rely on a familiar beat, whether it's a cha-cha, twist, waltz or oom-pah march. Only a few songs have the magic to transcend a cliche story concept or a familiar beat, and become a hit. Posthumous kudos to Henry Mancini. And a "nice try" to...ah ah, Mr. Heath! 

The Faithful Hussar    Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart egomaniac passwords, and no malware or spyware anywhere.


    Every month, DISCOGS lists the highest prices paid for vinyl in the “Discog Marketplace.” A few months ago, there was a Bogus listing. It was Ann Bogus, who made the Top 20 for...are you kiddin...somebody paying $1319.00 to get her Statue Records single.

    This leads to several questions that really can’t be answered with any kind of logic. One of them is…who the FUCK would be spending over a THOUSAND dollars to get a 45 rpm? Somebody who thinks he’s immortal? Somebody who doesn’t know that the song (like most songs) is available in perfect listening condition on YouTube? That a quick shout to a forum or blog could get a happy sharer to post it? What ulterior motive had somebody spend such a high price for THAT single? Maybe somebody who wanted to stick his scrawny dick in the spindle hole and pretend to be fucking Ann Bogus? Maybe a sadistic collector who HAS to HAVE everything to boast to some masochistic friend with the same affliction but not enough money?

    Mostly, as every record dealer knows, the vinyl market sucks. The perfect storm isn't just Internet piracy; fewer and fewer people want or even like turntables. They hate shelves warping under the weight of vinyl. They don’t like having to buy new needles or cartridges periodically. They deplore how easily vinyl can be scratched just by taking it out of the fucking sleeve. And they’d much rather have the convenience of a computer jukebox and all songs at their fingertips. And they’re cheap. CHEAP has always been the underlying grumble. Groucho Marx, in the preface to one of his books, groused that people don't think they're getting their money's worth on a book. They'd pay the same for a lunch that's in the toilet a day later. The undeniable fact is that most people don’t spend $5 or $10, much less over a THOUSAND to actually own a 45 rpm. Not when a digital version is available.

    Another question: WHO is ANN BOGUS? All that seems to be known about her is that she was once part of an obscure group called The Fabulous Dominoes. The billing on her debut solo single, “Don’t Ask Me To Love Again,” is: “Ann Bogus of the Fabulous Dominoes." The label also tells us that the single was produced by John Mihelic, who owned Statue Records in Tupelo, Mississippi. Mihelic had been in the group The Nite-Liters. His Statue label, active in the late 60’s and early 70’s, released tracks by Sonny Holley and James Gilreath. Gilreath’s “Little Band of Gold” became a semi-hit when Mihelic sold the rights to the slightly bigger Joy Records label in New York City.

    As for Ann Bogus, following Statue #256 (“Don’t Ask Me To Love Again” b/w “You Got it Wrong”), nobody would hear from her for another four years. In 1974, she got a deal with 20th Century. With producer/drummer Joseph Wilson and his “Faux Noir” band, and now calling herself Annie Blue, she cut “Bottle Of Wine” b/w “Lay Me Down,” and then in 1975, “Do You Wanna Do A Thing” b/w “Loving Kind of Woman.” 

Don't Ask Me To Love Again    Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart passwords, malware or spyware anywhere.


    If Jerry Yester was wondering how his obit was going to read, he sure found out. He made headlines for getting arrested. The newspapers picked up on the story only because he was once in The Lovin’ Spoonful, that seminal  (judging only by the group’s name) rock group from 50 years ago. Granted, he wasn’t a member very long, but that’s his fame. His arrest proves it. (And you thought you couldn't get arrested if all you can say is you were once in The Lovin' Spoonful!) When he dies, the obit will be two paragraphs instead of one: one for being in The Lovin' Spoonful and the other, for his pedophilia arrest.  

    The above mugshot? I instantly flashed on a line in "Mad Dog Killer," a song by Jerry's ex-wife Judy Henske (music by her longtime husband Craig Doerge). Being arrested"seemed just like show business to me. First they interview you, then they take your picture free." 

    Take a look below at one of the brief news items on Jerry's arrest. Does it mention "Farewell Aldebaran," an album that actually has his name on it? No. Does it mention "Rosebud," the group he formed with then-wife Judy Henske? No. It was almost all about him being a SPOONFUL, and that the band is well known:

    Jerry's on the end, as you'd expect for a replacement. He's in the "hey, don't forget me, I'm in the band, too," position. The most important member is John Sapface. Always was, always will be. Ah, the crooked grin. The glasses. Should we consider "Summer in the City" as just a toke of bad weed? It shouldn't ruin the vibe the band has of being the ultimate hippie dippies.

    In the familiar rush to judgment, sleaze-media havens like creepy little Harvey Levin’s TMZ didn’t bother to explain much about the charges against Yester. All we know is he was in Arkansas (!) and caught by a bunch who never got the drop on Bill Clinton. We don’t know whether Jerry was arrested for having pictures AND/or video on his computer or if this involved girls, boys, or some Anthony Weiner-type Lolita bitch who was “only 16” and looking for trouble. The line is: “facing 30 counts of distributing, possessing, or viewing explicit pornographic material involving children.” Nothing about whether he shared this stuff with Pete Townshend, whether there were pix of McKenzie Phillips or Miley Cyrus, or if his contacts email includes Rolf Harris. 

    Some say possession of child porn isn’t quite so terrible as participating in it, and it might be true that having child porn could prevent some idiots from having the act out their impulses, but still, this involves children. And kids should not be photographed that way. In fact, nobody’s sexual images should be on the Internet without a signed model release of age and CONSENT. But, heh heh, TMZ knows about celeb porn websites, porn blogs and EBAY. Right, Harvey? Damn right, Harvey. Oh my my. Oh hell yes. 

    Since Yester really isn’t famous at all, and these cases tend to drag out, or a plea is quietly copped, it’s possible that we won’t know much about this case for months or years or ever. Just that there’s now a mugshot on him. Oh…and that nobody knows good music, because all they could talk about was the Spoonful’s sappy “Do You Believe In Magic,” and not, for example, the “Henske-Yester” album of legendary folk-psych. 

    Below, no, not any of the awful hippie-dippie crap that sunshiners love so much. And not somebody singing “Yesterday.” Or the Aznavour “Yesterday When I Was Young/“ Instead, sung in that odd, reedy voice of his, the oddly titled “One More Time.” It’s  from his album with Judy Henske (who supplied the lyrics). The album has finally been issued legally, with album notes and a few oddball bonus tracks. Judy even talks about some of the songs. This one is about death coming for Mrs. Connor. Fortunately for her, the cops didn’t get to her first, and find the illegal files she got from somebody in Badehoevedorp. 

    An arrest is not a conviction. Hopefully the material involved isn’t truly heinous, and instead of jail, the guy will be back wandering around Arkansas, which may be the different between Hell and Limbo.. 

One More Time    Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart passwords, links for bogus out-of-date Flash downloads, malware or spyware anywhere.

Dragon Retreat - Death of a Surf Punk, DENNIS DRAGON

    And so it goes…guys who were once romping on beach sand are going six feet under. Dennis Dragon, who died on September 25th, was with the 80’s band The Surf Punks. If you don’t know them too well, maybe this is a simile. What the Beach Boys were to the Four Seasons, the Surf Punks were to The Ramones. Meaning, you just replacement a certain amount of urban attitude with dazzling sunlight. Which isn’t to say that sunlight can’t expose cracks, be it in the bikinis of beach bunnies, or in life itself and its ultimate reward.  

    Dennis Dragon of The Surf Punks had musical parents and siblings. His father was Carmen Dragon, an early, West Coast version of Arthur Fiedler. Dragon was a pops conductor and offered up the best light classics at the Hollywood Bowl and other venues. Dennis’s mother Eloise Marion Dragon was a popular soprano on many radio shows, and together, Carmen and Eloise produced “The Standard School Hour.”  The five little Dragons? Dennis, Doug and Daryl (the latter the “Captain” who sang with Tennille), as well as harpist Carmen and music publisher Kathy. 

    A drummer since the age of five, Dennis played with The Byrds, Rick Springfield and Neil Young. In the early 70’s, all three Dragon brothers worked with Brian Wilson and helped keep the fractured Beach Boys together in some form or other. It was not a great time for Wilson, and eventually the brothers moved on. Dennis ended up punking beach music with The Surf Punks, who got signed to Epic in 1980. He pretty much led the band, doing a lot of the writing and singing. 

Dennis was as interested in the studio aspect of music as being in front of the microphone, and owned his own studio in Malibu. He produced and engineered many hits for Lou Adler Ode acts include Carole King and Cheech & Chong (you remember their “Born In East L.A.).  He worked on the first Captain & Tenille album as well. He owned a Grammy for his work on “Love Will Keep Us Together,” which was “Record of the Year” in 1975. 
    “The Surf Punks” were spawned, naturally enough, during the original punk era, circa 1976, even if they were a little late in getting to vinyl and video. Into the 80’s and 90’s he worked on a variety of projects from movie soundtracks to “Locals Only,” a West Coast TV show featuring new talent and “Skate TV” for Nickelodeon. Fans love the BFI album by The Dragons, which at the time as given a pass by all the major labels. In 2011 he worked again with his brother Doug on “The Propheteer,”  which was a long-distance collaboration. Doug sang and played keyboards, and emailed his tracks to Dennis, who added drums, and brought in more players to fill out the sound.  
    No, not many people heard “The Propheteer,” and brother Daryl would soon have worse problems. Parkinson’s disease led “The Captain” to abandon touring. And so there’s a bittersweet nostalgia in acknowledging what’s happened to the Dragons who were so hot in the 70’s and 80’s with everything from pop to California punk. Reality; disease and death. ("Dragon Retreat," for those under 40, refers to the vacation residence of Ollie, a third of "Kukla Fran and Ollie. Anyone who remembers that kiddie show doesn't have long to live). Below, an example of The Surf Punks in action. As Murray the K used to say, "the sound is now," and when you listen to some of their stuff, the fun never stops. Or, you don't think it will.  

LOCALS ONLY    Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart passwords, malware or spyware anywhere.  

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


     Hurricane season in America means that many parts of the hot, humid South, including Florida, Georgia and up through South Carolina, are...SWAMP COUNTRY. More than usual. Floods, which actually floated alligators into neighbrhoods to add some extra danger, left many injured, some dead, and thousands without the air conditioning that almost makes living in the South bearable. Hell, if you didn't have some meth, and you couldn't fuck your sister or spray paint a Swastika, what COULD you do for fun with the electricity off?

    If you still had a charge on your iPod, cell phone or laptop, you could play some SWAMP MUSIC. Your addition below is “Swamp Country,” an obscurity on the SWAMPER record label. Certainly the first and foremost song in the genre remains “Swamp Girl,” the insane ballad that Frankie Laine made his own. It's chronicled elsewhere on the blog. Frankie was an Italian guy, and he didn’t actually spend his life riding a mule train, being a gunfighter, herding cattle, or living in a swamp.

    Jimmy Walker was an authentic swamp guy! Not the “Swamp Fox,” who only hid in the marshes to evade the British during the Revolutionary War, Walker was an actual swamp manager! There are forest rangers, and there are zoo keepers and, yes, there are guys who have the job of taking care of mucky bogs. For many years, the Okefenokee Swamp near Waycross, Georgia was supervised by Jimmy. "Swamp Park" when Jimmy was caring for it, was six hundred square miles of dark waters. He made sure tourists got to see all the wonders of Cow Island, and the sawgrass and Spanish moss and the wildlife. He jump-started the career of Okefenokee Joe, who originally worked as an animal handler in the swamp for $60 a week. When he had some spare time, Walker picked up his guitar and sang in the local dives.

    Most fans of SWAMP MUSIC are also fans of cheap swamp paperbacks (like “Swamp Hoyden” which had two different printings). 

    Swamp fans also like swamp films. “Swamp Country” was the theme song for a movie of the same name, which features a very early appearance by Carol Burnett’s announcer Lyle Waggoner. (A few years later,  1971, "Swamp Girl" was filmed on location with Jimmy helping guide the camera crew along). Jimmy Walker was in "Swamp Country," along with his Swampers, and decided to cover the song on his own label, for what can't really be called a "one hit wonder." It was never really a hit. The full "Swamp Country" album he made is quite a rarity. Hunting for it is complicated by several other singers and musicians named Jimmy Walker who recorded albums (and the comedian Jimmie Walker, and the original cast album for the Frank Gorshin musical about Mayor Jimmy Walker).

    His indie interpretation has some nice effects to it, beyond his reasonable vocal skills. Listen for the gooey addition of "Duane Eddy with Indigestion" guitar. OK, it doesn’t have Loulie Jean Norman offering ghostly vocalise, and there’s nobody shouting ‘Chloe,” but the music cementing this bit of C&W goop does give you a taste of the foul and dismal swamp lands where most anything bad can happen. Ah, swamp tunes...musical muck and mire you can admire.

So, SWAMP MUSIC fans, please enjoy Jimmy Walker, and this nice companion to Roy Orbison’s “Blue Bayou.” And gee, if you REALLY like it, ask somebody to bayou a copy, at one of the last surviving record stores. Drain the swamp? Trump actually LOVES Florida and has a big luxury home there. He's not gonna drain any swamp or hurt any alligators. Professional courtesy. 

Swamp Country    Instant download or listen on line. You don’t need to type in somebody’s sad password catch-phrase or stupid name to get this to open. No malware or spyware anywhere.


    One of the things that nobody mentioned in the obits on Shelley Berman, is…that he could sing. Here, on the Blog of Less Renown, that’s the basic requirement to get an entry. Let’s put it simply: Shelley Berman’s head belongs on the Mount Rushmore of Pioneering Stand-up. When nightclub comedy first broke through as an art form, and a vehicle for social comment, the four men leading the way were Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, Shelley Berman and Jonathan Winters.

    Oh, there were others around. There were cult characters like Lord Buckley and Brother Theodore. There was also soft-spoken Dick Gregory, who (thanks to Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce breaking down the barriers) was able to talk about racial and political issues. He first worked at a Playboy Club in Chicago; Hefner already championing Mort and Lenny. 

When Time Magazine published an alarmist article on the emergence of “sick comedy,” Lenny was the main target, but Berman enraged them, too. In fact, Time was reduced to a "sick" description of Berman as having a face "that looks like a hastily sculpted meatball." Berman brought shivers for his gruesome dissections of modern life. While the Copa and similar clubs had some guy in a tux telling wife jokes, coffee houses were hosting a revolution not yet televised.  

    Berman's one-act plays included shining a light at malice in the suburbs; a man who learns that at a drunken party he threw the host’s cat through a plate glass window, and then the host’s mother. And he's not all that sorry, either. Funny? How about a phone call about a guy slowly bleeding to death? How about the literally dark humor of a man who finds himself in a hotel room with no windows or door? How about a man trying to get help for a lady dangling on the ledge of a department store window? How about a bit titled “Franz Kafka on the Telephone?”

    Of the four faces on comedy’s Mount Rushmore, the first to have a best selling album was…BERMAN. “Inside Shelley Berman” outsold the other guys by a hefty margin. Berman, a trained actor, was quickly hired for an episode of “The Twilight Zone,” and soon found himself starring in a Broadway musical called “A Family Affair.”

    What you’ll hear below, is a fairly horrible Bolero-novelty number called “Revenge.” In deference to Berman’s fame with phone monologues, there’s a messy bit of frantic phone tomfoolery towards the end. Maybe on stage, with some intense face-making, this thing was actually funny. Berman played “Uncle Alfie,” in a story of a wedding getting out of control and a young couple trying to deal with their crazy relatives. 

     Today, “A Family Affair” is a mere footnote, and it wouldn’t even toe that level of obscurity except that the music was supplied by John Kander. After this, Kander found a new lyricist and partner in Fred Ebb, and that team would go on to many hit shows including “Cabaret.” They wrote the inescapable anthem “New York, New York,” which is blasted over loudspeakers, in the Sinatra version, any time a New York sports team wins anything.

     The histrionic "Revenge" proves that Berman could’ve been perfect in a Broadway show with better songs, like “Bye Bye Birdie” (as the neurotic husband) or “Damn Yankees” (as the maliciously cheerful devil). Over the years, Shelley often appeared in “Straw Hat” productions of musicals, and one of his favorites, was the lead in “Fiddler on the Roof.” He played a Jewish peddler in an episode of “Rawhide,” so if you catch up with that one, it may give you an idea of his “Tevye” side.

    While he was indeed a neurotic and intense personality, and sometimes his own worst enemy, Berman managed to navigate through the years, and emerge almost as famous at the end of his career as he was at the beginning. Doffing his hairpiece, he played Larry David’s father on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” It was an inspired choice. Despite the fact that he could be a “raw nerve,” Berman was a warm-hearted, gentle soul. His marriage was one of the longest in show business. Those who knew him, worked with him, or were fans of his…had every reason to love him. What a mensch. 

Shelley Berman sings...
REVENGE    Instant download or listen on line. You don’t need to type in somebody’s sad password catch-phrase or stupid name to get this to open. No malware or spyware anywhere.

Saturday, September 09, 2017


It's no surprise, here at The Blog of Less Renown, that the passing of Mick Softley was a very soft news item. A lot of deserving, historical, and folks with some hits to their name, get more of a write-up here than anywhere else. Some newspapers with a page for obituaries, didn't even mention Mick. It seems to go with the general Millennial attitude of ignorant derision: "Hey, that was before my time, Dude." 

With few exceptions, "protest songs" seem to be viewed as a quaint, useless fad from the past. Did any song from Dylan or Lennon actually stop a war? Did any song about Kent State matter? Wasn't Hurricane Carter actually guilty after all? Hasn't "The Eve of Destruction" turned out to be a long, long eve, that has seen several new generations of mutants be born? 

Looking back, even when Phil Ochs died, which was a heart-wrenching suicide, the obits were kind of small. And this was Phil Ochs, who only a few years earlier was pranking the Democratic Covention in Chicago, appearing on "The David Frost Show," and getting very good royalties off "Changes" and "There But for Fortune," which so many of his contemporaries covered. So what should one expect from an obscure British folk-rocker who lived a long life, and most of it in obscurity? 

Mick Softley was fairly obscure even in his prime. With protest acts including Dylan, Baez and Barry McGuire on the charts, and a wide variety of others singing protest songs now and then, from Judy Collins to Peter Paul & Mary a lot of other performers had modest sales, including Ochs, Pat Sky, Dave Van Ronk, Jack Elliott, Hamilton Camp, and Mr. Softley, who died on September 1, age 77. 

    The closest Softley got to fame, was when Donovan covered a few of his songs, including “The War Drags On.” Vietnam certainly did, year after year. Those who aren't ardent folkies would probably argue that the song itself drags on and on, a long accusatory dirge. If some folkie Millennial tried to sing this at an open mic night, or busking in Sheffield somewhere, he or she would hear: “you’re against the war, I get it. Lines about blood and bones are cliche. Can't you do an Ed Sheeran cover?” 

      While there are some who still crave pop-psych, or psych-folk, some might think that Softley's other semi-known song “Timeless” is not timeless at all, but sadly dated. A criticism of his work then or now would involve a complaint about lack of melody and a tendency to be repetitive, but that was the tendency back then. Dylan and Ochs were worse if you didn't want eight minute songs with the same verse and chorus over and over. And circa 1970, just after the "Summer of Love," many were in love with the Vanilla Fudge style of long, bewildered, alienated songs. Even Del Shannon and Roy Orbison experimented with the new freedoms. When Mick Softley arrived, some may have considered him another Jackson C. Frank, while others said, “Well, who is Jackson C. Frank?”

    Born in Enniskillen, and raised near Epping Forest (where members of Genesis once held a battle), Mick managed a folk venue inside the Spinning Wheel, a restaurant in Hemel Hempstead (where members of Genesis often went after losing their battles). A free spirit, he didn’t care for running any kind of business, and wobbled through the years as a busker, a soloist, and sometimes part of a duo. At various points he would quit show business entirely. Somehow he managed to put out several albums, spaced apart, and they simply got lost in (all together now) the GLUT OF FOLKIE AND PROTEST AND FOLK-PSYCH STUFF that was bulging in the record racks between 1965 and 1970. That would be “Songs for Swingin’ Survivors” (Columbia 1965, a deal that Donovan may have helped him get), “Sunrise,” “Street Singer” and “Any Mother Doesn’t Grumble” (CBS UK, 1970-72), “Capital” and “Mensa” (Doll Records 1976, 1978) and “War Memorials” (1985, Doll Records)

    Despite his lack of commercial success Mick Softley seemed to enjoy performing live, and would turn up at various folk fests and outdoor concerts in Ireland in the 80’s and 90’s. His pleasant life in obscurity caught a bump in the road; he had a bicycle accident in August of 2011. Unlike Syd Barrett, who despite his problems, seemed to control his bicycle, Softley hit the ground hard, and had to be hospitalized. As with Barrett, rumors swarmed over the state of Softley’s mental health and a small circle of fans were so concerned that a Facebook page (the ultimate, huh) was created to deny that the singer was no longer functioning or no longer alive at all. But as of September 1st, he’s now officially another folk-rock legend.

  THE WAR ON DRUGS    Instant download or listen on line.  
  TIME MACHINE    Instant download or listen on line.  

Ill-ustrated Songs #39 "COME IN MY MOUTH" Tobie Columbus

    “Hey, my teacher used to sing about wanting a guy to come in her mouth!” 

    Yeah. Listen: “Run your fingers through my hair as you force my mouth to open mind. Don’t you just love it there? As I drink you deep inside…you taste so good, you taste so good, you taste so good, you taste so good…”

    How about the spoken part of the song? “I wanna lick, I wanna suck…I wanna make you scream, I wanna make you the happiest man alive. I want you deep in my throat. I want to smell your sweat. I want to lap up your load…” 

    Happily for Tobie Columbus, embarrassingly ridiculous late 60’s and early 70’s porn songs are considered just that. In fact, if you even made porn films, you could enjoy a “straight” career making movies or retire to run an antique shop or something and not be chased out of town.  We’ve COME a long way. 

    COME to think of it, these days, it’s hardly a surprise if a teacher has had a student come in her mouth. As long as the come is vintage, 18 years or older, that’s fine. College professors doing it with their students is just fine. Ladies teaching high school, and finding an 18 year-old guy to get a mouthful with…that’s just delicious. While dirty MALE teachers will run into serious trouble if they come into jailbait, FEMALE teachers tend to get a slap on their masturbating wrist if they help a student through puberty. 

    But I digress. Back in 1974, a fairly ridiculous Off-Broadway show turned up called “Let My People Come.” Theater goers and comers had seen “Hair” of course, and “Oh Calcutta,” but how about something joyously and unabashedly dirty? Sort of? The musical wasn’t exactly hardcore. The lyrics for “Come in My Mouth” are at about the same level of dribble-drivel as purple prose romance books of the day. Some lines are probably as corny as what pudgy E.L. James used to drain the color of any porn connoisseur’s face to a shade of gray. 

            There was a lot of now-silly “porn” songs back then. Some were artfully pretentious, like “Je ‘Taime,” and others were ludicrous like “The Theme from Deep Throat” by Linda and the Lollipops. In between, there was the frank stuff from Frank Zappa, and the childish stuff like “Shaving Cream,” which came out of obscurity when a disc jockey was dared to play it. This thing? Pure 70’s, with the corny synths and bubbly over-done sound effects. Jeez, most hippie chicks practicing free love either had two or three kids by 1974, or were charging for sex and making movies for Jerry Damiano.

    Above is an information sheet that Tobie filled out way back when. As you see, “Let My People Come” was her first big credit. And, last. I think you’ll agree, once you hear this thing, that singing a convincing erotic song was not her specialty. When your singing is barely at the level of Andrea True, you’d better try something else. She moved on to dancing, and dance instruction.

    Fortunately for Tobie, “Let My People Come” wasn’t such a hit that her unusual name became all that well known. Besides, singing a porn song in a legit off-Broadway show is much different than actually being in porn. So she, and the members of "Oh Calcutta" and similar efforts, just dispersed, like crowds witnessing a car wreck. She moved to California, had a kid, and she taught for years and years at a school in Tujunga, California. The L.A. Times even mentioned her in a 2006 article, with no allusion to her previous come-uppance. They just noted that she and the other teachers did a great job of helping the kiddies learn their moves. Dance moves, that is:

    “At the after-school dance class Thursday, dance instructor Tobie Columbus demonstrated the basic steps for swing. "Step, touch, step, touch," she called out. Boy-girl pairs avoided eye contact as they formed two lines that stretched most of the length of the bare-floored auditorium. The students mimicked Columbus' steps, many with hands in their pockets and arms crossed. Several boys paired off with each other, too embarrassed by the formal dance style to approach girls. Later, they learned the foxtrot to "Bossy," a hip-hop song by Kelis. "You can't ask the kids to do an old dance to old music," Columbus said. "These dances can be as contemporary as when they were first created." Columbus…will make the dance classes a regular school activity. Starting in February, a group of 12 to 15 students will study social dance twice a week at no cost to them or the school.”

           I once talked with Tom Lehrer, who left behind his "sick comedy" song career to be a full-time math professor. "Do your students come up to you with copies of your old albums to sign?" Tom said that most of the kids had no idea he made records, and hardly knew about any of Lehrer's contemporaries, including Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce. Tom said, "Some of them are impressed when they find out I wrote a few songs for Seseme Street. Like: "Wow, you wrote SILENT Y???"

           So it's doubtful that any of Tobie's students ever came up to her and asked her to autograph "Come in My Mouth" on the back of the "Let My People Come" album. If somebody did, do you suppose it would make her scream? It would make her the happiest woman in the world? Mmmm, oooooh, uhhhhhhhh. No.

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LARRY ELGART goes the way of LES - Dead at 95

    There are not too many Big Band musicians left. Larry Elgart has “swooped the planet,” to use a Lord Buckley phrase. He was 95. He and his brother Les were one of the most famous brothers in popular jazz. They didn’t exactly rival the Dorseys, but they stamped a lot of wax in their day, and continued to do so into the 60’s. Larry actually had his best success on his own in the early 80's when the retro antics of Bette “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” Midler, and the disco singles by Cab Calloway and other vintage stars had the campy crowd revved up for a dance revival of vintage Big Band music. People were actually dressing up and going dancing again, getting "Saturday Night Fever" and buying Larry's “Hooked on Swing” platters. 

    Sax playing Larry Elgart: (March 20, 1922 – August 29, 2017) and his trumpet playing younger brother Les (August 3, 1917-July 29, 1995) first found success as sidemen in the 1940’s, both working with Charlie Spivak. Larry also worked with and learned from Woody Herman and Tommy Dorsey among others.  Les seemed to have the upper hand, releasing quite a few singles under “The Les Elgart Orchestra” name, with Larry just part of the band.

    The Elgart brothers did work as an equal team for a while. Their first spate of hit albums came out between 1953 and 1956, and included “Sophisticated Swing,” “The Dancing Sound,” “For Dancers Only,” and “The Elgart Touch.” They had another good streak when they switched to MGM in 1960, putting out six records between 1960 and 1962 including “Sophisticated Sixties,” “The Shape of Sounds to Come,” and “Music in Motion.”  Another bunch of releases came out via Columbia, trading in on the craze for the kind of mellow-hip stuff that Herb Alpert was doing; the kind of jazz you’d hear on quiz shows, as background party music in James Bond and Peter Sellers films, and in chewing gum commercials. The Elgart albums for Columbia, up through 1967, include: “Half Satin, Half Latin,” “The Twist Goes to College,” “The New Elgart Touch,” “Elgart au Go-Go,” “Warm and Sensuous” and “Girl Watchers.”

     Below are a few samples of their style, as they hep up “As Time Goes By” (some may be appalled by the quacking trombone and the gooney Glenn Miller winds) and do a butt-shaking cha-cha for any bitch saying “Adios” as she swivels off to try and pick up Xavier Cugat. Why these two songs? “As Time Goes By” and “Adios” both have titles that relate to the passing of Larry Elgart. Clever? No, I don’t think so either. But there you have it, if you want it.

    The brothers were known for “The Elgart Sound,” a sophisticated swing which some would say was a bit too smooth, pop-oriented, homogenous (no flashy solos) and commercial. Larry sometimes surprised jazz fans with experimental work (his “Impressions in Outer Space” album) but the big money was in catering to the “easy listening” crowd. As pop and jazz ceded to rock, Les didn’t want any more, and broke up the act and moved to Texas.

    On his own, Larry had surprising good luck in the late 70’s and early 80’s with his “Flight of the Condor” album and those “Hooked on Swing” releases in 1982 and 1983. He and his New Manhattan Swing Band put the disco beat to some of the most irritating Big Band songs of all time, including the horrible Andrews Sisters hit “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree,” the inane “Sing Sing Sing” (which could also be called “Dance Dance Dance” considering how many corny tap dancers have used it for routines on America’s Got Talent") and the irritating Glenn Miller classic “Little Brown Jug.” Larry of course did not neglect “In the Mood,” which was a song much hated by Peter Sellers, so much so it was inflicted on the mourners at his funeral.

    Big Band has never completely died off, and you can pick out its influences over the years in both groups (Blood Sweat and Tears, Chicago etc.) and in some hit songs (including Bill Conti's "Rocky" theme, which had one of the most vivid trumpet riffs in many a year). There was also "The Tonight Show Band," reminding everyone of the glitter and power of brass, topped by Doc Severinsen's trumpet. Doc still issues albums, and once in a while, Elgart returned to the studio. “Live at the Ambassador” came out in 1998, and “Latin Obsession” arrived in 2000. Larry also played whatever venues were available for Big Band music, which was mostly Florida venues and cruise ships. And, fittingly, in an amphisbaenic sense, his last album was “Bandstand Boogie” in 2003. 

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The Elgarts, Bob Horn, Dick Clark & BANDSTAND BOOGIE

    In 1954 Larry and Les Elgart recorded “Bandstand Boogie,” a tune by Larry’s pal Charles Albertine. The record label's credit is Les Elgart and his Orchestra. It became famous as the theme for “American Bandstand,” which Dick Clark began to host in 1956.

    Why was it called “Bandstand Boogie” and not “American Bandstand Boogie?” The TV show’s original title was “Bandstand.” It was just a local program in Philadelphia.  The format of watching kids dance seemed to evolve in October of 1952 with the arrival of radio disc jockey Bob Horn as the new host. Back then, the theme song was Artie Shaw’s “High Society.” A few years later, “Bandstand Boogie” was the replacement.

    In July of 1956, Bob Horn was arrested for drunk driving, and that put an end to his hosting duties. Angered at being tossed for one mistake, he filed a breach of contract suit. Things got worse when he was then accused of consorting with an underage prostitute. Jerry Blavat, in his book “You Only Rock Once,” recalled that the scandal may have been perpetrated by Walter Annenberg, owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who also owned “Bandstand” and was out to blacken Horn’s name and get Bob’s lawsuit thrown out.

    Jerry Blavat knew a mother-daughter hooker team that worked out of their home. One of their friends was a slutty number named Rickie: “Rickie…blew me. Later, when I found out that he was a transvestite, I was embarrassed. I was street-wise, but at the time I had no idea.” He was much more attracted to the teen daughter, but so were a lot of guys. Among the accused: Bob Horn. The District Attorney’s office arrested the girl’s mother, and, coincidentally, they were willing to go easy on the lady if the daughter testified about having had sex with Horn.

    “The fact that the District Attorney’s office was pressing charges against Bob Horn - I knew the case was bullshit...I also knew that Bob was in for the fight of his life. His reputation was hanging by a thread, but now his freedom was at stake as well….Before it was all over, Bob would be forced to endure two trials on the same charge of statutory rape, with the first trial ending in a hung jury and the second ending in acquittal….the legal system made his life a living hell…with his career in tatters, Bob continued to drink heavily.” One DWI in July of 1956 wasn’t enough. In January of 1957, Horn got plastered and drove the wrong way down a one-way street, nearly killing a carload of people. He ended up spending six months in jail. He changed his name and helmed the successful Bob Adams Advertising agency in Houston, but died of a heart attack while mowing his lawn, July 31, 1966. He was only 50 years old. Meanwhile...replacing Horn on "Bandstand..."

    Dick Clark knew Bob Horn. They both worked at radio station WFIL. The young, photogenic Mr. Clark became the new permanent host of “Bandstand,” and he took it national. From merely a local Philly phenomenon, “American Bandstand” debuted on ABC,  the American Broadcasting Company.  And yes, in 1957 Chuck Berry saluted the successful show when he sang “they'll be rocking on Bandstand in Philadelphia, PA." Dick Clark was the first youthful disc jockey in a business strangely dominated by guys who looked 40 or 50. That included Alan Freed, and Murray Kaufman, who once covered The Treniers' oddball jazz-R&B song "Out of the Bushes" and dared to refer to his late night WINS radio show as the "Swingin' Soiree." Swingin'? Somehow that Sinatra word didn't bother the kids.

    It’s kind of puzzling why a show that featured teenagers dancing, and the top pop-rock acts of the day, would want a Big Band theme song. Yes, early rock owed a debt to jazz stars such as Louis Jordan, and hybrid jazz-R&B acts including Fats Domino and Little Richard, but as “American Bandstand” music became more and more dominated by greasy white kids like Frankie Valli, Bobby Rydell and Frankie Avalon, and the team of Tom and Jerry (later Simon and Garfunkel), it seemed pretty ludicrous to have a big band song for a theme. 

    Even when “the kids” stopped dancing to the kind of music that required holding onto your partner, the groovy “Bandstand Boogie” remained, even if it conjured up images of sock hops and bobby socks, and not bell bottoms or hippie beads. Ultimately, in 1969, the corniness of “Bandstand Boogie” gave way to “The Bandstand Theme,” written by Mike Curb. In 1974, “Bandstand Boogie” came back, and in 1977, till the show ended its run in 1987, a vocal version recorded by Barry Manilow was heard. Aside from the changes in theme songs, “American Bandstand” wobbled and danced through various changes in air time, from afternoons to evenings, and from live to tape in order for Dick Clark to handle his many other TV hosting chores. Dick also hosted “Rockin’ New Year’s Eve.” For many, the enduring New Year’s Eve song is “Auld Lang Syne.” For for many more, the epitome of dance music remains “Bandstand Boogie.”

  BANDSTAND BOOGIE    Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart passwords where you have to humiliate yourself by typing in some talentless egotist’s name, and no malware or spyware anywhere.